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.

Evicted FAS has new home near Sun City Anthem

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating Rex’s Self-Management Report Card

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

SCA made the right decision to be self managed.

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

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

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

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

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

False. This Board scores an unequivocal F.

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

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

No 2018 assessment increase.

True, but the grade is still D.

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

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

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

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

False. The grade is D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of HOA do we want SCA to be?

And what owners can do to make it that way

Taking a cue from Jim Mayfield’s article “Distinctions between Governance and Management” re-published below, here are a few action items.
In italics: how I see things are currently being done around here.

  1. Encourage owners to run for the Board who are willing to contribute to creating more transparent, competent and accountable governance, or volunteer to serve yourself.
    There is a battle for control of the Board between those who want a fair and open system created that’s good for all owners vs. those in power who want to keep centralized control by excluding anyone who has complained about this GM or who signed a recall petition. 
  2. Utilize the expertise of residents on a Personnel Committee to protect SCA against employer liability, to propose GM performance standards using customer ratings and  objective measures to prevent excessive executive compensation.
    These functions currently are done, if at all, by 1-2 Board members who don’t have the requisite skills, and the Board and GM have acted unlawfully to block necessary owner oversight.
  3. Require the GM to utilize an inclusive process and resident expertise to recommend goals and strategic plans to bring SCA back to be #1 Active Adult Community in USA.
    SCA had this #1 rating in 2011, but has slipped, and we currently have no adopted goals or shared vision about how to get SCA back on top.  Instead, the Board abdicates to a GM who has not evidenced any strategic approach to lessening owner dissatisfactions or community divisions.
  4. Demand that governance be completely transparent to owners.
    Right now, the Board pays lip service to improving owner communications, but allows the GM to use the attorney to conceal SCA records for reasons other than serving the best interests of the association. This secrecy allows SCA owners to be put at risk of being bilked by SCA agents, and it inhibits the SCA Board from being held fully accountable for its duty of care to owners.
  5. Get control of the budget out of the hands of the GM. Although the law prohibits the Board from delegating policy decisions about the budget and prohibits the GM from expending funds for unbudgeted purposes, the blurring of the lines of authority regularly occurs, and owners just have to pay the bill.
Former Director thinks SCA Board chose wrong path
Jim Mayfield served six years as an independent voice on the SCA Board. His experience with fractured governance in the last couple of years had some interesting parallels to what I  suffered during my short tenure:
  • President, GM, and attorney exerting excessive self-interested power;
  • Board rejecting any owner oversight and
  • punishing owners or individual Board members who complained.

Jim’s comments in his article, published in the November issue of the Community Association Institute magazine is re-published here with his permission.   – Nona

“Two and a half years ago, the Board was offered a clear choice between two forms of governance.
One form was the legal model embedded in NRS 116 and approved by CAI.  This form is based upon a model in which all elected Board members are considered equals and participate in a transparent, collaborative relationship, and the President (CEO) is directed by the Board and speaks only for the Board.  It also establishes the major responsibility is to protect homeowner rights and to establish processes for oversight of management.  This is the model described in the above article that was published in November.
The second form is a dictatorship that empowers the President (CEO) to exercise dictatorial powers, makes decisions, imposes his/her decisions on the Board (the Board reports to the President).  This model sees its primary responsibility to represent and protect management from the homeowners.  The model also expands the ability of the President, Board, and GM to operate in secret meetings and to empower its attorneys to use legal process to accomplish its objectives and those of the GM.
SCA is now reaping the fruits of this decision.  I hope all persons thinking about running for the Board in 2018 will read the article and commit to the principles outline therein.” -Jim Mayfield (see Page 10 in link below.)

Is SCA Board protecting owners from scams?

Owner oversight, the bedrock of good HOA governance, has been decimated by this Board

SCA Board has gone a step further than just emasculating owner oversight by committees. It has also developed a self-righteous strategy to delegitimize ALL owner complaints about Board members, the attorney, and the GM (performance, pay, and recall election interference).

Their claim,

“It’s just CAVE (Complainers About Virtually Everything) people”,

has worked well for the Board (kept the majority in power). But, there is a huge downside. Marginalizing a large segment of the community has not been good for SCA as a whole and has divided the community into factions.

SCA Board refuses to listen to both sides of the story and acts according to their own spin

The Board puts the entire SCA community at risk by arrogantly ignoring well-substantiated complaints simply because they don’t agree with the complaint, or don’t like the person who complained. They’re not doing their job if they don’t address these issues fairly:

  • Paying the GM $100,000+ over the market rate for the job without having done any due diligence;
  • Allowing the GM to compensate at least two other managers double the going rate for their jobs;
  • Refusing to allow ANY owner oversight of personnel matters;
  • Having no system for GM accountability – no management agreement, no performance standards, no salary survey or bonus criteria, no spending limits, no insurance requirements, no written terms & conditions of employment;
  • Allowing the GM & attorney to unfairly influence the recall election in their favor;
  • Abdicating control of the budget to highly compensated agents;
  • Blaming the recall proponents for the GM expending $85,000 for an incompetent execution of the petition counting and ballot distribution/collection which benefitted at least one Board member unfairly;
  • Making unbudgeted expenditures of more than $150,000 in six months over the normal budget for Legal Services which is in conflict with NRS and SCA bylaws provisions as well as defies good common sense.

