One week after the Massachusetts Association of Realtors voted to oust its chief professional executive, details surrounding the event are now emerging, including allegations that some votes were cast by Realtors who had no authority to do so.

According to sources, the votes in question likely were cast in favor of keeping Robert L. Nash in his position as association executive vice president. Nash was removed from his post with just one vote to spare, and sources said the 61-57 final tally demonstrates the potential effect even one questionable voter could have on the process. A minimum of 60 votes was needed to constitute a majority and pass the motion to terminate Nash. The vote was taken at the state association’s annual meeting on June 22 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.

Specifically, the votes of Richard W. Neitz and Suzanne Goodrich – representing the Cape Cod & Islands region of the state – were called into question. Neitz, a long-time supporter of Nash, maintained that his presence at the meeting was accepted by the authorities there, and his vote was valid. Goodrich could not be reached for comment by Banker & Tradesman’s press deadline.

Neitz and Goodrich were asked to attend the June 22 meeting at the last minute, when it became apparent that there would be vacancies in the Cape’s voting block because a number of state directors and their alternates could not attend. Neitz said that he was asked to fill in by Amy Greene, MAR director and vice president of the Cape Cod & Islands region, but sources said that request came at the behest of Nash.

The MAR bylaws state: “In the anticipated absence of a director, a named substitute from the member board may serve with full voting power. Such substitute must be included in the list of named substitutes, submitted annually to MAR by the local board with its list of directors.”

Neither Goodrich’s nor Neitz’s name appears on the Cape’s submitted list of directors and alternates obtained by Banker & Tradesman.

“I was asked at the last minute because the board would have been underrepresented at the meeting,” Neitz said. “There was a challenge made, and the parliamentarian and the attorneys present didn’t have any problem with my being there. This is a red herring, as far as I’m concerned.”

Neitz said that a legal determination was made earlier in the week that he could vote. “I wouldn’t have been allowed into the meeting otherwise,” he said.

“I’ve been the [Cape Cod & Islands] regional vice president for four years. I was president of the local board, and I’ve been a state director for 15 years. I know what’s going on probably better than some of the other people who were voting,” Neitz said.

“They attempted to hijack our association, which I think is completely wrong,” said one Realtor who asked not to be named. “They were not legitimate representatives. It’s like stuffing the ballot box.”

Fred Meyer, MAR’s 2000 president, said he was unaware there were any concerns about alleged improper voting at the board of directors meeting. “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said in an interview last week.

Regardless, Meyer said the association will continue to move forward while a new executive vice president is sought.

“The goals and mission statement of the association are not any different than they were before,” Meyer said, “I feel we’re moving forward in a positive direction.”

He said that while the issue of whether Nash should have remained in the association may have caused Realtors to take sides, now that the vote is over MAR members are for the most part working together. “Regardless of what side they took, afterward, I think people accepted it and are moving forward.

“It’s a unified association. We went through a scrupulous and fair process, a decision was made, and people are moving on,” he said. “We had to make a difficult decision and move ahead. MAR has done that.”

Banker & Tradesman also has obtained details about negotiations prior to the vote involving a potential severance package for Nash if he agreed to resign voluntarily.According to sources, Nash said he was interested in negotiating a separation package and told MAR leadership he would voluntarily resign if he received the following: guaranteed pay for six months regardless of whether he worked for MAR during that period, fringe benefits for two years or until his next job started, and two years’ additional base salary at $130,000 per year. Estimates for the total cost of that package ranged between $349,000 and $429,000.

MAR leadership, on the other hand, was ready to support a package including $100,000 above what Nash is entitled to by contract if fired from his job. According to sources, his contract in that event stipulates payment of for four months base salary, or $43,333, plus six to 12 months fringe benefits, which could range from between $20,000 and $40,000.

The leadership was interested in recommending such a package in part to avoid a divisive dispute among the organization’s members, and to prevent publicity about internal matters, sources said. But the leadership ended up letting the board vote for themselves because they sensed the members wanted to express their feelings on the issue and because the matter was made public prior to the vote in a June 12 story in Banker & Tradesman.

In an effort to get past the Nash issue, MAR has scheduled a special board of directors meeting for the afternoon of July 13 in Framingham. A special meeting was necessary because the debate and vote on whether to dismiss Nash took up the length of the regularly scheduled meeting on June 22.

At the upcoming meeting, the directors will be asked to act on a motion to appoint a nationwide search committee charged with finding a replacement for Nash. The committee would consist of the MAR president, immediate past president, president-elect and treasurer, along with David Bradley and Paula Savard. It would be chaired by Edmund Gil Woods Jr., a past president of the National Association of Realtors.

MAR bylaws specify membership for the immediate past president, president, treasurer and president-elect, as well as three people chosen by the president. Woods, Bradley and Savard are all past MAR presidents and current NAR directors.

Another motion calls for the person who eventually is recommended by the search committee to be hired only after the selection is approved by the board of directors. The board also will be asked to express confidence in the abilities of current MAR staff to carry on the association’s work in the absence of an executive vice president.

The board of directors also will look at restarting marketing efforts for the organization’s MassForms real estate forms, an issue that several Realtors have said contributed to Nash’s ouster in the first place.

Under Nash’s leadership, MAR began directly marketing its forms to individual Realtors early this year before scaling back efforts in late February. Some local association leaders felt the plan went against traditional methods where only local associations would market such forms to individual members.

MAR Vote to Oust Nash Questioned by Members

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 5 min