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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

Fairness in negotiation

  • 02 May 2010 10:43 PM
    Message # 334583
    Deleted user
    We are presently forming a statute road association and I chair the standing committee. One of the members who claims to represent  the "front" of the road where the majority of the people reside within one third of the road length but the easiest portion of the road to maintain, feels that the bylaws we set up should be those that will pass with the people at the front as they have 3 times the population. In his opinion, they at the front are not interested in our concerns and will only vote for a platform that represents first, their own. I advised him, he should get more people at the front involved and educate them since their co operation is key to our continuing with this process fairly. He is insistent about not doing this and that nothing can be done. This is really a sticking point, but it is our only exit and even though we few at the back supply  plowing and  grading along with emergency ditch repair work, which the front assumes we will continue free of charge..what is an appropriate avenue t proceed?
    Last modified: 02 May 2010 10:43 PM | Deleted user
  • 03 May 2010 6:03 AM
    Reply # 334667 on 334583
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Michael Connolly wrote:We are presently forming a statute road association and I chair the standing committee. One of the members who claims to represent  the "front" of the road where the majority of the people reside within one third of the road length but the easiest portion of the road to maintain, feels that the bylaws we set up should be those that will pass with the people at the front as they have 3 times the population. In his opinion, they at the front are not interested in our concerns and will only vote for a platform that represents first, their own. I advised him, he should get more people at the front involved and educate them since their co operation is key to our continuing with this process fairly. He is insistent about not doing this and that nothing can be done. This is really a sticking point, but it is our only exit and even though we few at the back supply most of the plowing and all of the grading along with emergency ditch repair work, which the front assumes we will continue free of charge..is it reasonable for me to remove this person and ask for another representative who will support fair negotiation. They feel they now have the numbers in any decision making.
    It sounds like you are proceeding well but have a sticky problem. Is the representative one of the necessary formers or simply someone you have brought into the process because you think the front of the road should be involved?

    If not one of the formers, that makes it more a political problem, less a legal one. By that I mean the formers can prepare for the first meeting by drawing up bylaws for a vote however the formers want but in the end the vote will be what governs.

    It sounds like the person may be trying to drum up support among the "front" people to oppose the "back" people. That is a political thing and maybe you are best off trying to get in touch with the "front" people and educate and involve them yourself. If you can somehow do that it might defuse what sounds like a polarizing process that is/has been going on. I know this is not easy, and armchair advice which I myself would have difficulty following, but it does come to mind as a solution.

    If however you don't have the numbers to form an association without someone from the front, that is an even stickier problem.

    I have a feeling a situation like this may occur on road associations often, and it a good discussion to bring to this forum.  
  • 04 May 2010 4:42 AM
    Reply # 335310 on 334583
    Deleted user
    Thank you for your comments. I will take your advice to heart and do the following. One, inform everyone on the committee that no one "represents" any particular end of the road. We as individuals may choose only to communicate with the people closest to us for convenience purposes to help in our negotiation but, any of us, my self included, can and will at any time, try to elicit response from the residents at large in the form of direct contact or indirect contact. I personally will conduct an inquiry through email to all those who choose to respond and take that information to our negotiations. All others, regardless of their location, are welcome to do the same.
    Thank you again. I have amended my original discussion topic to reflect general comment replies on your part instead of trying to get specific ideas.
  • 06 May 2010 8:04 AM
    Reply # 336524 on 334667
    Deleted user
    Betsy Connor Bowen wrote:
    Michael Connolly wrote:We are presently forming a statute road association and I chair the standing committee. One of the members who claims to represent  the "front" of the road where the majority of the people reside within one third of the road length but the easiest portion of the road to maintain, feels that the bylaws we set up should be those that will pass with the people at the front as they have 3 times the population. In his opinion, they at the front are not interested in our concerns and will only vote for a platform that represents first, their own. I advised him, he should get more people at the front involved and educate them since their co operation is key to our continuing with this process fairly. He is insistent about not doing this and that nothing can be done. This is really a sticking point, but it is our only exit and even though we few at the back supply most of the plowing and all of the grading along with emergency ditch repair work, which the front assumes we will continue free of charge..is it reasonable for me to remove this person and ask for another representative who will support fair negotiation. They feel they now have the numbers in any decision making.
    It sounds like you are proceeding well but have a sticky problem. Is the representative one of the necessary formers or simply someone you have brought into the process because you think the front of the road should be involved?

