Why so quiet?

Sorry for the big break in my updates about SCA shenanigans.

I’m in California for some family events,

Nathaniel graduated

and a new granddaughter due any minute

But, while we’re waiting for the next big thing, I’ll tell you

The real cause for pause

After a fun-filled trip to Mexico, I dragged myself to the May 24 Board meeting. I was immediately stunned by the President’s report that NRED had stopped investigating two complaints that impacted me.

I wondered if NRED’s practice was to rely on management or agents rather than get the whole story. I hoped not. But, I had a sinking feeling…

Ordinarily, I would have posted something right away, but I decided to talk to NRED’s new chief investigator, Terry Wheaton, first. Multiple attempts to set up a meeting were unsuccessful so I documented my concerns in writing.

It is even longer than my usual missives, so I’ll break it up for you. It was full of hyperlinks to the actual evidentiary documents. I will break the links in this public distribution, just in case, my transparency forces the SCA Board and GM to claim it is their fiduciary duty to pay the attorney $10,000+ to threaten to sue me to kingdom come.

Part 1 of email to NRED

Fwd: Issues related to dismissed and open investigations; NRED Letters of Instruction to SCA

I am writing you now to document my concerns and request that you evaluate these documents before there is a final determination on my form 514a, 781, and three form 530 complaints  (harassment/retaliation, recall election interference, and for removing me from the Board without complying with NRS 116.31036 on false and unproven charges that I had placed matters before the Board from which I stood to make a profit.

1. NRED investigations are closed without notice or reason

In March, I raised this concern to Christina Pitch in the email I am forwarding here. You can see her response. However, the pattern of NRED closing complaints without a clear, legally defensible, equitable resolution seems to be continuing.

At the last Sun City Anthem Board meeting on 5/24/18, the new President Bob Burch made the following claims in his President’s report which were extremely disheartening because I have received no communication from NRED about these issues which intimately affect me and about which I have formally filed affidavits and declarations.

President’s report

Next, I would like to report that we have been advised by the Nevada Real Estate Division that two complaints filed against the Association have been closed. In one case, it was alleged that the Executive Board held an emergency meeting on July 18, 2017 to discuss employer liability and that the meeting did not meet the requirements for an ‘emergency’ under NRS116. In the second case, it was alleged that the Executive Board held secret meetings beginning in March or April 2017 in which appointments to committees were agreed upon and Association business was decided upon. Both complaints were closed without any action being taken against the Association when the division determined that there was no good cause to continue with the investigation. In other words, we prevailed.  – Bob Burch, 5/24/18

What does “no good cause to continue the investigation” mean?

Does NRED condone or just not care?

Dismissed complaint 1: July 13 “emergency” executive session

In my view, having a Board meeting without notifying me for the other six directors to approve a cease & desist order against me was an unlawful abuse of authority and certainly not an emergency.

What does NRED think?

Does NRED’s closing the complaint investigation without disciplinary action against SCA mean:

  • That NRED says it’s okay for the GM to fail to give me, an elected Board member, ANY verbal or written notice that the Board I was elected to was being called into an “emergency” executive session two hours after I was standing in her office being denied access to ANY SCA records despite NRS 116.31175 and SCA bylaws 6.4(c)?
  • That NRED says it’s okay for a GM, an at-will employee, to use the association attorney at SCA owner expense to threaten litigation against SCA (her employer) and me, a Board member, personally for creating “employer liability” for asking for justification for her being paid double the market rate and criticizing her performance and judgment despite NAC 116A.345(5)?
  • That NRED says it’s okay for six Board members to meet without and issue orders against me, the seventh EQUAL, ELECTED Board member, to limit authority as a Board member, restrict my duties, TOTALLY restrict my access to information needed to make decisions as a Board member, and restrict my right to vote on an equal basis with the other directors despite the prohibitions in NRS 116.3103(2)(d)?
  • That NRED says it actually was an emergency as defined by NRS 116.31183(12) affecting the health, safety and welfare of the community for 6/7 of the SCA Board to meet to order me, the seventh, to stop asking for a verification of the GM’s former salary and to reprimand me, without legal authority, for asking the GM to reconsider a ruling she made to prevent equal time in SCA official publications for a proponent of the recall election?
  • That NRED says that six members of the Board constitutes a quorum, and they (6 of 7) can meet in executive session to make decisions for the Board as a whole or to take action against the seventh Board member even if the six directors prevent the seventh Board member, despite the limitations defined in NRS 116.31185 or NRS 116.3103(2)(d),
    • from attending their secret session,
    • from voting, or even
    • from knowing their secret meeting is going to occur ?
  • That NRED doesn’t care that the SCA Board failed to comply with multiple provisions of state law and SCA governing documents?
Or is NRED saying
these owner complaints are frivolous and aren’t serious matters worthy of at least a complete investigation?

That meeting, actually held on 7/13/17, had numerous flaws which I spelled out to NRED in form 514a on pages 4-5 and claims are  supported by written evidence.

I now have a meeting scheduled for June 18.

Next time

Part 2: Secret meetings in general

 

SCA Board officer selection orchestrated again

Officer elections over in a flash

  • No competition
  • No owner input
  • No surprise
  • No hope 

President            Bob Burch
Vice president   Rex Weddle
Secretary           Candace Karrow
Treasurer           Forrest Quinn

Why was last year’s officer election so bitter?

Simple answer. I committed the ultimate sin.

I volunteered to fix what I saw wasn’t working right in the transition to self-management. I told them the truth.

