Publications on HOA constitutionality and legal structure

Peter F. Drucker was an internationally renowned management consultant in the 50s and author of the management “bible,” The Practice of Management. “A classic since its publication in 1954, The Practice of Management was the first book to look at management as a whole and being a manager as a separate responsibility.” Bob Woodward you should know. 

View publications here: Amazon.com: George K Staropoli: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Media’s inexcusable silence on  reporting HOA legal issues

This writing  addresses the failure of the Arizona media, and in general all news media across this country,  to report in-depth on HOA legal developments. In particular, as an example, its failure to cover the Arizona Supreme Court Petition for Review, Tarter v. Bendt (denied).

It was a defamation case brought  by an HOA president dealing with matters of HOA governance. It resulted in a shocking $1,500,000 in damages against a homeowner who criticized the President.  The homeowner raised the issue of the HOA president as a “limited-purpose public figure.” An amicus brief informed the Justices on the larger picture of protected speech in the recognized HOA public forum on matters of HOA governance.

If it were not an HOA case, it surely would have made widespread news.

Most of you probably ever heard of Edward R. Murrow (1940s-60s) newscaster that, the Radio Television Digital News Association has annually awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award to individuals who make outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. Award recipients have included Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel,  Bryant Gumbel, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw.

Here are memorable quotes quite meaningful for today’s media who have been silent on reporting HOA reality news.

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”

In 2017 I posted a Commentary that focused on the failure of today’s media to uphold its obligation under the 1st Amendment to inform the people. This protected freedom of speech was granted for the above important purpose, a purpose that the media seemed to have forgotten.

“The media of today, especially the local news media . . . seem to be oblivious to important HOA bills before state legislatures. Bills that would affect some 20% [now estimated to be 24% or more] of the people  across the country.

“There have been no in-depth analyses or debates of the HOA legal concept even at the national level, as the spread of HOA-Land is nationwide. The Sunday news talk shows, or by 20-20 and Dateline, are silent. There have been no discussions on whether HOAs, as de facto governments, should by made a government entity. Or whether state legislatures should continue to allow equitable servitude law to supersede contract and constitutional law. Or the lack of debate on the absence of “truth in HOAs” disclosures, similar to truth in lending and truth in advertising.

“Or what is the legitimate government interest to allow private governments to deny the equal application of the laws. Or to allow constructive notice – just take your deed — to bind unsuspecting home buyers to the CC&Rs sight unseen. Apparently there is no need to inform buyers at closing

But the media, with respect to HOA-Land, was silent and did not acknowledge its justification for its silence.  For more information, see my 2017 Commentary at Good night and very good luck – the unspoken media HOA alliance and Can HOA members expect justice in Arizona courts?

 . . . .

 Relevant to this Commentary, Maria Ressa (Filipino-American) just won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021. The Nobel Committee announcement spoke to the role of journalism and its affect on democracy.

 “Ms. Ressa and Rappler [her internet news site] have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse. . . . The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public,”

She is also author of How to Stand Up to a Dictator, a story of “how democracy dies by a thousand cuts” (to be released in July 2022).

Can HOA members expect justice in Arizona courts?

“HOA members in Arizona should not expect justice from the courts”

If you are a member of an Arizona HOA/condo, or soon plan to be one, you should pay heed to the above quote made in response to the Arizona Supreme Court’s denial to hear the Bendt appeal petition for review.[i]  In my Commentary, trying to understand the rationale for the denial,

“The homeowner, Bendt, is punished for speaking out, in admittedly harsh terms, [relating to issues of HOA governance]. Yet the judicial system stands by looking at a distance and allowing Trump and his followers to function as vexatious litigants; allowing them to  raise allegations, which are not only laughable but blatantly false under Rule 11, is shameful conduct.[ii]

What message is being sent by this disturbing decision? To the public? To the homeowners in HOAs seeking the equal protection of the laws under the Constitution? To the national lobbying trade group, CAI, who can breathe easy with respect to any challenges to the constitutionality of the HOA legal scheme that  contains denials of fundamental rights and privileges?

