Inman

San Antonio Board of Realtors gears up for tense membership vote

By March 31, 2017 No Comments

One of the largest local Realtor associations in Texas is gearing up for what is likely to be a contentious meeting next week where two board officers will respond to allegations and members will vote whether to depose them.

Michele Bunting Ross

The San Antonio Board of Realtors has invited its 10,000 or so members to its headquarters for an emergency meeting on April 5 to decide whether to comply with petitions to remove the SABOR board of directors chair, Michele Bunting Ross, and chair-elect, Yvette Allen.

On Wednesday, the board of directors met and decided not to release the language of the petitions, including details regarding the accusations against Bunting Ross and Allen, according to a SABOR spokeswoman.

“[I]t was decided that presenting details at the April 5 membership meeting would be more appropriate,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

When asked why, she said no one was available to answer that question by press time.

Yvette Allen

The current state of affairs, which includes conflicting accounts from the accused board members and SABOR CEO Angela Shields and possible litigation, has distressed some SABOR members, provoked questions about the association’s financial transparency, and prompted the National Association of Realtors to offer assistance resolving the situation if SABOR’s board requests it.

The vote also comes as SABOR and the Austin Board of Realtors are exploring merging their MLSs and may impact merger talks, Bunting Ross told Inman.

Petitions and police officers

On April 5, the presiding officer of the meeting — Secretary/Treasurer Lorena Peña — will read to the membership the petitions at issue, according to meeting information SABOR emailed to members Wednesday.

The directors who petitioned for the removal of the chair and chair-elect will each then get 10 minutes to present their petitions and the chair and chair-elect will each get 10 minutes to respond.

Angela Shields

“After the presentations have been concluded the presiding officer will open the discussion up for debate from the membership,” the association said.

SABOR will hire officers from the San Antonio Police Department “to assist with the facilitation of the meeting. They are needed to make certain non-members are not admitted into the meeting rooms.”

“[I]t is common practice for SABOR to have security when having large events,” the association added.

When asked how many police officers would be hired, SABOR said, “The number of security hired will be determined as the date approaches and SABOR has a better idea of the number of attendees.”

“[T]he off-duty officers are being hired for crowd control and because there is limited parking,” the association added.

Only primary and secondary SABOR members with “an official ID” will be allowed to enter the meeting and given a wristband.

“All other members will not be allowed to enter the rooms. This would include members of the press,” SABOR said.

“Attorneys for the parties will be allowed into the room.”

Both Bunting Ross and Allen have previously told Inman they plan to bring their lawyers to the meeting.

No ‘unruly members’

The meeting will be called to order at 9 a.m. Central, though Peña could choose to delay the meeting “if there is a long line of people waiting to enter to preserve impartiality,” according to SABOR.

As the presiding officer, Peña must allow debate and questions relevant to the petitions under discussion, but “topics outside the scope of the petitions will be considered irrelevant and will not be allowed,” the association said.

Only voting members will be allowed to participate in the debate and each will have two minutes to talk.

Because “the presiding officer is charged with maintaining order over the meeting,” Peña will “have the ability to expel unruly members if it is deemed necessary,” SABOR said.

Members wearing wristbands will receive a ballot to vote. Members submit their ballots to a third-party election teller who will then remove the wristband and affix it to the ballot.

“No ballots will be accepted by any person who does not have a wristband. Only the election teller is allowed to remove the wristband at the time the ballot is submitted. If the wristband is removed by the member, their ballot will not be counted,” the association said.

“The purpose of this method is to ensure that only members who are present at the time of the vote are able to vote. Proxy voting is not allowed. Additionally, this will prevent the opportunity for members to vote more than once.”

SABOR, Bunting Ross and Allen will each have the right to have an observer present during the vote count.

The removals of Bunting Ross and Allen require a three-fourths vote of the members present, according to SABOR’s bylaws.

Bunting Ross and Allen did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

Like me on Facebook! | Follow me on Twitter!

Want to get these articles delivered directly to your inbox?

Sign up to get a weekly recap email with the hottest articles delivered every Friday.