Part 2: Secret meetings in general

This is the second part of my 6/6/18 email to the NRED Chief Investigator and Ombudsman to clarify NRED’s process for ensuring that
1. the rights of homeowners in HOAs are protected,
2. Nevada statutes are uniformly enforced, and
3. Board members or HOA agents suffer consequences when they fail to act as fiduciaries.

Issa Anale’a didn’t make us wait as long as NRED

Why has NRED needed more than nine months?

Tomorrow, I’ll see what NRED Chief Investigator’s perspective is on the 6/6/18 email I am sharing below in Part 2 “Secret meetings”, in the previous blog, “Why so quiet?“, and in the final part 3, “In case you don’t think this is enough evidence”

Part 2: Secret meetings in general

The second complaint was that the Board deliberates in secret meetings.  This complaint being dismissed perfunctorily is also problematic. It appears as if NRED condones a pervasive pattern at SCA of decisions being made by the Board, the attorney, the GM or individual directors without proper action by the Board in open session.

It also appears that there are no consequences if SCA Board is not compliant with NRS 116.31083, NRS 116.31085, or SCA governing documents.

NRED previously instructed SCA on this point

Previous NRED officials have issued letters of instruction (attached to previous email) to require statutory conformance (with owner protection laws) which SCA now ignores.

I, as well as other SCA residents, have alleged that, currently, many Board decisions are made improperly, i.e.,

  • in group emails,
  • in “workshops”,
  • in improperly noticed meetings,
  • private Board training (no notice, agenda or minutes) sessions which are
    • deemed “attorney-client” privilege while
    • simultaneously are deemed to NOT be executive sessions, but of which recording is prohibited:
  • meetings or email chains involving only a few Board members or which pointedly exclude dissenting directors
What does it mean when the NRED investigation of these complaints just stops without a finding?

Obviously, the SCA Board was notified that SCA has won by default, but apparently the owner who complained was not.

As Bob Burch said,

Both complaints were closed without any action being taken against the Association when the division determined that there was no good cause to continue with the investigation. In other words, we prevailed.

This is essentially what has occurred in 100% of the cases filed in the past year.

Is that NRED’s intent? 

  • Does NRED really intend to say that this Board conduct, that has generated many owner complaints, is permissible despite the Board’s failure to meet the requirements of NRS 116.31183 or NRS 116.31085?
  • Or are you not convinced that the complainants accurately reported impermissible acts?
  • Does NRED’s investigative protocol permit your investigator to rely on information provided by the HOA, but prohibit further investigation by seeking additional information, or at least a response, from the complainant?

Whose call is it anyway?

NRED needs to be aware that at SCA, Board decisions are routinely made by the GM or attorney in policy areas in which the Board is prohibited from delegating by SCA bylaws 3.20 and 3.18 pursuant to NRS 116.3106(1)(d).

These wrong parties (the GM, the attorney, a subset of the Board) falsely claim the Board made decisions that the Board didn’t make correctly, or worse, didn’t make at all, e.g.,

  • hiring debt collectors without an RFP (competitive process),
  • increasing group exercise user fees,
  • failing to comply with the Election & Voting Manual in the 2017 recall election,
  • hiring a CPA without a contract or an RFP to do the volunteer Election Committee’s job,
  • paying that CPA and attorneys, at a $100,000+ un-budgeted combined cost, to usurp the recall election process,
  • over-expending the legal fees budget by $200,000+ in 2017,
  • taking punitive actions, without legal authority, against me as a Board member and unit owner, i.e., threatening letters and kicking me off the Board in retaliation for my complaints and records requests,
  • authorizing the use of owners’ money to pay for the association attorney
    • to appear in the GM’s divorce and
    • to withhold SCA records in discovery that had been previously released to OSCAR, the anti-recall group.
When the NRED investigation into these actions just stops, or maybe never even starts, what does it mean?
  • Is abdication and usurping of Board authority okay in NRED’s view?
  • Does NRED need more documentation and more specific examples to establish that this practice is occurring?

What else does NRED need to stop this?

Here is a link to a www.SCAstrong.com blog, “If they had only known, part 3” that gives some examples of GM decisions that resulted in election interference, hiring bankrupt or conflicted debt collectors without due diligence or following proper procedure, a biased selection of a restaurant vendor (that is not proceeding for unknown reasons, leaving SCA with no restaurant for 2 1/2+ years and counting).

I can also provide you links to the actual documents that are are evidence of these and other specific incidences if NRED needs more documentation to make a finding and prohibit agents from taking advantage of SCA.

Coming up:

Part 3: In case you don’t think this is enough evidence

Why so quiet?

