If they had only known… Part 3

Owners pay a high price for Board ignorance

Basic ground rules the Board must learn by heart
  1. Association exists to serve the owners.
  2. Board exists to speak for the owners.
  3. Board may hire agents to act on behalf of owners.
  4. Association does not exist to serve the Board or management.
  5. Owners pay even when the Board or SCA agents make mistakes.
  6. Agents, including SCA employees, have no rights superior to owners’ rights.
  7. Rules exist to protect owners.
  8. Board must protect owners.
  9. The Board needs to learn the rules and follow them.

How can NRED training help the Board do right?

  1. Without proper training, the Board is ignorant.
  2. The Clarkson Law Group trained the Board to consult attorneys before ANY decision to the point of letting attorneys decide.
  3. Being ignorant, the Board has failed to protect owners from agents’ actions.
  4. Board needs to learn the rules set up to protect owners and follow them.

The process determines the result

Poor process = poor results

Board failures of the “duty of care”

The costly mistakes described below could have been avoided had the Board taken the training about the proper way to hire experts:

  1. The GM did not sign a management agreement with terms required by NRS 116A.620.
  2. The Clarkson Law Group hired as SCA debt collector without an RFP for  debt collector issued.
  3.  CPAs Ovist & Howard were paid $85,000+ to replace the volunteer Election Committee on the 2017 removal election without legal authority:
  4. HOA Lawyers Group LLC hired as SCA debt collector to replace the defunct and bankrupt Alessi & Koenig LLC
      1. without an RFP,
      2. without a Board-approved contract
      3. without competing with NRS 649 licensed vendors.

Board must learn the rules

Click here for the NRED training all directors should take to know how to prevent SCA being controlled by agents instead of by the elected Board: Hiring Experts and Professionals


Lessons the Board has yet to learn

1. When SCA became “self-managed”, the GM/CAM were hired without of a management agreement.
Not okay.

Absent a management agreement, the GM is an “at-will” employee and has no other rights than those bestowed by the SCA Employee Handbook.

2. RFPs are required for professional services not just construction or maintenance contracts per NRS 116.31086.

2.  The GM wasted $85,000+ for an unknown CPA, Ovist & Howard, to take over the recall election:

  1. without an RFP,
  2. without a Board-approved contract,
  3. without funding to pay for a CPA to do the recall in the adopted budget,
  4. without the Board amending the Election & Voting Manual to strip the Election Committee of its duties, and
  5. after the GM and attorney were both the subjects of active complaints that they were interfering with the independence of the Election Committee
  6. which resulted in diminishing the integrity of the election process.

Guess who benefitted. (P.S. It wasn’t the owners.)

  1. Four of the six Board members who allowed the GM to usurp the Board’s authority benefitted personally from unlawfully hiring a CPA to replace the Election Committee.
  2. Owners’ right to lawfully petition for a removal election was besmirched by the subjects of the petitions who wrongfully blamed the owners who petitioned for their recall for the huge cost of hiring a CPA that was done solely, 100%, by the GM under their watchful, grateful eye.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”   – Newton’s 3rd law

Hiring a CPA wasn’t the only way the GM sashayed in to usurp the authority of the Board, but to really take over, all dissent had to be crushed. These are things a properly trained Board would never have tolerated.

Action
As the liaison to the Election Committee,  I tried to get the GM, President Rex, and the attorney to leave the Election Committee independent and neutral to do their normal job during the recall.

Reaction
I was removed as the Board liaison to the Election Committee by the very people accused of interfering with the Election Committee’s independence.

Action
As a non-conflicted Director (not one signature, not one petition against me), I was one of the three Directors who should have decided

  • how the recall election was to be conducted,
  • whether the Election Manual should be amended for this one election
  • how best to protect the integrity of the election process

Reaction
The GM and the attorney decided to relieve the Election Committee from its duties despite having no legal authority to do so.

