Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Prospects for a thorough Tetra independent review don't look good after this afternoon's community meeting.

UPDATED:  We have included the video of the two-hour meeting at the end of this post.

This afternoon (and continuing through this evening), RA and its Tetra Review Committee held a community forum to provide StoneTurn Group (STG) community inputs about the continuing Tetra financial fiasco as a part of its just-initiated independent review.  STG was represented by Deidre Flaherty, a founding partner at STG.  Also at the table were Mike Sanio, VP, RA Board, and Eric Carr, Chairman of the Tetra Review Committee (but not a member of the Board).  

The meeting was lively, sometimes intense, and probably much different than STG was expecting.  The community members all agreed that they loved Reston and usually respected RA, but argued that the Tetra affair was terrible.  At the most general level, the 40 or so Restonians there clearly displayed the high level of distrust the community holds for the RA Board and its handling of the Tetra acquisition and renovation.  While VP Sanio repeatedly noted that the Board also wanted to understand what went wrong and correct processes to prevent the mistakes from happening in the future, community members highlighted that the Board and RA staff caused all the specific problems, that it was forced to take on the independent review by the community, and that the Board controlled the "independent review" process, including offering only a prejudicial contract to Mediaworld which would have done the work for one dollar.

Almost every Restonian who spoke challenged RA's handling of the Tetra affair and, more specifically, was skeptical that STG could pull of the kind of independent review the community (vice the Board) expected within the 19 days (February 28, 2017) and $45,000 budget allowed to investigate, analyze, draft, review, and publish a meaningful investigative product on the topic.  Flaherty was repeatedly challenged on how STG intended to provide a comprehensive report and, in particular, expressed concern that RA would extend the contract and add to its contract cost under this time and materials contract.

Answers by Flaherty to several questions from resident Ed Abbott, chairman of the Reston Recall Committee, concerning the scope of STG's work were not reassuring.  Specifically
  • Flaherty stated it was not STG's intention to identify people who were responsible for the financial and management disaster so they could be held accountable. 
  • In response to another question, Flaherty did not know if STG would make public the details of RA Board discussions held in Executive Session.  Sanio noted that STG would have access to anyone they wanted, but Richard Chew--a former RA Board member--pointed that Board members may not disclose the substance of Executive Sessions, even after they have left the Board.
  • Flaherty also said that STG would not be looking for conflicts of interest (COI), but would report them to her two points of contact (Sanio and Carr) if they were discovered in the course of their work.
  • Similarly, Flaherty stated that STG would not pursue violations of Virginia law, including the Property Owners Association Act, but would inform Sanio and Carr if they discovered any.  Carr noted that he would report any allegations of illegal activity reported to him.
Partially in response to these acknowledgements, Sanio read the statement of work deliverables which suggest that some of these concerns may be addressed.  Here is the text of contract's statement of deliverables:
1) reviewing the accuracy of budgets and other information provided in the referendum for the Tetra/Lake House Project by the Association to its members and the Board, as well as the process utilized to prepare those documents;
3) making such recommendations for revising, modifying and/or supplementing the processes, internal controls and governance procedures of the Association to ensure future large-scale projects are (a) accurately budgeted and (b) conducted in accordance with best generally accepted principles and practices for similarly situated not-for-profit organizations.
Restonians present at the meeting were not very encouraged by these contract requirements, several speakers noting Restonians need to know the who, what, how, and why of the many bad decisions made in the Tetra purchase and renovation process.

From the two hours of discussion we attended, it appears that RA members can expect little more than some process and procedure improvement proposals from STG as called for in its third task.  Many suggested that this would be just additional waste of money on a project that has already cost Restonians millions of dollars. 

In case the embedded version disappears again, here is the link to the video on youtube.com:  https://youtu.be/NJaot1Sv7Qw




2 comments:

  1. Where is the video of the meeting?Is this the transparency the RA always talks about?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I hope I have repaired the problem by both embedding the video here as well as offering the link to the video at youtube.com. I apologize. Terry

    ReplyDelete

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