Wilmont Chair, Two Board Members Resign

Monday, 29 Oct 2012, 2:08:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

The chair of a Santa Monica neighborhood coalition ended her term in similar fashion as her predecessor: with a resignation. Almost three years after she stepped in to fill in as the leader of the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition’s (Wilmont) Board of Directors, Valerie Griffin announced her resignation last Monday.

Griffin’s announcement came two days after an election of new board. Board members Frieda Dubin and 18-year member Larry Isaacs also announced they have chosen to leave the organization.

It was a game of finger pointing with accusations flying back and forth about the lack of transparency and willful ignorance of law and procedure.

In a letter sent to the press via email, Griffin said she could not “be on a Board with people who have treated Wilmont, other Board members, and me the way we have been treated publicly, in email, and in the press.”

“I know that a majority wants to ignore the legal requirements and associated transparency,” she said.

Monday’s announcement was the latest in a series of parting shots sent back and forth since the spring, when a rift appeared to be created between Wilmont members after an annual meeting and election gone wrong.

A group of individuals were elected to the Wilmont Board in June. However, Griffin challenged the selection of many of the victors, stating they did not follow proper procedure in becoming elected. With the help of counsel, those accused of following faulty election procedures had their respective memberships revoked from the neighborhood council.

Four months later, some of those some members who were booted from the organization were allowed to return to Wilmont. Another election was held and a new board was selected.

Griffin wrote last weekend’s meeting and election was held without proper notice.

“At the Annual Meeting, it became obvious that a majority did not care what was legal,” she said. “They wanted to rescind membership terminations, enlarge the Board, and elect people without providing legal notification to the membership. Earlier, the membership had voted to hold a special meeting to deal with Bylaws changes. It was suggested that it would be better, and completely legal, to include these actions at the special meeting.

“The Parliamentarian stated that the actions did not appear to be legal, and would have to be determined by legal counsel.”

At the heart of the debate: the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

After the Santa Monica City Council gave thumbs up to allow the hotel’s proposed renovation project, Wilmont reportedly had originally endorsed the Miramar renovation, which resulted in an interest by those opposing the project to seek election to the neighborhood council’s board.

That endorsement has since reportedly been rescinded.

The eight Board members who were elected at the controversial June 9 Wilmont meeting were: Jeanne Dodson; Reinhard Kargyl; Alin Wall; Deborah Roetman; Jim Pickrell; Bob Gurfield; Lenore Morrell; and, Elizabeth Van Denburgh.

Two other members, Laurence Eubank and Ivan Perkins, were elected Saturday, Oct. 20.

No formal announcement was made as to who would serve as chair.

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