TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOVERNANCE IDEAS FOR NEXT YEAR
By Mark Jacobs
I am writing to commend the Quivira, Inc. Board of Directors for their thoughtful responses and comments at their November Board meeting on the results of the votes from the Member Meeting that took place the previous evening.
Irrespective of the results of the votes, the record turnout shows we have an engaged membership who are passionate about the financial health and long-term direction and prosperity of our community, and I am heartened our Board members see this engagement as recognition of the hard-work, commitment and service they put in, for which we should all be grateful.
As we move to final month of this year, it is my hope we can apply some of the learnings from 2019 to maximize and continue these levels of member engagement. Therefore, I humbly offer some suggestions to the Board of actions they could take to facilitate continued Transparency, Accountability and good Governance in 2020:
Improve Quivira, Inc. Monthly Financial Reporting
Make copies of the Quivira, Inc. monthly financial reports available to any Foundation Member who requests one, without a waiver
Go back to the previous report format, which included previous year / historical columns
Do not have separate departments for items such as utilities, housekeeping, taxes, and insurance: apply the “matching doctrine,” with these expenses allocated fairly within the appropriate departments, offset by the revenue they generate
Institute a 2020 Monthly Financial Dashboard
– Provide the membership with an easy to understand, ‘quick glance’ report, showing financial performance versus budget, with narrative if necessary, published each month in The Quiviran.
Publish the previous encumbrance documentation
Publishing documentation detailing the previous encumbrance of the land used as collateral for the Cornerstone bank loans should be easy to do, would pose no confidentiality issues and would put this issue to rest once and for all.
Provide Audit Report Presentations at the March 2020 Member Meeting
Make every possible effort to have the 2018 and 2019 Quivira, Inc. audits completed for the March 2020 Foundation Member meeting
Present a high-level summary of the 2019 financial performance, with learnings and action plans for 2020 as appropriate
Perform a Community Center 90-day “check-up/check-in”
The membership understand we will learn a lot in the first year our Community Center is open about the associated revenue, expenses and managerial intricacies of its operation. Publish a high-level summary of the findings and learning gained from the first 90 days and how these compare to the 2020 operating plan and assumptions so that we can all be part of ensuring the success of our new amenity.
Large Event Financial Risk Management
For large member events such as the annual Golf Classic and Pontoon Crawl, institute a process where the Finance Committee review and approve the financial and operational plans prior to the events, as a check-step to prevent large and unexpected losses. Consider a similar process for large non-member events.
Nomination Committee extended outreach
– I hope the Nomination Committee seek and encourage candidates for all committees that span the largest possible cross-sections of our community, and include those members who have been vocal in expressing alternate points of view this year; make them part of the solution in 2020.
Improved 2021 Budgeting Processes
Start the budgeting process earlier next year to ensure all 2021 budgets are completed and circulated to Foundation Members at least a month before the November meeting. This would give members more time to review 2021 plans and ask appropriate questions in a controllable manner.
Ask department heads to provide short summary rationales / business cases for key proposed capital expenditures, so that the membership can understand these budgets better.
Agree a new long-term contract for The Quiviran
– The Quiviran is a newspaper by and for the Lake Quivira community, editorially independent from Quivira, Inc. and its Board of Directors. As such, it performs a vital role in enabling good governance and facilitating the high levels of transparency and accountability we all aspire to. Agreeing a new contract with The Quiviran sends a positive message to the community that its vital place and role it plays in our community is assured for the long term.
With initiatives such as these, we might then be in the right position to explore the broader strategic issues around “Community or Country Club” that Board President Sestak outlined so well at the Membership Meeting.
Until then, I hope the Board will count on all of us for support in ensuring the financial health of Quivira in 2020 and beyond, with Clubhouse operations on a more stable financial footing, and our new Community Centre successfully established.
KANSAS CITY AUDUBON BIRD CLUB EXPLORES LAKE QUIVIRA
By Mike Cooper
On Saturday, 11/9/19, on behalf of the Quivira Natural Resources Committee and Trailblazers, Kendall and I hosted a KC Burroughs Audubon Society field trip to LQ. Eighteen birders from metro KC, Lawrence and Topeka enjoyed a crisp, sunny day telescoping the lake for rare gulls, migrating ducks, grebes, and loons.
