Should CAI’s public policy embrace “Duty, Honor, Country”?

The CEO of Starbucks visited West Point, the US Military Academy, where he saw three words over and over again: Duty, Honor, Country.   He told Meet The Press this morning that if Congress and the White House adopted these principles America would be a better America.  I believe if CAI adopted these principles as it public policy America would be a better America. I believe by adopting these principles the alleged purpose as advertised by CAI to build vibrant and healthy communities could be achieved.

Unfortunately we live in a society where there is widespread adoption of the principle of political correctness, not ethical or moral correctness, but political correctness; where activist Supreme Courts redefine the traditional and long held meaning of words and concepts like, “public use”  replaced by “public purpose” and corporations are real people and not ficticous people; and where strict interpretations of the law serve the special interests over the intent and purpose of the Constitution, like HOAs are not governments.  I agree with Starbuck’s CEO – Congress and the White House must return to these three basic principles to make a better America.

Afterthought

Over the years West Point produced such notable military leaders as Ulysses S. Grant (Pres. of US), Robert E. Lee, John J. Pershing (WWI), Douglas MacArthur (received Medal of Honor, as did his father; “American Caesar” of postwar Japan), George C. Marshall (Army Chief of Staff and FDR’s chief military advisor was denied by FDR to lead European invasion as FDR needed him in Washington; later Secretary of State; Marshall Plan for European recovery after WWII), Dwight D. Eisenhower Pres. of US), George C Patton, Omar Bradley and many others.

Where are the statesmen of this caliber today? Nowhere to be found!

Published in: on November 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm  Comments (5)  
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Did PA congressional candidate get it right with HOA contracts?

Andy Ostrowski, a PA congressional candidate, writes in support of homeowners with HOA issues. He is a constitutional lawyer and believes that certain HOA issues are similar to the constitutional waiver of rights question as stated in the US Supreme Court decision in Overmyer v. Frick.[1]  He wrote:[2]

Principles of freedom of contract must be recognized …  but these homeowners, often focused on raising families and building their lives in peace and comfort, and not focused on legalese and boilerplate contracts, must be sure to have known the rights that they are giving up.

If it is an honest system, and the CAI and HOA organizations truly have the best interest of the homeowners at heart, and are not just trade groups serving the big corporate and banking interests, the simple assurance, through full and complete disclosure, and arms-length negotiation, that people are not giving away their constitutional rights for nothing is something that we should, as a society, expect at a minimum,

This entire system of contracting appears to violate the principles of Overmyer v. Frick. At the very least, then, these contracts would be subject to challenge on those grounds, and this could be done across the country.

Overmyer was not an HOA issue but one involving the doctrine of cognovit, which is the surrender of rights in a contractual agreement.  In reaching its decision the Court took the following as applicable to the surrender of constitutional rights:

This is not a case of unequal bargaining power or overreaching. The Overmyer-Frick agreement, from the start, was not a contract of adhesion.

[W]e assume that the standard for waiver in a corporate-property-right case of this kind is the same standard applicable to waiver in a criminal proceeding, that is, that it be voluntary, knowing, and intelligently made, or “an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege,” and even if, as the Court has said in the civil area, “[w]e do not presume acquiescence in the loss of fundamental rights . . . .”

Simply stated, cognovit contracts, or the more general waiver of rights by contract, are not necessarily unconstitutional.  However, Evan McKenzie wrote that Ostrowski’s argument was “Interesting theory, but I think it is far-fetched. The problem is that the court ultimately ruled in favor of cognovit.”[3]

In this layman’s view, the argument has merit and is not far-fetched and must be raised in the courts.  It can be argued that the CC&Rs are an adhesion contract heavily weighted in favor of the HOA/developer and is of “unequal bargaining power or overreaching,” Furthermore, valid arguments can be attached in regard to the alleged consent to have agreed.

In my view, this is another challenge that strikes horror into the hearts of the pro-HOa forces, especially CAI.

References

[1] D. H. OVERMYER CO. v. FRICK CO., 405 U.S. 174 (1972)

[2] Homeowner’s Associations – The Perfect Storm of Corporate Cronyism and Legislative and Judicial Abuse of Constitutional Rights

[3] Overmyer v. Frick–new theory for HOA rights?

Published in: on October 30, 2014 at 8:14 am  Comments (9)  

PA congressional candidate Andy Ostrowski stands behind need for HOA reforms

Andy Ostrowski wrote on Facebook, Homeowner’s Associations – The Perfect Storm of Corporate Cronyism and Legislative and Judicial Abuse of Constitutional Rights evincing a strong concern for HOA reforms.

Please support Andy’s campaign so he can speak loud and clear in Congress and in Pennsylvania for others to hear.

He will be interviewed tomorrow on Shu Bartholomew’s OnTheCommons.us talk radio at 2:00 PM EDT.

Here’s glimpse of Andy’s Facebook article:

This property ownership and management system, under the guise of “freedom of contract” takes all government accountability out of the equation, and leaves millions of Americans subjected to the whims of appointed boards with sweeping powers to fine and sanction homeowners, and foreclose on homes for violations of HOA rules without adequate judicial oversight, and in accordance with full due process protections  – it is, in essence, a form of corporate autocracy, and that has no place at all in a country that was formed as a constitutional republic.

If it is an honest system, and the CAI and HOA organizations truly have the best interest of the homeowners at heart, and are not just trade groups serving the big corporate and banking interests, the simple assurance, through full and complete disclosure, and arms-length negotiation, that people are not giving away their constitutional rights for nothing is something that we should, as a society, expect at a minimum.

Read more at PA congressional candidate rejects HOA-Land

Does the Constitution support the will of the HOA no matter what?

