News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

RA Board Elections: A Shockingly Astute View of the Current State of Affairs

As the "mainstream news media" (meaning places that run mattress ads and whatnot) has finally caught wind of how acrimonious the Reston Association Board election has become and people are now criticizing youth sports leaders as well as current RA Board members for endorsements, we'll confess some of the comments on this filthy "web log" have strayed into the realm of the personal and the ad hominem. Much like an avuncular sitcom dad, we even had to issue a stern warning! But amid all the noise, at times people have made astonishingly astute comments about the state of affairs at the RA. Consider this:

There are nuggets of wisdom to be found here. There is also a motherlode of b.s. However, on the whole it is delightful to see at least a few RA members taking an interest in what goes on around us. Judging from watching previous RA boards, it is reasonable to conclude that no matter who wins in the current cesspool of campaigning, little will be done by the next board to help or hurt the RA. (Assuming that lack of inspired leadership is viewed as in the "no hurt" category.)

The Smyers adminstration faced four major issues. The headquarters fiasco was doomed by a late start. Too much time passed after the first (successful) referendum to buy office space. By the time the RA got serious about a purchase and learned what the market offered, there was a mad rush to "sell" the new plan to the community. Many felt they had been had. Many felt left out of this important decision. So, in the midst of a great buyers' market and extraordinarily low mortgage rates, the voters shot themselves in the foot. Understandable, but sad.

Then came the rec center. For years the community asked, why is it that the RA and the RCC can't get together in meeting the rec needs of Reston? One has money and the other has land and both are there to serve us. So, the two boards got together (in public) and agreed to partner on something at long last. At a cost of less than $2.00 per resident, they did a study. So far, so good. Then they foolishly reduced it to a concept plan, picked a concept site that was dead on arrival, and found themselves in a predictable war with nearby residents. This effort was ill-managed, but not evil as opponents chose to paint it. And that's all we will remember.

Issue three, indoor tennis. Another issue that had the general consent of the membership for many years, always having been posed as self-sustaining. Now, I doubt that would have been how it worked out, but I allow that the planners believed it would be so. Timing will kill this project. Again, current market conditions are not likely to be this good for a long time to come. Lower construction costs, great financing. But on the heels of the rec center explosion, there is no stomach to consider rationally the benefits of RA doing that hundreds of other communities have done. Breaking from tradition, the RA board decided not to be a do-nothing body. Instead, they became a do-something-dumb body.

Issue four: Master Plan. It's a bit early to comment, but it appears that they might just have done something right for a change. Yes, some will not be pleased and when they do not get their way, they will skewer the Smyers administration. I hope that some objectivity will prevail as we judge the RA's performance.

The next board? I am not encouraged. Reacting to failures 1, 2, and 3, candidates came out of the woodwork. Some would hurl us back 20 years. Some would strangle the prospect to advance. This whole silly discussion of partisianship, endorsements, and ethical lapses is intellectual mud-slinging. The next board will be paralyzed as a result. As you fire up your keyboard to share your unique insight into the sinister motivation of the RA board and staff, pat yourself on the back for adding to this pitiful state of affairs. It's in your hands.
What he (or she) said. Feel free to respond -- civilly -- in the comments.


  1. "Again, you left out one line", he said sarcastically, but civilly, .........


    Richard Chew
    Would-Be President RA

    He posts in here all the time, sometimes inflammatory, sometimes self serving like this one.

  2. Bob Simon's Metallic Alter-EgoMarch 24, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    I can't imagine anyone associated with the current board would have written that. If you believed the next board would be totally hamstrung, why would you want to be its president?

  3. Read carefully, look at some of his other stuff.... it is his writing, or editing. No one but someone who is associated with the current board would have that much insight. Why would he do it? No idea. Why does he write all those mean editorials? There are (civil) digs at the candidates and at all of us in the last paragraph.

  4. Chew is looking for the presidency to save his soul from his own failures and attacks on people. He gives a bad name to Reston, RA, ARCH, Democrats and any other organization he belongs to.

    Shame on you Chew!

  5. The re spin of the rec center is artful..and complete b.s. Since there are just a few people who would bother to try to "put lipstick on that pig", my guess in the name-the-author game would have to be none other than....Mr. Mustard in the Library with a candlestick. Or maybe a very bitter current board member - it's a toss up.

  6. Dude it's not $100k any more it's $2 per resident? Who's buying this s(*&?

    I'd love to have $2 per resident. heck, give me $1 per resident since they are just throwing it around.

  7. Jim Elder is a RA tennis pro.

    Did his letter on RYB letterhead disclose that he stands to personally gain year-round employment at an indoor tennis facility that his endorsed candidates support.

    Jim Elder is using the assets of a public charity (RYB) to advance his personal financial advantage.

    This is called "defalcation." It's a crime.

    Has the Board of RYB removed Mr. Elder from his position? They have a fiduciary obligation to protect the assets of RYB which include its reputation and it tax exempt status.

    Is the Board of RYB anything more than a rubber stamp for Elder?

    This is not the first time Elder has abused his prerogatives as RYB President.