Unfortunately, changing the tone at the top means regime change.

OMG! Shut up!! You did not!

Yes, I did. Unlike this year’s newbies, I was totally unaware of SCA’s political realities. I never dreamed that volunteering to share my expertise would be treated as a capital offense.

How low will they go?

Frankly, I was surprised to see that Rex and his cronies would do anything – even break the law- to crush a political opponent.

And yet, here we are.

We have a full year of evidence that proves this point. This past year, we have seen VERY clearly many examples of how they have spared no expense (owners’ money, of course) to keep a death grip on the reins of power.

So, Dona Quixote, what did you say to tick them off?

I told them the incumbents were the bottom vote-getters so it was…

a mandate to improve the effectiveness of the Board as a unified governing body

That’s really bad.  What other evil did you spew?

I caused an uproar of outrageous indignation when I said that the vote showed an interest in changing the “tone at the top”

Yes, horrible as it was, I also said

the Board needed to be trained together to be guided by common, articulated goals.

You said what!!?

Actually, what I said is exactly what happened. The Board predictably devolved.

“…(absent proper training)…this Board will predictably devolve and return to a pattern of making backroom deals, abdicating its policy role to management, creating dissent in the community, and interfering with operational decisions which should legitimately be handled by staff.

Examples of how my fears were realized.Obviously, you can’t be trusted to keep a secret.
Remember,

Snitches get stitches.

On the advice of counsel
Unbelievably, Adam Clarkson or his underling, John Aylor, said these things directly or helped the GM and her buddies on the Board do them.

  • the Board can act without voting
  • the GM has rights that exceed those of the membership
  • directors facing recall have more control over the recall election than directors who were not named in petitions because the attorney says so
  • it is okay for the GM to use the attorney however she likes, including to get rid of a director who is too nosy about her pay and protecting the directors who like her from getting recalled
  • owners must pay whatever the GM and the attorney sayYou are so arrogant and mean, and you lie.

Even if I were arrogant and mean, I am not lying. Everything I say, I will eagerly say under oath.You deserved to be kicked off because, obviously, you are making a profit from doing this.

Seriously. They said that.

No decent Board member should have to work with you.

Well, that hurts.

It shows how stunningly effective a marketing campaign to demonize me has been. It persuaded a lot of people to agree with both that unfair assessment of me and with the ridiculous claim that other directors are above me and special.

It’s really sad, but the smear tactics have been led by,
Guess who?
current and former members of the Board, with the full support of the GM and the attorney, and funded by guess-whose money.

I was forced to become a blogger to respond to GM-initiated defamation and threats of litigation.

And now, Rex put out another self-righteous editorial claiming that it is the bloggers that have destroyed our property values.

Exhausting.

Since Rex has aggressively blocked anyone having equal time to debate his self-serving prostelyzing on the Spirit, the website or at meetings or any other forum, the only way to get the other side of the story out is to blog.

Will Bob write patronizing, insulting President’s reports?

If his diatribes during director comment periods at Board meetings are any indication, he will invest a great deal of energy in verbally assaulting anyone who disagrees with him that tries to speak up.

But, I’m pretty sure the deal he made with Rex, our new Vice -President, was to be a version of co-Presidents so Rex can keep a grip of the reins.

By my best guess, as far as the written word goes, Rex will continue to treat the Spirit as his personal snide blog as he ghost writes the President’s reports next year for Bob.

Previously, Bob complained that he finds writing boring when, on May 1, 2017, immediately before I disturbed the peace of last year’s pre-determined officer election, he wrote

“I have no desire to be President. In my entire military and civilian careers, I have never found writing reports or articles in magazines very interesting. Therefore, writing monthly Spirit articles, monthly Board meeting recaps, etc., is not something I would look forward to doing.”

So, President this year,

Way to take one for the team, Bob.

Being serviced by SCA attorneys is painful and pricey

This is the second blog in a series about lessons learned at the April 26 Board meeting.

Lesson 2-
When we don’t get what we paid for, we should send it back.

This blog is about how it is always “lose-lose” when the SCA Board abdicates to attorneys instead of being guided by:

  • common sense,
  • NRED Board training,
  • owner oversight and
  • professional management standards of practice.

This blog is about the overuse and wrong use of the SCA attorneys to protect individual Board members and the GM, and actively, purposely hurting owners – all on owners’ dime.

Special thanks go to Rex Weddle and Sandy Seddon for setting the mean-spirited and divisive tone at the top that has prevented all neighborly, amicable resolution of differences on their watch.

Highlights of legal expenditures

  • First quarter 2018 $101,300  more than double the $48,750 budget
  • 2017 quarterly budget was $22,500, so $101,300 was nearly five times what was expected to spend in a quarter last year
  • In 2015, before self-management SCA actually spent $116,292 for lawyers
  • In 2014, $52,219 was spent for the whole year.
  • In 2016,the whole year of lawyers was $118,861, but that was before buckets of money were extracted from owners’ pockets in 2017 to pay to be aggressively serviced by the Clarkson Law Group

Again, a special thanks to Rex and Sandy for their utter disregard of best practices and fair play to make owners pay attorneys to keep your dirty little secrets.

What are we getting for our money?

Can we figure it out from the budget variance “explanation”?

“NRED, FAS, Director liability, policy updates, etc.”

Pretty unsatisfactory explanation, I’d say. I’ll also say these ridiculous legal fees are not necessary expenditures. They are only necessary if the Board is duped into doing everything the hard way instead of opting for the ounce of prevention.

