State legislatures must be held accountable for dereliction of duty

While U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a DOJ investigation into the Minneapolis police department, the AG must also start a sweeping investigation into the dereliction of duty by state legislatures in their unconstitutional support, promotion and encouragement of homeowner association legislation.  

(See Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs). 

Legislation, which affects some 23% of all Americans living in an HOA, that permits contractual, authoritarian private governments  (HOAs or community associations) not accountable to the US Constitution.

The DOJ must also investigate the role and extent of the influence on state legislatures by the national, self-proclaimed expert in HOA law, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and its affiliate, The Foundation for Community Association Research.  The DOJ must examine the extent of the teachings of the CAI School of HOA Governance has had in creating longtime conditioning and indoctrination of legislators, the media, and the public.  

“CAI School” is a term that I use to describe the collection of all CAI statements, publications and including seminars, programs, classes, etc. that constitute the CAI Manifesto.

State legislatures must be held accountable for any undue influence by pro-HOA special interests.  CAI must be held accountable for the content of its pro-HOA advocacy.

CAI Manifesto – white paper

{Originally published in 2016].

This CAI ‘white paper’ cements the position that CAI is the sole competent voice for HOA matters. For those who took the time to read all four of these papers, [note 1] what should stand out is the absence of any discussion of HOAs as de facto private governments, as de facto political entities, or as quasi or mini governments both of which imply a political entity.  The reason why the authors of these papers, the elitist would be Philosopher Kings, cannot address the question of violations of the Constitution is that they would be “Defending the Indefensible.”

So, as expected of politically motivated actors, ignoring the controversy makes it go away, especially when there’s only one voice of any merit and strength.  Facts that are inconsistent with the views of CAI are dogmatically dismissed and ignored. And to this end CAI has been very successful with respect to state legislatures and the cooperating media.

“For more than 40 years, CAI has educated, advocated, published and informed people living and working in common-interest communities. Thanks to those ongoing efforts, we have a strong and valuable understanding of community associations today.[note 2]

CAI will use these papers to further indoctrinate the legislators, the media and the public that CAI is the only competent, informed, knowledgeable, educational and credentialed organization with 40 years’ experience to conduct HOA affairs and to deal with HOA issues.  “Homeowner rights advocates” are ignored and dismissed as an opposition movement.  Instead, following the lead of Arizona Rep. Ugenti who in 2013 made the following statement to the Arizona Government Committee:

Ugenti stated that each year there was “a plethora of personal HOA legislation” and tried “to spare the [committee] members the constant agony of many personal pieces of HOA legislation,” as contrasted to the industry legislation. (See video of Ugenti speech here https://youtu.be/REt_TJD-6UQ).

CAI speaks only of “individual constituents” and “isolate incidents” that do not measure up to a policy that the legislature could act on[note 3] (my emphasis):

“Lawmakers have been, and will continue to be, called upon to address concerns expressed by individual constituents who share an isolated incident that has made them unhappy with their community associations. In an effort to help constituents, lawmakers may introduce legislation addressing association governance that may increase and undermine the well-established and proven model of community association governance.

“This trend is expected to continue as long as a legislative response is considered necessary to respond to negative perceptions produced by media out of lone circumstances. Legislative responses to individual constituents contribute to community associations being perceived as over-restrictive micro-governments focused on covenant enforcement. This perception may accelerate legislative efforts aimed at greater oversight of community association governance and require greater transparency.”

They make an accurate assessment of conditions. This failure to present a unified national voice backed by credential authorities will continue to persist into the future.  If you stop CAI Central, you destroy all local CAI state chapters’ reason for being. They become just another self-serving special interest.

These papers also contain CAI attempts to influence other dominant organizations like AARP and NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors).[note 4]  Furthermore, CAI calls for not only influencing legislatures, but the judges, too.[note 5]

References


[1] Links to these papers can be found on the CAI web page, Community Next: 2020 and Beyond(May 5, 2016).

[2] Id

[3] Supra, public policy link, p. 6.

[4] Supra. n. 1, external influences link, p. 4-5.

[5] Id, p. 13-14.

HOA political dynamics: totalitarian democracy

HOA political dynamics: authoritarianism & totalitarian democracy

First, allow me to clarify some important concepts and definitions that I have employed to help in understanding my positions and views.

