GM Dumped $73,000+ Removal Election Costs on SCA Owners

The GM is to blame for the big bill – not the SCA owners who must pay it

This huge expense is still climbing, but it was totally unnecessary, not legally authorized by the Board, and did not serve the best interests of SCA.

Both the GM and the attorney should be fired for spending our money to interfere with the integrity of the removal election.

This unauthorized expenditure is sufficiently egregious to warrant the termination of both the GM and attorney, but that won’t happen because the beneficiaries of the election interference by SCA’s agents included a majority of the Board which was apparently important enough to them to stand by and let SCA owners foot the huge and unnecessary bill.

While I was on the Board I aggressively attempted to protect the independence of the Election Committee,  but alone and constrained by ethical boundaries, I was no match for the abuse of power by the Board President and SCA’s agents who were not so constrained.

A well-documented contributing factor to my unlawful removal from the Board was that I informed the Ombudsman on July 24 of my concerns about the need to protect the independence of the Election Committee (and also to protect owners lawfully collecting petition signatures) from the significant GM/CAM/attorney/Board interference I observed.

Berman’s constant improper placement of blame

David Berman continues to perpetuate the myth that these unnecessary and unauthorized costs were caused by the petitioners who (legally) called for the removal election.

This targeting of unit owners is obviously wrong. Owners don’t have enough power to be culpable.

Think about it.

  • If 1,200 unit owners had wanted  the Election Committee to conduct the removal election, but the GM did not want it, would they have been able to make their wishes happen over her objections?
  • If any of the petitioners had come to the Board meeting and begged to have SCA fork out over $73,000 to pay an unknown CPA and the attorney to do the Election Committee’s job, would SCA have spent one dime?

Both the GM and the Board President had to want SCA money to be spent on agents of their choosing  to run the removal election (incompetently or, more likely, unethically), or OUR money  would still be safely in the bank.

The Spin Doctor at work

Yet, despite all evidence to the contrary, David Berman persists in promulgating this almost laughable propaganda that unit owners could make the GM do something that doesn’t serve her interests. Smug in this delusion, today he blogged with a melodramatic and an almost audible sigh that this big $73,000 number would still be bigger when the attorney and CPA bills all come in:

Sad. SCA deserves so much better.
But, wait, hope may be on the horizon:

CIC Commission recently held a GM accountable despite HOA attorney advice that action was OK under NRS.

If Rex and Sandy having Clarkson on speed dial is no longer as good an excuse as “the dog ate my homework”, then maybe…

AnthemOpinions blogspot reported about a case that was heard at the recent CIC Commission meeting which seemed to demonstrate the Commission’s repudiation of the “the attorney said I could” defense.

 

The Zeitgeist
Perhaps, we are reaching a tipping point.

In the whole country, the public conversation has shifted seismically around sexual harassment. Suddenly, society-at-large is not just standing silently by while men in power abuse vulnerable people with impunity.

Maybe the tide is turning here at SCA too.

Now, owners no longer seem so resigned and no longer seem willing to tolerate inexcusable behavior or poor leadership. A critical mass is forming, and this is a necessary step to creating a healthier balance of power in our community.

As formerly discouraged and disenfranchised owners are more willing to speak up and stand up to bullies, SCA’s bullies will predictably face a Come to Jesus reckoning. A tectonic power shift will occur that, in retrospect, we will be surprised at how long it took us to take our power back.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Elder Abuse: Part II – SCA Agents

We have another covert systemic type of elder abuse going on right here at SCA. We have all of the problems endemic to Nevada HOAs in general, but those generic problems have been fueled here by a historically divided community and exacerbated by a poorly-executed transition to “self-management.”

Our system fails to provide sufficient competent owner oversight and internal controls necessary to prevent abuse by professional agents who are supposed to be fiduciaries acting SOLELY in the best interests of the owners,  but who are taking unfair advantage of us for their own unjust enrichment.

