‘Transparency’ issues raised at Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting


By Karen Billing

At the May 1 Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting, the theme of the meeting was once again “transparency” and full disclosure, this time with residents wanting the real, behind-the-scenes story as to why director Ann Boon was removed as board president.

With the election nearing, Anne McCarthy (formerly Feighner) said she wants the facts to counteract the rumor and innuendo about what really happened in the eight months when she said a “highly functioning and highly-rated organization turned to chaos and dysfunction.”

McCarthy said that while in the past board members haven’t always agreed, they have been able to operate in a cooperative manner and work with staff to make the community a better place to live.

“This is what good governance is about…this is not what happened under Boon as president and since she is running for the board again how would she change her behavior?” McCarthy said. “After Boon became president the Association became unproductive, employees were bogged down with endless demands for minute detailed information and member dissatisfaction skyrocketed.”

McCarthy said that when she was on the board with Boon, Boon worked on and approved the process to vet the sale of the RSF Garden Club to the community but now is campaigning against it, saying that the deal is not good and must be reworked.

“Director Boon presents herself as a blameless victim of being removed without cause,” said McCarthy. “The opposite is true.”

After the meeting, Boon responded to McCarthy’s complaints.

“As to why I was removed as president, you’d have to ask individual board members why they removed me,” Boon said.

She said her ouster occurred after she revealed the issue with the form 990 in the tax return and asked to see the manager’s contract; board members also said they didn’t like her leadership style and wanted a change.

“I think that some of the board members were embarrassed by their lack of knowledge and I can only speculate whether they were pressured by the former manager or other members to remove me,” Boon said. “I really don’t consider myself a victim as McCarthy says. I’ve never portrayed myself in that light and as I stated publicly when I was removed, the board absolutely has the right to remove any board members for any reason or no reason. I think it’s other members in the community who have been conveying their own outrage over what they perceive as a punishment of a whistleblower.”

As to McCarthy’s statements about the Garden Club purchase, Boon said that when the board voted to go forward with the purchase none of them knew that the deal was for the Garden Club to maintain use of the facility “in perpetuity.”

“When I became president and therefore part of the executive committee, I was part of the team that negotiated the actual deal. It was then that for the first time I, as well as the other board members, were made aware of the perpetuity issue,” Boon said. “That is when I developed my reservations about the purchase and, in fact, all seven of the board members were concerned at that point.”

The deal the community voted on is now structured so that the Garden Club can terminate the lease only by giving a two-year notice and the Association can terminate the lease and all other rights of the Garden Club at any time just with a vote of the membership.

McCarthy also stated that Boon “continues to threaten to sue” 33 members of the community for writing a private letter to the board. Bill Hinchy, one of the 33 members who signed the letter, said that there is now a public misconception that the letter caused the board to remove Boon — he said he believes that to be false.

“The board members took the historic step in removing the president from the board based on their own observations and judgments,” Hinchy said.

In public comment, RSF resident Lisa Bartlett said she felt the letter defamed Boon and was one of the “ugliest, nastiest letters” she has ever read in her life.

Boon reiterated that she has not threatened to sue anyone nor is she suing anyone currently.

“I have asked in a letter drafted by my attorney that the signees of the letter retract statements in the letter,” Boon said.