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.

 

 

 

$50,000 for the removal election and still counting

Last June I did not think passing around recall petitions was a good idea. I thought it was a fool’s errand – disruptive and doomed to fail.

However, I am a strong, some say overly-aggressive, defender of owners’ rights. I just hate it when people with power abuse ANY owner’s rights, but especially if they use dirty tricks or create an uneven playing field and make the little guy pay the price. 

That’s what’s happening here now. The opponents of the removal election are making owners pay way more than we should, and they are trying to get us to blame the wrong people.

All the tens of thousands we will be paying for this removal election (above the less than $10,000 cost of an annual election) could have been avoided if the GM hadn’t blown me off by not even acknowledging my July 20 email:

Sandy Seddon didn’t answer me. Why should she? She knew that there was no one on the Board except me that cared one whit about maintaining the independence and neutrality of the Election Committee. Quite the opposite, she knew that she had the votes to approve anything she wanted to do make the removal election process difficult.

Who decided that these actions were in the best interest of owners?

Now, SCA owners are obligated to pay a bungling CPA firm $20,000 for the work done through September 30 no matter how poorly it was done. We will be on the hook for maybe triple that amount because their errors or omissions are significant enough that a second recall ballot may need to go out with Bob Burch’s name added to it.

Who made the decision to take away the Election Committee’s job?

Who decided that it was in the owners’ best interest to use an attorney and a CPA for the removal election when the attorney in five months is already billed $150,000 – FOUR times the $37,500 budget (In just September the attorney billed $43,873 and the CPA who replaced the volunteer Election Committee billed $20,000)?

Did I mention that there was:

  • no RFP for a CPA,
  • no approved CPA contract,
  • no Board approval to change the Election and Voting Manual,
  • no budget authorization for the CPA, and
  • the CPA has made so many mistakes that there might have to be a second removal ballot?

 

 

 

How to avoid unnecessary election costs

Some people have told me they are voting no on the removal election because they are under the impression that it will cost between $50,000 and $100,000 to hold another election for replacement Board members.

Cost to replace

This cost estimate is both wrong, and a poor reason for keeping the current ineffective Directors that are costing the community even more money.

First, let’s address the cost. The GM removed the “volunteer” SCA Election Committee (chartered to handle all SCA elections) from the removal election process. Instead, a CPA was hired without any official Board action to take over the EC’s duties at an unbudgeted cost of $10,000. As I have stated before, the CPA’s contract was not approved at any open Board meeting, and therefore the unnecessary cost of his services skews the actual cost of the removal election.

As far as the election for replacement board members; the established “volunteer” Election Committee is experienced and fully capable of handling the same fair election process as we have had in the past, with very little overhead. Our 2017 annual election cost $11,900, and the budget for the 2018 election is $17,500.

Reporting a falsely-inflated cost is a scare tactic and is being used to make owners mad at the petitioners for exercising their legal rights to call for an election to remove Directors that are not serving us well. I read in Dan Folgeron’s message re-posted on AnthemToday.com that the Solera removal election cost $8,000.

Cost to keep

More importantly, the cost of an election is no reason to keep Directors in office who are not protecting the membership. The cost of an election pales in comparison to the cost of abdicating control of the Association policies, owner oversight and budget to the GM and attorney. These Directors have given a blank check to the attorney and are allowing the GM to disregard the budget when she unilaterally decides to make expenditures.

Cost of cheating

Rex, Aletta, and Tom should be removed from office because they didn’t let owners vote and didn’t follow our bylaws 3.6 when they appointed someone to fill my seat one month after they unlawfully removed me:

“Upon removal of a director, a successor shall be elected by the Owners entitled to elect the director so removed to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of such director.” – SCA bylaws 3.6 (page 11)

Rex, Aletta, and Tom should be removed from office because they doubled down and compounded problems created by my removal. They shouldn’t have filled my board seat without waiting for my appeal to be adjudicated, and they shouldn’t have filled my seat without letting any owners compete for the position. No one knew they were recruiting so no owner could compete equally for a chance to be appointed to the board. Instead, they just picked a guy (Jim Coleman), decided to appoint him in secret and appointed him to my seat at the very next properly noticed Board meeting. It’s not Jim Coleman’s fault the Board acted unlawfully, both to remove me and to replace me without an owner vote. Why can’t the Board make decisions that fast and decisive when it comes to doing something good for the membership, like opening the restaurant?

Cost avoidance and karma
I have a suggestion that I think would treat everybody fairly. I don’t want to displace Jim if I am reinstated because, in my opinion, Jim will be much better than Rex as a board member, at least he will listen to and respect owners. However, a fair way to avoid the expense of another election would be to put Jim in Rex’ seat when I am reinstated by the Commission and Rex is either voted off during the recall election or removed by the Commission.