    Hopefully, its the last.

    What say you RYB Board members?

  8. Could the author of the post copied to the main article please identify the "hundred of communities" like Reston?

    There are hundreds of hoas with 60,000 people and 24,000 dwelling units?

    How about the "hundreds of communities" like Reston that have built a $3-5 million 5 court indoor tennis facility funded in whole, or in part, with hoa assessments and totally guaranteed by hoa assessments?

    How about a score of such communities?

    How about a dozen?

    How about 5?


  9. That person is just an RA board apologist. And to slam this blog is proof. They haven't been treated too kindly. My money is on 'friends of the big dig' as the author.

  10. If they built sports facilities, they were built at the inception of the planned community and not 40 years later...

  11. There was nothing evil about the process that RA/RCC followed in pursuing the Indoor Rec Center. There are other words - misguided, foolish, amateur, wasteful - are a few that come to mind.

    What was evil was the way they treated the community when they were exposed in their foolishness. When an overwhelming number of people spoke up in opposition they called them the minority view. Hundreds of people came to a meeting and most voiced opposition and they refused to hear. They denied things that were documented in their own board minutes. They accused people of illegally and unethically obtaining documents that were in fact downloaded from the RCC website.

    Instead of acknowledging their error they acted like they never did anything. Hiring consultants, getting plan site reports, voting on the options for the site that they preferred, voting to name the center - apparently that was all done by fairies because the Boards never had any plans for Brown's Chapel. Please....

  12. Anon 10:40

    If the sports facilities were built at the inception of the planned community, they were built by the developer, not the hoa.

  13. Balance says:
    We have reached a new low. It is anything but civil to read my words and ascribe them to Mr. Chew. Yes, Balance is the author (they were posted elsewhere on this blog.) In fact, I can't remember a single issue in which I found common ground with the man.

    There, now I feel better.

    I thank Anon 10:10 for taking my words to task. My reference to "hundreds of communities" was: (a) an unscientific count and (b) ill-phrased. I used the word communities in its broadest sense, not meaning HOAs. What I attempted to say was that across the country there are villages, towns, small cities (and, yes, even HOAs) who have used common resources to provide recreation facilities that appeal to minority segments of their "community" - skate parks, tennis, swimming, teen centers, senior centers, etc. Look no further than Herndon and Vienna to get the picture. A desirable place to live is one that continues to move forward and puts its money where its mouth is.

    I used to fear that the tree-hugging passion here would be the wall that kept Reston forever locked in the 1970s. The image now emerging is of a solid core of residents who judge a proposal by who advances it and on its direct benefit to themselves.

    1. I am not the Chew.
    2. I do not play tennis.
    3. I have not had (nor expect to ever have) any desire to spent countless volunteer hours on the RA board.
    4. I like the idea that people who do not know better still think of Reston as a special place to live. (It adds to my home's equity.)

    My thanks to Restonian for giving us all this opportunity to rant.

  14. RA and RCC really messed up with the rec center. Of course they are now going to try to pretend that it never really happened, that Browns Chapel was never really threatened. They are trying to rewrite history. Fortunately there are some people who know the truth. People who went to every board meeting and read every document.

    If you have any doubt that Browns Chapel was threatened please go to the, select the Vote tab, and select 'Don't let it happen again'.

    You will see the site plan and meeting minutes from March and April, one year ago. In these minutes you will see that long before anyone in the community knew anything about the plan, RCC discussed details like the size and layout of the facility, class offerings and pricing. They agreed that they wanted to locate the facility on the site of Browns Chapel Park and that they would eliminate all of the existing elements including ALL of the ballfields. Leila Gordon said that they should tell the site engineer to look into permits. They even named the facility.
    It would have happened too, if we (the community) hadn't come out in such force to stop them.

  15. The article in the "real" newspaper is a bunch of crap. The reporter obviously had no idea what she was writing about. I recommend go to this filthy web log for information.

    If a newspaper is going to tackle a story like this they should at least spend the time to learn the facts. Let's hope they do a better job next time.

  16. balance

    thank you for clarifying.

    However, I'm am still skeptical that hundreds, scores or even dozens of municipalities have built a $3-5 million 5 court indoor tennis facility. Even if you add municipalities to hoas, the count nation-wide might get to a dozen for that particular facility.

    It's a very large sum to spend on a very small fraction of a population.

    So, if there are examples of hoas & small municipalities or hoas building similar tennis facilities, please identify them for us. Maybe we can learn from their successes and their mistakes.

    Private tennis facilities of this type go broke, are foreclosed, converted or demolished with fair predictably.

    The other facilities referenced don't cost nearly as much and serve much larger fractions of the population.

  17. The people involved aren't always as innocent as they look. The more you know about Reston politics the more you realize this. Yes, Jim Elder is the president of Reston Youth Basketball. However, he was hiding behind that position and not revealing the real reason for his endorsement in the RA election.

    He is also a full-time tennis instructor and a nationally ranked senior player. He was trying to ensure that a grand indoor tennis facility is built so that he has year-round employment nearby his home. Jim Elder spends more time on a tennis court than anyone else in Reston. He has the most to gain personally.

