Marine Park Civic Association’s latest meeting became tumultuous after leaders refused to hold a review of new bylaws, and instead voted to change the groups constitution, potentially giving its board of directors the power to revoke membership of some associates at will.
At the start of Tuesday’s meeting at the Carmine Carro Community Center, group president Jim Ivaliotis disregarded a request by 96 members of the association who sought to review and clarify controversial language in the new bylaws that some feel will let leaders punish board members who don’t tow the party line, and those in attendance reacted angrily.
“It was chaos,” said Jim Kelly, a member of the civic association’s board. “People were on the floor hollering and screaming. It was very poorly conducted.”
Opponents and proponents of the new rules then had a unorganized back-and-forth regarding the new constitutions’s legitimacy, a process that left some so bewildered that they couldn’t determine whether the new rules had been made law.
“I don’t even know if the new bylaws were accepted or not,” said board member Kelly.
But the general consensus was that the vote had been conducted and that the new bylaws passed following a show of hands by the general membership.
“As far as they’re concerned, it was passed and it’s a done deal,” said long-time member Hank Han.
In contest is the new definition of a board member which demands they must not “engage in conduct detrimental to the good and welfare of the Association,” as defined by the groups code of conduct.
But some members, including John Manzola, say that the new amendments give the group’s officials the power to remove general members from the board, and, worse, makes it impossible for them to speak their minds.
“The codes of conduct take away our membership, not allowing us to speak at meetings,” he said. “This takes away our god-given right to free speech.”
Others, including Han, expressed some confusion as to exactly what power these new words give to the board. He could only express hope that they are not used to stifle the expression and opinions of its membership.
“John’s concerned they might kick him out of the board in general, and that would be an injustice,” said Han. “Anyone should have the right to say what they think is right — in a reasonable manner.”
It is unclear if the board plans to review the petition, or whether a special committee meeting is forthcoming.
Messages left with President Jim Ivaliotis and First Vice President Sebastian Crociata were not returned.Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn