Election Committee was inhospitable, angry even. Nevertheless, I persisted

Today’s SCA Election Committee meeting was an important part of the SCA Board election process because it was the official start of the election process where candidates drew lots for their ballot position.
What could it hurt if I drew a lot until the proper authority rules on my eligibility to serve?

Instead of considering the rejection of my candidacy for the Board as final, why not just treat me like any other neighborhood volunteer  – at least until there was one iota of proof that I really was worthy of such vilification?

What happened went I went looking for justice?

I gave the Board and management notice that I was appealing the 2/9/18 Notice of Ineligibility that the Clarkson Law Group had whipped up on SCA owners’ dime to make sure that someone who had the support of at least 2,000 owners was blocked from even being a candidate.

In the prior notice, I asked for them not to use the attorney or security to threaten or humiliate me. They accommodated me only insofar as owners didn’t  pay for an outside agent to ensure that I was relegated to pariah status. But then, they knew full well, they didn’t need to bring in the heavy-weights, the Election Committee – dutifully, sternly, and totally predictably stepped up to take on the enforcer role.

The Officials act official, or was it officious?

Before the meeting, I went to the EC chair, Carol Steibel, and told her that I was appealing the attorney’s decision to deem me ineligible and that I wanted to draw for a ballot number so I could stay on equal footing in the election process until a determination on my eligibility was made by proper authority (NRED).

When I handed her my 2-page appeal, she tossed it aside testily, and said,

“I’ve already read that.”

“How could you have? I just wrote it this morning.” said I.

“Well, I read something else, then. The attorney said you can’t be a candidate, and we have to listen to the attorney.”

When I sat at the table, two members of the committee told me sternly to get away from the table. Only candidates could sit there.

Carol somberly started the meeting by saying that the meeting would not be recorded and that no one was allowed to record it as it was against the law.

The thing about this edict that totally chaps my hide is a major owner protection to allow recordings so, to be ornery I guess, I said I was going to record it. Their reaction was intense. Forrest Quinn joined in saying that he did not authorize recording him.

Bob Burch said he wanted my assurance that I wasn’t going to record it. I said I wasn’t recording it, and he announced to the crowd,

“We’ve had this trouble before”

further solidifying the ‘Us vs. Them Her’ dynamic permeating the room.

Carol very formally read a notice from the attorney about my situation. She would brook no argument. It was FINAL!

  • The Board deemed Nona Tobin’s Board position vacant by law making her ineligible to be on the Board.
  • Nona herself made the charges public.
  • No circumstances have changed that would make her eligible.
  • Clarkson law office was merely asked to inform Nona since the Board’s decision that  was ineligible has not changed.

My, my, my…what an awful person that Nona is! An existential threat.  Carol’s tone made it totally clear that questioning the veracity or authority of the attorney would be considered treason, the concept of “Innocent until proven guilty” totally shrouded by her blind spot.
P.S. None of the above statements from the attorney that Carol reported are true. I’ll be handing the documents over to NRED to prove it as soon as I can.

Carol was so busy genuflecting before Clarkson’s awesomeness that she might have forgotten for the teensyist second that as the Election Committee Chairperson, her primary job is to protect the integrity of the election process, to ensure the election is free from undue interference and to protect ANY owner from being disenfranchised.

Maybe a little training? I suggest training should come from NRED or any competent, independent professional, but absolutely not conducted by Adam Clarkson.

Gary Lee, Board candidate new to the scene, innocently asked for a better explanation why I was dumped, but Carol was adamant that she had said all that needed to be said on the subject, and that he was holding up the very, very important business of the committee.

Tobin appeal to being disqualified as a candidate

Quick note about # 4 above, it should read that in addition to the NRED form 850, I also submitted the disclosure form as edited by the attorneys even though it was not legally-mandated for me to do so.

Tobin Appeal Page 2

Ask Yourself:
Would my actions make sense if I were on the Board to make a profit?

What does my being on the Board have to do with what the court does about the house? The Board doesn’t have anything to say about it.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say the Board could vote on something related to the outcome of the title fight. If my ulterior motive was to get the Board to vote to quiet title to me instead of the bank, wouldn’t I have tried a different approach?

If I were trying to get a Board vote on litigation I could profit from, wouldn’t I have been smarter to ingratiate myself and “go along to get along”.
  • Wouldn’t I have been foolish to risk the ire of the Board to protect the right of owners to legally sign petitions to call for a vote to remove directors from the Board?
  • Would I have pursued formal complaints to enforcement authorities saying that the attorney and the GM should be fired for causing the Board to act unlawfully?

Ask yourself:
Isn’t it more likely that the same over-compensated GM and attorney, after protecting compliant directors in power from a removal election, just created a convenient ruse to bypass owners’ votes and remove the thorn in their side and block me from coming back?

 

 

Election Committee TOMORROW 9 AM – pick order of names on ballot

Concord Room Anthem Center
9 AM Tuesday, Feb. 13
Election Committee
Board Candidate Orientation
Candidates draw for ballot order

I’ll be there despite Clarkson’s challenge to my eligibility. I have requested that I be treated as a candidate unless a State of Nevada official with proper legal authority rules that I am not eligible to be a candidate.

As you can see in the email below (which I sent to the SCA Board, the GM, the Ombudsman, the NRED investigator and others), I have requested, in respect for my advanced age and frail heart, that I not be treated unfairly or be subjected to a hostile surprise attack, be escorted from the room or face any other bullying or humiliation because I have the temerity to insist on my right to volunteer to serve as a member of the Board.

I encourage you to come if you are interested in ensuring that SCA is not the kind of place where a homeowner in good standing, acting in good faith, can be treated shabbily for simply trying to be of service.

Remember, this is not about me. 

This is about having a system of governance that is fair, open and protects ALL homeowners equally – no matter who is in charge.

Who gets to decide who is eligible to serve on the Board?

Who authorized the Clarkson Law Group to block me from running for the Board?

Not the law. Not NRED. Not the SCA Board. I believe Adam Clarkson and his whole Law Group should be re-trained to better understand who their client is. No Association attorney has legal decision-making authority to control who is eligible to sit on a Board of Directors.

Follow this link for a 2012 article by Barbara Holland, “HOA directors should be held accountable“, in which she noted:

The majority of the people who have been found guilty in the current FBI investigation of the massive Southern Nevada HOA scandal have been on boards of directors.

Holland argued that HOAs needed to be protected from fraud, but note her warning about the potential for abuse

There should also be some discussion as to whether a homeowner should be disqualified from being placed on the ballot when he or she is currently in violation of the community’s governing documents.
Now, this is a touchy subject as this proposed law would be used improperly by HOA boards that could try and block homeowners from sitting on the board.

Why didn’t Clarkson disclose his former employment to SCA when it could be perceived as a potential conflict?

Adam Clarkson’s resume submitted to SCA during the 2017 RFP process did not disclose where he practiced law after he passed the Nevada bar in 2006 until 2014 when he incorporated the Clarkson law Group. Last September, AnthemOpinions reported that Clarkson was had been an associate attorney for the firm of Quon, Bruce, Christiansen early in his career.

Law Partner Nancy Quon was a principal player in the HOA corruption scandal from 2008 until her suicide in 2012. The massive conspiracy involved rigging HOA board elections and taking over HOA boards to steer legal and construction defects contracts to specific firms.

Adam Clarkson was never charged with a crime or even accused of knowing of the conspiracy that purportedly was led by Nancy Quon, a partner in the law firm that employed him. However, given the job Clarkson was applying for, shouldn’t he have disclosed to SCA, that his prior employment “would appear to a reasonable person to result in a potential conflict” ? Shouldn’t he held to as high a standard of disclose as he is imposing on me?

When I went on the Board, Clarkson demanded  that I “voluntarily” relinquish some of my legal rights to “avoid even the slightest appearance of a conflict” by signing an agreement to recuse myself from ALL SCA collection matters . This demand far exceeds the conflict of interest requirements in NRS 116.31084 and NRS 82 and seems pretty self-serving.

In fact, forcing me to recuse myself from current SCA collection matters did not protect SCA or homeowners one iota since my quiet title claim is for unlawful acts by SCA’s former agent, FSR.Stripping my access to information about collections as a Board member, and now trying to prevent my getting back on the Board, appears to a reasonable person to only protected Clarkson’s interests.

Clarkson Law Group is both SCA’s general counsel and debt collector which in my book creates a potential conflict of interest. Oh yeah, one of the ways Clarkson justified deeming my board position vacant was saying  I “put matters before the Board from which (I) stand to make a profit” when I proposed to the Board that some remedies to my complaint of harassment and retaliation would be to:

So who has the greater appearance of a conflict – me or Clarkson?

Clarkson has overstepped his authority

I am not in violation of any governing documents. I am a member in good standing. I have no financial claims against SCA. SCA is still in the quiet title litigation only because they refused at least eight attempts on my part to resolve the issue without litigation and before I got on the Board.

Why have homeowners had to pay the Clarkson Law Group tens of thousands of dollars to:

  • order me to cease and desist asking about the GMs excessive compensation
  • falsely accuse me of making a profit on my Board position,
  • having undisclosed  or “potential” conflicts, c
  • reating “employer liability”?

Did the Board declare me ineligible to run?

Not the Board. There was no Board vote to declare me ineligible to run.
At least there was no agenda or notice of a Board meeting to take such a vote.

There is no provision in law, SCA governing documents or SCA Board policy that creates a mechanism for the Board to take such an action. Compare this Clarkson/Seddon edict that I am ineligible with the FBI Russia investigation:

Even if the FBI investigation produced a finding that Russia manipulated the vote enough to make Trump win the Electoral College, there is still no mechanism in law for the Attorney General to invalidate the election, declare Trump ineligible, or to put Hillary Clinton in Trump’s place.

So, absent action by the Board, who decided I was ineligible and on what legal authority?

The GM, probably just did the same thing she did when she wanted legal cover for interfering in the recall election and cost homeowners $84,866 unbudgeted dollars to hire a CPA to make sure the recall failed.

But, given how Clarkson has buffaloed the Board into thinking that an Association attorney has higher decision-making authority than an Association Board, Clarkson might just as easily taken this action on his own initiative.

But whichever one did it, he or she acted without legal authority. And the Board let him or her or them do it.

Clarkson and the GM have done a fair amount of monetary damage to the Association that they have fought like hell to keep you all from finding out about.

I’m just saying.

Don’t you think it is weird that the same attorney who insists that I am a financial threat to SCA is the same joker who charged SCA $39,635 in 2017 for legal fees just to write me threatening letters and to help the GM threaten to sue SCA if the Board didn’t stop me from asking questions about her pay.

And it didn’t end. Clarkson sent me letter last month demanding that I  stop asking for SCA records that the law says are available to any owner. He sent another one to the KTNV keep Sandy Seddon’s pay confidential to protect her privacy. All SCA owners will have to pay $325/hour for these letters and for Clarkson to handle the NRED complaint. See a pattern?

