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.