Failing to achieve substantive HOA reforms

Is there a way out?  Definitely yes!

It is not by going to state legislatures to be repeatedly rejected, or given token reforms but with no substantive redress of grievances. It is not by repeatedly expecting the courts to do homeowner justice in spite of the strong stare decisis precedent of pro-HOA laws and public policy favoring HOA-Land. It is not by expecting law colleges to provide a balanced educational program in law for students that includes HOA constitutionality.

And it is not by hoping that the media — granted special 1st Amendment protections to inform and educate the citizens on political matters — will measure up and so present the whole HOA truth that has been so long hidden from the public.

As a result of my 21 years of activism and advocacy for HOA constitutionality, and my education and detailed research, I have come to understand the greater social and political forces at work. These forces that have led to the current culture and environment surrounding the HOA legal scheme and structure. They are detailed in my “The HOA-Land Culture.”

Read more at Cult behavior within HOA-Land and Plan to Restructure HOA model.

The death of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of HOA-Land media bias

Those of you who have followed me for some time will have run across my criticism of the media[1]  for failing to honor the trust placed in it by the First Amendment to the Constitution — free speech.

“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ..”

What’s this Fairness Doctrine, you may ask?

For over 30 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) required broadcast licensees (TV and radio) to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was fair and balanced. This requirement came to be known as the “Fairness Doctrine.”[2]

The FCC believed that broadcast licenses (required for both radio and terrestrial TV stations) were a form of public trust and, as such, licensees should provide balanced and fair coverage of controversial issues . . .. The “public interest” justification for the fairness doctrine is outlined in Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937 (amended in 1959).[3]

In “What Is The Fairness Doctrine?”, author Gill quotes the Court in Red Lion v. FCC,[4]

It is the right of the public to receive suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral and other ideas and experiences which is crucial here. That right may not constitutionally be abridged either by Congress or by the FCC.

The death of Fairness

Subsequent to the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Red Lion, things turned down for equal opportunity to reply.  Further court rulings and the resultant FCC dismissal of the Doctrine sealed its application. President Reagan, in an astounding rejection of free speech for the advancement of public issues as a necessity for a democracy to properly function, vetoed legislation with the following justification:

“This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Reagan said in his veto message. In any other medium besides broadcasting, such federal policing of the editorial judgment of journalists would be unthinkable.[5]

Understanding that Reagan was in the entertainment and media business, no wonder he turned the First Amendment on its head.  He tossed out the intent and purposes of the Founding Fathers who saw the necessity of open dialogue in a healthy democracy. By his veto he allowed business interests to redefine the compelling government interest set forth by the Founding Fathers to protect the Constitution.

The court rulings and the FCC reaction faced with the above reality, can be summarized by the 1989 DC District Court ruling (final ruling in Syracuse Peace Council v FCC) holding,

On the basis of the voluminous factual record compiled in this proceeding, our experience in administering the doctrine and our general expertise in broadcast regulation, we no longer believe that the fairness doctrine, as a matter of policy, serves the public interest …[6]

 

In summary, no longer must the media honor the original trust given to it under the First Amendment.  It no longer needs to present both sides of the story for an informed electorate, an informed public.  It can, as profusely evident, present its own view of the “facts” as we witness conservative vs liberal, Democrat vs. Republican, the rich vs the middle class, white vs black, etc., etc.  As one media guest put it, America has become tribal with one faction opposing another faction.

And these attacks upon our American system of democratic government have trickled down to HOA-Land where they have been adopted by the media, undoubtedly influenced by the special interest promotors of HOA-Land.  And so, the public, the readers and viewers of HOA “news,” get half-truths that do not serve the fundamental requirement of a democracy to inform the public.

 

References

[1] See in general, HOA-Land success aided by the failure of investigative reporting (2017)  Arizona Republic: A new low in media ethics and a violation of the public trust.’ (2007); Continued national HOA problems and the failure of the media; (2007).

[2]Fairness Doctrine: History and Constitutional Issues,” Kathleen Ann Ruane, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, p. 1, July 13, 2011.

[3]What Is The Fairness Doctrine?”, Kathy Gill, ThoughtCo., May 23, 2017.

[4] Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, 395 U.S. 367 (1969).

[5]Reagan’s Veto Kills Fairness Doctrine Bill,” Penny Pagano, L. A. Times, June 21, 1987.

[6] Supra, n. 3.

HOAGOV EDUCATION SERIES: understanding the real lives of HOA members

My purpose for the Education Series, taken from a collection of my Commentaries (WordPress blog), is to present the other side of the HOA legal concept that has been intentional kept hidden from the public, the media, and the legislators.  Homeowners associations (HOAs) — generic for POAs, CIDs, planned communities, and condominiums — have become an institution and are unquestionably accepted as “that’s the way it is.”

