Leech Lake, Muskoka

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LL Members Voice Need for Change

Over the past two weekends, I have spent time with more than 50 Lake Association members gathering their input on what they would like to see from the Association going forward

I would like to thank all of the people who shared their time, and bugs.  We couldn’t reach everyone but the input from members was almost universally consistent.  These are captured below.  I am including comments on how I would work with the executive team to address these issues.

·         There needs to be better communication

Members should feel they are valued customers of the Association.  Communication needs to provide much more visibility about financials, plans for road maintenance and improvement, and efforts to promote a better sense of community

·         More transparency about spending is essential

Member input will be sought on all major financial commitments.  Don Hill, the Treasurer is committed to sharing more information about the Association’s finances but has essentially been blocked currently. 

·         Members expect better value for money

A vote for me as President this weekend will result in the immediate implementation of procurement procedures and policies designed to end sole sourcing and deliver cost reduction.  This will apply to all major spending going forward.  Leech Lake’s reputation with contractors in the area will be rebuilt so that we have a number of interested contractors willing to bid on major work at the Lake.  Substandard workmanship will not be tolerated.  I would like to expand the size of the road committee and seek volunteers to perform some work on the road such as culvert cleaning each fall.  This will reduce expense on culvert repairs.  I would not be asking anyone to do something I am not prepared to do myself.  Overcharging and under-delivering will be discussed with current contractors. 

Don Hill and I will be pursuing funding from the Town in order to improve the road standard.  No promises except we will pursue this professionally and consistently.

·         The Association needs to be more responsive and democratic

We will use surveys of all members to establish priorities which will guide the direction the executive and each committee will be expected to follow.  Following the election I would like to do a travelling town hall, walking the road with members of the road committee and executive to gather input on priorities for road improvement and other issues.

We will seek member input about absentee voting over the internet for executive positions and for dues changes for example. 

·         Road conditions this spring are unacceptable

It was certainly a remarkable spring season.   Members have no information regarding when or if repairs will be made.  The road committee has been working on winter road maintenance for the coming winter.  That isn’t very responsive, or aligned with member needs.


·         The appetite for change is held universally

People express this in their own way.  Some are withholding dues.  More are quietly frustrated.  Without change, The Association could be heading for a crisis.  You may not agree with my views on type of change that is needed.  That’s OK; all input will be valued equally. Transition to this vision for the Association will be challenging.  I am not at all certain that the current road committee is prepared to work within this member driven team concept.

·         Many believe that road conditions have been deteriorating for many years

There simply have not been sufficient funds dedicated to summer road maintenance.  This has been the case for several years.  The necessary funds can be generated through improved value for money.  My primary objective is to improve the standard of road conditions in the months when the Lake is used by most members.  That will require understanding from winter residents and frequent visitors.  The portion of dues which goes to summer maintenance will likely need to be increased.  That decision would be driven by members.  

·         Members expressed concerns about interpersonal issues being played out at the AGM

Effective management which is fair to all stakeholders should help to reduce tensions.  To the extent that the executive has exacerbated tensions, steps will be taken to ensure that executive processes and actions are fair and seen to be fair to all stakeholders.  Effective overall management of the Association is the best way to change this. 

·         People are concerned about  the Lake community being divided

Community building events such as the regatta need to be reinstated.  Some of us would like a social event such as a corn roast in the fall. 

We will be sending a press release regarding the FOCA Environmental Achievement Award to all local media.  We will be inviting them to the annual Benthic Census on July 20th where they can see Stewardship on Leech Lake in action.

We need to promote a more positive image of Leech Lake in the broader area.  Getting better value for money and delivering results for all stakeholders will help build a sense of community.

·         Several members expressed concern about dues non-payment. 

There are a number of reasons why people don’t pay their dues.  Most of this revolves around feelings of alienation about how things are done.  Their views and needs are not met.  The best way to improve the situation is through effective management which is stakeholder driven.  Interestingly, some people who have not paid dues for some time have reached out to me.  Simply stated, they want change. 

We expect many more members to attend the AGM this coming Sunday.  Members may wish to consider having just one person attend in order to accommodate all of the people who expressed an interest in attending.       
  Larry Jacobs


At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right about one thing for sure. Members should be more involved! That way they would see the real story and not just your lop sided view.
If the rest of us had even a fraction of the time that you have, someone would stand up and fight for the position that you will be handed. No one wants to be on the assosciation because of the BS that you have spewed on this blog and elsewhere.
I hope there is some motion to shut this blog down. It's hurting property values.
You're like that do-gooder in high school who just must be heard but no one really cares except they want to shut you up.
Just stop driving all of our property values down with this constant negativity.
The association struggled to get people to join and help out and now you are publicly bashing them on the Internet. Why would anyone want to help out when they get ridiculed for not doing what you want?
Sounds more like you really want control of everything. A bit like a dictatorship actually.

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a long time cottager on this lake and I am disgusted with Larry's attitude to the volunteers who have worked hard for the last 2 years. It is very easy to sit back and criticize everyone just so that you can make yourself into a President, No-one wants your walking town hall meetings. I come to the lake to relax. I don't want you showing up at my door. Leave the members of the present committees alone. Wherever you were raised it wasn't with decency and respect for others' contribution.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Judith Suraski said...

