Some homeowner association (HOA) boards have been accused of using the Mushroom Method in dealing with members: “Keep them in the dark and feed them manure”. Board meetings are held to address important business and should be open to the members. It only makes sense. Doing business behind closed doors only breeds suspicion.
However, there are exceptions to every rule. Occasionally, the board may need to hold an emergency meeting to address some urgent matter. Emergencies can happen and it’s obviously impractical to notice the owners when there is one. These meetings sometimes need to take place by conference call to expedite decision making. There is nothing wrong with an occasional emergency meeting. On the other hand, some HOAs seem to be in a constant state of emergency since the board has no advance planning. And some boards use the “emergency” meeting to get around the open meeting requirement. This is definitely mushroom methodology. Owners have a right to protest vigorously.
Another exception involves what is called “executive session”. Executive sessions involve sensitive matters that should not be discussed in open meetings, such as litigation, personnel matters, contract negotiations and collection activity where specific owners are named. Again, the topics for executive session should be limited and the format not used just to keep owners out.
Board meetings should be held in guest friendly locations to encourage participation. Even when no guests show up, holding them in places that can accommodate guests builds trust. Meetings should be scheduled months in advance (a year is not too far), at a convenient time and place. The schedule should be given to members so that they can plan to attend or present an issue to the board.
Open board meetings are the way HOA business should be transacted. If you are keeping your members in the dark and unhappy, purge the mushroom meetings and cultivate “fun-guys”.
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