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Op-Ed: Tetra, Ms. Fulkerson, and the Reston Association Election

by RestonNow.com March 5, 2018 at 3:45 pm 131 Comments

This is an op/ed submitted by Paul Anderson, a Reston resident, on February 28. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now.

I was saddened to see that Ms. Fulkerson “resigned” last week. Saddened and disheartened that the populist anger that has so gripped our country seems to be very active right here in our own little community. Clearly the purchase of the Tetra property was the last straw, but I suspect that this has been simmering over a long time with many initiatives and changes causing increasing ire and angst; the new RA Headquarters, the Nature House, the Lake Anne land swap and finally Tetra. Add to that anything at all that happens in small tax district 5 and paid parking at Reston Town Center and boom! One head on a stake and sadly probably more to come.

The spite of board member John Bowman’s attempt to have the Tetra purchase reviewed by the Commonwealth Attorney even after a professional review by highly regarded StoneTurn, which found no evidence of malfeasance, was shocking in what it exposed. A well of vitriol whose depth is breathtaking to behold.

The orchestration of this separation before the new board is seated in April was also disheartening. Clearly there is a core on the current board with a mission, they needed to act while they knew that they had the numeric advantage. Which brings me to the election.
We have for the first time that I can recall a large “slate” running for the four vacancies. Two of the incumbents were previously appointed to their positions and two are running for the first time. Three of the four have past experience in the same Reston organizations, RCA – the Reston Citizens Association and Reston 2020. Since the four are using a single piece of co-branded campaign material it would appear that the old agreement that current Board Members do not endorse candidates has gone out the window. We could check the Ethics Rules on this topic but wait, no, we can’t because this board after making scene after scene about ethics found it inconvenient to actually get that task done.

My point in all of this is simple. The health of the Reston Association Board depends on a diversity of independent opinions, not groupthink that has been hobbled together by our most angry citizens. I’m not telling my fellow Reston citizens who to vote for but I hope that they’ll consider the new faces and differing opinions that are seeking election this term because that’s what will move this community forward in positive ways. To the current Board; you’ve got your pound of flesh in Ms. Fulkerson. Let’s move on.

File photo.

  • Why do you bother?

    How much did she pay you?

    And also: “past experience” = Department of Redundancy Department

    • Guest

      I suppose this was a (failed) attempt at humor to assert non-substantive disagreement with part of the editorial. Tsk, tsk.

      And also, you might want to hold accountable the head of the department you mention. “Experience” in both its noun and verb forms can be used in the present tense.

      • Why do you bother?

        Experience is, by definition, past tense.

        • Guest

          Sure, people who read this might one day experience nausea. I have the experience to make such a statement. In fact, if you bother to open a dictionary you might find it an enlightening experience. Then you can experience the warmth of sending an apology. (Not a lot of past tense there.)

          • Why do you bother?

            Dictionaries reflect usage, whether correct or not. They don’t mandate definitions.

  • RA Dinner Party Circuit

    Will you be able to break convention and share the lasagna recipe?

  • Milos Foreman

    Fulkerson needed to go. Her handling of Tetra was beyond bad, it showed total lack of leadership. Having said that, I do agree that this “slate” of candidates is a very bad thing. It is clearly being orchestrated by a current Board member seeking total control over Reston. It lead me to reconsider my choices for this election as this would create a majority run simply by one person and taking discussion out the window on the issues. Such a move will lead to more Tetra’s down the road. I see moves like this all the time at the federal level. It was almost smart. If it were me, I would have been more quiet about it rather than endorsing candidates publicly.

    • Are you

      Everyone talks about transparency and yet when it hits them in the face they don’t like it. The 4 for Reston are transparent in their views to stop the PRC zoning change, continue financial reform, discuss and debate (and if you can get to a 9-0 vote – terrific – that is called compromise).

      Do you really think there isn’t a covert slate? Are you that naive?

      Wedell & Iyer – Do you remember the Hook Road meeting? The police were called because of Wedell’s behavior.

      Pinkman & Bitzer – they will spend money on everything and watch assessments skyrocket.

      Just because there are 4 people on the card, they are running independently.

      Wake up Reston.

      • You are

        Just checked your comment history – it is clear where you are all crawled into.

      • Saul

        The police never should have been called, whoever called them should be embarrassed

      • LaureenMT

        It is Ray Wedell who should be embarrassed. His disrespect and rudeness towards Reston residents at the Hook Road meeting was appalling. I can hardly believe he is running again for the seat he resigned from just a few months ago.

      • Bernie Supporter

        Are you… kidding.

        There are no other slates.

        Sure there are other candidates who share similar concerns. But there is no organized campaign of other candidates sharing resources in order to try to “buy” this election.

        For the FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON transparency just means “Hiding in Plain Sight.” Pooling their resources, they are printing and distributing four times the campaign marketing materials than any independent candidate, who you keep calling members of a “slate.”

        The campaign materials of the FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON say nothing about them. And if this is the way they spend THEIR money to get a seat on the board, wait until they spend OUR money as members to get their way as they groupthink each vote and expenditure. These guys and Tammi are THE DIRECT OPPOSITE OF INDEPENDENT. The money tells it all.

      • recordstr8

        Explain to me how there can be a covert slate. Slates are formed to pool resources and for name dropping. It would be very hard if not impossible to keep a slate covert, and if so, it would be useless. Right now we have two slates – “4 for Reston” – Ganesan, Johnson, Bowman, Petrine and “Alliance for a Better Reston.” with Colin Meade, Aaron Webb, Andy Sigle and Julie Bitzer. There are NO other slates. Do you always make bold statements with very little information?

    • 20190

      “It is clearly being orchestrated by a current Board member seeking total control over Reston.” “Such a move will lead to more Tetra’s down the road” – Could not have said it better myself.

