Blog

Missing in Action

Stuff that should be on the Board agenda, but is not…

GM performance and compensation is not on the open agenda but it is on the Dec. 7 @ 9 AM executive session agenda

Here is what I predict will happen tomorrow. The Board will:

  1.  continue to overpay the GM, including possibly another unjustifiable $20,000 bonus, without transparency or accountability to the owners
  2. fall prey to the Halo effect to give excessively high ratings by giving her a pass on failing to adequately perform significant aspects of her job.
  3. refuse to consider that customer service ratings might diverge greatly from their assessment of the job she is doing.
  4. continue to ignore that there have been multiple incidents of actions on her part which would be just cause for her termination as a violation of her duty to the membership and violations of the standards of practice of her license.
  5. fail to hold themselves accountable for paying her over $100,000 over the value of that job and allowing her to  pay other SCA managers at excessive rates.
  6. continue to refuse to allow appropriate owner oversight over the personnel system in favor of less qualified “Board work groups” controlling policy or abdicating too much authority to the GM.
  7. continue to dismiss and trivialize the concerns of the 836 residents who gave the GM  an “F” for owner relations and signed a petition of no confidence against the GM. The Board did not seriously evaluate one single criticism by owners to attempt to improve the division in the community. Instead, the petitioners were insulted and marginalized as if they were not  members of the community of equal value. The Board treated them like just a bunch of whiners and malcontents and discarded the petition was if it was just unwarranted “negativity from small vocal elements“.

I hope I’m wrong.

Not even a recommendation regarding the restaurant space

SCA CC&Rs 7.2(b) requires that the restaurant (or any other amenity) shall not be discontinued without the written authorization of 75% of the owners. CC&Rs 7.9 define the process by which the Board can change the use of the space. Neither of these provisions have been followed.

The Board locked up the restaurant right about the time the GM was hired. Ignoring the owner vote needed per 7.2(b) to lawfully discontinue operation of the restaurant and giving the GM over a year to just come up with a recommendation for the space was bad enough. Then, Rex made it worse by paying the attorney to opine in yet another no-good-for-owners violation of Board Policy Manual 4.10 that a temporary use of the space would require a vote of the owners. Then, the Board made it worse by letting her hire an unbudgeted consultant for an unknown amount of money to do the one job, by the one deadline the Board actually gave her.

So, what are we waiting for? How many excuses do we have to listen to? And how many people are we going to pay to not get the job done?

December 7 Board meeting items of interest

The last SCA Board meeting of the year is tomorrow at 1:30 PM. I’d like to point out a few things that you might not notice immediately, but which are important to for owners to know the full story.

Click here for full agenda.          Click here for draft Board Book.

Financial Report for October

Two things mar an otherwise brilliant job of bean counting:

  1. How much are we paying for who to do what?     SCA is now an employer with 80 employees costing $3.5 million -over 40% of operating budget, there should be a clearer accounting of cost of staffing by budget objective. The Board cannot hold the GM properly accountable nor can the owners be protected from such failures as excessive management compensation or featherbedding, if the accounting obfuscates these facts. And, more importantly, the Board is not holding itself properly accountable to the owners by letting the GM hide what SCA employees (particularly managers) are being paid and what they are being paid for.
  2. Since Adam Clarkson became SCA Legal Counsel on May 1, there have been $185,010 expended for legal fees which was 411% 0f the $45,000 budgeted for legal fees over half a year. This is the same attorney
    • who told the Board the GM did not need its authorization to expend SCA funds for unbudgeted purposes.
    • who does SCA’s debt collection function in the least cost-effective and most draconian way available.
    • who, along with the GM, is responsible for additional unnecessary expenses of at least $73,000 for the recall election which were STRONGLY objected to by the proponents of the recall.
    • who is being paid $325/hour to cause or allow the Board to take unlawful actions against political opponents of the GM and certain members of the Board.

 

Election and Voting Manual Revisions

Reviewing policies on voting may be really boring, but it is important to protect homeowner control over who represents us on the Board. There has to be a sound, uniformly administered system in place to prevent ANY election interference from tampering with ballots, abuse of power, or even unfair communications.

