By Jason Islas
August 29, 2012 -- Santa Monica's embattled Wilmont board held a phone conference "meeting" Monday night, one week after leaving a session attended by members who claim to have been elected to the group's new board.
The conference -- held by the four members who walked out of the August 20 board meeting, along with a fifth member who was not at the previous session -- avoided further confrontations between the two the sitting board and those who maintain that they were elected in a provisional election on June 9.
“We were unable to conduct our business" at the previous meeting, said Wilmont Chair Valerie Griffin. “We had people making it impossible.”
Not everyone agrees that Monday's meeting was truly public.
“They claim this so-called 'meeting' was 'open to the public.' But the notice containing the call-in number was only made public 2 1/2 hours before the teleconference began,” said Reinhard Kargl, one of the eight who was elected June 9.
The notice -- which was posted on the Wilmont website at 4:26 p.m. Monday -- has since been removed.
The phone conference is the latest move in an ongoing battle that Griffin and the incumbent board members have been waging with the group elected in June.
Griffin and the group's lawyer, Becki Kammerling, maintain that the election was illegal and sent letters to each of the eight newly-elected board members saying that their Wilmont membership had been terminated.
However, that did not stop seven of those members from showing up at the August 20 meeting and taking seats beside the five current board members in attendance.
After Griffin's attempts to adjourn the meeting failed, she and three others left. Betty Mueller was the only old board member who stayed.
The meeting continued with the seven and Mueller.
“It was horrible; it was horrible,” said Griffin of the August 20 meeting.
The telephone meeting Monday covered the same issues discussed at the August 20 meeting, including neighborhood concerns about the Santa Monica Airport and the impending closure of the 5th Street post office.
The group also discussed a future annual meeting, at which Griffin said they would hold elections for new board members.
“It is crystal clear that the the incumbent board members are only interested in holding on to their positions at all cost,” said Kargl.
“They have made it abundantly clear that they do not wish to answer to the Wilmont members and that they will try to exclude everyone who disagrees with them.”
Even after Monday's meeting, the question of a future election is still up in the air.
“We have not announced the time and place of our annual meeting,” she said.
When asked if the meeting would be announced on the website, Griffin said, “It will be announced as part of our legal notification.”