Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation

“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.[1]

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 some people [authoritarian followers] for whom the system of checks and balances are bothersome and annoying, and dislike the noise and chaos of democracy”.[2]  

“People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.”[3]

The HOA is truly a totalitarian democracy.

“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.”[4]

The authoritarianism of HOA-Land [5] is masked by a thorough indoctrination[6] 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.

In 2019  I conducted a limited study on authoritarian followers in HOAs following the stablished research procedures[7] to determine the extent of authoritarianism in the HOA  setting.[8]  I found that,

“High RWA followers can be found in HOA members. My concern focused on the blind, to me, acquiescence to whatever the BOD told the members what it wanted approved, especially when it involved amendments to the governing documents. When presented with hard, concrete evidence of violations of the law or governing documents, the majority of the members just gave the BOD a blank check.”

The above chart (responses to 30 questions)  shows the degree of authoritarianism based on percentages: the higher, the stronger the authoritarian presence. “3Q” reflects HOA responses to 3 strict “control” preference questions in the survey, as a BOD member or not. The middle 2 bars reflect all the results from all HOA respondents and the lower 2 reflect HOA members or not – the public. 

The prevalence of authoritarian followers is clearly indicated with respect to the HOA’s “enforcement” attitude. The authoritarian culture of HOA-Land contributes to the decline in American democracy. “[Authoritarians] seek to . . . rewrite social contracts, and, sometimes, to alter the rule of democracy so they never lose power. Alexander Hamilton warned against them.”[9]

This study on HOA-Land authoritarianism is consistent with research findings with respect to the general public and political leanings.[10]  “[Authoritarians] understand their role, which is to defend the leaders, however dishonest their statement, however great their corruption, and however disastrous their impact on ordinary people and institutions.”[11]

References


[1] Verdict” email from Justia.

[2] Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Doubleday (2020).

[3] Amanda Taub, “The rise of American authoritarianism,” Vox (March 1, 2016).

[4] George K. Staropoli, “HOA political dynamics: totalitarian democracy,” The HOA-Land Nation Within America, StarMan Publishing (2019). J. L. Talmon quote.

[5] Authoritarianism: favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom..

[6] CAI’s effect on the BOD, the members — especially the loyal “followers” — and the public in general stems from 45 years of indoctrination by means of the CAI School of HOA Governance. See in general, Restructuring HOAs: “CAI School and member benefits” pt. 2 (2020).

[7] Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians, 2007.

[8] George K. Staropoli, “Preliminary HOA – public survey report,” HOA Constitutional Government (2019). Links to detailed report.

[9] Supra, n.2, p. 20.

[10] Supra, n. 3.

[11] Supra, n. 2., p. 25.

HOAs deny opposition free speech

This morning on CNN Michael Smerconish discussed the question of free speech with respect to disagreeing with a position.  In this highly sensitive environment too often a disagreement with a position evokes an angry demand to remove or not publish the statement. That is not free speech but, as Smerconish said, “my-speech.”  It is not asking for agreement but free speech – let the other person have his say. Let a dialogue ensue which is a must for a healthy democracy.

In the culture of the HOA-Land Nation, any opposition to, or criticism of, the HOA or its board of directors is too often met with angry condemnation, character assassination, ostracization, and the non-publishing of the opposition voice. Some HOAs give the appearance of concern but  only provide token  Q & A dialogues with no real exchange of the issues. This open opposition to free speech is endemic to the HOA-Land culture and reflects an undemocratic, authoritarian cult-like environment.

Problems with HOAs, as we are all aware of, cannot be resolved when member criticism and opposition is squelched as a matter of policy.  Until the members say, “enough is enough” and demand constitutional reforms the problems will continue unresolved.

HOA-Land Nation “Did you know?” Part 2

HOA-Land Nation “Did you know?”

Release No. 2 —  July 4, 2019

As an HOA member, did you know that:

 ·         Your HOA board (BOD) is unaccountable under state laws with trivial, if any, penalties or punishments for violations of state laws or the governing documents?  Without meaningful enforcement to hold BODs accountable and to serve as a detriment to continued violations, you are forced to sue just to get compliance.

 ·         The much touted HOAs are democratic because members can vote is utterly without merit?  Fair elections protections, as compared with those in the public arena, do not exist under a corporation law.  Members do not have equal access to HOA newsletters, website, member lists, and use of common amenity meetings rooms, among other denials.  

 ·         To bring about equal protection of your rights, the HOA attorney sides with the BOD, his client and not you, the membership.  And as a CAI member, lobbies the legislature to maintain conditions as they are – authoritarian HOA government.

 ·         You still retain your rights, privileges and immunities as a citizen but are denied these rights under the private HOA legal scheme, functioning outside constitutional protections.

 Discover the truth about HOAs!  The truth shall set you free!  Read The HOA-Land Nation Within America exposé on sale at Amazon.com. 


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).