Professor Randy Barnett wrote, speaking of justice and judicial legitimacy,

A constitution that lacks adequate procedures to ensure the justice of valid laws is illegitimate even if it was consented to by a majority …. A law may be ‘valid’ because it was produced in accordance with all the procedures required by a particular lawmaking system, [the HOA amendment procedure, for example] but be ‘illegitimate’ because these procedures were inadequate to provide assurances that a law is just.[iii]  

And we must not ignore the effect of precedent on court opinions. Hansford and Spriggs found [that] the doctrine of stare decisis, itself, falls victim to the preferences of the judges. The closer the precedent was to the judges views, the more the precedent would be followed, and vice versa. Additionally, the research found that “the justices are more likely to negatively treat [modify or reject] a precedent they dislike on ideological grounds if that precedent is quite vital [how often cited in support]” by the judges (p. 75).[iv]  Bad HOA laws abound leading to favorable anti-homeowner decisions.

And still we see “Equal justice under the law” emblazoned on the façade of the US Supreme Court building. It contains a major defect, a misleading fallacy,  and a presumption of supreme court infallibility [without error].  Bad laws — unjust laws — will not produce justice for all!  And that is just what we face in the HOA-Land Nation.

I have argued (2009) for a judicial system that adhere to the following:

Before we can decide, we must examine some of the myths and realities of the American judicial system.  First, we have the concept of justice, the very foundation of any judicial system, although some have argued it is to uphold the law.  Philosophically, a judicial system cannot exist in a democracy if it does not uphold justice and correct the wrongs of the past.  In fact the people are told “Equal Justice Under Law”, the motto on the Supreme Court building; “to secure justice”, the commonplace stated purpose of court rules of procedure;   “to establish justice”, the opening purpose in the Preamble to the US Constitution; and we designate the members of the Supreme Court as “justices”. Notice that “to uphold the law” is not included in the above.  This is the argument, along with the insistence on precedent, used by those special interests who favor unjust laws.[v]

. . . .

So, in particular, went is wrong with the AZ  supreme court denial in Bendt?  A lot!

An amicus brief is submitted, and subject to approval by the Court and the parties, to advise the Justices in better understanding the conditions and factors relevant its opinion that it may not be aware of. The following is a summary of arguments presented in my amicus brief[vi] seeking the Court to review the petition in the name of justice for the homeowner, Bendt, and for all other citizens living n Arizona HOAs.

“The Hannaman 2002 study (NJ) was quite frank and revealing describing problems and complaint still in existence some 19 years later in spite of efforts by the self-proclaimed HOA experts and educators, national CAI. “

“[Referring to Nevada Supreme Court in Kosor v. Olympia Companies, 478 P.3d 390 (2020)]. Because we conclude that each of Kosor’s statements was “made in direct connection with an issue of public interest in a place open to the public or in a public forum,” we reverse the district court’s decision to the contrary and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

“As our [California] Supreme Court has recognized, owners of planned development units ” ‘comprise a little democratic subsociety . . . .’ ” (citations omitted).” (Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club, 102 Cal. Rptr. 2d 205 (Ct. App. 2000) at “A. Public Forum”).

“Among its findings [South Carolina HOA study committee] were . . . While the Community Association Institute (CAI) and other private entities offer educational resources to homeowners and managers, state government cannot place the sole responsibility of educating homeowners and board members on a private entity.

“Although not presented by the Appellant where three plaintiffs who] are lawyers, and based on claims of false and inexcusable character assassination against Tarter . . . this Court has reasonable suspicion to remand the case for a determination the validity of an anti-slapp motion.

“This Court, or any court, cannot allow a group of individuals or organizations to create a devise in order to escape constitutional protections and enter into a contract, constitutionally valid in all other aspects, to form private local governments whose members remain citizens of this country as well as of their respective states. It, as it stands in regard to HOAs, makes a mockery of the Constitution and our principles of a democratic society.

“The free speech issues of limited-purpose public figure and of HOAs and social media as public forums with respect to political HOA governance issues have been raised and need to be addressed.

“As with Brown [v. Bd of Educ.], America’s culture and environment has changed dramatically from 1964’s Homes Association Handbook and the formation in 1973 of Community Associations Institute (CAI) to deal with rising HOA problems and constitutional concerns after only 9 years. In 1992 CAI dropped its 501(c)3 educational status for 501(c)6 trade organization so it could lobby state legislators.”

I cannot understand the Supreme Court’s denial of Bendt’s petition and the opportunity to rule or to further investigate these issues, by orders or by request to the Legislature — as it has so ordered in the past —  and thereby fulfilling its obligation to defend the Arizona and US Constitutions.  Instead, it seems that the Justices have allowed their opinions to be guided by the prevailing public policy favoring private government HOAs that are independent of the two Constitutions.[vii]

References


[i] See AZ supreme court denies hearing HOA case raising limited-purpose public figure doctrine.

[ii] Id.

