Saturday, March 25, 2023

WAC Board Postpones Meeting, Ousted Anyway

Harold Baker was all smiles ahead of the meeting. (Ty Hodges/WYDaily)
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More than a month after the firing of Harold Baker by the Williamsburg Aquatic Club Board of Directors, a quorum of WAC members came together for a special meeting with the intentions of righting the board’s perceived wrongs.

During Sunday’s meeting at the James City County Recreation Center, a simple majority of WAC members cast their vote of no confidence in the board, voted to remove three board members — President Rebecca Cristol, Vice President Ted Lynch and Secretary Luis Long — and voted into place four new board members.

Treasurer Karen Tyranski, who was appointed by the Board of Directors after the previous treasurer resigned, had not received prior notification she could be ousted in the vote so she remains on the board.

The new board members, who the membership voted in after ousting the old board, are tasked with handling whether Tyranski keeps the position. The membership chose Chris Gann to serve as president, Felicia Anderson as vice president, Chris Harrison as secretary and Jenny Olsen as the member at-large through Aug. 31, 2016.

As WAC Board Delays Meeting, Pro-Baker Members Name New Candidates

The original board, which sent out an email an hour ahead of the scheduled meeting attempting to postpone, has issued a statement that questions the validity of the vote.

” … The results of this meeting are not viewed by the Board of Directors as valid,” Cristol wrote to WAC members. “The courts will resolve this matter shortly and then WAC can begin to heal.”

Before the meeting, WAC members received an email from the board that stated the meeting could not be held Sunday because of concerns raised by Baker’s attorney regarding “the validity of the meeting and any votes taken at the meeting.”

Baker, who said his lawyer was out of town and on vacation, denied the board’s accusations of wanting the meeting postponed.

“We didn’t ask to cancel [the meeting],” he told WYDaily.

While WAC families began pulling into the parking lot of the Rec Center to sign in ahead of the meeting, many began receiving word the meeting had been called off and were preparing to leave.

Those in attendance began rallying for WAC members to show up and hold the meeting without the Board of Directors in attendance.

In order to do so, more than 50 percent of WAC member families needed to be present.

More than 30 minutes after the meeting’s designated start time of 1 p.m., a quorum was achieved and the meeting began. With no board members present to preside, the membership in attendance appointed WAC parent and USA Swimming official Richard Hill to chair the meeting.

Though a discussion of Baker’s termination was included on the agenda, a unanimous vote from the WAC membership tabled that discussion in favor of moving on to the looming vote of no confidence.

Ryan Gregory, a WAC member, read a list of 14 points as to why a vote of no confidence in the Board of Directors should be cast.

Among other things listed during his speech, Gregory accused the Board of refusing to notify the membership when other board members resigned, committing “major rules violations of USA Swimming” with regards to recruiting swimmers from other clubs and telling Baker to throw a swimmer out of WAC because the board did not like the child’s parents.

After Gregory’s speech, the members cast secret ballots for the no confidence vote, with a James City County police officer helping to count the votes in an effort to remain transparent and neutral.

Of the 81 WAC members in attendance, 79 cast a vote of no confidence, one abstained and one vote was not counted because an answer of “Yes,” “No” or “Abstain” was not chosen.

The members followed the same process for the vote on whether to remove Cristol, Lynch and Long from the Board of Directors. Of the 81 votes cast, 80 voted to remove the three board members while one voter abstained.

The announcement of the final vote count was met with roaring applause from the WAC members in attendance.

The new board is tasked with determining Baker’s employment status with WAC, which was not determined at Sunday’s meeting.

After the meeting, Baker was all smiles and said he hoped the club could move forward after today.

“Hopefully it’s the start of a reunification of the club,” he said before Cristol sent her email challenging the vote. “I’m sure some people will try something else, but hopefully it’s the beginning of the healing.”

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