  • dudewe

    Too many missteps and way overpaid. The RA Board of Directors, who she skillfully manipulated and fooled (she gets an “A” for that skill), should have given her the pink slip a long time ago.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Fulkerson did not do her job and SHOULD have been fired years ago
    With her >$250k compensation comes accountability
    Why is that so hard to understand

  • Mike M

    ” . . . the new RA Headquarters, the Nature House, the Lake Anne land swap and finally Tetra. ”

    Yes, and accountability is a good thing. Sooner would have been better.

  • Greendayer

    Tetra was a fiasco.
    Those responsible are fortunate that they can just walk away from their negligence.

    • 40yearsinreston

      They commonwealth attorney and his posse should get on their trail

      • Energies

        At the expense of the community and 1000s of dollars of wasted time and goose chase with an outcome similar to the first two: “lost” paperwork

        • 40yearsinreston

          We have already paid as part pf our state taxes – no extra ‘cost’ involved
          The price of justice is not measured $$

          Besides, you arent qualified to make a judgement
          They are

        • Greg

          Please. You are worried about thousands? The rest of us are worried about the millions that have been squandered if not worse. The the CA do their work — which, as you may know, is free of extra charges.

      • Cisero

        Totally agree 40years. If what the author of the opinion piece meant by ‘groupthink’ is the ability to assess facts and do basic math on Tetra, then Restonians should vote for the group that shares the opinion that Tetra was a tragedy, and something needs to be done about it. It appears that Reston significantly overpaid for Tetra, by as much as $2.1 million, or 9.5 times a reasonable value. Here is the math:

        Amount Paid
        $2,650,000 total purchase price
        ( 275,000) less the seller’s contribution to rehab escrow
        2,375,000 equals net amount paid by Reston

        Actual Value
        $1,100,000 Appraised value (from appraisal based on income method, assuming ‘as is’ use, because converting to restaurant was improbable)
        ( 850,000) Less approximate amount Reston paid for rehab
        250,000 equals net value of property (Actual Value)

        $2,125,000 amount by which Reston overpaid for the property (2,375,000 less 250,000)

        950% Percentage by which Reston overpaid for the property (2,375,000 divided by 250,000).

        You can present these numbers in different ways, and people will, but its hard to make a reasonable assessment that shows Reston as not having paid multiples more than we should have. The numbers, in addition to the well documented history, begs for a criminal review, referral to licensing bodies of anyone involved wherever possible, and suit to recover damages, to say the nothing of voting down any candidate or slate of candidates running for the board that were either on the board when these decisions were made, or will not come out definitively against this woeful event. If they cannot do the math, they should not be on the board.

        • Donald

          Sell it.

          Donald

          • Save Browns Chapel

            You mean like Lauer tried to do for a decade and found no takers?

            Which is why people are outraged at the price paid and the costs of renovation.

          • Donald

            Just sell it.

            Donald

          • Save Browns Chapel

            You mean like Lauer tried to do for a decade and found no takers?

            Which is why people are outraged at the price paid and the costs of renovation.

          • Donald

            Just sell it. I’m sure after all the renovations, and bringing the building up-to-code — we could get a pretty penny.

            There’s no harm in testing the waters is there? Unless, you’re afraid to find out how much that lake house, and the parcel of land it sits on, are worth.

            Donald

        • John Higgins

          Sigh.

        • Arlene Krieger

          Sell it and seek a criminal review and all the above. I think RA should be responsible for wasting the member’s money. Those responsible should be responsible for paying back the members. Hope they have insurance but they have assets that can be used. We need to set an example.

  • Scout

    It’s called ACCOUNTABILITY – TAKING RESPONSIBILITY – JEEZ

  • Ray Wedell

    Mr. Anderson…..I often disagreed with Cate Fulkerson on issues, and usually tried to convey my differences with her. I have posted a new video on “Traits we Should Seek in Our New CEO,” and none of them in any way rip Cate, since I have discussed this very issue with her on more than one occasion. My vision and hers were sometimes the same, sometimes not…… but attempts to run a palace coup and drive her out were just wrong. And right versus wrong DOES make a difference.

    Your points on the Board orchestrating this and muscling its own opinions on topic after topic, usually backed by its own small band of friends from the outside, is more valid than you realize. I lived it….. I was frustrated by it….I was hopeless to change it…..I resigned to regroup and come back as a candidate who may have flaws and who may not express things in ways many of the people want to hear them, but not a person on earth can question my authenticity and even suggest I would ever yield to groupthink.

    Yes, Reston, Mr. Anderson points out a very serious issue. It will be magnified if any “slate” is elected. Machiavelli would be very proud of many of the means used by the some people to hammer home horrible decisions with no discussion.

    Restonians, please vote. Analyze the candidates deeply and vote.

    • cRAzy

      I guess your not on the “slate,” huh?

      • Tetra Troll

        Sure he is.

        His slate includes two of the others who supported the Tetra boondoggle: Julie Bitzer, John Pinkman.

        His slate also includes the other guy as wacky as Ray.

        • Bernie Supporter

          Troll doing what trolls do. Come see the Troll, boys and girls. And start laughing at him.

          • Drip

            This is a funny comment since “Bernie Supporter,” with initials “B.S.,” appears to be a sock puppet for my favorite former Tetra supporter. 🙂

      • Bernie Supporter

        Nope. Ray in two words: “Independent thinker.” Ray in three words “Speaks his mind.” Ray in four words. “Speaks for RA members” Ray in five words “Places RA members before himself.”

        Compared to…

        FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON: In one word: “Groupthinkers.” In two words: “Control freaks.” In three words: “Bad for Reston” In four words. “It’s all about them.” In five words: “Places themselves before RA members.” The choice is pretty clear.

