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Amid Challenges, Merchants Elect Officers
LA MESA -- The La Mesa Village Merchants Association met Monday night and voted to add one new officer and re-elected all the other current officers.
But a critic of the association's recent practices is still challenging the election process and fears the association will face criticism from state and federal oversight officials.
In Monday night's vote, members elected new director Ari Bejar, owner of Cosmos Coffee Cafe, as secretary, a position that was listed as open on the association's website.
Arlene Moore, owner of Park Estates, will continue as president and Deena While, owner of Readers Inc. will continue as treasurer.
But Lynn McRea, a La Mesa accountant and former officer of the Merchant organization, said she thinks the group remains in violation of its own bylaws, a situation that could give it problems if its books are reviewed by the Secretary of State's office or the Internal Revenue Service.
McRea said the organization privately formed a nominating committee and presented a slate of director candidates without giving the full membership a proper opportunity to nominate new director candidates. Further, McRea said the election didn't designate officers for specific seats.
"I want to help them get in compliance with their own bylaws,'' McRea said. "They could face very difficult questions if the they are reviewed by the Secretary of State or the IRS and that could jeopardize their non-profit status.''
The association has been under scrutiny in recent months after a LaMesaToday.com special report revealed that the organization's records and IRS filings included significant gaps and errors. McRea, a former officer of the organization, later challenged the association's election procedures, saying they were in violation of the group's bylaws.
Deena While said the organization has been endeavoring to clear up problems revealed in the organization's procedures and Monday's vote was a response to McRea's complaint that the election conducted in October didn't include a specific vote for each officer's role.
"The bylaws are actually quite vague,'' While said Tuesday. "We feel we have done what is correct now and we're ready to move forward.''
The Merchants association plays a key role in downtown La Mesa, organizing Oktoberfest, Christmas in the Village and the weekly summer car shows.