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Purged again: Board members removed at annual meeting
by Mollee Francisco
Feb 29, 2012 | 4098 views | 25 25 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
download Legal memorandum from David Hellmuth
Four years ago, as members of the city’s largest homeowner’s association gathered for their annual meeting, Mike Sibley made a surprise motion to successfully remove members from the Jonathan Association board.

Last Tuesday night, Jason Holt performed a similar coup, the results of which are still being debated.

It was a raucous end to a long meeting dogged by procedural questions and confusion. After nearly four hours with little forward progress, and a motion by Holt to oust the entire board, Board President Nate Bostrom attempted to bring the annual meeting to an abrupt end at the advice of the association’s attorney.

“We consulted our attorney,” Bostrom told the crowd gathered for the Feb. 21 meeting at Chaska City Hall. “The meeting is done, it is adjourned based on his legal advice. We’re done, we’re adjourned.”

But Holt and a small contingent of three, with vote proxies in hand, continued to meet outside in front of City Hall, believing that the meeting had not been properly adjourned. (Holt, a resident of Clover Condominiums, is currently party to a lawsuit against the association asking for a legal determination as to whether or not Clover Ridge was properly annexed into Jonathan. He could not be reached for comment.)

“We congregated outside in the cold,” noted Holt’s lawyer Jordan Gall, who said that they were “forced” outside by Bostrom because the room rental was set to expire — a move he called “disconcerting.”

It was there that the group made several motions, most notably one to remove eight of the association’s nine directors including Bostrom, David Snodgrass, Linda Frey, Mark Perry, Matt Poppler, Kristin Alcindor, Nancy Dilks and Kelli Snapp. Brandon Maves was initially left as the sole director on the board.

The group also moved to nominate to the board several members sympathetic to neighborhoods wanting out of the association. Five of those nominated — Dan Navratil, Cal Kuhlman, Daniel Weber, Tom Davis and Joseph Niedert were among the group ousted from the board back in 2008.

David Rome and Debbie Boe (who was among three directors to remain on the board in 2008) were also nominated Tuesday night. Nominations were followed by an immediate secret ballot election, the results of which were forwarded to the association’s management company, Gall said.

Boe said she had no idea about her nomination until she read about it on the newspaper’s website. “While not opposed to serving on the Jonathan Association Board of Directors, I was not aware of my name being presented until I read it in the Chaska Herald,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I had no idea this was coming. I, along with others, will be waiting to see how this all unfolds.”

Boe was among those who spoke against the purge when it happened in 2008. At that time she said, “It sets a very bad precedent, because at the next annual meeting next year, we’ll have someone else come in and throw out [another] person.”

LEGAL OPINION

David Hellmuth, attorney for the Jonathan Association, reviewed the footage from the meeting inside City Hall, as well as audio from the meeting outside of City Hall, and issued a legal memorandum with his opinion to association members Monday evening.

Hellmuth concluded that the meeting inside City Hall was never properly adjourned (because there was no motion or vote) and that the motion made outside to remove the eight board members was valid. However, Hellmuth notes that the subsequent attempt to elect new board members could not be carried out by the group because there was still one director left on the board and, under the association’s bylaws, that director would have the sole authority to fill the vacant seats.

“I believe that the approach taken by the members after the adjournment attempt was procedurally defect, as they did not have the authority to elect directors while a director (Brandon Maves) was still serving on the board,” wrote Hellmuth. Maves was removed later, but the vote was already invalidated, Hellmuth contends.

Gall disputed some of Hellmuth’s findings in a statement. “While it is encouraging that Jonathan’s counsel recognizes some formalities that were apparently disregarded at the annual meeting, I expect that reasonable attorneys will disagree on whether directors were elected,” he wrote.

Gall said that they conducted nominations and elections outside to fill the three seats set to expire in 2012. “That is the very purpose of an annual meeting,” he wrote.

“Getting back to the big picture here, it is important to note that this entire incident further highlights the need for changes at Jonathan, including a more orderly and democratic process to determine who is and is not a member of the association in the first place, which hasn’t even been resolved yet. We sincerely hope that new board leadership, whoever it ends up being, will make that a top priority,” Gall stated.

LEADERSHIP

Hellmuth concluded his memorandum by recommending that the association re-notice and recall the annual meeting to properly fill the board vacancies. In a follow-up interview, Hellmuth said that action to reconvene the meeting would likely fall to the association’s management company, the Gassen Company, as there are no authorized board members to do so.

