January 25 BOD meeting wrapup

Nothing that I think is really important to tell residents about what happened at the January Board meeting is included in the meeting summary on SCA’s official website www.sca-hoa.org:

Here’s what I think owners might want to know:

Restaurant space decision delayed again

Here’s what appeared in the Board book:

There was a 17-minute verbal report explaining why the GM won’t have until April the recommendation (due last December) on whether to have a restaurant or not. She did not mention that it’s been closed during her entire tenure despite the fact that SCA CC&Rs require:

The GM, working with two Board members, analyzed past failures, legal issues and input from two workshops.

1/8/18 Issued an RFP to 9 potential bidders for restaurant

  • It is unknown who the potential bidders were or how they were selected
  • Gaming is still under consideration to subsidize a restaurant.
  • She held a bidders’ conference to see what were “operator expectations”
  • The RFP is not available for review by owners, but is promised for the February meeting
  • Bidders had until February 2 to put in a proposal.
Alternative use of space is being studied simultaneously

“If it can’t be restaurant, what can it be, given there is almost an insurmountable vote. If the board repurposes, then if 10% object then 50%+1 has to vote to make change.”

Forrest Quinn is focusing on construction and engineering and met with an architect, and he commented that the kitchen is disproportionately large:

  • The kitchen is 4300 square feet and the restaurant is 3300 square feet
  • With only 162 seats, probably a 700-square-foot kitchen is needed

The GM repeated several times how difficult it is because it is so emotional and important not to make a mistake. No matter what decision is made, there will be costs.

Tom Nissen, who is working on the restaurant part of the analysis, commented–

“What we’re trying to do is take a disciplined approach of the pros and cons to having a restaurant. Maybe there will be a subsidy, it’ll depend on what the responders say.”

My concerns were stated (and ignored) earlier:

“Our past failures have been due in substantial part by the the inability of Board members and management to allow an equitable arms-length selection and leasing process to be conducted by an experienced, independent broker who specializes in restaurants, bars, and gaming. Neither the GM, the Board or any individual Board member, regardless of their expertise and experience,  would be as effective in handling the selection process as a neutral expert would be. It would simply be a poor business decision to insist otherwise.”

I hope they prove me wrong.

Director’s Comments

Art Lundberg highlighted the successful fundraising of the Women’s Club for charities equaling $43,400 in 2017 and $400,000 since 2000.

Important, but not agendized: Future of Revere

Revere is safe from residential development in perpetuity!

Tom Nissen reported that because golf courses around the country have been converted to other uses, such as residential development, three directors visited City of Henderson officials and Revere management to determine if Revere was at risk of being plowed under for alternative use. The news from both fronts is good.

  • Revere has no plans to close as their business is good.
  • Zoning is currently PS (Public and Semi-public), and the City would make a zoning change difficult.
  • The best news is that a document, “Operating & Maintenance Instructions”, is on file with the City of Henderson, that limits future use and has a permanent restriction: “Residential development on the property of any type is prohibited.”

As an owner who lives on the golf course, I am thrilled that these directors took the initiative to research this concern. When Legacy Golf Club was threatened with permanent closure for residential development, an owner there told me her property value dropped $60,000 overnight.

My only concern is that this was done on their own initiative, and it was not handled by the SCA-Revere Golf Course Liaison Committee which  was abolished when we went to self-management. The GM felt that the only golf course issues were management-related and so the GM herself would be a more effective liaison than homeowners. I think that decision should be re-visited.

Board-Work Group report on Communications

Board Work Group (Aletta Waterhouse and Jim Coleman) are totally committed to the project of improving Board-owners communications,  and yet, they do not seem to see the irony that their little committee does not include any owners.

They reported that they will hold two workshops:

February 6 @ 11 AM to discuss their plans for improving communications and getting owner feedback

February 23 @ 1-2:30 PM to discuss:

  • The role of NRED and the Office of the Ombudsman
  • How the Community service Group plans to deal with durable medical equipment
  • Tom Nissen will give his presentation on self-management

GM’s Report

In another mis-step when it comes to truly effective communications, the GM’s report mentioned that a new website will be online by March. It is unknown if any owners had any input into the design. Probably not as I think the Owner Communication Committee was disbanded as not being needed under self-management.

