golf members should hold out for
a complete bylaws revision package

golf members and social members should hold out for a complete bylaws revision package

Most of my op ed pieces have focused on the perils of the proposed bylaw amendments for Social Members, because the dangers to them are most obvious and imminent. Lowering the vote thresholds for approval of future increases of Social Members’ dues index percentage - or changes to their rights and privileges - will make it easier for a Board on which they have marginal representation to get those kinds of changes passed.

Full Golf Members should also be concerned, however. The express purpose of the amendments is to “make it easier for the Membership to make changes in the Bylaws.” Golf Members have a pretty strong position under our existing bylaws. What assurance do they have that future changes will work to their benefit? Without knowing what those future changes will look like, how can Full Golfers know whether they want to facilitate them?

Further, it might be especially counterproductive to the interests of Full Golfers to lower the vote thresholds for the class protections. Consider this potential scenario: if further revisions to our bylaws eventually involve restructuring the Board and eliminating weighted voting, Full Golf Members will almost certainly insist (rightfully, in my view) upon being given the same class protections regarding changes to their dues, rights, and privileges that are now enjoyed by Associate Golf and Social Members. In short, today’s protections for Associate Golf and Social Members could become tomorrow’s protections for Full Golfers. Without knowing what the rest of TRCC governance will eventually look like, should Full Golfers want to lower vote thresholds for those class protections?

How likely is the above scenario? Who knows, but it certainly seems possible. Anything’s possible, because no one, including the current TRCC Board, knows what future bylaw revisions might be proposed by a future Board and approved by the membership.

In a nutshell, that’s probably the best reason why all members should vote against the proposed amendments for now – and revisit them as part of a cohesive bylaws revision package. The approach outlined in the June Bylaws presentation proposed an interconnected, three-part change: making Board composition more equitable, eliminating weighted voting in favor of one membership/one vote, and revising dues indexing – before making the change that is currently under consideration. The details of that package need to be fleshed out, but the approach makes sense.

If we are to undertake a cohesive revision of our bylaws, it’s vital that the overarching goal should be achieving a governance structure that’s fair to all members. We’ll know we’ve achieved that when members of every group can answer yes to this question, “If you could not choose your membership group, but were assigned to one at random, would you be satisfied, regardless of the group you landed in?”

Beyond fostering peace and love in our community, there are hard-nosed, pragmatic reasons for embracing this goal. First, members should be able to change categories over time without feeling that doing so will place them at an unacceptable disadvantage. Social Members who are working now may become Golf Members in retirement Golfers may become injured and have to give up the game – or simply reach a time in life where visiting grandkids takes them away from TRCC for a large chunk of the year. Is it in anyone’s interest if Social Members who take up golf decide to play elsewhere rather than becoming Golf Members at TRCC, or if Golf Members who give up golf decide it would make more sense to move out of Governor’s Land than remain here as a Social Member?

Even more important, in order for our club – and community - to thrive it’s vitally important that we continue to attract prospective homeowners of all membership categories – Golfers, Social and Marina members. If our bylaws create clear winners and losers, the disadvantaged category is likely to wither – to the detriment of us all.

Enacting a significant, standalone change to our bylaws in advance of other changes, as we are being asked to do now, is opening a Pandora’s box that could unleash a range of unpredictable consequences for members of all categories. Let’s make the proposed change part of a cohesive bylaws revision package – so we all know exactly what we’re getting before we vote to approve it. Rather than taking a leap into the unknown and hoping it turns out well, let’s take the time to thoroughly plan for our future – as a club and community.

Vote AGAINST the proposed amendments. And if you’ve already voted for them, please reconsider whether they are in our club’s best long-term interests. You can change your vote by voting again on Big Future the most recent vote will override any earlier votes submitted by paper proxy or electronically. To find the link to Big Future that you were sent, search
2022 TRCC Bylaw Amendment Vote in your inbox.

By Ellen Fithian, December 1, 2022