The largest HOA board election rigging scandal in Southern Nevada involved primarily attorneys who were supposed to be neutral outsiders who stacked HOA Boards to channel construction defects litigation.  This Election and Voting Manual is intended to ensure that the SCA homeowners actually control who sits on the Board and that those Board members actually work SOLELY for the benefit of the homeowners.

Yet, it doesn’t matter what is in this or any other SCA policy manual if the Board doesn’t follow SCA’s own rules or if it allows the GM and/or the attorney to manipulate the process in favor or against certain owners.

Cherry-picking which laws to follow is a slippery slope

There are several areas where our election process is not in conformity with NRS or the SCA Bylaws. For example, SCA Board does not have a nominating committee as required by SCA bylaws 3.4a below. While there may be good reasons to not want to have such a committee, this is an example of how problematic it is to simply disregard a provision. The bylaws must be uniformly enforced and not simply disregarded. The narrow exception is when the bylaws explicitly conflict with a mandate in a Federal or state law.

Filling Board vacancies after a director is removed.

The final clause of SCA bylaws 3.6. requires a vote by the unit owner to fill a Board vacancy caused by a Board member being removed.

“Upon removal of a director, a successor shall be elected by the Owners entitled to elect the director so removed to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of such director.”

The proposed change to the Election Manual, below in green, apparently attempts to justify retroactively how Jim Coleman was appointed, but even the new provision doesn’t allow for an appointment to be made without any notice to owners, any candidate nominations, or the required vote of owners.

Note that there is nothing in either the existing nor the proposed versions of the Election Manual that gives the Board legal cover for what they actually did to remove me nor what they did to replace me nor what they might be contemplating to do in the next election (keep me off the ballot).

  • How they removed me from the Board by simply declaring my position vacant is not authorized in NRS 116, NRS 82, SCA governing documents or any existing or proposed Board policy.
  • By extension, that also means that there is no legal means by which the GM, the Board or the attorney could refuse to allow me to be a candidate for, or to serve on, the Board should I choose to run again.
  • Also, note that this manual includes the NRS provisions which the Board President and GM violated by using the Spirit to publish their one-sided argument regarding the recall without permitting equal time and access to the opposition. Complaints of these violations are currently being investigated by NRED.

These proposed changes don’t describe what the Board actually did nor do they conform to the bylaws. The Board is simply pretending they have the authority to act against laws and policies “upon the advice of Counsel”. We’ll see.

Complaints to the Election Committee are not fairly handled

The Election Committee complaint process is to informal and allows for problems at both ends of the spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, informal complaints may be submitted without evidence or substance which could just waste the committee’s time .

On the other end, there is substantial risk of unequal treatment occurring, or even being merely perceived, if there isn’t a good enough procedure defining accountability, investigation, documentation and notice requirements. It’s sloppy management, and it reduces the community’s trust of the election process. It also allows interference in the independence and neutrality of the Election Committee.

In the proposed draft, there is still no standard format for resolving complaints, no required documentation to be maintained in the official SCA record, and no notice of the disposition formally given to the complainant.

I recommend the process defined in the SCA CC&Rs and utilized by the Covenants Committee would be a good model for the Election Committee to employ to fairly investigate and document complaints regarding Board elections.


Board Communications Task Force

In June, I proposed a resolution to improve Board-owner communications , but couldn’t even get a second to the motion. Now, five months later, nothing has been done to increase transparency or meaningful utilization of owner expertise in governance.

Rex appointed a couple of Directors to be a Board Communications “task force” (with no owner involvement)  and here are their recommendations:

Here’s what should be done immediately:
  1.  Either use SCA-TV to video broadcast Board meetings live or use some service like GoToMeeting.com to make the Board meetings accessible online in real time and interactive.
  2. Take the password off the website.
  3. Make the eblast mailing list opt-out instead of opt-in
  4. Follow the lead of Sun City Summerlin’s new GM in attitude.
  5. Stop using Board work groups that withhold information from owners.
  6. Expand the committee structure to utilize expertise of residents and have meaningful owner oversight and influence in governance.

Item 15B “Self-Management” is listed as New Business to be presented by Tom Nissen rather than the GM. The paragraph above the total back-up in the Board book to let owners know what the Self-Management item is about.

This raises a lot of questions about the Board’s failure to protect homeowners by hiring a GM without ANY of the defined terms and conditions of employment required in a management agreement.