To watch the annual meeting or listen to the audio from the outside proceedings, click here.
Comments
(25)
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Mike S.
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March 02, 2012
I love it!! Who would have thought this could happen a 2nd time? The drama that Jonathan Association provides is pure entertainment!! We need to all agree on one thing…let those neighborhoods who don’t want to be a part of the association OUT! Then those who are still a part of it can make is successful for THEM! The City of Chaska would be forced by law to pick up those who leave the association. They cannot avoid it since we all pay the same tax rates. Simple as that!!
anonymous
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March 02, 2012
It was a stupid idea when Jonathan was founded year ago. Seems like stupid ideas don't go away
anonymous
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March 02, 2012
Go ahead and make STUPID Comments when you are not brave enough to put your NAME with your comment, what are you hiding from?
Resident mf
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March 01, 2012
Great move! We personally have had issues with Bostrom and the incompetency and unethical operations of the Gassen Company and local management. The Jonathan Association seems to be solely interested In self promotion, with Bostrom/Gassen accepting some fabricated award in the newspaper they print. Wouldn't it make more sense to publish agendas, meeting minutes, financials, current issues that are being addressed or ignored? They use the dues we pay to build a barn, print worthless news papers, and the postage to mail them, and we can't have a light at our bus stop/mail station to make it safer. Time to disband! I'd rather pay the dues to the city as an increased tax and be treated with more respect and more equality.
Resident - 34 yrs
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March 01, 2012
Concur. If not for the removal of the board in 2008, we would be long past this. I, too, would rather pay more to Chaska and disband the Jonathan Association.
Rest of Chaska
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March 01, 2012
Of course -- that would be a great deal for Jonathan. Make everyone else in the city pay for all the things that haven't been maintained in the Association over the years.
Resident - 34 years
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March 01, 2012
I lived in Chaska long before I lived in Jonanthan and by the way, I have paid the same tax as you plus Joathan Association dues for services. I believe I could make the case that Chaska owes me 34 years of services. I paid for your services maybe you could pay for mine for a while.
$64000 and 1
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March 01, 2012
Yes, $100,000 spent (or slated to be spent) for lawsuits! You repeat that like it's frivolous spending, or spent as a result of negligence! It was money spent, required to be spent (legally required) in response to "anti-Jonathan" suits. What was the Board supposed to do? Ignore them and be in contempt? Remember how much was spent by the previous "anti-Jonathan" board? Wasn't it twice this amount? And how successful were they? Does Mr. Holt think dissolving a 30 year old association is going to be free? Easy? Quick? Possible?

And hasn't the City gone on record, repeatedly, that they will not assume responsibility for Jonathan properties or services. And if they did somehow change their mind (Mr. Holt, a coup perhaps?), how much do you think this will cost the City...er I mean you, in increased taxes? How about that interim period when no one claims ownership or responsibility...when the first kid crashes their bike on a crumbling trail and breaks an arm. Maybe the closest homeowner should pay the bill?

People complain about the absurdness of having the "newer" neighborhoods paying for mends in the "older" neighborhoods...isn't that the function of an association (be it a neighborhood, a city, a state, a country)? We pay into the collective pool for everyone to draw on, and those in need get first dibs. Didn't those "old" 'hoods pay for the playgrounds and trails out in Clover Ridge before there were any homeowners out there? Not fair! And won't Clover Ridge be "old" in about 10 years? Oh, and to those of you that keep reminding us of how when "you live by the sword, you die by the sword"...this is NOT the same. There are those that want to build, strengthen, and grow -- and there are those that want to destroy. All because of $200. Sad.
Jane Laven #203
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March 01, 2012
I think many people have been missing the point only because they do not have all the facts. This all began 2 years ago when those of us who have lived in Clover Condominiums received a letter TELLING us we are part of the Jonathan Association. I had lived here for 5 years at that time and had never received any information on the Jonathan Association, never sent a bill for the association fees, asked to attend meetings or dicussions. I also received a bill for 2010 Association fees.Confused, I asked my neighbors what was going on, no one seemed to know. I had not signed anything to join anything and I thought it was an error, clerical perhaps. In 2011 I received another bill, late fees attached and a threat to turn my information a collection agency and that it would affect my credit rating. Would this make you angry? It did me. And that my friends is the rest of the story. The underhanded way this was given to us without our say or vote. I already pay an association fee to my condo. What is next? An association fee to live in Chaska. I mean really. Everyone assumes we should know about the Jonathan Association. I did not grow up here and have now lived here 7 years. I do not work in Chaska. Others knowledge about this area and the history does not mean I know the history or expectations of this area, many act like well you should know this. Well I don't.
Carroll1
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March 02, 2012
Re: Jane and many others that say they were not aware that they joined the Jonathan Association when they purchased their Property.