Disappointingly, and contrary to the lip service being paid to transparency, the website will still require a password. Too bad when Tom Nissan was looking at self-management, he didn’t look at Sun City Summerlin’s website which does not require a password, and it has been self-managed since 1997.

Proposed Tow Policy was a big surprise

Continuing on the theory that telling owners what is being done to them after the fact is a form of transparency, the Board sprung on owners a surprise, fully-developed set of proposed parking prohibitions.

Fortunately, the Board tabled the whole proposed towing policy after many owners objected to being surprised by the proposal to prohibit ALL on-street parking in Pinnacle without consulting those most impacted and without offering an alternative solution.

ALL on-street parking in Pinnacle Village to be prohibited?

The proposed towing policy section 5 uniquely impacts Pinnacle Village because it is gated and so the streets are Association property and not controlled by the City of Henderson:

On-Street Parking Is Prohibited Within the Gated Neighborhood of the Association Commonly Referred to as “Pinnacle” or “Pinnacle Village”[NRS 116.31031, 116.3102, NRS 116.31065; CC&Rs §§ 3.3(a), 3.6(m), 7.4; Bylaws § § 3 .1 7, 3 .18( f)]: Unless otherwise excepted by the express written authorization of the Association’s Board of Directors, on-street parking is prohibited within the gated neighborhood of the Association commonly referred to as “Pinnacle” or “Pinnacle Village”.

The Board tried to soft peddle it by saying that enforcement was not going to be “proactive”.  Rex even asked, after an hour of complaints, if it would be enough if the Board rendered the policy “inoperable”. It wasn’t.

Here’s the gist of what the speakers complained about:

  • No notice – just found out a few days before.
  • Shocked, thought it was fake news.
  • Taking away something that was a benefit when we bought in is awful, but even worse, there is no parking alternative proposed.
  • Why would anyone move into Pinnacle if there is no parking?
  • Why wasn’t the Pinnacle Neighborhood Advisory Committee involved, or preferably given the lead, to come up with a solution to the problem, if a problem even actually exists?
  • This is a lawyer’s dream. If you have a written policy you don’t enforce, then it is litigation for differential treatment the first time you do.

The proposed parking prohibition in Pinnacle dominated the discussion, but also mentioned was the negative impact on people with RVs. There is also a proposed prohibition of parking in ANY center’s parking lot – Anthem, Independence, and Liberty Centers – ANY night from midnight to 5 AM, but it not really discussed. It wasn’t clear what “not proactive” enforcement would mean.

President’s Report

Per usual, Rex Weddle reported out of the morning’s executive session multiple discussions and actions that had no relationship whatsoever to the agenda published for that meeting:

Here is Rex’s version of telling owners what they need to know about what the Board privately discussed:

  • The Board heard an architectural appeal.
  • The Board discussed its proposed response to an unspecified NRED complaint.
  • There was a legal update, and they discussed taking action on some unnamed cases.
  • A legal opinion was provided on something also without a name.
  • The GM’s performance objectives were discussed again, and again no mention was made of whether or not she received a bonus, and if so, for what.
  • A pending legal settlement was discussed.
  • An ADA accommodation request was heard.
  • An unspecified NRED complaint related to the Foundation Assisting Seniors was “dismissed as baseless”.

Rex didn’t mention the collection status report which was actually on the agenda nor did he explain why that report is not made in open session as required by our bylaws:

 

Proposed Publication Policy

This policy was not discussed, but it bears looking at before it comes up at the next Board meeting on February 22 @ 5:30 PM.

To me, it is ghastly, and a stunning example of why the over-reliance on attorneys is detrimental to our happy lives.

I bet this proposal is an over-reaction to the complaints filed when the GM refused to provide equal time to proponents of the recall. The proposed policy gives tons of power to the GM to refuse equal time to opposing viewpoints and to prevent a dissenting opinion from being published without providing “clear and convincing” evidence that their opinion is not defamatory.

