To: Editor of the Mt. Times, Editor of the Sandy Post
From: Steven Graeper, President Rhododendron CPO, President Rhododendron Summer Homes
Association, soon to be former board member of the Villages at Mt. Hood
Date: August 28, 2007

Abraham Lincoln while dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg stated most movingly: "that
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that a government of the people, by
the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
"

Oh, how I wish that was true with the Villages at Mt. Hood.

Unfortunately, the actions over the past several months by a majority of the Board of Directors of the
Villages at Mt. Hood, as well as the County Liaison, has proven that the government is not a
government “of the people...” it is not a government “by the people...” nor is it a government “for the
people...” What I believe it has evolved into is a government “of a few, by a few, for a few” and
unfortunately I believe that that government, namely the Villages at Mt. Hood, shall perish and
deservedly so unless more is done to insure citizen involvement.

It is my opinion that the citizens of the Villages at Mt. Hood have been done a huge disservice by a
majority of its Board of Directors. I believe that the Citizen input process has been taken entirely for
granted and I am of the opinion that the citizens of the Villages deserve better. I am referring
specifically to the process by which a whole “New” set of By-Laws governing the Villages at Mt.
Hood was railroaded through by the Board of Directors for the Villages, the liaison from Clackamas
County and the Board of Clackamas County Commissioners. If you unaware of that which I refer, I
believe you are not alone.

On August 11, 2007 at the quarterly Town Hall meeting, by a vote of only 43 people (officially the
vote was 30 in favor 12 against and 1 abstention) in a community of over 3000, a complete “New” set
of By-Laws governing the Villages at Mt. Hood was approved. Not just revisions to the existing By-
Laws, but a complete new set. The submission of these new By-Laws was tantamount to the formation
of the Villages at Mt. Hood all over again. These new By-Laws are the structure by which the Villages
at Mt. Hood are now governed and the content of which should not be taken lightly. May I point out
that these are laws by which the board must abide and structure which is crucial to the governance of
the area in which the citizens reside. It is my opinion that the citizens should have been grated the
courtesy and respect that they deserve by being given the opportunity and the time to review the “Final
Draft” version of the By-Laws before they were submitted for a vote. Unfortunately, that did not
happen.

Instead, here is what happened. A “Working Copy” or “First Draft” of the proposed By-Laws was
submitted to those who attended the May 19, 2007 Town Hall meeting and according to the minutes of
that meeting;
           “The first reading of the bylaws draft is proposed for the August 2007 Town Hall
             Meeting, with their finalization at the November 2007 Town Hall Meeting.”

The official minutes of the May Town Hall clearly reflect that the citizens were to be given a “Final
Draft” copy of the By-Laws at the August Town Hall and that they would then be given the
opportunity and the time to read, analyze and interpret the final draft and vote for the acceptance or
rejection of the changes to the By-Laws at the November Town Hall, so far so good.

However, that is NOT what happened and I believe that the citizens were disrespected during the
whole process in an effort by the Villages Board, the county liaison and the Board of County
Commissioners to get their “Preferred” version of the By-Laws into effect as rapidly as possible.

Granted, the original set of By-Laws that were approved at the formation of the Villages
several years ago were flawed and in need of review and perhaps even in need of a
complete rewrite, but it is my opinion that the process to change the By-Laws was
derailed by a select group of Villages Board members as well as the county liaison mid
way through the Strategic Planning Organization’s By-Law review process. (The SPO is
the group responsible for proposing changes to the Villages By-Laws)

The process started out fine with the “Working Copy” or “First Draft” of the proposed
changes to the By-Laws being handed out at the May Town Hall. Ideally then, those
proposed changes to the By-Laws should have then been massaged and reworked through
a series of community meetings via the Strategic Planning Organization, ultimately
resulting in a “Final Draft”. The “Final Draft” is exactly that, an unchangeable version of
the proposed By-Laws that then should have been presented, first to the Board of County
Commissioners for their approval and then to the community at the August Town Hall for
a “First Reading” and then eventually approved or rejected at the November Town Hall.
That is the process everyone who attended the May Town Hall expected and that is what
the minutes of the May meeting reflect. That is also the Policy and Procedure that was
approved by the Villages Board for implementing changes or amendments to the By-
Laws.