Why is it a problem for the Board to act only “on the advice of counsel”?

Opportunity Costs – What owners had to give up to pay attorneys

A lot of it is unnecessary. A lot of it is by creating conflict, and common sense remedies are rebuffed. No effort to do best practices is rewarded when attorneys work on the principle of using the legal minimum as legal restraints.

This is the same guy that advised the Board that it was somehow magically exempt from black letter law in NRS 116 on such trivial matters as freedom of information and owner rights to know how their money is being spent.

This is same guy who says the GM can spend money that isn’t budgeted on her own initiative without measuring the opportunity cost to owner services where those funds were supposed to be spent. I personally would have much rather SCA spent some of the money that was wasted on attorney fees on

  • a better sound system for group exercise classrooms or
  • better pay for the fitness instructors or
  • enough funding to not cancel exercise classes.

This is the same guy who had no trouble with SCA’s 2017 expenditure for legal services that was triple the already ample $90,000 budget.

Really, in 2017, this Board expended 300% of what prior Boards needed to govern responsibly. Of course, those other Boards didn’t have a legal counsel who told them it was a violation of their fiduciary duty to make any decision without the approval of the attorney.

This same crackerjack attorney told me it would be considered practicing law without a license if I told people they didn’t need a legal opinion every time someone blew their nose.

My commitment is to owners

Whether I get on the Board or not, I will fight for Board action to

1) prevent the overuse of attorneys,
2) prohibit the GM from using the attorney as her personal counsel against the association or individuals or groups,
3) require the Board policy manual section 4.10 be rigorously followed,
4) prohibit the use of attorneys in debt collection  prior to foreclosure,
5) use foreclosure as a last resort and not ever to benefit the debt collector over the homeowners,
6) to get the NRED or CIC Commission to rule that any fines or monetary damages come out of the attorney’s pocket so that he not be paid for causing the Board to violate owner protection laws and that he not be paid for the unlawful, abusive and threatening letters he sent me both during and after my time on the Board.

What’s the big picture statewide?

This interference in HOA elections is a much bigger issue than what happens to me. It affects every HOA in Nevada. The Clarkson Law Group claims to represent 300+ associations in Nevada, an amazing career trajectory for  firm that incorporated only three years ago. Adam Clarkson is the President-elect of the Nevada Community Associations Institute, a lobbying group geared primarily to serve the interests of the HOA agents – attorneys, managers, debt collectors, construction defect-related agents. CAI is NOT a homeowner advocacy group.

If Clarkson is allowed to get away with influencing the composition of the SCA Board for his or the GM’s profit or to support the political advantage of compliant and docile Directors, he could do it anywhere.

In fact, I bet he already has.

 

.

Evicted FAS has new home near Sun City Anthem

 Foundation Assisting Seniors
2518 Anthem Village Dr., # 102
(725) 244-4200
FoundationAssistingSeniors.org

HENDERSON, Nev. — Established in 2002, the Foundation Assisting Seniors is proud to announce its new location at 2518 Anthem Village Dr., Ste. 102, in Henderson, Nev. The Foundation provides essential programs and services including light home maintenance and durable medical equipment, as well as the HowRU™ program and the Medication Reminder program at no cost.

“We are thrilled to announce our new location to better serve the ever-expanding senior community,” said Carol Chapman, vice president of the Foundation Assisting Seniors. “At this new location, we are able to assist those who rely on our organization for a variety of needs and services.”

Seniors and their loved ones are encouraged to set an appointment prior to visiting the new location. Appointments can be made by contacting The Foundation.

The Foundation Assisting Seniors enters its 16th year with a mission to assist the senior community, at no cost, in times of illness, recovery, confinement at home, coping with loss of a loved one, and other senior challenges, as well as to provide assistance with everyday tasks such as household maintenance and transportation.

For more information, please call (725) 244-4200 or visit FoundationAssistingSeniors.org.

The house that took over a life

Six years ago today my fiance Bruce died, leaving me to deal with an underwater house that has consumed many of my waking hours to this day.

The story of this house, the source of so much aggravation, is the poster child for how homeowners and HOAs have been victimized by banks, debt collectors, managers and attorneys in the aftermath of the housing market crash a decade ago.

Long story short starts with the banks

  • Housing market crashed.
  • Bruce died at the bottom of the market.
  • He left a trust with one asset – an underwater house.
  • The banks would not refinance it nor approve any short sale.
First plot twist

In the vast majority of the legal battles over an HOA foreclosure, the homeowner is gone before the fight.  The homeowner doesn’t fight if the delinquent debtor was a deadbeat, debilitated by debt, or died.

I am not a deadbeat, or even the debtor, nor debilitated nor dead.

I am a fiduciary, fighting for the rights of Bruce’s trust.

