October 25, 2014

Topanga Community Club Retains Current Board

 

PHOTO BY ANNEMARIE DONKIN ©

Topanga Community Club Retains Current Board

The 2013 Board of Directors for the Topanga Community Club are, from left, Jaime Scher, Recording Secretary; Jayni Shuman, Second VP—Fundraising; Gary Jensen, First VP —Property and Maintenence; President Mark Nygard; Corresponding Secretary Dorothy Reik and Treasurer Gabrielle Lamirand. Arthur Nissman (not pictured) was also re-elected as Third VP—Membership.

Nearly 100 members of the Topanga Community Club met to elect the 2013 Board of Directors on Nov. 8 at the Community House.

Yet there was rancor amid charges of incompetence, misappropriation and secrecy. When the air finally cleared and 94 ballots were cast, all of the current board members were re-elected.

Mark Nygard won another term as President, as did Gary Jensen as First VP, Property Maintenance and Upgrades.

Jayni Shuman gained another term as Second VP, Programs/Events (Fundraising), as did Arthur Nissman as Third VP, Community Outreach.

Nygard said his goals for 2013 included finalizing the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and said that they had already passed inspection by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“We got the green light!” he announced.

Nygard emphasized working for increased membership, improved infrastructure and greater community outreach as his goals for the next term.

“We are trying to get people involved,” he said “We have Grill Night, the square dance, youth programs and Topanga Days.

“I live and breathe the TCC—maybe I should put a bed in the [Topanga Community House] building,” Nygard said, adding, “while the president takes the plusses, it is the people, the board members around him who really make it happen.”

In his candidate speech, Gary Jensen spoke of his many accomplishments, among them putting in the new water tower, the new well and fixing the sign out on the road. “We ramrodded that,” he laughed.

Jensen suggested that it would be a big service if a few members and community volunteers could help with the many little fixes that need to be made around the property.”

Sitting behind his computer recording the event, Jaime Scher was easily re-elected as Recording Secretary.

“It’s good to see faces versus no faces,” Scher said. “We do our best to make sure the place stays open and running; everyone has good hearts and we want to see the TCC succeed.”

Jayni Schuman also spoke on behalf of her candidacy: “I don’t have a speech, but I have a piece of sandpaper with something scratched on it,” she said.

Shuman spoke of the building itself, of how it withstood the test of time and survived two major earthquakes. While she has long contemplated moving to New Mexico, she said she would be honored for another term on the board.

“This place has held me here,” she said. “I can’t say enough about how this has become a home away from home, and yes, there are ghosts here; it’s fascinating. I am glad to be a part of this.”

CONTESTED SEATS

Challenging her seat on the board, former treasurer Andrea Makshanoff charged Treasurer Gabrielle Lamirand with hiding the books from the public.

“I’m concerned about the books,” Makshanoff said. “I believe in an open community house and transparency.”

Lamirand defended her position, saying that the books have always been open, accurate and accessible.

“The Topanga Community Club is on solid financial ground,” said Lamirand. “We are in the black with a positive cash flow and all programs and events made a profit and Topanga Days made one of the best profits ever.”

When the ballots were cast, Lamirand won 61 to 33 over Makshanoff.

Corresponding Secretary Dorothy Reik also faced a challenge from Holly Alsop and former TCC house manager Anastasia Fite.

During her speech, Reik leveled accusations at Fite for misusing her position to use the membership e-mail lists for commercial purposes.

“The list is sacred,” Reik said. “The names, the e-mails, are not to be imported to lists that belong only to their friends.”

During her candidate speech, Fite read from a lengthy statement that laid out her goals for the future.

“I grew up in Topanga and my formative years were spent at the Community House,” she said. “I brought in $40,000 in rentals…my challenge was to now work for the board for free. I learned the bylaws and am confident I can bring a lot to the TCC.”

Live/Love coach and candidate Holly Alsop said she was motivated to use all the latest social media outlets.

She suggested that the Corresponding Secretary use postcards to communicate with the older folks who don’t have e-mail and to use Instagram® to connect with younger members.

In the end, Reik won with 52 votes, 35 for Fite and six for Alsop.

“I really feel like a winner,” Reik said. “Because last year I ran uncontested.”