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What’s being human got to do with it?

We are all more irrational than we think

I don’t know if anybody clicked on the links to psychological studies in my last blog about the 2/13 Election Committee’s hostile reaction to my appeal of my unfairly being excluded from the 2018 election process. But let’s assume nobody did.

Anyway, here’s the point.  These important psychological studies contributed to our understanding of how people conform to roles or how people tend to obey authority figures even if they hurt innocent people. This research contains valuable lessons that we all need to learn– but these are particularly important lessons for those in SCA power positions — if we are ever going to heal our community divide.

Why am I talking about this?

My goal is to encourage people in our community to re-frame the way we approach conflict resolution. None of us can be trusted to be completely objective and completely rational 100% of the time so we need to have a fair and objective governance system that’s strong enough to make sure those in power don’t abuse it.

Those in power can’t be allowed to run roughshod over anyone more vulnerable for any reason. And the only way to guarantee that is to have a system that won’t let them get away with it.

We are wasting our limited time, money and emotional resources on attorneys who cannot fix what is wrong, and who are, in my view, a big part of the problem.

Study #1: The Milgram Experiment

The Milgram experiment (1961) was designed to test how readily people acquiesce to authority even when it is in conflict with personal conscience. The goal was try to understand why so many “good Germans” just went along with Hitler’s horrific actions.

Conclusion

“Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being.  Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up.

People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. “

This Milgram study concluded that people obey authority figures even if it hurts innocent people. This can easily be applied to what happens here in SCA, given that we are all humans.

How could we use this knowledge?

So, to me personally, giving more power or “authority” to a small group of people is not the answer. The answer is having a governance system that will control those who have the power to prevent them from abusing it.

And to have a system that requires the uniform application of the rules to everyone to ensure that ALL owners are protected from any form of abuse, regardless of who is in power.

Study #2: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Stanford Prison experiment (1971) demonstrated how quickly people adapt to their assigned roles. Students randomly assigned to be the guards began acting aggressive and authoritarian and rapidly began feeling justified in being abusive while those randomly assigned to being prisoners took on so much of the fear and agony of prisoners subjected to abuse that the experiments were stopped for ethical considerations.

Today’s Communication workshop and yesterday’s Board meeting yielded some examples of how people conform to their roles, respond to authority, and conform to norms that are placed upon them that I will discuss in a future blog.

Right now, I just want to recommend a book to anyone who would like to explore a little further how we as humans behave irrationally and how we need to have strong social norms and systems in place to protect us from ourselves and the limitations we have from just being human.

The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty
How we lie to everyone – especially ourselves

How could this book help SCA leaders grow into their roles?

I think Dan Ariely’s entertaining and informative writings (and other research I will suggest later) could teach us concepts and skills that we could use to help ourselves and to resolve some of our SCA community’s deepest divides.

I love listening to this guy’s books while I’m hiking. He describes about experiments that test and analyze theories about the many ways:

  • we humans are a lot less rational than we think,
  • how we’ll do something completely irrational and then just make up a reason to justify it,
  • how we all have blind spots,
  • how much our expectations can influence what we see, feel, or can learn.

Polly Anna speaking here:

It might encourage those in power to be more open to handling conflict in a more constructive way that might prevent exacerbating problems until court is the only answer.

The price we all pay

Refusing to openly discuss and fairly resolve owners’ concerns “on the advice of counsel” creates a litigious environment in which only the attorneys profit.

The price ALL owners pay is much larger than just the attorney fees. We pay for it with our most valuable resources: peace of mind and sense of belonging and joie de vivre.

Election Committee was inhospitable, angry even. Nevertheless, I persisted

Today’s SCA Election Committee meeting was an important part of the SCA Board election process because it was the official start of the election process where candidates drew lots for their ballot position.
What could it hurt if I drew a lot until the proper authority rules on my eligibility to serve?

Instead of considering the rejection of my candidacy for the Board as final, why not just treat me like any other neighborhood volunteer  – at least until there was one iota of proof that I really was worthy of such vilification?

What happened went I went looking for justice?

I gave the Board and management notice that I was appealing the 2/9/18 Notice of Ineligibility that the Clarkson Law Group had whipped up on SCA owners’ dime to make sure that someone who had the support of at least 2,000 owners was blocked from even being a candidate.

In the prior notice, I asked for them not to use the attorney or security to threaten or humiliate me. They accommodated me only insofar as owners didn’t  pay for an outside agent to ensure that I was relegated to pariah status. But then, they knew full well, they didn’t need to bring in the heavy-weights, the Election Committee – dutifully, sternly, and totally predictably stepped up to take on the enforcer role.

The Officials act official, or was it officious?

Before the meeting, I went to the EC chair, Carol Steibel, and told her that I was appealing the attorney’s decision to deem me ineligible and that I wanted to draw for a ballot number so I could stay on equal footing in the election process until a determination on my eligibility was made by proper authority (NRED).

When I handed her my 2-page appeal, she tossed it aside testily, and said,

“I’ve already read that.”

“How could you have? I just wrote it this morning.” said I.

“Well, I read something else, then. The attorney said you can’t be a candidate, and we have to listen to the attorney.”

When I sat at the table, two members of the committee told me sternly to get away from the table. Only candidates could sit there.

Carol somberly started the meeting by saying that the meeting would not be recorded and that no one was allowed to record it as it was against the law.

The thing about this edict that totally chaps my hide is a major owner protection to allow recordings so, to be ornery I guess, I said I was going to record it. Their reaction was intense. Forrest Quinn joined in saying that he did not authorize recording him.

Bob Burch said he wanted my assurance that I wasn’t going to record it. I said I wasn’t recording it, and he announced to the crowd,

“We’ve had this trouble before”

further solidifying the ‘Us vs. Them Her’ dynamic permeating the room.

Carol very formally read a notice from the attorney about my situation. She would brook no argument. It was FINAL!

