Sunday, June 22, 2008

Uncivil Homeowners Association (HOA) Wars

Uncivil Homeowners Association (HOA) Wars

The real problem for the LWV residents is the fear of retribution whether it is real or not

June 22, 2008

LWV residents are overjoyed over the recent California Fourth District Appellate Court, as it ruled in favor of the residents. But things are heating up.

According to inside sources, meetings are becoming brawls. Some board members and the managing agent and his top level employees are becoming more and more hostile and snappish. “As if they know the end is near and they are snapping and barking as furiously as they can to preserve any freedom they have left” . They are now (GRF Security committee) trying to close down access to the second floor to all residents.

According to these sources, Milt Johns (General Manager), Linda Wilson (United Board member and reckless driver), Erwin Stuller (demands to be called "Your Honor or Judge" and yet calls member "pompous ass" when addressed as Mr.), Bob Miller (GRF President) to name a few have decided that residents are dangerous and have said they personally (along with Beth O'Brien outgoing president of United) have been "threatened and attacked" by unnamed residents while on the second floor, that unnamed residents have been found sitting behind desks and going through desks, etc. and aimlessly wandering around on the second floor.

During the last GRF security committee meeting (6-19/2008) Scott Dunham, the risk manager and Katy Howe, Maintenance Administrative Services Manager gave a presentation which included the information that it is the obligation of an employer to protect employees(cited is Public law 91-596, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.) Katie Howe referred to having spoken to "our counsel" and the opinion rendered by that person yet the only referenced opinion in her report is from Hart King and Coldren which is not PCM's counsel but GRF's!!

If indeed, HKC is the counsel to whom she is referring that means that HKC is representing BOTH the housing mutuals and GRF as well as PCM , sort of like a conflict of interest

Former GRF president George Portlock spoke about the need for securing privileged information including bids under consideration and member information that is apparently just lying around on the second floor where just anybody who floats by can read and perhaps misuse information.

It is fair to say that competent security personnel cannot leave sensitive documents just lying around and the employee responsible for such documents becomes liable for the loss of information.

The ability of a contractor to underbid another was an example used by Portlock. If that's an issue here, what is the matter with the supplier management process being used, where documents are just left floating around where just anybody can see them?

However, according to inside sources, immediately after a 3rd mutual board meeting last Tuesday a member tried to secure a membership list and was stonewalled by staff on the second floor by saying it was "restricted information" . Obviously the staff is not adequately trained to understand exactly what the residents do indeed, by law, have access to. Portlock also said that there are only about 25 people who are "making trouble" in the community. “The man is still wearing blinders and has absolutely no idea about how large the grass roots organization is becoming and the anger and discontent the residents feel”, added these sources

In the same security meeting one resident stood to speak during the "community comments" period of the meeting as listed on the agenda. She was immediately interrupted by Erwin Stuller, chair, and told he "didn't have a card" from her. He was probably referring to the few index cards that had been passed out to a few of the attendees prior to the beginning of the meeting. He told people to write their questions on them. When the resident said she didn't have a card he shut her down - several residents who spoke before her also did not have "cards" and were allowed to speak - He told her she was out of order and her time was up and she had to sit down. When the resident objected firmly and loudly the chief of security, Gene Hart, left the dias (where he had been seated next to Stuller) and approached the woman in a threatening manner...Hart is at least 2 feet taller that this woman and substantially heavier than she. She was in no way physically threatening to anybody and was only demanding to be heard as the others had been. When Hart moved even closer to her and looked as though he might grab hold of her (she was telling Stuller to go ahead and have her thrown out or arrested and that that she wanted that to happen) another resident from the audience said firmly to Hart "don't you touch her." Hart backed off slightly. Stuller then called "recess" and stood beside his chair. The atmosphere was very highly charged but it calmed down and Stuller continued. It turns out that the question she wanted to ask was "How many cars do we have in Security?" Well worth the battle over such a horrifying question.

Stuller shut another resident down completely in the same manner later on using the same tactics. There was public comment at the time about the three supposed options being considered for the closing of the second floor. It is of interest to note that the third option was not published or even completely fleshed out by the person who originated the idea in the agenda package as it had only been mentioned to Stuller before the meeting began. Stuller was there only about 5 minutes before the meeting began.

One member put it very nicely when she said that this whole debacle over the second floor being closed off to residents is yet another divisive issue. She said residents should take witnesses with them when they visit the second floor. Access of all kinds is being denied residents. If the managing agent and his management staff are having difficulty with individual residents and/or employees then they should be dealt with as individuals and not tar the entire community with the same brush.

According to inside sources, “one resident was vilified by the managing agent and staff for trying to get information. The case went to court where the resident won a defamation suit. The management company’s employees were the ones who had defamed this person and tried to destroy his life, his reputation, his ability to make a living, his pension and yet not a single disciplinary action has been taken against those managers”

Board members sit on the dais and call residents names. Spouses of board members sit in the audience and call board members who oppose their other halves filthy names. Bob Miller started the last GRF meeting with a long and wandering statement about how name calling wouldn't be tolerated and at that very meeting Erwin Stuller called a resident a "pompous ass". Apparently the GRF board doesn't care to be called "good old boys" or "guys" and yet Ray Gros, GRF member called a resident "sweetheart" in the security meeting while he was being condescending to her and to the rest of the audience. The gasp that arose from the audience at that time demonstrated to him the blunder he made and he backpedalled as fast as he could blaming his "southern" roots for his faux pas.

“A third board member went into a tirade at the last board meeting using expletives and ending with "Jesus Christ" because there was, as usual under the doubtful leadership of Cynthia Connors, yet more strife and disagreement during the meeting”, added our sources. . This same member spoke twice at a recent GRF Finance committee meeting and couldn't seem to contain his expletive usage for even the two brief moments he spoke then. This same member told the third board meeting that "the duty of directors is to enhance the community and we have to spend money to enhance the community. " Obviously this man has not read the bylaws, the CC&Rs or even the Davis-Sterling act about what the responsibility of a director is. It sure isn't to "enhance the community and spend money to do so", our source added

Bob Miller and Harry Curtis (past third and GRF president) sat together at the last third board meeting and after Connors had spent over 8 minutes by the clock telling members that there would be order and discipline and she would tolerate no outbursts, side conversations, etc and that she would use her gavel often , discussed Miller's prostate, Miller's xerographic copy of pelvic x-rays and in general had a tea party that precluded anybody sitting within 20 feet of them hearing what was actually going on in the meeting. When shushed Harry Curtis turned and told the person shushing them to SHUT UP. The only person Connors gaveled was Stan Feldstein when she no longer wanted to hear his argument about an issue. Feldstein, as CotoBuzz readers may recall, was politically assassinated, prior to Connor s taking over.

Connors was called on her limit of 3 minutes per comment per director when Carol Moore, third director, reminded Connors of the rule Connors had put in place. Our sources added that “Connors denied that there was ever a 3 minute speaking rule for directors and Moore reminded her of the last meeting where secretary Larry Souza had been told to time Moore and Sousa had to agree that that had indeed happened. It's all still on the tapes of the meetings and Connors was left babbling in the wind and still pretending to be in control and in the right” When Feldstein tried to make another remark during a debate Connors interrupted him and gaveled him to silence saying that Feldstein had already been heard from and could not speak again.

The real problem for the LWV residents is the fear of retribution whether it is real or not. But many residents will express support privately but will avoid public displays of support out of fear. Where have we seen this before?

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