Some of these fees are also caused by individual Board members and the GM using the attorneys in inappropriate ways, and the attorney leading, or going along with, unfairly stripping owners’ of their legal protections. The attorney makes big bucks as a quid pro quo for the Board abandoning even the appearance of controlling budget policy.

SCA leaders refuse to be transparent about what they are doing, but I think you all should know what you are buying.

And remember, unlike blogger # 3, Mr. (name redacted), who was drummed out of the legal profession for forging a judge’s signature, I will swear under oath to the truth of what I say, and I will, willingly and openly, back my words up with evidence.

I’ll show you in Lesson 3 why attorneys’ lies about me are so serious and why doing this to one owner hurts ALL owners.

 

 

 

 

Making owners pay to fight owners knowing how our money is spent

A point for transparent Nevada

The R-J just won a victory for transparency when the District Attorney was required to release information about how much the DA’s office was compensating witnesses in criminal trials.

Public interest
Using taxpayer cash to fight the taxpayer
Click on photo to read full editorial

 

“To sum it up, the taxpayer-funded prosecutor’s office sought to conceal from taxpayers certain payments it made with taxpayer money – and then eventually cut a deal that will cost taxpayers $55,000 (in attorney fees).”

 

“Wouldn’t it have been easier – and cheaper – for those in the DA’s office to simply have made the information available in the first place? Instead, the default setting is always to retreat into the shadows and make liberal use of other people’s money to fight against open government.”

Sound familiar, Mr. Clarkson?

It should.  Sun City Anthem Board and GM are misusing the SCA attorney to hide their sins, and he is laughing all the way to the bank.

SCA’s leaders are wasting owners’ money to hide information which should be easily accessible to us at virtually no cost on the website.

SCA’s brand of mean-spirited opacity- hiding actions and expenditures from owners and making the owners pay the attorney fees for hiding what could even be unlawful or fraudulent – has more elements of sleaziness than I saw in the government’s efforts to avoid transparency.

SCA has gone beyond the practice of merely blocking freedom of information requests as described in the R-J editorial to being outright abusive to owners who just ask for information they have a legal right to receive and distribute as they wish.

For example, the claim on the new SCA Records Request Form that SCA records that might be requested, such as employee compensation, are “private and confidential records of the private entity that is the association” is simply false.

Those records can’t be confidential by Nevada law in Sun City Anthem and not confidential by that same Nevada law in Sun City Summerlin.

Threats of litigation?

I don’t see that the Public Employees Retirement System threatened the R-J with punitive sanctions for just submitting a Freedom of Information Request like our mean-spirited leaders are doing to SCA owners, threatening litigation for even asking for information the GM or individual Board members want to be publicly known.

GM’s “privacy rights” bigger than owners’ rights?

I also don’t see that the government officials ever claim that freedom of information requests violated some imaginary and legally-unsupported “personal privacy rights” as SCA’s attorney has done on behalf of the GM.

Only withhold records from certain parties?

I don’t see that the District Attorney claimed the requested information could be withheld from the R-J, but that it could be released to the R-J’s competitor? SCA has done this very thing repeatedly by providing information to OSCAR (recall opponents) that was withheld from others who were not in that camp.

Making up laws?

I also don’t see that the District Attorney just made up some bogus legal  requirement that the R-J acknowledge that the information can’t be used in ways the DA would consider harassment or even just embarrassing. The new SCA information request form contains multiple ridiculous “acknowledgements” which have no basis in law.

The SCA attorney is lying to owners about what owners’  rights are. Fines and other sanctions are threatened against  SCA owners for requesting and disseminating information, both of which are within fully within owners’ legal rights.

For example, the claim that SCA CC&R 3.6(h) and SCA Rules & Regs 9.4 would be violated and an owner subjected to penalties for violating any of the totally fabricatedduty, restriction and/or obligation provided herein” is a double whammy of threatening an owner for violating restrictions the attorney just made up out of thin air. 

Magically creating privilege?

I also don’t see any egregious claim by Clark County that documents, actions or conversations become privileged just because the secretive official wishes that they were legally protected from public view as the Clarkson Law Group, the GM and individual members of the Board ludicrously and repeatedly do to unlawfully attack owners for exercising our legal rights.

 Ask any Discovery Commissioner

The burden of proof that documents, conversations or actions are legally privileged falls squarely on the party who is seeking protection from disclosure.

Not the other way around.

Being accountable for being good neighbors

Is a criminal-to-excellence measuring scale hard to understand?

It seems to be hard for the people currently in power here to grasp.

But, the association (meaning the membership) faces a very high risk if the Board, GM, and attorney are not held accountable for being ethical and fair.

With so much a secret, who can be held to account?

I invite you to look again at my  blog, The Cautionary Tale of the City of Bell.

Although SCA is a non-profit corporation that privately delivers municipal services rather than a city per se, SCA has hallmarks that mirror the City of Bell’s textbook case of municipal corruption:

  • laws are bent to serve executive’s private interests
  • those in power act in concert for self-interest
  • excessive executive compensation
  • disenfranchising of unsophisticated and inattentive voters
  • election interference
  • lack of transparency

Mmm…how can I make this clearer?

I know. Let’s discuss a fun fact about bestiality.

Did you know that until AB 391 passed last year, and became effective October 1, 2017, it wasn’t against the law in Nevada to have sex with a dog?

It’s pretty weird that it wasn’t illegal until a few months ago, but, I think we can all agree that,

just because you could have, doesn’t mean you should have.