Back to the bank….
  • After B of A botched several sales, I refused to keep paying maintenance costs, such as HOA assessments and utilities.
  • B of A took possession but would not take title and did not foreclose nor accept a deed in lieu offer from me.
  • Nationstar took over servicing from B of A, but Nationstar’s investor also refused to close any deal no matter how good the offer was.
Enter SCA agents to try to beat the bank
  • Story continues for a couple of years.with SCA agents starting and stopping, scheduling and then withdrawing a threatened  foreclosure for delinquent assessments
  • B of A tendered the super-priority portion of delinquent SCA assessments, but SCA’s agents (FSR and Red Rock Financial Services) refused to accept less than their version of full payment – very similar to the $55,000 Citibank settlement Rex reported out from the December 7 Board meeting.
  • After SCA’s agents cancelled the foreclosure sale multiple times, they sold it in 2014 to a Realtor for 18% of its value, $63,100 without ANY notice to me, my agent, or the bank. This Realtor worked in the Berkshire-Hathaway office where my listing agent worked.
Unbeknownst to the SCA Board, its agents were secretly working for themselves
  • SCA’s agents told the Ombudsman that the sale was cancelled, but then secretly held the sale anyway and did not EVER report to the Ombudsman that a foreclosure sale had occurred.
  • After the surprise sale in 2014, SCA agents credited SCA with only $2,700 of the $63,100 sale proceeds as payment in full, and SCA agents unlawfully kept the $60,400 balance.
  • FSR did not ever report in HOA records that the house was sold to the Realtor, or that the Realtor ever paid any assessment enhancement fees or new owner fees.
  • HOA records (created by FSR) are in direct conflict with recorded documents and show that a dentist took possession after the foreclosure, not the Realtor named on the foreclosure deed created by FSR.
  • There are two recorded title changes in the county records that do not exist in SCA’s records for which FSR has some explaining to do.

SCA is in, but can’t win

Three lawsuits to quiet title from 2015 to the present have thousands of pages of documents filed.

SCA is in the middle of this complex litigation even though there is nothing SCA can win and where there is nothing to lose but attorney fees.

Lawsuit 1

The dentist who currently has possession of Bruce’s house sued SCA and B of A for quiet title in 2015.

Records conflict about when the dentist took possession of Bruce’s house. It was either in 2014 after SCA agents foreclosed (which is what SCA records say), or he took possession in 2015 when he recorded a fraudulent quit claim deed (which is what County records say).

The court issued a judgment of default against B of A who did not respond to the summons. SCA was still in the lawsuit because the dentist inexplicably never served SCA a notice to appear.

Lawsuit 2

In 2016 Nationstar sued the Realtor who held the foreclosure deed, but then found out about lawsuit 1.

Nationstar took B of A’s place in the lawsuit. even though neither bank is owed any money from the mortgage.

Lawsuit 3

On behalf of Bruce’s trust, I sued all parties in 2017 to claim the title should be returned to Bruce’s trust because the foreclosure sale was conducted unlawfully in SCA’s name by SCA agents.

The dispute over the title to Bruce’s house is between me, the dentist, and the bank.

SCA has no financial interest in the title and was already paid in full for delinquent assessments in 2014.

Why is SCA being sued for its agents’misconduct?

SCA’s former agents foreclosed under SCA’s  statutory authority.

SCA is responsible for its agents, and the SCA Board is responsible for ensuring that its agents act lawfully.

SCA Board President Rex and SCA’s current agents refused to negotiate or do anything whatsoever to attempt resolution without litigation.

SCA could have gotten out of the litigation without cost by simply stating that the Board did not authorize SCA’ former agents to conduct the foreclosure sale unlawfully and affirming that no current or former Board member profited from the non-compliant sale.

How does this all relate to the big picture of protecting homeowners from being forced to pay for agents’ misconduct?

What happened to Bruce’s house has happened a thousand times in Nevada in the last decade.

After getting rid of FSR, SCA jumped from the frying pan into the fire and hired Alessi & Koenig in 2015 to be SCA’s debt collector attorneys without noticing that they had been sued in 500 of 800 HOA foreclosures they conducted between 2011-2015.

The situation worsened when Alessi & Koenig hid their assets from creditors, dissolved their corporation and morphed into HOA Lawyers Group. SCA continued to use HOA Lawyers Group after they were put on notice of the fraudulent scheme.

The downward spiral in how SCA handles debt collections continues to this day by contracting with the Clarkson Law Group despite their unethical practices designed to prevent these problems from being disclosed to the membership.

A 2017 UNLV/Association of Realtors study showed that HOA foreclosures have cost the real estate market $1 billion due to the approximately 700 cases they identified  Clark and Washoe Counties alone between 2013 and early 2016.

HOA Boards statewide have been duped (like SCA Board has been) into facilitating this major rip-off contrary to the financial interests of the associations and their members.

Next time:

The high price of protection
Analysis of the UNLV study estimating $1 billion property value loss due to HOA foreclosures in Clark and Washoe Counties alone.

Is SCA Board retaining lawful control of the budget?

Just saying that the Board acted “on the advice of counsel” doesn’t cut it

If the Board learned and followed these simple legal requirements, the GM and the attorney would be prevented from taking control of our budget and spending our money for something other than our benefit:

NRS 116.31151 (1)(a) requires the Board to prepare and distribute to owners a “budget for the daily operations of the association” which per CC&Rs 8.1(d) is deemed ratified “Unless 90% of all Owners reject the budget…”
The budget is distributed as required and is always ratified. No surprise. Hard to imagine 90% of all owners being mobilized to object to any budget the Board puts forward, but at least everybody knows what expenditures the Board has approved. 

NRS 116A.620 (1)(i) requires any management agreement to define spending limits for the GM.
Here’s the start of the slippery slope toward abdicationSCA Board and GM did not execute a management agreement nor have spending limits for the GM been defined. Pretty easy to rob Peter to pay Paul and then blame Peter for the missing money.

