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Civility Task Force sends final report to board

Panel wraps up six-month mission

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, Feb. 17): The GRF Civility Task Force, its six-month mission officially complete, will now submit to the full GRF Board a 38-page report with several recommendations.

Those include creating a PowerPoint presentation about civility that can be shown to clubs and other Rossmoor groups; creating a “community pledge of civility” for Rossmoor residents and employees; and creating a “summary of responsibilities” poster or flier to help guide residents to their Mutual, GRF or other entity when problems arise.

The draft report ( is set to be discussed by the GRF Board at its Thursday, Feb. 23 meeting.

The draft report contains 16 formal recommendations, as well as a statement of purpose for the task force – “to continue highlighting the importance of building a sense of community within Rossmoor in order to ensure that it remains a premier and desirable community for years to come.”

Some of the other recommendations include running past task force-authored stories in the Rossmoor News multiple times as space allows, and having Rossmoor join the Community Associations Institute, which provides resources, including those related to civility, for “volunteer homeowners who govern community associations.”

The civility issue first came to the fore in Rossmoor almost a year ago, when then-CEO Tim O’Keefe said in one of his CEO Reports in the Rossmoor News that several GRF employees had left their positions in Rossmoor because, at least in part, of “repeated incidents of mistreatment and disrespect” on the part of residents. Subsequent discussions by the task force, which held its first meeting in September, touched on uncivil behavior between residents, as well, via person-to-person contact, email, comments at public meetings and in letters and opinion columns in the News.

Subsequent task force meetings discussed possible root causes of the hostile behavior, including the isolation and other disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; frustrations over not being certain who in Rossmoor to contact with various types of problems and questions; and the physical and emotional toll often brought on by aging.

That last point was reiterated last week to the task force by Mimi Leonard, a member of the Diversity Consciousness Committee of the Interfaith Council of Rossmoor.

“We are getting older, and aging is no fun,” said Leonard, noting it was older Asian men suspected in two recent mass shooting events in California with what appear to have been personal grudges. “Add dementia to the equation, and you’ve got a real mess sometimes.

“We can’t really afford to think that it can’t happen here,” Leonard said.

She also recommended the creation of a conflict-resolution training program, to train volunteer residents to help resolve disputes between other residents. It’s an idea task force member Tom Consoli has mentioned before, though he called it an “ombudsman.”

And while Leonard said having one trained mediator per entry would be ideal, task force member Catherine Herdering said five or six trained people covering all of Rossmoor is a more achievable starting point, and could perhaps be an extension of Rossmoor Counseling Services.

Task force members Herdering and Mike Parker said the last things they want to see is their group’s work be turned in, discussed further and refined into a final report, only to sit on a shelf and collect dust.

“I want to see achievable items come out of this task force for the GRF Board to act on,” Parker said.

Likewise, Herdering said she wants the final report to be a “living thing” that will be used as a reference going forward. Rossmoor General Manager Jeff Matheson said the GRF Board could also opt to choose specific suggested items in the report to pursue.