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Shake-Up at the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association

Former board president Kathy Martins named interim administrator after declining health forced retiring association administrator Nancy Van Huffel to step down early.

San Lorenzo Village Homes Association Board President Kathy Martins has resigned her elected post and accepted an interim role as the association's paid administrator.

The decision was hastened by a sudden and unspecified decline in retiring administrator Nancy Van Huffel's health, the association said. 

The change — first announced Thursday and elaborated on today — comes at the tail end of an effort to recruit a successor to Van Huffel, and was set to depart at the end of September. 

The news that Van Huffel would leave her post of 23 years came on the heels of the association's contentious in March, although Van Huffel has long suffered deteriorating health and is reportedly heading for her second major surgery in months.

Still, some villagers expressed concern, saying the months-long hiring process had been cast aside in favor of hiring the board president. 

Beginning in April, the association emailed websites and newsletters with calls for candidates. It received 50 applications and was nearing the end of a multi-part interview process when Van Huffel announced a new diagnosis requiring "almost immediate surgery," according to a press release by the association.

"The surgery would prevent her from spending the anticipated time teaching and transitioning a selected applicant," the association said in its release. "The Board felt that hiring either of the remaining applicants would put them in a disadvantageous position of having to learn a new job within one week before Nancy Van Huffel would be leaving for surgery. " 

Earlier this month, Martins said the board was close to extending an offer of employment to a qualified candidate. The association's statement indicates that an offer was made, but that the applicant declined for "personal reasons."

"At this time one name surfaced as someone who had the specific skill set and knowledge of the workings of the Administration, Davis-Stirling (homeowners association law) and the policies and procedures," the association said in its release. "After a lengthy discussion in which the Board was faced with the gravity of the situation, the remaining four members of the Board unanimously asked if Kathy Martins would accept the position as the interim Administrator." 

Martins assumed the administrator position on Thursday and will remain at the job for "no less than one year." Director Art Wydler became board president.

The association said it will begin searching for a new director, but it has not set a timeline for that process. 