Then, to add insult to injury, after official publications are inaccessible to the requester, merely asking to be heard is considered a violation of the CC&Rs worthy of a penalty.

How much money we waste on attorneys to come up with this crap is a topic for another day.

December 7 Board meeting: Part 2 Self-management and the GM

Self-management Status Report

Tom Nissen described the management company’s (FSR) deficiencies that motivated the Board in 2015 to decide to go to self-management. He said the decision was not primarily to save money, it was to “get better information to manage the business more effectively”.

True, FSR dropped the ball on maintenance projects and bungled the reserve study. True, FSR allowed IT, the phone system, and financial reporting to become obsolete. These were all good reasons for converting to self-management everyone agrees on. Tom also gave a detailed report on his personal study of how SCA compares to other highly-rated HOAs. He came to the obvious conclusion that the transition to self-management was the right decision for SCA.

No argument here.

True, FSR had to go and SCA should be self-managed. Good points and totally true, but his praise was like Nancy Pelosi praising Senator John Conyers as an icon of the Senate before she said he had to go amid sexual harassment allegations.  

Tom described the research he did, as an individual Board member, and it was great. What he didn’t mention was that when another Board member tried to review the transition plans, the Board unlawfully held an unnoticed, “emergency executive session” to order her to cease & desist and paid the attorney to block all of her document requests.

However, Tom didn’t mention any of the things that are areas of disagreement, like excessive compensation for the GM and several top managers, or how the GM conceals association records or how the GM has not developed written transition plans or timetables since she got here in 2015, and does not have adequate personnel management systems needed to protect SCA from “employer liability”. 

Below is an excerpt from one of the many “legal letters” Clarkson graced me with (and you paid for) to explain why they would not let a Board member examine any SCA records. This one says SCA doesn’t have to produce the transition plans because SCA doesn’t have any. Then, to fake the Ombudsman out, they submitted 184 pages of powerpoint slides done by Tom Nissen in 2015 before the GM was hired.

It is simply wrong for certain individual Board members to “get better information to manage the business more effectively” and at the same time, tolerate the GM concealing that same management information from other Board members and the unit owners.

GM’s Performance Appraisal
(as reported in President’s report)

Rex stated simply that the GM’s performance appraisal was completed and will be put in her personnel file. The end.

Seriously. Not another word about it.

Unless you uncharitably interpret the self-management status report Tom gave later in the meeting as a surreptitious justification for giving her a raise/bonus without telling owners.

Here’s why I say the Board is not protecting owners if they don’t hold the GM accountable for customer satisfaction as much as for facilities maintenance:

  1. Board refused to put the petitions for vote of no confidence in her file as requested. Petitions signed by 836 owners called for a vote of no confidence in the GM were turned in during this performance rating period. This is more than 10% of ALL owners (and probably more than 50% of the owners who even knew there was a petition or how to sign it) who gave the GM a customer service rating of “F”. That is extraordinary, and yet the Board vehemently refused to honor the simple request to put the petitions in the GM’s personnel file. Board members, notably Bob Burch, expressed outrage and castigated the owners for even signing the petition.
  2. The Board did not respect owners’ right to express their dissatisfaction with the GM’s performance. Instead, a lot of time at meetings is spent with them droning on and on about how much they love her because she answers all the Board’s questions and she is way better at not deferring maintenance than the prior managing agent (that we fired).  It is the Board’s job to treat customer service concerns as legitimate and attempt to address them even if they don’t agree or even if they think that any owner who doesn’t agree with them is a worthless malcontent.
  3.  Rex didn’t say what the Board did about her bonus. Is she getting a bonus when she didn’t meet any objectives (No restaurant or even a recommendation about whether to have one. Poor job dealing with the Foundation. Springing surprise changes on Clubs. Lots of unhappy owners) If not, her pay should drop by $20,000. The 2016 bonus cannot be considered a part of her base compensation. I wish somebody other than me would make an information request to find out if they are letting her keep the $20,000. I can do it, but the GM slow-walks my requests and uses the attorney to write me “legal letters” manufacturing bogus reasons why information legally available to any unit owner should be withheld from me.
  4. Rex didn’t say what the Board going to do to fix the significant problem of the GM’s excessive salary.