Let’s take this tale a step further.
What if…

…before Nevada’s anti-bestiality law passed, a neighbor was disturbed by the noise of a dog whining. When the neighbor realized what was happening, he complained around the neighborhood that such conduct should not be allowed.

The neighbor complained strenuously that it was cruel and abusive to the animal, and offensive to community values.

Instead of apologizing or showing any shame or remorse, the “dog lover” was rude and insulting to the neighbor, flaunting his “rights” and saying in an arrogant and condescending tone:

“Shut up. I can do to my dog whatever I want. I do not have to change my ways just because some whiner complains about having to witness how much I really love my dog. My attorney says the law is on my side. You have invaded my privacy and defamed me. I’ll tell everybody you are a horrible busybody, and they’ll hate you. I’m going to sue you, and you will have to pay all my attorney fees.”

Your Ethics 101 Exam Questions
  1. How would you rate the dog lover‘s behavior on a criminal-to-excellent-neighbor scale?
  2. How would you rate the neighbor’s behavior?
  3. Should the neighbor have to pay the attorney fees?
  4. How could this situation have been handled better?

Even if the selfish dog lover had not technically broken any Nevada law, I think we can all agree that he was wrong to abuse the dog, and that he made everything about the situation worse by unfairly stomping on the aghast neighbor.

The moral of this tale

What the Board, the GM, and the attorney did felt to me as exactly comparable to how the dog lover retaliated against his neighbor for complaining. They bullied me, shunned me, threatened me with litigation and liability for attorney fees for speaking up when I saw things that were just plain wrong – just like the dog lover treated his neighbor.

SCA leaders must be held to a higher standard.

You can help. Vote. Raise our standards.
Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse should not be re-elected just because they have not had sex with their dogs.

HOA collection practices cost us all more than you think

What makes our property values go down?

There has been a lot of concern expressed about how having – or not having – a restaurant lowers property values.

There have also been concerns expressed that owners calling for a removal election or complaining about how they were being treated would make this community unattractive to purchasers.

I think those issues, as serious as they are, pale in comparison to the impact HOA collection practices, including SCA’s, have had in suppressing the property values in HOAs statewide.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported last July that an  academic study provides evidence for this claim.

Click here for the  7/7/17 Reno Gazette-Journal news article that ran under the headline:

HOA foreclosures tied to more than $1B in lost Reno, Vegas home values

In my blog The house that took over a life“, I wrote about how my late fiance Bruce’s house was snatched by SCA’s former agents and sold for pennies on the dollar.

You might have felt bad for me, but you probably didn’t think that foreclosure, and the other foreclosures that have occurred, lowered your property value as well.

The recent study by UNLV LIED Institute for Real Estate and Nevada Association of Realtors claims it did.

In fact, the study supports the claim that the entire system is flawed, and ALL homeowners pay a price every time their HOA’s debt collector kicks an owner out of their home and then (on the owners’ dime) tries to beat the bank out of their security interest in court.

Survey says:
Homeowners are not happy with HOAs

Part of the research included surveys of Clark and Washoe County residents that I’ll report in another blog, but generally, those surveyed were not pleased with HOAs.

In particular, those academics’ research (Click here for executive summary of report) showed that many Nevada residents (81%) are unhappy with HOAs’ having “super-priority” status to foreclose for delinquent assessments because it hurts them (all the other owners in the HOAs).

One of the study’s conclusions:

“The LIED Institute found that every HOA foreclosure reduces the sale price of every property in the HOA by 1.7%. Thus, LIED inferred that every property, even the ones that have not sold, has suffered this same value reduction. “

           –Analysis of HOA foreclosures in Clark and Washoe counties from 1/1/13-6/30/16 

At least $1 Billion Loss in Clark & Washoe Counties alone

What happened to my late fiance’s house as well as my analysis of public records of multiple foreclosed properties has led me to conclude that this finding,

…every HOA foreclosure reduces the sale price of every property in the HOA by 1.7%“,

underestimates the impact on ALL homeowners’ property values by a large margin.

But, I’ll share that analysis with you in another blog.

We ALL pay

Those personally victimized by unfair HOA foreclosures are not the only ones damaged financially by them. My detailed review of the study shows there were even more significant financial impacts on ALL HOA homeowners statewide, and from more causes, than those identified in the UNLV/NAR study.

Why do HOA foreclosures lower property values?

The study identifies a few major reasons why HOA foreclosures bring down the values of ALL properties in the HOAs:

  1. Depressed sales price – Properties are sold at HOA sales for a  small fraction of the property’s fair market value (FMV). Since the buyer pays pennies on the dollar of what it is worth, ALL community property values go down.
    Study says: Every home in an HOA loses 1.7% when the HOA forecloses.
  2. Banks charge more for loans in HOAs to cover the risk of loss if the HOA forecloses. HOAs’ super-priority extinguishes the bank’s security interest (mortgage) and the study estimated how much banks have lost after  the banks’ loans were cancelled.
    Study says: Banks lose 100% of the loan balance on every property sold at an HOA sale, and Federal and Nevada courts disagree about how to handle this.
  3. Corruption within HOAs, particularly when management agents have a financial connection with the debt collection agent as was happening at SCA until 2015 when FSR, our managing agent, was financially intertwined with, and was the license-holder for SCA debt collector, Red Rock Financial Services
    Study says:

“…80% of respondents would support a law prohibiting HOA management companies from also owning and operating their own HOA collection agencies.” 

So what?