Blame it on Incompetent & Underhanded Real Estate Agents that should not be selling Real Estate.

You should have been informed about the Jonathan Association (The Dues, Bylaws & Convenants) by your Real Estate Agent & the Seller of the Property, also by the Title Company when you closed on your property.

I would bet if you went through all of the papers you signed when you closed on your property you'll find documents acknowledging the Jonathan Association and their Dues, etc. If you did not recieve anything, then you have a case against your Agent, the Seller & the Title Company for NOT being 100% Honest with you.

You pay Association Dues on your Condo for building and exterior maintenance (Paint, Lawn care, Snow & Ice removal, etc.) The Jonathan Association provides the many trails and Tot Lot Parks throughout Jonathan, the Lake Grace Beach, etc.
smalltownguy2
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March 02, 2012
No the "old neighborhoods" did not pay for the playgrounds and trails in Clover Ridge. Actually there are no Jonathan trails in Clover Ridge, just city trails. And their playgrounds were built by the developers, who passed those costs along to the people who bought new homes in Clover Ridge.
ANON TOO
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March 02, 2012
NO, those old hoods did NOT pay for the new amenities in Clover. All of those amenities were paid for by the developers (and thus the homeowners who have it added into the cost of their homes). The city requires the playgrounds and trails and then requires they be maintained by someone OTHER THAN the city. So Jonathan in trying to build its empire is more than happy to stick their stupid necks out and take on yet another area they can't maintain and where they have no business trying. And the city is happy to continue this scam. It looks good for the city and doesn't cost them anything. The amenities in all these new neighborhoods are in perfect condition so don't need any maintenance right now. So the dues from Clover etc. are used to maintain the amenities in Old Jonathan that haven't been properly maintained in 30 years. Yes, you new neighborhoods are supporting the Welfare Queens of Kings Lane!!

The city is run by elected officials. They will take on the Jonathan properties if enough taxpayers pressure them to do so. A statement made in the past is just a political position. Political positions change all the time. Or else the politicians get changed out!!

iFederalist
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February 29, 2012
It is not that simple, like I’ve said it before. Ask the board that was in place when the first purge happened. There are many reasons that board couldn’t accomplish the dissolution of the association. They had spent, and had budgeted into the future, close to a quarter of a million dollars trying to do it with a 7 to 2 majority on the Board.

Another thing to remember is the City Council passed a resolution in November of 2006 stating that the city will not take over the functions and maintenance of any governed communities in the city. This would mean that, if it was dissolved, areas in Jonathan would need to start a new smaller association to govern that area. That would be very expensive for the homeowners in those neighborhoods. If a neighborhood didn’t have an association in place to take care of the lawn care and landscaping of green spaces, entrance monuments, trails, tot lots, mail stations, etc. the city would make sure they didn’t fall into disrepair. The problem with that is the city would assess the homeowners. That would be quite expensive as well.

Be careful what you wish for.

“Whenever a clamor is raised, and idle men get to work, it is highly necessary to examine facts carefully, and without unreasonably suspecting men of falsehood, to examine and inquire attentively, under what impressions they act.” – Richard Henry Lee, October 8, 1787

Jonathan raises
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February 29, 2012
I Would rather pay higher dues then have the place fall apart. It's the job of the board to ensure the future of any association, no matter what it takes and that goes for volunteers, what's the purpose of a board ithen. This goes a long way back and don't campaign for a board position if you cannot handle getting scrutinized on every thing you say
Changing times
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March 01, 2012
Time to move into the new world and quit living in the past. We used to get something from Jonathan - swimming at Lake Grace for example. we even used to have ID's to use some of the sevices. Those days are gone. Lets move on.
iFederalist
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March 01, 2012
Jonathan raises, I agree with you on the higher dues. I also agree with you about the Boards’ responsibility to the future of the Association. As a matter of fact, the Board has reestablished a reserve schedule and is funding it. Considering, from 2001 to 2008, the board quit doing it. Jonathan is a 317B Minnesota Non-Profit Corporation. It is required to have a Board of Directors.

As for your statement about how long this goes back, I know, I’ve been here since 1986. You tell me “not to campaign for a board position if you cannot handle getting scrutinized for everything you say”. I’ve been on the board, been scrutinized like you can’t imagine. I understand more than you think I do.