No Recommendation on the Restaurant

“The SCA Board earlier this year directed the GM to make a restaurant space recommendation to the Board.”

Actually, when the restaurant was discussed at various Board meetings, Rex reported that in her last year performance evaluation, the Board instructed her to have the recommendation completed by this December. A rejected 6/22/17 information request was fulfilled by the attorney through the Ombudsman on 9/13/17, in which was the actual  wording of the performance expectation about the restaurant:

“2017 GM Criteria for Bonus Consideration
Prepare a recommendation for the use of the restaurant space. The recommendation should result from a detailed analysis of the possible uses of the space. If not used as a restaurant, the analysis will include costs for each option to include those costs associated with the modification of the space.”

I have argued for the past six months that allowing the GM a year to come up with just a recommendation is an extremely low standard, particularly since the CC&Rs require the continuous operation of the restaurant without the written authorization of 75% of the owners to close it. Is it too much to hope that the Board will hold her accountable for not having accomplished ANY “detailed analysis of the possible uses of the space”. After she refused to consider any analysis I submitted or let me see anything she was working on, I certainly don’t want to see her getting a bonus if Tom Nissen or Forrest Quinn whip something up for her.

Most recently the Board asked that I send RFPs to restaurant consultants to produce an opinion on the restaurant option. Some directors were reluctant to proceed without a definitive expert opinion on the viability of another restaurant at our location. And if viable, in what likely format.

Really? When did the Board ask her to get a consultant? I remember objecting to her reporting that she was going to do it because a) there was no money budgeted for that purpose, and b) she is costing homeowners over $300,000/year in salary and benefits, she ought to have the skills to  put together a competent analysis. Also, why is she holding back because “some directors were reluctant to proceed”? Why isn’t she dealing with the Board as a whole and treating all directors equally?

On January 25, the GM will recommend to the Board whether SCAshould have a restaurant or repurpose the space.

“That recommendation only awaits one clarifying legal point connected with repurposing the space.

SCA already has a legal opinion about owners getting an opportunity to vote if they don’t like what the Board wants to change it to, IF 10% petition for it. I’m mystified about why the attorney has to be brought in over and over. I’m also surprised that this important sentence is on the audio, but was left out of the written version of the GM’s report that David Berman posted.

In the interim, I will also prepare an RFP for possible restaurant tenant response. Then the Board will have all the information needed to concur or disagree with whichever recommendation I make.

I don’t know if you noticed, but the recommendation I made six months to have a local commercial broker specializing in restaurants, bars and gaming handle the process was ignored even though the GM’s approach is doomed to be a repeat of past failures. There needs to be an independent expert to develop a lease that is fair to, and protects, both parties, allows a vendor to deliver a product the residents want, and keeps the GM’s and the Board’s fingers out of the pie.

Missing in Action

Stuff that should be on the Board agenda, but is not…

GM performance and compensation is not on the open agenda but it is on the Dec. 7 @ 9 AM executive session agenda

Here is what I predict will happen tomorrow. The Board will:

  1.  continue to overpay the GM, including possibly another unjustifiable $20,000 bonus, without transparency or accountability to the owners
  2. fall prey to the Halo effect to give excessively high ratings by giving her a pass on failing to adequately perform significant aspects of her job.
  3. refuse to consider that customer service ratings might diverge greatly from their assessment of the job she is doing.
  4. continue to ignore that there have been multiple incidents of actions on her part which would be just cause for her termination as a violation of her duty to the membership and violations of the standards of practice of her license.
  5. fail to hold themselves accountable for paying her over $100,000 over the value of that job and allowing her to  pay other SCA managers at excessive rates.
  6. continue to refuse to allow appropriate owner oversight over the personnel system in favor of less qualified “Board work groups” controlling policy or abdicating too much authority to the GM.
  7. continue to dismiss and trivialize the concerns of the 836 residents who gave the GM  an “F” for owner relations and signed a petition of no confidence against the GM. The Board did not seriously evaluate one single criticism by owners to attempt to improve the division in the community. Instead, the petitioners were insulted and marginalized as if they were not  members of the community of equal value. The Board treated them like just a bunch of whiners and malcontents and discarded the petition was if it was just unwarranted “negativity from small vocal elements“.