Sorry for the big break in my updates about SCA shenanigans.

I’m in California for some family events,

Nathaniel graduated

and a new granddaughter due any minute

But, while we’re waiting for the next big thing, I’ll tell you

The real cause for pause

After a fun-filled trip to Mexico, I dragged myself to the May 24 Board meeting. I was immediately stunned by the President’s report that NRED had stopped investigating two complaints that impacted me.

I wondered if NRED’s practice was to rely on management or agents rather than get the whole story. I hoped not. But, I had a sinking feeling…

Ordinarily, I would have posted something right away, but I decided to talk to NRED’s new chief investigator, Terry Wheaton, first. Multiple attempts to set up a meeting were unsuccessful so I documented my concerns in writing.

It is even longer than my usual missives, so I’ll break it up for you. It was full of hyperlinks to the actual evidentiary documents. I will break the links in this public distribution, just in case, my transparency forces the SCA Board and GM to claim it is their fiduciary duty to pay the attorney $10,000+ to threaten to sue me to kingdom come.

Part 1 of email to NRED

Fwd: Issues related to dismissed and open investigations; NRED Letters of Instruction to SCA

I am writing you now to document my concerns and request that you evaluate these documents before there is a final determination on my form 514a, 781, and three form 530 complaints  (harassment/retaliation, recall election interference, and for removing me from the Board without complying with NRS 116.31036 on false and unproven charges that I had placed matters before the Board from which I stood to make a profit.

1. NRED investigations are closed without notice or reason

In March, I raised this concern to Christina Pitch in the email I am forwarding here. You can see her response. However, the pattern of NRED closing complaints without a clear, legally defensible, equitable resolution seems to be continuing.

At the last Sun City Anthem Board meeting on 5/24/18, the new President Bob Burch made the following claims in his President’s report which were extremely disheartening because I have received no communication from NRED about these issues which intimately affect me and about which I have formally filed affidavits and declarations.

President’s report

Next, I would like to report that we have been advised by the Nevada Real Estate Division that two complaints filed against the Association have been closed. In one case, it was alleged that the Executive Board held an emergency meeting on July 18, 2017 to discuss employer liability and that the meeting did not meet the requirements for an ‘emergency’ under NRS116. In the second case, it was alleged that the Executive Board held secret meetings beginning in March or April 2017 in which appointments to committees were agreed upon and Association business was decided upon. Both complaints were closed without any action being taken against the Association when the division determined that there was no good cause to continue with the investigation. In other words, we prevailed.  – Bob Burch, 5/24/18

What does “no good cause to continue the investigation” mean?

Does NRED condone or just not care?

Dismissed complaint 1: July 13 “emergency” executive session

In my view, having a Board meeting without notifying me for the other six directors to approve a cease & desist order against me was an unlawful abuse of authority and certainly not an emergency.

What does NRED think?

Does NRED’s closing the complaint investigation without disciplinary action against SCA mean:

  • That NRED says it’s okay for the GM to fail to give me, an elected Board member, ANY verbal or written notice that the Board I was elected to was being called into an “emergency” executive session two hours after I was standing in her office being denied access to ANY SCA records despite NRS 116.31175 and SCA bylaws 6.4(c)?
  • That NRED says it’s okay for a GM, an at-will employee, to use the association attorney at SCA owner expense to threaten litigation against SCA (her employer) and me, a Board member, personally for creating “employer liability” for asking for justification for her being paid double the market rate and criticizing her performance and judgment despite NAC 116A.345(5)?
  • That NRED says it’s okay for six Board members to meet without and issue orders against me, the seventh EQUAL, ELECTED Board member, to limit authority as a Board member, restrict my duties, TOTALLY restrict my access to information needed to make decisions as a Board member, and restrict my right to vote on an equal basis with the other directors despite the prohibitions in NRS 116.3103(2)(d)?
  • That NRED says it actually was an emergency as defined by NRS 116.31183(12) affecting the health, safety and welfare of the community for 6/7 of the SCA Board to meet to order me, the seventh, to stop asking for a verification of the GM’s former salary and to reprimand me, without legal authority, for asking the GM to reconsider a ruling she made to prevent equal time in SCA official publications for a proponent of the recall election?
  • That NRED says that six members of the Board constitutes a quorum, and they (6 of 7) can meet in executive session to make decisions for the Board as a whole or to take action against the seventh Board member even if the six directors prevent the seventh Board member, despite the limitations defined in NRS 116.31185 or NRS 116.3103(2)(d),
    • from attending their secret session,
    • from voting, or even
    • from knowing their secret meeting is going to occur ?
  • That NRED doesn’t care that the SCA Board failed to comply with multiple provisions of state law and SCA governing documents?
Or is NRED saying
these owner complaints are frivolous and aren’t serious matters worthy of at least a complete investigation?

