Hotel Assoc. Member Believes Board Broke Law with Vote ‘Do-Over’

December 30th, 2008 by WY Daily Staff

A board member of the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association believes the board violated the Code of Virginia when it voted to cancel the results of its November board elections.

The vote occurred December 23, after a board meeting where executive director Pat Bell tendered her resignation.

Ron Kirkland, who was appointed in September to fill the balance of a two-year term on the Hotel Association board, said he showed up at the meeting expecting a lively discussion about Bell’s future with the Association. A group of board members had demanded her resignation a week earlier.

“Essentially, Pat Bell came and made her statement, that she was not going to stay on as executive director, regardless of any decision the board made,” said Kirkland, general manager of the Patrick Henry Inn and Patrick Henry Square.

“At that point, a group of board members made a motion that we not count the results of the (November board elections).”

Kirkland said some board members felt there were irregularities in the way votes were counted, and placed a motion in front of the board to re-do the vote. Kirkland voted against the motion, but it passed. One board member, Chris Canavos, submitted a proxy vote on behalf of a board member who couldn’t attend.

That’s where the problem arises, said Kirkland, the first board member to speak publicly about last Tuesday’s contentious meeting, which featured many board members leaving the Hotel Association offices via the back door to avoid reporters.

Kirkland sent an email to fellow board members, warning about a statute in the Code of Virginia, which allows board members to vote by proxy only in very narrow circumstances.

“If memory serves me correctly V.P. (Chris) Canavos presented a proxy vote that he had accepted and may not have realized at the time that this was not allowed,” Kirkland wrote to fellow board members. “However, it is my fiduciary responsibility to advise fellow directors that in my opinion this action may have indeed violated the Code of Virginia and the board should take immediate steps to correct this violation.”

Canavos is part of a group of board members who had wanted Bell’s ouster from the Hotel Association. They have never publicly explained the reasons for asking for her dismissal, and haven’t answered questions subsequent to her departure.

Board members gathered Monday for the first time since the meeting where Bell resigned. This time, it was to meet with the Hotel Association’s CPA, to make some end-of-year accounting decisions. The meeting, like most for the Association, was private.

Outside the meeting afterwards, Hotel Association president Ratnam Patel again refused comment, saying he wants to speak about the future of the Hotel Association, but is waiting for the appropriate time.

Kirkland wasn’t so reserved.

“I think mistakes have been made. Right now, as a board, we need to act as one to try to regain confidence in the community,” he said.

Kirkland said what’s disappointing to him is that everyone on the board, and in the community, shares the same goal of attracting people to visit Williamsburg to help the economy.

“The publicity we’ve received recently, I would characterize as being exactly what we don’t need. It couldn’t really be worse.”

3 Responses to Hotel Assoc. Member Believes Board Broke Law with Vote ‘Do-Over’

  1. Anonymous

    December 30, 2008 at 11:46 am

    The intent of the Hotel Motel Association is to merge with the Williamsburg Area Resturant Association, even if by crooked means.

  2. Anonymous

    December 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Pons,Canovas and Patel have finally shown their true colors to the public. They tried to bully the Chamber as well and got nowhere, for some reason they feel everyone in the community should be responsible for promoting their cheesey motels. Get a grip Pons. Canovas and Patel – if you want more visitors buy better hotel brands and clean up what you have. The community of Williamsburg is not your bailout plan. And to the Virginia Gazette – quit whining about these people not talking to you. For starters, personnel issues are not for public consumption. And second – If Steve Vaughn had ever interviewed anyone but Pons and Canovas for a story concerning the Hotel Motel some of the other Board members might be feeling a little more charitable toward you right now. Pons and Canovas DO NOT represent the feelings or view of people in the hospitality industry in Williamsburg. It’s pretty obvious they represent themselves.

  3. Anonymous

    January 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    It is very sad that Chris C. and Doug Pons have to cry like babies and demand peoples resignations just because they were not re-elected to the board. I predict more crying and asking for more resignations to come from those two. I hate politics.

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