  • Why is a Board member making a presentation on the transition?
  • Why doesn’t the GM whose compensation is $100,000 greater than other GMs at comparable Sun Cities like Summerlin make the presentation?
  • Why hasn’t the GM been held accountable for the development of the complete policy framework needed to protect SCA from legitimate risks and potential liability associated with becoming an employer or
  • Why hasn’t the GM held accountable for AT LEAST having written plans and timetables for getting the job done?
  • How will the Board – let alone the owners  – even know if the job is done right and on time?
  • Why did the Board let the GM unlawfully conceal SCA records on the transition to self-management from one Board member in violation of our bylaws 6.4c when this information should have been easily available to any unit owner?

After the Board meeting, I’ll let you know if any of these questions have been answered. Or if there are just new ones.

I need to correct the record distorted by Rex Weddle

Rex Weddle’s self-serving article “The Attempted Recall” in the December Spirit is a stunning, wrong-headed form of revisionist history. As President, Rex is the only one who can speak for the whole Board and in that role, he gets to speak for the Board in the monthly President’s Report in the Spirit.

In this case, Rex inappropriately, if not unlawfully, used the Spirit as a bully pulpit to try to intimidate his political opponents and to blame them for things that were actually his fault.

If Rex was speaking as an individual, can any individual have a full page of the Spirit to express her opinion about the recall?

Rex began by describing the recall  as “an organized effort” that took five months to gather enough signatures to call for an election.

That’s not what I saw happening. Without any organized group, the recall movement just seemed to spring into existence. It seemed to be an almost organic movement of people whose only commonality seemed to be signing some petitions. Whoever they were, they were exercising their LEGAL right to call for a removal election, and those legal rights to vote are sacrosanct.

I heard owners were signing because of anger about changes for the worse since switching to self-management, like new requirements for the Clubs, the (lack of a) restaurant, the shabby treatment of the Foundation Assisting Seniors, the GM’s pay or her surprising owners with the loss or change of some amenity, such as the group exercise $45 card.

I also understand that the over 800 signatures were collected in less than five weeks over the summer when many of the owners are not even in residence. Such a significant statement of customer dissatisfaction should not be trivialized.

And yet, Rex  purported to be perplexed as to why any owners would even try to recall four members of the Board (including Rex), saying

“NRS 116 makes the recall of executive board members extremely difficult”.

This is correct only insofar as it is a fact that the only LEGAL way to REMOVE a director from the Board is through the legally-defined, arduous process beginning with 10% of the owners calling for a recall election.

Rex seems oblivious to the irony that he violated this very section of NRS 116 when he voted to remove a Director from the Board whom ZERO owners signed a petition to recall.

“Since most of the allegations boiled down to simple a difference of opinion about past decisions made by the Board,…”

Actually, the petitions listed owner complaints and grievances (link is as reported on Anthem Opinions blog, but which were NEVER reported on the SCA website or at Board meeting or in the Spirit) that were not just “a simple difference of opinion”. They were stark differences between right and wrong.

The very first allegation in the petition –  “an unprecedented number of violations of NRS 116 and SCA’s governing documents” – was certainly verifiable had an investigation been conducted and subjected to public scrutiny.

“…there was little evidence to suggest the targeted directors were guilty of any sort of high crimes and misdemeanors that would justify the widespread outrage needed for recall.

Two things:

  • The petitioners were not required to give ANY reason, let alone evidence of guilt of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, to exercise their LEGAL right to call for a removal election and to collect signatures free from harassment. Removal can be with or without cause IF, and only IF, the arduous conditions required by NRS 116 and SCA bylaws are met (10% of owners sign petitions, 35% of ALL owners vote YES, and 50%+1 of those voting vote YES).
  • Neither Rex nor the other three Directors subject to recall nor the Board as a whole did any self-examination geared to  satisfying the customer service concerns of some 800 owners. This is a crime in my book. The Board’s job is to serve ALL the owners. SCA is a monopoly. Dissatisfied owners can’t live here and join another HOA they like better. Homeowners’ only recourse is to vote out Directors who they think are not serving their interests well.

In what world would it be good business to blow off customer service complaints from more than 10% of your customers without any investigation?

“The real reasons behind this expensive failed attempt to recall half the Board are still not clear.”

Let me break it down for you, Rex. There are lots of owners that are dissatisfied with the way they have been treated by you, the Board and by the GM. Many want to change the direction the Association is headed on your watch.

