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.

How to make your vote REALLY count!

You must vote.

No matter how disenfranchised you feel.

This envelope will be in your mailbox today or Monday.
No problem recognizing your ballot this time.

Do you want to drain the swamp?

Well, your vote will ONLY help clean up this place  if you

DO NOT vote for Aletta Waterhouse or Bob Burch, the two tone-deaf incumbents,

who wiggled out of the recall by allowing the GM to use our money

  • to pay $85,000 to a CPA to takeover the job of the volunteer election committee, and
  • to use the association attorney at $300,000++ in 2017 for reasons unknown, including LOTS of $$$ to screw over owners who weren’t in her corner and  $15,000+ to make sure your vote didn’t count in the removal election process

Vote like this.

Ironic signs have been posted.

(I don’t have time right now to expand on the irony. My grandson’s here for the holiday, and we’re going to see a different magic show tonight.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter! Time for renewal and rebirth!

HOA collection practices cost us all more than you think

What makes our property values go down?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Survey says:
Homeowners are not happy with HOAs

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

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

One of the study’s conclusions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We ALL pay

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

Why do HOA foreclosures lower property values?

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

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

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

So what?

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

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

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

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

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

Did SCA Board members profit at owners’ expense?

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

No other SCA Director profited from any of this either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our cost when agents serve themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound familiar, Mr. Clarkson?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 deserves better. Lord knows we’re paying for it

Self-management is right.
Implementation is wrong.

Mr. Fox, Esq., has been hired to watch the chickens.
The family dog has been left alone with the owners’ cake.

The problems with the implementation of self-management will continue unless the system is changed. Changing Board members won’t make the difference.

The system has to be changed to include owner oversight, checks and balances, and guarantees that owner protections are firmly in place.

Tom Nissen frequently describes the implementation of self-management as “setting up a whole new company”.  In my view, that misunderstanding of SCA as an entity is a crucial part of the problem.

The things that are missing or are being done wrong (anything which is not done 100% for the benefit of the SCA homeowners is WRONG) are being done because the Board members erroneously think SCA should be set up like a company.

SCA is not a company.

  • It is a non-profit corporation incorporated under NRS chapter 82.
  • It is now an employer by virtue of becoming “self-managed”.
  • It is a mutual-benefit corporation that exists solely for the benefit of the owners.
  • It is fully funded by the owners.
  • It is a monopoly and membership is a requirement of ownership.

Why these distinctions are important to owners

Owners who own specified parcels of land (listed in SCA’s CC&Rs) must be in SCA. No owner can withdraw or pick a different competitor HOA. Every lot has the responsibility of paying an equal share of the cost of maintaining the common elements. When a lot is purchased, it carries with it deed restrictions which cannot be escaped. In exchange for agreeing to relinquish certain individual freedoms of choice as to how  owners can use their lots and the common areas, the CC&Rs and state law guarantee certain protections for owners and prospective purchasers to prevent their being sanctioned unfairly, lied to, or treated differently from other owners.

It is the Board’s job to make sure ALL owners comply with the deed restrictions and that ALL owners are protected from unfair enforcement actions.

The Board creates problems when:

  • it doesn’t provide ALL owners equal protection from its actions or the actions of its agents;
  • when it sanctions an individual owner without providing guaranteed due process protections;
  • when it tries to enforce policies or restrictions against a unit owner that don’t exist or are not applied equally to other owners;
  • when it usurps the enforcement authority of the Nevada Commission for Common-Interest Communities by sanctioning a unit owner for an alleged violation of NRS 116.

What is the Board’s enforcement job?

It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that ALL owners comply with the deed restrictions as listed in SCA governing documents, i.e., CC&Rs, bylaws, and any rules and regulations formally adopted by the Board. The Board can only perform this enforcement function if it does so by giving an accused owner the due process protections guaranteed by law, i.e., notice, a hearing, a chance to correct, etc.

Limits on the power of the Board to sanction an Owner

Here are the governing provisions of the law and SCA governing documents that are intended to ensure that the Board protects owners and does not ever allow an owner to be sanctioned without these guaranteed protections having been provided.

