Legal-academic aristocrat – advocate exchange on HOA bad faith conduct

I am responding to Mr. Berding’s undated blog entry, First Thing We Do, Let’s Ban All the Bloggers! , a no-name identification of the author of the blog, namely yours-truly. Why is Mr. Berding afraid of mentioning my name? After all, I’m not an attorney. He chose to copy my Commentary rather than to provide a link to my blog, with all those other commentaries.

Ok, it does appear that Mr. Berding is quite perturbed about my statements and quotes from a D & O insurance article that uses the phrases “bad faith,” “criminal intent,” and “fraudulent acts.” He’s upset that I emphasized these words in my Commentary (WordPress Blog). Yet, Berding misleads the readers of his own blog by referring to my Commentary as, “suppose this is a blog.”

Yes, the ugly truth does hurt, Mr. Berding, doesn’t it? And I suppose posting on those blogs, like yours, those CAI blogs, and the Adams Kessler blogs does make them right and important, but forget about those advocate written blogs. Spoken as a true legal-academic aristocrat making Philosopher-King (educated elite setting forth what is good government to the rulers) pronouncements.

Mr. Berding then invokes the legalistic argument of allegations and no proof, as if this were the time and place for legal confrontation. His attitude reminds me of the slogan commonly found on court buildings and other judicial buildings, “Equal Justice Under the Law.” This slogan contains a hidden premise, or assumption, that the law is just and fair. Suppose it isn’t, as advocates maintain? Then the slogan is reduced to a meaningless and empty statement. And those with power derived from these unjust laws just love to argue, “It’s the law! It’s the law! We have done nothing wrong!” And that’s were ethical and moral questions of good faith – honesty and integrity, or an honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person – come into play.

Our public policy permits the law to inflict financial damages, and the possible loss of all one’s equity in his home, for violating the CC&Rs, yet gives only a “ slap on the wrist” to violations by the HOA board. It permits “after an opportunity to be heard” to satisfy the due process requirement for hearings on violations, there being no explicit statement, as found in the public arena: “by an independent tribunal with the right to present evidence, demand proof and to confront witnesses.” It is absent from the CC&R contractual agreement. And where state legislatures maintain a hands-off posture, providing no oversight accountability or effective enforcement against board violations in a “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” banana republic posture. And justifies this pro-HOA support with, “Well, that’s what the homeowner agreed to. Now he’s just trying to get out of a contract.” What kind of society do HOAs create?

I’m sure he would be shocked, as were the editors at KPHO, the Phoenix CBS-TV affiliate, when they conducted a poll on the PTSD HOA Syndrome (click on image), and found out that 68% of the respondents agreed it existed. Or that an overwhelming 91% respondents in a Truth in HOAs Disclosure Poll said NO to signing an agreement to accept, beforehand, the conditions as set forth in the poll — misrepresentation, fraud, no meeting of the minds, etc. No, after all, his philosophy accepts the belief that “the king can do no wrong.”

As to his CAI remark, all he had to do is to attend these seminars and discover for himself the lack of homeowner protection material presented at these seminars. For example, important info for homeowners can be found in my latest Commentary (HOA boards cannot escape wrongful acts by their managers), information regarding the relationship between the HOA and the management firm. It is is an agency relationship that carries with it immense protections for the homeowner against both the management firm and the HOA board. It’s not on the agenda.

As to misleading and out-of-context statements about the D & O article, Mr. Berding misses my point, which is that the board can be sued and here are the grounds for suing. Also not found in an educational CAI, town sponsored seminar. He discredits my work as “emotional,” “lacking objectivity,” and that I “don’t contribute much that is useful to their chosen subject.” So sayeth the Philosopher-King, or is it the “weavers” from The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Come down from the clouds Mr. Berding, and see what is happening around you. I challenge you to answer the following 4 questions that were posed in March 2006 to Mr. Durso, then Editor of CAI’s Common Ground,

I ask the legislators, the public interest organizations and policy makers to consider the following questions:

1. Is it proper for the state to create, permit, encourage, support or defend a form of local government of a community of people, whether that form of government is established as a municipal corporation or as a private organization that is not compatible with our American system of government?

2. Is it proper for the state to permit the existence of private quasi-governments with contractual “constitutions” that regulate and control the behavior of citizens without the same due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment; that do not conform to the state’s municipal charter or incorporation requirements; or do not provide for the same compliance with the state’s Constitution, statutes or administrative code as required by public local government entities?