This series of blogs is intended to put SCA’s collection practices within a much larger context so you can see how we are all affected.

  • SCA is just one of over 2,500 HOAs in Nevada in the LIED database.
  • Nevada is just one of 22 states that have huge problems with HOA agents, using the HOA’s power to foreclose, such that

1) both the homeowner and the bank lose 100% of their property, 2) the HOA gets very little they are owed, and
3) the debt collector gets very, very rich, frequently by taking more money under the table than the law allows them to charge.

  • My late fiance’s house is just one little house, but it is a stark example of what happened many thousands of times in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse.
The foreclosure system is broken and needs to be fixed

Whenever you have economic turmoil and large reversals of fortune, you have a breeding ground for corruption. I want to show you how the limitations in the legal and judicial system have allowed some unscrupulous individuals (and institutions) to wildly profit at your expense and mine.

Did SCA Board members profit at owners’ expense?

No. Certainly not me.
I did not, and will not, profit from exposing any of this.

No other SCA Director profited from any of this either.

As you peruse these next few blogs about how SCA collection practices affect your personal bottom line, please note:

  1. I did not ever place a matter before the SCA Board from which I made, or could have made, any profit. No matter what action the SCA Board takes, or doesn’t take, related to collections or foreclosures has any impact on the quiet title decision of Judge Kishner, Nevada 8th district Court.
  2. I don’t believe any current or former SCA Board member personally profited from the foreclosure of any SCA property.
  3. I believe SCA Board members have simply trusted and followed the advice of SCA’s agents without suspecting that the agents had set the process up to unjustly enrich themselves.
  4. I don’t believe anyone on the current SCA Board understands that the SCA Board has legal alternatives for handling collections that could prevent many of the downsides using self-serving debt collectors who unfairly profit from foreclosures and the huge volume of litigation that ensues.
  5. However, I believe the current SCA Board is culpable for REFUSING to even examine flaws in SCA’s collection system or to consider more humane options which would benefit ALL SCA homeowners financially more than SCA’s agents benefit.

HOA Boards and homeowners have frequently been victimized by their agents (managers, debt collectors and attorneys) who can take advantage of their ignorance or inattention.

The HOA Board must ensure all assessments are collected. That’s a given.

But, in general, volunteer boards do not have the expertise to select the most cost-effective and humane method for doing so.

Our SCA Board has been duped by all three (or four or five) debt collectors SCA has used. They have all unjustly profited by conducting foreclosures without following the statutes, by retaining proceeds from the sales that they were not legally entitled to, and/or by tricking the Board into believing that their costly methods were the only legal option.

Our cost when agents serve themselves

It’s tragic how easy it is for HOA agents who play fast and loose with the law to unjustly enrich themselves. Lax enforcement of the laws on the books, such as they are, is ineffective to stop their fingers from reaching into our pockets.

Statewide, a much stronger regulatory system is needed to prevent such institutionalized corruption from getting a stronghold, and to protect HOAs and homeowners from getting ripped off.

Why would a debt-collecting agent derail his gravy train?

Telling the SCA Board that there are more cost-effective options to successfully collect assessments than using the SCA association legal counsel as the debt collector would drastic reduce The Clarkson Law Group’s big, fat bottom line.

Agents are supposed to act solely and exclusively for the benefit of association membership, but the temptations for a quick buck are just too great!

It’s much more lucrative to keep the Board in the dark about how much the costs of collection exceed the amounts collected.

Or better yet, the attorney/debt collector can bully the HOA Board into believing he is the final authority and that the lucrative (for attorneys) litigious process is only legal option available.

Sound familiar, Mr. Clarkson?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legal fees beget more legal fees – $80,000 in two months!!!

Giving attorneys a blank check = bad idea

In the first two months of the fiscal year, SCA’s spending $79,760 for legal services. Attorneys have burned through 40% of the $195,000 budget for the whole year.

Had the 2018 budget not be more than doubled from the 2017 level, the burn rate would have been a whopping 89%.

2017 Legal services budget was $90,000, an amount that prior Boards fond to be adequate for SCA’s needs.

Was the service SCA got worth it?

  • Do you feel like paying this attorney has improved the quality of your life in Sun City Anthem?
  • Do you think, as this current Board does, that the attorney must be retained to do work that is normally performed by a Community Association Manager, like propose towing or publication policies?
  • Do you believe that the Board is incapable of making decisions unless the attorney approves them?
  • Do you think SCA owners should pay for the association attorney to represent the GM to protect her “privacy rights” against owners finding out what she is being paid in 2018?
  • My best guess is that SCA has been billed in the tens of thousands of dollars for the GM to use the  association attorney to keep her secrets. I can’t be more precise because when I requested an explanation for spending $321,000 instead of less than $90, 000 in 2017,  the response boiled down to:

“We don’t have to. You can’t make me”

2017 legal expenditures exceeded $321,000

This was a whopping 3 1/2 times the $90,000 budget! So, one would think that the correct response would be to look at ways to bring that number back in line. But, that wasn’t what the Board did. They more than doubled the 2018 budget to $195,000. 

While a strategy of carefully calculating the increases needed in the budget to cover runaway costs may be prudent in a strictly fiscal sense, it completely ignores the Board’s duty to analyze the root causes of why we are wasting so much money on attorney fees.

Last year’s waste blew my mind, and this year is starting out even worse.

What I told the Board at the 3/22/18 meeting

The Board and the GM are using attorneys excessively, inappropriately and in a manner which is not serving owners well.

