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Representation by the GPICA

February 7, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

The Greater Pine Island Civic Association says it represents the civic interests of Pine Island, Matlacha Island, Matlacha Shores and Matlacha Isle. On Jan. 8, 2018, two other members of the association and I sent a letter to its board members and officers requesting that they represent us all in a democratic and lawful manner. I distributed copies of the letter at the GPICA Annual Meeting held on Jan. 11, 2018. Anyone who wants to see the letter can email

Election of GPICA board members was to take place at the Jan. 11 meeting according to the bylaws. However, at the Jan. 11 meeting, the president announced that elections for directors were to be indefinitely postponed to allow the board to consult an attorney regarding the proper procedures for elections. The president said this action was being taken because our letter asked that they follow the by-laws pertaining to elections.

At the Jan. 11 meeting, we learned that only two of the current 10 board members were actually elected. All the other members were appointed by the president at various times, including three who were appointed by the president just prior to the Jan. 11 meeting. The president announced that the GPICA would post its plans for the election on its new website. As of today, the agenda for the Feb. 6 meeting says nothing about elections.

In our letter, we made the following requests:

1. COMPLY WITH THE GPICA BY-LAWS: The bylaws remained a mystery until a few copies were distributed at the December meeting. They are now posted on the new GPICA website. Thank you to the webmaster for getting this done.

2. ENTERTAIN MOTIONS AT MEETINGS: The president of GPICA has declared that no motions from the floor are permitted at monthly meetings. This position is contrary to the bylaws which require that meetings follow Roberts Rules of Order, and contrary to any democratically run organization.

3. CHANGE THE CONDUCT OF THE CHAIRMAN: To ensure implementation of the democratic process at meetings, the chair of the meetings must comport himself or herself in a manner which promotes open participation by all members in debating topics before the association. Roberts Rules of Order puts it this way:

If the chairman has even the appearance of being a partisan, he loses much of his ability to control those who are on the opposite side of the question. There is nothing to justify the unfortunate habit some chairmen have of constantly speaking on questions before the assembly, even interrupting the member who has the floor.

4. CONDUCT A DEMOCRATIC ELECTION OF OFFICERS: As the president announced at the Jan. 11 meeting, GPICA failed to follow its bylaws for the election of directors at the January meeting. We also asked GPICA to conduct elections for all board member positions of those members who were appointed and never elected. So far, no news on whether our directors will be elected by the members of the association.

5. DO NOT DISQUALIFY PARTICIPATION OF MEMBERS: At the December meeting, those present witnessed the president announce that a member was disqualified from voting at the meeting because his dues were "in arrears." However, the bylaws require the GPICA to notify a member if his dues are past due, and all voting rights are reinstated when past dues are paid. We urged GPICA not to "purge" its membership list to eliminate voters. We also asked that the membership list be made available, since no one knows who has been purged.

6. PRODUCE GPICA'S FINANCIAL RECORDS FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS. The continued refusal to provide regular treasurer's reports and to conduct annual audits is simply indefensible.

7. FLORIDA LAW REQUIRES CIVIC ASSOCIATIONS TO BE TRANSPARENT: We also sent a letter on Jan. 8 requesting the right to review and copy the GPICA records from the past several years. Florida law requires that these documents be produced within 10 business days of a request. So far, the president has refused to produce these records.

We are members of GPICA. If GPICA represents itself as the voice of Matlacha as well as Pine Island, then we insist it operate democratically. If it wants to continue in the same manner as in the past, then change the bylaws and the website to make clear it represents only Pine Island. In that case, we can resign our memberships in GPICA.

J. Michael Hannon




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