That meeting, actually held on 7/13/17, had numerous flaws which I spelled out to NRED in form 514a on pages 4-5 and claims are  supported by written evidence.

I now have a meeting scheduled for June 18.

Next time

Part 2: Secret meetings in general

 

If they had only known… Part 3

Owners pay a high price for Board ignorance

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

How can NRED training help the Board do right?

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

The process determines the result

Poor process = poor results

Board failures of the “duty of care”

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

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

Board must learn the rules

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


Lessons the Board has yet to learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Restaurant RFP mistakes

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

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

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

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

Who cares about debt collection?

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

Remember, abdicating debt collection is:

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

 

 

 

Why SCA now pays so much in unnecessary legal fees

Adam Clarkson trained the Board,

and he has convinced them that the budget doesn’t matter when it comes to legal fees.

The Board, following Rex’s leadership, foolishly insisted that the 2017 Board training be conducted in secret by Adam Clarkson.

Despite the excellent free training programs available through NRED, the Board refused to allow owners to see how they were being trained to abdicate their decision-making authority.

And the the Board certainly didn’t want owners to be able to comment on the self-serving training that was provided by Clarkson so it was deemed “attorney-client confidential” even though the training packet began with a legal disclaimer.

NRED complaint still pending

The secret Clarkson training was a self-dealing disaster. It bordered on elder abuse, and my complaints about the abusive conduct at that July 25, 2017 “attorney-client-privileged, not-an-executive-session workshop” are still under investigation by NRED.

Naturally, Adam Clarkson is billing the association ($325/hour, thank you very much) to defend himself and the other perps from my complaints about being bullied and harassed in that session in retribution for my telling the lot of them that they needed to straighten up and follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law.

What was wrong with the way Clarkson trained the Board?

Setting aside the for the moment the attorney-led misconduct of the participants (shunning, threatening and bullying me), Adam Clarkson twisted the interpretation of the law so far as to assert that it was a violation of the Board’s fiduciary duty to act ON ANYTHING without the attorney’s blessing.

Reward for complicity

Adam Clarkson rewarded the Board members who fell for his money grab, by creating a punitive cone of silence around non-confidential, discoverable SCA records against the non-compliant Director. Clarkson has also given his blessing to the unlawful claims that

  • the GM controls which owner or Board member can access SCA records and can withhold records at will, including in violation of a court order
  • the GM, President or Secretary
    • can exclude a Board member from Board meetings, and
    • can prevent a Director from voting,
    • and can block a Director from placing items on a Board meeting agenda
    • and can falsify the minutes of those meetings
  • the President does not have to follow Parliamentary procedures and
    • can magically use non-existent “substitute motions” and
    • can block a vote on a Director’s seconded motion and
    • can prevent a nomination for an officer position that would compete with the President’s pre-selected slate.
  • Annual reporting of gifts is voluntary

What does “fiduciary duty” mean?

Adam Clarkson actually gave this self-dealing definition of fiduciary duty saying that being guided by legal professionals was required by law AS IF only lawyers were experts on every subject.

The legal requirement is actually to consult with appropriate experts of all types (not just attorneys) when it is prudent to do so. This means reserve specialists, HR experts, accountants, construction experts, not just attorneys. There is no legal requirement for a Board to delegate its decision-making authority to attorneys. In fact, it is prohibited by both NRS 116.3106 and SCA bylaws.

“Consult with appropriate professionals as necessary before making major decisions…”

And the definition of fiduciary really is focused on the duty of care that the fiduciary has to ACT SOLELY AND EXCLUSIVELY IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE MEMBERSHIP.

A fiduciary is personally accountable for a duty of care and using good judgment to serve owners, not oneself.

It does not cut it to do (or not do) something that hurts the membership and then claim,

“The attorney made me do it.”

Defy the ruling of Judge (and jury) Adam Clarkson at your peril!!!

According to Adam Clarkson, attorneys are justified in verbally attacking and threatening a Director who tells the other members of the Board that:

  1. attorneys don’t have the expertise to assist on ALL Board decisions and that
  2. it is the individual Director’s responsibility to use common sense and ethical principles to evaluate courses of action to decide how to vote.

Give me a break. That’s idiotic.

We are actually paying $325/hour for that type of inane self-dealing pronouncement against a Director who tells the attorney to knock it off.