Cost of dirty tricks

Note that I was elected to serve until May 2019 for the same two-year term as Rex. Rex got his role as President by using dirty tricks, and he is doing a terrible job for the people. As such, I believe that Rex is the most important one to remove from the Board, and if he were the only director voted off, no election would be needed. Aletta’s and Tom’s terms end in May, 2018, and if they were voted off in the removal election, their seats could remain vacant until the normal election.

By the way, when Jim Coleman was appointed, I told the Board that they made a mistake by appointing him only until 2018 since my term expires in 2019, and the bylaws 3.6 say that the replacement of a director that is removed shall “… fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of such director”. Rex insisted that appointing Jim only until May 2018 was intentional, but there is no legal authority for the Board to decide that the new director’s term will be a year less than the term of the director being replaced.

Cost of cherry-picking rules and karma

Rex should be removed for cherry-picking which governing documents he choses to comply with. He led the Board in the violation of SCA Bylaws 3.6 by usurping owners exclusive right to vote to determine whether a Director is removed from the Board. He is responsible of Bylaws 3.6 being being violated a second time by not giving owners the right to vote on the replacement of a Director who was removed. Rex insisted on violating SCA bylaws a third time by shortening Jim Coleman’s term again since the new Director is required by our governing documents to fill the remainder of the removed Director’s term. Appointing Jim only until 2018 unfairly gives Rex the benefit of not having to run against Jim (by Rex making their terms not end at the same time. Rex’ act is to the detriment of Jim Coleman who is an innocent owner/volunteer who should have been appointed, if at all, to the end of my term. This act exemplifies Rex’s pattern of cherry-picking which rules he chooses to follow. Rex acts  benefit himself by consolidating political power and do not treat all owners, particularly political opponents, equitably. We deserve leadership that is better than that, not self-serving and that acts solely in the best interest of the membership by the consistent enforcement of the rules of the game.

 

FAQs: Removal election voting procedures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to vote in the recall election (video)

Help for Sun City Anthem homeowners who may not have understood that Ovist & Howard, CPAs’, letter was actually a ballot to vote to remove Rex Weddle, Aletta Waterhouse, and Tom Nissen from the SCA Board. Gives you info re Oct. 26 deadline and instructions to ensure your vote counts.

SCA Board & GM cause substantial decrease in happiness factor

This open letter is republished with permission from Favil West, President of the Foundation Assisting Seniors, who formerly served as a SCA Board member for six years as well as for three years on the Commission for Common Interest Communities. Favil describes his view of how much the SCA Board, GM and over-used attorney are causing our community to suffer under their system of mis-management.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Fake news abounds in our community. I’ve seen it produced by this SCA Board, a committee chair, a vice chair, a club president, a blogger and on down the line. Good grief even one of our board members has sent out a plea for you to vote no so she can stay on the board. A move without precedent

Let’s look at the Berman blog. He unabashedly states that the 3 board members, currently to be recalled, have committed “no crimes or malfeasance.” That just is not true. I personally know of 8 infractions of Statute. For starters, the 3 board members to be removed are accused of having violated the following statutes:

  1. NRS 116.31035
  2. NRS 116.31036
  3. NRS 116.31088
  4. NRS 116.31085
  5. NRS 116.3108
  6. NRS 116.31184
  7. NRS 116.31183
  8. NRS 116.31175

At least one of these violations is a misdemeanor and even though it is in the NRS 116 ACT, it falls under other jurisdictions.

Ron Johnson produces an editorial page, usually well documented, the most recent of which has factually debunked most if not all of the claims made by the OSCAR group. Dick Arendt lends his passion to the fray stimulating research and thought while Rana gives us a more even- handed treatment of the facts. Nona Tobin just started a blog. We won’t know its character for a while but I personally look forward to seeing it as I know it will contain significant detail. To top it off, through personal conversations with the Ombudsman, I know that NRED is concerned with what is taking place here at Sun City Anthem.

Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of financial figures knows full well that numbers can be manipulated to show anything you want them to show. I believe all of us have heard the old saw, figures lie and liars figure. I fear that is true in the instant case.  Why doesn’t the board lay out the true cost of management in dollars and cents for all the unit owners to see? How much has this self- management debacle truly cost? What was our annual cost of management before self- management and what is it now? They should show consulting fees, the trips, parties, meals, salaries, separation payments, if any, the current salaries of the top 5 highest paid staff, their bonuses, their allowances, and their benefits, as well as the total salary costs including that of Lori, who has since left SCA. Then add in the legal fees which according to the budget are approximately $90,000 over budget, and all the outside contracted work such as IT, and all accounting services. Once all of that is together, we, the unit owners, can actually compare costs. Until this information is released to the unit owners, well, the old saw is still sawing away.

While unit owner’s angst cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents, there has been a substantial decrease in the happiness factor because of board, GM, and legal actions. In my nearly 18 years living here in Sun City Anthem, six years of which I served on the SCA Board, I have never seen anything that compares with what is now happening on our hill.