  • The Board deemed Nona Tobin’s Board position vacant by law making her ineligible to be on the Board.
  • Nona herself made the charges public.
  • No circumstances have changed that would make her eligible.
  • Clarkson law office was merely asked to inform Nona since the Board’s decision that  was ineligible has not changed.

My, my, my…what an awful person that Nona is! An existential threat.  Carol’s tone made it totally clear that questioning the veracity or authority of the attorney would be considered treason, the concept of “Innocent until proven guilty” totally shrouded by her blind spot.
P.S. None of the above statements from the attorney that Carol reported are true. I’ll be handing the documents over to NRED to prove it as soon as I can.

Carol was so busy genuflecting before Clarkson’s awesomeness that she might have forgotten for the teensyist second that as the Election Committee Chairperson, her primary job is to protect the integrity of the election process, to ensure the election is free from undue interference and to protect ANY owner from being disenfranchised.

Maybe a little training? I suggest training should come from NRED or any competent, independent professional, but absolutely not conducted by Adam Clarkson.

Gary Lee, Board candidate new to the scene, innocently asked for a better explanation why I was dumped, but Carol was adamant that she had said all that needed to be said on the subject, and that he was holding up the very, very important business of the committee.

Tobin appeal to being disqualified as a candidate

Quick note about # 4 above, it should read that in addition to the NRED form 850, I also submitted the disclosure form as edited by the attorneys even though it was not legally-mandated for me to do so.

Tobin Appeal Page 2

Ask Yourself:
Would my actions make sense if I were on the Board to make a profit?

What does my being on the Board have to do with what the court does about the house? The Board doesn’t have anything to say about it.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say the Board could vote on something related to the outcome of the title fight. If my ulterior motive was to get the Board to vote to quiet title to me instead of the bank, wouldn’t I have tried a different approach?

If I were trying to get a Board vote on litigation I could profit from, wouldn’t I have been smarter to ingratiate myself and “go along to get along”.
  • Wouldn’t I have been foolish to risk the ire of the Board to protect the right of owners to legally sign petitions to call for a vote to remove directors from the Board?
  • Would I have pursued formal complaints to enforcement authorities saying that the attorney and the GM should be fired for causing the Board to act unlawfully?

Ask yourself:
Isn’t it more likely that the same over-compensated GM and attorney, after protecting compliant directors in power from a removal election, just created a convenient ruse to bypass owners’ votes and remove the thorn in their side and block me from coming back?

 

 

Election Committee TOMORROW 9 AM – pick order of names on ballot

Concord Room Anthem Center
9 AM Tuesday, Feb. 13
Election Committee
Board Candidate Orientation
Candidates draw for ballot order

I’ll be there despite Clarkson’s challenge to my eligibility. I have requested that I be treated as a candidate unless a State of Nevada official with proper legal authority rules that I am not eligible to be a candidate.

As you can see in the email below (which I sent to the SCA Board, the GM, the Ombudsman, the NRED investigator and others), I have requested, in respect for my advanced age and frail heart, that I not be treated unfairly or be subjected to a hostile surprise attack, be escorted from the room or face any other bullying or humiliation because I have the temerity to insist on my right to volunteer to serve as a member of the Board.

I encourage you to come if you are interested in ensuring that SCA is not the kind of place where a homeowner in good standing, acting in good faith, can be treated shabbily for simply trying to be of service.

Remember, this is not about me. 

This is about having a system of governance that is fair, open and protects ALL homeowners equally – no matter who is in charge.

Who gets to decide who is eligible to serve on the Board?

Who authorized the Clarkson Law Group to block me from running for the Board?

Not the law. Not NRED. Not the SCA Board. I believe Adam Clarkson and his whole Law Group should be re-trained to better understand who their client is. No Association attorney has legal decision-making authority to control who is eligible to sit on a Board of Directors.

Follow this link for a 2012 article by Barbara Holland, “HOA directors should be held accountable“, in which she noted:

The majority of the people who have been found guilty in the current FBI investigation of the massive Southern Nevada HOA scandal have been on boards of directors.

Holland argued that HOAs needed to be protected from fraud, but note her warning about the potential for abuse

There should also be some discussion as to whether a homeowner should be disqualified from being placed on the ballot when he or she is currently in violation of the community’s governing documents.
Now, this is a touchy subject as this proposed law would be used improperly by HOA boards that could try and block homeowners from sitting on the board.

Why didn’t Clarkson disclose his former employment to SCA when it could be perceived as a potential conflict?

Adam Clarkson’s resume submitted to SCA during the 2017 RFP process did not disclose where he practiced law after he passed the Nevada bar in 2006 until 2014 when he incorporated the Clarkson law Group. Last September, AnthemOpinions reported that Clarkson was had been an associate attorney for the firm of Quon, Bruce, Christiansen early in his career.

Law Partner Nancy Quon was a principal player in the HOA corruption scandal from 2008 until her suicide in 2012. The massive conspiracy involved rigging HOA board elections and taking over HOA boards to steer legal and construction defects contracts to specific firms.

Adam Clarkson was never charged with a crime or even accused of knowing of the conspiracy that purportedly was led by Nancy Quon, a partner in the law firm that employed him. However, given the job Clarkson was applying for, shouldn’t he have disclosed to SCA, that his prior employment “would appear to a reasonable person to result in a potential conflict” ? Shouldn’t he held to as high a standard of disclose as he is imposing on me?

When I went on the Board, Clarkson demanded  that I “voluntarily” relinquish some of my legal rights to “avoid even the slightest appearance of a conflict” by signing an agreement to recuse myself from ALL SCA collection matters . This demand far exceeds the conflict of interest requirements in NRS 116.31084 and NRS 82 and seems pretty self-serving.