Guilty until proven innocent

“Unauthorized practice of law” for “advising other members that legal counsel is not necessary”????

“… will be deemed to have committed a prima facie violation of NRS 116.3103”?????

Prima facie”  =  fact presumed to be true unless it is disproved.

Quid pro quo = “something for something”

Quid

“Guilty until proven innocent” is the Clarkson pro forma edict he uses to bully Board members who are not in his or the GM’s pocket.

Quo

At the same time, Clarkson has protected the interests and defended the unlawful actions of the GM and those Board members who unquestioningly have agreed to pay whatever he bills with OPM (other people’s money).

“Prima facie” = “presumed guilty”

Here’s what NRS 116.3103 actually says

Clarkson is wrong

Telling the Board that the buck stops with it, and not with the attorney, is NOT a violation of a director’s fiduciary duty.

It is a true statement made on an informed basis, in good faith, and in the honest belief that

  • getting attorneys out making decisions for management or the Board, and
  • preventing attorneys from self-dealing or
  • serving the personal interests of a few individuals over the interests of the membership

is acting in the best interests of the association.

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

Bernie Madoff and how NRED risks being like the SEC

What’s up with the Ombudsman?

Several people have told me that their NRED complaints of GM election interference were summarily rejected without satisfactory investigation or explanation. They feel the rejections were unfair as the complaints were rejected for reasons unrelated to the substance of the issue raised.

For example, they reported that NRED did not independently verify the accuracy of the allegation that two pages of valid petition signatures were not counted  which caused Bob Burch to be wrongly left off the recall ballot. I was told that NRED’s rationale for the rejection was the unrelated reason that the Ombudsman had validated the vote counting process for the other three directors who were on the ballot. 

Limitations of enforcement agencies

We have to educate the NRED investigators on the specifics of the violations alleged in SCA owners’ complaints so investigators can understand the complaints within the context of needed homeowner protections.

We must not get overly discouraged even if it appears there is “zero enforcement” rather than “zero tolerance”. As we’ve seen nationally with response to sexual harassment complaints, that can change in a heartbeat.

NRED has all the problems faced by other enforcement agencies, like you’ll see below were exhibited by the SEC, – an inability to see the forest for the trees. Even if there is no corruption in NRED, they have  limited authority, limited funding, and have to balance competing interests between monied stakeholders (attorneys, management companies, debt collectors, etc.) and the people who are supposed to be served (homeowners). NRED’s problems are compounded in Nevada by historic complicity in HOA corruption by attorneys and judges and the fear people have to speak up and be whistleblowers.

But, just as Rana Goodman helped to expose how guardianship abuses depended on complicity between attorneys and judges and unscrupulous public guardians, we have to shine a light on what is happening at SCA because Board/GM misconduct too requires lack of transparency and complicity by legal authorities to be sustained.

 

Why I am publishing my complaints in full

While I haven’t seen the other owner  complaints or the rejection notices they received, this action by NRED raises a red flag for me. So far, I have received no word from NRED about the status of my complaints, but I am not willing to leave NRED’s investigative thoroughness to chance.

In light of this disappointing development, I am going to emphasize the way I use this website to expose evidence substantiating my claims. I am doing this primarily so the allegations and supporting evidence are in a usable format to assist the investigators. I believe that will reduce the chance that my complaints will be dismissed without a full investigation and a fair hearing. 

As far as the chance of influencing the beliefs of the readers of this blog, I have low expectations. I don’t believe people who think I deserved what happened to me will easily change their minds, and when you read below about cognitive dissonance, I think you’ll see why. 

What happened to me sets a bad precedent for ALL Nevada HOAs.

Kicking me off the Board was based on false and defamatory accusations and was simply a continuation of their retaliation against me for speaking out.

Such flagrant disregard of homeowners’ right to vote and choose who represents them on the Board absolutely cannot be tolerated or ignored.

Throughout my days on the Board, I was harassed, defamed and retaliated against for my having:

  • recommended that the attorney be terminated,
  • warned them about the theft and fraud of SCA’s former agents,
  • requested information about excessive management compensation and for
  • complained about violations of NRS and SCA governing documents, particularly in the areas of GM/CAM threatening frivolous litigation, abuse of privilege, misuse of attorney, concealing information and recall election interference.

 


If my removal from the Board is upheld, it will set the unhealthy precedent in Nevada that ANY majority of ANY Nevada HOA Board can remove any HOA Board member whose views they don’t like simply by falsely accusing her and then deeming her position vacant.
  • Good-bye, due process.
  • Good-bye, owner control of Nevada HOA.
  • Hello, unjust enrichment by attorneys and other HOA agents.
  • Hello, corruption.