        • LaureenMT

          Ray Wedell could not even place Reston Association members above himself for a few minutes at the Hook Road meeting! His interruptions at this public meeting were incessant, his rudeness was appalling, and I am not surprised that the police were called. This man is no public servant.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Horsefeathers! I was at that one-sided meeting. You had a committee headed up by someone invested in the outcome trying to pretend that his presentation was informational. It was more like an infomercial. Ray kept interrupting because that was the only way to get a balanced discussion. Is Ray loud? Sure. Rude? I’ll grant that, too, with the caveat that when the cards have been stacked the only way to play is but turning over the table. But there should be no doubt that the man is a public servant. Probably one of Reston’s best. And he’s proven it so many times over by “not going along” — even if he doesn’t win his point at least RA members get the benefit of his dissenting opinion.

        • Reston on your Laurels?

          Bernie, what are your thoughts on the second slate? The debates made it sound like there were going to be a lot more people willing to speak their minds like Ray in this election. But that changed quickly.

          • Bernie Supporter

            There are no other slates. There may be other candidates who share similar concerns. But there is no organized campaign of other candidates sharing resources in order to try to “buy” this election. And by “buy” I mean using four times the resources to print and distribute four times the campaign marketing material. Most RA members don’t vote. And those that do often don’t know the issues. So “brand name” familiarity becomes the deciding factor, and seeing the FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON over and over, four times as often, gives them the advantage they seek. Their materials say nothing. And that doesn’t matter. Its all about frequency and name recognition. Its like they’re trying to see themselves as a bar of soap.

  • Samuel Colbertson

    Mr. Anderson,

    Well written. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings.

    I’ve passed your Op-Ed onto friends and neighbors, hoping they will do the same with theirs.

    It’s time to stop this group in its tracks. They’ve been at this for way too long.

    • Frank El

      Funny. Its really the group “endorsing” the others that are the main problem. Old habits die hard and just because on the outside it looks like your friends are doing so much for the community, trying to keep Reston as they think it should be, trying to keep everything they do a secret-well, its time for a change.

      Peel back the layers and find how much is really being done for personal gain, personal protection, and control. The way a lot of people see it, is that the people who all protected each other from bad behavior will lose their jobs in the next few months. Hopefully, some of those will be in elected positions at the County level, and cluster HOA and Condo association level. And they should.

      It is our money, our homes, and our community. Not just the Kate, Eve, and “Friends” show.

      • Samuel Colbertson

        Acutally it’s Cate not Kate.

        And yes it is funny as you peel away the onion and see just how tightly connected several board directors are with the candidates and their “Friends”.

        Hebert, Carr, Ganesan, Petrine, Bowman, Maynard, Gallagher, Callaghan, Abbott, Lovaas, Farrell, Flashman, to name a few…

        • Save Browns Chapel

          Yeah, because those 12 are just evil, right?

          How’s that tin foil hat working for ya?

          • Paul Anderson

            Not evil, that’s not the point but you’d better hope that you’re perfectly aligned with the THINK of this Group, because their agenda is what will be getting.

          • Save Browns Chapel

            So your kid was in FitKids too?

          • Tetra Troll

            I keep reading comments full of foreboding and innuendo about the 4 for Reston’s “agenda.”

            Well, what is their agenda? And what part of it scares you?

            Are they colluding with Raul Castro to provide landing spots for the black helicopters bringing the Russians special ops invasion?

            Are they secretly in cahoots with JBG or Comstock to pave over Lake Newport?

            Lots of implications but nothing explicit.

          • Samuel Colbertson

            I could see them voting to close facilities, shut down programs, making land use decisions, violating meeting rules, avoiding transparency when it doesn’t suit their group, shutting down directors and members who disagree with them…to name a few.

            If they have the majority, anything goes for them.

          • J Gallagher

            Samuel…everything that you have mentioned above literally happened in 2016 under the watch of your folks. Cate proposed cutting the pools budget by $138,000…the Board said to do it. A couple of brave board members spoke out against the cuts. These cuts to pools were being proposed as we were paying our lawyers (plural) nearly $1M. Who proposes cuts to pools before cuts to lawyers??? The “cuts to facilities, cuts to programs” was spurred by the people you are touting. It was these kinds of decisions that motivated people like the slate of 4 to run, to ensure members interests were protected… to get back to the mission of Reston. It was the old guard who proposed cutting facilities and programs, read here:

            Here’s the link to the 2016 discussion on pool cuts. Mind you, the staff proposed cuts to pools and no cuts to our legal contractors:
            http://m.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2016/nov/17/reston-reston-association-board-members-divided-po/?templates=mobile

          • Samuel Colbertson

            “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” It’s a joke so familiar to us that it’s become a shorthand way to refer to any situation in which someone is utterly missing the point.

          • Bernie Supporter

            More truth

          • Frank El

            Wow. Like a history lesson! Already happened. If the 12 you mention have an agenda, it is to stop all of this from happening as it did for so many years.

            Now there is just a pathetic campaign to regain lost power and a whole lot of misinformation about those who want to fix things, and about those who understand that Reston is more than just a few people who think they control the entire area.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Truth.

          • Samuel Colbertson

            Very nice attempt at a straw man. You entirely miss my point as well.

          • Bernie Supporter

            And they’re already using that power. 4 x the resources means 4x the marketing materials means 4 x the impressions made than all the other candidates. It also means that their material has no room to say virtually anything about them. the Frightful Four think they’re “entitled” to be board members. Not what Reston needs.

          • Ray Wedell

            Bingo !!!

          • Bernie Supporter

            Nothing explicit? How about “built in majority votes”. If that doesn’t scare you, its time to have your brain checked. Its not the 4 for Reston. It’s FRIGHTFUL FOUR verses RESTON.

          • Samuel Colbertson

            I never said they were evil. That’s you just being rude and childish.

