HOAs are another form of local government

Listening to the events concerning the shooting in Brooklyn Center, MN I was surprised to learn that its form of government is based on the council-manager system.  We are more familiar with the mayor – council or mayor – manager forms of local government where the mayor is elected and plays a major role in governing the city.[1]

However, in the council-manager form the major is a figure head with the powers to rule the city are divided between the elected city council and a city manager  appointed by the council.  Sound familiar?  Many HOA Bylaws follow the council-manager form of local government, except that the Bylaws do provide for corporation laws governing the duties of officers.  This is true of the many large HOAs and the retirement/resort subdivisions.

The division of labor and authority follows the public form in that the council holds ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the government but is restricted to policy issues, while the appointed manager actually runs the HOA. A good example can be found in an Arizona active-adult HOA of some 17,000 people.

“The affairs of the Association shall be managed by a Board of Directors which shall serve as the corporate policy-making body of the Association. . . .  The Board is not responsible for nor authorized to perform day-to-day operations of the Association. The day-to-day operations of the Association shall be carried out by CAM or agents retained by the Association under the supervision of the Board.

“Subject to the Board’s responsibilities concerning operational policies, it shall be the policy of the Association . . . that the Board refrain from unreasonably interfering with the performance of delegated functions by CAM.”

The major difference between local public government Brooklyn Center, MN and the Arizona HOA lies in the private contractual nature of the HOA that absolves it from application of the US Constitution as well as the state constitution. HOA members are, as compared to non-HOA members, therefore second-class citizens lacking constitutional protections within their own state.[2]

The $64,000 question is: So why is there so much opposition to requiring the HOA to be subject to the Constitution like all other forms of local government?  BEFORE you respond, think very carefully with respect to the implication and consequences of your response.

References


[1] See in general, Roger L. Kemp, “Forms of Governance,” Managing America’s Cities: A Handbook for Local Government Productivity, McFarland & Co., (2007). They are: Strong Mayor, Council-Manager, Town Meeting (direct or representative democracy), and Commission. See also,  Home rule doctrine vs. HOA governments; CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government.

[2] See George K. Staropoli, HOA-Land Nation Within America (2019).

How legislative Rules committees abort democratic HOA reform bills

In the interest of public education on the functioning of state legislatures, this paper presents information on the rules governing state legislatures — using Arizona as a representative example — that affect passing bills into law.  I focus on the Rules committee’s powers to obstruct the voice of the people, and how it can prevent — kill — HOA reform bills by the actions of the political party leaders.

The powers of the Rules committee are undemocratic and authoritarian  in nature designed to thwart, apparently, the folly of the voice of the people.  We see the same undemocratic, authoritarian powers granted to HOA boards to an even greater extent,  The national lobbying group’s promotion of the “business judgment rule,” and acceptance by the courts, is a prime example.[1]

Exhibit 1 details the Rules powers that can prevent HOA reform bills, and any other bill not liked by the powers that be, from a hearing and vote by the full chamber — by the people’s representatives. As I wrote earlier[2], Arizona’s HB 2052, a bill that has in reality been killed in the Rules committee after unanimous approval by the House and Senate government committees, is a prime example of this misuse of authority.

The Senate Fact Sheet “intro” paragraph misrepresents the content of the bill:

“Expands statutory restrictions on condominium unit owners’ association and planned community association (HOA) regulation of political signs to include signs related to certain community activity. Prohibits an HOA from prohibiting door-to-door community activity”.

Of the 8 listed “Provisions,” 2 are technical, 2 relate to political signs, and 4 — given a short sentence in the “intro” —  expand on HOA restrictions and prohibition’s protecting free political speech and expression, in the HOA public forum,[3] as curtained in my earlier “Senate Protects” posting.[4]

. . . .

The Arizona Legislature, and each and every state legislature, is  not a sovereign that can do no wrong, but has duties and obligations sworn to under oath “to establish justice . . . and secure the blessings of liberty” for the people of its state. It cannot demand respect but must earn it through good deeds.  Passing HB 2052 into law would be a sign of good faith that would earn the respect of the people.

Exhibit 1.  Arizona Legislative Council publications

“In the Senate, bills are usually not “held” in the Rules Committee for partisan or political purposes; bills which go into the Rules Committee are almost always reported out. In the House, the Chairman of the Rules Committee can “hold” (read “kill”) a bill simply by not giving it a hearing. (p. 52).

“The options of the committee chairman are a) Hear the bill and vote on it, b) Hear the bill but take no action, c) Assign the bill to subcommittee, d) Not hear the bill.  (p. 39-40).”

“The Role of the Rules Committee,”  State Senator Randall Gnant, From Idea to Bill to Law (2000). (As of April 2021).

“Each measure is assigned to the Rules Committee of the house through which it is progressing . . . . The Rules Committees assess the constitutionality of the proposed legislation. Unless they are withdrawn or discharged, all bills must pass the Rules Committee before they are heard on the floor. (p.41-42).

“An Active Calendar of the Committee of the Whole (so called in both houses) consisting of bills the Speaker or President selects for consideration by the respective Committee of the Whole (COW).

