OCEAN PINES – Members of the Ocean Pines Association’s board of directors don’t object to the concept of a referendum but rather the fact the referendum relates to the board’s spending limit, according to comments made Saturday.
At a town hall meeting Saturday, board member Larry Perrone offered insight on the referendum sought by members of START. The advocacy group submitted a petition in August to have the association hold a referendum regarding lowering the board’s spending limit. Because the association deemed the petition invalid because of its wording, START engaged attorney Bruce Bright and has threatened to take the issue to court.
“We’re not going to talk a whole lot about the referendum because as you know there’s been a letter sent to the board accusing the board of bad faith,” Perrone said Saturday. “That letter also accuses our attorney of basically malpractice.”
The letter, sent by Bright in early October, states that the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) is in violation of its bylaws by not holding a referendum when the petition START turned in contained the number of signatures required. Bright wrote that the board’s decision “lacks any good faith basis.”
Perrone addressed the issue when it was brought up by a resident at Saturday’s town hall meeting.
“My feeling is that first off we’re not trying to take the voice away from the residents but reducing that number to a million dollars is not appropriate,” Perrone said. “It’s not appropriate. We are not going to go ahead and voluntarily do it.”
He went on to say that the situation was just serving to increase the association’s legal fees.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of litigation in my years and quite honestly this letter from this attorney to our attorney was, I have never seen one attorney put in writing to another attorney that he acted, basically accused him, of malpractice,” Perrone said. “It was very inappropriate.”
Bright said in an email this week he did not accuse OPA attorney Jeremy Tucker of malpractice.
“My letter states that Mr. Tucker is, in my opinion, legally incorrect and also states that, in my view, there was a lack of due diligence by Mr. Tucker and the board in their failure to review and consider a board resolution that governs referendum petitions and their failure to review and consider past practices of the OPA when formulating their stated position,” Bright said. “I have also stated that, in my view, their position lacks a good faith basis, and that is my strongly held belief.”
He added that Perrone acknowledged that the board was concerned about the potential result of the referendum.
“I would note that Mr. Perrone on Saturday stated in so many words that the board will not ‘voluntarily’ submit the question to referendum and that it opposes the spending threshold because (in their view) ‘it’s not appropriate,’” Bright said. “In other words, whatever (incorrect) technical grounds may have been advanced by Mr. Tucker and the board for refusing to recognize and act on the petition, the board seems to be principally driven by its opposition to the proposed spending limitation/threshold that’s at issue in the petition.”
When contacted this week, Slobodan Trendic — the former board member who created START earlier this year — said Bright’s response addressed Perrone’s statements and said he had nothing more to add.