Authoritarian HOAs and AZ SOS Fontes on American authoritarianism

In January 2022 I summarized my earlier works on authoritarianism in HOAs as a natural consequence of authoritarianism in America.[1]

I came to the conclusion in 2019 that there was a rise in authoritarianism throughout the world including America. And with HOA-land[2] constituting of some 23% plus of Americans, authoritarianism was also well rooted in the HOA form of governance. 

“The HOA legal structure and scheme is basically authoritarian in nature: strong central power, limited political freedoms, no accountability, and under the rule of man, not law. ‘There are a lot of Americans who do not care for democracy. They do not mind [failing] to follow the Constitution, or that [it] poses a danger to democracy.’ (Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation (2019)).

There is a mass psychology present in HOA-Land. Mass psychology is a study of how your behavior is influenced by large groups of people — “birds of the same feather flock together.” It is the result of the longtime conditioning and indoctrination into identifying with the principles and beliefs promoted by the CAI School of HOA Governance. Mass Psychology and Cult Behavior Within HOA-Land (2020)).

Arizona Secretary of State-Elect, Adrian Fontes

In MSNBC interview on Nov.17, 2022, the Arizona Secretary of State-Elect had the following to say about Americans .[3]

Election deniers . . . we need to call them authoritarians because they don’t believe in the democratic process.  They don’t believe in the consent of the governed. This is  so soundly an authoritarian movement when you look at the people who care about democracy, who care about the function of our government.”

“The people have spoken. There is an authoritarian movement in America, it may be loud . . . but it is dangerous, and we must continue to push back against it with vigor. . . . We have to become better citizens across the nation . . . we have to understand the fundamental structure [of government] better.”

Asked by the interviewer what can you do as secretary of state,  

“I have begun to work with . . . members of the Arizona Legislature . . . we got to be bigger than the problem, we got to be working together, to help people understand that we are all in this together.  You have to set your partisanship aside and work together toward common ends.”

“That’s the kind of leadership that folks like me have to set.   We got to reach out and show the American public that . . . cooperation will open up more avenues of conversation and that’s how we as leaders can set the example.”

Restructure the HOA model of governance

I have stepped outside the box to offer the boards of directors (BOD) a fresh view of the nature and legalities of the HOA legal scheme. StarMan Group HOA Management Consulting believes that the HOA legal model of government must be restructured to establish the climate and culture of the HOA enabling the restoration of the lost constitutional principles of democratic government — individual rights, justice, and fair play — for its members within the confines of a private contractual government.

The HOA model of local government is a fourth type of local government in addition to the public domains of commission, council-manager, and council-mayor forms. I ask: Is there a legitimate, bona fide reason and justification for the HOA to function outside public government?   No, there is none!

It goes without saying that private HOA governments must be restructured to return to the Union and restore member rights, freedom, privileges, and immunities.[4]

The task before the new Arizona administration

In 2006, HB 2824 (Ch.324), sponsored by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, established OAH hearings of HOA disputes, followed in 2011 by SB 1148 (Ch. 185), sponsored by Senator Andy Biggs to revise HB 2824 to deal with constitutionality challenges by the trade group, CAI, and 11 years later Arizona now has HB 2158 (Ch. 125), sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, allowing for a more meaningful, democratic voice of the members in HOA government.

Hopefully, Fontes will apply his concerns about authoritarian America to that 23% of the population directly subject to authoritarian, contractual, private local government known as HOAs. Hopefully, the to-be-elected Attorney General will identify with Fontes, and they will exert strong influence on the new administration to correct the past legislative ills of supporting, co-operating, encouraging, and protecting the HOA legal structure.

Hopefully, the newly constituted Arizona Legislature will  restore fundamental and constitutional protections, especially due process and the equal protection of the law, to citizens living in homeowner associations.

Notes


[1] Authoritarianism in America; authoritarianism in HOA-Land (2022).

[2] Some 23% of Americans live in HOA-Land, that collection of fragmented independent principalities known, in general, as HOAs. HOAs are separate, local private governments not subject to the constitution, and collectively constitute a nation within a defined geographical region known as the United States.   “A nation consists of a distinct population of people that are bound together by a common culture, history, and tradition who are typically concentrated within a specific geographic region.”

[3] We Must Push Back Against Authoritarians, Says Arizona’s Secretary Of State-Elect – Bing video.

[4] Restructuring the HOA model, George K. Staropoli, StarMan Publishing  (2020).

Important AZ case on CC&Rs interpretation

While this case deals specifically with Arizona statutes, the legal doctrine applies across all states.  The issue involved amending the CC&Rs by means of consent forms. Learn how the courts look at HOA complaints on interpretating CC&Rs — not what you probably think. So learn! 

Your declaration probably has the misleading statement that the board has the right to interpret the governing document. Not so! The courts have that sole right.