Action
I gave the Board notice of my intent to file a complaint of harassment and retaliation for all the actions they had taken against me in retribution for my recommending that the attorney and the GM be fired.

Reaction
The Board took the law into their own hands and kicked me off the Board without notice, process or appeal.

Kinda the same way Putin handled the one serious challenger to his re-election.

3. Restaurant RFP mistakes

  1. GM and one Director met with one competitor to give a leg up prior to RFP.
  2. Board was not informed of GM + director actions until it was a fait accompli.
  3. RFP issued to a hand-picked group of possible bidders
  4. Bids were not opened at a Board meeting.
  5. Bids were not not submitted on the same terms.
  6. After the number of vendors dropped to two, the “operating parameters” were adopted.
  7. Winning bidder who negotiated with GM in advance was allowed to change bid after the other bidder dropped out because the terms had been changed.
  8. No other bids were sought nor considered.

4. Last two debt collectors shouldn’t have been hired without RFPs

Doesn’t it seem like it’s a problem that

  1. HOA Lawyers Group became SCA’s debt collector without issuing an RFP to replace the defunct Alessi & Koenig, LLC?
  2. The Clarkson Law Group became the SCA debt collector without a RFP?
  3. The Clarkson Law Group, hired via the RFP issued to replace the Leach law firm as SCA legal counsel, used its “authority” as the SCA legal counsel to  “rule” that its own selection as the SCA debt collector did not require a separate RFP?

Who cares about debt collection?

We all should. Debt collectors are the source of huge expenses for HOA owners because of the weird way the Nevada courts allow HOA foreclosures to extinguish the bank’s security interest. While you might think this is good for HOAs, it is actually only good for the debt collector.

Remember, abdicating debt collection is:

  • a huge cost to owners
  • a violation of SCA bylaws 3.20 and 3.18(a)
  • foolish
  1. The cost of collection exceeds the amount recovered.
  2. HOA homeowners pay for the debt collectors’ fight with the banks.
  3. The loss of property value to each and every home in a Nevada HOA is, according to the UNLV 2017 study commissioned by the Nevada Association of Realtors, is 1.7% per foreclosure for delinquent dues.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Board meeting as self-serving bully pulpit

Lesson 1 from April 26 BOD meeting

“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”                                             -Mark Twain

Blame the bloggers

At least the first hour of the meeting was dedicated to blaming bloggers for all that is wrong, including the loss of SCA property values. It was a stunning example of how the Board marches lock-step against  owners rights and reflexively resists holding itself and the GM accountable for fixing problems of their own making.

Board beliefs vs. an alternative point of view

Tom Nissen listed his beliefs – all concerns shared by the Board – as his parting gift to the membership.

My beliefs offer another, albeit unwelcome, perspective, to show the way I think the Board and GM could better create value for owners.

Click here to link to the article about the UNLV study on HOA foreclosures referenced above.

Next time, I’ll share with you my planned request to correct the false and defamatory statements in the April SCA litigation reports. I didn’t speak up at the meeting because I was afraid I’d get lynched for complaining.

Election Recommendations

 

Election Recommendations
The SCA View Newsletter by Ron Johnson

Vote for Coleman, Karrow, Lee and Wigen

It’s that time of year again and your vote is needed to determine who will best represent the interests of our community. On the heels of the results of a very divisive recall petition, where a substantial number of members voted to throw Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse off of the board, your vote is more important than ever. While that petition failed to meet the very high threshold needed for a director’s removal from the board, this election campaign has provided voters with another opportunity to demonstrate their concern.

It’s my position that the community would be far better served by electing three new members to the board rather than returning any of the old directors who had been previously elected. Let’s say goodbye to Bob Burch and Aleta Waterhouse and vote for JAMES COLEMAN, CANDACE KARROW, GARY LEE AND CLIFF WIGEN. Director James Coleman was not elected but was appointed to the board last year.

