OCEAN PINES – The association’s board of directed voted last week to deny a former board candidate’s committee appointment, calling into question the reasoning behind their actions.
At the conclusion of last week’s meeting, members of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors had before them a list of applicants to fill vacancies on several of the association’s committees. Among them was resident and 2021 board candidate Stuart Lakernick, who had submitted his application to volunteer for the Strategic Planning Committee.
“Consistent with the commitment I made to change the process for approving the committee appointments, I’m going to be following Resolution C-01.4(a) and C-01.4(b), in which the chairpersons present to us their recommendation individually and we vote on each one,” said President Colette Horn.
Going through the list, board members last week unanimously approved nine committee appointments and reappointments. When it came time to vote for Lakernick’s application, the board then voted against his appointment to the Strategic Planning Committee.
It should be noted an official release from the association reported the vote being 4-3, with Directors Doug Parks, Rick Farr and Amy Peck in favor. However, a video of the meeting shows a 3-2 vote, with Parks and Farr in favor and Horn and Peck abstaining.
“Lakernick has not been appointed,” Horn announced.
Following last week’s vote, Parks suggested that those opposing Lakernick’s appointment should explain their decision.
“Do you think it will be helpful to folks moving forward who would want to sign up for a committee as to some of the reasons why someone would not get approved for a committee?” he said. “In other words, it would help to understand what kinds of things would cause the board to not consider them for a committee … As a volunteer organization and many, many years of my life, one thing you don’t do is turn down a volunteer.”
Director Frank Daly told board members one of the reasons he opposed Lakernick’s application involved comments he had made against the Elections Committee during last year’s election process. Directors Josette Wheatley and Larry Perrone, however, declined to comment.
“There’s no requirement to explain,” Perrone said.
In a statement this week, Lakernick said he was disappointed by the board’s decision.
“I think that the decision to disavow my application to volunteer for the Strategic Planning Committee was dreadful,” he said. “I do not understand the animus when dealing with me. I have been involved as a candidate for the last two Board of Director elections. I watch all the board meetings on YouTube along with all the Strategic Planning and Bylaws and Resolutions meetings in order to stay involved with the current issues facing our community.”
Lakernick added that he had declined other opportunities in order to become more involved within the Ocean Pines community.
“I have been on the board of my local Rotary and was asked to run as President for my Lions group,” he said. “I turned them down last year because I chose to run for the Board of Directors in Ocean Pines. This decision by the board is nothing but vindictive and retaliatory in nature. All I want to do is bring my expertise as a successful businessman for the benefit of our wonderful town.”
Horn, however, argued it was the board’s duty to approve skilled applicants.
“It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to approve applicants who have the skill sets and attitudes that will support the committee’s charge to provide sound advice based on their collective ‘expertise, research, and analysis,’” she said in a statement this week. “Committees are not meant to serve as a training ground for people who want to learn more about Ocean Pines nor a platform for pursuing other personal goals. They are meant to use the members’ expertise relative to the committee’s charge and sound information and data to provide advice to the Board that furthers the mission and vision of OPA.”
She continued, “I believe I can speak for my colleagues in saying that individual directors will vote to approve applicants who have demonstrated they can meet these expectations.”
Horn also highlighted segments of the association’s bylaws outlining the procedure for committee assignments.
“OPA Resolution C-01.3(a) states: ‘The role of each committee is to provide the Board of Directors with sound advice based upon committee members’ expertise, research, and analysis,’” she said. “Section 4(a) states: ‘Committee members shall be appointed by the President with the consent of Board and shall serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors.’”
Horn said while she had planned on voting against Lakernick’s application, her vote wouldn’t have changed the result.
“My intention had been to vote against the application of Stuart Lakernick,” she said. “Apparently, my vote was not evident. As it stood without my vote, the result was two in favor, three opposed and one abstention. As Chair, my vote was not required and would not have changed the outcome.”
Perrone, Wheatley and Peck did not return requests for comment this week.