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Santa Monica Neighborhood Group Holds “Illegal” Meeting
By Jason Islas
July 18, 2012 -- The battle for control of Santa Monica’s Wilmont Neighborhood Organization escalated Monday when the newly-elected board's first meeting was deemed illegal by the old board.
This “splinter group” -- as the old board is calling the new board -- went ahead with the organization’s regularly-scheduled monthly meeting at Ken Edwards Center after it had been cancelled by the old board, which cited “threats of disruption.”
“If they are calling themselves board members, they are in violation of the terms of the cease-and-desist letters,” said Wilmont Chair Valerie Griffin.
Those letters, she said, “are to get people to stop doing illegal activities.”
Griffin was referring to letters served to each of the newly-elected board members last week terminating their membership in the organization and demanding that they no longer make claims of being affiliated with Wilmont.
But the new board members -- and former Rent Board member Betty Mueller, the only member of the old board in attendance Monday -- maintain that they are just doing the job they were elected to do.
“Do we accept the terms of the (cease-and-desist) letters? The answer is definitely no,” said
“Unless there is a court order, we are not legally obligated to do anything,” he said, calling the old board’s behavior “outrageous.”
“We are supposed to have regular meetings,” Kargl added. “If the old board is not willing to conduct business, we are.”
Jim Pickrell, the only newly-elected board member who was not at Monday’s meeting, called the letters “ludicrous and childish.”
Alin Wall, another member of the new board, said that she was “disappointed in the lack of transparency” under the old Wilmont board.
She added that she would be happy to work with members of the old board if they would hold board meetings.
Monday’s meeting was primarily a rehashing of the events that have transpired since a provisional election was held at a chaotic annual meeting June 9, said Kargl.
After the old board stalled the vote count, saying it did not have access to the group's membership list, an impartial panel counted the votes on July 7, theoretically electing a new board.
After hearing about Monday’s meeting, Griffin said that she could not comment on what the old board will do next, but she did say that she would have to talk to her lawyer.
The new board members have also threatened to go to court.
“At some point, the dust is going to settle,” said Pickrell. “And if it goes to court, it won’t settle in (the old board’s) favor.
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