MWCDC clarifies forum rules, gets input for possible bylaw changes
July 24, 2018
Before reading the proposed bylaw revisions, new MWCDC executive director Gordon Davidson opened the meeting by clarifying the rules for community forums.
“Tonight’s forum will be a presentation and a short discussion,” Mr. Davidson said. “Tonight, you may make specific proposals to change bylaws, but all proposed bylaw changes need to be submitted by email.”
Mr. Davidson said MWCDC members may submit bylaw revision requests, along with written justification, to email@example.com. He also added community input is welcome in the form of a discussion, not a debate.
“Nothing has been decided yet,” Mr. Davidson said. “…We’re soliciting community input. That doesn’t mean it will be accepted, but we will take it seriously.”
Mr. Davidson said the dozen or so bylaw revisions aim to address four main elements: improving language consistency, eliminating obvious errors, adjusting meeting structures to eliminate bureaucracy and improving meeting time management.
The proposed revisions include a new minimum requirement of 15 filled board seats, language restricting the organization from contracting work to family members of the board, and the creation of an official policy regarding how election results are reported.
Several smaller administrative revisions were also mentioned, including the procedure and justification for emergency meetings, and the standardization of meeting and committee names.
After listing all proposed revisions, Mr. Davidson gave the community the opportunity to provide feedback:
A member in attendance proposed a bylaw revision requiring the 15 board seats consist of an equal number of members from various pockets of the Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights neighborhoods, including representation from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligible areas and the central business district.
Members of the MWCDC election committee suggested that obtaining minimum requirements from various neighborhood pockets will be difficult as achieving enough board nominees required to fill open vacancies is difficult as it is.
A member also suggested a bylaw revision that prevents the board from contracting work to current board members and another that restricts board seats to Mount Washington residents only instead of allowing both residents and business owners.
Another member proposed a revision that would prevent the organization from contracting paid work to a current board member.
Several MWCDC members said the process for reviewing bylaws at the community forum and submitting input through email reduces the control members have in the organization while providing the board with full authority.
Prior to this year, bylaw revisions were reviewed by a membership committee. The committee would then collect community feedback before taking revisions to the board to vote.
Mr. Davidson said community input is necessary and increasing organization transparency remains a top priority for the MWCDC. However, he also clarified the MWCDC is a community development corporation, which is different than a community council.
If multiple members request a discussion around a specific topic at a community forum, it may be added to the agenda; however, items not on the agenda won’t be discussed at the forum.
“Community forums are not the forum for discussion about board practice or financials unless it’s part of the agenda.” Mr. Davidson said.
Mr. Davidson also added he has an open-door policy, and members are welcome to schedule meetings in his office. Requests may also be made for any publicly available MWCDC document as long as it’s digitally available.
The MWCDC’s chief financial officer is also working to prepare publicly available financial statements.
After the bylaws discussion had concluded, MWCDC board member Tim Tighe announced an ongoing effort to give Mount Washington business owners more exposure to the community by allowing them to present at community forums.
He introduced Kelly Sanders and Monica Yope, the founders of love, Pittsburgh, a retail business at 301 Shiloh Street that specializes in locally-produced products and souvenirs.
love, Pittsburgh originally opened in July of 2016 and since opened two more locations in the city.
Ms. Sanders and Ms. Yope gave a brief presentation on how they started their business and their involvement in the Mount Washington community.