Over the years, the general public has heard only the benefits of HOA regimes, but has heard nothing about the means to achieve these benefits. The rationale, I suppose, is that the end justifies the means. This quiet acceptance of the HOA private government regime came to be as a result of aggressive lobbying by the HOA special interests, also known as HOA stakeholders (homeowners not included). The media, that was granted 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights in order to ensure a properly informed electorate, failed its obligations by remaining silent.  Nothing bad, seriously bad, about HOAs is publicized by the media. As you can read in my post on George Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry of Truth (a 1984 agency) parallels Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda:

The Ministry of Truth uses control over the education system and the communications media to keep the masses in a state of ignorance and incapable of perceiving the facts of their manipulation. By controlling all sources of information, and playing one ignorant group off against the other, they ensure that effective opposition does not arise. While the masses attempt to make sense of the false reality fed to them in the schools and on the telescreens, the elite manipulators that write the scripts laugh at their confusion.  (Freedom is Slavery, The Modern History Project, April 24, 2015).

The Commentaries listed below present a broad picture of the current conditions, culture and environment relating to living in an HOA controlled home.  Violations of the Constitution’s equal protection of the laws and inadequate due process protections, pro-HOA state laws, legislative support for HOAs, the national business lobbying organization misleading the public that it is an unbiased educational organization, and the HOA attorneys and managers are all presented and discussed in these posts.

For readers who are interested in the history of how HOAs came to be can read my 121 page analysis, with references and legal authorities: The Foundations of Homeowners Associations and the New America.

Become informed.   Please read on.

 READING MATERIALS (click on links to access posts)

 A.    Constitutional issues

  1. HOA Member Declaration of US and State Citizenship
  2. HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government (complete series as PDF)
  3. CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government
  4. HOAs violate local home rule doctrine and are outlaw governments
  5. The unconstitutional delegation of implied rulemaking powers to HOAs
  6. Unconstitutional delegation of power to HOAs
  7. HOA reforms needed to guarantee U.S. Constitutional protections
  8. model HOA regulatory agency bill

  B.   HOA oppression

  1. Why do people harm others in HOAs?
  2. George Orwell’s 1984 is alive and well in HOA-Land

  C.   Community Associations Institute (CAI)

  1. Misrepresentation:  CAI comes with unclean hands
  2. Will the real CAI standup: its contradictory beliefs, pronouncements and goals
  3. CAI: the HOA form of government is independent of the US Constitution
  4. HOA constitutionality will cause the collapse of CAI

Colorado senator’s guide to effective HOA legislation

An excellent guide for citizens seeking to effectively lobby their legislature to bring about desired change. 

 Take-backThe author, Morgan Carroll, is an eight year Colorado legislator and is currently the Colorado Senate Majority Leader.  Take Back Your Government sends a strong message to citizens to get involved in the legislative process if they sincerely seek change, otherwise the paid, special interest hired-hand lobbyists will strongly influence the legislators. And set the tone for new laws and changes to existing laws.

Carroll’s opening chapter contains advice, such as, “We elect people to represent our interests, but our elected representatives cannot adequately represent you unless they hear from you. . . . If you don’t participate in your government, then the only remaining participants in the system are legislators and lobbyists.  And she reminds her readers that, “Democracy only works when citizens participate, engage and become informed voters.”  And that is why democracy is a farce in the authoritarian HOA private governments where apathy abounds for numerous reasons.

Part II, Advocacy for Beginners, is chock full of “dos and don’ts”  in contacting and dealing with bill sponsors, and how to draft and understand the wording and format of bills. The author provides advice for citizens such as, to “suggest a solution,” make your request “shorter and simpler,” and “summarize prior attempts to fix the problem.”   Her concern for the people include warnings that, “every right [permitted by law] should come with a remedy or an enforcement mechanism, or it’s an empty law.”  And there’s the commonly found use of “shall” and “may,” clarifying that “may” means “is permitted to” or “is authorized to,” both of which mean making the act legal.

And there is much, much more on how to get heard, how to contact legislators, how to testify, creating fact sheets to support your position, etc.  Definitely applicable, but not tailored just for HOA reforms. This book is must reading for advocates, especially HOA reform advocates who have faced a solid wall of indifference when seeking legislative change and who have been unsuccessful in the past. 

Thank you Senator Carroll.

 

Take Back Your Government; A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Change, Morgan Carroll (Fulcrum Publishing 2011).

Review by George K. Staropoli, a nationally recognized advocate for HOA reform legislation.

new HOA book — Neighbors At War! by Ward Lucas

Amazon review By George K. Staropoli

This review is from: Neighbors At War! The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association (Paperback)

Neighbors at War! is a refreshing description of what living in an HOA (homeowners association, property owners association, common-interest community or condo association) that the average person can understand. It is not another legal treatise, or academic journal or book, but the writing of an experienced and award winning investigative reporter.

It is a long needed book for prospective buyers of HOA controlled homes or those already living in an HOA. All those state mandated documents do not tell it all, as state legislators are pro-HOA and accept the denials of homeowner rights contained in HOA adhesion contracts.


Ward Lucas ranges far and wide, from questions of constitutionality and denials of bill of rights protections to more down-to-earth issues of HOA procedures and operations. Foreclosure, no fair elections, and kangaroo hearings on violations are examples of the cases and issues that are discussed in easy to understand terms.

I’ve been repeatedly told by legislators that complaining homeowners are trying to get out of a contract, should have read the CC&Rs, and should have gotten a lawyer. And not a word about misrepresentation and fraud.


Do not fall into the trap of Buyer Beware! Read this excellent book and discover what you are not being told by the special interest national lobbying organization formed to protect, not your rights, but the HOA status quo. Neighbors at War! is a must read for informed homeowners and state legislators