Per SCA bylaws 3.20, the SCA Board is prohibited from delegating policy control over the budget or, for that matter, deciding the amount of assessments, or deciding who can open bank accounts or sign checks or enforce the governing documents.
Here’s where SCA is really careening down that slippery slope. SCA is unprotected by not the Board not defining GM spending limits or service-level expectations in the legally-mandated terms of a management agreement.
Of course, without an agreement, the GM is not legally protected either. She is just an “at-will” employee, meaning she can be fired for any reason or no reason, just not a discriminatory reason. Her terms & conditions of employment are defined in the SCA Personnel Handbook and nowhere else.
But, don’t feel sorry for her. Not only does the Board coddle her, the SCA attorney has
 magically , albeit unethically, created “rights” for the GM that do not exist in black letter law and which are in direct conflict to the interests of the membership.

SCA bylaws 4.6 requires two Board members must sign all checks for any amount, and bylaws 3.25 requires that directors act on an informed basis while carrying out this duty, i.e., sign a check only if it is for something that has been approved in the budget.
Two Board members do sign all checks, but they may as well let the GM use a rubber stamp.

SCA Board Policy Manual 4.10 limits authority to request legal opinions to the Board as a whole or, in narrowly defined circumstances, to the President for the purpose of “…assessing the legal risks on actions under consideration…”. This provision specifically limits the GM’s authority to “…contact legal counsel regarding NRS 116 or other compliance issues…” not to act only “on the advice of counsel”. The SCA-Clarkson Law Group legal services agreement ONLY allows the attorney to provide legal opinions in response to specific Board requests. The attorney has NO decision-making authority over SCA policies.
Previous Boards had enough common sense to govern SCA without having to spend four times the budget to get the attorney to bless every action before it’s taken.
But then, Clarkson is a bully who has, using tactics bordering on elder abuse, and in clear violation of his professional standards of conduct, convinced the Board that it is a violation of their fiduciary duty to act without consulting him even in areas outside his firm’s practice specialty.
As a result, the President and the GM blithely use the attorney far in excess of what is legally permissible for self-serving purposes and in defiance of all common sense.

In conclusion…

The GM’s takeover of the SCA budget is happening on a grand scale because the attorney has blessed it (thereby being unjustly enriched), and the Board (who thereby gets to stay in power) self-righteously allows such foolishness as:

  • Spending an unbudgeted $85,000 for a CPA to do the Election Committee’s normal job to mess up the recall election was allowed by the GM solely “upon the advice of counsel”, but absent the inconvenience of legal Board action.
  • Six months spending for legal services was approved in the budget to cap at $45,000, but four times that amount, $185,000, was spent by the GM without any formal Board action to approve it and without conforming to the laws governing civil actions (NRS 116.31088), or sanctions for violations of governing documents (NRS 116.31085, CC&Rs 7.4) or limits on authority of the Board (NRS 116.3103, NRS 116.31036, NRS 116.31084) or owners rights (NRS 116.1104, NRS 116.31083, NRS 116.31175), or good faith  (NRS 116.1113, NRS 116.1112), and prohibition against harassment and retaliation (NRS 116.31183, NRS 116.31184).

I’m as amazed as you are at their gall.

Who benefits from spending SCA homeowners’ money?

Assessments levied against the unit owners’ property can only be used for the sole and exclusive benefit of the membership of the Association, e.g., maintenance of the common areas, actions to protect the property values of all our homes, preserving amenities and high quality lifestyle.

It is not ever acceptable for the Board, the GM or the attorney to put their personal, financial or political interests ahead of the interests of owners AKA “the common good“.

Therefore, allowing SCA management or agents to spend owners’ money for highly controversial and unbudgeted purposes that provide no benefit to SCA membership should not be tolerated.

Board decisions must always be evaluated against the standard of “Who benefits by it?
If the answer is anybody or anything other than “the common good“, don’t do it.

Here are some examples where no benefit accrued to “the common good“, but they did it anyway.

  • The SCA membership lost when the Board vindictively evicted the Foundation Assisting Seniors after the GM failed to mediate a mutually-acceptable solution to CSG’s problems, blamed the Foundation President, and made up a silly story to justify forcing members to pay more after damaging a valued community resource.
  • Paying $85,000 for a CPA to conduct the recall election in a manner designed to keep the current Board majority from being recalled for cause provided no benefit to the association. It was more than a waste of owners’ money to keep those Board members in power. It allowed the attorney and the GM to keep their over-compensated jobs, too.
  • Paying untold thousands of dollars to make repeated threats of frivolous litigation of defamation against a Board member and unlawful orders for her to  cease & desist making inquiries regarding GM compensation clearly wasted owners’ money. It’s easy to see how using the attorney this way was protecting the GM and her fat paycheck. But, it’s impossible to see how such extreme action was protecting the association.
  • There is no benefit to the association for the Board to unlawfully remove an elected Board member on the false charge that she is making a profit from her Board position. It is simply a power trip and a nasty way of showing 2,000 voters that their votes don’t matter.

Is SCA Board protecting owners from scams?

Owner oversight, the bedrock of good HOA governance, has been decimated by this Board

SCA Board has gone a step further than just emasculating owner oversight by committees. It has also developed a self-righteous strategy to delegitimize ALL owner complaints about Board members, the attorney, and the GM (performance, pay, and recall election interference).

Their claim,

“It’s just CAVE (Complainers About Virtually Everything) people”,

has worked well for the Board (kept the majority in power). But, there is a huge downside. Marginalizing a large segment of the community has not been good for SCA as a whole and has divided the community into factions.