The Board is not following the business judgment rule if you:

  • Use attorneys to conceal from owners how our money is being spent when you are required by law to tell us.
  • Allow the GM to use the association attorney to serve her own purposes in violation of SCA’s bylaws and the Board policy manual, e.g., relieving the Election Committee of their duties in the recall election ($90,000 spent on her order), and at least $50,000 to conceal records from me as a director, and threaten frivolous litigation, and unfairly remove me
  • Accept without question demands for payment for unbudgeted services which others who are not being paid tell you, are not necessary or cost-effective if done by attorneys.
  • Ignore warnings of inappropriate expenditures
  • Refuse to allow any investigation by owners to determine the veracity of the complaints that these fees are out of line.
  • Refuse to have a Legal Services Committee to provide owner oversight to protect the Association.

The Board silently noted and (round)filed.

I predict no action will be taken to control the costs of control.

And another thing

Why did owners have to pay $43,022 to write-off bad debts last month?

When this amount was written off, Forrest said that it had largely been due to foreclosures by banks.

  • What properties were affected?
  • Why so much write off?
  • Was litigation involved?

My questions  could be answered if the Board would require the GM/attorney/debt collector to publish the quarterly delinquency report mandated by our bylaws and keep them posted on the website.

Refusing to manage the attorney instead of letting him run amuck is costing owners money unnecessarily. It is not a good example of sound business judgment.

Bylaws 3.21 (f) (5) Quarterly reporting requirement

…(quarterly) commencing at the end of the quarter in which the first Lot is sold and closed,…(v) a delinquency report listing all Owners who are delinquent in paying any assessments at the time of the report and describing the status of any action to collect such assessments which remain delinquent…

Publishing the required report would improve the cost-effectiveness of collection efforts significantly, reducing attorney/debt collector fees and uncollectible debts.

But this isn’t something you will hear from the attorney.

Telling lies, ruining lives

“As I understand it, Ms. Tobin was prevented from running for the Board not because she has opinions that are critical of the Board and SCA management, but ONLY because she is involved in litigation against SCA from which she might stand to gain a financial benefit.” -David Berman

Poppycock.

My unlawful removal from the Board was completely 100% done in retaliation for my complaints of harassment and retaliation.

I presented the issues formally to the Board, the attorney, the GM, and the former CAM and to blogger David Berman as statements of intent less than two weeks before they acted in concert, without cause, without authority and without due process to strip me of my legal rights and my Board seat and to disenfranchise the 2,001 voters who had put me in office.

While I was on the Board those interminable 116 days (5/1/17-8/24/17), the GM, the former CAM, the attorney, David Berman and 5 of the 7 directors acted in concert to marginalize me from day 1. (Art Lindberg should get a pass since he was the only one who asked the right questions. The attorney lied to him too., and the pressure to conform was very, very strong.)

They made my life miserable, shunning, lying, berating me, denigrating my contributions, making false accusations, publishing false and defamatory statements, and making it impossible for me to be an effective homeowner advocate as a member of the Board.

They only came up with the convoluted ruse that I had put matters before the Board from which I could make a profit because, even relying on Adam Clarkson’s tortured reading of the law, they couldn’t say they were getting rid of me because I was an outspoken pain in the ass.

Execution was a complete non sequitur

The 8/24/17 letter which constituted my walking papers, signed by Adam Clarkson, was the totally unlawful and unethical response to my notice of intent to file a Form 530 Intervention Affidavit alleging harassment and retaliation.

Before that letter came out of the blue, there were many disputes between me and five of the other Directors, the attorney, the GM and former CAM, most of which you will recognize. I was transparent and vocal as possible as I sounded the alarm on deferred attention to owners’ concerns.

It’s pretty obvious why I had to go

And it was not because I did, or even could, profit from being on the Board.
My profit = ZERO

Did I mention I never made a dime off SCA before, during or after my Board service?

How much did the attorney make for creating the ruse that I did?

Attorneys’ profit for 2017 = $300,000+

2017 legal fees for “Director Issues”  = $40,000
January 2018 legal fees = $38,000

but they won’t admit how much of that was to unlawfully block owners knowing how much the GM’s salary was bumped up in 2018

Deny. Deny. Deny.