The Board either has refused to respond AT ALL to these issues, or worse, has used SCA official communications (as well as its sympathetic blogger) to viciously attack whoever speaks up about these Board failures to properly govern.

Worse still, the attorney enables the Board’s dysfunctional (lack of) response to owner complaints by wrongly advising that the Board and the GM don’t have to answer.

Good governance = a fair and open system

Good governance depends on a fair and open system that SCA has yet to develop.

Good governance can best (and perhaps only) be guaranteed if there is a transparent system of checks and balances to prevent fraud, errors, and omissions.

Owner oversight is the bedrock of a good governance system in any public agency or in any non-profit corporation like SCA is.  Owners (like taxpayers or donors) are ultimately responsible for footing the bill.

Agents and elected officials are there to serve the owners and not the other way around.

SCA Board, GM and attorney have a lot to learn before they can claim SCA has a system of good governance. They act as if SCA agents and the Board are co-equal branches of the association/government and that the owners are like wards of the court. This is nuts.

What if you contracted with a Realtor to sell your house, and he refused a great offer without telling you? What if he failed to disclose a relationship with a different potential buyer that he was pushing? I imagine you’d fire him and get somebody that would work SOLELY to get you the best deal.

It’s the same with SCA agents. It is their duty work SOLELY and EXCLUSIVELY in the best interest of the SCA membership. It is unlawful for them to put their self-interest before the best interests of the owners, but it’s a little harder to see what’s going on if the Board is helping (even if unwittingly) the agents  to act in ways that are not the best for the owners.

It is a major failure of the Board’s duty of care to the membership to abdicate, i.e., just hand over to SCA agents independent authority, power and rights over SCA policy and our wallets that neither you nor I would so cavalierly hand over to agents in our personal lives.

 

December 7 Board meeting wrap-up: Part 3 Board owner communications

 

Board Communications Task Force Report

Rex appointed two Board members (and no owners) to propose solutions to poor Board-owner communications. This is like appointing two members from Anthem Council to propose solutions to communication problems between SCA and Anthem Council. Not involving all stakeholders in the development of shared solutions is a core failing of this Board under Rex.  

Transparency and inclusiveness are not Board values. They seem to be primarily motivated by risk aversion. They are afraid of letting go of control because without clutching onto control, SCA will be sued or stormed by barbarians or something really bad. It’s unfortunately  counterproductive strategy and actually brings on the problems they are trying to avoid.

The Board has the same problem over and over because the Board does not trust or utilize the expertise in the community to bring the community together or to provide  necessary oversight over the GM, oddly referred to as the “self-manager”, or the attorney who have been given more power than is healthy for the organization and been put in inappropriate roles.

For example, the Board should never have assigned the GM to “mediate” the dispute with FAS. A mediation can only be successful if it is conducted by a skilled and disinterested neutral mediator. Acting as if that structure had a snowball’s chance in hell of working is like Jered Kushner claiming he could mediate a two-state solution after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Even if Kushner had some skill, the message that about which side the mediator is on overpowers any individual skill or pretense at neutrality.

Suggestion: timing of first owner comment period

Tim Stibbins suggested that the first owner comment period should be after the President’s report because Rex does not put his remarks in writing in the draft Board book. (I say this suggestion would enhance protection of owners’ rights. Rex frequently self-servingly biases his President’s report to obfuscate that he personally usurps and/or abdicates the authority of the Board, e.g., to create false legitimacy for executive session actions or to conceal them instead of noting such actions properly in minutes.)

Rex unhelpfully suggested that maybe owner comments should be after the GM’s report since hers wasn’t in the draft Board book either. Tim said fine, but that was less important, and then the matter was dropped. (Do you think any action will be taken on this request?)

Anthem Council  – November 16 meeting

No report.

When they kicked me off the Board, they also kicked me off as SCA’s representative to the Anthem Council even though there is no requirement that SCA’s rep be a Board member. After all, Jean Capillupo was just leaving the at-large seat on Anthem Council in which she served even though she was n longer on the SCA Board. I guess they thought I could make a profit from sitting on the Anthem Council or i was somehow going to cost the owners money by my service.

Anyway, my replacement did not file a report to the Board about what happened at the November 16 Anthem Council meeting. So, I guess we’ll never know.

December 7 Board meeting wrap up: Part 1

It was my birthday and I had a golf clinic at 3:30, but I dragged myself there and listened to the audio of the part I missed. Spoiler alert – there is no recommendation on the restaurant and the Board does not blame itself for anything wrong: nothing wrong with the transition to self-management; FAS eviction was all Favil West’s fault, and the $85,000 spent so far on the recall was all the fault of the petitioners.

