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Boards Functioning Without E-mail

Boards Functioning Without E-mail

Boards Functioning Without E-mail
Since 2012 the California Civil Code specifically precludes board members from e-mailing each other between meetings. The previous law also precluded such acts, but many Boards apparently felt it could be ignored.  The new law, among other things, makes this explicitly clear.  No communications, including e-mails, between properly noticed meetings by a majority of the Board. This applies both to regular meetings and to executive session meetings.
To be accurate, it actually only applies to matters of association business. So, corresponding to find a meeting date or something similar would be appropriate.  Discussing association business like "I think the landscaper is doing a poor job" followed with someone else saying "Yep, so do I" begins a conversation that should take place in a noticed Board Meeting.
What is interesting from the perspective of a manager who has watched Boards operate for two decades is that Boards that do not communicate between meetings are actually significantly more efficient than those that communicate often. However, there also seems to be a high correlation with those same Boards in that they also demand their Board packets at least a week ahead of time, read them, and do their own individual queries before the meeting. It has been my observation that those who violate the open meeting act by constant communications do not read their Board packets, do not do their own individual query, and generally spend hours at the meeting getting up to speed on the issue.
In fairness, it often does not seem to be the intent of the Board to actually get into these conversations. Sometimes we see board members who seem to feel compelled to copy their fellow board members on all correspondence with management. There is nothing wrong with that. However, more often than not it causes another board member to “reply to all” giving their opinion on the matter, then a third... you get the picture. If the subject is something that is going to be on the agenda for either a regular or executive session the law has just been violated. So, one way to stay out of trouble is try to stop cc'ing your fellow board members. That way you can get your questions answered without getting yourselves in trouble.  Board meetings are the time to share your thoughts.
Lastly, when you are working in this manner it is important that you demand your Board packet be in your hands long enough before the meeting that you can read it, understand it, and ask individual questions if you are going to be asked to vote on a matter and you do not have the information you need. If not, notify management quickly and insist they get you any information you think you need.

All these e-mails between each other are not necessary and your life will be much less stressed if you avoid them. The idea of the structure you function under is NOT that you represent a unanimous and undivided front on issues because you have pre-coordinated your positions. The idea is that board members do individual inquiry in private and collective decision making in public where the membership that elected  you can watch your collective thought process in reaching your decisions.

Articles are for advertising and general information by The Helsing Group, Inc.  They are not intended to provide legal advice, but rather reflect our opinions as Community Association managers and Consultants.  Readers should not act on issues raised in our newsletters or websites without consulting legal counsel.


Copyright 2011 The Helsing Group, Inc. 

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