A few years ago I produced the Rules of Engagement designed for advocates to combat the undue influence of CAI and other pro-HOA activists who had controlled the legislative playing field for years. Simply put, the Rules call for challenging, confronting, and exposing the issues with the facts based on fundamental principles. The Rules have proven successful, at least in Arizona and with CAI Central where they have been applied.
Once our opponents realize that they no longer control the playing field, as they must pause and defend their positions, they will become less outspoken in the media and be more circumspect in what they say and claim. This leveling of the playing field is a direct result of advocates having demonstrated the validity and strength of their positions. Its a basic necessity that the legislators, the media, and public be educated.
However, CAI and its paid minions still have a strong influence in the legislatures that must be overcome – I call it “walking the halls of the legislature and whispering in the ears of the legislators.” They are paid lobbyists and we are just citizen advocates. California and Florida have strong Evil Empire contingents, with other states having varying degrees of opposition. You know the strength of your opposition.
To overcome the opposition in the legislature, advocates must clearly understand and accept the fact that no legislature in any state is a friend of homeowner rights advocates. History has shown that to be the case, loud and clear. What has occurred is a relatively small number of legislators taking on the cause of the homeowner against the political party leadership opposition to reforms. I say again: the political party leadership is opposed to substantive HOA reform legislation.
In order to make a difference and obtain substantive legislative reforms, homeowners must find a legislative champion with courage, perseverance and political abilities to successfully fight our cause and make reform legislation happen. And these legislative White Knight champions, in order to be successful, must find outspoken support from the people and the media.
Advocates must find a media personality or reporter who can overcome the opposition from its editors and media owners to sally forth and expose the goings on and opposition from legislators. They must make news and force the opposition to defend its positions in public, using the statements and arguments of the advocates.
And, in order to accomplish the above, an advocate champion, preferable with many followers, must speak out with unassailable facts and arguments in the media, on the internet, and wherever he can have his voice heard. The best approach is to base these reform arguments in fundamental principles of democratic government, justice and in basic American values and beliefs. Remember that “maintaining property values,” or “no government interference,” or “HOAs are the voice of the people” are not fundamental values.
(As an important aside, one function of government is to maintain an orderly society by establishing justice where one faction does not dominate a weaker faction. See The Federalist Papers, #51. Who else can do this in the absence of legitimate public government? Vigilantes? Reliance on the goodwill of your HOA board that has no legal obligation to do so?).
Reform legislation can happen! Following the above guidelines will help make it happen, sooner rather than later, or never. Your state and your situation are not any different from all that that has gone before you across the country. As George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”