In fact, forcing me to recuse myself from current SCA collection matters did not protect SCA or homeowners one iota since my quiet title claim is for unlawful acts by SCA’s former agent, FSR.Stripping my access to information about collections as a Board member, and now trying to prevent my getting back on the Board, appears to a reasonable person to only protected Clarkson’s interests.

Clarkson Law Group is both SCA’s general counsel and debt collector which in my book creates a potential conflict of interest. Oh yeah, one of the ways Clarkson justified deeming my board position vacant was saying  I “put matters before the Board from which (I) stand to make a profit” when I proposed to the Board that some remedies to my complaint of harassment and retaliation would be to:

So who has the greater appearance of a conflict – me or Clarkson?

Clarkson has overstepped his authority

I am not in violation of any governing documents. I am a member in good standing. I have no financial claims against SCA. SCA is still in the quiet title litigation only because they refused at least eight attempts on my part to resolve the issue without litigation and before I got on the Board.

Why have homeowners had to pay the Clarkson Law Group tens of thousands of dollars to:

  • order me to cease and desist asking about the GMs excessive compensation
  • falsely accuse me of making a profit on my Board position,
  • having undisclosed  or “potential” conflicts, c
  • reating “employer liability”?

Did the Board declare me ineligible to run?

Not the Board. There was no Board vote to declare me ineligible to run.
At least there was no agenda or notice of a Board meeting to take such a vote.

There is no provision in law, SCA governing documents or SCA Board policy that creates a mechanism for the Board to take such an action. Compare this Clarkson/Seddon edict that I am ineligible with the FBI Russia investigation:

Even if the FBI investigation produced a finding that Russia manipulated the vote enough to make Trump win the Electoral College, there is still no mechanism in law for the Attorney General to invalidate the election, declare Trump ineligible, or to put Hillary Clinton in Trump’s place.

So, absent action by the Board, who decided I was ineligible and on what legal authority?

The GM, probably just did the same thing she did when she wanted legal cover for interfering in the recall election and cost homeowners $84,866 unbudgeted dollars to hire a CPA to make sure the recall failed.

But, given how Clarkson has buffaloed the Board into thinking that an Association attorney has higher decision-making authority than an Association Board, Clarkson might just as easily taken this action on his own initiative.

But whichever one did it, he or she acted without legal authority. And the Board let him or her or them do it.

Clarkson and the GM have done a fair amount of monetary damage to the Association that they have fought like hell to keep you all from finding out about.

I’m just saying.

Don’t you think it is weird that the same attorney who insists that I am a financial threat to SCA is the same joker who charged SCA $39,635 in 2017 for legal fees just to write me threatening letters and to help the GM threaten to sue SCA if the Board didn’t stop me from asking questions about her pay.

And it didn’t end. Clarkson sent me letter last month demanding that I  stop asking for SCA records that the law says are available to any owner. He sent another one to the KTNV keep Sandy Seddon’s pay confidential to protect her privacy. All SCA owners will have to pay $325/hour for these letters and for Clarkson to handle the NRED complaint. See a pattern?

Why is it a problem for the Board to act only “on the advice of counsel”?

Opportunity Costs – What owners had to give up to pay attorneys

A lot of it is unnecessary. A lot of it is by creating conflict, and common sense remedies are rebuffed. No effort to do best practices is rewarded when attorneys work on the principle of using the legal minimum as legal restraints.

This is the same guy that advised the Board that it was somehow magically exempt from black letter law in NRS 116 on such trivial matters as freedom of information and owner rights to know how their money is being spent.

This is same guy who says the GM can spend money that isn’t budgeted on her own initiative without measuring the opportunity cost to owner services where those funds were supposed to be spent. I personally would have much rather SCA spent some of the money that was wasted on attorney fees on

  • a better sound system for group exercise classrooms or
  • better pay for the fitness instructors or
  • enough funding to not cancel exercise classes.

This is the same guy who had no trouble with SCA’s 2017 expenditure for legal services that was triple the already ample $90,000 budget.

Really, in 2017, this Board expended 300% of what prior Boards needed to govern responsibly. Of course, those other Boards didn’t have a legal counsel who told them it was a violation of their fiduciary duty to make any decision without the approval of the attorney.

This same crackerjack attorney told me it would be considered practicing law without a license if I told people they didn’t need a legal opinion every time someone blew their nose.

My commitment is to owners

Whether I get on the Board or not, I will fight for Board action to

1) prevent the overuse of attorneys,
2) prohibit the GM from using the attorney as her personal counsel against the association or individuals or groups,
3) require the Board policy manual section 4.10 be rigorously followed,
4) prohibit the use of attorneys in debt collection  prior to foreclosure,
5) use foreclosure as a last resort and not ever to benefit the debt collector over the homeowners,
6) to get the NRED or CIC Commission to rule that any fines or monetary damages come out of the attorney’s pocket so that he not be paid for causing the Board to violate owner protection laws and that he not be paid for the unlawful, abusive and threatening letters he sent me both during and after my time on the Board.

What’s the big picture statewide?

This interference in HOA elections is a much bigger issue than what happens to me. It affects every HOA in Nevada. The Clarkson Law Group claims to represent 300+ associations in Nevada, an amazing career trajectory for  firm that incorporated only three years ago. Adam Clarkson is the President-elect of the Nevada Community Associations Institute, a lobbying group geared primarily to serve the interests of the HOA agents – attorneys, managers, debt collectors, construction defect-related agents. CAI is NOT a homeowner advocacy group.

If Clarkson is allowed to get away with influencing the composition of the SCA Board for his or the GM’s profit or to support the political advantage of compliant and docile Directors, he could do it anywhere.

In fact, I bet he already has.

 

.

Surprise! SCA attorney makes SCA membership pay to lose their voice!

What happened?