            I (and many others) pointed out they have a common agenda. It’s obvious they want to gain a majority lock with the new board.

            Having such a majority is a dangerous path for this community.

          • Bernie Supporter

            they call themselves “Four for Reston.” I call them the FRIGHTFUL FOUR for Reston. I want independent thinkers to run the board, not processed cheese. And their friends and supporters? You can’t turn over a committee rock in Reston and not find some of these guy lurking their. I saw one meeting that had Comments on the agenda. 3 minutes, folks. And when that was over, and the Board went on to discuss an issue they invited Irwin Flashman up to “explain it.” I think Flashman is called “The Board Whisperer.” Different rules for different fools.

          • J Gallagher

            Well what committee do you serve on? Do you volunteer your time to read through documents and ask questions? It’s easy to criticize, its harder to do the work – we all have jobs and kids and we stepped up to try to help – something that Stoneturn recommended that the Board do – tap community members to assist the Board. And we are catching nothing but grief for it. If you’re not serving on a committee, you really shouldn’t be so hard on the people that are – it’s a lot of work and it’s not an easy job.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Lawyers know not to ask questions unless they already know the answers. Of course I serve on committees. And I fear the diminishment of committees is going to be one of the great unintended consequences of voting for the groupthink slate of the FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTION. As you go through the committee vetting process watch them at work, ensuring a bunch of kiss-butt mini-me’s.. ERIC CARR, champion of the FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON, has already given us a bad taste of what we are to expect. And I know you know about it because you’re in the conversation on Eric’s unethical support page for all FRIGHTFUL FOUR for RESTON candidates.

            Check out is post from March 1st where he not only attacks a committee member but then seeks to have him removed from the committee he serves on. The name of the committee member has been removed, but the guy had the NERVE to ask kiddie CARR if the Lake House Loan was paid off from our reserves.

            “He then proceeded to berate me for asking the question? Not only that, he contacted my committee chairperson that I am a member of saying he had concerns about my position on the committee. I find it really scary that Mr. Carr (1) doesn’t want members asking questions, (2) lies about questions asked, and (3) retaliates against those who ask questions. I ask again, what kind of leader is this?”

            What kind of leader is this? I’ll tell you. Its a leader who wants a groupthink majority by doing all he can to elect the FRIGHTFUL FOUR of Reston, so he can be even more controlling with a guaranteed majority in all matters. I urge everyone to VOTE FOR ANYONE BUT THE FRIGHTFUL FOUR FOR RESTON. And to remove smug little kiddie CARR as soon as possible. We don’t need petty, retaliatory board members like him, either.

          • Ray Wedell

            I lived it. I was shut off from discussion on two MAJOR items that needed to vet opposing views…..in one case, this proclamation was via an email sent at midnight, dictating that all Board members stop discussing a certain issue because “the Board has already reached a decision on it and it is time to move on.” This despite a three page memo from me to the entire Board NEVER being discussed and NEVER being commented on by any Board member….and never discussed in a public forum.

            I referred to that email as “The Knock At Midnight.” For those who are not aware of that famous sermon by MLK, see it on YouTube….That was basically my Knock At Midnight telling me to shut up from now on. I chose to leave an untenable situation, regroup, and come back with the truth.

          • Reston Watcher

            Jill, personally I think that what you and Moira did was shameful. I know you have a little group that’s patting you on the back saying “good-job” but, wow. I hope your amateur “forensics” becomes part of the official record and that you both have to suffer the consequences of your nutty conclusions. Trust me, there are lots of us outside the “Kitchen Cabinet” that are horrified by your actions.

          • Greg

            You are horrified by million-dollar legal bills? Year after year?

            You are horrified by paying an incompetent CEO $250,000?

            You are horrified by wasting nearly $3 million on a worthless unneeded property?

          • Donald

            Nice red herring.

            I bet two years after RA goes with in-house counsel it will be spending as much as it did before. The new counsel will need one or two staff persons, new software and systems. And yes, she or he (I’m sure it will be a he) will be spending a large amount of money on, guess what — outside counsel.

            Inside counsel relies on outside counsel to help them get the right result. Inside counsel just don’t have the time, or all the expertise, to give proper attention to the many mission-critical matters on their plate.

            Regarding the CEO’s salary. Get ready to pay a nice six figure salary to a good candidate. I’m guessing the going rate is averaging $175,000 base, plus $30,000 bonus, plus benefits.

            Why do you think so many friends of the “4 for Reston” slate want the job?

            And lastly, worthless property? I challenge this board to put it on the market right now. Talk to Looney, et al. I guarantee you’ll recoup the money. It’s a valuable RA asset.

            Donald

          • Greg

            But Don, as you often do, and to your great detriment, you are making so many asinine assumptions.

            All of my statements are facts — not red herrings. Look them up and see for yourself. I’ve posted them many times here, and they are widely available in the internet.

            For one, the new board will realize that spending $1 million on legal fees, inside or out, was wasteful spending. Nothing gained from it. Ever taller, ever uglier construction and a useless fight against a pre-ordained county-controlled density increase.

            Do your own research on the value of Tetra. It’s been worthless since its days as the Reston sales / visitor center. Like many properties in Reston, it was shoddily built, and poorly maintained (despite the RA covenants).

            Now, in fact, the county itself values it at exactly $0.

            The RA CEO should be paid no more than $100k and a large chunk of that should be performance-based.

            We’ve learned our lessons that overpaying at least the last three so-called, but incompetent, CEO’s has been a huge waste of money — all three of them are laughing while we are stuck with VY, BLVD, Tetra, RA HQ, underused pools and tennis assets, and more.

          • Donald

            Yea, it was a red herring, and you did it again. Reston Watcher was addressing the “report” produced buy Gallagher and Callaghan.