I hope I’m wrong.

Not even a recommendation regarding the restaurant space

SCA CC&Rs 7.2(b) requires that the restaurant (or any other amenity) shall not be discontinued without the written authorization of 75% of the owners. CC&Rs 7.9 define the process by which the Board can change the use of the space. Neither of these provisions have been followed.

The Board locked up the restaurant right about the time the GM was hired. Ignoring the owner vote needed per 7.2(b) to lawfully discontinue operation of the restaurant and giving the GM over a year to just come up with a recommendation for the space was bad enough. Then, Rex made it worse by paying the attorney to opine in yet another no-good-for-owners violation of Board Policy Manual 4.10 that a temporary use of the space would require a vote of the owners. Then, the Board made it worse by letting her hire an unbudgeted consultant for an unknown amount of money to do the one job, by the one deadline the Board actually gave her.

So, what are we waiting for? How many excuses do we have to listen to? And how many people are we going to pay to not get the job done?

October 26 SCA Board meeting wrap-up

Here are a few highlights from the October 26 SCA Board meeting that will give you a perspective that the Board tries to suppress.

GM Compensation is a really big concern
Rex made the almost off-hand comment during the President’s report that the BOD discussed “GM performance” in executive session, but gave no further details. My next post will be about GM compensation since my trying to get the board to handle GM compensation correctly is one of the main reasons they kicked me off the Board.  The issue of GM compensation is really important because seeing how the Board mis-handled it will show you that the real threat to SCA owners is the GM and the attorney duping the Board into handing over our wallets – not that my service on the Board was going to change the outcome of quiet title litigation.

Foundation Assisting Seniors
Rex noted the Foundation Assisting Seniors was being ordered evicted as the court agreed that no SCA Board in the past would have had the authority to transfer that space to FAS in perpetuity. (I thought it had been transferred to FAS by Del Webb before the entire property was taken over by the Association, but I could be wrong.) Rex said that Sandy would make a recommendation about the use of the space.

Restaurant Consultant RFP is Out
Sandy will be hiring a consultant according to some unknown RFP for some unknown amount of unbudgeted money to give us the answer to the question “Just what’s it gonna take to have a successful restaurant”. You already know how I feel about her spending unbudgeted funds to pay a consultant to answer the wrong question after she’s left a major amenity out of service the entire time she’s been on the job.

Opinions about the recall proponents destroying our property values
Rex broke his silence about the recall in the paternalistic tone I find so grating, reprimanding the small cadre of negative proponents of the recall who have defined SCA’s character over the years with their history of unwarranted vitriolic attacks. These “people” will force a death knell to volunteerism, and these malcontents are responsible for SCA’s negative reputation and the destruction of our property values. The attorney says their rhetoric is actionable defamation even if the most horrible attacks have been “scrubbed” from their online posts.

In my view, Rex should be more introspective. Rex seems blind to his own personal contribution to the community schism and to sustaining the unhealthy divide. But then, there were more comments on the subject at different points on the agenda.

Apparently some helpful soul decided that it would be good for the community cohesiveness to incite Art with 54 pages of diatribe from some unnamed blog. Art was predictably upset by it, stunned by the negativity and unfairness of it. Art has developed a total respect for the other board members who he sees as competent and blameless. (He didn’t mention me because I have become invisible. It’s as if they feel so utterly justified in taking the law into their own hands to erase me and 2000 owners’ votes, it’s as if I never happened.) Art blamed instead that unknown blogger’s disinformation, errors and false charges to be the prime contributor to a major loss of our reputation and property values.

