AZ Senate protects HOA misconduct rejecting HB 2052

The Arizona Senate is still sitting on HB 2052 since a month ago, March 1st,  a bill providing for member participation in HOA governance.  The bill  explicitly states, since the CC&Rs is seen as a contract, what the HOA cannot do and must allow for fair elections and meaningful  participation in HOA governance.

In the past I’ve addressed this constitutional question of fair elections in the HOA model of an authoritarian,  business form of governance.  I’ve provided examples of incidents and court cases reflecting this denial of fair elections, which exist in the public domain, as if the HOA is afraid of the democratic voice of its members.

In this writing I will call to your attention how an upscale, over 1,000 member HOA board — as a representative example of such HOAs — refuses to accept the facts laid before it that provide valid cause to conduct a due diligence examination; and to validate its positions in regard to its fiduciary obligations of good faith conduct and obedience to the governing documents.

Below I’ve copied parts of its application package provided to all candidates for  a director’s position. The package material clearly shows the BOD’s awareness of its fiduciary obligations and its required treatment with respect to the membership.

Obligations  and liabilities of directors

“Directors have a fiduciary duty to the Association and to each member.

“The duty of loyalty requires that:   Directors act in good faith  pursuant to a free, honest exercise of judgment not influenced by considerations other than the best interest of the Association.

“Failure to discharge the fiduciary duty can subject the Association to liability and subject the Director to personal liability. A Director can also be liable for illegal or tortuous acts of the Board of the Association if he/she participates in the decision to authorize the acts or knowingly fails to take steps to avoid the action. “[Emphasis added].

HOA control of the candidate process and campaigning

Getting down to the specific application of HB 2052, the relevant HOA’s candidacy procedures follow, with the opening line stating: “The Campaign and Election Policies have been carefully developed to provide a fair and clean process for candidates and all members.

While the specific policies are not clearly stated as whether prohibited or permitted, the overall tone is definitely of a prohibitive nature. The 14 points are shown as Exhibit 1 below. In sum, they include not using email listings; association facilities or agencies, clubs, etc. websites; no right to hold Q & A sessions independent of HOA;  no right to campaign through social media —  Facebook, Instagram, etc.; all advertising must be HOA approved; distributing flyers outside restaurants, presumably those within the HOA, or on common areas.

The policies of this HOA, and many other large-scale HOA are similar but not so detailed, demonstrate the failure of the board directors to act in good faith and as a fiduciary for the members.  For the HOA to argue that “The ends justify the means and we determine what’s good for the members, but the HOA entity comes first” is unsatisfactory and irrelevant. These policies reflect an authoritarian government that accepts the rejection of fundamental member democratic rights and privileges because they can hide behind the questionable legality of the CC&Rs.

There can be no excuse for HOA directors not being aware of the voluminous materials available for conducting their due diligence with respect to democratic, fair elections and member participation in HOA governance. They have been given plenty of notice, which subjects them to personal liabilities and prevents them from hiding behind “my attorney said it was OK,” or from acts of omission – doing nothing. 

This representative HOA’s policy so informs them of their liability. Yet, nothing is done to correct these violations of good faith. And still the directors, officers, and managers all demand respect! It’s shameless!

What is going on, you may ask?  Well, the board is setting policy for the acceptance of candidates without a vote of the membership. In other words, unless the proposed candidates are accepted by the BOD, the members have lost a candidate of their choosing. They have lost a meaningful participation in the governing of the HOA; they cannot disagree with the establishment!  So, if you thought your HOA was democratic, forget about it! 

Also, the BOD controls how candidates acceptable to them can campaign, placing severe restrictions not found in the fair public elections procedures.  See Exhibit 1 below. Again, members have lost their right to fair and free elections in HOA matters.

AZ Senate’s rejection of HB 2052

It is easily seen that  the AZ Senate supports these undemocratic polices as represented by this HOA’s practices. 

I have maintained 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.”

See, CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape Constitutional government; Reorienting the HOA board – fair elections; HOA Common Sense, No. 6: Fair and just hearings

And furthermore, “CIDS [HOAs] currently engage in many activities that would be prohibited  if they were viewed  by the courts as the equivalent of local federal amd Arizona governments.”  … Privatopia (1994), Evan McKenzie.

It is not too late for the Senators to meet their obligations to uphold the federal and Arizona Constitutions by passing HB 2052 into law.

Exhibit 1. HOA BOD campaign policies.

  1. Using email listings, electronic or websites of Neighborhood Representatives and Alternates, Charter Clubs, Interest Groups, community and specialty groups.
  2. Addressing a formal . . . Group (e.g., Neighborhood Representative, Charter Club, Interest Group, specialty group meetings, sports venues, etc.). However, a person’s right to free speech in casual conversations shall not be restrained.
  3. Participating in formal Q&A sessions and programs other than those sponsored by the . . . Election Team.
  4. Using Association facilities for campaign events for individual candidates.
  5. Removing other candidates’ campaign flyers from approved locations.
  6. Using the official . . . website, Facebook or Instagram social media accounts to promote your campaign or to use your personal social media accounts to defame or incite defamation of candidates, engaging in unkind innuendoes / slander / harassment at any time or in any setting.
  7. Posting campaign flyers on street signs, trees, light poles, motor vehicles, golf cars, lawns, windows, auto windshields, or in commercial buildings.
  8. Defacing approved campaign flyers.
  9. Using balloons, buttons, t-shirts, marked-up election ballot, etc. as campaign tools.
  10. Using advertising of any type (other than approved campaign statement and/or approved personal correspondence).
  11. Using multiple versions of campaign flyers at the same time.
  12. Placing flyers in mailboxes (against the law).
  13. Distributing campaign flyers outside the entrance of or in the restaurants.
  14. Distributing campaign flyers in common areas except as noted.