You are going to hear this same refrain from me repeatedly:

The biggest risk SCA owners face is being screwed over by unscrupulous agents who are supposed to be acting solely in our best interest, but who are not. They are actually unfairly acting in their own self-interest and profiting at our expense.

The reason “they” kicked me off the Board is they wanted to shut me up. They wanted to prevent me from telling owners what they are doing. They wanted me to stop publicly trying to force them to make system changes that would protect SCA owners from abuse by our own, highly-compensated, but unscrupulous, agents.

Who is “they”?

  • “They” are now (2016-now) GM Sandy Seddon and (May, 2017-now) association attorney/debt collector Adam Clarkson Law Group now.
  • Before (2009-2015), “they” were FirstService Residential (FSR)/formerly RMI, SCA’s managing agent, also licensed debt collector dba Red Rock Financial Services (RRFS).
  • In between (2015-2016), “they” were Alessi & Koenig, LLC attorney-debt collector that went into chapter 7 bankruptcy after being sued on 500 of the 800 HOA foreclosures they did between 2011-2015 and then…
  • “they” illegally morphed into HOA Lawyers Group, LLC (2016) but continued being SCA’s debt collector until replaced by Clarkson.

“They” are NOT necessarily the members of the Board, but “they” need to control the Board. “They”get their hands so far into our pockets only because the Board lets them do it. At least a majority of the Board has to negligently, maybe unwittingly, enable the attorney and management to take over the reins.

I believe the Directors are probably acting in good faith and trying to do their best, but are simply placing their faith in the wrong “experts”. However, even if the Directors are just innocently looking the other way, their ignorance is allowing SCA owners to be taken for an expensive ride.

So, what now?

Too bad for them.

“They”didn’t really get rid of me by unlawfully deeming my Board position vacant.

Now I have the time to tell you all about it. And I think I’ll start with what’s wrong with paying Sandy Seddon twice as much as we should be paying her.

 

Elder abuse: Part I – Guardianship

Many of you may not be familiar with the guardianship problem, but it’s where unscrupulous people become legal guardians and take over the finances and lives of the frail and elderly. They use a legal loophole to victimize the elderly and even take away the rights of the victim’s family. Guardianship abuse has been much worse here in Nevada because of the corruption that is rampant throughout our legal system.

Click this link https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights for an in-depth article published October 9, 2017 in the New Yorker, “How the Elderly Lose Their Rights: Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens and make a profit from it” by Rachel Aviv.

For more information about guardianship abuse, visit  http://www.stopguardianabusenv.org/ This website was produced by the Nevada Association to Stop Guardian and Elder Abuse, a non-profit organization dedicated to stopping exploitation and abuse of those in need.

SCA resident, Rana Goodman, the President of the nonprofit, is mentioned in the New Yorker article. Rana deserves our profuse thanks for being such a tireless advocate for these most vulnerable among us. She has successfully gotten some legal changes to allow us to prospectively (before we are of diminished capacity) nominate who we want as our guardian so we can prevent some unscrupulous professional guardian from swooping in and taking over our lives.

It’s tragic to think that this type of abuse can even happen. Legal guardians are supposed to be fiduciaries. They are supposed to protect people who can’t take care of themselves. They are supposed to act solely in the best interest of the client. They are supposed to use the powers they “legally” get over their wards only for the good of the person under their charge, but sadly, and with the support of lawyers and judges, many helpless people have been victimized.

Whenever there is a lot of money involved, there will be those who will scam the system and rip innocent people off, and with unfortunate frequency here in Nevada, there will be judges and attorneys who help them get away with it.

As time goes by, I will show you in my blogs how a similar type of systemic corruption is pervasive within Nevada HOAs, and I’ll show you how it can work unfairly to the advantage of HOA agents, like managers, debt collectors, and attorneys, to rip off HOA owners. I’ll show you how SCA’s former agents essentially stole my late fiance’s house, and I’ll show you how SCA’s current agents are getting the Board’s unwitting blessing to rip SCA owners off in a lot of different ways.