Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Columbia Association Ethics Meeting Report

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, November 3, 2006

David Wissing and Evan Coran both attended this meeting as did I.  Evan and I both spoke briefly.

Some background on this that I learned in the meeting tonight.

Bill Santos complained to the Columbia Association Board that two members had violated the Charter and put the Association’s IRS tax exempt status in jeopardy.

Cindy Coyle, I think, said that fellow CA director Patrick Von Schlag had threatened the file an ethics complaint against Coyle and Russell for their actions and the consequences as state above.

I don’t know either of the gentlemem.  I do know that Bill has his own Columbia based blog.  Patrick von Schlag is Josh Feldmark’s treasurer.  They are supporters of Ken Ulman.  von Schlag, as treasurer to Josh Feldmark’s campaign, made it very clear that he was Feldmark’s treasurer and apparantly recused himself from the energy co-op discussions in order to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest.  That is great.  I admire him for it.  I think he went above and beyond.  That doesn’t mean that Barbara and Cynthia have to follow his lead.

When the meeting opened the Board read an opinion from the CA lawyer who assured the board that their 501c4 status was never in jeopardy.  The community input was, to put it nicely, unfriendly.  Wow – who would ever want to serve on the Columbia Association board.

I got to speak despite an objection by Mr. Dagenais to my Ellicott City address.  I think I was the only one who commended the board for taking swift action on this matter and encouraged them to protect their members free speech rights.

One person spoke against Barbara and Cynthia, and another person felt compelled to speak on the character of Mr. von Schlag because his name and Bill Santo’s name were being dragged through the mud for politicizing the whole episode and for not respecting Barbara and Cynthia’s rights.  In fact people were wondering outloud “Where is Bill Santos?  Why isn’t he here?”  It was probably a good idea that he wasn’t there.

The final note on this is that Chris Merdon was there.  I think that was awesome.  He didn’t speak.  He sat quietly in the back of the room.  Said hello to people when they came to shake his hand.  He was there out of respect for and to support two people who humbled him when they took the risk to endorse him.  Ken Ulman wasn’t there.

Another perspective can be found here and here.

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