Accept no responsibility for ANY problems.
Then attack your accuser.
And kill her.
Sample of the problems I publicly said needed correction
  • No restaurant -Failing to comply with the CC&Rs and good business practices about the restaurant space study, letting only a couple of directors work on it, refusing to use an independent expert, too cozy with one bidder
  • Owner oversight committees – Refusing to allow appropriate owner oversight in areas where going to self-managed and changing legal counsel and debt collectors caused a high level of risk – personnel, compensation, legal services, insurance, investments; getting rid of the Golf Course Liaison Committee, the Communications Committee, and decimating Property & Grounds, making the GM the Board liaison to Pinnacle and other groups
  • Board agendas – Refusing to put my items on the Board’s open or executive session agenda as required by law, by Board policy equal to other directors
  • Secret meetings -meeting in secret without giving me or other owners the rights guaranteed by law or confining executive sessions to the four permissible topics
  • Excessive executive compensation – Refusing to conform to the law for access to data, to evaluate according to professional standards, or to fairly consider evidence to rebut the appropriateness of those salary levels; giving Tom Nissen excessive authority in this area and blocking me totally from it despite our differences in expertise or the appropriateness of substituting the judgment of ANY one director for the judgment of the Board; spending thousands on using the attorney to hide what her actual compensation is from the owners.
  • No GM performance standards – Not holding the GM accountable for meeting measurable, publicly-adopted performance standards
  • No management agreement – Violating SCA bylaws and failing to protect SCA by having no management agreement or even any written terms & conditions of employment. Although the GM is an AT-WILL EMPLOYEE, allowing her to usurp additional privilege to the detriment of SCA.
  • Unfair complaint process – Going beyond NOT having a customer-service rating system to aggressively attacking the 800+ owners who signed petitions and refusing to answer any of their complaints on their merits
  • Evicting FAS – The process for evicting the Foundation Assisting Seniors was flawed. They ordered me out of executive sessions. They did not act in the best interests of the homeowners. The GM was not held accountable for the failure. Civil action without required owner vote.
  • Debt collection process – Failing to do proper due diligence on debt collectors; refusing to evaluate the expensive, inhumane cost of collection for a more ocst-effective solution
  • Ill-advised recusal demand – Overreaching demand for me to recuse myself on ANY collection matter because SCA’s attorney/debt collector alleges there might be an “appearance of a conflict” for me, however remote, while ignoring the current attorney/debt collector’s obvious actual financial conflict and the fact that the last debt collector filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy without telling SCA and continued doing foreclosures by morphing into another LLC.
  • Bullying -On at least three occasions in executive sessions, using bullying, shunning, intimidation, threats and other demeaning and belittling marginalization tactics to try to make me conform with nonexistent policies or legal requirements
  • Failure to investigate – When problems are brought up, they are dismissed out of hand without conducting, or allowing, investigation on the merits
  • Inaccurate official records -Causing, or allowing the official SCA records to be corrupted and/or error-prone ALWAYS against the interests of homeowners and usually to protect individual members of the Board or management
  • Concealing SCA records from me alone, i.e., giving me incomplete executive session Board books, refusing to respond to ANY records requests
  • Abdication – Allowing the GM to use the association attorney as her personal attorney in violation of NRS and SCA bylaws
  • Election interference – Allowing the Board president, the GM, the CAM, David Berman, and the association attorney to interfere with the recall election process and to UNLAWFULLY COST OWNERS $90,000 BY STRIPPING THE VOLUNTEER ELECTION COMMITTEE OF THEIR CHARTER DUTIES to pay a CPA to do the EC’s job poorly.
  • Undue influence allowed – As it served the interests of the Board majority and management, David Berman, spokesperson for OSCAR, was allowed to have greater access to recall election information than I received as a director; he was allowed undue level of influence over the Election Committee to cut me out in retaliation for my attempting to protect the rights of the petitioners, including falsely accusing me what he himself was guilty of;  misrepresenting himself as an attorney; falsely accusing me of releasing “personal director correspondence” further defaming me by creating the false impression that I had released a legally privileged documents (absolutely not!)
  • Sanctions without notice or due process -Having meetings to sanction me without notice and to enforce policies that don’t exist
  • Unlawful orders issued by the attorney against me, e.g., cease & desist from representing myself as a director, or asking questions that I was not “authorized” to ask particularly regarding personnel and GM compensation
  • GM’s frivolous litigation threats – Allowing the GM to threaten to sue SCA for damages and to threaten me with personal liability; refusing to indemnify me as a director; falsely claiming I had violated my fiduciary duty without any evidence, a hearing or a finding
  • Misinterpretation of “employer liability” – Allowing the attorney to represent the interests of the GM over those of the homeowners. Accusing me of violating my fiduciary duty because I criticized the GM’s performance and because I requested a salary verification from her prior employer.
  • Abdication to attorney acting in the GM’s or his own interest -Telling me that the attorney had the authority to declare that I, as one of the seven directors, could be excluded from the right to vote on, or even know about, matters under the Board’s decision-making authority, unless he approved it (which in most cases, he has never approved to this day).
  • Abuse of privilege -Allowing the attorney to declare ANYTHING to be “attorney-client privileged” regardless of the lack of its meeting the legal definition of privilege in NRS 49 or NRS 116.31085.
  • Falsification of litigation reports -Allowing the attorneys to publish false statements in the litigation reports to increase the appearance of a conflict or to defame me and refusing to correct after evidence was provided.

It’s pretty obvious why I had to go

Let them eat cake: learning how to be fair

When I was 12, my mother was killed in an United Airlines plane crash, leaving by father bereft with six kids ages 5 – 16 to raise alone. At 52, he had just retired a Colonel from the Air Force and was starting a private practice as a physician. He needed to have a way that we kids could get along and learn to treat each other fairly without him always having to resolve disputes.

I remember one system we used that taught us all to be more fair than we would have been if our dad had let the big kids rip the little kids off and hog up a pig’s share of a cake:

Whoever cuts the cake, gets the last piece.

This is a lesson that those in power at SCA need to learn if self-management is to succeed.

What’s wrong with the SCA system of “self-management”?

First and foremost, SCA is not fair. The big kids (the Board, the GM, and the attorney) are bullying the little kids (owners, residents and dissenting directors) to hog up all the cake that rightly belongs to owners.

