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SEAL BEACH : Dissidents to Picket Leisure World Board

October 04, 1994|RUSS LOAR

Disgruntled Leisure World residents plan to walk a picket line, claiming the governing board that runs the 8,700-resident retirement community is a "secret society" that ignores their concerns.

"Too many of the people who are living in here really don't know a hell of a lot about what's going on," said resident Dick Kissam, 76, who is encouraging residents to protest.

Kissam says monthly meetings of the Golden Rain Foundation board squelch dissent by unfairly limiting public comment. Kissam and others also question the annual $160,000 salary paid to Leisure World administrator Habir Narang, saying he earns more than any city manager in Orange County. And they say his ownership of First Columbia Condominium Management--the company that handles all sales of Leisure World's 6,608 residential units--is a conflict of interest.

The foundation board renewed Narang's contract Sept. 20, with only three of 18 board members dissenting.

"Our attorney has stated that there is no conflict of interest," said foundation board President Howard McCurdy, 80. "There's always a small dissident group who thinks nothing is being done right."

Narang said residents had long ago decided his ownership of First Columbia would be more cost-effective. "Affordability has been preserved," he said.

But foundation board member Ellen Larsen said board procedures should be changed and the renewal of Narang's contract should be reconsidered. "We're paying him a salary to manage his own company," she said. "Wouldn't you see that as a conflict of interest?"

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