Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Phil Mitchell invalidates Coto de Caza HOA Elections: Willful ignorance, cognitive bias or cognitively challenged?

A summary of email conversation with Mr. Phil Mitchel, member CZ Master Association board of directors - just run a Zillow report and tell me it is wonderful!  - Updated 5/14/2016 with the water restriction argument.

Posted By CotoBlogzz

Coto de Caza, CA - Over the weekend, I received a largely inconsistent, incoherent email message from CZ Master Association board member, Phil Mitchell objecting to my defense  of the board's attack on my my candidacy that in essence invalidated the 2016 CZ Master Association elections.

The email clearly reads like it was written by James Harkins, the association's legal counsel and not Mr. Mitchell.  It shows an individual/board more concerned with form than with substance, and clearly afflicted by the Stanford Prisoner Syndrome, where the guards think they have supreme power to tell prisoners what to think, what to say and what to do:  For Example, he states in his email: 
"You are the only person who seems to think that something corrupt or at the least wrong. If our community is so corrupt why aren't you at every meeting  asking questions, offering solutions, being part of the solution, observing everything that is going on,  instead of sitting in the cheap seats and sniping at the people volunteering their time, intelligence and  energy to improve our wonderful community."
Mr. Mitchell is not alone, other directors have not only told me something similar, but have also sent me lawyer letters in an attempt to silence me.

Paradoxically, when I bring up what I think are the  most important issues in the community: public safety, litigation, transparency and elections, the board, including Mr Mitchell say that everything is wonderful.  I have been saying the same thing for close to ten years.  Specific to asking asking questions, I have filed a number of request for records dealing with public safety, litigation and transparency, all of which I have the right to view per civil code, and these have been unresponsive.  Would this have changed if I had attended board meetings you think?

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, including Mr. Mitchell and the Board - not their own facts

In the aforementioned email, and subsequent ones, Mr. Mitchell states that there is something wrong with my facts and that he cannot independently verify the evidence I have provided.  Apparently,as Mr. Mitchell might say, "when solutions are being offered,  from someone observing everything that is going on,  he and the board are sitting in the cheap seats of board meetings sniping at the people volunteering their time, intelligence and  energy to improve our wonderful community."  In other words he and the board are too busy or too lazy to call the OCSD's PRA Office, the CHP SJC office, the Orange County Superior Court or even walk over the HOA office to see the records for themselves!.

Small Claims Actions Are Lawsuits - Is that a cover for a collections racket? - You be the judge!

He finally concedes that " While small claims actions, technically, are lawsuits, The action to recover past due unpaid HOA dues and recover costs to repair damages by homeowners to HOA property is the correct course of action." What Mr. Mitchell has not been able to answer is :  Why does the CZ Master stick out like a sore thumb against all other associations in California, say by around 1000%?  Either the CZ homeowners are financially reckless, or this litigation artifact is a collection scam like so many others afflicting  the collections industry.

Another question Mr.  Mitchell has not been able to answer is the cost-benefit of the CZ Master Association collections approach:  how much money has the association recovered?  How much has it spent on administrative and legal costs?  How much money has the homeowner spent?  Does it care? For example, in one Small Claims Court, legal counsel charged the HOA $30,000!  What was the collection amount?  $500.

In another case, legal counsel foreclosed on a property because of an improperly parked RV!  Is this a collections racket?  But as Mr. Mitchell might say, looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, just run a  Zillow report and tell me all is  is  wonderful!

Would this have changed if I had attended board meetings?
CZ Small Claims Actions Compared to other associations, sticks like a sore thumb compared to others in California.  Do you want to know why?
In any case, Mr. Joseph Miner, who is intimately familiar with the collections industry, has agreed in principle, to help me in this case, should it be necessary.  For example, below are his recommendations, taken directly from his website:

Mr. Joseph Miner's Tips to Avoid Collections Racket

For reference, Mr Miner has the following tips, directly from his website

If you live in an Association you may know of these providers named below and you may want to check and see if they are doing the same things at your Association. Those things would be: 1) refusing partial payments (any payment you make MUST go to your assessments, 2) suing you in Small Claims court and charging Attorney fees (we believe this to be a new illegal scam happening with debt collection managers and ‘consulting’ attorneys.

  • An updated list of defendants that have been sued on the amended complaint are:
  • 1 – Huntington Continental Town Home Association, Inc.
  • 2- Rustan Laine (former President)
  • 3 – Myra Kuck (former Treasurer)
  • 4 – Feldsott and Lee (a law firm)
  • 5 – Stanley Feldsott
  • 6 – Jacqueline Pagano
  • 7 – Tyler Jones
  • 8 – Keystone Pacific
  • 9 – Cary Treff
  • 10 – Erica Griffith
  • 11 – Renee Barger
  • 12 – Brittany Bennett
  • 13 – Cane Walker Harkins (a law firm)
  • 14 – James Harkins
  • 15 – Arturo Chayra (dismissed as to some counts)
  • 16 – Richard Sheldon Bar (dismissed as to some counts)
  • 17 – Diann Robertson (dismissed as to some counts)

YOUR NEW SECRET WEAPON! – As a mandated member of your association you are effectively a ‘stock holder.’ When the directors are idiots and let the attorneys or management company fleece your operating account for every dollar you take in every month… or the directors are self-dealing in some way. If your lawsuit would benefit the Corporation as a whole and not just you – file a Shareholder Derivative Action against your management company or your HOA attorneys…. the law is that your attorney can get attorney fees!