3. When did “whatever the people privately contract” dominate the protections of the US Constitution? The New Jersey Appeals Court didn’t think so. Does “constructive notice”, the “nailing to the wall”, the medieval method of notice, measure up to the requisite level of notice and informed consent to permit the loss of Constitutional protections?

4. Please state what, if any, are the government’s interests in supporting HOAs that deny the people their constitutional rights?

I await your reply, or a reply from any of the legal-academic aristocrats.

AZ tenants have more AG protection than property owners in HOAs

The current AZ Attorney General, Tom  Horne, proudly displays and offers a 48 page handbook for tenants, basically covering the Landlord and Tenant Act, ARS 33-1301 et seq. It contains 2 full pages of where to get help, and sample forms. It can be found under Publications/Handbooks. What about a handbook for homeowners living in HOAs covering Condo and planned communities acts?

Both the L & T and HOA acts deal with private contracts, so that can’t be the distinguishing excuse not to provide a warning guide or advisory, which I’ve repeatedly urged be developed and quickly offered to homebuyers and those already under HOA regimes. It’s not like there are no issues of material fact, like misrepresentation, consent to be governed, loss of individual property rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities; and private governments not subject to the Constitution. Or that problems do not continually appear in the media. Homeowners who have written the AG’s office, and the Real Estate Commissioner receive a standard, No my job. Get the Legislature to write new laws.

Unfortunately, the problem you complained about is not within our jurisdiction. Our office enforces the Consumer Fraud Act, however, the Act does not allow our office to pursue private disputes. Our office represents the state of Arizona and cannot act as a private attorney for individual citizens.

The position of the Arizona Attorney General is unacceptable. The public policy position of the State of Arizona is unacceptable. It strongly reflects HOA protectionism even to the extent that the State permits the denial of constitutional protections for the people. And in a state that has loudly and firmly urged support for the Constitution and the need to uphold the laws of the land! I offer my Truth in HOAs disclosure poll — please vote your conscience, showing a solid rejection of these hidden facts, and the KPHO, HOA Syndrome survey: YES, it exists!,poll showing that HOA boards do inflict emotional stress on homeowners who disagree with the board.

I urge the Legislature to require ADRE and the Attorney General’s Office to provide a Truth in HOAs handbook containing the facts, the negative aspects, of living in an HOA. Such a handbook must address the issues contained in the Truth in HOAs Disclosure Agreement as set forth in the poll mentioned above.

Arizona Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook

HOAs and the decline in community social capital

In a direct reference to HOAs and social capital, Craig Walton, speaking of conditions in Southern Nevada, comments on Rothman that the developer’s planned community [HOA] subdivision created living that was intensely privateand reflect “the community’s preoccupation with the self.” Craig continues,

Rothman reflects on the need for public spaces and their recent decline Parks and libraries offered shared space and commonality of values, civic interaction and socialization. They combined education, relaxation, and social cohesiveness, all desirable traits in a growing community. They were crucial building blocks, pieces of the puzzle of quality of life that served the community and enhanced its reputation. . . .This dire warning is rooted in the absence of social capital in southern Nevada, because the power of developers to obtain and use land for increasingly expensive housing goes unchecked by elected and appointed public officials.”

These associations do not create positive social capital consisting of social networks and connections with reciprocal relationships, social interactions, trustworthiness and mutual obligations between the powerful boards and the rank and file homeowners. Rather, HOAs are a major cause of the destruction of social capital within the subdivision community. And as HOAs have become institutionalized — being accepted without question as “that’s the way it is” — they have made a substantial contribution to the decline in social capital in America.

Read the complete paper, The Effect of Homeowners Associations on Social Capital in Communities

Truth In HOAs Poll update: 9% would surrender their rights to HOA

Aug. 15, 2011 results

The initial response after 1 day to my Truth In HOAs Poll of July 12th was a 98% vote of NO, they could not agree to the Disclosure Agreement. Only 1 YES vote was recorded. Understanding that this may reflect an anti-HOA audience, I allowed the Poll to remain open this past month (and will remain open) to record any change in attitude by the respondents, noting that pro-HOA polls sponsored by CAI and RIM have recorded a 70% “satisfied with their HOA” response.