 

Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) let Bernie Madoff’s fake hedge fund grow to over $50 billion over decades despite repeated credible complaints.

Let’s hope NRED is more responsive than the SEC was to warnings and does not allow SCA Board, GM and attorney to act unlawfully in ways which allow SCA agents to be unjustly enriched or which allow a majority of a HOA Board to act unfairly for personal political advantage.

Remember Bernie Madoff?

Probably everyone does. Bernie was the former chairman of the NASDAC securities exchange. He had an impeccable reputation that allowed him to operate a hedge fund that grew over decades to $50 billion by 2008. Although it was a just a low-tech Ponzi scheme, it was successful as an affinity scam among wealthy Jewish communities, Madoff remained untouched by the regulatory Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for decades.

But you probably haven’t heard of Harry Markopolos, the financial analyst who figured out Bernie Madoff’s fraudulent hedge fund at least a decade before Bernie turned himself in. Marcopolis submitted at least five formal written complaints to the SEC which the enforcement agency failed to investigate.

SEC’s enforcement failure cost victims $50 Billion

Had SEC done its job in 2000 when Markopolos told them Madoff  was a fraud, less than $7 Billion would have been lost, and many fewer people would have been victimized. SEC still didn’t listen in 2001 when the fund had doubled. SEC still didn’t listen in 2005 when Markopolos documented 29 red flags on the then-$25 Billion fund. In 2008 as the global economy was in meltdown, and the Madoff fund had ballooned to $50 Billion or more, Bernie turned himself in to spare his family, never having been investigated, much less found guilty, by the SEC.

Markopolos’ book is aptly entitled, “Nobody Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller” as the true story of how the regulatory agency SEC was over-lawyered and using lawyers in areas outside their expertise. SEC, therefore, did not have adequately trained investigators who knew diddly squat about financial markets.

The SEC failed to act repeatedly on Markopolos’ extremely precise directions on what sources to check or what single phone call to make and what question to ask to verify the accuracy of Markopolos’ analysis. 

Why didn’t SEC investigate thoroughly? Congressman Gary Ackerman grilled SEC attorneys after Bernie turned himself in to find out why SEC blew off credible complaints for a decade in this interesting CNN clip of the Madoff Congressional hearings.

Ackerman Scolds SEC for Not Stopping Bernie Madoff Scheme Despite Being Warned for 10 yrs

What were they thinking?

  • Maybe lawyers were the wrong people were doing the job.
  • Maybe it’s was the financial conflicts of interest regulators had with the industry they were regulating.
  • Maybe the theory of cognitive dissonance explains why nobody could believe that Bernie Madoff was anything other than he appeared to be.
  • Maybe Madoff’s reputation was so stellar and everybody was making money, no one wanted to question how he alone could get such stellar returns year after year.
  • But, whatever the reason, SEC investigators couldn’t see what was right in front of their face.
How does all this about Bernie Madoff and the SEC relate to SCA owner complaints being given short shrift by NRED?

Remember SEC’s failures and expect to find similar problems with NRED investigations.

Remember the SEC’s failure to listen to Harry Markopolos for a decade cost victims $50 Billion, and the SEC attorney still tried to weasel out of it, claiming “executive branch privilege“.

Remember nobody believed Bernie Madoff was running a scam. If you find yourself not believing what I tell you is happening at SCA is true, it might be simply because it is unimaginable, or it might be because it creates a lot of cognitive dissonance to think I might be right.

Remember that, while there are limits on what we can expect enforcement agencies to accomplish, a lot can change if a critical mass of people speak up.

We’ve just seen nationally how the pendulum swings when a tipping point is reached. The way sexual harassment complaints are now addressed has gone from zero enforcement to zero tolerance seemingly overnight.

A critical mass of SCA homeowners must insist that at SCA, there will be zero tolerance of misconduct by SCA Board members or SCA Agents, and zero tolerance of their harassment of, or retaliation against, whistleblowers.

 

December 7 Board meeting items of interest

The last SCA Board meeting of the year is tomorrow at 1:30 PM. I’d like to point out a few things that you might not notice immediately, but which are important to for owners to know the full story.

Click here for full agenda.          Click here for draft Board Book.