As I told you last week, I timely filed my application to be a candidate for the Board. Although I meet the legal requirements to be a candidate, two hours after the closing bell for applications, I received a 43-page document entitled Notice of Ineligibility, generated by the Clarkson Law Group @$325/hour to be fully paid for by SCA homeowners, that said I was disqualified to be a Board member.

Don’t I meet the legal requirements to be on the Board?

Absolutely. The law requires that I disclose that I am a member in good standing.

I am, and I did.

And the law and our bylaws require that I

“[m]ake a good faith effort to disclose any financial, business, professional or personal relationship or interest that would result or would appear to a reasonable person to result in a potential conflict of interest for the candidate if the candidate were to be elected”

I did. In fact, I disclosed everything twice.

First, using the official NRED form 850, I made my candidate disclosures in good faith on time, and, by law, SCA SHALL distribute the disclosures on my behalf because they include nothing defamatory, libelous or profane.

And, just to be safe, I voluntarily did a second set of disclosures, although the NRED Form 850 form I signed above clearly states:

“Any additional information provided by the candidate to the executive board is voluntary and is not a requirement under NRS 116.31034.”

I submitted the SCA candidate disclosure form (rev.2 by Clarkson Law Group, but not approved by the SCA Board) since Clarkson’s crafty, creative corruption of the candidate disclosure requirements had obviously been tailored to exclude little, old me from eligibility:

Clarkson’s creative editing tailors SCA’s disclosure form to create the appearance of a conflict of interest where no financial risk to SCA existed when I served on the SCA Board before nor would exist if I were elected again.
Why did the letter say I was ineligible to run for the Board?

These self-serving rationalizations to keep me off the Board aren’t true, of course, and they are more than a little infuriating to have to deal with.

I consider this action to block my candidacy, and to disenfranchise at least the 2,000 voters who elected me to the Board last May, further unlawful, defamatory, politically-motivated retaliation for my outspoken advocacy for homeowners’ rights and my progressively more strident demands that the Board, Adam Clarkson, and the GM hold themselves accountable to the homeowners and not to their own power trips or financial self-interest.

In fact, much bigger potential conflicts have not been disclosed by Adam Clarkson and Sandy Seddon, and they are the ones who are financially benefiting from making these false statements (that I’m making a profit off being on the Board or that I’m failing to disclose that I could hypothetically make a profit) to keep me off the Board and to keep me from disclosing how much money they are actually making off the homeowners.

Anyway, here’s the gist of what the attorney’s letter says about why letting me run for the Board would pose a massive threat to SCA:

  • You are ineligible because you stand to make a profit from matters before the Board:
  1. Your outstanding August 10, 2017 demand to the Association that included the following demand for monetary damages: SCA to pay damages for the GM’s, CAM’s, SCA attorney Adam Clarkson’s and the Board’s misconduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress, attorney fees and other costs associated with my defense against the unlawful abuse of process, defamation, libel and false claims that I committed illegal acts, violated my fiduciary duty or created employer liability.
  2. You have a pending quiet title claim against the Association and additional claims that may be asserted against the Association.
  • Failure to Disclose Potential Conflicts of Interest and False Statement of Fact

The candidate form you submitted failed to identify the potential conflicts of interest associated with your candidacy including, but not limited to, the following: 1) failure to disclose that on August 10, 2017 you made monetary demands upon the Association that remain outstanding. See Attachment 3; and 2) in relation to your litigation against the Association, the failure to indicate that your claims against the Association that were dismissed without prejudice may be reasserted against the Association subsequent to your completion of the Nevada Real Estate Division (“NRED”) alternative dispute resolution procedures under NRS 38.310 et seq. See the Notice of Entry of Order attached as Attachment 4.

Are there matters before the Board that I could make a profit from?

No.
What about the August 10, 2017 “demand for monetary damages?

On August 10, I sent a NOTICE OF INTENT TO FILE AN INTERVENTION AFFIDAVIT against the Board, the GM and Adam Clarkson for harassment and retaliation, for withholding  SCA records, excluding me from Board meetings, and other violations of their fiduciary duty.

Look at the date – 2 weeks before they kicked me off the Board as I walked into the August 24 Board meeting  – without any notice, due process, cause, or legal authority.  Kicking me off the Board was the Board’s only response to my complaint that I was being bullied and retaliated against, and now Clarkson is saying my requesting reimbursement of attorney fees is a demand for monetary damages that makes me ineligible to be on the Board.

That’s like beating someone up and throwing her out in the street, then beating her up again if she came back and wanted her hospital bills to be paid.

Look at what is actually being done here.
It could apply to any owner who speaks up.

I have no demand for monetary damages against SCA. Period.

Quiet title litigation is not disqualifying per se.
NRS 116.31084 says what to do if a Director might make a profit from being on the Board:
1) Disclose it, and 2) Don’t vote on it.

Done and done.

Here’s why the quiet title litigation is not a disqualifying conflict except in Clarkson’s mind.

  • SCA has no skin in the game. SCA was paid in full in 2014.
  • Nothing the Board has to decide will affect the outcome of the title decision that will be made by the court.
  • Judge Kishner is being asked to void a foreclosure sale defective because SCA’s former agents violated the statutory requirements for a valid sale.
  • SCA will lose nothing in the title dispute, It does not matter to SCA financially whether the judge quiets title to me, trustee of the Gordon B. Hansen Trust that owned it, to the bank, or to the guy who got the property on a fraudulent quit claim deed.
  • SCA will be out attorney fees which will be substantial because they are foolishly defending the former debt collectors who stole money from me on this one house, but stole from the Association on lots of houses.
What potential conflict of interest did I fail to disclose?

Nothing.
Accusing me of it is just wrong. The attorney’s logic is specious and speculative. All claims against SCA were dismissed at a hearing on May 25, 2017, except quiet title that SCA has no financial interest in, but SCA attorneys didn’t file the order until September 19, 2017, a month after they kicked me off the Board.  Why?