While you acknowledge that there was “widespread outrage”, you don’t see that it is YOUR job to fix the problems, not just say they don’t exist. It is not, under any circumstances, correct for you to blame your customers for not liking your product nor to blame them for the expense of the CPA and attorney you wanted.

It is NOT responsible leadership to claim that the complaints of 800 people are not justified and don’t need to be seriously investigated. Owners are your customers. No matter what your name is, you are not their king.

“Those who worked for it denied being its organizers. To this day the leadership of the group behind the attempted recall has never stepped forward and publicly made itself known.”

Attempting to identify the leaders of the recall movement is an unacceptable form of harassment and threat of retaliation against owners who exercised their only LEGAL means to remove some Directors.

There is already substantial evidence that, if identified, anyone involved in the recall will be subjected to inappropriate abuse by those in power.

I can make this assertion on great personal authority as I have been threatened, harassed or had my character maligned  for, among other things, my defending the LEGAL rights of the petitioners to collect signatures unmolested in the common areas  and for my attempting to prevent election interference

Subjecting ANY owner to abuse for simply exercising their legal rights deserves ZERO tolerance.

For example, it is unconscionable that David Berman, head of OSCAR, has been given the names of the people who signed the petitions and that he has threatened that he would recommend against their serving on the Board for that reason. (Note that no official information about the petitions or the recall was ever formally given to the Board or the owners, and even though  I was a Board member and the liaison to the Election Committee, I learned about the petitions being submitted from David Berman’s blog.)

No wonder dissatisfied owners don’t want to be identified because they are crucified for speaking up. It’s exactly the same reason many sexual harassment victims nationwide were silent for years.

“Because a majority of the Board was targeted for removal, recall proponents argued the Association’s Management and unaffected directors could not be trusted to run a recall process. So the SCA Election Committee was bypassed …”

This is TOTALLY WRONG to extend the complaints against Rex, management and the attorney to the Election Committee. To my knowledge, there was never any request by proponent of a fair removal election process to bypass the Election Committee.

In fact, I personally advised against the GM being involved for her poor judgment, as an example, by including Rex, a subject of the recall, in a meeting with Election Committee officials to develop plans for the recall election.

As the Board Liaison to the Election Committee, all my actions were designed to protect the integrity of the recall election process and to ensure the Election Committee could perform their normal chartered functions without interference.

As the excerpt below from an August 6 email I wrote to the chair of the Election Committee shows that, in my view, the absolutely least desirable action was to bypass the Election Committee.

The horrible waste of over $73,000+ unnecessary expenditure for the attorney and the CPA to muck up the process can be 100% attributable to Rex Weddle. As Board President, Rex is accountable for getting the Board to allow disempowering of the Election Committee (in violation of the bylaws, adopted Board policies and the budget) which in the end made the recall process more expensive, more divisive and less fair.

As a subject of the recall, Rex should also be held accountable for exerting undue influence over the process and taking actions to the detriment of the owners who were exercising their LEGAL rights to call for a vote to remove him.

“Purposeful misstatements, allegations of fraud and assertions of corruption were made, not only against the targeted directors, but the whole Board. Our own SCA Management team and Association counsel were also subject to these attacks. These allegations, without much in the way of factual support,…”

Rex’s treating such serious allegations so dismissively is irresponsible. His claiming the allegations are baseless without allowing any investigation or attempt at remediation is a complete failure of his, and the Board’s, duty of care to the owners.

Part 2 is coming soon.

I will continue rebutting Rex’s article in another blog. The amount of evidence I have to contradict  Rex’s misrepresentations is overwhelming .

 

Attitude of Gratitude

Wishing you all a beautiful day and a wonderful life!

I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how lucky and grateful I feel. I have a wonderful family, great friends and neighbors, way better health than I probably deserve, and I live in a beautiful home where, on a clear day, I’d swear I can see all the way to Area 51!

Although the Bay Area was a great place to have a career, living in a Sun City Anthem is a much better fit for a lady of leisure, and I have absolutely loved living here for almost 14 years. I have a great sense of belonging here surrounded by diverse and kindred spirits who are also enjoying fulfilling lives pursuing the many different lifestyle options available here.