  • The Board President is running amuck, consolidating power by controlling who can participate in decision-making by creating Board work groups and blocking owner-oversight committees.
  • The Board President is also misusing his power to disenfranchise political opponents and to silence opposition to the “party line”.
  • By disempowering appropriate owner oversight, executive limitations are poorly defined and internal controls are inadequate to ensure fair and equitable treatment of ALL owners.
  • The Board majority is just going along with the bullying and hogging up the cake “on the advice of counsel”.
  • The GM has been allowed to use the association attorney as her personal attorney (at owners’ expense), and is stealing the Owners’ cake and beating the crap out of the little kids who cry, i.e., owners /residents /board members who complain about non-owners grabbing their cake.
  • The association attorney has shoved a very big piece of the SCA Owners’ cake into his own mouth and grabbed another big piece for the GM while waving the knife threateningly at owners who even look at the cake, let alone try to get their fair share.
Owners pay dearly for having no control over their own cake

Here are some examples of problems with the implementation of self-management caused by the Board’s enabling the GM’s resistance to appropriate owner oversight.

  1. Owners pay for everything, but can be blocked from even knowing what they are paying for or how much they are paying.
  2. There is no way to control excessive executive compensation.
  3. The Board can act in ways that create liability or don’t protect SCA against manageable risks and the owners just have to shut up and pay for it.
  4. There is no way to hold the Board, the GM, and the attorney accountable as fiduciaries or to prevent them from abusing their positions for their own profit or personal or political power.
  5. Owners can be unfairly treated without being afforded the due process required by law.

The SYSTEM must build in controls so it is fair no matter who is in charge.

SCA does not have a system in place that protects owners from the very people who are supposed to be acting only for us.

If the interests of owners are adverse to those the GM or the Board President, then there is NOTHING built into SCA’s version of self-management to ensure that the owners’ interests will prevail.

In fact, with Adam Clarkson and Sandy Seddon calling the shots, there is no owner-protection system in place at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCA Board election choices are narrowed by design

My granddaughter is six now, but a while ago, she loved knock-knock jokes. Her favorite one was apropos of the SCA Board race.

  • Knock-knock.
  • Who’s there?
  • Broken pencil.
  • Broken pencil who?
  • Never mind. It’s pointless.

And yet, here I am. In Hawaii, but still knocking my head against the wall, trying to keep the SCA Board composition from being so blatantly manipulated.

I know no one will listen. I know that the sides have already been chosen. Lines have been drawn in the sand. Positions are entrenched.

It’s pointless. But I am still just OCD enough to need to put these points on the record – where they are out of reach of those who are distorting or concealing the official record for their own purposes.

Board candidates are disappeared

  • What happened to the two that applied but whose names were not released, but were just gone at the same time I was declared ineligible?
  • Why did Vickie Lisotto drop out?
  • Why didn’t more people apply who have voiced concerns about how self-management is being implemented without owners’ coming first?

Why won’t owners run for the Board:
Fear of facing a recall petition?

Apparently not.

Candidates Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse were themselves both subjects of the petitions signed by over 800 owners to remove them from the Board, but they decided to run again for another two-year term.

Amazing that over 800 owners signed petitions over a few Summer weeks to call for an election to remove Aletta Waterhouse and Bob Burch from the Board, but that did not deter them from running again.

Even more amazing. They were seemingly so untouched by the list of grievances in the petitions that they did not even deem those 800 owners’ complaints were worthy of being investigated or, if verified, addressed on their merits.

Not so amazing since they were completely secure in the fully-funded support of the GM and the attorney, they did not see any irony in how six directors voted in secret to remove me from my Board seat when ZERO owners signed a petition to call for my removal.

Did owners decide not to run because they saw what happened to a director that spoke her own mind?

From my perspective, the answer is obvious.

All the stops will be pulled out to protect a director who has closed ranks to march lockstep with the other Stepford directors to parrot the party line.

Step out of line, and you will be threatened. Privately berated and shunned. Publicly humiliated. Then you will be disappeared. No amount of owners’ money is too much to spend to force compliance to the party line. No rule of law. Total hard ball.

Would anyone bet a homeowner advocate could be effective on the SCA Board?

It is not a safe bet.

Not when six of the seven directors apparently can just secretly vote a dissident voice off the island. No trial. No finding. No process. No owner vote. Just goodbye. Can’t run again. Disappeared.

Not when Sun City Anthem has a blogger in Hedda Hopper’s McCarthy-era role to maintain a Black List.

…(to) actively oppose the election of any candidate who was tied to, or supported, the removal campaign.

Ask yourself…who’s spending owners’ money to control who sits on the Board?

Would Sandy Seddon have sicced attorney Adam Clarkson on a director who supported her getting paid double the market and wasn’t questioning her paying the CFO and Facilities Manager salaries that were also double the market rate?

Would President Rex Weddle have turned a blind eye to the GM using the attorney to authorize the expenditure of $90,000 to ensure that the recall election would fail and $40,000 – a combined $130,000 — to ensure that my removal by secret vote would succeed if our positions had been reversed?

Would he had let a dime of owners’ money be spent on the recall election if I, and not he, had been the subject of a recall petition?

How much would he have authorized expending of owners’ money  to pay the attorney to remove him if it were he, and not I, being falsely accused of making a profit from sitting on the Board?

Would attorney Adam Clarkson have assisted the GM to make a bogus threat of litigation against SCA, and a director individually, if they weren’t trying to silence that director who was questioning the legitimacy of both their actions while requesting information needed to make fully informed decisions?

Wouldn’t attorney Adam Clarkson also have profited from disappearing a demanding director to escape accounting for SCA owners’ being forced to expend

  • $300,000+ in 2017 legal fees, triple the budget
  • $38,000 in January 2018 legal fees alone to block 2018 changes to GM compensation
  • $90,000 to conduct the removal election which was solely caused by his and the GM’s decision to disempower the volunteer Election Committee?