[iii] Randy Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution, Princeton Univ. Press, (2004).

[iv] Hansford and Spriggs, The Politics of Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, Princeton Univ. Press (2006).

[v] See in general,  HOAs, justice, and judicial myth and precedent.

[vi] Staropoli Amicus brief Tarter  v. Bendt

[vii] See in general, The HOA-Land Nation Within America and Establishing the New America of Independent HOA Principalities.

Staying the course to apply the US Constitution to HOA-Land

In my long involvement in HOA reform legislation I’ve suffered defeat after defeat culminating in this week’s AZ Supreme Court denial to hear Tarter v. Bendt and address my amicus curiae brief. The brief raised deep questions arguing that state legislatures and judges demonstrate an unconscious pro-HOA bias as a result of years of an unopposed picture of the HOA legal scheme. And as such, erred in the courts’ decisions against Bendt.

But taking heart from the words of Winston Churchill,

Or even better, from WWII General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell,” Illegitimati non carborundum (Don’t Let The Bastards Wear You Down).

But still, I managed to have some successes.

Several of you have received my Don Q Medal of Valor for your repeated efforts to expose and inform the public about the hidden side of HOA-Land, the side the national lobbying entity avoids like the plague. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m the real personification of Cervantes’ fictional Don Quixote. I wrote:

 “The reality of the HOA ‘windmills.’ This is my statement on the rejection of my efforts to restore constitutional protections to HOAs by a society suffering from a decay and decline in ethical, moral, and democratic values.

 “For the most part, my analyses and warnings have been ignored by elected officials and politicians at all levels, by the public at large, and by a large majority of homeowners living in HOAs. So, it appears that like Don Quixote,  I am out-of-step with the reality of these times. But it doesn’t make me wrong!  Historians will judge.”

(See HOAs as ‘windmills’, Dec. 2020).

I am also disappointed by the failure of HOA advocates to rally around the injustice perpetrated on a homeowner by an upscale HOA and the courts.

Questionable CAI/FCAR 2020 facts

My analysis of the data presented in the 2020-2021 Statistical Review and CAI Factbook for 2020 by the CAI affiliate, Foundation for Community Association Research, brings me to suspect the data.  I painstakingly extracted the raw data as presented and subjected it to my own analysis using an EXCEL spreadsheet.  Almost immediately a very disturbing result appeared that should have been obvious to a statistician as highly unlikely.  Of the 27 top states by number of  HOA organizations, my analysis revealed a fixed 3.3% of Volunteers to HOA residents for the state. Restated, each state showed 3.3% of all HOA residents as CAI volunteers.research

From a point of view of statistics, events and activities generally follow the normal probability curve, more or less, but when there is no variation then the conclusion is that some other factors are at play that produced the result.  The normal distribution is the most important probability distribution in statistics because many continuous data in nature and psychology displays this bell-shaped curve when compiled and graphed.  For example, if we randomly sampled 100 individuals we would expect to see a normal distribution frequency curve for many continuous variables, such as IQ, height, weight and blood pressure.

Consequently, this result should have been caught if it were some error, or if not an error then an explanation as to what caused this highly unusual result.  There was no explanation. Therefore the validity and integrity of the Statistical Review is suspect. The data used to generate the results cannot be accepted as a factual free choice representation of the underlying reality.  To repeat, the “error” is too obvious not to  have stood out and been corrected. As such, the entire factsheet is suspect, and probably earlier factsheets as well.

Looking for some rational explanation, I then looked into the possibility that the Top 27 states were somehow different from all the states so I examined a random 5 states, one from each corner and one from central US.  They, too, showed this suspect 3.3% ratio.

My research also revealed  the percent of HOA residents to the total US population as 21.1% and 22.4% (a variation ascribed to intermediate rounding of numbers and not significant). CAI has touted the number as 25% – 27%,  also in 2019, but in 2016 the number was in line with the 22% figure.  I cannot explain how this CAI number was obtained.

Hopefully, CAI and FCAR have an explanation.

For the mathematically inclined, the EXCEL spreadsheet (PDF) can be viewed. http://pvtgov.org/pvtgov/downloads/2020 data analysis.pdf

In case you were wondering about my background in statistics, I have taken courses in statistical analysis in psychological research, product marketing  (MS Management), participated in a queuing theory analysis of computer messaging throughput for international wall street firm, set up the methodology for the calculation of business sales for business brokerage industry, and analyzed the TV show, Deal or No Deal, probabilities of winning the million dollar prize (see starman.com website).