As President I am shocked that Larry would so openly attack the elected members of the Executive and Road Committee with lies and inuendo.The Road Committee has tried to do its job and has been blocked at every turn by Larry Jacobs and Don Hill. Please come to the AGM so that you can be informed of the truth, and not listen to an angry man's rants.
Judith Suraski

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see any anger in what has been put forward Judith. Don and Larry visited my cottage last Saturday and we had good discussion. They are trying to be positive, but it seems that you are the one doing the attacking.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you don't see the anger because you don't know how they treat the committee behind closed doors. If only the members knew the way they conduct themselves and treat everyone else on the committee. I'm surprised the whole committee hasn't just walked away.

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Larry Jacobs said...

This is rather ironic. I resigned from the Executive, in part because of the way I was treated around real solutions to financial issues that I brought to the table.

I have been quite careful to stick to issues in what I have put forward and stated. I have stayed away from personalities.

I have known for some time that there would be an attempt to try to make me the issue.

Perhaps a few minutes of Q&A at the AGM will help set the record straight.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry once again you fail to understand the fundamental prinipal of being kind to others.
You are trying to slander the road committee and the president to gain control of a VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION! Lay off already, all we care about is the road being in decent condition. You are beyond insulting to the people who have dedicated their time to this cause as volunteers. I think you have single handedly destroyed the committee, and it should be dissolved. no one can work with you.

This blog is being misused and like someone already said, property values are being affected.
I wish I had as much free time as you. I would use it for good instead of tearing volunteers apart.
Shame on you.

At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ultimate solution is to bite the bullet and have the Township/Town assume responsibility for the road. Complicated and costly but likely outweighs the lost property values and the loss of community that we have endured the last 10 years.

Minimize the need and cost for an Association perhaps organizing social events and some Stewardship work.

Who would you buy a cottage on the lake reading Larry's posts and the comments?

Good luck getting volunteers Larry if you do get elected.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

children, children

-Larry didn't slam anyone
-More volunteer's on a road committee would benefit everyone, would free up more time for the current committee and would let more see the inner workings of the decisions concerning the way "our" money is being spent
-I would love to see the town take over our "problem" road and am prepared to pay my equal share to the town and this would for certain bring up property values
this would also "heal" the dividing of the lake problem mentioned and bring back sense of community we should have on this small lake
-I also think this blog should be shut down, it is disgusting how everyone wines on this site
-and I also have been a long time cottage owner on this lake and seen lots of changes, this committee sure went down hill since Ken Gellar resigned and moved
-the current president does what??? NOTHING
-given that Larry can be no worse
in my opinion of course

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problems began with the new treasurer, not with the new president.

It would be nice if the town took over the road for us, but people, really, look at how they maintain Lorne road! is that the kind of work we can expect on the lake road? It most certainly is! and it would be a disaster and cost a lot more in taxes for each of us.
We just need to have some volunteers who don't take everything so seriously. This is a dead simple situation, but a couple of people are turning it into a federal election!
This whole thing needs to be simplified.
there are too many opinions, too much political garbage and too many hurt feelings.
Also, this blog needs to be shut down, or at least mediated for goodness sake.
some people just need to learn to be good neighbours, and thats the bottom line.

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

crap what does the treasurer have to do with anything, I don't really know Don Hill, he pays the bills and from what I have read on this bitch session blog, which I agree should be shut down, and he pays what the president has approved by the committee who apparently does not spend "our" money wisely and Mr. Hill has the balls to question it??? That is not a bad thing =.

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just the point. If anyone knew the real story to what Larry and don have done to damage this lake, no one would ever vote for Larry.
The prsident does even have an executive vote when decisions get made. Your sentiments are shared by many, but you really have not been informed of the harm done by don and Larry because no one else is as big of a loud mouth as Larry.
I would strongly urge everyone to hear both sides of this argument before casting a vote for Larry as president.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry has created a situation where no one even wants to be on the committee. He will get elected because he is the only one running. Way to go Larry.

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow sounds like the current committee is running a little scared. Go Larry Go

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol. Yeah, that's what's happening.

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the AGM yesterday for the first time. I must say I was disgusted with Judith's rant. She was shouted down by the audience and didn't finish her classless attempt at whatever? Shameful.

Don Hill had step in to run the meeting or we might still be there.

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep they were running scared for sure and judiths ranting was even more proof of that, glad we have a change in our committee but it didn't go far enough in getting rid of more of them hope the new blood manage to clean house some more

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only you knew the real truth. Too bad, but like so many situations like this one, the bad guys win because they talk the loudest. Judith was abused terribly over the past year by these goons, but so many people just eat up their story without knowing the truth. Maybe one day the truth will prevail. Until then, we should all be thanking Judith for a job well done! This was a volunteer position she reluctantly took on, and was unfortunately subject to don's abuse. Still, she did a commendable job against all the adversity.

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my ass she did she just passed the buck and didn't do her job leading the committee and cleaning it up

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous R. Budden said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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