    If not one of the formers, that makes it more a political problem, less a legal one. By that I mean the formers can prepare for the first meeting by drawing up bylaws for a vote however the formers want but in the end the vote will be what governs.

    It sounds like the person may be trying to drum up support among the "front" people to oppose the "back" people. That is a political thing and maybe you are best off trying to get in touch with the "front" people and educate and involve them yourself. If you can somehow do that it might defuse what sounds like a polarizing process that is/has been going on. I know this is not easy, and armchair advice which I myself would have difficulty following, but it does come to mind as a solution.

    If however you don't have the numbers to form an association without someone from the front, that is an even stickier problem.

    I have a feeling a situation like this may occur on road associations often, and it a good discussion to bring to this forum.  

    Betsey ,I get the impression from your statements about the formers here, that somehow they have more powers over everybody else. Could this be eloborated on, please. Front people back people? Aren't all members supposed to be treated equally? Aren't all decisions to be made in the best interest of the association, not with a few having power over? I realize that politics play a part in everything, but I personally don't feel that the people that form any association have any more power under the law,over anybody else. Many may try to play that card for their own gain . MARA's philosophy reads that with the ability to use the power of law to collect assessments comes the responsibility to implement a democratic process, for the Front and back I would say to be fair and equitable. I write this for clarification, not to criticize, I'm interested as to how this applies to all of us. Your thoughts please. Alanna Brown
  • 06 May 2010 8:31 AM
    Reply # 336561 on 336524
    Deleted user
    Alanna Brown wrote:Betsey ,I get the impression from your statements about the formers here, that somehow they have more powers over everybody else.

    No, they have no more power than anyone else -- every parcel owner has an equal vote.  What they do have is the advantage of having taken the initiative and prepared for the initial meeting.

    Could this be eloborated on, please. Front people back people? Aren't all members supposed to be treated equally? Aren't all decisions to be made in the best interest of the association, not with a few having power over?

    Sure.  Just like every other governing body in the history of the world.  Sadly, road associations are made up of people, and people do not always operate in selfless, unbiased, for-the-good-of-all mode. The only cure for an association dominated by a few and operating in their own self-interest is to get more people actively involved the the business of the association. 

    I realize that politics play a part in everything, but I personally don't feel that the people that form any association have any more power under the law,over anybody else.


    They don't, except to the extent that they're the ones actually *doing* something. 

     Many may try to play that card for their own gain . MARA's philosophy reads that with the ability to use the power of law to collect assessments comes the responsibility to implement a democratic process, for the Front and back I would say to be fair and equitable. I write this for clarification, not to criticize, I'm interested as to how this applies to all of us. Your thoughts please. Alanna Brown

    Statutory road associations are democratic; they are run by majority vote.  Of course, in a democracy, a majority can, if it wants, ride roughshod over the minority.  If most of your members happen to live on the "front" of the road, and only a few on the back, the majority might vote to give short shrift to the needs of the few.
  • 06 May 2010 11:36 PM
    Reply # 336987 on 336524
    Deleted user
    Alanna Brown wrote:


    It sounds like you are proceeding well but have a sticky problem. Is the representative one of the necessary formers or simply someone you have brought into the process because you think the front of the road should be involved?

    If not one of the formers, that makes it more a political problem, less a legal one. By that I mean the formers can prepare for the first meeting by drawing up bylaws for a vote however the formers want but in the end the vote will be what governs.

    It sounds like the person may be trying to drum up support among the "front" people to oppose the "back" people. That is a political thing and maybe you are best off trying to get in touch with the "front" people and educate and involve them yourself. If you can somehow do that it might defuse what sounds like a polarizing process that is/has been going on. I know this is not easy, and armchair advice which I myself would have difficulty following, but it does come to mind as a solution.

    If however you don't have the numbers to form an association without someone from the front, that is an even stickier problem.