This removal election has already turned into a debacle. Words such as voter suppression, stupidity, mismanagement, failure of the board and its gm to do its fiduciary duty, and probably a few I cannot repeat are being bantered around while board members are pleading for you to vote no so they can continue this sordid behavior. Even those who do not support the recall agree that the ballot mailing and instructions show a high degree of incompetence.

In my opinion, these ballots should be thrown out and new ones issued. These new ballots should be color coded to eliminate confusion, a simple explanation included, and, finally, the outside envelope should say ballot enclosed. That’s not too hard is it. It’s what we done in the previous 17 elections. That is really not too hard if you know what you are doing.

Notwithstanding the impact this will have on the reputation of our Sun City, win, lose, or draw this removal election and the reasons for it remain  an everlasting stigma on the 3 to be recalled, the rest of the board and its GM. Frankly, in my opinion, Weddle, Burch, Nissen, and Waterhouse should all resign as they will have no respect in the future.

Folks, at the hands of this board board we are no longer the class active living community we once were. Our reputation has been sullied by incompetence, prevarication, and dereliction . How sad.

Favil

 

Voter Suppression Tactics

The following essay was written by Jim Mayfield, former member and Vice-President of the Sun City Anthem Board, and is republished here with his permission. Jim retired after six years service last May at the same time I was elected to replace Carl Weinstein.

On Saturday, we received our ballot for the recall election in the mail. At first, I almost discarded it in the recycle bin without even opening it.  I though it was another piece of solicitation junk mail.  (Subsequently, I was told that I was not the only one who thought this way.)  However, I opened the letter and found out that it was the ballot for the recall election and the instructions for how to mail in the ballot.

The purpose of this email is not to reiterate the obvious flaws (already noted by others) in the ballot process that should and could have been avoided by the CPAs retained to perform the voting process if they had studied and incorporated the time-tested SCA election processes.  Instead, the purpose of this email is to raise the ominous issues regarding 1> the motivation for the use of voter suppression tactics, and 2> the ethics behind obvious voter suppression tactics.

Preface
During my six years of service on an SCA committee and board of directors, I observed a steady decline in the willingness of SCA homeowners to volunteer their time to serve as club officers, SCA committee members and to seek election to the SCA board of directors.  This trend is indeed regrettable because of the large number of intelligent, talented residents who live within SCA and whose talents could be used to insure efficient operations at SCA and continuous improvement of the quality of life within SCA.  I also observed that fewer than half of the SCA homeowners vote in the annual board of directors election.  Even more significant, less than .75% of the SCA homeowners attend public board and committee meetings.

On one level, I empathize with why SCA homeowners do not chose to participate in the governance of their homeowners association.  Most people retired to enjoy pursuing life-long retirement objectives.  Annual assessments appear low compared to the benefits received.  However, as consequence of the lack of involvement by a broad group of homeowners in the governance of SCA, a small group of self-serving homeowners and management control and manipulate the operations of SCA. Their personal agendas frequently do not represent the best interest or service expectations of the homeowners.

Motivation for Use of Voter Suppression Tactics
The threshold to remove a director is just over 2,500 votes of the 7,144 SCA homeowners.  Anyone who doesn’t vote or whose ballot is disqualified is an automatic “no” vote. Obtaining the “yes” vote from 2,500+ homeowners is an almost impenetrable barrier to the removal of a director.  This reality begs the question of why management, members of the current board, and individuals wanting to maintain the status quo feel compelled to

  • use voter suppression tactics,
  • disseminate false and misleading information,
  • spend over $4,500 to get out their fake fact message, and
  • conduct possible violations of state law and SCA governing documents

to defeat the removal election.

The obvious answer is that they want to send the message that any attempts to dislodge them will be unsuccessful;` so, don’t waste your time.  They also fear that even an unsuccessful attempt at removal in which a majority of the votes cast are for removal will send the communication that a majority of the active members of the community are not supportive of the performance of current management or board of directors.  When faced with dissent, they rely on brutal, frequently illegal, tactics to suppress homeowner involvement and the dissent of any elected director who doesn’t “go along to get along”.

Ethics Behind Obvious Voter Suppression Tactics
The question we, the homeowners, need to answer in this recall election is the message we want to send regarding the ethics and culture of the SCA community. My experience since moving to SCA is that it is a community of fine, diverse people who share an incredible moral compass.  I do not believe that the actions of the current board or management reflect the moral values of the residents of SCA.

Personally, I never believed the recall election stood a chance of being successful. However, I believe that every “yes” vote sends a message to the corrupt, self-serving insiders who currently control the governance of SCA that their morals and actions do not represent the community.

I urge you to spend the 50 cents to send in you ballot and to vote “yes” in the recall election.

Thanks for reading a best wishes to all of you.

Jim Mayfield