The Truth In HOAs internet poll is freely available to all on the internet by simply visiting my Commentaries blog, and as notified by my numerous email list posts, my responses to homeowner inquiries, and links provided in my comments to many online media articles. It s not a telephone calling from a pre-selected list.

Within 2 weeks the YES votes for both categories dropped somewhat to 95% with a split between “YES, I would sign” regardless and “YES, I would sign, but I want property value protections.” Today, a month later with a small increment in respondents, the YES responses come to 9% and the NO response to 91%. The split in YES votes shows an small widening with the unconditional YES dominating.

It’s hard to believe that there are some people who have no concern for their rights. This 9% represents “hard-liners or “true believers.” The results are unmistakably clear as homeowner rights advocates have been shouting for years – the support for a valid consent to be governed by the courts and state legislatures is based on a false and misguided view of the authoritarian, private government HOA regimes that are unaccountable to the legitimate and legal constitutional public government.

The HOA supporters, including CAI, do not have clean hands! It’s well beyond time to stop this mockery of the Constitution and mockery that HOAs represent the true voice of the people. And, the state legislatures well know that there are existing statutes that permit “private communities” to exist yet be accountable to Constitutional public government as a state entity, and retain the perceived benefits of restricted amenities, “ordinances,” community “taxes,” etc. (See a Proposal for the Muni-zation of HOAs).

I invite any and all online media, and those public interest organizations who fight for individual rights, to duplicate this poll for their viewers. Let’s get to the whole truth by publishing this poll, or stop telling your viewers that you tell the truth!!!

It should be noted that another marked rebuttal to these “satisfied” polls was a recent Phoenix CBS affiliate, KPHO, poll on whether or not an HOA Syndrome – a PTSD resulting from living in an HOA, diagnosed by Dr. Gary Solomon – was real. The KPHO internet poll results showed a 69% response that the HOA Syndrome was alive in HOAs. (See HOA Syndrome survey: YES, it exists!).

Please freely distribute this commentary/email to interested parties and your local media.

Before the HOA Syndrome there was The Milgram Experiment

The Milgram Obedience Experiment, The Perils of Obedience, By Kendra Cherry, About.com Guide

Why did so many of the participants in this experiment perform a seemingly sadistic act on the instruction of an authority figure? According to Milgram, there are a number of situational factors that can explain such high levels of obedience:

  • The physical presence of an authority figure dramatically increased compliance.
  • The fact that the study was sponsored by a trusted and authoritative academic institution led many participants to believe that the experiment must be safe.
  • The selection of teacher and learner status seemed random. [no vengeance factor]
  • Participants assumed that the experimenter was a competent expert.
  • The shocks were said to be painful, not dangerous.

Milgram wrote, “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority” (Milgram, 1974).

Milgram’s experiment has become a classic in psychology, demonstrating the dangers of obedience.

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The Milgram Experiment of 1961 was conducted to answer another question regarding the rise of Hitler and the Nazis (They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer, 1955). Milgram had “teachers”, authority figures, inflict electric shock on”students” who gave the wrong answers. The students, part of the experiment, did not receive any shocks but responded in greater and greater degrees of mock pain. The teachers were acting on instructions of the experimenter, the “authority” figure.

The experimenter issued a series of commands to prod the participant along:

  1. “Please continue.”
  2. “The experiment requires that you continue.”
  3. “It is absolutely essential that you continue.”
  4. “You have no other choice, you must go on.”

In other words, the experimenters wanted top know, “If a person in a position of authority ordered you to deliver a 400-volt electrical shock to another person, would you follow orders?”

“When Milgram posed this question to a group of Yale University students, it was predicted that no more than 3 out of 100 participants would deliver the maximum shock. In reality, 65% of the participants in Milgram’s study delivered the maximum shocks.”

Jump to today and the New America of HOA-Lands. Translate the experimenter as the HOA attorney or dictatorial HOA president or manager; the students as the homeowners; and the teachers as the go along board, ACC and the non-dictator presidents. These “go alongs” act on the “advice”, instructions or urgings of the above  authority figures,  the  “experimenters.”

It is important for advocates to know that, “Later experiments conducted by Milgram indicated that the presence of rebellious peers dramatically reduced obedience levels. When other people refused to go along with the experimenters orders, 36 out of 40 participants refused to deliver the maximum shocks.”

That’s a resounding,

STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS! SPEAK OUT! CREATE REFORM GROUPS!