Resurrecting the argument for a homeowners bill of rights

This demand for a homeowners bill of rights by homeowner rights advocates had its play back in the 1997 – 2008 period, some 10 years ago. There was:

  • the AHRC’s 1997 bill,[1]
  • Lois and Samuel Pratt’s 1999 bill,[2]
  • my 2000 address to the AZ Legislature[3],
  • the 2006 AARP bill of rights,[4]
  • and my 2008 “Members Bill of Rights” amendment to CLRC.[5]

And there are undoubtedly others that I missed. Deborah Goonan recently re-posted a 2015 article[6] speaking of no Bill of Rights and constitutional violations of the 14th Amendment.  In 2017 the California Legislature adopted a limited bill of rights dealing with member political free speech.[7]

A new look at homeowner rights is needed, one that takes a down-to-earth approach and focuses on the common CC&Rs covenants and bylaws that read like,

  1. If there are conflicts between the provisions of Arizona law, the Articles, the Declaration, and these By-Laws, the provisions of Arizona law, the Articles, and the By-Laws (in that order) shall prevail.
  2. these By-Laws [Declaration] may be amended only by the affirmative vote or written consent, or any combination thereof of Members representing at least 51% [67%] of the . . . votes in the Association.
  3. no amendment may remove, revoke, or modify any right or privilege of Declarant . . . without the written consent of Declarant

Over the years I’ve discovered that the courts have universally upheld the broad amendment covenant as generically stated in (2) above.  The basis of their decisions is the very dangerous and overly broad interpretation that homeowners agreed to be bound[8] by the CC&Rs and bylaws.   Note that (3) above carves out an exception for the Declarant that requires his explicit consent, while accepting the majority rule principle in regard to the members. But, this “acceptance” to be bound by majority rule violates a fundamental right of citizens in regard a governmental “taking” or eminent domain action.

In many instances the courts have required 100% consent when the amendment adds new covenants, covenants not found in the CC&Rs, the most notable being changing from a voluntary HOA to a mandatory HOA.  This would be inconsistent with (1) above that holds that the law of the land prevails, and which of course, the buyer also agreed to. But, CAI comes to the rescue and prevails in the courts that the CC&Rs and bylaws contain valid waivers and surrenders of fundamental rights, even to the extent of accepting implicit (not stated but presumed consent) waivers and surrenders as valid.

Hold on! It is long held legal doctrine that the surrender and waiver of these rights must be explicit, one by one. And that, under contract law, there must be a meeting of the minds with full consent and no misrepresentation in the buying process. I have concluded that,

Public policy today rejects constitutional government for HOAs allowing them to operate outside the law of the land. The policy makers have failed to understand that the HOA CC&Rs have crossed over the line between purely property restrictions to establishing unregulated and authoritarian private governments.

The point I wish to make is that the absence of any meaningful bill of rights that genuinely protects the rights of HOA members is ab initio (from the beginning) a rejection of democratic norms and institutions.  The HOA cannot, therefore, be considered democratic by any means regardless of the propaganda by CAI and other pro-HOA supporters.

Community associations are not governments — many years of legislation and court rulings have established that fact beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet they are clearly democratic in their operations, electing their leadership from among the homeowners on a periodic basis.

. . . .

The solution to that problem is not to replace democracy with tyranny, royalty, or some other form of government, but to work to make the democratic process better and to hold those elected accountable.[9]

Simply unbelievable!  (In face of subsequent advocate criticisms, CAI began speaking of HOAs as a business, and we are seeing more and more statements that when a homebuyer signed his real estate contract, he was actually investing in a business.  Unbelievable!  Shades of George Orwell’s NewSpeak from his novel, 1984, where people are indoctrinated to hold 2 opposing views at the same time, and be at peace.)

What is intentionally absent — yes, intentionally otherwise the renowned CAI layers would have to claim incompetency regarding the law – is a Homeowners Bill of Rights.  Can you imagine that if the HOA framers, those stakeholders, of the HOA concept had actually met and discussed with knowledgeable and informed public that there would be protections for homeowners?  Can you imagine?

What the absent, yet informed public, would have added was a Preamble to an Amendment to the CC&R that would have been like that found in the Bill of Rights:

 Preamble to the US Bill of Rights

“THE Conventions of a number of States, having at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution:”

The basis for the BOR was a distrust of government and the need to further protect the people.  Regarding the HOA documents, the 9th and 10th Amendments, as applied to the HOA legal scheme, would prevent the broad interpretations that have been and are continuing being held by the courts.  No more generalities, except in favor of the members.  If it was good for America over 230 years, it must be good for HOA-Land!

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The 9th Amendment simply says that if it ain’t specified – enumerated — in the governing documents, it belongs to the membership.  No more broad interpretations of waivers and surrenders of rights.  The 10th Amendment simply says that if the members did not explicitly agree to certain HOA powers (delegated to), it belongs to the membership.

This is the argument and approach needed to get a Homeowners Bill of Rights accepted by state legislatures.  It should be a national campaign by all advocate groups in all states for their next legislative session.  There is time to organize and prepare.

 

References

[1] See “Short History” in co-opting the HOA “homeowners bill of rights”, Elizabeth McMahon, 1997.

[2] See A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR HOMEOWNERS IN RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS (1999).

[3] Statement to AZ Legislative Homeowners Association Study Committee, 2000.

[4] A Bill of Rights for Homeowners in Associations, AARP HOA Bill of Rights, David Kahne 2006.

[5] Supra, n. 1. “CLRC” is the California Law Review Commission.

[6] Let’s Get Some National Attention on HOA, Housing Issues, Deborah Goonan, 2015 original post.  

[7] A California true HOA Bill of Rights (SB 407).

[8] For a summary of the issues regarding the agreement to be bound position, seeConsent to be governed, No. 4, HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government.  The notes contain very important authorities on this issue.  (In only one case did a court reject this position because it felt that the amendment exceeded the reasonable expectations of the homeowner.  For example, having part of their assessments go toward a private entity unrelated to the HOA).

[9] CAI CEO Skiba in his April 2, 2008 Ungated blog entry.