The need to regulate CAI monopoly

To answer to the question I raised, Is CAI a coercive HOA monopoly?,” required further research and analysis, which resulted in  finding extensive and strong evidence, gathered from over the years, that CAI is definitely acting in violation of the anti-trust statutes; steps need to be taken to break up the monopoly.  Below are my recommendations to regulate CAI’s activities to allow for the voice of others to be heard, especially from owners of HOA homes who suffer under the monopoly.

A.       Regulations on CAI monopolistic activities

1.       CAI to cease all references and implications that it represents HOAs before the legislature, all government bodies, before the courts and including amicus curiae briefs without express consent to do so;

2.      Require CAI to state that it is a business trade nonprofit, explicitly a 501(c)6 and not an educational entity;

3.      Inform readers that it cannot have HOAs as members since HOAs are consumers of the services provided by the trade group members;

4.      It is actively engaged in lobbying state legislatures on bills favorable to the HOA  and not necessarily to the membership;

5.      Inform owners and the public in general that its attorney members represent the HOA personified by the Board of Directors and not the member.

B.    Regulations on HOA activities in support of CAI monopoly

1.       Similar to representing employees in bargaining with management, propose federal laws that permit and protect HOA members to organize its membership to bargain in good faith for amendments to the governing documents and Rules changes;

2.      Propose legislation that allows for the creation and protection of a national HOA Homeowners Coalition, similar in intent as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB);

3.      To restrict the HOA from interference with the newly established  organized national and state  member entities;

4.      Quarterly inform the membership of the number of directors, officers, managers, and attorneys who are members of CAI;

5.      Publish the total annual amount of spending for CAI dues paid for any HOA members, donations, other fees, and expenditures paid for by the HOA;

6.      Inform the membership that all communications with their attorney are not exempt from disclosure by state law,

7.      and all communications with the HOA attorney constitutes corporate documents that are accessible to the members, unless explicitly exempted under  “Pending or contemplated litigation” apply;

8.     The CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community, condominium association or homeowners association shall state that, “The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have, and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees to be bound by the US and State Constitutions and laws of the State as if it were a local public government entity.”

Is CAI a coercive HOA monopoly?

Community Associations Institute (CAI) dominates themarket for HOA educational services and controls the market around it by means of its extensive lobbying of state legislatures and by holding seminars, conferences and publications extolling its self-serving agenda that promotes the HOA legal structure and scheme; by the support  of state agencies that sponsor CAI seminars and classes, and by private entities trained under the CAI education program – ECHO in California and CALL in Florida, as examples. It has become successful in lessening competition as a result of its “improper conduct.”

A quick review of the internet postings shows (emphasis added),

“[The]  courts ask if that leading position was gained or maintained through improper conduct—that is, something other than merely having a better product, superior management or historic accident. In the end, courts will decide whether the monopolist’s success is due to ‘the willful acquisition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident.’”

“Coercive monopoly” is defined as:

A monopoly that is created using extraordinary power such as a government or international agency. For example, a government that grants legal protections to firms that create barriers to entry to prevent competition. Firms commonly lobby governments for rules that protect them from competition.”

With respect to CAI, a tax-exempt nonprofit, can it be charged as a monopoly? It is a well-established fact that no state has granted  CAI a protective government monopoly exclusion —  the right to lessen competition. And that includes local governments in several states that openly support and encourage the CAI HOA program; some states have actually employed CAI as its authority to educate the public regarding HOAs.

The  answer is YES according to the following Supreme Court case. The case addresses the instance where  the state assigns a “governmental monopoly” (making it a state-actor) to an entity (which HOAs are not), but must explicitly state that the entity has the right to lessen competition,

“Under this Court’s state-action immunity doctrine, when a local governmental entity acts pursuant to a clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed state policy to displace competition, it is exempt from scrutiny under the federal antitrust laws. In this case, we must decide whether a Georgia law that creates special-purpose public entities called hospital authorities and gives those entities general corporate powers, including the power to acquire hospitals, clearly articulates and affirmatively expresses a state policy to permit acquisitions that substantially lessen competition. Because Georgia’s grant of general corporate powers to hospital authorities does not include permission to use those powers anticompetitively, we hold that the clear-articulation test is not satisfied, and state-action immunity does not apply.”

 (F.T.C. v. Phoebe Putney Health System (133 S.Ct. 1003 (2013)).

CALL TO ACTION

I believe the case can be made for a CAI monopoly and for the Feds to  investigate (Citizens Complaint Center, Antitrust Division, DOJ),  and to file an appropriate antitrust lawsuit ASAP.

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).

Dictatorial HOA presidents and silent directors are at risk

This post is based on the article, HOA Homefront: Presidents are board members not bosses that acknowledges a serious and common problem with most HOA governance.  By Kelly G. Richardson | Kelly@Rodllp.Com. August 26, 2022.[1] 

* * * *

The HOA president’s role is often misunderstood and can result in a very serious board dysfunction. It can as well cause stress and risk for the president. First, it is critical to understand that the role and power of the HOA president are dramatically different than that of a for-profit corporate president.

In a for-profit corporation, the day-to-day running of the business is typically the responsibility of the president, the “boss” so to speak.”  However, in most HOAs the day-to-day execution of board decisions is executed by the association’s professional manager. “The HOA’s boss is not the president but is [] the HOA board.”

 The president has just one vote on the board, and that vote is no more valuable than any other director. Directors should take heed that those “who always automatically defer to the president are not fulfilling their responsibility to the association.”  Furthermore, corporation law holds any director  as implicitly agreeing if he does not post a dissenting opinion, which unfortunately, the governing documents are silent and do not provide an explicit right to file dissenting opinions.

By taking the “boss” role, a president is often outside his authority and disrespects the board that is the actual authority. Such a president could also be acting without corporate authority and exposed to personal liability for corporate commitments made without board approval.

Note 1. Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner of Richardson Ober LLP, a California law firm known for community association expertise.

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