After months of delay and obstruction, Reston Association finally signed a contract to review the RA internal decision to acquire the Tetra property; the community referendum and acquisition of it; and, management and accounting for its renovation and operation. And, perhaps most important, the independent consulting firm, Stone Turn, is to recommend safeguards and improvements in RA policies and procedures to prevent the recurrence of a Tetra.
Getting to a contract was not easy. Despite the scandal surrounding the Tetra purchase and skyrocketing cost overruns to renovate it, the RA Board resisted community demands for an independent review. When they caved to the pressure and selected a contractor (MediaWorld) who offered to perform the professional services pro bono (for $1), the Board negotiator filled the draft contract with enough punitive clauses to cause MediaWorld volunteers to withdraw their offer. The RA Board quickly found $45K somewhere, and offered a gentler contract to Stone Turn, the second place qualified bidder.
On Feb. 9, a Stone Turn consultant met with about 40 interested RA members to collect input for the investigation. The meeting was chaired by RA Board VP Mike Sanio. RA member Eric Carr, who chaired the contractor selection committee, served as facilitator — not an easy task. The members were frustrated, expressing a general lack of confidence in the RA Board. They wanted assurances that the consultant was truly independent and that the community would get their “unredacted” findings. To see the forum for yourself, google “Stone Turn Community Meeting 2-9-2017” on YOUTUBE.
Having viewed much of the meeting, it left me with concerns about what I heard from respected fellow RA members. One concern is that while they made it clear that Tetra was a terrible deal for the membership, they spent a lot of time and energy making strong, over the top in my view, allegations of malfeasance, in addition to suggestions of unethical actions and incompetence. The consultant’s job is a thorough review of RA’s management and accounting processes of RA in the Tetra matter, including citations of management errors, lack of proper accountability, and ethical lapses. It is not a criminal investigation — for which there is no basis to my knowledge. The forum time might have been better spent identifying problems and sources of information for the consultants.
A second concern I have is that the rhetoric has gotten so heated and exaggerated that confidence in the Reston Association is being eroded to the extent that the community may trust very little this Board or their successors say for a long time. That would be unfortunate for the community and will impede our ability to get essential things done.
This may sound odd coming from this person who has sometimes been a harsh critic of this RA Board. But, if you look at my record further back, you’ll find that for many years I served as a champion of RA and the good work they do.
I believe we need to give the Stone Turn consultants time to do the job they are paid and qualified to do. If you have constructive input, give it to them directly. Then, let’s see their findings — due in 3-4 weeks. I hope we’ll get sound action recommendations deserving of community support.
Next are crucial RA Board elections, the chance for change of direction. Look carefully at the candidates, six for an At-Large seat, two for Hunters Woods, and two for North Point. There are some exceptional ones who need your votes.