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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

August 22, 2012 -- Rival boards for Santa Monica's Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition met in the same room at the Ken Edwards Center Monday night, sparking some tension that eventually ended with the old board leaving the meeting.

The meeting, which began at 7 p.m. in the Ken Edwards Center, started when five members of the old Wilmont Board -- including Chair Valerie Griffin -- were joined by five of the six new board members who were elected in a provisional election on June 9.

Of the old board, Albin Gielicz and Benjamin Steers were not present. Of the new members, Jim Pickrell was absent because he was out of town.

Once the new board members sat with the other board members, "Griffin became visibly upset," said new Wilmont Board member Reinhard Kargl.

After some heated discussion, Griffin attempted to adjourn the meeting.

Eventually, Griffin and old board members Larry Isaacs, Rosemary Sostarich and Diane Krakower left the room. Betty Mueller, also a member of the old board, remained.  

With approximately 30 members of Wilmont present, the new board -- along with Mueller -- decided to continue the meeting, Kargl said.

"This was a legal meeting based on the authority of the members," he said. "In the end, the board of directors is answerable to the members."

Griffin attempted to have the building manager shut down the meeting but was unsuccessful.

Calls to Griffin and the old Wilmont group's lawyer, as of press time, were unanswered.

This is the first time that the two boards have been in the same room since a controversial provisional election on June 9 when Griffin attempted to postpone the group's annual election because the membership list was not available.

Members of the board protested and demanded that ballots be cast and counted later, when membership of the voters could be verified.

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