After walking Trail #5 around the stables silt pond and the Trail #3 loop around the south settling pond, 49 species had been recorded, including a new-for-LQ Virginia Rail, unfortunately dead on the south dam road, and a second-ever Long-tailed Duck.
All participants, most also new-to-LQ, were very complimentary of our new Nature Center, lake, community, and the encircling woodland buffer from urbanity. In particular, they were interested in how we Quivirans have been able to protect from developers the precious, irreplaceable, intact, contiguous, un-partitioned, non-fragmented, tenuous, fragile ecosystem of forest, trails, streams, wetlands, pastures and lake.
I answered, “It hasn’t been easy for 40+ years, especially lately!”
VOLUNTEERISM IN JEOPARDY?
By Tom Hall
I, like a number of fellow Quivirans, am deeply concerned about what’s happening here. But the cause for my concern is not that we’re questioning some legitimate issues, but how they’re being addressed. Often accompanied by half truths (at best) and purposefully misleading “facts,” communications are being circulated with the clear intent to question the honesty and integrity of our Board members and other volunteers who work hard on our behalf. It’s healthy to have an honest debate about our concerns; it’s not healthy to impugn the character of the person you disagree with.
As I write this before the budget meeting, I have just read John Kasich’s book It’s Up To Us, where he challenges us to follow ten guiding principles. While I’d recommend the entire book, I wish everyone would read and adhere to his seventh principle he calls “Get Out of Your Silo.” That principle challenges us to search for the truth by considering other points of view that may differ from our own. Here’s a correct quote from Mr. Kasich that really got my attention: “That means taking the time to study an issue before weighing in on it in a public way.”
So specifically, here’s my biggest concern: Volunteerism is such a strong component of the Quivira culture and a big part of what makes us special. Will that continue if volunteers are continually attacked?
WE ARE COMMUNITY
The recent events here at LQ – disagreements, public challenges, overt arguments, delayed financial statements – have challenged us to look at one another’s views, as well as to speak up. We all have opinions. And, we are all different. We are young and we are old, working and retired, new as well as life-long residents. Many of us have raised kids here, experienced illness even death of a loved one, divorce and financial challenges. Yet, on one issue we are all alike. We love LQ. For many of us it’s nature’s abundance in which we thrive. To others, golf or horses or the ability to build one’s dream. But my point is this place was designed for difference.
Just look at our houses – each is completely different from the others. Most are expressions of who we are. We are unique. So, please let’s respect one another as we go through this process. No more heckling. No more judging one another for speaking up. No more snide comments to neighbors who think differently.
We all want what’s best. Many just want openness and facts before we increase dues for the joy of living here. This is not personal. It’s about community. Working through our differences with respect and listening.
Let’s look for the common good. It is emotional, but it’s not personal. We need to be about community.
EDITORIAL: THANK YOU TO ALL VOLUNTEERS
By Leanna Walters
As the ballot results from last month show, these are interesting times for Lake Quivira. Are we a Community or a Country Club? How should membership dues be spent? Do the Clubhouse losses this year indicate broader fiscal management issues?
In a city as diverse and vibrant as Lake Quivira, these are just a few of the questions facing us, and with opinions seemingly evenly split, it appears it is not just a small group of malcontents posing them.
I don’t pretend to have easy answers myself, but I do know the dedicated volunteers on our Board of Directors and various committees make difficult choices and then face scrutiny from the membership about these decisions. It’s always been that way.
At the same time, the best leaders, those who create enduring economic and societal value, recognize and embrace the “obligation to dissent.” Put simply, you cannot be an effective leader in business, politics or society unless you encourage those around you to speak their minds, to bring attention to issues and concerns and to be as direct and strong-willed in their evaluations of you as you are in your strategies and plans for them.
Are we forgetting there is such a thing as the “loyal opposition”? Isn’t our community complex enough to have gray areas about which good people can disagree? Do we really believe those members of our community expressing constructive opinions and openly disagreeing are any less sincere in their motivations and willingness to do what they think is right?
Both dissenting and accepting dissent take guts. And when we embrace dissent, we get the engagement and attention of the best minds in our community, meaning we are more likely to get the best outcomes.
I, for one, celebrate these Quivirans—they’re also volunteers–who are willing to express alternative points of view, and I will continue to champion their free expression here, in the Letters to the Editor pages of The Quiviran, as well as the other means we have as a community to communicate with each other.