            But, again,

            I bet — two years from now — RA will be spending more on legal fees than it is now.

            You will get what you pay for regarding the next CEO. Although one or two in the ‘cabinet” might take your offer with a few tweaks. Can’t wait to see how that plays out.

            And you don’t know how much the Lake House (and its land parcel) is worth right now. I say we find out.

            Donald

          • Greg

            I think we have differing opinions on what a red herring is or isn’t, but so be it.

            No one has any idea what the lake house is worth — then or now. Doesn’t matter that we paid for an assessment, we still have no idea. We’ve been discussing its value for at least three years and through hundreds of posts and comments here — there is no consensus. It’s only valuable use was as a visitor center and office, and I proffer the idea that it again be put to that use — but only if we are stuck with keeping it.

            But, on to disposition. I agree with you — let’s auction it and find out — with one stipulation: it has to sell to the highest bidder no matter the offer.

            Pay scales for HOA managers. You are right. We got what we paid for, and we got screwed.

            https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Industry=Homeowner_Association/Salary

            Community Association Manager
            148 profiles
            $50,231
            $35K$74K
            Property Manager
            55 profiles
            $57,730
            $34K$82K
            Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager
            40 profiles
            $60,000
            $40K$93K

          • Donald

            Red Herring — changing the subject. You deflected away from Reston Watcher’s comment.

            The Lake House and land is worth quite a bit in my opinion. It’s been refurbished, updated to latest zoning and could easily be expanded with a second story.

            The building and land are still categorized as convenience center in the county’s Reston Comprehensive Master Plan.

            Let’s have the board reach out to Looney and others to determine it’s commercial value with some interested developers. You won’t know, if you don’t ask.

            And, I hope to god we’re not looking for a building superintendent to be our next corporate CEO.

            Donald

          • Greg

            From dictionary.com. “Red herring” something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading. Nothing misleading in my statements.

            To use your definition, the heading of this Reston Now op-ed piece clearly includes Ms. Fulkerson and the horrors under her watch.

            Maybe we do need a building super since RA’s assets are deteriorating, poorly used and even more poorly managed.

            We certainly need fewer directors and senior directors, and we don’t need a traditional corporate CEO. In any case, you will see that I provided appropriate job titles for what the previous CEO did. You will agree that she was wildly overpaid by even the most generous of those pay scales.

            The RA governing documents use that term, “CEO,” albeit poorly, but it should not be a red herring (that is, a misleading term) for what the so-called CEO should be doing and not doing. Or implying how much the next one is paid. After all it is a community association manager we are seeking to hire.

          • John Higgins

            This is not a point with no significance. Until 2006, the title of the position was “executive director”. In revising the governing documents the incumbent suggested changing it to “president”. Ultimately, the drafting committee settled on a new title, “CEO”. I think it was a status thing. The unanticipated consequence was that compensation studies in the years that followed compared RA’s position with that of private sector CEOs. Once again, words matter.

          • J Gallagher

            An Assistant Secretary at DHS who helps manage cyber security nationwide and hundreds of IT specialists across the country makes what… $160-ish?? And our CEO managing RA is in the $200+ range?? C’mon people we are a homeowners association for pete’s sake!

          • Donald

            You get what you pay for.

            How well is that DHS thing working out for us.

            How much do you think the Chief Security Officer at Amazon makes?

            You get what you pay for.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            You entirely miss my point

          • Donald

            No, I disagree. You imply: an Ass’t. Secretary at DHS earns an amount less than our former CEO did, while performing duties significantly more complex than what our measly HOA requires.

            The CSO at Amazon makes nearly seven times what the government official earns managing very similar complex duties involving cybersecurity.

            I say, ”you get what you pay for”.

            Donald

          • guest

            Donald — Give it a rest. Read Greg’s great ideas above and while you are at it take a few days away from the keyboard.

          • Greg

            What did Catherine “Cate” Fulkerson get us for our nearly $250,000 annual payouts to her?

            Reduced pool and asset hours?
            Tetra / lake house?
            Bike lanes?
            Gobs of ugly architecture?
            Failures to enforce maintenance and upkeep covenants?
            More directors and senior directors?

            Heck, we still don’t have the dozen or so streetlights that RA promised!

            Much RA is more than an HOA? Do elaborate, please, Donald. What is the more you believe?

          • Donald

            Greg,

            I see the Reston Association as a community interest organization.

            It is driven by the members — my neighbors. We all have a common interest – live in a safe, flourishing, beautiful, vibrant and caring community.

            I moved here over 41 years ago, and to-date, I think we, the members, have done a magnificent job of making Reston so special.

            Boards come and go, and their impacts will ebb and flow. But, I believe what the Reston Association organization has accomplished over the last 50+ years is just phenomenal.

            I am surrounded by well maintained common areas, pathways, open spaces, parks, meadows, recreation facilities, pavilions, tot lots, pools, tennis courts, gorgeous lakes, a beautiful Nature Center and it’s protected trails. I can go on. The value of my home, its equity, has increased so much over that timeframe it is my best retirement investment, EVER! I am so happy.

            When I see a Reston employee, I say hi, and I say thank you. You know what— they say hi and thank you back. And you know what else? My neighbors feel the same way. They love it here. We love our Reston, and we appreciate everyone that has made it so special. We think we’re getting a bargain every time we pay the assessment.

            So, while I agree there is always room for improvement, to demean, ridicule, and spit such nasty vitriol about our Reston, and the staff and volunteers who work so hard to make it so special, under the guise of making Reston better, is….
            just …. sad.

            Now, I see a small group taking control of Reston’s future, right underneath the noses of so many — who just like living here, and just never thought it important to vote. I’m hoping all my friends and neighbors can put a stop to that. Time to rally.

