In about 20 minutes Monday evening, the Reston Community Center’s newly-constituted Board of Governors overturned every substantive proposal that the former board had passed in the previous eight months.
In the first meeting after June’s exodus, the board unanimously abolished the governance committee formed last year, repealed a decision to convert five of the nine at-large board seats to district seats, and rescinded a previous vote that required new capital projects of $250,000 or more to be financed by issuing bonds.
“We really have not undone anything,” said the board’s new chairman, Roger Lowen, when asked about the flurry of changes approved at the meeting. “These were all just proposals.” Some of the proposals passed by the previous board still required approval by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors before becoming policy.
Later in the meeting, the board voted to establish a long-term capital improvement plan. Turning to the more mundane, the board also voted to revive the tradition of offering dessert snacks at board meetings.
THE CHANGES CAME on the heels of a major shake-up last month when five RCC board members who made up an anti-tax, conservative majority resigned amid accusations that Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) had usurped the board’s control and oversight powers.
Three of the members who resigned — Vice Chair Kevin Deasy, Treasurer George Lawton and Peter von Muehlen — would have lost their seats June 30 after they helped orchestrate the redistricting of RCC’s special tax district to remove neighborhoods not located in Reston, including their own neighborhoods. Former Chairman Joe Lombardo and Secretary Mary Buff also decided to resign from the board when it was clear Hudgins intended to appoint residents to fill the vacancies.
Before departing, Lombardo argued that Hudgins had stacked the RCC board with political allies when she decided to appoint the second-place candidates: Karen Cleveland, Kathy Vivona and Ruth Overton.
Vacant seats are traditionally filled by the candidates who receive the second-highest votes in the previous election. But tradition also holds that vacant seats typically remain open if the vacancies occur within six months of the next preference poll, held each year in October. Lombardo, and the majority of the previous board, supported the latter tradition.
NEW VICE CHAIR Bill Bouie justified the board’s several reversals that undid the previous board’s votes. He said issuing bonds to finance capital expenditures of $250,000 or more would have been “completely irresponsible given the way RCC plans and budgets.”
Board member Terry Smith agreed. “In effect, it ties the hands of the board,” said Smith.
The board briefly argued against the decision to have district seats. Bouie said district seats would have balkanized the community.
“We have a small, compact community here, so there is no reason to have fractionalized seats like that,” said Lowen, who has long sought to move away from governance issues and onto more pressing issues.
“We have refocused the board where the focus should be, which is on programming that meets the needs of the whole community and urgent questions of maintenance,” said Lowen.
Others on the board were excited about establishing a strategic capital improvement plan. “We don’t want to be involved in a situation where we have to throw money at a problem,” said Bouie. “We’re probably looking at a three-year plan that we continue to look at on an ongoing basis.”