My concerns about Burch and Waterhouse stem from the board’s questionable and potentially illegal actions in approving if not directing management to adopt certain accounting gimmicks. Those accounting gimmicks have resulted in the deferral of almost a million dollars annually in scheduled repairs to the following year(s).

Such unreported deferrals amount to self-serving efforts by the board to avoid increasing assessments, thereby helping those directors who are running for reelection.

While one prominent blogger has been eager to pass along management’s assessment that the Association’s finances are in “excellent” shape, that assessment is grossly misleading. That assessment failed to reflect what’s been really going on behind the scenes in what I view as an unorthodox effort to provide millions of dollars over time for unanticipated and unfunded repair projects at Liberty and Anthem Centers.

One method management adopted was to defer almost a million dollars in previously scheduled repairs from one year to the next year. Such deferrals have a cumulative effect on subsequent scheduled repairs in the following years, which is exacerbated when there are recurring unplanned events in the following years, like the Anthem Locker Rooms, forcing management to annually push scheduled repairs forward year after year. As reserve funds are expended for such unplanned repairs, the reserve fund keeps going down by that amount. At some unknown future date, that reserve deficit will have to be replenished.

Meanwhile, the board will continue to rely on members not paying close attention to what’s going on behind the scenes in the accounting room as your money get “created” and spent for unbudgeted purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Rumors
Did the board or management influence G2G (Denny’s) to drop gaming in order to assure their likely selection as a tenant?

Club Rumors
Some residents are looking forward to the possible creation of the NEW YORK CLUB.

Administrative matters
My new Email address is: rljohnson32@coxÆnet
My new phone number is: 702-413-6026

Copyright © 2018 The SCA View-Journal, Inc., All rights reserved. The SCA View Newsletter

Published by Ron Johnson, Email: rljohnson32@coxÆnet, Phone: (702) 413-6026

 

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

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.

Is SCA Board retaining lawful control of the budget?

Just saying that the Board acted “on the advice of counsel” doesn’t cut it

If the Board learned and followed these simple legal requirements, the GM and the attorney would be prevented from taking control of our budget and spending our money for something other than our benefit:

NRS 116.31151 (1)(a) requires the Board to prepare and distribute to owners a “budget for the daily operations of the association” which per CC&Rs 8.1(d) is deemed ratified “Unless 90% of all Owners reject the budget…”
The budget is distributed as required and is always ratified. No surprise. Hard to imagine 90% of all owners being mobilized to object to any budget the Board puts forward, but at least everybody knows what expenditures the Board has approved. 

NRS 116A.620 (1)(i) requires any management agreement to define spending limits for the GM.
Here’s the start of the slippery slope toward abdicationSCA Board and GM did not execute a management agreement nor have spending limits for the GM been defined. Pretty easy to rob Peter to pay Paul and then blame Peter for the missing money.

Per SCA bylaws 3.20, the SCA Board is prohibited from delegating policy control over the budget or, for that matter, deciding the amount of assessments, or deciding who can open bank accounts or sign checks or enforce the governing documents.
Here’s where SCA is really careening down that slippery slope. SCA is unprotected by not the Board not defining GM spending limits or service-level expectations in the legally-mandated terms of a management agreement.
Of course, without an agreement, the GM is not legally protected either. She is just an “at-will” employee, meaning she can be fired for any reason or no reason, just not a discriminatory reason. Her terms & conditions of employment are defined in the SCA Personnel Handbook and nowhere else.
But, don’t feel sorry for her. Not only does the Board coddle her, the SCA attorney has
 magically , albeit unethically, created “rights” for the GM that do not exist in black letter law and which are in direct conflict to the interests of the membership.

SCA bylaws 4.6 requires two Board members must sign all checks for any amount, and bylaws 3.25 requires that directors act on an informed basis while carrying out this duty, i.e., sign a check only if it is for something that has been approved in the budget.
Two Board members do sign all checks, but they may as well let the GM use a rubber stamp.