“A calendar consisting of all bills and other measures that have been reported from the committees. In the House this is called the “House Calendar.”  In the Senate it is called the “Calendar of the Committee of the Whole.” These calendars are simply a list of bills and other measures that are ready for further action by the full chamber.” (p.42-43).

Arizona Legislative Manual 2003 Edition, Arizona Legislative Council (2003). (As of April 2021).

Notes


[1] See, Reorienting the HOA board: business judgment rule (2020).

[2] See, AZ Senate protects HOA misconduct rejecting HB 2052; Arizona HB 2052 restores homeowner constitutional speech protections.

[3] See court holdings: Calif. holds HOA elections as protected free speech public elections (2019); NV supreme court upholds HOAs as public forums (2021).

[4] Supra n. 2, AZ Senate Protects.

Glassel HOA Murders Redux

The State of Arizona not only brought the people the Orme School District and the Miranda decisions, but the State also brought the little known Glassel HOA board murders. This April will be the 21st anniversary of sentencing Glassel to death for the shooting murders of two directors, Nila R. Lynn, 69, and Esther LaPlante, 57,  at a Ventana Lakes HOA board meeting in April 2000.

I followed this case from the very beginning during my first year as an HOA reform advocate.  I had met and talked with Richard Glassel, his wife Susan, his Public Defender, Dr. Jack Potts the psychiatrist who evaluated Glassel as not competent to stand trial, and several reporters; I also attended and observed the 5 day murder trial in 2003. 

A few years later about 2010, I don’t recall exactly when, I was approached by the Office of the State Capital Post-Conviction seeking  my involvement with the  Glassel trial.  The Office reviews death penalty cases on behalf of the condemned. They asked if I would talk with Glassel, seemingly they were having a problem, and I responded by saying it would not help because I had tried to talk to him on the only day he appeared in court, but he was non-communicative, “living in his own world.” Its pending petition for case review was denied as a result of Glassel’s death in 2013.

For more detailed coverage, you can follow this 20/20, Dateline, 48 Hours style murder case at Glassel HOA Murders Redux.

Social Engineers needed in HOA-Land and all America. Are you one?

The following material is primarily based on the Charles Koch (billionaire and philanthropist) book, Believe In People [note 1]. Quotation marks and italics have generally been omitted but are used within sentences to distinguish quoted material.

The theme of Believe is developing ‘Social Engineers.’  It’s a term used by Koch by which he means a person

finding new ways to break the barriers and overcome the injustices that prevent others from realizing their potential.’ He continues, ‘These individuals  disrupt the status quo to help others, especially the less fortunate rise’ (p. 7).  

They’re concerned citizens, mobilizing neighbors to support good policies and oppose bad ones.  They’re elected officials — of any party — enacting laws that secure for everyone the opportunity to realize their potential and contribute to society’s progress (p. 7).

You are a social engineer when ‘fighting a harmful public policy that’s affecting your family, friends, or neighbors’  (p. 7).  Homeowners in HOA-Land  are ‘less fortunate’ and are subject to top-down authoritarian governments.  Read on!

. . . .

With this preface material, what is the social and legal task before homeowner rights advocates and other concerned citizens?

A properly functioning government is a precondition for individual success and a thriving society (p. 13).     You’ll see the widespread assumption that those at the ‘top’ know best and that the people they consider beneath them can’t be trusted. This can be summed up as a top-down or one-size-fits-all approach  (p. 5).

If we are to go beyond fighting injustice one person at a time, then the core institutions of community, education, business, and government must be transformed (p. 243). Transforming these institutions so they consistently empower people to succeed is the job of Social Engineers (p. 10).

With respect to HOA-Land, see on Amazon [note 2], my Commentary [note 3].

Notes

  1.  Believe In People, Charles Koch & Brian Hooks, St. Martin’s Press, 2020.
  2. A Plan Toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance.
  3. Plan to Restructure HOA model.

HOA Reformers needed to educate

 [Selected commentaries are available as audio podcasts on SPOTIFY and GOOGLE PODCASTS. ]

HOA Reformers are needed as educators to spread the facts about HOA-Land to the public in general; especially to the legislators, the media, the HOA boards, and to the universities and high schools.

As HOA Reformers we must look past our mindset that placates our wants, needs, and fears. Wrongs must be righted; one nation undivided under the Constitution must be upheld. We must step out of the cave with its shadow reality and into the light {Plato allegory) to discover the realities of the HOA-Land culture. It is not an easy task to reject longtime beliefs but one that must be taken.

My Plan Toward Restoring the HOA Model of Governance  called for both a systemic restructuring of the HOA legal scheme and the need to reorient the BODs and legislators. (View at https://tinyurl.com/sr27yq3). The long ignored and inexcusable questions of constitutionality that continue to harm members and the greater communities across this country must be exposed, understood, and accepted.

The Plan first requires addressing the attitudes and views of BODs, the members, and the public in general.  The conditioning and indoctrination by the biased views of the national pro-HOA special interest entity must be de-conditioned by a program of reorientation.  The commonly found guidelines of the  special-interest, pro-HOA lobbyist speak to an authoritarian government with member interests and concerns being secondary to the survival of the association. It’s an unacceptable deviation from the intents and purposes of our constitutional government.