            Reston is for all the members, not just a small clique of folks who think they know what’s best for us.

            https://youtu.be/BniO017oeTM

            Donald

          • Greg

            It is what it is, Donald. And your fantasy is not my reality. It’s delightful that you are so pleased with things the way they were, but they are changing. Rapily. And, yes, RA boards come and go but their records are history. It’s good to think that the incoming board will make even more changes and keep cleaning the very dirty and expensive RA house.

            RA has been ineffective at all of which I state and grossly overpaid for all of it. Three of the last three top RA managers (maybe more, but I don’t recall who was there before Gerry) have left under less than ideal circumstances — these are facts, not fantasy.

            I was not directly involved in any way in Catherine “Cate” Fulkerson’s firing, her objectives, performance (or lack thereof) or anything else. My only indirect involvement is my commenting here — especially her excessive compensation.

            We are the only place in Fairfax County to have no county-funded rec center and a specially taxed community center. Another RA failure that’s cost us all dearly.

            Also, residential property values, while they certainly have increased in your 41 years here, have increased at a lower rate than in all but one part of Fairfax County. Reston is second to last only behind Oakton. Clearly RA is hurting your property values, not helping.

            https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/taxes/real-estate/residential-assessment-comparisons

          • Donald

            Fair enough sir. And please don’t try to paint me as living in the past. My focus is on the now and the future. I’m going to stay on the glass is “half full” side of the house.

            I hope someday you feel better about where you live.

            Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            Jill, there is truth to what you are saying, but…… watch my video on “Traits We Should Seek From Our New CEO.” It is on my candidate FB page, Ray Wedell, Reston At-Large Candidate. All you hear from other candidates when asked what they want from a new CEO is “no comment”, or the usual fare of “An honest person and good communicator who loves Reston” and other such gibberish.

            If we can find someone who fits the mold I describe, $200k would be cheap. Unfortunately, many Board members won’t want to go there, and the behind-the-scenes supporters of these various groups backing slates already have their preferred CEO people lined up for Board Approval. Want to stop THAT slam dunk? Then don’t vote for slates of candidates.

          • John Higgins

            Greg, I’ve observed that your comments here are generally, perhaps always, support by a factual statement. I applaud that. I would hope that you, of all people, would observe that my contributions here are challenges to “facts” rather than advocacy for one side or the other. It’s often questionable how “facts” are applied. It is factual to say there are ten months in a year. There are eleven other factual statements that could be made. All true, but only one is useful.

            It is factually true that the county now assesses this property at $0. I’m sure you know, that’s not what they think is its “value”. It’s what the law requires them to use as a taxable assessment base for common areas of HOAs. All RA land, pools, parks, etc. are also found to have a $0 assessment because that’s what the Ordinance says.

            The $1 million of legal fees is shocking. Even the real amount of fees is shocking, but it’s not $1 million…that’s just an emotional trigger number. If one takes the time to learn, one finds that a good portion of that is the cost of collecting delinquencies. Much of that, but not all, is recovered from the delinquent member. No one mentions that, perhaps an inconvenient fact.

            When we deviate from fact to “should be” it gets more interesting. I’ll watch how this plays out in the current executive search. But from having participated in the last CEO search, I know that your desired target salary is simply not realistic. We shall see.

          • Greg

            John I think we agree, playfully at times, on most topics. And, I have great respect for your service. However, you illustrate the points I and so many others find so flummoxing. For example, why is it impossible to know what RA’s legal fees are and what they are spent on? Even your artful discussions of matters, while they are helpful, don’t really settle matters and often leave many wondering more than before. Did we spend 16.2 percent of them on collections and see a return of 17.3 percent? Or, did we spend 75.3% of the legal budget on collections and see a return of -12.4 percent?

            To that point, RA doesn’t need lawyers to collect bad debt. Turn that task over to a debt-collection firm and let it front the collections fees. I suggest Rapid Recovery, but there are many others. In so doing, RA avoids up-front costs and mitigates, if not eliminates, the optics of profiting or losing on collections efforts. Collections a rote, administrative process, especially when kept out of court or in General District Court, and most of it can be highly automated.

            I understand the ordinance requirements, but it’s a bad one and should be changed. It would be far more sensible and sensical to assess HOA assets at fair market value and tax at $0.00, but that’s beyond what we can do here. Maybe that’s something that town or city status could resolve 🙂

            I think you will agree that the RA CEO compensation relative to the job is high and far out of range (see my posting below). I used to have a listing of all Fairfax County employee salaries, and there were very few who were compensated at that level. What’s different about the RA manager?

            We don’t need the RA CEO on the rubber-chicken or public-art dinner circuits or hobnobbing with Cornerstones and the like.

            What we do need is a creative contract negotiator who can, for example, arrange for aggregating our utility services, landscaping services, trash collection and other things that will save members money. I know that Comcast and Dominion offer bulk / discounted deals for condos and clusters, why not for all RA members? Same for trash collection. Everyone (including RA) has to pay for his own, why can that not be a benefit of RA membership or at least offered at a reduced price? After all, fewer trash trucks on fewer days at cheaper prices benefits all.

            Outsource pool operation and maintenance (after closing some of the pools). RA is forever moaning about how hard it is to find and retain lifeguards–solve that problem for good. The list goes on, and we can attach bonuses to savings realized or something similar, but for what the CEO currently does, I see little more than administrative functions for which we wildly overpay — both in terms of total compensation, wasteful spending, increased assessments and reduced benefits. It’s a lose-lose situation that benefits only the CEO, and one with a contract at that making termination that much harder.

          • John Higgins

            I wish your above comments didn’t make so much damned sense. Now I have to go sulk.

          • Arlene Krieger

            Yes, a referendum to sell Lake House is a good idea.
            We have to all push for that. Don’t waste your time talking to any of them especially the four and Looney.