  • Click here for NRS 116.31031:Power of executive board to impose fines and other sanctions for violations of governing documents; limitations; procedural requirements
  • Click here for NRS 116.31085.limitations on power of executive board to meet in executive session; procedure governing hearings on alleged violations; requirements concerning minutes of certain meetings.
  • Click here for SCA CC&Rs 7.4, Compliance and Enforcement on page 35.
  • Click here for SCA bylaws 3.26, Enforcement Procedures on page 20.
  • Click here for SCA bylaws 5.2, Deed Restriction Enforcement Committee on page 23.
  • Click here for SCA Board Resolution Establishing the Governing Documents Enforcement Policy and Process
There are more laws to protect owners, but you get the idea.

At SCA, the Board is supposed to serve as the appellate level when there is a charge that an owner has violated the governing documents. The Board is not supposed to initiate actions against owners directly.

First, the issue is handled by the Covenants (aka Deed Restrictions Enforcement) Committee that formally provides the first steps of the due process guaranteed to owners to protect them from being unfairly sanctioned for an alleged failure to comply with the CC&Rs.

If an owner is going to be sanctioned or fined for not following some rule after the Covenants Committee has investigated and heard the case, the owner can still appeal to the Board and can have an open hearing if requested. This system works great except when the Board of the GM decides to bypass it.

SCA governance must be the best fit to protect the owners’ interests, and under self-management, it is not.

SCA CC&Rs and bylaws are not optional.  The Board can’t legally cherry-pick which rules to enforce or make up rules that apply only to certain people. Yet, “on the advice of counsel”, it does.

If the Board claims that taking away an owner’s rights  was justified because it  was done “on the advice of counsel”, it is wrong.

A wrong opinion by the association attorney does not excuse the Board of culpability. It just shows that the Board  used owners’ money to pay a hired gun to mow an owner down.

Owner Oversight is essential, but lacking now

Rex Weddle’s chronic use of Board work groups is ill advised. It guarantees that the Board will not be as well-informed as it could be prior to making decisions affecting all SCA owners’ pocketbooks and lives.

It actually builds conflicts of interest into the system because it differentiates between individual directors access to information and authority. It does not use the best expertise that is freely available. It gives inappropriate power to the President to silence and punish political opponents. It sets does not permit the Board to be fully informed before making decisions. This causes unnecessary liability and risk to SCA and excessive cost to owners because appropriate executive controls are deficient or absent.

A committee structure is needed (NOT Board work groups) that utilizes resident expertise to prevent fraud, mistake and errors by management.

a.     Employment, organizational performance and compensation
b.     Communications and owner relations
c.     Records management and access to governance information
d.     Insurance, safety and risk management
e.     Legal Services
f.      Collections

Why didn’t SCA Board charter owner committees when self-managed Sun City Summerlin offers a successful model?

Apparently because the majority of the board thinks they know what’s best for owners without involving them. Rex Weddle thinks that as President he is the “decider” of who is “authorized” to work on a problem by appointing “Board work groups” and that directors with a different perspective can be excluded just on his say so.

I think differently.
Owners must speak for themselves.

I stand for owners’ rights.
That’s what got me kicked off the Board.
Not the load of crap they are shoveling about me making a profit.

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?

 

 

Who will allowed to speak at today’s 2 PM SCA Board candidate forum ?

Who is running and deemed eligible?

10 owners self-nominated for the Board
7  cleared whatever vetting the GM and attorney dreamed up
2  did not pass muster, but will remain unnamed for unknown reasons
1  was declared ineligible in yet-another $325/hour attorney letter.
4 candidates who did not show up on 2/13 were included in the drawing for ballot position
2 of the 4 no shows on 2/13 did not send a rep and did not send regrets
1  candidate (Nona Tobin) showed up on 2/13, but was prohibited from drawing for a ballot position because, of course, she is a monster.

What happened to the other two nameless candidates who were gone in the first round?