SCA Board refuses to listen to both sides of the story and acts according to their own spin

The Board puts the entire SCA community at risk by arrogantly ignoring well-substantiated complaints simply because they don’t agree with the complaint, or don’t like the person who complained. They’re not doing their job if they don’t address these issues fairly:

  • Paying the GM $100,000+ over the market rate for the job without having done any due diligence;
  • Allowing the GM to compensate at least two other managers double the going rate for their jobs;
  • Refusing to allow ANY owner oversight of personnel matters;
  • Having no system for GM accountability – no management agreement, no performance standards, no salary survey or bonus criteria, no spending limits, no insurance requirements, no written terms & conditions of employment;
  • Allowing the GM & attorney to unfairly influence the recall election in their favor;
  • Abdicating control of the budget to highly compensated agents;
  • Blaming the recall proponents for the GM expending $85,000 for an incompetent execution of the petition counting and ballot distribution/collection which benefitted at least one Board member unfairly;
  • Making unbudgeted expenditures of more than $150,000 in six months over the normal budget for Legal Services which is in conflict with NRS and SCA bylaws provisions as well as defies good common sense.

The Board either has refused to respond AT ALL to these issues, or worse, has used SCA official communications (as well as its sympathetic blogger) to viciously attack whoever speaks up about these Board failures to properly govern.

Worse still, the attorney enables the Board’s dysfunctional (lack of) response to owner complaints by wrongly advising that the Board and the GM don’t have to answer.

Good governance = a fair and open system

Good governance depends on a fair and open system that SCA has yet to develop.

Good governance can best (and perhaps only) be guaranteed if there is a transparent system of checks and balances to prevent fraud, errors, and omissions.

Owner oversight is the bedrock of a good governance system in any public agency or in any non-profit corporation like SCA is.  Owners (like taxpayers or donors) are ultimately responsible for footing the bill.

Agents and elected officials are there to serve the owners and not the other way around.

SCA Board, GM and attorney have a lot to learn before they can claim SCA has a system of good governance. They act as if SCA agents and the Board are co-equal branches of the association/government and that the owners are like wards of the court. This is nuts.

What if you contracted with a Realtor to sell your house, and he refused a great offer without telling you? What if he failed to disclose a relationship with a different potential buyer that he was pushing? I imagine you’d fire him and get somebody that would work SOLELY to get you the best deal.

It’s the same with SCA agents. It is their duty work SOLELY and EXCLUSIVELY in the best interest of the SCA membership. It is unlawful for them to put their self-interest before the best interests of the owners, but it’s a little harder to see what’s going on if the Board is helping (even if unwittingly) the agents  to act in ways that are not the best for the owners.

It is a major failure of the Board’s duty of care to the membership to abdicate, i.e., just hand over to SCA agents independent authority, power and rights over SCA policy and our wallets that neither you nor I would so cavalierly hand over to agents in our personal lives.

 

I need to correct the record distorted by Rex Weddle

Rex Weddle’s self-serving article “The Attempted Recall” in the December Spirit is a stunning, wrong-headed form of revisionist history. As President, Rex is the only one who can speak for the whole Board and in that role, he gets to speak for the Board in the monthly President’s Report in the Spirit.

In this case, Rex inappropriately, if not unlawfully, used the Spirit as a bully pulpit to try to intimidate his political opponents and to blame them for things that were actually his fault.

If Rex was speaking as an individual, can any individual have a full page of the Spirit to express her opinion about the recall?

Rex began by describing the recall  as “an organized effort” that took five months to gather enough signatures to call for an election.

That’s not what I saw happening. Without any organized group, the recall movement just seemed to spring into existence. It seemed to be an almost organic movement of people whose only commonality seemed to be signing some petitions. Whoever they were, they were exercising their LEGAL right to call for a removal election, and those legal rights to vote are sacrosanct.

I heard owners were signing because of anger about changes for the worse since switching to self-management, like new requirements for the Clubs, the (lack of a) restaurant, the shabby treatment of the Foundation Assisting Seniors, the GM’s pay or her surprising owners with the loss or change of some amenity, such as the group exercise $45 card.

I also understand that the over 800 signatures were collected in less than five weeks over the summer when many of the owners are not even in residence. Such a significant statement of customer dissatisfaction should not be trivialized.

And yet, Rex  purported to be perplexed as to why any owners would even try to recall four members of the Board (including Rex), saying

“NRS 116 makes the recall of executive board members extremely difficult”.

This is correct only insofar as it is a fact that the only LEGAL way to REMOVE a director from the Board is through the legally-defined, arduous process beginning with 10% of the owners calling for a recall election.

Rex seems oblivious to the irony that he violated this very section of NRS 116 when he voted to remove a Director from the Board whom ZERO owners signed a petition to recall.

“Since most of the allegations boiled down to simple a difference of opinion about past decisions made by the Board,…”

Actually, the petitions listed owner complaints and grievances (link is as reported on Anthem Opinions blog, but which were NEVER reported on the SCA website or at Board meeting or in the Spirit) that were not just “a simple difference of opinion”. They were stark differences between right and wrong.

The very first allegation in the petition –  “an unprecedented number of violations of NRS 116 and SCA’s governing documents” – was certainly verifiable had an investigation been conducted and subjected to public scrutiny.

“…there was little evidence to suggest the targeted directors were guilty of any sort of high crimes and misdemeanors that would justify the widespread outrage needed for recall.

Two things:

  • The petitioners were not required to give ANY reason, let alone evidence of guilt of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, to exercise their LEGAL right to call for a removal election and to collect signatures free from harassment. Removal can be with or without cause IF, and only IF, the arduous conditions required by NRS 116 and SCA bylaws are met (10% of owners sign petitions, 35% of ALL owners vote YES, and 50%+1 of those voting vote YES).
  • Neither Rex nor the other three Directors subject to recall nor the Board as a whole did any self-examination geared to  satisfying the customer service concerns of some 800 owners. This is a crime in my book. The Board’s job is to serve ALL the owners. SCA is a monopoly. Dissatisfied owners can’t live here and join another HOA they like better. Homeowners’ only recourse is to vote out Directors who they think are not serving their interests well.