          • Conservative Senior

            They did a great job!

          • Greg

            Yes, indeed, they did. And I am delighted that they are keeping up. Just the chatter among Jill and John has revealed how bad things still are, how poor the transparency remains, and how much more work is to be done.

          • Arlene Krieger

            Jill and John did a great job. But I’m not sure there will be any consequences because of the report. I hope getting rid of Fulkerson may have been one consequence but we will never know. I know for sure that Fairfax County wanted her gone. Too bad these two are associated with the “Kitchen Cabinet”. Tell me why we put up with them. We know who they are. We need to get rid of them. They have much too much influence over these elections and they are trying to force people on the members. So far it has worked very badly. The people they select don’t come forth with positive change. I ask: Is one of the candidates part of the Kitchen Cabinet?. Is one of the FOUR on the Kitchen Cabinet. I think so but don’t know for sure. Last year some of the members of the KC wanted to support me but they WERE NOT ALLOWED. I even met with one of they at Starbucks who told me how things worked. You know who you are.

          • J Gallagher

            Arlene – who told you I am part of the kitchen cabinet? I have not been to a kitchen cabinet meeting or cabal in my life! If I had to choose I would pick the cabal because that sounds a little more exotic than “the kitchen cabinet” – and please tell me that they’re at Starbucks because if there’s not coffee I’m not goin! LOL

          • Ray Wedell

            Jill….you are a truth seeker. I know that. I think most people know that. Keep fighting for us.

          • J Gallagher

            I’m sorry you feel that way – this post makes me wonder who you are and why you feel we would be better off to keep the facts hidden.

          • Conservative Senior

            Flashman was passing out info for the frightful four a week or so ago.

          • Donald

            Of course he was.

            Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            He attends so many meetings and has an opinion on everything. He tries to influence virtually every vote in one way or another….bottom line: He should have the guts to run for a Board seat and stop trying to play King Maker every year. And there are a few more people like this who love life, “under the radar.” These Keystone Cops/Kitchen Cabinet type groups often do great work and can be a major positive in supplying Board members with valid points of view. But not everything they say was handed down by Moses on the tablets, and not everyone who disagrees with even one judgement of theirs is the enemy. Rather than Board members who feel the need to kiss the ring incessantly, making sure it is very well-polished, we need independents who will incorporate the many views of groups like this into their thinking without being bound by what these groups tell them to do.

        • J Gallagher

          Hey I’m not sure how you know me…I don’t think we’ve ever met..

        • J Gallagher

          What are you talking about?

    • cRAzy

      “They’ve been at this for way too long.”

      What are you talking about? Most were elected last year.

      Moreover, they have taken their fiduciary responsibility much more seriously than any predecessor Board group–actually holding ONE, just one, RA staffer responsible for a series of horrible decisions and abandonment of responsibility. They need to do more to clean out the muck in the RA staff and among RA’s contractors.

      • Samuel Colbertson

        Absolutely agree. All this in less than a year. It’s just downright disheartening.

        I stand in agreement with Mr. Anderson’s Op-Ed, and in particular, the last two paragraphs.

  • Greg

    One overpaid incompetent, Fulkerson, culled and a few more to go….what’s shameful is that we have to pay Fulkerson until November.

    • 40yearsinreston

      The ‘Senior Director’ Project Management should be next
      His role as ‘Board Liason’ is redundant
      He doesnt do anything except hold internal meetings and go out to lunch

      • Donald

        I believe only the CEO can take actions with staff.

        Donald

        • 40yearsinreston

          If thats a fact, no wonder RA is A pit of mediocrity and incompetence
          Jobs for life without consequences for poor performance

          • Donald

            Very rarely, if ever, do boards get into staff matters. Just doesn’t happen.

            Anyone knowledgeable of good governance practices will tell you boards stay entirely out of staff matters (unless otherwise required by law).

            This is why the board president/CEO relationship is so critical.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            “Jobs for life” might be just a tad hyperbolic. Look back at senior staff three years ago and ask, “Where are they now?”

  • 40yearsinreston

    Factions within groups are part of the human condition

    Its normal

    • Donald

      Yea… I imagine you’ve determined sexual harassment is just a normal behavior. Men do it all the time. It’s normal.

      Donald

      • 40yearsinreston

        what are you babbling about now ?
        comparing apples to oranges

        • Zeke

          That’s all he does here is babble

  • Save Browns Chapel

    So any errors in this piece.

    RA HQ & Nature House were under Milton Mathews not Ms. Fulkerson.

    There have been slates run for RA Board of Directors since at least 2010 and probably longer.

    Past President Rick Byer ran a slate in 2010 after the Browns Chapel Super-Gym fiasco that led to Milton Mathews departure. The then sitting President Robin Smyers ran the other slate. Rick’s bunch took two of the there seats, including Ken Knueven.

    There has never been an agreement that current Board members do not endorse candidates!

    In a community of 60,000, there are bound to be factions.

    There are multiple slates running this year. The members of each slate should self-identify and explain why they are running together.

    That’s what grown ups do.

    • Donald

      Actually when one does a little research on their own, they find the truth.
      Matthews left because his wife took a job in Rockville and they were moving there.

      “Matthews has been the CEO of RA for eight years. He is leaving the job because his wife accepted a job as the city manager of Rockville, Md., last summer. That job, like Reston Association, features a residency requirement.

      https://patch.com/virginia/reston/ra-ceo-matthews-to-leave-position-in-2013

      Donald

      • Save Browns Chapel

        Right, and the Browns Chapel fiasco had nothing to do with it, huh?

        Fig leaf much?

        • Donald

          Uhhh, no. This one is staring you right in the face.

          Milton left because he was going to be living in Rockville. The RA governing documents require the CEO be a Reston resident.

