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.

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.