  1. The term “HOA” is commonly used in 2 different aspects. While commonly used to refer to the alleged community, in reality the “community” is a real estate “package” of homes, landscaping, amenities, and rules.
  2. “HOA” more aptly applies to the association itself, which is the de facto – in fact – political governing body of the subdivision or real estate “package.”
  3. “Government,” meaning political government, is defined in its general sense as “the person or group that controls and regulates the people within a territory.” Since your subdivision is a territory, that makes the HOA a truly political government.
  4. “Private government” is a de facto government as defined above not incorporated under municipal statutes but under nonprofit corporation statutes. As such, it is a functioning government unrecognized by the state as Cuba had been for years.
  5. “Quasi-government” simply means for all intents and purposes having all the attributes of a municipal government, except the names have been changed to mislead the innocent public.
  6. “HOA-Land” is my descriptive term for “the collection of fragmented independent principalities within America, known in general as “HOAs,” that are separate local private governments not subject to the constitution, and that collectively constitute a nation within the United States.”
  7. “Structured tribalism.” Tribalism is a term currently in vogue to describe divisiveness in America. “Structured tribalism” extends that view to describe the intentionally planned policy for the acceptance and control of HOA-Land.[1] It views the fragmented HOA-Land as distinct villages and clans.

While the CC&Rs and declarations contain abundant boiler plate, each is a separate legal agreement and as such  the HOA can be viewed as a village.  The conglomeration of master planned communities or HOAs developed by the same developer can be seen as a clan.  All stemming from the HOA “bible,” the 1964 Homes Association Handbook.[2]

In an earlier editorial on civic responsibility,[3] I questioned the allegiance, the loyalty, and the obligations of HOA members.  Was it to the US Constitution or to the HOA “constitution,” the governing documents?  I answered that it appeared to be the HOA first and foremost – secessionist — creating division within the country.

This was followed up by the editorials[4] where I examined the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the HOA members themselves.  I focused on the aspect of long-term indoctrination by the HOA School of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, my categorization. The question yet to be addressed was: What role did the members play themselves in terms of a predisposition to accept authoritarian, private governance?

By serendipity, or by destiny, I just received an email discussing authoritarianism and totalitarian democracy.[5] It argued that Americans were accepting authoritarian control, which seemed  to be a cause for the behavior of cult-like, dogmatic member acceptance of the HOA board’s (BOD) actions and attitudes.  It seems that the more predisposed to authoritarian control the more the member acted as a diehard, dogmatic, true-believer in the BOD.

“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.

“These “authoritarian followers,” as social science labels them, are also highly ethnocentric, thus frequently racist, nationalistic, deeply partisan, and threatened by “the other.” . . . Other testing shows these people are also highly defensive.”

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.[6] The authoritarian nature of HOA-Land is masked by a thorough indoctrination[7] that the real estate subdivision is a democratic community (although the HOA is not a municipal entity but a private nonprofit association)  because the members are allowed to vote, as meaningless as it is.

But the HOA is truly a totalitarian democracy.  To paraphrase the founder of fascism, Benito Mussolini, “All within the HOA, nothing outside the HOA, nothing against the HOA.”   The marketing and promotion of the HOA model of governance has been conducted in a very smooth manner: no negatives, “carefree living,” playing to the emotions and desires of the members, misleading statements to induce buying, and empty promises of “maintaining property values, ”etc.

Here’s are some of J. L. Talmon’s views of totalitarian democracy as found on Wikipedia (my emphasis):

“A totalitarian democratic state is said to maximize its control over the lives of its citizens by using the dual rationale of general will (i.e., “public good”) and majority rule. An argument can be made that in some circumstances it is actually the political, economic, and military élite who interpret the general will to suit their own interests.

“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

“It is [the member’s] duty and responsibility to aid his compatriots in realizing [this right of control]. Moreover, any public or private activities that do not forward this goal have no useful purpose. Citizens of a totalitarian democratic state, even when aware of their true powerlessness, may support their government.” 

Getting back to HOA-Land, it becomes disturbing that the application of authoritarianism and totalitarian democracy philosophy seems to fit quite well. Too well at that!  But these views of HOA-Land are a valuable enlightenment because it takes HOA-Land out of the hands of the propagandists, out of the shadows, out of the darkness of Plato’s cave.[8]  It reveals reality.

 

References

[1]In short, CAI has been setting itself up as the national private authority, a sort of Board of National HOA Governors,”  CAI manifesto: CAI’s plan for HOA-Land in America, 2016.

[2] See my 2006,  Analysis of The Homes Association Handbook.

[3] Civic responsibility vs. HOA member responsibility.

