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.

Criminal corruption – best practices continuum

The Issue

Sun City Anthem will only get to be #1 again if we have a Board and GM that are committed to – and capable of – being excellent, and who are not focused on evading detection and accountability for their sins.

The Board brought in an overpaid, autocratic GM who has created or exacerbated problems that are very upsetting to owners.

And the Board did not require that the excessively-compensated GM fix the problems. Instead, the Board brought in a thuggish bully for an attorney who serves as the GM’s hired gun. The GM has ONLY worked well with Board members and owners who support her, and made life miserable for those who don’t.

Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse not only allowed this unacceptable conduct to continue, and they are the explicit beneficiaries of it. They allowed the GM and attorney to interfere with the recall election process in order to unfairly prevent voters from booting them out of office.

Bob and Aletta must be removed from the Board because they have been major contributors to the failings of the transition to self-management. The GM is simply not as good as she should be for the money we are paying.

Here’s the bottom line

I am critical of the Board and the GM when they are willfully negligent and so resistant to instituting best practices that they veer, no, they careen, to the lower end of the spectrum into being bullies and thugs.

What are voters really deciding?

How have incumbents Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse contributed to making Sun City Anthem the best it can be?
  1. Should Bob Burch be voted back in after he publicly berated 800+ petitioners for complaining that this GM is not good enough for SCA?
  2. Should Bob and Aletta be voted back even though they unlawfully allowed the GM to spend over $84,000 for a CPA and $16,000 for the attorney to interfere with the recall election to protect them from owners voting them out?
  3. Should Aletta Waterhouse be voted back in after she voted to evict the Foundation Assisting Seniors, voted in secret to kick me off the Board based on false charges without a trial because I questioned the GM’s value, and has allowed the GM to raise dues  to pay bloated salaries and then punished owners who ask questions — just because Aletta insists these acts were not illegal?

Why should they be re-elected?

My point is Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse should not be re-elected simply because not everything they did during their first term was illegal.

They should be voted out because they refused to address owners’ complaints about the GM and have no system for keeping her vindictiveness in check.

They should be voted out because instead of fixing problems, they made them worse by letting the GM and the attorney make life miserable for anyone who stood up for the owners.

Not everything that’s wrong is also illegal

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

This election is about raising our standards and about getting the bullies out.

The decision to be self-managed is not being questioned.
Everyone agrees SCA should have employees instead or contracting with a management company.

The decision to replace SCA’s former managing agent, FSR, is not the issue.
Everyone agrees that FSR needed to be replaced.

The decision to hire this GM at this rate of pay was the trigger.
Not everyone agrees that decision was right or done according to Hoyle.

It’s about the decision to let the GM rule SCA backed by a hired gun.
Close to no one agrees that is good.

 

Have you no sense of decency, David Berman?

Click on photo for 15 second video. “Have you no sense of decency, Sir?”

The frustrated sentiments of the Army Chief Counsel, Joseph Welch, speaking to Senator McCarthy in 1954  (15-second video above) resonate with me as they speak of a man who has simply gone too far.

I want to express these same feelings to David Berman. I want him to stop his unwarranted and unprovoked attacks against me, and against any other SCA owners, whose only sin has been having the temerity to tell him that he is wrong and that his vitriol is damaging more than to his targeted victims. It is  detrimental to the health and peace of mind of the entire community.

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, Sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Apparently, David also lacks a sense of irony

“When certain folks in our community decide to turn someone they don’t like into a villain, it appears there is no limit to the tactics they will employ to denigrate their targets, even when the “documentation” they disseminate to make their points is demonstrably and provably false.” – David Berman

Projection: Clinical term for “Pot calling the kettle black”

David Berman may be utterly lacking in self-awareness. Or he may believe his own press so much that he doesn’t see anything wrong with the way he treated me over months of totally undeserved attacks he made against me as a Board member which led up to my 8/12/17 notice of intent to take formal action to try to get him to stop.

David Berman lies = false narrative. Who benefits?