I am totally committed to this community and to doing everything I can to keep it wonderful for ALL of us.

Thanks so much to all of you make my life so great!

 

 

SCA’s Wasteful Loss of Foundation Assisting Seniors

The recent open letter attorney Clarkson wrote attempted to justify the SCA’s Board’s actions against the Foundation Assisting Seniors (FAS). It was very disheartening. It shows SCA is lacking a system that guarantees Board decisions actually will serve the best interests of the community. It also shows how the Board does not hold the GM accountable for ensuring mutually-beneficial and cost-effective resolutions to community disputes.

The GM did not do a competent job to collaborate with FAS on a solution beneficial to SCA owners.

The Board delegated the dispute to the GM for resolution, but she was incapable of developing a collaborative solution or to avoid escalating the conflict. Why doesn’t the Board hold her accountable for that failure? Why doesn’t the Board hold itself accountable for achieving a negotiated settlement that would maximize benefits of both organizations to the SCA membership?

Instead, the Board followed the unhealthy pattern of power politics where they forgot who they are representing and who they and the GM are supposed to be serving. Their “Board/GM must win/be right and Favil West must lose” strategy made the Foundation Assisting Seniors and all of SCA’s members and residents just collateral damage to their “fight fire with Napalm” approach.

We all lose when the Board and the GM don’t do their job

In the end, we all lose when the Board does not hold the GM accountable for preventing or minimizing disputes.

When neither the Board nor the GM hold themselves accountable for bringing the community together or for maximizing “neighbor-helping-neighbor” strategies, we all lose.

When the Board picks a side to throw their weight and our money into waging a war against owners perceived to be on the other “side”.

We all lose when the Board does not hold the GM accountable for the owner relations and “people” parts of the General Manager job as much as for the property management aspects of the GM job.

WHY are we paying her so much if she doesn’t exhibit sufficient leadership or collaboration skills to bring the community together synergistically or to negotiate mutually-beneficial arrangements that allow diverse groups to thrive here?
Evicting FAS was the unnecessary destruction of a community treasure

Escalation of this conflict should never have happened. Consider for a moment how Favil West described as the FAS’ beginnings:

In 2003 the Foundation submitted a grant proposal to Pulte for a community service building.  Pulte accepted the proposal.  The Foundation President negotiated the design of the building, a building worth more than $550,000, to house the Foundation and the services it started; SCA TV, Community Service, and Emergency Preparedness (all originally part of the Foundation). The end result was that the building would be provided to SCA in addition to Independence Center, with Pulte’s condition that space would be dedicated to FAS so long as it serves SCA seniors.  This was evidenced by the original plans showing and referencing the Foundation space allocation. This term was accepted by SCA and was documented by a board resolution at the SCA April 2007 board meeting.

 

These statements were presented as documented facts so they should have been easy to verify. Why was there no simple, fair internal cost-effective process to ascertain their veracity?

Instead of collaboratively evaluating the facts where both sides were given an equal opportunity to present their side of the story, those in power wastefully decided to disregard these assertions, to ignore the good that was being done by FAS, and to dismantle a 15-year-old community service and destroy community relationships for no good purpose.

Attorney added cost, but no value in achieving a good solution

SCA Board spent a huge amount of money on attorneys to evict FAS, and yet they still managed to break a few laws while taking this completely disproportionate action that benefitted the community not one whit.

For example, NRS 116.31088 requires a member vote before initiating a civil action, but the Board ignored that and filed case A-17-760014-C to evict FAS. Please note that attorney Clarkson’s was paid both to file the civil action against the FAS AFTER Clarkson was paid to give the Board the self-serving advice that SCA did not have to follow NRS 116.31088 in this case.

Another example is the violation of NRS 116.31085 (executive session) where FAS was repeatedly discussed in secret long before SCA board decided to take legal action.  Perhaps, had the Board allowed the community to listen to their deliberations, it might have been harder for the Board to settle on the most expensive and least beneficial final solution.

GM Dumped $73,000+ Removal Election Costs on SCA Owners

The GM is to blame for the big bill – not the SCA owners who must pay it

This huge expense is still climbing, but it was totally unnecessary, not legally authorized by the Board, and did not serve the best interests of SCA.

Both the GM and the attorney should be fired for spending our money to interfere with the integrity of the removal election.