However, that is not what happened. Instead, no fewer than 5 substantially different
drafts of the changed By-Laws were created through the SPO and through the county
liaison. While the SPO attempted to have meetings and follow the citizen involvement
process outlined in the Policies and Procedures that were previously approved and
implemented by the Villages Board, the county liaison continued to urge the Board to
insert changes that were requested by County Commissioners or county legal council
without proper citizen notifications. For example, the day prior to the August Town Hall
meeting an entire section of the proposed By-Laws was rewritten and inserted at the
request of County Council. That change was implemented without proper citizen
notification, without going through the SPO and it substantially changed the version that
was printed in the August issue of the Mountain Times. Most importantly, it clearly was
not the version of the By-Laws that was submitted by the county liaison and approved by
the County Commissioners at their July 31, 2007 work session.

Only the 43 citizens of the Villages who attended the August Town Hall meeting were
made aware of the changes to the “Final Draft” version that was established the day prior
to the meeting. In my opinion that is a gross violation of the trust that the citizens should
have in its board and a complete disregard of the By-Law amendment policy and
procedure process that was previously approved by the Villages Board.

To add insult to injury, the county liaison and several members of the Villages Board
then used the verbiage contained in the original Villages By-Laws to subvert the citizen
review process with a “technicality” and force a final vote on the recently changed “Final
Draft” By-Laws at the August Town Hall. Apparently, the Policies and Procedures
previously established by the Villages Board as a result of some admitted flaws in the
original By-Laws were ignored. As were the promises made to the Citizens at the May
Town Hall that a “First Reading” would be at the August Town Hall with a final vote at
the November Town Hall.
Through all this it has became very apparent to me that it didn’t matter to a majority of
the Board what the citizens felt. The Board evidently had no intention of allowing the
citizens time to review the “Final Draft” version of the proposed “New” By-Laws. The
Board and the County Liaison made the decision to push these “New” By-Laws through
the approval process in an effort to “Get On” with the business of the Villages. A valiant
concept, but unfortunately, it was a decision that was at the expense of the citizens.

When I questioned the content of the proposed new By-Laws and the process by which
they were being thrust upon the community, the current Chair of the Villages even went
so far as to state to me in a correspondence, Steve, remember that the by-laws are a
guide line not a law
. Apparently, if the current chair and perhaps a majority of the
board share that philosophy it shows a severe misunderstanding of the purpose behind the
need for By-Laws and a callus lack of respect for the citizens of the Villages.

It is with that kind of philosophy that I am most concerned. If you read closely the new
By-Laws that have been approved with little citizen involvement, you’ll find that they are
merely a “Boiler Plate” set of By-Laws that were generated by Clackamas County and
that they do not take into consideration the uniqueness that makes the Mountain
community so desirable and they lack the checks and balances that were written into the
original Villages By-Laws. While, as I stated before, the original set of By-Laws were
flawed, without those checks and balances and with a philosophy that “the by-laws are a
guide and not a law” I’m afraid of what the Villages Board may thrust upon the citizens
of the Villages. Especially, in light of the callus lack of regard to citizen notification and
involvement demonstrated by the way By-Laws were recently approved

While the Clackamas County Complete Communities Village & Hamlet concept is good
in theory, it can only be effective with Citizen involvement. To have long term and
lasting decisions that affect the entire region, it is imperative that the citizens be given the
opportunity to participate. It is the duty and the responsibility of the Villages Board to
insure the greatest amount of citizen involvement possible. I did not see that happen in
this case. I still have a great deal of respect for the members serving on the Board and
understand their job is not an easy one and it is my hope that the Board and the Citizens
can learn from this experience and move forward in a positive direction.

However, after a great deal of sole searching and contemplation, it is with sadness that I
have made the decision to resign from my position on the Board of Directors for the
Villages at Mt. Hood. It is quite apparent that my philosophies and those of the majority
on the Board are not congruent and the content of the newly approved By-Laws are so
vague that I fear I will have difficulty conforming. I wish the Board well and urge the
Board to do everything in its power to insure that the citizens of the Villages to get
involved. I have a great deal of respect for the citizens and I value their input. Without
citizen involvement it cannot be a Government “of the people, by the people, for the
people” and without that, the government that is the Villages at Mt. Hood surely will
perish.