Please note that on important cases affecting HOA board authority and  powers, you may well find CAI filing an amicus brief as in Mountz.[1] For those with some legal understanding, the following will make sense. If you don’t understand, post questions here.

 The case

A number of owners sued seeking a declaratory decision that the amendment was unenforceable, and the lower court agreed. The HOA had sent a letter indicating “that owners could approve the Amendment by signing and returning an attached consent form.” The result was announced at the subsequent annual meeting, and the VP  “certified that the Amendment was adopted by at least 50% of the lot owners.”

Now pay attention to my warnings of word games and expansionist interpretations. The lower court held “the Amendment invalid because it was not executed by at least half of the owners,”  because

“the CC&Rs authorize an amendment “by Instrument executed by the [o]wners of at least fifty percent (50%) of the Lots . . . and such amendment shall not be effective until the recording of such Instrument.” (Emphasis added.)  The Court said that “Because it was  not done in this manner, the Amendment is invalid.

Mountain Gate argued “when the approving owners signed and returned their consent forms, they gave the Board actual authority to execute the Amendment on their behalf.”  The key issue came down to, what is the meaning of “execute.”

CC&Rs contract Court interpretation principles

My annotations are in square brackets [].

  • A restrictive covenant is a contract [The courts have not clarified that by “contract” they meant under Contract Law, which the CC&Rs would fail to meet.  Instead, one court held that the CC&Rs are interpretated as a contract, again missing application of Contract Law.]
  • When we interpret them, as with any contract, we strive to give words their ordinary, common-sense meaning to carry out the parties’ intent. [As with the argument over the meaning and use of the word “execute”].
  • Restrictive covenants “should be interpreted to give effect to the
  • intention of the parties. . . . We look to the “language used in the instrument, . . . the circumstances surrounding the creation of the [instrument], and . . . the purpose for which it was created.”
  • Enforcing the intent of the parties is the “cardinal principle” for interpretating restrictive covenants. . . . We will not read a covenant in a way that defeats the plain and obvious meaning of the restriction.  [the Amendment, and it was executed by only one lot owner, a Board member.] The plain language of Section 11(E) does not authorize one individual to amend the CC&Rs by “written consent”
  • we will not add provisions that were not originally included because doing so would defeat the intent of the amendment provision. . . . [the HOA]  broadly reads those definitions to allow the execution of a document through an agent. But the Association cites no authority supporting its argument that agency principles may trump the plain language of a restrictive covenant. [The HOA argued the interpretation of the word “execute” but the Court rejected this expansive meaning of the word within the intent of the CC&Rs. Also understand the need for supporting evidence to back any argument you make.]
  • Contracts are read to incorporate applicable statutes,  but a statute governs only when the contract is incompatible with the statute. [This is a strong statement of no interference with contracts].

Notes


[1] Mountz v. Mountain Gate, No. CA-CV 21-0656 (App. Div. 1, from Navajo County,11-10-2022).

HOA management case study – 2022 epilogue

Author’s note:  This commentary is a follow up to my Dec. 2021 – Feb. 2022 “mgmt case study” posts relating to an Arizona HOA. Its board has continued its path with a few suggestions on open meetings and videotaping the board meetings.  The series starts by entering “case study” in the Search box in the left panel. This is a reorientation and educational process, but the board is not yet amenable to hear the whole truth about HOAs.

Resource: Towe Lifestyle article: SCG community is a business

“[The board of directors]  bring an extraordinary level of imagination and management expertise to bear on the very complex problems of running a sophisticated and demanding business. No sugar coating either. The men and women serving you on the BOD represent you and your interests with a sincere desire to make Grand the very best place it can be.[1]

I beg to differ with this statement on several issues that I see as PR and more BOD propaganda.[2]

First, SCG is not a business!  Did you sign a commercial UCC contract or residential  real estate contract? Enough said! From whence  does this mistaken belief  arise.  In my many years of research I found it to be from long term indoctrination and acceptance of the teachings of the CAI School of HOA Governance[3], my categorization, of CAI’s special interest agenda. There is strong evidence supporting the view that CAI dominates SCG policy.[4]

In 2015 the board claimed in its IRS tax-exempt application that SCG was a nonprofit social welfare organization and was not applying for exemption as an HOA.  There are no grounds, no authority in the governing documents, then and now, to make such an assertion. In the application, the president informed the IRS that SCG provides services “benefitting both the Sun City Grand community and the surrounding community.” You will not find that “and surrounding community” claim anywhere else but on the IRS application.