SCA Board Policy Manual 4.10 limits authority to request legal opinions to the Board as a whole or, in narrowly defined circumstances, to the President for the purpose of “…assessing the legal risks on actions under consideration…”. This provision specifically limits the GM’s authority to “…contact legal counsel regarding NRS 116 or other compliance issues…” not to act only “on the advice of counsel”. The SCA-Clarkson Law Group legal services agreement ONLY allows the attorney to provide legal opinions in response to specific Board requests. The attorney has NO decision-making authority over SCA policies.
Previous Boards had enough common sense to govern SCA without having to spend four times the budget to get the attorney to bless every action before it’s taken.
But then, Clarkson is a bully who has, using tactics bordering on elder abuse, and in clear violation of his professional standards of conduct, convinced the Board that it is a violation of their fiduciary duty to act without consulting him even in areas outside his firm’s practice specialty.
As a result, the President and the GM blithely use the attorney far in excess of what is legally permissible for self-serving purposes and in defiance of all common sense.

In conclusion…

The GM’s takeover of the SCA budget is happening on a grand scale because the attorney has blessed it (thereby being unjustly enriched), and the Board (who thereby gets to stay in power) self-righteously allows such foolishness as:

  • Spending an unbudgeted $85,000 for a CPA to do the Election Committee’s normal job to mess up the recall election was allowed by the GM solely “upon the advice of counsel”, but absent the inconvenience of legal Board action.
  • Six months spending for legal services was approved in the budget to cap at $45,000, but four times that amount, $185,000, was spent by the GM without any formal Board action to approve it and without conforming to the laws governing civil actions (NRS 116.31088), or sanctions for violations of governing documents (NRS 116.31085, CC&Rs 7.4) or limits on authority of the Board (NRS 116.3103, NRS 116.31036, NRS 116.31084) or owners rights (NRS 116.1104, NRS 116.31083, NRS 116.31175), or good faith  (NRS 116.1113, NRS 116.1112), and prohibition against harassment and retaliation (NRS 116.31183, NRS 116.31184).

I’m as amazed as you are at their gall.

Who benefits from spending SCA homeowners’ money?

Assessments levied against the unit owners’ property can only be used for the sole and exclusive benefit of the membership of the Association, e.g., maintenance of the common areas, actions to protect the property values of all our homes, preserving amenities and high quality lifestyle.

It is not ever acceptable for the Board, the GM or the attorney to put their personal, financial or political interests ahead of the interests of owners AKA “the common good“.

Therefore, allowing SCA management or agents to spend owners’ money for highly controversial and unbudgeted purposes that provide no benefit to SCA membership should not be tolerated.

Board decisions must always be evaluated against the standard of “Who benefits by it?
If the answer is anybody or anything other than “the common good“, don’t do it.

Here are some examples where no benefit accrued to “the common good“, but they did it anyway.

  • The SCA membership lost when the Board vindictively evicted the Foundation Assisting Seniors after the GM failed to mediate a mutually-acceptable solution to CSG’s problems, blamed the Foundation President, and made up a silly story to justify forcing members to pay more after damaging a valued community resource.
  • Paying $85,000 for a CPA to conduct the recall election in a manner designed to keep the current Board majority from being recalled for cause provided no benefit to the association. It was more than a waste of owners’ money to keep those Board members in power. It allowed the attorney and the GM to keep their over-compensated jobs, too.
  • Paying untold thousands of dollars to make repeated threats of frivolous litigation of defamation against a Board member and unlawful orders for her to  cease & desist making inquiries regarding GM compensation clearly wasted owners’ money. It’s easy to see how using the attorney this way was protecting the GM and her fat paycheck. But, it’s impossible to see how such extreme action was protecting the association.
  • There is no benefit to the association for the Board to unlawfully remove an elected Board member on the false charge that she is making a profit from her Board position. It is simply a power trip and a nasty way of showing 2,000 voters that their votes don’t matter.