Jonathan Raised
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February 29, 2012
I remember the days when I was a kid (1985- 1995) riding my bike everywhere especially to play at the beach, hanging out, getting ice cream, playing ping pong in the NICE building by the beach. I remember using the tennis courts and walking over wood bridges that were safe to walk on because they were not missing planks. I recall waiting in a bus stop that wasn't falling apart and riding my bike all over the place on nice smooth paths and much more.... What happened to all those things, are they not what the dues were paying for all along. Where was the planning for maintenance cost? We are now and have been for a while in a time that probably looked so far away back then, but like an irresponsible child spending and spending with no care for the future those early decisions have caught up to us now. Demanding associations far away from these relics of amenities to pay dues into an association that couldn't care for itself when the future site of clover condos and many others was nothing more than trees, brush and fields. It’s one thing to ask for the money if it’s going towards upkeep and expansion of the things that were so cool about Jonathan, but to pay dues to buy neighborhood #1 or #5 a new mailbox or fix a bus top while they are told to fix their own mailbox and their kids have to stand in the rain and snow. No one from Clover Condos is using a bus stop off Bavaria / Friendship lane.

Demanding dues from a couple associations is not going to generate enough money to fix or even patch this leaking ship, plus when you think about the potential $100,000 spent fighting they could have just spent the money to make everyone feel like a part of Jonathan. Call it New Jonathan the much newer and better maintained West Side.

Let’s not leave out the current management company that is, let’s saying inattentive and the “manager” that doesn’t even know that Waters Edge is rental town homes after how many years??. I am proud of what’s been done so far. People of Jonathan whether in an older neighborhood or not must not overlook them. As members of the association you have the right to know.

Trail Walker
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March 01, 2012
While you had fun in the past is it not the same thing the current board was trying to reintroduce? The actions of the previous board ousted in 2008 did not improve or add any ammenities they did spend an estimated $180,000. trying to disban Jonathan and found out they could not so they spent more dollars trying to bankrupt the association until ousted in 2008. When there are so many broken parts of the association it is do the most needed that would impact the greatest amount of members, the past board did this in the years since 2008 starting with firing the lawyers that were just running up a bill,and continuing to add activities and improve common elements, hard to do when the moneies were all spent on legalities. so cudos to the board thet just got ousted. Dumb mistake forgetting Brandon Maves.

As for the Management company and its employees I am with you fire them and get new. How can some one sit there and let what happened go on for so long. The other thing is why should we keep an association manager who wont answer the phone or emails not professional in any situation. If they cant handle the heat get out. I watched as aproximatley 1 hour was lost because they could not count or agree on figures all whil Mr. Gassen watched. ( the owner )Weather right or wrong how can the company you are paying just sit and watch while the current board is getting thrown to the wolves. The final blow was that No one on the management side knew anything about Roberts Rules of Order. Makes me wonder how good and proficient they are in managing associations that clearly have at least one meeting like this each year.



Chaskagrown 2
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February 29, 2012
Long time Jonathan resident; longer time Chaska resident.Time to end the divide between Chaska and Jonathan. Disband the association now! It is not just the new neighborhoods who want out but many old timers too.

Also - as for the removal of the board. What goes around comes around. A taste of 2008 medicin.
Kelly Kremin
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February 29, 2012
They did establish a successful prescedent in 2008, didn't they?
$64000Question
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February 29, 2012
Jonathan is a joke. Spending $100,000 ($64k last year and $35k so far this year) in Legal fees is not a wise use of funds to keep people in this awful association!
ChaskaGrown
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February 29, 2012
So sad that people who do not care about the well-being of a very special and unique neighborhood have set an agenda to intentionally disrupt the business of people who actually do care to see it flourish. If you do not want to be a part of an association, then do not choose to purchase a home within one. While I have never lived within Jonathan, I belonged to a church that was and have many friends who still reside there. I have always appreciated the look and feel of the neighborhoods and in spite of what detractors may say, I believe that the association does provide a value to all residents as well as your neighbors who live around it. What ever happened to people’s sense of community? Did you simply move to Chaska for the price of your home or did you see something intangible that could not be found elsewhere? I’m pretty sure you could have bought a home in Chanhassen, Shakopee, Carver, or Waconia for a similar price but I can guarantee you that nowhere else are you going to find as large of a community of neighbors who are in agreement that they choose to live in an area where community still matters.
kelly kremin
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February 29, 2012
Unfortunately, it's just not that simple - go buy elsewhere - when there are legal questions in play. I was at the meeting and learned about the 2 lawsuits for the first time. $64,000 spent on legal fees and inadequate at best notification to association members. I am in a original Jonathan neighborhood and am not looking to dismantle assoc or move. As far as these overthrows go, it seems we habe established a pattern - you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
$64000Question
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February 29, 2012
They've spent $100,000 ($64k last year and $35k so far this year) in Legal fees!
Kelly kremin
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February 29, 2012
$35k was approved/allocated for legal fees in 2012...not spent yet... my understanding based on info at annual meeting.... either way so much money
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