Members of the Allentown Association gathered Thursday night for an annual meeting to elect a new board of directors, but sometimes-heated arguments over bylaws and parliamentary procedures forced a vote postponement.
"Many people feel the organization isn't doing its job of representing all the (Allentown) residents," said Mary Simpson, a former association member who now heads the Days Park Block Club, before the meeting.
Association Treasurer Richard A. Stockton Jr., chairman of the Nominating Committee, presented a list of 21 candidates chosen by the committee and moved to have the names approved. Stockton's motion was seconded, but confusion and arguments erupted when another association member sought to have the motion amended to allow voting on another 21-candidate list.
Gerard R. Lombardo, association president, objected to the amendment, saying it was "not permissible" under association by-laws, while several in the audience of about 60 debated whether Stockton -- who had made the motion -- had the right to accept or refuse an amendment and whether nominations could be made from the floor.
The substitute-candidate list, submitted by seven current and former association members, included many of the same names as the committee's list. The reason for submitting the new names, according to a flier distributed before the meeting, was to provide for "a needed change of leadership while retaining continuity."
After periods of debate that included some shouting -- even among Nominating Committee members -- over whether one of them may have been excluded from decisions on certain candidates, Stockton's motion to approve the original list of names was defeated, 26-23.
However, the squabbles continued when Lombardo, citing parliamentary procedures, ruled against another dissenting motion that would have allowed members to vote on the substituted list of candidates. Lombardo said that, before such a vote could be taken, notice to the board of directors and a repetition of the nomination process must take place. But former member Carole Holcberg said Lombardo's decision violated association by-laws.
"You're using the by-laws when they support your claims, and not using them when they don't," she told Lombardo.
Lombardo said during a recess that the seven dissenting members who submitted their own list of candidates had "padded" their ranks with new members, some signing up to join the association shortly before the meeting.
But many members, including Lombardo, said the association usually uses its annual meeting to recruit new members and that such quick sign-ups are common.
Members voted to meet on the vote Sept. 6, after the Nominating Committee has sent out questionnaires to persons nominated by any association member or Allentown resident. The committee also will interview the candidates, with the entire process expected to take about two months, Stockton said.