Owner Comments: $10K for medical equipment

Roger Cooper, SCA owner since 1999 commented on item 12g, the Community Service group’s recommendation for “Approval of an expenditure up to $10,000 to purchase durable medical equipment” (to replace what was previously provided by the Foundation Assisting Seniors (FAS).

Accurately assessing that this is a drop in the bucket of the cost of replacing what FAS was providing free, Roger said that this medical equipment request of $10,000 was just the beginning of a bottomless pit.

Emile Girard had a lot to say (loudly) about this item both at the first comment period and when the item came up on the agenda. Emile highly complimented the Board and the CSG for their good works while he stridently blamed Favil West for everything except the weather: Favil didn’t negotiate to stop FAS’ eviction, even sending out a postcard about service interruption was vindictive and revenge.

Emile apologized for his emotional rant, but Rex welcomed his attack on Favil in a way that was a far cry from Rex’ oft-stated policy to stop speakers from making personal comments about other owners. (Rex certainly stopped me cold when an innocuous comment of mine included a unit owner by name.) Emile is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the meeting chair is not entitled to allow personal attacks when he agrees with them and shut owners up if he doesn’t.

Rex even passed along an untrue rumor stating that FAS was moving out of the area, but I am informed by a FAS Board member that FAS has rented a space not too far from Von’s.

Construction Defect Litigation

Construction defect lawsuit on Liberty Center is in mediation. There was one session in November and there will be others until it goes to trial in 2019. (Rex’s comment that SCA has not changed any of our demands disturbed me a little bit as an odd choice of information tidbit to share with the members. It leaves the impression that he personally approaches mediation with a “my way or the highway” attitude which is the antithesis of the good faith needed to achieve a win-win solution.)

Surplus Funds

I don’t even want to get into the issue about surplus funds, but they changed the minimum acceptable equity level from $500,000 to $250,000 as recommended by the Finance Committee. It’s not my issue, but it might be of concern to owners on fixed incomes who would like the Board to refund the excess to owners or reducing the assessments going forward rather than collecting more than is needed for annual operating costs.

Recall Costs

CFO Jim Orlick reported that the costs for the recall through November approximate $85,000, and I would like to report that I consider that expenditure an egregious failure of the Board’s duty of care to the membership.

It is an beyond disingenuous for Rex, the GM and the attorney to pretend that these expenditures were made in the best interest of the membership. They ordered these unbudgeted payments in violation of NRS, SCA bylaws, the Board Policy Manual the SCA Election & Voting Manual and prevented the Election Committee from performing their chartered duties as volunteers. They should be held accountable for it.

Director Comment Period is awash in self-righteous indignation

Bob Burch spoke at length about his opinion of the recall which he said was because of the Foundation, the vendor issue with the Clubs, and poor communication on less visible issues. He said the recall was caused by a “perfect storm”. He offered a semi-apology to the Clubs for not informing them of the insurance and business license changes, which he then negated by saying that vendors should have business licenses and insurance is a real problem for HOAs. He did not seem to see the real issue as being the autocratic change of practices without prior notice or negotiation with those affected.

Bob’s main point about the FAS eviction was that it didn’t have to happen that way, but still, that it was all FAS’ fault because the Board had bent over backward to be fair. Other people see it quite differently. Please see Favil West’s response that I posted on my campaign website last March. Also, a resident’s answer to refute Bob’s claims published on the AnthemToday blog is worth reading to set the record straight.

Bob read some incendiary passages from  blogs, and tried to elicit sympathy from the audience about how beleaguered Board members are being subjected to such horrible, unwarranted abuse by malcontents.  

Bob echoed Rex’ concerns about how tragic all this abuse of Board members was because it meant that there wouldn’t be qualified people applying for the Board. This is failing to see how the Board is pushing good people away.

What they are really saying is that the petitions to recall four Board members constituted abuse. Such abuse would make qualified people not want to run. Maybe, but more importantly, Bob and his cohorts are doing everything they can to get people who don’t agree with them not to run. 

Totally backward. Qualified people don’t want to serve because of the way the Board treats Directors that don’t “go along to get along”. Who wants to serve on a Board where a majority can just kick a political rival off based on unproven allegations? 

I have spoken to three women who would be excellent on the Board, and they all said they wouldn’t run because they didn’t want to be treated the way I was treated.  

“It’s just not worth it. At my age, I don’t want to deal with it.”

“They are a bunch of ‘good ole boys’ who won’t listen to anyone with good ideas.”

“They’re just on a power trip.”

“I haven’t got thick enough skin to take it.”

Bob, you really need to stop whining about all the abuse that you and the other Directors take after what you and your buddies on the Board did to me.

You, the other male Board members and the attorney ambushed me and accused, berated and attacked me for an hour and a half in July 27 executive session and refused to have an open hearing I requested.

It’s that type of bullying of a person who is supposed to be an equal Director is what drives qualified owners away from wanting to serve on the Board.

But then, I guess you guys already figured that out.

 

 

I need to correct the record distorted by Rex Weddle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 is coming soon.

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