Financial Report for October

Two things mar an otherwise brilliant job of bean counting:

  1. How much are we paying for who to do what?     SCA is now an employer with 80 employees costing $3.5 million -over 40% of operating budget, there should be a clearer accounting of cost of staffing by budget objective. The Board cannot hold the GM properly accountable nor can the owners be protected from such failures as excessive management compensation or featherbedding, if the accounting obfuscates these facts. And, more importantly, the Board is not holding itself properly accountable to the owners by letting the GM hide what SCA employees (particularly managers) are being paid and what they are being paid for.
  2. Since Adam Clarkson became SCA Legal Counsel on May 1, there have been $185,010 expended for legal fees which was 411% 0f the $45,000 budgeted for legal fees over half a year. This is the same attorney
    • who told the Board the GM did not need its authorization to expend SCA funds for unbudgeted purposes.
    • who does SCA’s debt collection function in the least cost-effective and most draconian way available.
    • who, along with the GM, is responsible for additional unnecessary expenses of at least $73,000 for the recall election which were STRONGLY objected to by the proponents of the recall.
    • who is being paid $325/hour to cause or allow the Board to take unlawful actions against political opponents of the GM and certain members of the Board.

 

Election and Voting Manual Revisions

Reviewing policies on voting may be really boring, but it is important to protect homeowner control over who represents us on the Board. There has to be a sound, uniformly administered system in place to prevent ANY election interference from tampering with ballots, abuse of power, or even unfair communications.

The largest HOA board election rigging scandal in Southern Nevada involved primarily attorneys who were supposed to be neutral outsiders who stacked HOA Boards to channel construction defects litigation.  This Election and Voting Manual is intended to ensure that the SCA homeowners actually control who sits on the Board and that those Board members actually work SOLELY for the benefit of the homeowners.

Yet, it doesn’t matter what is in this or any other SCA policy manual if the Board doesn’t follow SCA’s own rules or if it allows the GM and/or the attorney to manipulate the process in favor or against certain owners.

Cherry-picking which laws to follow is a slippery slope

There are several areas where our election process is not in conformity with NRS or the SCA Bylaws. For example, SCA Board does not have a nominating committee as required by SCA bylaws 3.4a below. While there may be good reasons to not want to have such a committee, this is an example of how problematic it is to simply disregard a provision. The bylaws must be uniformly enforced and not simply disregarded. The narrow exception is when the bylaws explicitly conflict with a mandate in a Federal or state law.

Filling Board vacancies after a director is removed.

The final clause of SCA bylaws 3.6. requires a vote by the unit owner to fill a Board vacancy caused by a Board member being removed.

“Upon removal of a director, a successor shall be elected by the Owners entitled to elect the director so removed to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of such director.”

The proposed change to the Election Manual, below in green, apparently attempts to justify retroactively how Jim Coleman was appointed, but even the new provision doesn’t allow for an appointment to be made without any notice to owners, any candidate nominations, or the required vote of owners.

Note that there is nothing in either the existing nor the proposed versions of the Election Manual that gives the Board legal cover for what they actually did to remove me nor what they did to replace me nor what they might be contemplating to do in the next election (keep me off the ballot).

  • How they removed me from the Board by simply declaring my position vacant is not authorized in NRS 116, NRS 82, SCA governing documents or any existing or proposed Board policy.
  • By extension, that also means that there is no legal means by which the GM, the Board or the attorney could refuse to allow me to be a candidate for, or to serve on, the Board should I choose to run again.
  • Also, note that this manual includes the NRS provisions which the Board President and GM violated by using the Spirit to publish their one-sided argument regarding the recall without permitting equal time and access to the opposition. Complaints of these violations are currently being investigated by NRED.

These proposed changes don’t describe what the Board actually did nor do they conform to the bylaws. The Board is simply pretending they have the authority to act against laws and policies “upon the advice of Counsel”. We’ll see.

Complaints to the Election Committee are not fairly handled

The Election Committee complaint process is to informal and allows for problems at both ends of the spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, informal complaints may be submitted without evidence or substance which could just waste the committee’s time .

On the other end, there is substantial risk of unequal treatment occurring, or even being merely perceived, if there isn’t a good enough procedure defining accountability, investigation, documentation and notice requirements. It’s sloppy management, and it reduces the community’s trust of the election process. It also allows interference in the independence and neutrality of the Election Committee.

In the proposed draft, there is still no standard format for resolving complaints, no required documentation to be maintained in the official SCA record, and no notice of the disposition formally given to the complainant.

I recommend the process defined in the SCA CC&Rs and utilized by the Covenants Committee would be a good model for the Election Committee to employ to fairly investigate and document complaints regarding Board elections.


Board Communications Task Force

In June, I proposed a resolution to improve Board-owner communications , but couldn’t even get a second to the motion. Now, five months later, nothing has been done to increase transparency or meaningful utilization of owner expertise in governance.