Thomas Clarke June 22, 2011 at 03:10 AM
The synchronicity of Van Huffel's resignation, Carr's recall, and the rancororous nature of the SLVHA is curious at best. Folks could argue that this was all a part of Kathy Martin's plan, that is to keep the Village pure and free and in keeping with the long tradition manifest in the CC&A's and devoid of any sort of transparency or resemblance to modern American democracy. The full reach of the SLVHA is still not known, but my guess is that soon Patch will close off this debate and not report or respond any further, while pointing out that this is not a civil discourse. Let's see. Soon the birds will gather and celebrate the end.
Kari Hulac (Editor) June 22, 2011 at 03:29 AM
Thomas, It's up to you all whether the discussion is open. If it ends up being personal attacks and name calling, we will warn the posters individually and hopefully they will abide by the terms of service that they all agreed to when they signed up for Patch. In my year here running 12 sites, we've probably only shut down a handful of discussions ever.
Stephen Carbonaro June 22, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Kari, it's too bad you worry about "personal attacks" so much and violations of the law and rights of residents so little. Is there any offense a person could commit that would warrant a "personal attack" ? Murder? Slaughter of a half million Iraqi children? Hitler's "Final Solution"? Why the censorship at all? To protect yourself from liability? We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Thomas Clarke June 22, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Kari, it actually is up to either you or your selected editors to decide if the discussion is open. Handfuls to me are less than a dozen or so and as I recall, the issues related to the San Lorenzo Village Homeowners Association have resulted in well over ten suspensions of discussion. Of course Patch is not traditional journalism and there has never been an assertion that it should be. At present the laws of the United States do not really cover content and requirements and Patch, as private enterprize certainly can restrict discussion or even channel it in the direction that Patch desires the discussion to go towards. Previously Patch provided regular coverage of SLVHA meetings as well as others in the community. Then, when there was much spirited discussion, Patch quit covering the news. That is the part of Patch that is less than terrific. If Patch wants to discourage all personal attacks, edit out the names of the participants. Just report on what was said and when it was said. That is essentially what the apparent Patch Style is for crime reporting in Union City. That Patch editors do not respond back to queries, either on line or through email is an ongoing concern about the Patch bully pulpit [the reference is about Theodore Roosevelt and not the current buzzword]. Kari you and I have corresponded and you have responded, though your editors have not.
Thomas Clarke June 22, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Kari, the "you all" is in my humble opinion somewhat misapplied. I represent me. Not all. You represent Patch's policies and that is a much more inclusive 'all.' You all need to decide if you want comments or not. At present it seems that in San Lorenzo in particular you do not want comments about the SLVHA that reflect the divisions within the village.
Stephen Carbonaro June 23, 2011 at 05:33 PM
As I understand it, there had been three candidates selected for interview. Only one was. Why not interview the other two? As far as anyone having a lack of experience in any particular area, professional training is available. To have our retiring Administrator train her replacement would only produce a new Administrator just like the old one. Not to disparage the good work of Ms. Van Huffel, no person is all things to all people. Along with her talents, she also had her shortcomings. We don't NEED a new Nancy, we need a new Administrator. Perhaps new ideas, and new ways of doing things. I think we have been denied the benefits a new person might bring. "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss" - The Who - "We Won't Get Fooled Again"
SLZ Home Owner June 23, 2011 at 08:03 PM
It's very unfortunate that SLZPatch didn't post all the information that was discussed during the meeting. I was at this meeting and they made it very clear of the process of how Kathy Martins was offered the job. It is unfortuate that members of our community complain about what they don't like but don't take any action to change it. Whatever your opinion of Kathy Martins, she has been in the position less than a week and it unforunate that people are making negitive comments about her already. We should give her the opportunity to do her job and encourage her success, not knock her down before she's even started.
Thomas Clarke June 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM
The tragedy of the SLVHA is the complete lack of transparency that has been a hallmark since its inception in the the 1940's. We can all fervently hope that the SLVHA will reverse its course of hiding its actions and become forthright and transparent, publishing accurate minutes and opening itself up to discussion. That has not happened in the past. Patch could provide very beneficial services to the San Lorenzo community. Whether Patch chooses to report dispassionately on the public meetingts of the SLVHA is of course open to discussion. Let us see what happens.
Stephen Carbonaro June 24, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Therein lies the problem. The technology exists to webcast the meetings in real time. The Association has a web site that could be used to post all important information. None of these options are used, but we have you SLZ Home Owner. Please enlighten those of us who were unable to attend. As much detail as you can recall, please. So you won't have to put up with my complaining. Please.
Stephen Carbonaro June 24, 2011 at 08:24 AM
Oh, one other thing. The Patch did not have a reporter at the meeting, they only found out about this move when I told them. So the only information they could post was what was told them by Kathy Martins. If that information was incomplete, whose fault is that? And why should it be the responsibility of the Patch to keep us informed of Association actions. Is that not the Association's job. Kathy Martins was elected by the membership to serve as a Director. Should we not be able to expect that she will do that job? Now the S.L. Times says "The SLVHA undergoes a legally mandated audit each July and the board unanimously decided they need someone with the ""experience of the audit"" to take the reins. What does that mean; the experience of the audit? Now the other board members can't be reached for comment, those fine representatives of ours. Well if they can't be reached for comment, what good are they to us. We voted them in, and we can recall them out. And maybe find a board that will actually represent the will of the membership, or at least be available to answer some questions. BRING DEMOCRACY BACK TO SAN LORENZO! RECALL THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS!
Stephen Carbonaro June 24, 2011 at 07:26 PM
A question to all who attended the meeting: Did the BOD take a vote on the appointment of Kathy Martins to the position of Administrator? If so, what was the result?
Stephen Carbonaro June 24, 2011 at 07:30 PM
My father is doing well, thanks for asking. Now that it is in the news, do I have a right to comment?
Stephen Carbonaro June 24, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Nikki, you are right, except I don't believe she will be given that opportunity. I don't believe this will be a temporary job for Kathy Martins. With the economic downturn, high unemployment, and rate of foreclosures right now, I don't imagine the financial adviser business is booming. Truth be told, Kathy Martins was elected to be a Director. That was the will of the membership. Apparently that is not important to Ms. Martins. Thee reasonable course would have been to simply promote Kathleen Harrigan into the position. I'm sure she would survive "the experience of the audit". There is no denying it; something smells fishy about this..
Joan Rien June 27, 2011 at 04:01 AM
SLZ HOMEOWNER Give her a chance! She has experience on the board and knowledge to tackle the job. Let's get this village turned around!
