There is an unspoken source of political power in some common interest communities that may not be well known to many community managers or residents… until now. What’s that? Yes. It is a “shadow board”. A shadow board has real political power. They are not elected by the membership, yet they exert their power with great secrecy, skill and frequency. There are individuals who actually may be the power behind the Board of Directors. They are consulted by some board members before they make a decision, or seek validation from the shadow board once they have made a decision. In some cases, the board reverses a vote carried unanimously! At the next meeting they rescind their vote after receiving a complaint from someone in this group.
These people can influence a board and committee members in a way that high school bullies, popular students, or mean girls get people to do their bidding. In many ways, these relationships pick up where they may have left off in junior or senior high school. It is utterly fascinating. I have watched the machinations of these very crafty, skillful manipulators as they use their influence to change the board’s decisions on anything from the color of the flowers at the community entrance to actually firing association counsel.
Their chess pawns are, at times, not clever enough to make sure the “curtain” is closed, and one day I was able to see exactly how the shadow board worked via a forwarded e-mail sent to me by mistake. The email instructed the board member on exactly what to say to get me to perform a task that I had previously declined because it was an unnecessary use of time and resources. When I showed the e-mail to my board liaison, he could only smile and shrug. No words were necessary. It was a valuable lesson.
Endeavor to persevere
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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