Rex appointed a couple of Directors to be a Board Communications “task force” (with no owner involvement)  and here are their recommendations:

Here’s what should be done immediately:
  1.  Either use SCA-TV to video broadcast Board meetings live or use some service like GoToMeeting.com to make the Board meetings accessible online in real time and interactive.
  2. Take the password off the website.
  3. Make the eblast mailing list opt-out instead of opt-in
  4. Follow the lead of Sun City Summerlin’s new GM in attitude.
  5. Stop using Board work groups that withhold information from owners.
  6. Expand the committee structure to utilize expertise of residents and have meaningful owner oversight and influence in governance.

Item 15B “Self-Management” is listed as New Business to be presented by Tom Nissen rather than the GM. The paragraph above the total back-up in the Board book to let owners know what the Self-Management item is about.

This raises a lot of questions about the Board’s failure to protect homeowners by hiring a GM without ANY of the defined terms and conditions of employment required in a management agreement.

  • Why is a Board member making a presentation on the transition?
  • Why doesn’t the GM whose compensation is $100,000 greater than other GMs at comparable Sun Cities like Summerlin make the presentation?
  • Why hasn’t the GM been held accountable for the development of the complete policy framework needed to protect SCA from legitimate risks and potential liability associated with becoming an employer or
  • Why hasn’t the GM held accountable for AT LEAST having written plans and timetables for getting the job done?
  • How will the Board – let alone the owners  – even know if the job is done right and on time?
  • Why did the Board let the GM unlawfully conceal SCA records on the transition to self-management from one Board member in violation of our bylaws 6.4c when this information should have been easily available to any unit owner?

After the Board meeting, I’ll let you know if any of these questions have been answered. Or if there are just new ones.

On the Advice of Counsel is No Defense

After a relaxing couple of weeks in Cabo, I have been immediately hit by how badly SCA homeowners are being treated by our highly compensated and highly self-serving agents.

This first example from the November Spirit demonstrates how our well-meaning volunteers on the Election Committee have been duped into allowing the GM and attorney to violate the integrity of the removal election process at great expense to the membership.

Who gives the association attorney the power to make such decisions?

No one. At least not legally.

NRS 116 does not give an attorney who is advising the Board ANY authority to decide any policy issue.

NRS 116 does not give the attorney ANY authority to advise the Board to violate any provision of Federal, state, or local law or of our governing documents or policies.

NRS 116 does not give the attorney ANY authority to require the Board or the GM or a committee to take it not take any particular action.

Whose authority is it?

The buck stops with the Board, and they can only legally delegate some of their duties, but can’t delegate ANY of the ultimate accountability. The GM is a licensed manager, and she can’t get out of being accountable for the standards of practice listed in the law by getting the attorney to say its okay to break or bend the law.

NRS 116 and SCA governing documents and policies define clear requirements for:

  • contracts must be authorized by the Board in open session,
  • the Board SHALL NOT delegate policy authority over the budget
  • getting bids for contracts
  • how elections are conducted
  • under what circumstances attorney’s opinions are sought BY THE BOARD and for what purpose

None of the legal requirements were followed in this case, just as they are frequently ignored in other cases, for self-serving purposes and not for the benefit of the membership of the association.

I would like to point out that the issue of the Board President Rex Weddle, the GM Sandy Seddon, and the former-CAM Lori Martin taking actions in excess of their legal authority to interfere with the removal election process is the subject of numerous complaints and is currently under investigation by NRED. If their defense is simply that “the lawyer said we could do it”, they better be ready to take their wallets out. I would expect that feeble excuse to fall on deaf ears.

 

 

 

FAQs: Removal election voting procedures

As you’ve no doubt noticed, the instructions on voting are confusing and the normal voting procedures have been changed. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What return address do I put on the envelope if I own multiple properties in Sun City Anthem?
Put the address where each ballot was mailed. You may also note each property address on the outside envelope that contains the ballot envelope for that property’s vote.

Should I write the property address on the ballot envelope?
No. Do not write anything on the ballot envelope.

What if I mailed my ballot in without any return address?
Contact Ovist & Howard at (702) 456-1300 for replacement ballots. Ballots without a return address that matches where a ballot was mailed will not be counted.

What is the deadline for my vote to count in the removal election?
Your ballot must be RECEIVED by 5 PM on Thursday, October 26
by Ovist & Howard, 7 Commerce Center Dr. Henderson 89014

Can I drop my ballot off at Anthem Center?
No. Your ballot must be mailed or hand delivered to Ovist & Howard 7 Commerce Center Dr. Henderson 89014 so it is received before the 5 PM, October 26 deadline.

