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).

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 how and why of “boss” HOA presidents

This commentary is a follow up on my review of Kelly G. Richardsons’ article (Dictatorial HOA presidents and silent directors are at risk).

With all due respect to Richardson, his discussion of the role of HOA “boss” presidents and silent boards of directors makes no references to the causes of this common defect in the management of HOAs, or the more relevant, in ruling a community.  As an important CAI (Community Associations) lawyer advising and educating BODs on how to rule a community, we should expect not only answers but solutions as well.  His article does neither.

Richardson does  inform his readers about the makeup of good presidents: “Good HOA presidents understand the boundaries . . . . Good presidents are key . . . .”  He closes with the advice, “So, keep the good ones!”  He fails to address the legal structure of an adhesion contract and the CC&Rs that grant the BOD broad powers and authority. As such, the legal structure would not stand up to constitutional judicial scrutiny if the HOA were an arm of the state and not a private, contractual arrangement.

The legal structure prevents active, meaningful, democratic participation by members in board  elections and in amendments to the governing documents as found with public government. For example, members cannot file a petition, equivalent to a public domain initiative, requiring the BOD to hold a vote of the members on an issue, removing the absolute power to do as it pleases when contrary to the will of the  majority. The members would be able to contest the BOD’s position. Ihe absence of constitutional protections promotes the formation of power cliques that function as authoritarian governments. And so, we have “boss” presidents and silent boards of directors.

As a good lawyer, Richardson would probably say that this is the law, this is the way it is, and if you don’t like it change the laws. And who helped create and shape these pro-HOA laws?   For example, CAI has been involved since the beginning in 1964 in creating those Uniform Common Interest Ownership Acts (known as UCIOA) and adopted  with some modifications by a handful of states.

It’s up to YOU, as it has always been.

“It does not  help the sheep to blame the wolf. The sheep must not fall into the clutches of the wolf “ (Mahama Gandhi, fighting the imperialist British Empire).

Mgmt case study #1 – final update

By this time I believe some are beginning to realize the larger objective of my posts.  It’s about HOA-LAND, that collection of HOAs across America, and SCG was just a prime subject for study that provided detailed documentation.  Through acts of commission and of omission, by both the board of directors and the members in general, my research  was revealing.

Now that the board of directors meeting was held, without write-ins being allowed and no outcry of foul by the members,  I conclude my study of a failure to act in good faith that contained documented violations of state laws and the governing documents.

My case study showed that an HOA with members above average income and education  exhibited the same social and political dynamics of the prevalent HOA culture. It is a culture found throughout HOA-LAND that allows for the classification of HOA-LAND as a nation within America, consisting of independent principalities allowed to exist outside the Constitution.  In the face of demonstrable violations of the law and the governing documents, the silence by BODs and the majority of the members places HOA communities above the law as outlaw communities.

Although participation in  the SCG polls and focus groups was in the thousands, the failure of members to participate in my nonpolitical  “Values” poll  is indicative of the HOA Culture.  It is very disappointing, but not unexpected.  Early results do not show a heavy leaning for or against but a balanced response that I see as truthful, honest replies. Another failure by the members to accept criticism.

Check out the poll — it’s anonymous. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NF7FVR2

I was texted by a member who said this failure was due to fear on the part of members. She was partially right; fear is one aspect of the social dynamics of the HOA Culture in SCG.  Others texted asking, what does this prove and where are you going with this?  In a broader context, we are dealing with  simplified explanations by apathetic members.  Why is this so?

In my well founded argument of the social and political  dynamics at work included findings of the existence of:

  1. an authoritarian environment made possible by members’ authoritarian followers behavior. In short, trusting in authority figures. (It is in keeping with the increase in American authoritarianism);
  2. a cult-like behavior by members who religiously support the board of directors, who completely believe that the BOD can do no wrong, and who  will intently not discuss or debate the issues, but ready to attack and disparage the messengers (as found in cult followers);
  3. a “You can’t fight city hall” mentality stemming from the adhesion governing documents granting powers to the HOA and supported by pro-HOA statutes mimicking the governing documents in many ways (the practical ability to seek justice in the courts is subject to unattainable financial and emotional bars;
  4. a “I just don’t care” attitude by members who are in love with the amenities and benefits made possible by the HOA, and the means to that end doesn’t interest them;
  5. a fear in being rejected, ostracized, and socially distanced as “not one of us,” and “should move out if not happy here,” if critical or disagreeing with the prevailing views of the “establishment.”  Or, in other words, the equivalent of not being politically correct.

The making of this culture falls only partially on the members to the extent of their being all too willing to accept pro-HOA propaganda —  carefree living, affordable housing, resort style living etc.  CAI (Community Associations Institute) has for over 40 years 1) heavily influenced and dominated the formation of HOA-Land as an institution – accepted without question as that’s the way it is; and 2) conditioned and indoctrinated the public and members with its CAI School of HOA Governance (my label).  NO, that’s not the way it is!

This business trade group has advanced its mission to support its members, the attorney and manager “venders.”   Collectively, its program of education and acceptance can be found in its CAI Manifesto, which is a collection of all CAI documentation including town sponsored seminars and conferences,  court filings, and legislative testimony in  almost every state.

As I presented elsewhere, SCG has a “clique” of CAI members who, over the years,  are also or were SCG presidents and directors.  And their presence continues and can be seen on the BOD and as committee chairs today.

How SCG, and all HOAs, go forward depends on a proactive and involved membership, starting with reforming pro-HOA state laws and trickling down to conforming governing document revisions.

Authoritarianism in America; authoritarianism in HOA-Land

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.”

Jonathan Chait  (Nymag.com, Jan. 3, 2022), wrote last week,  You can’t stop authoritarianism unless you understand it.” Consequently, my continued effort to reorient and reeducate HOA BODS and its followers.

The HOA is truly a totalitarian democracy.  In 2019 I wrote, “Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation

“A totalitarian democracy . . . retains full power of . . .  the right of control over everything and everyone. Maintenance of such power, in the absence of full support of the citizenry, requires the forceful suppression of any dissenting element except what the government purposely permits or organizes.”

The authoritarianism of HOA-Land  is masked by a thorough indoctrination that the real estate subdivision is a democratic community because the members are allowed to vote, as meaningless as it is. It seems that the more predisposed to authoritarian control the more the member acts as a diehard, dogmatic, true-believer in the BOD.

Read more Cult behavior within HOA-Land.