Do any names in Mr. Miner's list above sound familiar?  Is anyone in the list involved in the CZ Master Association's collections program, which Mr. Mitchell concedes "technically involve litigation?  

Note that,  as Mr. Mitchell suggested,  I previously asked questions and requested  the association provide me with legal expense records to get to the bottom of this,  and after months of back and forth with Keystone, I never got the requested information.  Would it have made any difference to have attended board meetings, you think?  I do not think so, either.

If the board wants me to shut up and sit down on this issue once and for all, all it needs to do is disclose the information requested to prove there is no collections scam, that residents are not being unfairly harmed by unscrupulous lawyers and explain why in the world the CZ Master Association is the most litigious HOA in California.

Now, keep  in mind, this is just Small Claims actions, which technically, as Mr. Mitchell says, involve litigatio - this does not include the number of different lawyers the HOA has sent my way, which exceeds the number of Small Claims actions  filed by most HOAs!

Crime and Vandalism Facts of Fiction:  Who is telling the Truth?  OCSD or Mr. Mitchell?

As to the crime and vandalism data the board has not had the time to verify, the quarterly public safety reports I have been publishing for more than 15 year contains data directly from the OCSD's Public Records Act office.  In fact, at my request, that office developed a tool so it could get the information quicker.  So, either Mr. Mitchell and the board are not not telling the truth, or the OCSD's PRA office has not been telling the truth.  Which is it?  

By the way, the 1Q2016 records are on their way.  Maybe I should have the PRA office send the data to Mr. Mitchell and the board, so they can check its accuracy?

Worst:  all you have to do is stand at any of  curves, I previously identified as the most dangerous in Coto to know how reckless drivers are, and my firm belief we are one traffic citation away form the fourth traffic fatality.  And while the board argued against proactive traffic patrols by the  CHP in favor of the Sheriff's, it never delivered on its promise.  In fact, the board has a legal obligation to deliver 520 hours per quarter of proactive traffic patrol but has consistently failed.  I tried to obtain actual CHP patrol hours from the association, but just like in the case of the legal records request, Keystone fought tooth and nail and delivered nothing. I had to get the figures directly from the CHP using a Freedom of Information Act request!  Do you know how much Keystone charged for this?  Would attending board meetings have changed the outcome?  I do not think so!

It never ceases to amaze me how public officials jump at the chance to take credit for a safe community, including city hall and the OCSD.  But no one wants to take credit when the figures are not good, including the OCSD - and there are plenty of examples of both in Orange County.

However, the major contributor to public safety is the culture in the community, and the policies/ordinances it promotes, such the multiple-call party ordinance in Mission Viejo, as opposed to the anti-law enforcement sentiment in Coto de Caza highlighted when the board fired the CHP with no suitable alternative followed by Bob Varo calling the CHP extortionists,  in an open board meeting.

So why is the board not actively working on promoting public safety using a framework such as the LEEO I previously offered, including meeting the 520 hours of proactive traffic patrol,instead  of dismissing the issue and or claiming impotence?

Mail Box Tampering - do you get angry when a homeowner puts a note in your mailbox looking for a lost pet or inviting you to a block party? -   Mr. Mitchell's rationalization 

As to Mr. Mitchell's account as to how he distributed his hit piece, it is clear he violated US Postal Service regulations ( a complaint has been filed,) but also CC&Rs by distributing unsolicited material.

The Water Restriction Argument

Mr. Mitchell argues that the indiscriminate cutting down of trees is due to water shortage and that the property manager uses geocoded data to manage tree cutting.  The problem is that I used the same geocoded argument before, asserting that the association should use such data for proper oak tree management, yet it knew nothing about it.  Worst, it claimed the tree belonged to the association when in fact, the owner was the golf course!

The barren area shown below is more than five years old - years before the water shortage excuse came into the picture

Geocoded tree management CZ Master Association style - some areas remain barren, while others are over-planted


So there you have it. it is not too difficult to see, contrary to Mr. Mitchell's assertions,  why Mr. Mitchell and the board will try just about anything to prevent me access to the association records that by law, I am entitled to.  Not too difficult to see why Mr. Mitchell and the board will try just about anything to prevent my election to the board.  Not too difficult to see why Mr. Mitchell and the board, Keystone and harkins, for that matter, have been trying to silence me for close to ten years.


Phil Mitchell and the Coto de Caza HOA board just invalided the 2016 Elections

Mr. Mitchell’s letter, violated the HOA's CC&Rs,  Civil Code §5135,  Civ. Code §44 and Civ. Code §45 and   Title 18, US Code Sect...

Reporter looking into CID/HOA collections schemes

  • Rancho Santa Margarita, CA -  if you live in a common interest development/homeowners’ association, and  have been involved in  a Small Claims court dispute against your homeowners association, you may have just been a victim of a collections scam.  Investigative reporter wants to hear from you – see brief survey at the end of this piece
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CZ Master Association to Be Taken to Small Claims Court

Audacity of CZ Irrationality

Coto de Caza, CA - I have notified the CZ master Association and Keystone of my intention to file complaints with the Small Claims Court against the CZ Master association board of directors/Keystone for 1) Failure to comply with inspection of records request 2) for interfering with the normal operations of the CotoBuzz Journal.

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