A rogue board is operating at Terravita HOA in Scottsdale, AZ. In short, the HOA attorney saw no problem in adding a restrictive covenant that would allow OAH attorney fees regardless of the law that OAH is not allowed to award attorney fees.[1] It was properly passed by the Terravita members. Since the validity of the covenant was not challenged, the following scenario evolved.

Based on the wording of the covenant, the sole target was a resident, Mr. Brown, the only person who meets this classification in Terravita. Section 17.01, Article XVII, of the Terravita Declaration reads,

[I]n bringing claims against Owners or defending claims brought by Owners in an administrative action or proceeding, including but not limited to, proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge, and any appeal thereof; the Association shall be entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees and costs from the Owner involved in the administrative proceeding if the Association is a prevailing party in such action, and the amount of such attorneys’ fees . . . .

The battle between Brown and the board also involved CAI attorney Ekmark, where there is plenty of history, Brown having filed several suits and won them and publicized the amount of HOA funds spent on minor litigation.

In this instance, Brown was seeking access to board minutes at a meeting alleged to be an executive meeting where the minutes are exempt from disclosure. The problem, according to Brown, was that he was not allowed to present evidence that the meeting was not an executive meeting.  The court simply took Ekmark’s word that it was an executive meeting.

Being the prevailing party, the HOA then claimed attorney fees for the OAH appellate costs, the basis of Brown’s current appeal (CA-CV 14-000455, Division 1). (I avoid the other pertinent legal issues involved in this case and focus on the validity of the covenant.)

The question I raise is that the covenant was invalid, being an unconstitutional deprivation of due process and the equal protection of the law. Once again, like the CC&Rs, can a private organization draft a document or rule that conflicts with state law and yet be held legally binding by the courts? (When does it stop?) And since the covenant was enforced by the courts, there are grounds for filing a deprivation of rights suit under 41 USC 1983[2] (“under color of any statute”) and claiming state action by Terravita.

Understand that, in general, court enforcement of a CC&Rs agreement to abide by the majority decision under a valid amendment procedure alone fails to uphold the principals of our democracy.  The Constitution does not say that the majority is always right.  The 5th and 14th Amendments do not contain exceptions like, “

no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law (5th & 14th Amendments) . . . nor deny the equal protection of the law (14th Amendment) unless approved by a majority or supermajority vote as contained in the governing documents.

The case before us is another example of judicial populism that holds that the will of the majority shall prevail no matter what.  How far have the courts gone in ignoring the Constitution and allowing unrestricted private individual or group “rewrites” of the Constitution to be binding? 

By such court activism, the America of today not the America of your father or your grandfather.

References

[1] OAH, the Office of Administrative Hearings, is an executive agency obtaining it powers and authorities from the legislature’s enabling act.  The statutes (ARS 41-1092 et seq.; 41-2198 et seq.) and Administrative Code (R2-19-101 et seq.) do not grant the OAH the power to award attorney fees.

[2] 42 USC 1983, Section 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights

 “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such    officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted  unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was    unavailable.”

PA congressional candidate rejects HOA-Land

Congressional candidate Andy Ostrowski posts on his blog,[1]

During my run for Congress, I have met many people with many unique needs for assistance, and government action. None has been as compelling as those Americans who are involved in property ownership in Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs).

HOAs, and their Boards, serve public purposes traditionally reserved for governments, and elected officials, and this reveals one of the true hearts of the problem – there is no accountability to oaths of office to uphold and defend the constitution. People who try to sue these HOAs are told that they are not government entities, and do not have the same responsibilities and duties as do their governments. They are creatures of corporate law, and planned development acts.

This is a true civil rights issue as it involves legislatures across the country enacting laws that cut off constitutional rights, and access to courts for millions of Americans, and I will fight to give government back to the people by fighting for the rights of these individuals.

Is Andy for real? Here’s what he says on his web page[2],

The justice system is broken. Government is not operating according to the founding principle of the Consent of the Governed. It is running according to the will of the one percent – those who can pay for access.

As a lawyer . . . . My life has been devoted to defending the constitutional rights of hard working American citizens. . . . I believe in the equal treatment and equal protection of all. I believe that corporatism [polite word for fascism], cronyism, Wall Street influence, lawyers, and courts are the root causes of our political ills.

Mr. Ostrowski, after elected, should investigate the independent principalities legal scheme of HOA-Land and how it tears asunder the fundamental fabric of our democratic system of constitutional government. (See HOAs violate local home rule doctrine and are outlaw governments).

Mr. Ostrowski should demand an investigation into a widespread pattern of fraudulent conduct and misrepresentation in the selling process and its impact on the alleged, bona fide homeowner consent to be government.[3]

Mr. Ostrowski should require HUD to only support loans to HOAs and homes in HOAs provided that there are state laws that mandate the following to be included as part of the HOA declaration,

The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have, and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees to be bound by the US and State Constitutions, the 14th Amendment,  and laws of the State as if it were a local public government entity.[4]

Support Andy Ostrowski whether or not you live in his district (11th).  Tell him about the extent of the problems in HOAs not found in the media. Tell him!

I would like to thank Cynthia Stephens for bringing this important event to my attention.

References

[1] Homeowners’ Associations – A Need for Congressional Action,” Andy Ostrowski for Congress.

[2] “Why I Am Running,” Andy Ostrowski for Congress 2014.

[3] See “HOA Common Sense, No. 4: Consent to be governed.”

[4] Homeowner Association Consent to be Governed Agreement: An Act,” (model statute).

Published in: on October 7, 2014 at 7:09 am  Comments (5)  
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