HOA ethics: the end justifies the means

Depending on what side of the fence you’re sitting on in a controversial issue, you may be arguing that the end justifies the means, Yes or NO. It is a moral and ethical decision and raises the question as to when and how.  In a culture where its values have been deteriorating over the years to, what’s in it for me, greed is good, and I want it now, a valid and acceptable “means” has consequently also deteriorated.

In general, this end-means assertion is introduced as a defensive justification for some course of action being challenged by others. It usually involves a discretionary decision by some authority entity, like a town council, board of directors, management, etc.  Not surprisingly, we find this defensive reaction in many HOA-Land situations; I discuss one such incident based on real events.

Read the full paper

Restructuring HOAs case study supplement

The SCG case study is in preparation as a supplement to A Plan Toward Restructuring HOAs. This paper will be released soon. Here’s a peek:

Preface

For this case study, my objective was to advise the BOD of a $22 million revenues, 9,500 unit, active-adult community in Arizona as to its conduct in deciding difficult and controversial  issues.  I put my management/BOD skills to work and began the study. It is very important in the learning process to share recommendations with others, and to accept their constructive criticism. Readers can reject, modify, or remove recommendations. This approach sharpens one’s thinking and helps to make a more solid case for HOA reforms.

In regard to the SCG members at large, apathy — evidenced by silence or perhaps fear — prevailed as commonly found in HOA-Land. The vast majority of comments  to my posts on social media and elsewhere were irrelevant and without merit. They failed to address my messages concerning  violations of the laws and governing documents by boards of directors.   Rather, they focused on my HOA right or wrong, take it or leave it, and move out

 The necessary first step for democratic reforms, as proposed in A Plan Toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance, is the reorientation and reeducation of the pubic and especially boards of directors. Based on my experience I presumed that  they are uninformed and many prefer to remain uninformed; wrongly believing, and being led to believe,  that their HOA is  a wonderful country club instead of a legally binding contract between them and their HOA. 

The findings from this research reaffirmed this view of HOA directors and members regardless of income or education levels — they are highly uninformed about the legal and governmental issues of an HOA association. It seems that the  boards of directors over the years were and are heavily influenced by the Community Associations Institute’s teachings and programs.

Collectively referenced as the CAI School of HOA Governance  stemming from its focus on “large-scale associations,” such as SCG. Some 13 SCG members served as CAI members, including CAI presidents or directors, while serving as SCG’s presidents, directors, and committee chairs.  Its impact is devastating and cannot be underestimated.

This finding was very disappointing!  The behavior and conduct by the leadership displayed false and misleading information, an illusion of “no problems here,” and for the most part, silence. It supported the position of authoritarian and cult followers as maintained in the Plan’s view of the HOA Culture, and its description of the social and political dynamics at work in HOA-Land.

This Supplement is organized in time squence based on posts made to the HOA Contitutional Government website, including comments,  referencing or alluding to emails, to  the official Sun City Grand website’s News of the Day posts; and to posts and comments to social media websites: NextDoor (Desert Sage); Facebook’s Sun City Grand Members (AZ), closed by Administrator’ opposition; and Members of Sun City Grand AZ.

These exchanges are all reproduced as is, unedited except for  omissions of non-relevant sections.  In this manner, lacking audio-video materials, one can get a feeling of the message tones.

George K. Staropoli

February 14, 2022

THE  ALLEGORY  OF  THE  WIZARDS OF HOA-LAND

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

The quote comes the classic film The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy (and her dog Toto) who is magically transported to the Land of Oz. Now, stuck in the Land of Oz she  is advised to see the Wizard of Oz as he may know of a way to send her home.  Speaking to the Wizard, who looks like a giant floating head, the floating head is exposed as just an illusion created by a middle-aged man hiding behind the curtain, who is the “real” Wizard. He attempts to distract them by asking them to ignore the man, saying “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  (View https://youtu.be/YWyCCJ6B2WE).

The ”Wizards of HOA-Land” are none other than the HOA boards of directors (BOD) who provide illusions of happiness, approval, and support by the majority of their members.  The BODs use propaganda statements — disinformation consisting of false, misleading, and half-truths —  videos, photos, testimonials, and coercion applied to non-believers in their message.

Speaking specifically in regard to my “Mgmt Case Study #1” subject, Arizona’s SCG, as a result of the BOD’s arrogance, its defensive posture using propaganda to create illusions of proper and righteous conduct, its silence on the crucial issues, and its continued violations of black-letter statutes and the governing documents, I’ve managed to pull away the “curtain” and expose the Wizards in action. The BOD’s response has been, in effect: Pay no attention to these criticisms and just believe in how we’ve made you all content with  SCG

The SCG BOD election  mockery

(In general, the legislators, the media, the HOA BODs and members need to step back and see the ugly forest through the trees — the claimed “isolated” incidents.)

And so the BOD, with some 30% of the votes already cast, continues to urge the members to vote.  Why?  Under SCG’s election procedure the winners are from the top 4 vote counts, and with more than 10% voting to avoid any quorum issues, why bother?  Would it really make a difference among 7 shades of gray candidates who, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, have been carefully selected and controlled by the BOD with the result, no matter who won, of more of the same policies, attitudes, decisions, culture as before.  The independent voices of  the members have been denied.

A Committee for the Betterment of Sun City Grand  (CBSCG) is becoming a necessity for any hope of restoring member fundamental rights and freedoms.  The members must act!

What makes for an effective nonprofit  HOA board of directors?

(For the record, I am not a lawyer nor work for a lawyer and I am not providing legal advice or opinion.)

First and foremost, an HOA is  a chartered nonprofit corporation given authority to function as such under the AZ Constitution.   The association’s Governing Documents, an agreement between the HOA and the members, gives the HOA the authority and powers to function as the governing body of the subdivision.

As you are well aware, both nonprofit corporation law and the Governing Documents place the ultimate authority and responsibility for managing the HOA – in the true meaning of “managing” and not CAM — in the board of directors (BOD).  CAM keeps the HOA functioning smoothly delivering the services and providing for “groundskeeping.”  In order for the HOA to accomplish its mission and goals, which provide the necessary guidance and direction for performance, it is the BOD that must decide 2 important questions: What is our purpose?  What should it be?

What then makes for an effective BOD? To start at the beginning and get right to the point, my emphasis at this important juncture (Managing the Nonprofit Organization, Peter F. Drucker, p. 171-172, 1990),

“The board needs to know that it owns the organization. But it owns an organization not for its own sake — as a board — but for the sake of the mission which that  organization is to perform.”

“If you find that the board has become inflexible, you have to look for ways of renewing the board with fresh appointments. The more power is concentrated in a few people on a board, the more likely the situation will turn unhealthy.”

And this is where the BOD has failed the members!

As pointed out in earlier posts, “mgmt case study #1”, SCG’s continues to widely publish its nonsensical vision and mission statements providing no guidelines to act or of any value to measure effective performance. What we have witnessed is a BOD deciding on its own where to go and what to do, cleverly masked as fulfilling the wishes and desires of the members.  In actuality, all those meet the board, chats, Q &As, etc. allow for a presentation of grievances without binding the BOD to action.

There is no provision to require the BOD to hold a vote on a member’s proposed amendment to the governing documents as permitted by state law with respect to removing a director or all directors.  Or to nullify an act of the BOD.

Drucker continues with, “Ducking controversy or minimizing difficulty, snowing people with reports that are not realistic either about the quality of the programs . . . or whatever . . . that’s terrible leadership”

It’s well beyond time for a necessary change in attitude and culture before SCG descends into chaos. Adoption of a new approach, as recommended in A Plan toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance is needed, today!

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.