Our founding fathers felt strongly enough about protecting our right to express ourselves, share our thoughts and tell our stories that they included it in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, also known as The Bill of Rights. The importance and the benefits of this right can’t be overstated.
Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons. Dr Solomon, a professor of psychology has studied the effects of residential associations on the homeowners. I asked him specifically about “gag orders” and how they affected families and especially the harm that is done to the children. He had some interesting insights on how HOAs are “muting” their members. We dig beneath the horror stories and try to understand what goes on underneath it all. Dr Solomon has written extensively on this subject. To access all his work simply Google HOA Syndrome.
The benefit of making mistakes should be that we learn from them and – hopefully- avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. So how come we never seem to learn from the mistake of imposing a 4th layer of government on housing consumers? This extra layer of government has no oversight, no separation of powers, no constitutional restraints and total and complete disregard for individual and property rights. Could the answer be that it really is not a mistake?
Caroline Douglas is back by popular demand, On the Commons . Caroline has a Juris Doctor, she has written a law treatise called The Dark Side and is about to teach the material from her book in several college courses in Baltimore, Maryland. Never having been personally caught in the abuses of an HOA gone off the rails, and never having litigated property association cases, she forces us to look outside the box we have put ourselves in. Tune in for a slightly different show.
Storytelling has always been an important and effective way of getting a point across. HOAs are a very rich source for stories. How better to warn housing consumers of the abuses that could be lurking right around the corner from that perfect house that feels so very much like home if you can’t tell your story? But stories, for the sake of a story is not enough, it has to be believable and the story teller has to be credible and that entails a little work.
Ward Lucas joins us On The Commons. Ward, now retired, is an Emmy winning TV anchor, investigative reporter and story teller “par excellence”. He is also a published author. His first book, “Neighbors at War”, is, as you might guess, all about the abuses and sheer insanity that is so common in HOA controlled neighborhoods. He has just published his third book, “Sometimes ya Gotta Ride the Elephant” where he takes us through his journey as an investigative reporter and TV anchor and lets us into the secrets of how he managed to get the full story for his reports, without leaving any loose ends. It’s a fun read with several lessons for us budding story tellers. All three of his books are available on his website, Ward Lucas.com
Every year, for as long as I can remember, homeowners have gathered to talk about the problems and the issues they face in their HOA governed homes and developments. Invariably they debate potential legislation they believe would Provide for a fair and balanced playing field. And over the years more and more laws are added to the books in all the states. Sometimes they succeed – for a little while – but usually they are back the following legislative session, still trying to fix the never ending problems and abuses. I have long believed there has to be a better way and that Americans are entitled to live peacefully in their own homes. Maybe it is time to think outside the box and try something different.
David Kahne joins us On The Commons. David, an attorney in Houston, Texas, is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who understands HOA laws and does represent owners against their HOAs. He has worked on a legislative agenda for Texas for as long as I have known him. This year is no exception. We talk to David about some of the items on his legislative agenda, some of the issues he believes need to be addressed to even out the balance of power and give the owner a fighting chance. We talk about fines and foreclosures and legal fees. We touch on many issues, including whether some of the legislative agenda could, or should, be tackled at the Federal level. And we barely scratched the surface of what should be done to return full ownership and sovereignty of our homes to their rightful owners.
It is so easy to look around us with great sadness and wonder what happened to our traditional values? Where did our rights go? How come even our homes and communities have become unpleasant, scary and alien places? Places we are afraid to go to? Weren’t they once our safe havens where we had the final word? Why can we no longer choose the plants we have in our yards? The drapes we have in our windows? The outdoor play areas we want for our children? What happened? Shouldn’t someone be doing something to take us back to the way things used to be?
Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Jeff Dove joins us On The Commons. Jeff’s mother taught him that “When you don’t like the way something is going, you should get off the sidelines and do something about it”. Wise words from wise people. Jeff took his mother’s words to heart, in fact her words have guided him throughout his life and he is now ready to take the next big step in doing something about it. Jeff threw his hat in the ring and is running for Congress. When he wins he will be MY congressman and I can’t wait for that to happen. Tune in and join us as I get to know Jeff, his values and his beliefs. We talk about the issues facing us all and we talk about our homes and our rights. We also talk about “change”, change for the better and how we can get there. Isn’t it time to have someone in office who will listen to his constituents and find out what they want? Let’s all get off the sidelines and be the change we want to see in our world. There is a better world out there waiting for us and our children. All we have to do is get there.
Because of the sheer number of homeowners who reach out to me, desperate, scared and alone, I think it is appropriate to re-broadcast this show.
If I could draw I think I would write the HOA book as a series of cartoons because that’s how my mind tends to work. Many of those cartoons would be funny, others not so funny. But over the years never has there been a sumo wrestler in any of my imagined doodles or cartoons – until this interview. That’s when I started putting sumo wrestlers in the picture . But a gratuitous, enormous hulking, naked man in what appears to be a diaper, in the middle of a manicured, sterile, characterless, controlled residential association wasn’t quite connecting. So, I decided to read up on sumo wrestling and sumo wrestlers. And all of a sudden it was a perfect fit, diaper and all. I discovered, among other things, that although some of these massive men appear to be invincible, they have been toppled by smaller opponents. A sumo historian is quoted as saying he believes the circular ring was chosen to assist smaller fighters to slip away and that the sumo rules tends to root for the underdog.
