|Santa Monica Lookout|
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Struggle for Control of Santa Monica Group Hits Impasse
By Jason Islas
July 30, 2012 -- Santa Monica’s Wilmont Neighborhood Association issued a statement Friday that officially terminated the membership of those who claim they were elected to the organization’s board at a June 9 meeting.
But the group of eight who were elected is not accepting the position of the current board and maintains that the June 9 election, which was held despite the protests of sitting Wilmont Chair Valerie Griffin, was a legitimate election.
“The individuals who staged this unlawful election have not acted in the best interest of the organization,” said Wilmont’s attorney, Becki Kammerling, with Sustainable Law Group.
Attorney Marc Williams, who is representing the “new board members,” said that he and his clients are “exploring further options.”
Williams said that he and his clients extended an offer in a June 22 letter that they believed would have resolved the situation: “Have a meeting of all the members of Wilmont and have them decide whether the election that took place June 9 should be considered valid or whether there should be a new election.”
“They responded to our letter but didn’t address our offer,” he said. “They made it clear that they believe that my clients are not board members and have been terminated.”
When asked whether letting the membership decide the validity of the June 9 election was an option for consideration, Kammerling said, “No, because the entire election was invalid.”
“The individuals who staged this unlawful election have not acted in the best interest of the organization,” she said. “The election is not valid because it violates the bylaws of the organization and California law.”
The controversy began when Griffin announced that the group would postpone the June 9 election -- two members of the current board were up for reelection, Benjamin Steers and Diane Krakower -- and that an up-to-date membership list was unavailable.
However, at the June 9 meeting, members voted to hold a provisional election and verify membership status of those who voted later.
The results of that election -- finally tallied a month later -- showed that the board would have eight new members. Of the eight, Robert Gurfield, Reinhard Kargl, Lenore Morrell, Deborah Roetman, Elizabeth VanDerburgh and Alin Wall, are now represented by Williams.
It remains unclear how this will be resolved, as both sides remain steadfastly certain of their positions.
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