I am irritated with the “helpful” individual who baited Art. If it was who I think it was, he’s been helpful like that in the past, and I believe he too should be more self-aware in terms of the impact he has on perpetuating a toxic culture and on enabling the Board’s unlawful actions against me.

It’s hard to say whether our property values have actually taken a hit by virtue of SCA’s negative reputation (which all seem to agree exists now as well as in the past), and if they have gone down, who is to blame. In the Financial Report, revenue of $103,000 over budget from asset enhancement fees was described as being caused by an unexpectedly high number of home sales. Although no information about home price was given, the fact that the number of sales is up which would lead one to the opposite conclusion about the impact of our reputation on prospective purchasers.

Three more spoke in this echo chamber, not surprisingly all representing the same point of view.
I didn’t catch the name of the man who demanded that the owners be given the names of the originators of the petition and that the names of those who signed the petition should be posted on the association’s website. Sandy helpfully said that anyone could have the names of those who signed the petitions by filling out the proper form.

Yes, this is the same Sandy who authorized expenditure of thousands of your assessment dollars for the attorney to conceal SCA records from me, a sitting board member. She threatened SCA and me personally with litigation saying “employer liability”would be created if I could see SCA records related to her compensation and the transition to self-management.

Is it fair for the GM to gleefully release information that could be used to harass and intimidate petitioners who oppose her management style at the same time she spends large chunks of unbudgeted SCA funds to prevent my review of her compensation with the ludicrous claim that I was violating her privacy rights?

It is my prediction that SCA will have no peace as long as the Board forces the community into two camps. The definitions of the camps may have been different in the past, but now, they seem to be camps of Sandy’s friends vs. Sandy’s foes.  I imagine you can see why I have a little bit of trouble being silent watching the two faces of our leading lady as she inconsistently enforces the rules, bestowing blessings on the one camp and curses on the other.

Next speaker to chastise the petitioners was Jean Capilupo who stated that she had made a commitment to come to each board meeting to say something positive to help the unfairly maligned directors buck up under the strain. Clearly, she identifies completely with the directors in a “there but for” sense and so her sentiments are myopic, but understandable.

Where I get off the train is having to listen every month to the criticism of the people who don’t come to the Board meetings. I am amazed at the current and former directors’ self-righteous disdain for a large chunk of the community and their utter lack of comprehension about why those people would find the constant self-congratulation vs denigration, us vs. them, patter to be quite alienating.

The grand finale was brought home by none other than David Berman who claimed he only decided to speak after being inspired by Jean’s profound remarks. He expressed confidence that the recall will fail (no surprise, recalls usually fail at the petition stage even without overt interference), and foretold ominously, “When this is over, the originators will find they have awoken a sleeping tiger!”  Catchy turn of phrase, but I’m not sure what it meant.

 

Get involved: Questions To Ask

I’ve been asked how a homeowner can get involved and be heard…

Here are some questions to ask at the next HOA meeting, or, if you can’t make it, login to the SCA HOA website and use the management request form.

  1. Ask why they made it so hard for people to find anything out about the removal election of four directors who are ga-ga over the GM.
  2. Ask why didn’t they post the petitions so people could know what the complaints against the four directors were.
  3. Ask why there was no official response to the petitioners’ concerns was ever given to 825+ owners signed petitions for removing Rex, Aletta, Tom and Bob.
  4. Ask why no attempts to correct any of the listed problems were ever made.
  5. Ask why no provision for notifying voters who might have their mail on hold the entire voting period how to get their ballot.
  6. Ask why, when the petitions came in, management only notified David Berman.
  7. Ask why only six of the seven members of the Board were notified.
  8. Ask why the GM did not notify me, the seventh elected member of the Board, that four petitions with 825+ signers were submitted on August 11 citing a long list of complaints justifying a call for a removal election of four members of the seven-member board.
  9. Ask why no petition of 10% of the owners or removal election was required when I kicked off the board on August 24 without just cause.