In what world would it be good business to blow off customer service complaints from more than 10% of your customers without any investigation?

“The real reasons behind this expensive failed attempt to recall half the Board are still not clear.”

Let me break it down for you, Rex. There are lots of owners that are dissatisfied with the way they have been treated by you, the Board and by the GM. Many want to change the direction the Association is headed on your watch.

While you acknowledge that there was “widespread outrage”, you don’t see that it is YOUR job to fix the problems, not just say they don’t exist. It is not, under any circumstances, correct for you to blame your customers for not liking your product nor to blame them for the expense of the CPA and attorney you wanted.

It is NOT responsible leadership to claim that the complaints of 800 people are not justified and don’t need to be seriously investigated. Owners are your customers. No matter what your name is, you are not their king.

“Those who worked for it denied being its organizers. To this day the leadership of the group behind the attempted recall has never stepped forward and publicly made itself known.”

Attempting to identify the leaders of the recall movement is an unacceptable form of harassment and threat of retaliation against owners who exercised their only LEGAL means to remove some Directors.

There is already substantial evidence that, if identified, anyone involved in the recall will be subjected to inappropriate abuse by those in power.

I can make this assertion on great personal authority as I have been threatened, harassed or had my character maligned  for, among other things, my defending the LEGAL rights of the petitioners to collect signatures unmolested in the common areas  and for my attempting to prevent election interference

Subjecting ANY owner to abuse for simply exercising their legal rights deserves ZERO tolerance.

For example, it is unconscionable that David Berman, head of OSCAR, has been given the names of the people who signed the petitions and that he has threatened that he would recommend against their serving on the Board for that reason. (Note that no official information about the petitions or the recall was ever formally given to the Board or the owners, and even though  I was a Board member and the liaison to the Election Committee, I learned about the petitions being submitted from David Berman’s blog.)

No wonder dissatisfied owners don’t want to be identified because they are crucified for speaking up. It’s exactly the same reason many sexual harassment victims nationwide were silent for years.

“Because a majority of the Board was targeted for removal, recall proponents argued the Association’s Management and unaffected directors could not be trusted to run a recall process. So the SCA Election Committee was bypassed …”

This is TOTALLY WRONG to extend the complaints against Rex, management and the attorney to the Election Committee. To my knowledge, there was never any request by proponent of a fair removal election process to bypass the Election Committee.

In fact, I personally advised against the GM being involved for her poor judgment, as an example, by including Rex, a subject of the recall, in a meeting with Election Committee officials to develop plans for the recall election.

As the Board Liaison to the Election Committee, all my actions were designed to protect the integrity of the recall election process and to ensure the Election Committee could perform their normal chartered functions without interference.

As the excerpt below from an August 6 email I wrote to the chair of the Election Committee shows that, in my view, the absolutely least desirable action was to bypass the Election Committee.

The horrible waste of over $73,000+ unnecessary expenditure for the attorney and the CPA to muck up the process can be 100% attributable to Rex Weddle. As Board President, Rex is accountable for getting the Board to allow disempowering of the Election Committee (in violation of the bylaws, adopted Board policies and the budget) which in the end made the recall process more expensive, more divisive and less fair.

As a subject of the recall, Rex should also be held accountable for exerting undue influence over the process and taking actions to the detriment of the owners who were exercising their LEGAL rights to call for a vote to remove him.

“Purposeful misstatements, allegations of fraud and assertions of corruption were made, not only against the targeted directors, but the whole Board. Our own SCA Management team and Association counsel were also subject to these attacks. These allegations, without much in the way of factual support,…”

Rex’s treating such serious allegations so dismissively is irresponsible. His claiming the allegations are baseless without allowing any investigation or attempt at remediation is a complete failure of his, and the Board’s, duty of care to the owners.

Part 2 is coming soon.

I will continue rebutting Rex’s article in another blog. The amount of evidence I have to contradict  Rex’s misrepresentations is overwhelming .

 

SCA’s Wasteful Loss of Foundation Assisting Seniors

The recent open letter attorney Clarkson wrote attempted to justify the SCA’s Board’s actions against the Foundation Assisting Seniors (FAS). It was very disheartening. It shows SCA is lacking a system that guarantees Board decisions actually will serve the best interests of the community. It also shows how the Board does not hold the GM accountable for ensuring mutually-beneficial and cost-effective resolutions to community disputes.

The GM did not do a competent job to collaborate with FAS on a solution beneficial to SCA owners.

The Board delegated the dispute to the GM for resolution, but she was incapable of developing a collaborative solution or to avoid escalating the conflict. Why doesn’t the Board hold her accountable for that failure? Why doesn’t the Board hold itself accountable for achieving a negotiated settlement that would maximize benefits of both organizations to the SCA membership?

Instead, the Board followed the unhealthy pattern of power politics where they forgot who they are representing and who they and the GM are supposed to be serving. Their “Board/GM must win/be right and Favil West must lose” strategy made the Foundation Assisting Seniors and all of SCA’s members and residents just collateral damage to their “fight fire with Napalm” approach.

We all lose when the Board and the GM don’t do their job

In the end, we all lose when the Board does not hold the GM accountable for preventing or minimizing disputes.

When neither the Board nor the GM hold themselves accountable for bringing the community together or for maximizing “neighbor-helping-neighbor” strategies, we all lose.