The attorneys have filed false litigation reports for the past year claiming that the current status of the case was back in February 1, 2017. Why?

The most recent litigation report defamed me by falsely stating that I had been removed from the Board for cause. Why?

When the Clarkson Law Group was hired, Adam Clarkson failed to disclose prior employment that would appear to a reasonable person to be a potential conflict of interest requiring disclosure. Why?

The blog, “Who gets to decide who is eligible to serve on the Board?“, discusses why the SCA membership has more to fear from over-compensated, power-grabbing attorneys than from me, a homeowner advocate who also is also trying to get title back to a house that was essentially stolen by SCA’s former debt collector.

If you are tired of SCA being ripped off by attorneys, take action!

Apply by 4 PM today, Feb. 9
to be a candidate for the SCA Board

I encourage you to apply to sit on the SCA Board if you believe you can help  the Board fulfill its responsibility to:

  • adopt policies that protect the SCA membership  from losses to our property values, amenities or quality of life.
  • ensure that our governing documents are enforced uniformly and no one, including the Board, the GM or any SCA agent is exempt from the rule of law
  • adopt a fair and open system for meaningful owner involvement in governance and for equitably addressing owner concerns.

To protect our wonderful community, we must get a Board majority that has these values and acts on them. We are not well served by a Board that  hands over our wallets to an attorney and a GM whose decisions profit them more than they serve homeowners or the association that is supposed to exist solely for the benefit of the membership.

Unfortunately, people tell me they are discouraged because the current Board has abdicated, causing, or allowing, the association attorney and GM to run roughshod over homeowners’ rights. But, hopefully, some of you will step forward to help create systems and policies that will prevent the attorney from becoming the boss.

Attorneys fees and loss of our property values

Next blog I’ll go through these outrageous attorney fees we all paid for 2017. I’ll show you exactly how much you are paying for the absolutely useless and unnecessary use of an attorney to promote interests that are directly adverse to ours.

2017 legal fees were more than triple what was budgeted!
  • How much value did we get for spending $294,924 on attorneys?
  • What did we have to give up to pay for attorneys?
  • How much better sound system could we have had for aerobics and fitness rooms in Independence Hall for the price of even one attorney-day?
  • How much value did SCA get out of paying a GM, a CFO and a Facilities Manager almost double what those jobs get paid in the Las Vegas market?
So, if these matters concern you, throw your hat in the ring.

Here’s the application packet from www.sca-hoa.org distributed by the Election Committee. Here is the required candidate disclosure form 850 published on the Ombudsman’s website which doesn’t have all the nonsense SCA’s attorney put in.

I’ve already put in my application  to go back on the Board.

Why don’t you?

 

January 25 BOD meeting wrapup

Nothing that I think is really important to tell residents about what happened at the January Board meeting is included in the meeting summary on SCA’s official website www.sca-hoa.org:

Here’s what I think owners might want to know:

Restaurant space decision delayed again

Here’s what appeared in the Board book:

There was a 17-minute verbal report explaining why the GM won’t have until April the recommendation (due last December) on whether to have a restaurant or not. She did not mention that it’s been closed during her entire tenure despite the fact that SCA CC&Rs require:

The GM, working with two Board members, analyzed past failures, legal issues and input from two workshops.

1/8/18 Issued an RFP to 9 potential bidders for restaurant

  • It is unknown who the potential bidders were or how they were selected
  • Gaming is still under consideration to subsidize a restaurant.
  • She held a bidders’ conference to see what were “operator expectations”
  • The RFP is not available for review by owners, but is promised for the February meeting
  • Bidders had until February 2 to put in a proposal.
Alternative use of space is being studied simultaneously

“If it can’t be restaurant, what can it be, given there is almost an insurmountable vote. If the board repurposes, then if 10% object then 50%+1 has to vote to make change.”

Forrest Quinn is focusing on construction and engineering and met with an architect, and he commented that the kitchen is disproportionately large:

  • The kitchen is 4300 square feet and the restaurant is 3300 square feet
  • With only 162 seats, probably a 700-square-foot kitchen is needed

The GM repeated several times how difficult it is because it is so emotional and important not to make a mistake. No matter what decision is made, there will be costs.

Tom Nissen, who is working on the restaurant part of the analysis, commented–

“What we’re trying to do is take a disciplined approach of the pros and cons to having a restaurant. Maybe there will be a subsidy, it’ll depend on what the responders say.”

My concerns were stated (and ignored) earlier:

“Our past failures have been due in substantial part by the the inability of Board members and management to allow an equitable arms-length selection and leasing process to be conducted by an experienced, independent broker who specializes in restaurants, bars, and gaming. Neither the GM, the Board or any individual Board member, regardless of their expertise and experience,  would be as effective in handling the selection process as a neutral expert would be. It would simply be a poor business decision to insist otherwise.”

I hope they prove me wrong.

Director’s Comments

Art Lundberg highlighted the successful fundraising of the Women’s Club for charities equaling $43,400 in 2017 and $400,000 since 2000.

Important, but not agendized: Future of Revere

Revere is safe from residential development in perpetuity!

Tom Nissen reported that because golf courses around the country have been converted to other uses, such as residential development, three directors visited City of Henderson officials and Revere management to determine if Revere was at risk of being plowed under for alternative use. The news from both fronts is good.

  • Revere has no plans to close as their business is good.
  • Zoning is currently PS (Public and Semi-public), and the City would make a zoning change difficult.
  • The best news is that a document, “Operating & Maintenance Instructions”, is on file with the City of Henderson, that limits future use and has a permanent restriction: “Residential development on the property of any type is prohibited.”

As an owner who lives on the golf course, I am thrilled that these directors took the initiative to research this concern. When Legacy Golf Club was threatened with permanent closure for residential development, an owner there told me her property value dropped $60,000 overnight.