  18. Restonian

    when are we getting a copy of Elder's letter posted on this filthy weblog?

    We demand your ultimate efforts in this regard. Do not forsake us, Obiwan!

    We need a full Restonian investigatory expose on Elder and his puppets @ RA, RCC, RYB, USTA, Cardinal Referees (Jim refs high school basketball games, not very well, but he does look good doing it, though), VHSL, NCAA, EPA (Jim used to work for EPA), CIA, NSA, NRO, TSA, USGS and the guys in the black helicopters.

  19. At the RA Board mtg. replay on Ch. 28, Elder could be clearly seen sitting behind Smyers as the architect made his presentation on the "Elder Full Employment" indoor tennis facility. Jim's very own personal stimulus package.

    Did anyone else see the strings Jim was tugging as Robyn and the rest of the RA Board moved the project forward?

    Better add SLHS to that list of agencies for Restonian's investigatory expose. Jim coached tennis there at one time. And the SLHS principal is the brother of RA's Larry Butler.

    It all connected, don't you, see!

    Soilent Green is people!

  20. Are we sure that Jim Elder and Brian Olivia are not the same person?

    Has anyone seem them both in the same room at the same time?

  21. The problem is that Robin, Richard and Frank are using people like Mr. Elder. They got him all fired up by filling him with a bunch of non sense that the only people who will make sure that indoor recreation happens are the people that Richard/Robin asked to run and are campaigning for. The reality is that indoor recreation will happen if we all want it to. We just have to be willing to pay for it. The board is upset that they look bad from the indoor rec situation. Richard Chew has a bruised ego and he wants to be Pres. He writes and speaks with venom for anyone who dares to disagree with him. It is concerning that he has put so much time and energy into this election. It will be a problem for Reston for a long time, no matter who ends up on the board.

    They will need a serious group hug when this is all over. Maybe Me. Elder will volunteer to lead the new board in some team building exercises.

  22. Brian Olivia and Jim Elder are not the same person. I wonder who has time at 2:14 AM to come up with that. I guess your brain is not working right (or never has).

  23. Anon 11:18 Apparently the attempt at snarky humor was lost on you. Ever so sorry, mate.

    But are you sure?

  24. quoting Annonymus: Did his letter on RYB letterhead disclose that he stands to personally gain year-round employment at an indoor tennis facility that his endorsed candidates support.

    Jim Elder is using the assets of a public charity (RYB) to advance his personal financial advantage.

    This is called "defalcation." It's a crime.

    Has the Board of RYB removed Mr. Elder from his position? They have a fiduciary obligation to protect the assets of RYB which include its reputation and it tax exempt status.

    Is the Board of RYB anything more than a rubber stamp for Elder?

    This is not the first time Elder has abused his prerogatives as RYB President.

    Hopefully, its the last.

    I had no idea. Thanks for bringing to our attention. Thanks to the Restonian for bringing to our attention. Can we nominate the Restonian for a Pulitzer prize?Could we buy space in print Journals and advertise the Restonian? What else can we do to get more of our fellow Restons to read the Restonian?

  25. I received the following report from a colleague who was at the RA board meeting tonight (Thursday):

    "I thought you might be interested to know that Cheryl Beamer made a point of “going on record to say how she strongly disapproves of the manner in which board members endorsed candidates” in this election. She elaborated saying that perhaps people got carried away with election fever, or that what was written from a personal perspective was interpreted as having come from “the board member” by people who received the correspondence but regardless, she was very disappointed and felt that it was something that should not be permitted to happen in the future."

    This now makes two board members who have gone on-record as opposing the behavior of board members endorsing candidates in this election. There is a rising swell of support for election reforms to the standards of conduct for sitting board members.

  26. If Cheryl Beamer magically acquired 20 neurons, it would quintuple her capacity.

    What does she think she, RA, or anyone can do to stop the expressions of annoyance and frustration that the Board on which she served generated with a series of stupendously dumb moves that were exceptionally, poorly handled: HQ referendum, Snake Den apocalypse, Browns Chapel jock WalMart. Including expressions by some of her fellow Board members.

    Both "slates" are insurgents trying to correct the mistakes of Beamers ally Smyers & her fellow Board members.

    There are at least two different visions of where to go from here and folks are coalescing around those who agree with their view.

    It's an election, not a canonization or some other holy rite. Grow up.

    Cheryl, was the 2009 RA Board possessed by aliens? Or were you all exercising free will very badly and are now being held to account.

    You and your fellow RA Board members are suffering the foreseeable backlash of bad judgment and worse behavior.

    Start by saying you're sorry and ask for forgiveness.

    Stow the offended self righteousness.

    It's offensive.


  27. Beamer is a doofus --- as dumb as dirt.

    She's too dumb to realize what a disaster Smyers is and has been and that repeating the past is a sure path to doom and failure.

    Chew? God save us all if he gets anywhere --- if ever there was a more self-serving arrogant "glass bowl" among us, we know not when.


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