[4] HOA social dynamics.

[5] Verdict” email from Justia.

[6] “Authoritarian” can be defined as “a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. Individual freedoms are subordinate to the state and there is no constitutional accountability and rule of law under an authoritarian regime.” Wikipedia.

[7] Supra n. 2.

[8]In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato distinguishes between people who mistake sensory knowledge for the truth and people who really do see the truth.” (See Philosophyzer).

Is AZ ADRE violating 1st Amendment free speech on HOA public issues?

Regarding Arizona’s real estate department’s (ADRE) promotion of the HOA special interest organizations, CAI and AACM, in its Resources category on its HOA Due Process web page, there are no opposing homeowner rights views on HOA-Land.  Nada!

These pro-HOA groups sustain, and continue to offer and promote the same failed arguments and “solutions,” of the past 23 years in Arizona. They are on record opposing due process and the equal protection of the laws for HOA members. It seems that they have adopted the view that the goals and objectives of the state, meaning the HOA government, supersedes the individual rights of the people, the HOA members. (See CAI manifesto: CAI’s plan for HOA-Land in America, a commentary on CAI’s “white paper.”

At a meeting with ADRE I argued for ADRE to remove CAI and AACM from or to add references to opposing views, well supported by evidence, to its web page.  I suggested that my Constitutional Local Government or HOA Constitutional Government would provide a factual based view, and give the general public a “full disclosure” of life in HOA-Land.   Let’s be fair! Let the homeowner choose after he has all the facts and not those of self-interested private vendor groups.  This would be in keeping with ADRE’s mission “to protect the interests of the general public.”

If we are to make progress for HOA members, the policymakers move past what CAI and AACM have been saying in their voluminous promotional and marketing sayings — like its Factbook — and to what the CAI/AACM members are actually saying before state legislatures and the courts. The contradictions between the two are stark; one is talk, the other is action, as outlined in the materials presented to ADRE.

 

I am awaiting the decision of the ADRE Commissioner.  It has been a month — a reasonable time to make two line changes on their web page — since I first contacted ADRE with the above request to remove the vendor organizations, or to add homeowner rights websites as a balanced recommendation.  I hope that ADRE will act very quickly on this important request granting free speech to all sides of the controversial HOA issue.

The US Supreme Court decision in Con Ed v. Public Service Comm’n of NY (447 U.S. 530 (1980)) sheds some important light on ADRE’s unreasonable delay in acting on my request, which can only be interpreted as a denial.  In Con Ed a state agency prohibited the inclusion of political material by a public utility company in its monthly billing statements.  Among other things, the Court held: (my emphasis)

But when regulation is based on the content of speech, governmental action must be scrutinized more carefully to ensure that communication has not been prohibited merely because public officials disapprove the speaker’s views.” (Part III(A)).

As a general matter, “the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. . ..  To allow a government the choice of permissible subjects for public debate would be to allow that government control over the search for political truth. (Part III(B)).

The denial of opposing homeowner rights website inclusion on its Resources web page would constitute a First Amendment violation.

Homeowners can play a significant role by speaking out.  Write about the quality of advice received from these organizations as to resolve problems with your HOA.  Was it helpful?  Were you satisfied? Please be sure to provide solid evidence – solid documentation – to support your request for help; no whining, no crying we was robbed.

Address these matters to Dan Gardner (dgardner@azre.gov), and send a copy to me at info@pvtgov.org with complete confidentiality.

The Two Americas: Constitutional America and HOA-Land

On this Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, America is fighting battles in a number of countries where our sons and daughter and our brothers and sisters have paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America, and the democratic values and beliefs of justice and equality for which it stands.

Yet, we have those in America firmly believing that the Constitution protects free speech, but not when private contracts are involved. And they support private agreements called Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that cross over the line between purely property restrictions to establishing unregulated and authoritarian private governments. Florida attorney Ryan Poliakoff (brother of the late CAI activist attorney Gary Poliakoff) is one of them. These HOAs (an all-inclusive term) operate outside our constitutional system of government.

In his May 28th column on Florida Today, he asks and answers the title question, “Did you sign away your free speech with HOA?[1]  with a firm YES.   Why and for what system of government are our troops fighting and dying for?  For the America of our Founding Fathers or for the misguided special interests who have a financial interest in HOA-Land, and who act and function as an oppressive oligarchy. (It is estimated that 20% – 23% of Americans live under HOA private governments). In our case, it means rule by the few special interests who lobby nationwide for pro-HOA legislation to protect the status quo.