When the Board picks a side to throw their weight and our money into waging a war against owners perceived to be on the other “side”.

We all lose when the Board does not hold the GM accountable for the owner relations and “people” parts of the General Manager job as much as for the property management aspects of the GM job.

WHY are we paying her so much if she doesn’t exhibit sufficient leadership or collaboration skills to bring the community together synergistically or to negotiate mutually-beneficial arrangements that allow diverse groups to thrive here?
Evicting FAS was the unnecessary destruction of a community treasure

Escalation of this conflict should never have happened. Consider for a moment how Favil West described as the FAS’ beginnings:

In 2003 the Foundation submitted a grant proposal to Pulte for a community service building.  Pulte accepted the proposal.  The Foundation President negotiated the design of the building, a building worth more than $550,000, to house the Foundation and the services it started; SCA TV, Community Service, and Emergency Preparedness (all originally part of the Foundation). The end result was that the building would be provided to SCA in addition to Independence Center, with Pulte’s condition that space would be dedicated to FAS so long as it serves SCA seniors.  This was evidenced by the original plans showing and referencing the Foundation space allocation. This term was accepted by SCA and was documented by a board resolution at the SCA April 2007 board meeting.

 

These statements were presented as documented facts so they should have been easy to verify. Why was there no simple, fair internal cost-effective process to ascertain their veracity?

Instead of collaboratively evaluating the facts where both sides were given an equal opportunity to present their side of the story, those in power wastefully decided to disregard these assertions, to ignore the good that was being done by FAS, and to dismantle a 15-year-old community service and destroy community relationships for no good purpose.

Attorney added cost, but no value in achieving a good solution

SCA Board spent a huge amount of money on attorneys to evict FAS, and yet they still managed to break a few laws while taking this completely disproportionate action that benefitted the community not one whit.

For example, NRS 116.31088 requires a member vote before initiating a civil action, but the Board ignored that and filed case A-17-760014-C to evict FAS. Please note that attorney Clarkson’s was paid both to file the civil action against the FAS AFTER Clarkson was paid to give the Board the self-serving advice that SCA did not have to follow NRS 116.31088 in this case.

Another example is the violation of NRS 116.31085 (executive session) where FAS was repeatedly discussed in secret long before SCA board decided to take legal action.  Perhaps, had the Board allowed the community to listen to their deliberations, it might have been harder for the Board to settle on the most expensive and least beneficial final solution.

Jim Mayfield re annual budget mailer

Jim Mayfield writes:

We received the annual mandatory budget mailer in today’s mailer.  I have reviewed the budget in detail as well as the materials sent with the budget mailer.
1.  The “Summary Budget” does not contain any information that compares the 2018 draft budget to the adopted 2017 budget.  Furthermore, a comparison is not provided of the 2018 draft budget to the projected actual financial statements for 2017.  Without these comparisons, unit owners have no way access the expected actual to budget performance for 2017 OR to see how spending priorities are budgeted to change between 2017 and 2018.
2.  The Budget mailer does not include a proxy form or return envelope for unit owners to use to vote for or against the budget.  This is a change from prior years.  Instead, the cover letter states that if a unit owner desires to vote for or against the budget, the unit owner should see NRS 116.311.  (So much for transparency and encouraging unit owner participation in the governance of SCA.)  The strategy is obvious:  Don’t raise the dues and hope the unit owners don’t care how their money is spent and find it too hard to find out to bother.
3.  The capital budget includes an authorization of $45k for “chairs, outlets, storage shed, BBQ tables and benches for the Pickleball court area.

Notes from Nona on saving some bucks

I haven’t received my budget mailer, but I want to address easier voting  described in NRS 116.311  as they can be used as an example of how SCA could avoid most of our huge legal bills. The Board and the GM are not competent in preventing owner problems using the attorney as their sole guide. They should shift from paying for secret attorney opinions defining the legal minimum to asking owners to help develop popular “best practices”.
The NRS 116.311 code section is entitled,
“Voting by units’ owners; use of absentee ballots and proxies; voting by lessees of leased units; association prohibited from voting as owner of unit; voting without a meeting.”
This section offers ways in some situations that voting could be made easier on owners – like absentee ballots, proxies and voting electronically.  Even though simpler, more convenient methods are available, doing things in the most “user-friendly” way doesn’t seem to be much of a priority for the Board or the GM even if not doing it the easy way is more costly.
The default seems to be just knee-jerk asking the attorney for an opinion. The attorney’s opinion generally veers toward advising the Board or GM what is the minimum that can be legally done. Conceptualizing a problem in terms of improving customer service is simply outside of the attorney’s paradigm, training and expertise – and yet he is their top-dollar “Go-To Guy”.
The GM does not seem to be inclined to focus on improving owner relations or utilizing owners’ expertise to research and recommend “best practices”. Instead, just handing over $325/hour for the attorney to rule on what the Board and GM can probably get away with is her counterproductive modus operandi. The Board has a total blind spot to this failing.
A better way of doing business would be to evaluate EVERY Board or management decision by asking owners BEFORE taking action,
“Is this action in the best interests of the membership?”
Then, if there are lots of owners who disagree, listen to them and remedy the problems. This could be done easily and systematically by utilizing the expertise of owners in a re-invigorated committee system. It certainly would be more cost-effective.
I believe that, had the Board and GM in 2017 followed the simple principle of acting SOLELY in the best interests of the membership, at least 90% of the $200,000 SCA is projected to spend this year for attorney’s fees could have been avoided, and there would have been a lot less community turmoil.