As if Brooklyn Park wasn’t plagued with problems already. What happens when a group of individuals come together as an organization to stand up for what they believe in? Well, in this case the community President resigns and papers go flying. As a spectator to the event with my own vested interest in the success of this community meeting, I was very discouraged to see the meeting turn into an absolute disaster.
Apparently, President Darrin Stevens has been frustrated with Vice President Debbie Frank, Secretary Jennifer Donatelli, and Treasurer Sue Sturms for some time now. Tonight all of the dirty laundry was aired out for all to hear. When Debbie had some people over at her house to discuss her re-election to be the Vice President, Darrin promptly accused her of holding an Executive Board meeting without him present. It was clear to me that Debbie wanted to be re-elected to another term and Darrin had no interest in her help or the help of the other two elected officials for the next one year term.
To be fair, Darrin has been a great volunteer over the last year in our community. The revitalization of the Arundel Village Park as started some progress in bettering our community. In addition, the time he has spent with elected officials showing them around our neighborhood has brought to light many inconsistencies in lack of neighborhood police involvement. When he stood behind with his support for Maryland Senate Bill 213, which would have placed the same drug free zone over our parks as already exists for schools, it was clear he wanted to make a difference especially since he took a day off of work to go speak in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would be great to have more people just as motivated as him to make a difference in our community.
The three other elected officials, Debbie, Sue, and Jennifer, have also been a huge help. I can’t remember a community meeting where taking attendance didn’t happen or a public event that they couldn’t make it to. Jennifer works hard with the community newsletter while at the same time I watch Debbie making sure an organized door to door literature drop takes place for every publication. Sue keeps the finances in order so the community knows exactly where every penny was spent in addition to all the volunteer hours she puts in.
When it came time to discuss merging with another struggling neighborhood association I was skeptical. If this organization was so disorganized why would we want to take the thinly spread volunteers we have and spread them out even thinner? Better yet, if we did expand would one of these individuals want to try to hold an elected office in a community where they don’t even know the people? It was discussed that they would deliver their own newsletters to the 900 or so residents and that satisfied one of my issues. When I suggested that new members from this merging organization have to wait until the next election cycle to run for an elected position, the General Members in attendance seemed to be in agreement. At that moment the power struggle was clear. Darrin seemed to have had someone else in mind to replace Debbie, Sue, or Jennifer (possibly all three) and it seemed apparent to me that it was someone from this other organization.
I obtained a copy of Arundel Neighborhoods Association By-laws because I wanted to know exactly what our guidelines are. There had been some violations of the by-laws such as quarterly newsletters instead of bimonthly newsletters. For the most part nothing has been going on that would make me think anyone on the Executive Board should not be re-elected. I have a feeling that the checks and balances within our by-laws is the only reason we have not seen additional violations.
The only loser is the community because of the inability for the Executive Board members to work out their differences. It is a true disgrace to have people yelling and throwing papers all over the place. I suspect that May 31st will be a much more down to earth meeting. I have high hopes of us actually accomplishing something worthwhile and making progress in our small corner of the Anne Arundel County.