This unauthorized expenditure is sufficiently egregious to warrant the termination of both the GM and attorney, but that won’t happen because the beneficiaries of the election interference by SCA’s agents included a majority of the Board which was apparently important enough to them to stand by and let SCA owners foot the huge and unnecessary bill.

While I was on the Board I aggressively attempted to protect the independence of the Election Committee,  but alone and constrained by ethical boundaries, I was no match for the abuse of power by the Board President and SCA’s agents who were not so constrained.

A well-documented contributing factor to my unlawful removal from the Board was that I informed the Ombudsman on July 24 of my concerns about the need to protect the independence of the Election Committee (and also to protect owners lawfully collecting petition signatures) from the significant GM/CAM/attorney/Board interference I observed.

Berman’s constant improper placement of blame

David Berman continues to perpetuate the myth that these unnecessary and unauthorized costs were caused by the petitioners who (legally) called for the removal election.

This targeting of unit owners is obviously wrong. Owners don’t have enough power to be culpable.

Think about it.

  • If 1,200 unit owners had wanted  the Election Committee to conduct the removal election, but the GM did not want it, would they have been able to make their wishes happen over her objections?
  • If any of the petitioners had come to the Board meeting and begged to have SCA fork out over $73,000 to pay an unknown CPA and the attorney to do the Election Committee’s job, would SCA have spent one dime?

Both the GM and the Board President had to want SCA money to be spent on agents of their choosing  to run the removal election (incompetently or, more likely, unethically), or OUR money  would still be safely in the bank.

The Spin Doctor at work

Yet, despite all evidence to the contrary, David Berman persists in promulgating this almost laughable propaganda that unit owners could make the GM do something that doesn’t serve her interests. Smug in this delusion, today he blogged with a melodramatic and an almost audible sigh that this big $73,000 number would still be bigger when the attorney and CPA bills all come in:

Sad. SCA deserves so much better.
But, wait, hope may be on the horizon:

CIC Commission recently held a GM accountable despite HOA attorney advice that action was OK under NRS.

If Rex and Sandy having Clarkson on speed dial is no longer as good an excuse as “the dog ate my homework”, then maybe…

AnthemOpinions blogspot reported about a case that was heard at the recent CIC Commission meeting which seemed to demonstrate the Commission’s repudiation of the “the attorney said I could” defense.

 

The Zeitgeist
Perhaps, we are reaching a tipping point.

In the whole country, the public conversation has shifted seismically around sexual harassment. Suddenly, society-at-large is not just standing silently by while men in power abuse vulnerable people with impunity.

Maybe the tide is turning here at SCA too.

Now, owners no longer seem so resigned and no longer seem willing to tolerate inexcusable behavior or poor leadership. A critical mass is forming, and this is a necessary step to creating a healthier balance of power in our community.

As formerly discouraged and disenfranchised owners are more willing to speak up and stand up to bullies, SCA’s bullies will predictably face a Come to Jesus reckoning. A tectonic power shift will occur that, in retrospect, we will be surprised at how long it took us to take our power back.

 

 

On the Advice of Counsel is No Defense

After a relaxing couple of weeks in Cabo, I have been immediately hit by how badly SCA homeowners are being treated by our highly compensated and highly self-serving agents.

This first example from the November Spirit demonstrates how our well-meaning volunteers on the Election Committee have been duped into allowing the GM and attorney to violate the integrity of the removal election process at great expense to the membership.

Who gives the association attorney the power to make such decisions?

No one. At least not legally.

NRS 116 does not give an attorney who is advising the Board ANY authority to decide any policy issue.

NRS 116 does not give the attorney ANY authority to advise the Board to violate any provision of Federal, state, or local law or of our governing documents or policies.

NRS 116 does not give the attorney ANY authority to require the Board or the GM or a committee to take it not take any particular action.

Whose authority is it?

The buck stops with the Board, and they can only legally delegate some of their duties, but can’t delegate ANY of the ultimate accountability. The GM is a licensed manager, and she can’t get out of being accountable for the standards of practice listed in the law by getting the attorney to say its okay to break or bend the law.

NRS 116 and SCA governing documents and policies define clear requirements for:

  • contracts must be authorized by the Board in open session,
  • the Board SHALL NOT delegate policy authority over the budget
  • getting bids for contracts
  • how elections are conducted
  • under what circumstances attorney’s opinions are sought BY THE BOARD and for what purpose

None of the legal requirements were followed in this case, just as they are frequently ignored in other cases, for self-serving purposes and not for the benefit of the membership of the association.

