The Rossmoor Community Services District honored its outgoing president at its December meeting before swearing in new members and vigorously debating a new policy to pay former board members for attending outside meetings.
Outgoing RCSD President Michael Maynard, who some called a “budget savant,” finished behind candidate Nathan Searles in the Nov. 3 election and lost his seat on the board after 11 years of service.
Maynard finished fourth in a race that elected the top three, including two other incumbent directors Jeffrey Barke and Tony DeMarco.
According to General Manager Joe Mendoza, new Rossmoor Board officers are not elected in tandem with elections, even though new board members were seated.
According to the by-laws, Mendoza said the new board will elect new officers in January, and since the board president lost his bid for re-elect, Director Mark Nitikman will be “acting” president until new officers are elected.
Barke, who was appointed to fill the seat of board member Bill Kahlert, who resigned in 2019, ran for an open seat and Jeffrey Rips, a former board member, won the right to fill Kahlert’s remaining term when no one else qualified to run.
Rips is a former member of the Rossmoor Community Services District, who resigned in 2013 to accept an executive nonprofit position in Long Beach, who is now back on its board.
Maynard, flanked by his family, was presented with a resolution commending his “devoted leadership and dedicated service” to the community of Rossmoor, presented by acting President Mark Nitikman.
He credited Maynard for participating in several achievements, including the early bond payoff, leading during the COVID crisis, technological advancements, and conveniences for residents.
Tim Whitacre, representing OC Supervisor and Congresswoman elect Michelle Steel, presented an award to Maynard acknowledging his service. “You always did your homework on behalf of the residents of Rossmoor,” Whitacre told him.
Former supervisor, state senator and now Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen also honored Maynard, saying “Rossmoor is a community of families who care for each other. Thank you for your love for everyone in this community,” she said.
Nguyen also swore in board members Seales and De Marco, Barke opting to have his wife Mary administer to him the oath of office.
Following the other members being sworn in, Maynard said “I remember being sworn in June of 2011.” He thanked the current board members he had worked with, and many former board members, for having “the pleasure of many accomplishments” along the way.
Maynard, flanked by his wife and daughters, then thanked the residents of Rossmoor as he recounted many battles he’d waged on their behalf, including winning a prolonged fight with Southern California gas about smart meters. “Smug as they are,” he said, “we fought and won.”
Despite their many struggles, Maynard said the RCSD Board had succeeded “without any friction. I hope it stays that way.”
It didn’t take long, however, for the new board to disagree, and, for at least one member, to openly wonder whether or not policy changes were not being offered to keep Maynard involved.
One agenda item, which suggested making Maynard and another retired board member, Ron Casey, members of the board in some type of “emeritus” status, did not even get a motion after a prickly discussion.
“Why is this even on here?” asked Rips, regarding the “emeritus” item on the agenda. Other board members said they are simply seeking ways to keep the “institutional knowledge” of both retired board directors.
After an extended discussion, Nitikman said, “do I even hear a motion on this?” He did not.
Another item on the agenda, this one to allow Maynard or Casey to be appointed in lieu of board members to interface with outside agencies, with a stipend of $50, again prompted a sensitive discussion.
DeMarco moved the motion, and it did receive a second.
Rips said he did not appreciate being put into a position of having to discuss the issue in such terms, calling both Maynard and Casey good friends. “If we simply walk over” to visit them, said Rips, “I’m sure they will share their institutional knowledge.” No one disputes the fact that both men possess tremendous institutional knowledge, including Maynard’s knack for budgeting.
Director Rips also expressed frustration about the reimbursement formula in DeMarco’s motion that would seemingly award stipends to former Rossmoor CSD Directors and not to ordinary citizens that would be asked to serve on special committees.
“This is killing me inside,” said Rips, questioning whether or not the entire discussion was simply a ruse to keep the former directors involved in the board. Rips explained what he believed to be the inherent conflicts regarding the new policy.
If citizens do want to be involved, said Rips, it would be fantastic, but said they should all be treated equally.
In short, Rips also said board members should try to find a way to attend all of the intergovernmental meetings at which the Rossmoor CSD needs to be represented themselves.
The board did concede that there are meetings during working hours that may be more difficult than the others so they agreed to further study the policy.
After more than an hour of back and forth, DeMarco agreed to amend his motion to ask General Manager Joe Mendoza to seek additional information on the policy, addressing some of Rips concerns, and the amended motion passed unanimously.