My only concern is that this was done on their own initiative, and it was not handled by the SCA-Revere Golf Course Liaison Committee which  was abolished when we went to self-management. The GM felt that the only golf course issues were management-related and so the GM herself would be a more effective liaison than homeowners. I think that decision should be re-visited.

Board-Work Group report on Communications

Board Work Group (Aletta Waterhouse and Jim Coleman) are totally committed to the project of improving Board-owners communications,  and yet, they do not seem to see the irony that their little committee does not include any owners.

They reported that they will hold two workshops:

February 6 @ 11 AM to discuss their plans for improving communications and getting owner feedback

February 23 @ 1-2:30 PM to discuss:

  • The role of NRED and the Office of the Ombudsman
  • How the Community service Group plans to deal with durable medical equipment
  • Tom Nissen will give his presentation on self-management

GM’s Report

In another mis-step when it comes to truly effective communications, the GM’s report mentioned that a new website will be online by March. It is unknown if any owners had any input into the design. Probably not as I think the Owner Communication Committee was disbanded as not being needed under self-management.

Disappointingly, and contrary to the lip service being paid to transparency, the website will still require a password. Too bad when Tom Nissan was looking at self-management, he didn’t look at Sun City Summerlin’s website which does not require a password, and it has been self-managed since 1997.

Proposed Tow Policy was a big surprise

Continuing on the theory that telling owners what is being done to them after the fact is a form of transparency, the Board sprung on owners a surprise, fully-developed set of proposed parking prohibitions.

Fortunately, the Board tabled the whole proposed towing policy after many owners objected to being surprised by the proposal to prohibit ALL on-street parking in Pinnacle without consulting those most impacted and without offering an alternative solution.

ALL on-street parking in Pinnacle Village to be prohibited?

The proposed towing policy section 5 uniquely impacts Pinnacle Village because it is gated and so the streets are Association property and not controlled by the City of Henderson:

On-Street Parking Is Prohibited Within the Gated Neighborhood of the Association Commonly Referred to as “Pinnacle” or “Pinnacle Village”[NRS 116.31031, 116.3102, NRS 116.31065; CC&Rs §§ 3.3(a), 3.6(m), 7.4; Bylaws § § 3 .1 7, 3 .18( f)]: Unless otherwise excepted by the express written authorization of the Association’s Board of Directors, on-street parking is prohibited within the gated neighborhood of the Association commonly referred to as “Pinnacle” or “Pinnacle Village”.

The Board tried to soft peddle it by saying that enforcement was not going to be “proactive”.  Rex even asked, after an hour of complaints, if it would be enough if the Board rendered the policy “inoperable”. It wasn’t.

Here’s the gist of what the speakers complained about:

  • No notice – just found out a few days before.
  • Shocked, thought it was fake news.
  • Taking away something that was a benefit when we bought in is awful, but even worse, there is no parking alternative proposed.
  • Why would anyone move into Pinnacle if there is no parking?
  • Why wasn’t the Pinnacle Neighborhood Advisory Committee involved, or preferably given the lead, to come up with a solution to the problem, if a problem even actually exists?
  • This is a lawyer’s dream. If you have a written policy you don’t enforce, then it is litigation for differential treatment the first time you do.

The proposed parking prohibition in Pinnacle dominated the discussion, but also mentioned was the negative impact on people with RVs. There is also a proposed prohibition of parking in ANY center’s parking lot – Anthem, Independence, and Liberty Centers – ANY night from midnight to 5 AM, but it not really discussed. It wasn’t clear what “not proactive” enforcement would mean.

President’s Report

Per usual, Rex Weddle reported out of the morning’s executive session multiple discussions and actions that had no relationship whatsoever to the agenda published for that meeting:

Here is Rex’s version of telling owners what they need to know about what the Board privately discussed:

  • The Board heard an architectural appeal.
  • The Board discussed its proposed response to an unspecified NRED complaint.
  • There was a legal update, and they discussed taking action on some unnamed cases.
  • A legal opinion was provided on something also without a name.
  • The GM’s performance objectives were discussed again, and again no mention was made of whether or not she received a bonus, and if so, for what.
  • A pending legal settlement was discussed.
  • An ADA accommodation request was heard.
  • An unspecified NRED complaint related to the Foundation Assisting Seniors was “dismissed as baseless”.

Rex didn’t mention the collection status report which was actually on the agenda nor did he explain why that report is not made in open session as required by our bylaws:

 

Proposed Publication Policy

This policy was not discussed, but it bears looking at before it comes up at the next Board meeting on February 22 @ 5:30 PM.

To me, it is ghastly, and a stunning example of why the over-reliance on attorneys is detrimental to our happy lives.

I bet this proposal is an over-reaction to the complaints filed when the GM refused to provide equal time to proponents of the recall. The proposed policy gives tons of power to the GM to refuse equal time to opposing viewpoints and to prevent a dissenting opinion from being published without providing “clear and convincing” evidence that their opinion is not defamatory.

Then, to add insult to injury, after official publications are inaccessible to the requester, merely asking to be heard is considered a violation of the CC&Rs worthy of a penalty.

How much money we waste on attorneys to come up with this crap is a topic for another day.

Evicted FAS has new home near Sun City Anthem

 Foundation Assisting Seniors
2518 Anthem Village Dr., # 102
(725) 244-4200
FoundationAssistingSeniors.org

HENDERSON, Nev. — Established in 2002, the Foundation Assisting Seniors is proud to announce its new location at 2518 Anthem Village Dr., Ste. 102, in Henderson, Nev. The Foundation provides essential programs and services including light home maintenance and durable medical equipment, as well as the HowRU™ program and the Medication Reminder program at no cost.

“We are thrilled to announce our new location to better serve the ever-expanding senior community,” said Carol Chapman, vice president of the Foundation Assisting Seniors. “At this new location, we are able to assist those who rely on our organization for a variety of needs and services.”