    I have a feeling a situation like this may occur on road associations often, and it a good discussion to bring to this forum.
    As it applies to our situation;  it is definitely a political issue.  It does seem to be a power struggle as the front, accordingly, argues that they do have the votes to pass. They argue that we must develop something that will pass "their" approval, even if the the conclusions seem unfair to those at the other end. My contention is that with the flexibility of the statute road association, NO ONE has to feel they are treated unfairly. If we don't make allowances for fairness, we can be held liable as an association by any individual willing to press the issue.

    It's not right makes right only, as my contention is that the fewer people at the back, have supplied much of the plowing, grading, ditching etc. free of charge for the last 15 years the entire road that it's been an informal association as they have the equipment to do so.They will continue after the RA is formed, but no longer free of charge. They also have deep legal pockets which could present a problem for all if not treated fairly. The ratio of year round residents is 3 to 1 (15 to 5), front to back; so the front definitely has a voting majority. 

    The biggest sticking points include, the front wants to charge the back full fee without the  same  maintenance   once formed and not compensate the back for any of the free labor they now provide. We could save a lot on expenditures by using compensated in house labor over contracting with an outside provider as the equipment the back provides is full size commercial equipment and expertise.

    Are these reasonable assumptions and is this compensation a doable item ?

    I am presently preparing a statement for the next meeting with all of our options, but all from a fairness point of view. I'm mainly interested with the negotiating successes you have had dealing with the intractable nature of the situation...
    Forgive me for the winded explanation.
    Last modified: 06 May 2010 11:36 PM | Deleted user
  • 07 May 2010 8:13 AM
    Reply # 337113 on 334583
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    You wrote: "The biggest sticking points include, the front wants to charge the back full fee without the  same  maintenance   once formed and not compensate the back for any of the free labor they now provide."

    Could you explain "without the same maintenance once formed?"

    You wrote: "We could save a lot on expenditures by using compensated in house labor over contracting with an outside provider as the equipment the back provides is full size commercial equipment and expertise."

    This issue -- using member labor or not -- occurs often in Maine. Originally most road work was done by members. Things are moving away from that, though. On our road, for example, one person who lives at the end of one of the feeder roads plows in winter for a living. He has to plow early to get out to plow his jobs! So the road association pays him to plow the part he uses to get out and hires someone else to plow the rest. That seems fair.

    In theory your association could vote to hire outside work even though it was more expensive. This is not a good thing and certainly does not create good feeling. From what you have said, I just think you have a job ahead of you of convincing the majority that you can do the job well for less and that in the interest of neighborliness they should hire you. If they don't there might be a fairness issue but you should definitely make a "paper trail" on what you have proposed and what happened in case you might want to use it. 
  • 07 May 2010 8:19 AM
    Reply # 337115 on 336561
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Todd Tolhurst wrote:
    Alanna Brown wrote:Betsey ,I get the impression from your statements about the formers here, that somehow they have more powers over everybody else.

    No, they have no more power than anyone else -- every parcel owner has an equal vote.  What they do have is the advantage of having taken the initiative and prepared for the initial meeting.

    Could this be eloborated on, please. Front people back people? Aren't all members supposed to be treated equally? Aren't all decisions to be made in the best interest of the association, not with a few having power over?

    Sure.  Just like every other governing body in the history of the world.  Sadly, road associations are made up of people, and people do not always operate in selfless, unbiased, for-the-good-of-all mode. The only cure for an association dominated by a few and operating in their own self-interest is to get more people actively involved the the business of the association. 

    I realize that politics play a part in everything, but I personally don't feel that the people that form any association have any more power under the law,over anybody else.


    They don't, except to the extent that they're the ones actually *doing* something. 