Second, the article contains a number of vague and confusing assertions not supported by the facts,  and contradict such attitudes found in other BOD publications by other SCG officials. One gets a sense of Who’s in charge? Additionally, it raises the question of board competence, which can be found in recent actions and decisions by the BOD[5]. Puffing can be found in the article:

  • an extraordinary level of imagination and management expertise
  • “to make Grand the very best” contradicts the Vision statement that proclaims SCG is already the best, “Grand is the premiere age-restricted adult association.”
  •  “sophisticated and demanding,” which is undoubtedly demanding but a sophisticated” business?  Are the demands on the board of directors beyond its pay grade? Does the public view town managers, SCG equivalent to CAM, viewed as a business? Does the public view town councils, the equivalent of the SCG board, viewed as a business?

Finally, “[Directors] on the BOD represent you and your interestsis misleading and contradicts the law and SCG policy that the board owes its obligations to the HOA “person.”  The 2021 Candidates Package paragraph “9a”,  makes my point. “Directors work first and foremost for the best interests of the Association.”  This authoritarian tone is contrary to our democratic values. This attitude reflects its policy to run SCG as a business, and at times a for-profit business.  

I’m left with who and what is SCG?  The governing documents, like the US Constitution make that clear; yet the board hasn’t seemed to accept this foundation for its authority to act on behalf of the members, and that’s not to be a business.  It has failed to address two top level management concerns of boards of directors: What is our business and what should it be?

As I detail in “CAI dominates SCG” (see link below), the board has a duty of care and a fiduciary responsibility to the members. Unless the BOD does an about face in regard to its CAI legal advisors, members can expect more of the same in dealing with several serious legal matters that are on the horizon.

Notes


[1] Robert Towe,  Board Director, “Our Great Community”, Lifestyles, Oct. 2022.

[2] “Propaganda” is false statements, half-truths, omission of facts, and misrepresentations designed to produce a favorable attitude and mindset in the targets.”  The BOD provides illusions of happiness and approval, and are supported by the majority of their members; its messages use propaganda statements — disinformation consisting of false, misleading, half-truths, omitting facts, and fear.

[3] CAI School of HOA Governance: The foundation and principles of the School can be traced back to CAI’s Public Policies, The CAI Manifesto (its 2016 “white paper”), its numerous seminars and conferences, its Factbooks and surveys, its amicus briefs to the courts, and its advisories, letters, emails, newsletters, blogs etc. I have designated these foundations and principles collectively as the CAI School of HOA Governance.

[4] Read the domination argument paper at:   CAI Dominates SCG.

[5] See Wizard of SCG.

The unspoken Alliance: no HOA negatives

In 2010 I raised the question: Are the media and local supporting governments part of “an unspoken alliance of  no negatives about HOAs?”  I avoided using the word “conspiracy” because all it takes is a nod or wink that everybody understands. No written or verbal statement was necessary.

In 2012 I wrote,

It is interesting that the media always fails to mention this affiliation with CAI, as many of these attorneys lecture on how to live happily in an HOA. And they are supported by your local town government through seminars and conferences like the HOA Academy and Leadership Centre programs. 

How about your Attorney General? Your consumer protection agencies? Your real estate department? The Realtors? Heard or read anything of substance  from them against HOAs? Gee, maybe I’m delusional and there are no serious issues of substance after all.

In 2013 when a homeowner filed suit against the AZ legislature challenging the constitutionality of  an HOA bill (HB 1454), not a word or peep from the media or those self-promoting think tanks like The Goldwater Institute, Institute for Justice, and ACLU. And today, not a word or peep from the media or the think tank constitutionalists, about the landmark protected free speech law (HB 2158; AZ law Ch 125 (2022)) concerning HOA governing issues.

It is an unexplainable bias in favor of the HOA model of governance by those in a position to understand and to know better. Sort of a mass group think conduct nationwide. Some may call it a cult where opposing thoughts and information are rejected, ignored, and denied, and the “messengers” are attacked. The silence is so contrary to human behavior — the normal curve — to conclude forces are at work.

A major exception did occur in 2016 when the conscientious reporter, Judy Thomas of the KC Star (KC Star: problem with HOA? Don’t go to CAI ), tried to do what’s right, but ran into the corporate bias wall. It was a unique exposure, standing all alone but nothing was accomplished.

Undue influence of CAI on HOA

I posted this in reply to a simplistic Nextdoor post that wrote that HOAs are governments:

Yes, HOAs and SCG are not simply nonprofits, charities, or for-profit entities. They are, in a complete description, a contractual, private government allowed to function outside constitutional protections under the guise that the members openly and with full knowledge agreed to surrenders and waivers of their rights under the US and state Constitutions.

I suggest concerned people seeking the truth read my simple pamphlet, “HOA Common Sense: rejecting private governments” as a starter. We can then have a meaningful discussion of the issues. It’s on Amazon for just $3.00 Kindle edition.

Or go to https://pvtgov.wordpress.com and search on Common Sense. A preface can be read here Preface to HOA Common Sense. SHALL WE MOVE AHEAD IN A MEANINGFUL MANNER?