The unnecessary secrecy makes me suspect that the GM’s implying that 3 owners were ineligible (deeming anyone ineligible to run is unprecedented) was a sham to cover up how I have been singled out and wrongfully disqualified by the attorney asserting the same false charges used to unlawfully kick me off the Board last August which was done without legal authority, without a requested open hearing and without any appeal or equal time to contradict the defamatory statements they’ve published about me.

Who are the 7 candidates whose names will appear on the ballot?

The candidates are listed  above in the order assigned to them by which lot was drawn for them at the 2/13/18 Election Committee meeting.

Two of the listed candidates – Vickie Lisotto and Cliff Wigen – did not show up for the drawing, Nevertheless, the Election Committee drew ballot positions for them without knowing whether Vickie or Cliff were even still interested in  running. They thought it was the only fair thing to do since they were absent. They apparently didn’t see anything wrong with prohibiting me from drawing a ballot number even though I was present and I had submitted an appeal.

What if there are only five candidates and four openings?

If Vickie and Cliff drop out, or were shills to begin with, and the Board is vindictive and disingenuous enough to insist I am a such a financial threat to SCA that I must be kept out of the race, there will only be five candidates for four seats.

This means that at least one of the two incumbents, Aletta and Bob, will get re-elected, despite the fact that they usurped the rights of the 2,000 owners who voted for me when Aletta and Bob voted to unlawfully kick me off the Board at exactly the same time that they were themselves were the subjects of recall petitions signed by 800+ owners.

Don’t forget that Aletta and Bob voted to spend almost $90,000 of owners’ money to pay a CPA and the attorney to botch the recall election so they could keep their seats and the attorney and the GM could keep their big, fat jobs.

Very convenient for Bob Burch and Aletta Waterhouse who have tried to ruin my reputation by saying that I deserved to be kicked off without any recourse and who personally benefit from knocking me out of the competition.

I guess nobody in power sees a problem with that.

Notes on Incumbents

  • Robert (Bob) Burch has been on the Board one term. He has not been an officer, but he has been instrumental in causing serious deterioration in owner oversight, the personnel and compensation policy areas, has aggressively attacked owners who signed the petitions of no confidence in the GM or who signed petitions to recall four of the directors. He failed to disclose that he has lived across the street from 2763 White Sage, the property that is subject to my quiet title litigation and two other lawsuits.  and he voted to force me to recuse myself from all collection matters even though he voted against me and voted to kick me off the Board over the litigation about that same house. Bob should be questioned about his reasons for refusing to address any of the owners’ concerns listed in the petitions for an election to remove him from the Board.
  • Aletta Waterhouse is Board Secretary and a two-year incumbent who was the subject of a petition and a vote for removal from the Board. She needs to be held accountable for her failure as the Secretary to ensure that the agendas, minutes, and other documents were not corrupted by error, negligence or fraud.
  • Both Bob and Aletta should be questioned and need to be held accountable for their actions as Board members in kicking me off the Board, refusing to respond to any of the concerns owners raised in their petitions, for concealing information that is legally accessible to owners, and for harassing and retaliating against me, for tolerating significant misconduct on the part of the GM is threatening frivolous litigation, using the association attorney as her personal attorney, and for allowing the GM and attorney to expend unbudgeted funds
  • James Coleman was hand-picked last August without any competitive process in violation of SCA bylaws 3.6 to fill my Board seat after the 6 other directors unlawfully kicked me off. Jim was not involved in any of the decisions that led to my being kicked off unlawfully off the Board and did not vote on any of the myriad foolishness the other two incumbents participated in.

Suggested Questions for today’s Board Candidate Forum

Here are some questions I hope somebody will ask the candidates today.
I would ask them myself, but you know, it’s the kiss of death when the words pass my lips…

