It’s not every day that a Realtor association holds an emergency meeting for thousands of members to decide whether or not to remove the chair and chair-elect from the board of directors.
But that’s exactly what happened today in San Antonio, Texas, at the San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR).
SABOR invited “its 10,000 or so members to its headquarters for an emergency meeting … to decide whether to comply with petitions to remove the SABOR board of directors chair, Michele Bunting Ross, and chair-elect, Yvette Allen,” wrote Inman Deputy Editor Andrea V. Brambila last week.
And the results of that meeting have been delivered: Members voted Bunting Ross out as chair, but Chair-Elect Allen will retain her position.
The membership meeting was private, and members were able to hear the information on which they based their decision for their vote, according to KGB Texas Communications spokeswoman Cheryl Kahn, speaking on behalf of SABOR. Inman requested a voting breakdown, which Kahn said will not be available.
Attending members voted on each position separately. The petitions will be kept private as well.
“I am grateful to have been kept in my position by the members,” Allen told Inman via email.
“For the last 6-plus years I have served on the board of directors always keeping in mind the members interest. We are a member-driven organization and my hope is that our members get more involved,” she added.
Just 650 members — less than a tenth of SABOR’s membership — attended the emergency meeting, according to Allen. She said she could not recall the final vote count.
“The members came out to hear all sides and took a vote. I respect the members’ time and getting involved. As Realtors we are all busy, but they knew the importance of the meeting and to let their voice be heard,” she said.
She declined to state the specific allegations detailed at the meeting.
Eleven of the 19 members of the SABOR board of directors signed petitions to remove Bunting Ross and Allen. SABOR President and CEO Angela Shields did not outline the charges against the chair and chair-elect. On Wednesday, March 29, 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.
Allen and Bunting Ross told Inman that they did not know exactly what charges were filed against them.
“They said we violated our fiduciary duties, but we didn’t violate any laws or steal any money,” Bunting Ross told Brambila.
“In response, SABOR spokeswoman Suzanne Westrum said Bunting Ross and Allen are spreading ‘misinformation,'” Brambila wrote.
All sides attempted to ensure they are legally covered: SABOR, Shields, Bunting Ross and Allen have all hired lawyers (and SABOR has both in-house and outside counsel for the case).
Bunting Ross said that the allegations levied resulted from a suggestion that SABOR create a task force to review Shields’ salary. She said that the National Association of Realtors’ core standards for Realtor associations include conducting annual performance reviews for chief staff, and that there was no evidence that Shields had ever received a formal review.
Shields responded by stating that SABOR is in full compliance with NAR’s core standards, and SABOR spokeswoman Suzanne Westrum said that past chairmen of the board of directors had conducted Shields’ previous performance reviews.
The voting process
According to meeting information sent to SABOR members before the meeting, presiding officer (and SABOR Secretary/Treasurer) Lorena Peña was to read the petitions at issue at the meeting. Each of the eleven directors who signed the petition were to get 10 minutes to present their charges, and Allen and Bunting Ross were each to get 10 minutes to respond.
Then the discussion was to be opened up to the membership for debate. No members of the press were allowed in the room, but attorneys could attend.
The association was to use wristbands for members to control who could enter the room to hear the presentations and debate, and also who could vote. SABOR, Bunting Ross and Allen could each have an observer present during the vote count.
A three-quarters majority vote was required to remove Allen and Bunting Ross. According to Allen, SABOR followed the voting procedures released before the meeting.
Inman has reached out to Bunting Ross for comment.
Inman Deputy Editor Andrea V. Brambila contributed reporting for this story.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from SABOR Chair-Elect Allen.