If my ballot got coffee stains on it, can I copy my neighbor’s ballot?
No. Only original ballots will be counted.

What if I threw my ballot away by mistake?
Contact Ovist & Howard at (702) 456-1300 for a replacement ballot.

How do I complain if I think this election is unfair?
Contact the Ombudsman or the NRED Investigator or both.
Charvez Foger, Ombudsman
The Ombudsman’s Office,Nevada Real Estate Division
3300 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 325 Las Vegas, Nevada 89102
702-486-4480  Website: www.red.nv.gov
cicombudsman@red.nv.gov
https://scastrong.com/action-report-election-issues-to-the-ombudsman/  

You may also contact the investigator who is assigned to coordinate the numerous complaints currently filed against SCA Board, GM Sandy Seddon and attorney Adam Clarkson.

Christina Pitch, cpitch@red.nv.gov
HOA Investigations Section, Nevada Real Estate Division
Common-Interest Communities/Condominium Hotels
3300 W. Sahara Avenue, Ste 350, Las Vegas,NV 89102
Office (702) 486-4480 / Fax (702) 486-4520
https://scastrong.com/put-complaints-on-the-record/

Will it do any good to complain?
There are already serious complaints submitted to the Ombudsman against Sandy Seddon, Attorney Adam Clarkson, and BOD President Rex Weddle. It is important that the enforcement authorities hear from you as well if you believe the process has been made unnecessarily difficult or if you believe votes are unfairly not being counted.

 

Action: Put your Complaints on the Record

Contact the HOA Investigator Christina Pitch, assigned to SCA complaints, including election interference, if you want your concerns on the record.

I have submitted several complaints to the Ombudsman, including several related to removal election interference. They have all been referred to the HOA Investigations Unit. On September 29, Section Chief Darik Ferguson instructed me to address all communications to Christina Pitch.  

Christina Pitch’s email address is cpitch@red.nv.gov.

Darik L. Ferguson Chief, Compliance/Audit Section
Nevada Real Estate Division
Common-Interest Communities/Condominium Hotels
3300 W. Sahara Avenue, Ste 350, Las Vegas,NV 89102
Office (702) 486-4480 / Fax (702) 486-4520
Darik.ferguson@red.nv.gov
Website: www.red.nv.gov

Two of my complaints are provided here as examples.

Email to Investigator forwarded an email of the GM’s refusal to put a written report updating the community about the removal election process in the Sept. 28 Board Book:

“Nona,
The Update was provided for reliance in relation to an oral summary of the status of the review of the petitions/removal election to be given at the meeting, and the update was drafted in a manner to be read aloud, not conveyed in writing.  Written documentation will not be provided as part of the board book.
-Sandy Seddon, CCAM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM | Sun City Anthem General Manager/COO”

From: Nona Tobin<nonatobin@gmail.com>
Wed, Oct 4, 2017
To: “cpitch@red.nv.gov” <cpitch@red.nv.gov>

This is an example of the many dirty tricks management is using to prevent the Sun City Anthem owners from knowing about the recall election which could remove the directors who are protecting her instead of the homeowners and who are abdicating too much policy authority.

After I submitted my complaint about how management and the attorney and board President interfered with the collection of names for the petitions, interfered with the neutral election committee, they continued to escalate by removing the election committee from the entire process in violation of SCA Election and Voting Manual, contracted with a CPA without any public adoption of such a contract or it being approved as it was not in the budget.

Now, the attorney (also paid over $73,000 over the budget so far) put out information about the dates the ballots will be sent out, and new restrictions, e.g.,that there will be no ballot boxes, and this information in written form will be withheld. Note that they have continued to withhold from me the audio file of the last two board meetings even though I have requested them in writing multiple times. (Note – GM finally gave me the audio recording of the Aug. 24 and the Sept. 28 Board meetings on Oct. 5, the day after I wrote this complaint to Investigator Pitch)

Thank you for your consideration of this additional information. I hope you understand the urgency because the ballots will be mailed on October 9, and owners’ completed ballots must be received by mail only by 5 pm (October 26) at the address of the CPA.

Voters are being forced to jump through hoops that have never existed in prior elections and which they will not be told about until it might be too late.

It is extraordinary chutzpah to kick me off the Board by a secret vote of six board members on unproven false charges and without a removal election just two weeks after petitions calling for an election to remove four of them were filed.

Please don’t let them get away with it.

Thank you.
Nona Tobin (702) 465-2199

My notarized & filed election interference complaint was referred to the Investigations Unit on Sept. 18 after the Board refused to respond AT ALL to the complaint on its merits (given to them on Sept. 2) or take any action whatsoever.