The conclusion of my complaint below shows my frustration at being one more in a long line of owners who have been cruelly victimized by David Berman instead of simply being thanked for volunteering to share my expertise.

As this was written two weeks before I was kicked off the Board, I still thought I could accomplish my three stated goals in a two-year term.

Click on photo for 12-page 8/12/17 notice of intent, written 2 weeks before my complaints of their inexcusable harassment and defamation got me kicked off the Board in retaliation of my calling in the authorities.

Please, in the name of all that is holy, just stop

Apparently, just asking David Berman to stop maligning my character was too much to ask.

So, why didn’t I go forward with this complaint?

  • My goal, as you can see in the proposed remedy section, was to get him to stop badgering me and let me be an effective homeowner advocate on the Board. I just wanted him to acknowledge what he was doing was destructive, and then, just not do it.
  • I also wanted to protect the rights of the owners to lawfully collect signatures or sign petitions; and I wanted him to stop his backdoor tricks as OSCAR spokesperson that was interfering with the neutrality of the Election Committee and the recall election.
  • Two-weeks later, I was dumped off the Board, and gratuitously, at the same meeting, formally removed as Election Committee liaison thanks to David Berman’s reframing me into his image. You can see in the email (below) he wrote on 7/22/17 defamed me and empowered the Board to take unjustified and unlawful actions against me. Obviously, since then, I’ve had  had other fish to fry since then.
  • The Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction over complaints of harassment or defamation. These would have to become civil actions for a court to rule on. Just what I need – more attorneys fees to rectify the damages done to me for volunteering. What a fine thank you for my service.

Projection, vilification & no limits to dirty tricks

David Berman sent the defamatory email below to the Board, but this email is the basis for the Election Committee developing the false belief that I had not only released confidential information, but that meant I was a bad person who could not be trusted. David Berman makes false statements about me, maligns my character, but gets away with it. He has quite a hold on the people in power to a level that I consider to be undue influence.

This horrible, hateful email very effectively painted me as an evil person who deserves bad treatment. David Berman has manipulated those in power to encourage them to gang up on me as he has done to others, and in this email he also continues his decade-long use of Bob Frank as an object lesson.

David Berman stirred up the trouble by conjuring up a new evil persona for me out of whole cloth, and then gave the Board and the Election Committee the permission to shun me and treat me like a pariah.

Character assassination by one lacking in character is galling

This is a very big deal to me to have my character maligned in this cruel, insulting and totally abusive manner. I spent a career in public and non-profit service, including administering a civil service system and controlling  personnel, discipline, medical and disability records for the workforce of the 10th largest city in the country.

I was NEVER accused of mishandling confidential information or of violating my fiduciary duty. My trustworthiness and ethics were NEVER questioned.

On the other hand, David Berman has been disciplined for violating his fiduciary duty to his client and forged a judge’s signature to cover it up. If a client had done that, the client would probably have been criminally charged and jailed, but attorneys tend to be reluctant to mete out strong discipline to one of their own.

David Berman’s law license was suspended for a year in 1991, and then he surrendered it. He cannot legally portray himself as an attorney. Yet, many people treat him with deference believing that he is one.

With a disingenuous sleight of hand, he is still able to manipulate people into believing that they should respect his word despite his history of unethical conduct.

It’s even more galling that, at the same time, he uses his considerable skills at palace intrigue to persuade a good chunk of people that they should not trust the word of a woman with a life-long, spotless record of competent and ethical community service.

David Berman got other people to stone an innocent woman while he egged them on.

And then he cries like a baby when the woman starts throwing stones back.

Bravado, just like Gary Hart 

David Berman bizarrely just challenged me to produce evidence of his interference in the recall election in exactly the same manner as Gary Hart self-destructed his Presidential bid by challenging the New York Times to “put a tail on him” before he spent the weekend on his boat, Monkey Business, with a woman not his wife.

Wow, David, if you insist. I have a novella worth.

