Providing options for member-to-member communication
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
When a member of the Arrowhead Lake Association has wanted to send a message to the other members, they have had to send the message to the ALA office, which then sends it out to all the members through a third party.
The cost of having a third party send those messages out in 2022 was $16,000.
That money, said member Scott Rindenow, would have been better spent on needed maintenance. He noted he had received 12 emails from one member in seven months. “If that member continues to send those emails (at no cost to him), the cost (to ALA) for that one member could skyrocket. That is an unfair burden to all of us.”
The proposal on the Feb. 25 agenda included three options for member-to-member communication.
In Option 1, ALA would establish a special members-only section of the website where members’ messages would be posted. There would be no charge to the members for this posting.
In Option 2, in addition to posting the message on the ALA website, the member may request that the message be emailed to the ALA membership. The member sending the message would be required to pay a fee prior to the message being sent out. The original wording called for a fee of $200; that was amended to the prevailing rate, to be reviewed annually.
In Option 3, the member may request that a hard copy of the message be mailed to the members in addition to being posted on the ALA website. The member would have to arrange for and pay for all printing and mailing costs through a third party of the member’s choice. ALA would provide the mailing addresses to the third party.
“Spending members’ money to send out emails at the request of a member is something we should avoid doing,” said General Manager Bob Mattison. “Instead, we are proposing to provide a free option, posting the message on the ALA website.” And that way, Mattison added, “members’ inboxes won’t be flooded with messages.”
A number of ALA members have complained about the number of member emails they have been receiving. “A lot of members have unsubscribed to the ALA emails because they don’t want to fill their inboxes,” Director Denise Loxton said. That number, said Mattison, is more than 800 who have unsubscribed.
Secretary/Treasurer Alan Kaitz noted he had had an email from a member asking to have a message sent out prior to the meeting. “That was his third request this week,” Kaitz said. “We the members are paying for these messages to be sent out over and over again. I am an advocate of freedom of speech but I have to look at the financial implications. I would like to work with Bob Mattison to make sure the icon on the website is evident so members know they just click on it.
“We have to look at ways to cut the budget,” Kaitz added. “This is one. We have provided a reasonable alternative for member communication.”
“Posting these messages on the website has been confirmed by counsel as complying with California Corporations Code,” said Vice President Jim Hannon. The addition of new messages would be noted in the update that is emailed to members every two weeks. “It behooves us to get more people to go to the website,” he added.
“I’m sensitive to the need for members to communicate,” said Director Bud Macer. “Our objective is not to silence anybody. But there is such a thing as abuse of this and I think we’re seeing it. The emails getting sent are repetitive, often derogatory. We have to put a limit on it. If someone is interested, they’ll read the message on the website. Those who aren’t don’t have to.”
Director Eran Heissler suggested tabling the item to look at other avenues to send out the messages. Some members, he noted, said they would do it at no cost.
The vote was 4-1 in favor of the three-option plan, with Heissler voting no. Directors David Dahl and Chris Wilson were absent from the Zoom meeting.