The board of directors in Piney Orchard voted to remove its vice president from his position Tuesday, while rejecting a similar motion to remove its president.
The board voted unanimously and without comment to oust Julian Bethune-Brown as second in command of the Piney Orchard Community Association board, though he will remain as a board member. Lou Carloni was voted in as the new vice president.
In interviews, Bethune-Brown and board president Jeff Andrade each said there had been disagreements and escalating tensions over a number of matters in recent months.
Andrade said Bethune-Brown repeatedly spoke out of order at recent meetings and was disruptive.
“We felt it was just in the best interest of the board,” Andrade said. “The chemistry wasn’t there.”
Bethune-Brown, who introduced the measure to remove Andrade but received no support, said tensions began to escalate last year when POCA board members worked to select new property management and landscaping companies.
Most recently, Bethune-Brown said he clashed with Andrade and others over the manner of dealing with resident concerns.
“It’s not because of your work ethic,” Bethune-Brown told Andrade during the meeting. “It’s because of the way you relate to the community. Quite frankly, you can be abrasive and insulting.”
Bethune-Brown drew the ire of some board members when he met last month with Chris Cockrell, a resident who has raised questions about POCA’s role in enforcing codes within subdivisions of the community. Bethune-Brown said he met with Cockrell because Andrade was unresponsive, a charge that Andrade strongly denied.
Bethune-Brown cited a provision in the POCA by-aws that said he was permitted to step in when the board president showed an unwillingness to act.
At one point Tuesday night, Bethune-Brown suggested he was being discriminated against due to his status as the lone African-American on the board. Andrade bristled at the contention.
“Not only do I think it's reprehensible you're playing the race card, I think you're overplaying it,” he said.
Tensions on the board got so high recently that members said they organized an informal pizza night to gather in a more relaxed setting. But it evidently did not improve feelings between Bethune-Brown and the board.
“I’m not jumping for joy over this, but I think the members of the board had enough,” Andrade said.
Bethune-Brown said he was left stunned by the vote against him.
“I can’t believe I’ve been excluded for speaking my mind and representing the community,” Bethune-Brown said. “I feel like you all have taken my voice away.”
Other POCA Board Matters
A special nominating committee has submitted six names that will appear on the ballot for the upcoming POCA board elections on April 10. There will be three spots up for grabs.
A candidates’ forum will be held at the Piney Orchard Community Center on March 14.
The board on Tuesday voted to allow the Piney Orchard Piranhas swim team to use the Island Pool twice a week for evening practices this summer.
The board also voted to waive any late fees for homeowners who were tardy in paying their annual assessments. Michelle LeBlanc, POCA’s chief financial officer, said many residents claimed they never received their bills due to a change in how they were mailed.