Seniors and their loved ones are encouraged to set an appointment prior to visiting the new location. Appointments can be made by contacting The Foundation.

The Foundation Assisting Seniors enters its 16th year with a mission to assist the senior community, at no cost, in times of illness, recovery, confinement at home, coping with loss of a loved one, and other senior challenges, as well as to provide assistance with everyday tasks such as household maintenance and transportation.

For more information, please call (725) 244-4200 or visit FoundationAssistingSeniors.org.

The house that took over a life

Six years ago today my fiance Bruce died, leaving me to deal with an underwater house that has consumed many of my waking hours to this day.

The story of this house, the source of so much aggravation, is the poster child for how homeowners and HOAs have been victimized by banks, debt collectors, managers and attorneys in the aftermath of the housing market crash a decade ago.

Long story short starts with the banks

  • Housing market crashed.
  • Bruce died at the bottom of the market.
  • He left a trust with one asset – an underwater house.
  • The banks would not refinance it nor approve any short sale.
First plot twist

In the vast majority of the legal battles over an HOA foreclosure, the homeowner is gone before the fight.  The homeowner doesn’t fight if the delinquent debtor was a deadbeat, debilitated by debt, or died.

I am not a deadbeat, or even the debtor, nor debilitated nor dead.

I am a fiduciary, fighting for the rights of Bruce’s trust.

Back to the bank….
  • After B of A botched several sales, I refused to keep paying maintenance costs, such as HOA assessments and utilities.
  • B of A took possession but would not take title and did not foreclose nor accept a deed in lieu offer from me.
  • Nationstar took over servicing from B of A, but Nationstar’s investor also refused to close any deal no matter how good the offer was.
Enter SCA agents to try to beat the bank
  • Story continues for a couple of years.with SCA agents starting and stopping, scheduling and then withdrawing a threatened  foreclosure for delinquent assessments
  • B of A tendered the super-priority portion of delinquent SCA assessments, but SCA’s agents (FSR and Red Rock Financial Services) refused to accept less than their version of full payment – very similar to the $55,000 Citibank settlement Rex reported out from the December 7 Board meeting.
  • After SCA’s agents cancelled the foreclosure sale multiple times, they sold it in 2014 to a Realtor for 18% of its value, $63,100 without ANY notice to me, my agent, or the bank. This Realtor worked in the Berkshire-Hathaway office where my listing agent worked.
Unbeknownst to the SCA Board, its agents were secretly working for themselves
  • SCA’s agents told the Ombudsman that the sale was cancelled, but then secretly held the sale anyway and did not EVER report to the Ombudsman that a foreclosure sale had occurred.
  • After the surprise sale in 2014, SCA agents credited SCA with only $2,700 of the $63,100 sale proceeds as payment in full, and SCA agents unlawfully kept the $60,400 balance.
  • FSR did not ever report in HOA records that the house was sold to the Realtor, or that the Realtor ever paid any assessment enhancement fees or new owner fees.
  • HOA records (created by FSR) are in direct conflict with recorded documents and show that a dentist took possession after the foreclosure, not the Realtor named on the foreclosure deed created by FSR.
  • There are two recorded title changes in the county records that do not exist in SCA’s records for which FSR has some explaining to do.

SCA is in, but can’t win

Three lawsuits to quiet title from 2015 to the present have thousands of pages of documents filed.

SCA is in the middle of this complex litigation even though there is nothing SCA can win and where there is nothing to lose but attorney fees.

Lawsuit 1

The dentist who currently has possession of Bruce’s house sued SCA and B of A for quiet title in 2015.

Records conflict about when the dentist took possession of Bruce’s house. It was either in 2014 after SCA agents foreclosed (which is what SCA records say), or he took possession in 2015 when he recorded a fraudulent quit claim deed (which is what County records say).

The court issued a judgment of default against B of A who did not respond to the summons. SCA was still in the lawsuit because the dentist inexplicably never served SCA a notice to appear.

Lawsuit 2

In 2016 Nationstar sued the Realtor who held the foreclosure deed, but then found out about lawsuit 1.

Nationstar took B of A’s place in the lawsuit. even though neither bank is owed any money from the mortgage.

Lawsuit 3

On behalf of Bruce’s trust, I sued all parties in 2017 to claim the title should be returned to Bruce’s trust because the foreclosure sale was conducted unlawfully in SCA’s name by SCA agents.

The dispute over the title to Bruce’s house is between me, the dentist, and the bank.

SCA has no financial interest in the title and was already paid in full for delinquent assessments in 2014.

Why is SCA being sued for its agents’misconduct?

SCA’s former agents foreclosed under SCA’s  statutory authority.

SCA is responsible for its agents, and the SCA Board is responsible for ensuring that its agents act lawfully.

SCA Board President Rex and SCA’s current agents refused to negotiate or do anything whatsoever to attempt resolution without litigation.

SCA could have gotten out of the litigation without cost by simply stating that the Board did not authorize SCA’ former agents to conduct the foreclosure sale unlawfully and affirming that no current or former Board member profited from the non-compliant sale.

How does this all relate to the big picture of protecting homeowners from being forced to pay for agents’ misconduct?

What happened to Bruce’s house has happened a thousand times in Nevada in the last decade.

After getting rid of FSR, SCA jumped from the frying pan into the fire and hired Alessi & Koenig in 2015 to be SCA’s debt collector attorneys without noticing that they had been sued in 500 of 800 HOA foreclosures they conducted between 2011-2015.

The situation worsened when Alessi & Koenig hid their assets from creditors, dissolved their corporation and morphed into HOA Lawyers Group. SCA continued to use HOA Lawyers Group after they were put on notice of the fraudulent scheme.

The downward spiral in how SCA handles debt collections continues to this day by contracting with the Clarkson Law Group despite their unethical practices designed to prevent these problems from being disclosed to the membership.

