An unknown number of cease and desist letters revoking members from the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Association were sent Thursday by the group's Board of Directors, mostly to those who ran in an election that would have ousted several leaders.
The termination letters were written by attorneys representing the neighborhood association, known as Wilmont, and notified some members that on Wednesday, the Board of Directors "voted to irrevocably and permanently terminate" their memberships.
The letters state that on the day of the elections—which are not being recognized by the current board—the members acted in "contravention" to Wilmont's bylaws, including: treating everyone courteously, exercising self control and embracing "respectful disagreement and dissent as democratic rights."
Members were informed they could make a formal challenge to the termination within five days of the effective date July 27, but the board is "under no obligation to provide any further written or oral response to your challenge."
They bar the residents from attending or participating in meetings, and members were warned that if they show up, they will be escorted off the premises by security.
Chairwoman Valerie Griffin said the letters were sent to "preserve" the organization.
The letters "describe some of the behavior of June 9, [when members] set themselves up as the board using the bogus election, and using things that are in fact illegal," she said.
Griffin said she could not remember how many letters were sent. The law firm, Sustainable Law Group, did not return a message seeking comment.
One of the letters was emailed to Adam Rakunas, who said he didn't attend the June 9 meeting when elections were held. It would have been his first meeting, he said.
After 16 years living in the neighborhood, Rakunas said he was "cheesed off" that the board had voted to back the revitalization of the —the biggest development project the neighborhood will have seen in decades. It was endorsed months ago by the board, reportedly without much input from the membership.
That spurred several members to run in this year's election. But just before voting was to take place, Griffin called off the elections because the membership chair had been hospitalized, and was unable to validate the candidates' memberships.
An election was held anyway, though it was not conducted by the board.
"What bothers me the most is this is a group that gets money from the city and they can go and flat out say, 'you’re not allowed to show up to meetings,'" Rakunas said. "Now I don’t have a say in a group that represents my neighborhood."