I would like to point out that the issue of the Board President Rex Weddle, the GM Sandy Seddon, and the former-CAM Lori Martin taking actions in excess of their legal authority to interfere with the removal election process is the subject of numerous complaints and is currently under investigation by NRED. If their defense is simply that “the lawyer said we could do it”, they better be ready to take their wallets out. I would expect that feeble excuse to fall on deaf ears.

 

 

 

Jim Mayfield re annual budget mailer

Jim Mayfield writes:

We received the annual mandatory budget mailer in today’s mailer.  I have reviewed the budget in detail as well as the materials sent with the budget mailer.
1.  The “Summary Budget” does not contain any information that compares the 2018 draft budget to the adopted 2017 budget.  Furthermore, a comparison is not provided of the 2018 draft budget to the projected actual financial statements for 2017.  Without these comparisons, unit owners have no way access the expected actual to budget performance for 2017 OR to see how spending priorities are budgeted to change between 2017 and 2018.
2.  The Budget mailer does not include a proxy form or return envelope for unit owners to use to vote for or against the budget.  This is a change from prior years.  Instead, the cover letter states that if a unit owner desires to vote for or against the budget, the unit owner should see NRS 116.311.  (So much for transparency and encouraging unit owner participation in the governance of SCA.)  The strategy is obvious:  Don’t raise the dues and hope the unit owners don’t care how their money is spent and find it too hard to find out to bother.
3.  The capital budget includes an authorization of $45k for “chairs, outlets, storage shed, BBQ tables and benches for the Pickleball court area.

Notes from Nona on saving some bucks

I haven’t received my budget mailer, but I want to address easier voting  described in NRS 116.311  as they can be used as an example of how SCA could avoid most of our huge legal bills. The Board and the GM are not competent in preventing owner problems using the attorney as their sole guide. They should shift from paying for secret attorney opinions defining the legal minimum to asking owners to help develop popular “best practices”.
The NRS 116.311 code section is entitled,
“Voting by units’ owners; use of absentee ballots and proxies; voting by lessees of leased units; association prohibited from voting as owner of unit; voting without a meeting.”
This section offers ways in some situations that voting could be made easier on owners – like absentee ballots, proxies and voting electronically.  Even though simpler, more convenient methods are available, doing things in the most “user-friendly” way doesn’t seem to be much of a priority for the Board or the GM even if not doing it the easy way is more costly.
The default seems to be just knee-jerk asking the attorney for an opinion. The attorney’s opinion generally veers toward advising the Board or GM what is the minimum that can be legally done. Conceptualizing a problem in terms of improving customer service is simply outside of the attorney’s paradigm, training and expertise – and yet he is their top-dollar “Go-To Guy”.
The GM does not seem to be inclined to focus on improving owner relations or utilizing owners’ expertise to research and recommend “best practices”. Instead, just handing over $325/hour for the attorney to rule on what the Board and GM can probably get away with is her counterproductive modus operandi. The Board has a total blind spot to this failing.
A better way of doing business would be to evaluate EVERY Board or management decision by asking owners BEFORE taking action,
“Is this action in the best interests of the membership?”
Then, if there are lots of owners who disagree, listen to them and remedy the problems. This could be done easily and systematically by utilizing the expertise of owners in a re-invigorated committee system. It certainly would be more cost-effective.
I believe that, had the Board and GM in 2017 followed the simple principle of acting SOLELY in the best interests of the membership, at least 90% of the $200,000 SCA is projected to spend this year for attorney’s fees could have been avoided, and there would have been a lot less community turmoil. 

Removal Election Results

Removing a Director LEGALLY is really hard to do

Predictably, the removal election did not succeed despite over 1,200 unit owners voting to remove Rex Weddle, Aletta Waterhouse, and Tom Nissen from the SCA Board. I say it was predictable because the only lawful way to remove a director is to meet ALL the rigorous requirements defined in NRS 116.31036:

  • More than 10% of unit owners must call for a removal election
  • More than 35% of ALL unit owners must vote YES
  • More than 50% of those voting must vote YES

It was even more predictable because GM Sandy Seddon, Board President Rex Weddle, association attorney Adam Clarkson and their accomplice and lobbyist, David Berman, took unfair actions to interfere with the removal election process to protect the incumbents and to make unit owner pay for the legal removal election approximately $40,000-$50,000 unnecessarily.

