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The Key To Anti-Terrorism

There’s a new weapon in the arsenal against terrorists – at least that’s what one shareholder at a posh Upper East Side co-op thought.

“I need a key,” Ms. X demanded of the Board.

“A key?”

“Not for my apartment.  I have a fichet lock and key and plenty of spares, including the one in the computerized lock box at the doorman’s station – just in case.  No, I want a key to the fire stairwell.”

And I thought owners in my building made unusual requests.

“The fire stairs?” the Board asked, perplexed.

“Yes, so that I can make a quick escape in case of a terrorist attack,” came the response, Ms. X seemingly oblivious to the fact that if Al Qaeda or some other terrorist Bad Boys really targeted her co-op odds are everyone would be dead and a key to the staircase wouldn’t do anyone any good.

 “No,” said the Board, a decision which seemed entirely reasonable to me.

But not to Ms. X, who got elected to the Board to get a key. I’ve seen people get on boards for every conceivable reason from rocketing to the top of the storage locker list to circumventing renovation regulations, though I gotta admit that seeking out a special anti-terrorist perk is a first.

No sooner did she have a seat at the table than she figured she had the key to victory.

Here’s the thing.  Getting on the Board gives you power, but it doesn’t necessarily get you what you want.  For that you have to get at least a majority of directors to go along, which lots of times they will, especially when it’s something that can be kept under wraps. Only a key to the staircase is the kind of thing everyone could find out about, and then they’d all complain why does Ms. X have a key when they don’t have one, and the Board would have an even bigger mess on its hands.

“Put the key on the agenda,” she declared, figuring her fellow directors would fall in line now that she was one of them.

Instead it sparked a controversy.

“You have to recuse yourself because you’re interested in the outcome,” they told her, which isn’t exactly true because even though it’s pretty standard practice it’s not required by law.

But the law does require that a majority of the board, not including the interested director, must approve the transaction.

Result: The Board voted again to deny the former shareholder and now fellow director the means of special entry/exit to the fire stairwell. Ms. X is still keyless but no longer clueless as to how the system works. Maybe next time she’ll use that new-found knowledge to protect all her fellow shareholders against the forces of darkness, which hopefully will never arrive.

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