A 2017 UNLV/Association of Realtors study showed that HOA foreclosures have cost the real estate market $1 billion due to the approximately 700 cases they identified  Clark and Washoe Counties alone between 2013 and early 2016.

HOA Boards statewide have been duped (like SCA Board has been) into facilitating this major rip-off contrary to the financial interests of the associations and their members.

Next time:

The high price of protection
Analysis of the UNLV study estimating $1 billion property value loss due to HOA foreclosures in Clark and Washoe Counties alone.

Rating Rex’s Self-Management Report Card

Demonstrating all the transparency and humility we have come to expect from our supreme leader, Rex Weddle once again used SCA’s official house organ, the Spirit, to stroke the ego of the Board and GM by giving a glowing Self-management Report  Card. Although Rex didn’t give any letter grades, let’s fact-check his assertions of outstanding performance, and I’ll offer the letter grade I think is warranted:

SCA made the right decision to be self managed.

True. The former Boards’ grade should be a B for taking action based on specific plans and goals to correct deficiencies.
The current Board should get an F for failing to follow through on good work done by prior Boards.

SCA’s management company FSR needed to be replaced, but for more reasons than either Board acknowledges. FSR was double dealing by being both the managing agent and the debt collector following the collapse of the real estate market.

Even with a solid management agreement, previous Boards did not keep FSR from grabbing profits from abusive collection practices. Prior Boards were unaware of the negative impact these abuses had on owners’ property values. Their attention was overly focused on deterioration of property values caused by excessive deferred maintenance of the common areas.

The current Board has also over-emphasized catching up on deferred maintenance, and has not held itself or the GM accountable for other critical areas (customer service, owner relations, transparent communications, fair and open culture, strategic planning, protection of individual property values, and maintenance of high quality amenities and other lifestyle options). Ultimately, this Board has a failing grade because their lack of accountability to owners is supported by paying an attorney to say that the rules don’t apply to them.

According to Rex, a Human Resources model was included as part of the transition.

False. This Board scores an unequivocal F.

Adequate human resource systems are not in place needed to protect SCA from “employer liability”. It is a disgrace that since 2015, the GM has not presented ANY plans or timetables for developing these internal controls or for incorporating essential expert owner oversight. The most important feature of transitioning to self-management is that SCA is now an employer. This failure has already resulted in:

  • excessive management compensation (the GM gets $100,000+ more than the market requires and three other managers annually take in more than a quarter million dollars more than SCA should be paying);
  • lack of performance standards (GM bonuses provided without justification despite massive owner dissatisfaction with her performance);
  • lack of contractual service level expectations (they remain undefined and unmeasured);
  • lack of written terms and conditions controlling GM employment (no management agreement makes her an “at-will employee” who is subject to the SCA Personnel Handbook. Unfortunately for SCA owners, SCA’s attorney has fabricated imaginary“rights” for her that she has asserted against SCA in threats of frivolous litigation and that allow her to act like a “super Board member” rather than as staff).

No 2018 assessment increase.

True, but the grade is still D.

Assessments were increased without clear justification in 2017, and those excess funds have been repeatedly used as validation of the quality of self-management. But, many questions remain unanswered:

  • Why were rates increased in 2017 if $300,000 in budgeted transition costs were saved by reducing the 9 of the 12-month budgeted overlap of the GM and FSR?
  • Why was a 12-month overlap of the GM and FSR budgeted anyway?
  • Why was the entire 2017 rate increase transferred to reserves? If the assessment increase was intended to reserve for walls & fences, what happened to the construction defects settlement for the walls if there was no remediation of the defects?
  • Was the 2017 increase intended to bring up the reserves funding level? If so, that has nothing to do with the difference in operating costs between using a management company and being self managed.
  • Was it for the Liberty Center? If so, why was it not a one-time assessment?

Whatever the reason the 2017 assessments were increased by over 10%, it can’t be ignored while the Board congratulates itself and the GM for not having another assessment increase in 2018.

Per Rex, Tom Nissen’s December Board report comparing SCA to other self-managed HOAs, shows the transition is going well.

False. The grade is D.

Tom should be given credit for researching other HOAs, but should be given no credit for answering the wrong question and deserves no credit for  timeliness and no credit for owner participation.

Tom’s report simply reaffirms that going to self-management was the correct thing to do. It might also support the idea that it was good that the Board adopted a policy to increase the reserves by increasing assessments in 2017. Regardless, neither of these have anything to do with whether the Board and the GM are doing a good job in the transition to self-management.

Showing that SCA’s assessments are relatively low says nothing about cost-effectiveness or about any differences between using a management agent and being self managed. Further, comparing assessments with other HOAs is not really informative unless you eliminate all gated communities from the comparison.

“The Board has made it clear that the complete transition would take a minimum of three years. There is still much to do and more culture change to undergo.” -Rex

True, and yet, the grade is still a big, fat F.

If there is another 1 ½ years to complete the transition, what specifically is planned?

  • Why are there no written plans and timetables?
  • Why is there no transparency and no standards for GM accountability?
  • Why is this Board resisting the necessary culture change by treating owners who are even mildly critical of the Board or GM with such disdain?
  • Why has the Board strenuously rejected developing the committee structure needed to provide expert owner oversight over HR, legal services, insurance and other amenities that has been successful in other self-managed HOAs?
  • What steps has the Board or GM taken to change SCA’s culture to be more inclusive, fair and transparent?
  • What steps has the Board taken to ensure that SCA owners won’t be taken advantage of by unscrupulous agents?

The transition to self-management is very successful in handling deferred maintenance.

True. The grade could be an A, but since there is no transparency, no way of measuring cost effectiveness, and no standard for defining priorities, I can’t be that generous. But remember, no matter how well this portion of property management is done, the grade for it should count only as about 25% of an overall grade for a successful transition to self management, not be given the nearly 100% weight the Board has given it.