42 NRED Complaints against SCA

Interestingly, I have been told that the Ombudsman and an investigator were present at the vote counting today. I understand they came to observe the final step in the removal election because there have been 42 complaints filed against SCA for such violations as:

  • removing the volunteer election committee,
  • paying a CPA without a contract to perform the EC’s duties and performing them so badly some people didn’t even know there was a removal election,
  • not counting all of the petitioners’ valid signatures so Bob Burch wasn’t included on the removal ballot,
  • concealing information from unit owners about complaints,
  • retaliating against owners for making complaints,
  • and, last but not least, removing me, an outspoken homeowner advocate, without having the required removal election at all.

Deceptive eblast reports the news

Saying

“In order to RECALL a BOD member, 2,501 Yes votes were required.”

is a thinly veiled way to disguise the FACT that

“In order to REMOVE a BOD member, 2,501 Yes votes were required”

The Board unlawfully ignored this FACT when they removed me without abiding by ANY provision of NRS 116.31036 and without ANY owners petitioning or voting to have me removed or recalled.

That’s a really fast announcement when you consider that the GM NEVER announced that there were petitions going around in June to remove four directors, or that there even was a removal election scheduled, or that there were 836 signatures calling for a vote of no confidence against her submitted in August with a long list of owner complaints about her performance as GM.

Keep those fun facts in mind when you hear very soon whether the Board has given her an excellent performance rating and a $20,000 bonus. Rex Weddle made the off-hand remark at the last Board meeting that they had discussed “GM performance” in executive session, but item 7A lists “GM Compensation” on the public executive session agenda.

Elder Abuse: Part II – SCA Agents

We have another covert systemic type of elder abuse going on right here at SCA. We have all of the problems endemic to Nevada HOAs in general, but those generic problems have been fueled here by a historically divided community and exacerbated by a poorly-executed transition to “self-management.”

Our system fails to provide sufficient competent owner oversight and internal controls necessary to prevent abuse by professional agents who are supposed to be fiduciaries acting SOLELY in the best interests of the owners,  but who are taking unfair advantage of us for their own unjust enrichment.

You are going to hear this same refrain from me repeatedly:

The biggest risk SCA owners face is being screwed over by unscrupulous agents who are supposed to be acting solely in our best interest, but who are not. They are actually unfairly acting in their own self-interest and profiting at our expense.

The reason “they” kicked me off the Board is they wanted to shut me up. They wanted to prevent me from telling owners what they are doing. They wanted me to stop publicly trying to force them to make system changes that would protect SCA owners from abuse by our own, highly-compensated, but unscrupulous, agents.

Who is “they”?

  • “They” are now (2016-now) GM Sandy Seddon and (May, 2017-now) association attorney/debt collector Adam Clarkson Law Group now.
  • Before (2009-2015), “they” were FirstService Residential (FSR)/formerly RMI, SCA’s managing agent, also licensed debt collector dba Red Rock Financial Services (RRFS).
  • In between (2015-2016), “they” were Alessi & Koenig, LLC attorney-debt collector that went into chapter 7 bankruptcy after being sued on 500 of the 800 HOA foreclosures they did between 2011-2015 and then…
  • “they” illegally morphed into HOA Lawyers Group, LLC (2016) but continued being SCA’s debt collector until replaced by Clarkson.

“They” are NOT necessarily the members of the Board, but “they” need to control the Board. “They”get their hands so far into our pockets only because the Board lets them do it. At least a majority of the Board has to negligently, maybe unwittingly, enable the attorney and management to take over the reins.

I believe the Directors are probably acting in good faith and trying to do their best, but are simply placing their faith in the wrong “experts”. However, even if the Directors are just innocently looking the other way, their ignorance is allowing SCA owners to be taken for an expensive ride.

So, what now?

Too bad for them.

“They”didn’t really get rid of me by unlawfully deeming my Board position vacant.

Now I have the time to tell you all about it. And I think I’ll start with what’s wrong with paying Sandy Seddon twice as much as we should be paying her.