Notes from the August 2, 2018 GHI Board Meeting

Summary of Key Items Addressed at the GHI Board Meeting held on August 2, 2018

The Board approved the agenda, and the Board president briefly summarized matters handled in the Board’s executive session meetings.

During the comment period, a resident of the Parkway Apartments expressed concern about the amount of trash on the ground around the dumpsters outside the buildings. The resident asked that GHI 1) have staff check conditions every day, 2) send a letter to tenants reminding them to keep the trash collection areas tidy, and 3) ask the waste-hauling vendor to take greater care when collecting trash.

Joe Wiehagen, Director of the Homes Improvement Program (HIP), delivered a progress report and noted that work is mostly on-track despite the rain.

Board member Paul Kapfer reported on the first meeting of GHI’s new Long-Range Planning Committee and remarked that it will be important for the committee to have transparency and visibility. The LRPC wants more members to join the committee and will encourage member participation early in the process.
MH: For more information, read my notes about the LRPC’s meeting.

Board member Stefan Brodd reminded everyone about the New Member Social scheduled for Thursday, August 9th.

Audit Committee chair Molly Lester reminded the Board that in order to comply with GHI bylaws, it needs to consider the committee’s 2017-2018 recommendations before the August 16th Board meeting.

In response to a question raised by Ms. Lester, GHI staff noted that they are still waiting for the consultant to provide an updated draft of the Replacement Reserves breakdown for replacing pipes in masonry homes.

The Board approved minutes from recent meetings then discussed Joe Wiehagen’s report on the first two years of the Homes Improvement Program. After some discussion about vetting the report for legally-sensitive information, the Board agreed to post Wiehagen’s report on under the “Homes Improvement Program” tab.

The Board then reviewed the Audit Committee’s memo recommending against hiring a certain firm for GHI’s 2018 financial audit. The committee reasoned that:

1) rotating the audit firm and/or lead auditor is best practice for ensuring fresh examination of financial records, and

2) selecting a firm with internal controls expertise would provide GHI with more insight into that aspect of its operations.

The conversation among Board, Audit Committee, the General Manager, and Director of Finance was energetic and lengthy with key points being:

1) Financial audits and internal controls audits are separate events with different processes.

2) GHI has never had a formal internal controls audit, but internal controls were part of a forensic audit performed in 2009 during an investigation of wrongdoing. The forensic audit was designed to determine what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again.

3) The Board president and General Manager will meet to further discuss the matter of whom to hire for the 2018 financial audit.

The discussion ended with the Board accepting the Audit Committee’s memo but not the recommendations.

The next agenda item opened a conversation about who should update GHI’s bylaws for better organization, clarity, and accuracy — an attorney or a member task force? Some Board members expressed a preference for attorneys to handle the work because they will eventually review the final draft. Others expressed concern that attorneys may not understand the spirit and intent of bylaws as well as a member task force. Ultimately, the Board decided against launching a comprehensive bylaws re-write at this time due to the number of other important matters requiring attention and resources.

The Board decided to have GHI’s attorney draft proposed changes to the bylaws regarding:

1) When multiyear contracts do or do not require the membership’s approval

2) The advance-notice and member-approval requirements that currently govern GHI/GDC’s ability to acquire property.

During the discussion of the next agenda item, the Board decided to request that the attorney also draft a Memorandum of Understanding with the City regarding right-of-way encroachments.

The Board agreed to establish a task force to research and recommend effective action for improving personal security when staff, members, and others are within the Administration Building, the building compound, or elsewhere on GHI property. The task force will be comprised of Board members, staff, and security experts from within and beyond GHI’s membership.

The Board accepted the draft minutes from GHI’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

The Board president noted that 1) the draft report produced after the Board’s strategic planning meeting is being reviewed, and 2) official GHI email addresses are being established for the Audit Committee.

The Audit Committee will create an ethics policy that is different from the Board’s so that it better reflects the nature of their work. The committee will also establish a policy governing email use when conducting its business.

Author: Mo Hamilton

Mo Hamilton joined GHI in 2013 after living in the Washington area for 18 years. She lives in large yard that was sold with a block honeymoon cottage attached. Contact Mo at

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