Ask Aletta Waterhouse

  1. Did the Board vote in executive session to give the GM another bonus  after 800+ people complained and petitioned for a vote of no confidence?
  2. Why didn’t the Board follow the equitable enforcement procedures (notice, hearing, right to present evidence, witnesses, appeal in SCA CC&Rs 7.4, p. 35 and bylaws 3.26, p. 20) when the Foundation was evicted, when SCA forecloses on someone’s home, or when 6 of you kicked Nona Tobin off the Board?
  3. that are fair to owners except when the Board is taking action against  Why as Secretary did you allow the Board to meet in secret (no notice, no agenda) to take actions against owners without giving them a chance to defend themselves?
  4. Why didn’t you answer any of the complaints against you in the petition calling for an election to remove you from the Board?
  5. Why did you and Bob Burch recommend to eliminate the Golf Course Liaison Committee, the Communication Committee and gut the Property and Grounds Committee?
  6. Why did you vote to evict the Foundation Assisting Seniors?
  7. Why did you refuse to vote for proposed owner-oversight committees that are needed under self-management to control costs and prevent waste and fraud
    1. Communications
    2. HR and compensation
    3. Legal Services
    4. Investment
    5. Insurance
    6. Collections
  8. Isn’t a little arrogant to use 2-person Board “work groups” as if they would be more knowledgeable and achieve better results than owner-oversight committees comprised of resident experts, like the Finance Committee?
  9. Why did you ignore it when you personally were put on notice that the former debt collector had filed chapter 7 bankruptcy and SCA was at risk by continuing to contract with their sham successor  LLC?
  10. Why did you join 5 other directors to secretly vote to remove Nona Tobin from the Board when no one signed a petition to remove her, like 800+ people signed to remove you?
  11. Why have you abdicated policy control over the budget to the GM and the attorney even though our bylaws prohibit it and 2017 legal expenditures were $321,110 instead of the $90,000 budgeted and $38,000 has already been spent for legal fees January 2018 alone?
  12. Don’t you think having one firm be SCA legal counsel and SCA debt collector is a potential conflict of interest?
    1. What “Director Issues” cost $39,635 in attorney fees? Dumping Nona Tobin? That’s pretty high for a wham-bam process like a Muslim divorce where the man just says, “I divorce thee” three times and it’s done.
    2. Why did you let them spend $84,866 for a CPA to do a sloppy job on the recall election when the proponents of the recall supported letting the election Committee do their normal job?
    3. Why wasn’t there a bidding process for the CPA? Whose friend was he?
  13. Why should anyone vote for you when you always say that you are just following the advice of counsel?
  14. Why do we need you, or a Board for that matter, if you let the attorney and the GM take over?
  15. Why as BOD secretary did you allow the miutes of meetings to be falsified, e.g., to refuse to correct the minutes of the 7/13 executive session. It was not an emergency. You did not notify Nona to attend. The topic was false on this and 7/27 and 8/24. Why is that ok if you benefitted by lying on the official record and by
  16. that Nona had been excluded and not allowed to vote

Ask 2-year incumbent Robert Burch

Many of the questions to Aletta also could be asked of Bob. He wasn’t the Secretary but he should answer to why he voted me off the island for quiet title litigation when he has the potential conflict of interest that he lived across the street from the house I’m fighting to get back for 15 years, and those neighbors are certainly not neutral.

  1. Why have you consistently voted against meaningful owner oversight?
  2. Did you vote in executive session to give the GM a raise for 2018?
  3. Why do you think the right way to deal with owner complaints is to chastise them at BOD meetings for signing petitions or otherwise legally registering their disapproval of your performance or the GM’s?
  4. Why did you think you and 5 other BOD members could vote in secret to remove Nona from the BOD and block her from running again when over 800 signatures on a petition to remove you wasn’t deemed legally sufficient to remove you from the BOD?

Ask James Coleman, appointed in fill my seat 9/17

  1. When and how were you approached to sit on the Board?
  2. Do you think that your appointment was fair to others who might have wanted to be considered for appointment?
  3. What were you told was the reason that you could be appointed without any competitive process or notice to owners when the SCA bylaws 3.6 (p. 11) say otherwise?
  4. When you started last September you talked about values. Is one of your values creating meaningful owner involvement in governance?
  5. Why do you think having 2-board members be the Board-owner communication work group is more likely to come up with better proposals than a work group that includes owners?

General Questions

  1. What are your values and principles that would guide your decision-making?
  2. What do you think you could do to improve the performance of the Board in terms of responsiveness to owner concerns?
  3. Will you “Go along to get along” or will you speak up if the Board is not protecting the owners first?