Times up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

I’m sorry. We weren’t so lucky after all.

I have to take back what I said about the restaurant. I can’t recommend any one of the three bidders.

The process being used was so flawed that it virtually guarantees the same failures as SCA earned in the past.

To use an SNL metaphor, trusting the GM to get this right is like trusting Stevie Wonder to do my grandson’s bris.

Doing the wrong job really well so the right job can’t be done right

There’s no point in even giving you a summary of Tom Nissen’s and Forrest Quinn’s reports – even though they tried really, really hard, and they did a lot of fine work. It was just the wrong job, and doing it that way hijacked their job as Board members.

And worse, by them doing the wrong job, it makes it impossible for the Board as a whole to do its job right.

Remind me, what is the Board’s job?

The Board, working as a unit, sets policy, gives direction and defines financial limits and rules to control the GM. The GM then must design and manage the process for getting done what the Board, as a single entity, told her to do.

The Board must hold the GM accountable to get the job done right, not let her pick a few Board members to do her work or let her keep secret what she’s doing.

That’s why she gets the big, big, big bucks. To my way of thinking, she has a long way to go to prove that she’s worth it to the owners she is here to serve.

The Board must hold the GM accountable for building community consensus before she acts –  even though, as she often complains,

It’s really, really hard. After all, at the end of the day, some owners are just whiners.

The Board should have required the GM to do the job right by:

using a volunteer owner-oversight committee to guide a fair and open process and monitor her use of appropriate experts and/or neutral brokers.

(I know. I’ve been warned that I better be careful talking bad about La Principessa. Last time I criticized her performance on the restaurant, I got a cease & desist letter from her attorney, I mean from SCA’s, attorney that probably cost owner’s a couple grand.)

It makes me so sad I want a drink, and there’s no bar.

Really, it breaks my heart. I still really want a restaurant. Well, actually, I mostly want a great big, long bar with a great, long happy hour, but there are just way, way too many things wrong with the process to even consider proceeding to choose a vendor from this highly selective RFP.

There was too much done without the right people being involved and too much info given to the wrong people. Two Board members were doing the wrong job so they couldn’t do the right one. The GM wasn’t doing her job right.

The workshop really hyper-accentuated what has got to change around here. (I’m sorry. I really hope you don’t have to pay for Clarkson to write me another letter.)

Learn not to swallow poison pills

On the bright side, this is a very valuable lesson. The fatal flaws in this restaurant selection process are the same leadership failures and systemic deficiencies that will doom the viability of self-management, if we let it. But having identified the poison pills, we just need to pay attention. We don’t have to swallow them any more. And, if we do, as SCA’s attorney advises, it’ll be our own fault.

What do poison pills look like?

  • Confusion and blurred lines between the Board and GM roles
  • Board as a single entity not providing adequate direction and limits to GM
  • Board’s failure to hold GM accountable for developing processes to achieve cost-effective results
  • Using 2-member Board work groups or attorneys to propose policy or to do the GM’s job
  • Lack of transparency where it counts
  • Incentives that reward the wrong behavior
  • Relying on the wrong experts, e.g., attorneys everywhere and experts with the requisite skills nowhere
  • Board allowing the GM to block functional owner oversight through refusing to have a committee structure appropriate to self-management
  • Board President’s abuse of authority and attorney to make sure Board members are compliant or are disappeared
  • Cultural pattern of “In-groups” and “Out-groups”

 

What’s being human got to do with it?

We are all more irrational than we think

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

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

Why am I talking about this?

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

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

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

Study #1: The Milgram Experiment

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

How could we use this knowledge?

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

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

Study #2: The Stanford Prison Experiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polly Anna speaking here:

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

The price we all pay

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

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

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

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

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

What happened went I went looking for justice?

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

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

The Officials act official, or was it officious?

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

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

“I’ve already read that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve had this trouble before”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobin appeal to being disqualified as a candidate

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

Tobin Appeal Page 2

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Remember, this is not about me. 

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