If you find yourselves in the bullseye of an HOA battle, facing what may seem like a sumo wrestler, grin at the diaper and know that you can win.
Dr. Wes Rocki, MD, PhD joins us On The Commons. Retired from practicing conventional medicine, Wes now focusses on alternative medicine, including techniques on self help and self healing. He explains how we can empower ourselves to better handle any conflict. We talk about how we can step away, mentally and emotionally to get a better grasp of the situation. Wes gives us a lot of really good advice on how to not only survive being at the center of an HOA storm but how to survive emotionally, reframe the conflict, empower ourselves and win against that massive sumo wrestler in the ring with us. So many light bulbs went off during the course of this interview. Listen and be empowered. Well worth a second listen.
I learn something new- and very disturbing- about HOAs seemingly every day. Homeowner advocates and activists, with very good reason, have been calling our homes the ATMs for the HOA industry. Our homes are used as collateral for so many things other than our homes themselves. When things get complicated it is even harder to untangle the threads to understand just what is going on and where our money is going.
John Sellers joins us On The Commons. John is a former banker with a vast and broad knowledge and understanding of how finance works. As an Arizona homeowner in multiple HOAs and one of the many homeowners who has done the two step with his HOA in the Arizona court system, he is now also an expert on HOAs and the laws governing them – or not. John explains “pooling” and how that works in the insurance industry when it comes to insuring HOAs. If you think it is like a normal insurance policy you might buy, think again. This is just one more leaky hole in the HOA scheme that leaves us vulnerable and puts our homes at risk.
There is a rumor out there that buying a condo or a home in an HOA not only protects but also enhances property values. I still haven’t figured just out how that supposedly works. But proponents of the regime insist it is so. For the sake of argument I’ll leave that alone for the time being. But how on earth do they explain the fact that homeowners are responsible for the actions or inactions of the people either elected or hired and paid good money to “protect and enhance” your property?
Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons. Jan is a long time advocate and legislative activist for protecting the rights of home and condo owners in Florida. Jan is the founder and President of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice . He keeps a close watch on all the news related to housing, rentals, litigation involving homeowners and pending legislation that would affect the owners. Many, if not all, of the stories end up on his web site. One recent story involves a $7.5 Million award to a condo owner who seriously hurt himself when he fell into a hot tub that had been partially emptied, ill lit and left unprotected while the necessary repairs were being done. We talk about the case and wonder just how much it will cost the owners in the condominium to cover any shortfall in the event that the insurance isn’t adequate to cover the entire $7.5 Million? How does the assertion that a condo protects and enhances property values work in a situation like this?
When your life veers off the normal, the safe, the known and the routine and gets derailed into a hostile, unknown land where you are fighting for your life, stress tends to become part and parcel of who you are. And stress, as we have learned on this show, adversely affects your health. It is always a lot worse when you are facing the adversarial situation on your own. Can having some friendly support mitigate some of the damage caused by the situation?
Dr. Karin Huffer joins us On The Commons.
A long time therapist, having watched what happens to victims of the justice system and the effects of stress they suffered, coined the term Legal Abuse Syndrome. Her book, by the same name, Legal Abuse Syndrome talks about the problem and possible remedies. She found that the key to mitigating the harmful effects of being a victim is to help each other. For the past several years she has trained volunteers to be that “support” to victims. Her new book is a revised and updated Kindle version of her first book. She has turned some of her attention to explaining, training and teaching Americans about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Americans with disabilities don’t always know they have rights or what those rights are and businesses, managers and bosses are not always aware of them either. Apparently neither are all the attorneys out there. So Karin is hard at work training them all. You can learn more and reach Dr. Huffer through her website, Equal Access Advocates.com but do tune in to listen to the amazing lady.
Some people describe the “American Dream” as home ownership. After all, we all want a place to call our own, a place that reflects our personalities, provides shelter, a safe haven, a place completely and totally under our control. Like almost everything else in association controlled housing the dream is a lie. These days everything associated with a home seems to be based on deliberate misinformation that is repeated nonstop to the point where everyone believes it. Why not? They have heard the same lies for a couple of generations, it has to be true, right?
Not so fast.
Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons. Deborah is a prolific, analytical and detailed blogger. Her blog, Independent American Communities is a comprehensive study of what is going on in the world of association living. Today we debunk some of the more often told lies surrounding HOAs. Probably the biggest, and potentially most damaging whopper, is that HOAs protect property values. Citing from a white paper referencing various studies conducted about HOA restrictions and property values we learn what common sense has always told us. Having burdened your house with covenants, rules, regulations, “grass police” and all the other atrocities that are part and parcel of associations, we then turn to the physical structure of these houses made of “cardboard and scotch tape” and what we discover there is truly alarming. We talk a little about vinyl siding and Low e windows and we urge you to ask yourself whether this can possibly be “The American Dream” or is it more like the American nightmare?