SLZ Home Owner July 01, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Mr. Carbonaro - You are making a lot of accusations against Kathy Martins. Have you ever spoken with Kathy Martins? Have you ever attended a meeting while she on the board? Have you expressed with her directly your concerns? I think it’s REALLY unfair for you to come on this post and blast her when you don’t know WHAT you’re talking about…and talking about her family, that’s awful. You should be ashamed of yourself. You did not attend the board meeting nor have to made any attempts (until I made my post) to find out how this process happened. You state, “Look at the progress she’s made so far,” she’s been in the position for 2 weeks. Did you expect her to work miracles in that much time? OR are you referring to her time on the committee? Kathy Martins (along with all the board members) have made huge contributions while in their positions, but I guess it’s easier to focus on all the bad stuff YOU see. We are NOT all perfect. If you are SO unhappy about the way the board is run, why don’t you run for a seat and do something. You complain ALL the time yet you do nothing.
SLZ Home Owner July 01, 2011 at 10:19 PM
This is what happened at the meeting. We were told during the meeting that a lot of people applied for the Administration position. They took all the application and separated them into three groups per their qualifications. Meets qualifications, meets some of the qualifications, and does not meet qualifications. Of those applicants, they interview around half of them. After all the interviews, they were considering 3 people. They extended the job to one person who met the qualifications. Now Nancy had originally informed the board that she would stay at the HOA through the summer to train the new person. However, Nancy was told my doctors that she needed to have surgery and that she needed to leave earlier. While this was happening, the person they extended the offer to had to remove their name for personal reason. The board decided to interview the other 2 parties again but they did not have enough experience to come in and take over the position with little training. The other 4 members of the board approached Kathy Martins unanimously and asked her to consider taking over the position (since she meets all the qualifications) as an interim. This means that she would take the position over for no less than one year. After this time, the board would find a permanent replacement.
SLZ Home Owner July 01, 2011 at 10:20 PM
I think that SLZ Patch is doing San Lorenzo a disservice by not having a reporter at meetings.
Kari Hulac (Editor) July 01, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Patch is 100 percent dedicated to covering the SLZ HOA, but we have just one full-time person in San Lorenzo plus a small team of freelancers, and sometimes we just cannot be everywhere at once when there are multiple events on one night, which was the case with this specific meeting.
Diane Wydler July 02, 2011 at 04:29 AM
The complete press release that was given to Patch, some of which is referenced in the above story, can be found on the San Lorenzo HOA website, under Bulletin Board. This is a link to the site: http://www.slvha.com/files/PressRelease6-2011.pdf http://www.slvha.com/files/PressRelease6-2011.pdf
Keith Barros July 04, 2011 at 09:34 AM
What were the other events being covered by the Patch that night?
Keith Barros July 04, 2011 at 09:37 AM
What was/were the other event(s) covered by the Patch that night?
Keith Barros July 04, 2011 at 09:43 AM
What was/were the other event(s) covered by the Patch on the night of bthe Homes Association meeting?
Keith Barros July 06, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Kari- I repeat; What was/were the other event(s) that were covered by the Patch on that night of the SLVHA meeting?
Kari Hulac (Editor) July 06, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Keith: There were multiple high school graduations that night.
SLZ Home Owner July 07, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Steve: www.slvha.com has all the information about the selection process if you're interested.
Stephen Carbonaro July 08, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Please forgive me, it was not my intention to make allegations, but to epress what I see from where I sit. To answer your questions, yes, I have spoken with Kathy, many times. Yes, I have attended many board meetings during her tenure as president. As a member, I am confused; am I to direct my concerns to her privately, or publicly? As a public official, I believe my communications should be public. I will listen to any reason you might offer as to otherwise. Now could you explain what I have "blasted her for " that I don't know about. Kathy herself brought up her family and the "sacrifice she was making; speaking of how she would have even less time for her family. I think giving up family time for this Administrator job is awful. But I believe family should come first. I did not attend the board meeting because my father was hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis; he was given a 40 % chance of survival. I hope that is a good enough reason for you, but I you feel I should be ashamed, please feel free to say so.. As far as what attempts I made or didn't make to learn of this process, well I don't know how you would know anything about that. So allow me to say you are mistaken. The "Progress" I referred to was the progress made under her tenure on the board. I thought the board was the governing body, the Administrator an employee of the board. You seem to see it as the opposite; that the Administrator has the power and the board member are?.
Stephen Carbonaro July 08, 2011 at 04:40 AM
pt2 to SLZ Homeowner. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to the huge contributions you speak of. Meanwhile, I will explain what I see, and let others judge the relative merits. I see, in my 24 years here in SLZ, I have seen stagnation. While all around us communities are growing and offering more services to their residents, SLZ , in my eyes, has regressed.With all that re-development money available for years, SLZ leadership sat on it, as if it would last forever. Not so C.V.. Not so San Leandro. For SOME reason, no one seems interested in SLZ. If that is not a reflection of our leadership, then who shall we use as a scapegoat? No, we are not all perfect. Had there been an open period for candidates to submit the required paperwork to run for the board, I would have don so during the recall. As far as I can determine, and I have asked, Wolf seems to have been the only one given the chance. Again, if I am wrong, please enlighten me. Besides taking a seat on the board, what else might you suggest I do? I have helped form the San Lorenzo Neighborhood Community Forum. Does that count? Probably not. You see, it seems to me that criticism of the BOD is unacceptable to some very vocal members of the community; but criticism of Government is the foundation of Democracy. I do all I can every day, letters to the various news outlets, posting here on the Patch. If you have any other suggestions, I'm listening. And If I am ashamed of what I've done, I'll be the first to say so.
Stephen Carbonaro July 08, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Do you know when that information was posted? Did you know that San Leandro has an ordinance preventing resigning members of the City Council from taking a paying position with the city for 1 year? Why do you suppose that would be? ps: thank you for dropping the "Mr Carbonaro" We are neighbors, after all.
Stephen Carbonaro July 08, 2011 at 10:50 PM
i'll assume it was published on 7/7. This story broke 06/21. I ask why, with the technology in place right now, It takes almost 3 weeks to come up with something on their website, when it could have been posted that evening. It makes me ask "Why is this happening?" I thought Web management skills were part of the prerequisites? Can you at least understand the need to maintain the appearance of propriety?
Stephen Carbonaro May 01, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Well, as her one year term as Administrator comes to a close,has there been any attempt to find a permanent replacement yet? Or is the plan to keep Kathy Martins on as was suspected by so many people a year ago?

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