          The Browns Chapel episode was in 2009. Matthews situation was 2013.

          Donald

          • Save Browns Chapel

            Milton was all in on giving the Little League fields away for the Megagym.

            That time it took 4 years to get rid of the CEO after his incompetence was revealed.

            This time it only took 3 years.

            So that’s progress, of a kind. 😉

          • Donald

            To blame that fiasco on one individual is ridiculous. You flatter Mr. Matthews to think he commanded that much power.

            That RA board had a majority, for quite some time, who wanted to go forward and make that horrible deal take place. They should have been the ones held accountable.

            This goes to my point — boards led by majority blocks take the community into uncharted waters, requiring tremendous grass roots efforts to force the board to change course. That board was easily swayed by outsiders like Bouie and Gordon. It almost succeeded.

            Donald

        • John Higgins

          Save your fig leaves for tea or baking. No supposed “fiasco” had anything to do with Matthews’ departure. As pointed out above, his wife’s job required residency in Rockville. His contract with RA did not require him to live here (though most believe it should have). He wished to stay on and commute; the board felt he could not be fully effective under that circumstance. In compromise, he was offered a “sabbatical” of several months in which to find a new job. He accepted it. There was no intrigue there….sorry to spoil the fun.

          • Save Browns Chapel

            The then Board members tell a very different story.

          • John Higgins

            I have no doubt you have heard different spins. It was clear that Mr. Matthews had his supporters as well as directors who were happy to see him move on. But as a factual matter, his departure was driven by the change of residence. Had his wife not taken the job requiring her (and his) relocation, there is nothing to suggest the board would have sought termination of his contract. Thus, the statement that the so-called fiasco “led to” his departure is somewhat fanciful. Let’s say it gave some board members incentive to not look for ways to keep him on.

          • John Higgins

            For the sake of complete accuracy, I should add that the Bylaws do require all officers (including CEO) to be “residents” but Matthews could have (and considered) simply renting a room to meet that technicality.

    • Sandra James

      I believe those items, RA HQ, Nature House, etc were examples of increasing suspicion, not that Ms. Fulkerson was personally responsible.

      I think the general point of this op-ed is that its not good for the community to have a board that represents a narrow like minded fraction of the community.

      • Samuel Colbertson

        Absolutely agree.

  • Donald

    #showthe4thedoor

    “don’t trust the majorities
    question priorities”

    Donald

    • SuperCoop1280

      Could not have said this any better! These 4 or “slate” candidates have been open but I don’t think completely and you combined that with someone else already on the Board equals a dictatorship.

    • ARL

      You mean the 4 on the slate Alliance for a Better Reston? Bitzer, Sigle, Webb and Meade?

      • Donald

        Nope.

        Donald

  • Arlene Krieger

    Donald and company,

    Would it be possible for a bunch of us to get together and create a flyer to NOT VOTE FOR THE FOUR.? We would not endorse anyone but list reasons why voting for the four is not a good idea. We could create a flyer, Have it printed and distribute it ourselves.. For example I could cover Giant, North Point. I’d need about 150-200. We would of course have to chip in, but I don’t thin it would be expensive. As RA members what can they do to us? I have no affiliation with RA Board or committees or anything. I ran last year but that was then and not now.

    • Donald

      Ms. Krieger, while I will continue to shine the light on this group, I am spending a lot of my time with friends and neighbors (as well as those who don’t live here) talking about how wonderful Reston is. I’m tired of watchdog groups controlling the pulpit — sharing their concerns, and issues, and what’s wrong with our community.

      Look at RCA’s main focus: “Are you concerned about civic and residential issues affection our Reston community”. What a way to recruit new faces.

      I’d rather see folks ADVOCATING for Reston. Why do people like living here? What makes it so special? What makes some people stay here for over 40+ years? Why would someone move here? Why would a business bring its HQ here? What can Reston offer my family? Is there any value in partnering with the Association? What can I do to make Reston even better?

      I’m tired of hearing what’s wrong with Reston. I want to hear more people share their voice on “What Makes Reston So Special.”

      So, I will be focusing my outside efforts with friends, neighbors and yes strangers on the values of Reston. And yes, I will be telling them to avoid people who want to “fix” Reston.

      No slate and its friends will ever speak for me and say what’s best for me, and shame on them for attempting to.

      Donald

      • guest

        Perhaps you didn’t review RCA’s mission statement. Wouldn’t #3 qualify as ADVOCATING as you stated you would like to see it do?

        Reston Citizens Association’s mission is to promote Reston’s vision and planning principles, to sustain and enhance its quality of life now and in the future, by serving as a non-partisan, action-oriented organization for all Restonians.

        RCA takes a holistic approach to understanding the Reston community’s needs and desires and proposes results-oriented solutions. Our goals are:

        1. To educate the community by monitoring, analyzing and reporting on issues affecting Reston and its future.
        2. To engage the community by actively listening and communicating with Reston residents in writing and in public meetings.
        3. To facilitate the voice of the citizens by representing the community at local, county and state level meetings and forums as well as with all other relevant stakeholders.

        • Donald

          RCA grew up being Gulf Oil’s watch dog. They did a lot back then for sure. But they were ostensibly the watchdog.

          As the Reston community started to form its own governance structure, the old RCA treated the new Reston member organization as nothing more than the entity that managed the covenants and the parks — nothing more.

          To this day that attitude has not changed, at all. Their community participation has dwindled down to an insignificant number. Sometimes board seats go unfilled as nobody runs. I have no clue as to how many Restonians vote — RCA never publishes their vote counts.

          What’s been left behind are a few members of the angry old guard. Names we all know very well.

          Donald

  • Sherri Hebert

    Fudgin Hudgins & Sherri on top? Hebert is from the same gang that stole Reston from Simon in the 60s. Notice no mention of them in the comments?

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