I’m shocked at Mr. Poliakoff’s biased and simplified explanation and justification for HOA private governments; after all, he is a lawyer and dares speak of The Bill of Rights. He writes,

Private entities have no obligation to respect your right to say whatever you want, no matter how offensive it may be. . . . So if the rights and obligations of a mandatory membership community are contractual, and not municipal, shouldn’t they be allowed to restrict speech?

The most blatant misrepresentation of the facts occurs when he argues (emphasis added),

Personally, I agree with the majority position. I see no reason that persons who voluntarily bind themselves by, knowingly, buying property subject to restrictions should not be bound by those restrictions (unless the state passes laws that expressly limit the association’s power, such as the condominium laws that protect owners’ right to assemble, or the federal laws that guarantee every person the right to fly an American flag.)

Otherwise, I view deed-restricted communities as guided and governed by contracts, and I believe they should be treated, generally, the same as any private contract between individuals.

I vehemently object to these misleading statements by an attorney!  Apparently he has failed to read, or refuses to rebut, arguments that I raise with respect to 1) alleged agreement to a contract,[2] 2) HOAs as de facto governments hiding behind the privacy of the questionable CC&Rs contract,[3] and 3) the application of US Supreme Court criteria for a bona fide surrender/waiver of constitutional rights, including due process and the equal protection of the laws, which the HOA legal scheme fails miserably.

Furthermore, he should well know that the alleged contract is not between individuals or other HOA members, but between the HOA and the individual owner. Yet, he admits, by implication, that all HOA reform legislation is an attempt to restore lost rights, rights that belong to all Americans.

Mr. Poliakoff also informs his readers that he co-authored the 2009 book, New Neighborhoods[4] that contains the very same attitude and view towards independent HOA principalities as professed in this article.  In my Amazon book review I wrote (emphasis added),

Ellen Hirsch de Haan, former CAI president, acknowledges that the biggest problem for the successful operations of these associations “is the lack of education among the consumers who are buying homes and units . . . . And the authors inform their readers that, “These neighborhoods could not operate without . . . the owners, who give up certain traditional homeowner rights for the good of the community.” “This is good”.

“The Poliakoff’s continue, informing their readers that “out of anarchy came utopia“, and quote an appellate court dicta that “each owner must give up a certain degree of freedom of choice which he might otherwise enjoy living in a separate, privately owned property.” The authors define the purpose of this book as, explaining “the workings of these communities — these New Neighborhoods — . . . and to let purchasers know just what they are getting into.”

I believe that Mr. Polikoff has failed miserably to fully educate the legislators, the media and the home buyers in both his book and in his recent article, both of which present the special interest “party line” and not the facts, the whole facts, and nothing but the facts.

This is not new or unique to Mr. Poliakoff.  CAI has recently released a series of white papers, which I collectively refer to as the CAI Manifesto.[5]    Kelly Richardson, national CAI Trustee and Realtor wrote about socialistic housing and submitting to the will of the community because, allegedly, that buyers had openly agreed to the surrender of their rights.

That’s the root of so many of the HOA horror stories we’ve all heard, as owners normally do not realize that their submission to the will of their new community is accomplished by the automatic application of covenants running with the residence. . . . The most caustic critics of HOAs in general are actually opposed to the concept of joint ownership. This is a completely unrealistic position . . .[6]

 

 

The positions taken in support of HOA-Land, as evidenced above, constitute a political movement — as any other recognized movement — that consists of separate and disparate collection of private governments not subject to the constitution because of a “verboten,” hands-off attitude, and have created 2 Americas.   The divide is just a  dangerous as a country divided over political philosophy as witnessed in our current political campaign.  It must not be allowed to continue regardless of what party or person will sit in the White House.

References

[1] Did you sign away your free speech with HOA, FloridaToday (USA Today), Ryan Poliakoff , May 28, 2016.

[2] Consent to be governed, No. 4 of HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government.

[3] HOA Governments in fact, No. 9, Id. See also, CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government.

[4] New Neighborhoods—The Consumer’s Guide to Condominium, Co-Op and HOA Living.

[5]  CAI manifesto: CAI’s plan for HOA-Land in America;  See also, Deborah Goonan’s  critique in “HOA laws and Free Speech, Right to Know”.

[6] Realtor magazine publishes HOA socialism by CAI Trustee, quoting A Note of Caution About HOAs, RealtorMag, Official Magazine of the National Association of Realtors, February 2015.