     Many may try to play that card for their own gain . MARA's philosophy reads that with the ability to use the power of law to collect assessments comes the responsibility to implement a democratic process, for the Front and back I would say to be fair and equitable. I write this for clarification, not to criticize, I'm interested as to how this applies to all of us. Your thoughts please. Alanna Brown

    Statutory road associations are democratic; they are run by majority vote.  Of course, in a democracy, a majority can, if it wants, ride roughshod over the minority.  If most of your members happen to live on the "front" of the road, and only a few on the back, the majority might vote to give short shrift to the needs of the few.
    Alana, I'm sorry if I gave the impression the formers have extra power. The formers take on a job and must make some decisions on their own without a vote as there is no voting body yet, but in the end the majority rules. If they are successful in gaining majority approval, then they do have something that in some ways does resemble additional "power" but at least it comes from "the people" and not at the end of a shotgun or something like that! (I'm having a bit of fun here, forgive me.) Thank you Todd Tolhurst for your comments.
  • 07 May 2010 6:31 PM
    Reply # 337399 on 337113
    Deleted user
    Betsy Connor Bowen wrote:You wrote: "The biggest sticking points include, the front wants to charge the back full fee without the  same  maintenance   once formed and not compensate the back for any of the free labor they now provide."

    Could you explain "without the same maintenance once formed?"

    You wrote: "We could save a lot on expenditures by using compensated in house labor over contracting with an outside provider as the equipment the back provides is full size commercial equipment and expertise."

    This issue -- using member labor or not -- occurs often in Maine. Originally most road work was done by members. Things are moving away from that, though. On our road, for example, one person who lives at the end of one of the feeder roads plows in winter for a living. He has to plow early to get out to plow his jobs! So the road association pays him to plow the part he uses to get out and hires someone else to plow the rest. That seems fair.

    In theory your association could vote to hire outside work even though it was more expensive. This is not a good thing and certainly does not create good feeling. From what you have said, I just think you have a job ahead of you of convincing the majority that you can do the job well for less and that in the interest of neighborliness they should hire you. If they don't there might be a fairness issue but you should definitely make a "paper trail" on what you have proposed and what happened in case you might want to use it. 
    Thank you for your reply. I did misstate the first statement you referred to. The front wants to charge the back the full fee, putting it into a common fund without the association assuming full maintenance responsibilities of the back.

    The full fee includes winter snow removal and sanding, which the back now provides free of charge except for the price of sand. It seems crazy to ask a group for winter expense funds to pay for services they provide. The sander in the back, charges only for the sand. The front is talking about hot topping areas and moving the road for a wider entrance with the extra money they think they can get from the association. NO discussion on their part for any such capital expenditures for the rear, while again, we have 3 times the road length.

    I do save everything and have had the hours of those doing work, recorded.
  • 08 May 2010 10:18 AM
    Reply # 337645 on 337399
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Michael Connolly wrote:
    Betsy Connor Bowen wrote:You wrote: "The biggest sticking points include, the front wants to charge the back full fee without the  same  maintenance   once formed and not compensate the back for any of the free labor they now provide."

    Could you explain "without the same maintenance once formed?"

    You wrote: "We could save a lot on expenditures by using compensated in house labor over contracting with an outside provider as the equipment the back provides is full size commercial equipment and expertise."

    This issue -- using member labor or not -- occurs often in Maine. Originally most road work was done by members. Things are moving away from that, though. On our road, for example, one person who lives at the end of one of the feeder roads plows in winter for a living. He has to plow early to get out to plow his jobs! So the road association pays him to plow the part he uses to get out and hires someone else to plow the rest. That seems fair.

    In theory your association could vote to hire outside work even though it was more expensive. This is not a good thing and certainly does not create good feeling. From what you have said, I just think you have a job ahead of you of convincing the majority that you can do the job well for less and that in the interest of neighborliness they should hire you. If they don't there might be a fairness issue but you should definitely make a "paper trail" on what you have proposed and what happened in case you might want to use it. 
    Thank you for your reply. I did misstate the first statement you referred to. The front wants to charge the back the full fee, putting it into a common fund without the association assuming full maintenance responsibilities of the back.

    The full fee includes winter snow removal and sanding, which the back now provides free of charge except for the price of sand. It seems crazy to ask a group for winter expense funds to pay for services they provide. The sander in the back, charges only for the sand. The front is talking about hot topping areas and moving the road for a wider entrance with the extra money they think they can get from the association. NO discussion on their part for any such capital expenditures for the rear, while again, we have 3 times the road length.

    I do save everything and have had the hours of those doing work, recorded.
    The statute is explicit about the limits of what can be done with association money. Repair and maintenance only. Not hot topping. Not redesign of the road. 

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