Traitors and turncoats: HOA directors as CAI members

In every state HOA directors have a fiduciary duty to the HOA, to act in good faith, and as a prudent person would (as he would spend his own money).  Why then, are HOA directors also CAI members?  CAI is a vendor, a business trade organization formed to support the business interests of its members, mainly attorneys and managers.  To say that the vendors and the consumers share the same goals is to question the speaker’s mental state.

It’s understandable for consumers to seek assistance from vendors, as happens in many different industries, but to join and support a vendor organization?  The usual procedure is for the vendors to become associate or affiliate members of the consumer organization, which in our case would be an HOA organization.  (Those HOA associations of associations, like ECHO in California and SCOHA in Arizona, are just fronts for a CAI controlled entity.)

How and why did this occur?  It began at the very start with the  initial 1974 composition of CAI that had HOAs as a member category, although not quite explicitly stated.  Each of the 5 categories was to be equally represented in governing CAI: 1) builders and developers, 2) homeowner leaders of associations, 3) association managers, 4) public officials, and 5) other vendors.[i]  At that time, CAI was a 501(c)3 educational organization and not a trade group.  But this changed in the period of 1989 – 1993.

At the 1989 CAI retreat, controversy emerged on just who CAI represented given the fact that HOAs were consumers, not vendors. According to the CAI “historian”  Donald R. Stabile, “One participant commented that the CAI . . .  builder and developer group viewed CAI as a consumer organization teaching consumers how to sue the builders” to which another responded, “CAI is a professional organization and not a consumer group; that it was never intended to be a consumer group”. [ii]

Stabile continues discussing this important turnabout period in CAI history when it felt the need to become a business trade group, yet still retain the homeowners as members. In regard to homebuyers and residents, “To be sure, getting them interested in CAs [HOAS] was an important element in enhancing the popularity of this new form of housing” [read, mass marketing of HOAs]; and, “The advice they [the buyers] received from CAI was consistent with what [CAI developers and managers] needed consumers to be hearing”.[iii] 

As to the thoughts of the 1973 Founders of CAI at this juncture, Stabile adds that they “deemed it important for attaining legitimacy for the  CAI as a voice for the entire industry[iv] and to relate “positive aspects to the public especially regarding public policy issues”.[v]  (They have since dropped that line).  Concern centered that a “more consumer-oriented organization” would supplant CAI, and that “other citizens’ associations, which were consumer motivated, might become the national representative.[vi]

It seems that the roots of a great con started in that 1993 period that altered the purpose and mission of CAI, when lobbying for their members predominated under the guise of promoting vibrant and harmonious communities.   In 2005, some 13 years later, CAI finally dropped the façade of representing HOAs – HOAs were no longer members. All through this period CAI, and many of its attorney members, had addressed legislatures saying that they represented homeowners and HOAs.  And still today this claim appears quite frequently in CAI public statements.

What we have today is the faithful follower Team Players and the dogmatic True Believers (see The HOA Privatization Scale) simply denying reality like the Emperor in the fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes.[vii]  When a little boy cried, “He has no clothes,”  the Emperor realized that he had been duped. Yet, he continued to believe in his delusion since he could not admit having being wronged by con men.

For whom does the HOA director – CAI member serve?  Isn’t this an outright conflict of interest?   Does he serve as a “patriot” for the HOA, under legal requirements and dictates?  Or, for  the CAI business trade group as a “turncoat” to his HOA?   HOA members must reject board memberships in CAI that are paid for by member assessments.  These directors/officers are traitors, turncoats, and fifth columnists, all believing that they are doing good for the HOA.

 

Further reading:

For a detailed, non-CAI history of HOAs and CAI, see The Foundations of Homeowners Associations and the New America.

 

Notes


[i] Community Associations: The Emergence and Acceptance of a Quiet Innovation in Housing, Donald R. Stabile, (Greenwood Press 2000)  p. 117.

[ii] Id, p. 129. (CAI became a 501(c)6 business trade group in 1992).

[iii] Id, p. 133.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id, p.131.

[vi] Id., p. 129.

[vii]  The Emperor’s New Clothes, Mindfully.org (http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/Emperors-New-Clothes.htm), June 7, 2012.

HOA email ‘meetings’ – intent of the law — bad faith

Calif. attorney Beth Grimm advises against email meetings as new law goes into effect. In contrast, in Arizona, following CAI Scott Carpenter’s advice to HOAs on “how to adjust to the new laws” (see AZ CAI’s reaction to the “new era of regulation” of HOAs), I’m aware of another CAI attorney making use of “written consent” to bypass the intent of the Arizona law.

And let’s not forget the HOA directors who hide behind “upon advice of their attorney” to get around the laws. They forget, and the HOA attorneys apparently don’t advise them accordingly — especially at those town sponsored seminars — that under ARS 10-3830(C), “A director is not acting in good faith if the director has knowledge concerning the matter in question that makes reliance otherwise permitted by subsection B unwarranted.” “B” refers to reliance on other experts like CPAs and attorneys.

While a legal mechanism, is the avoidance of the intent of the law in this email instance a violation of good faith to the members? I think so! Good faith“honesty and integrity, or an honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person.”

In this instance, can the director play “dumb” and say, “I didn’t know the law” and get away with it? Hell no!

See Grim blog, EMAIL “MEETINGS” – MORE ON THE TOPIC