Ward Lucas

The most effective way of breaking up a larger concentration of power is to “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule”.  And one of the easiest ways of doing that is through the use of fear. It is no secret that many HOA homeowners live in fear.  The statutory powers associations have been given across the country puts the owners at a huge disadvantage.  And associations have been known to use, and in some cases, abuse those powers.  
 
Sometimes all it takes is making an example of one homeowner in a neighborhood to ensure that everyone toes the line without any problems.   That is the Fear factor.  But do the neighbors have a duty to get involved or should they just roll over and hope things blow over soon?
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Ward Lucas.  Ward is an award winning investigative journalist who found himself tangled up in the HOA web.  So what does an investigative journalist do when he thinks something smells bad?  He investigates associations and when he discovered that he was not alone, he wrote a book called Neighbors at War.  He then started a blog by the same name neighborsatwar.com  We’ll talk to Ward about his book, his blog and get a feel of what is going on around the country.  We’ll also talk about what it takes to stand up to the neighborhood bullies and why, even though there are more homeowners than association employees, the homeowners are losing the battle.  

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Harry Flagle

A house is just a house, four walls and a door to keep the outside out and the inside in.  It is simply a place where people live.  A home, on the other hand,  is a place where our affections are centered, where, to use an old cliché, the heart is.  Sadly, we have gone from acquiring a house and making it our home to living in what is now known as a “unit”.  The Dictionary defines a unit as “one of many”.  There is nothing special about a “unit”.  Nothing unique, nothing to distinguish it from all the others.

Notwithstanding the outer changes of our dwelling units, we still need to have a nesting place, a place all our own, a place that reflects who we are, a place that is safe and a place where we escape the outside world, even if just for a short while.  In the homeowner association world that is taking over residential America, the concept of a home is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  We now live in corporations where every aspect of daily life is kontrolled, where threats and sanctions are the norm and where fear seems to rule the day.  
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Harry Flagle.   Harry is a multi talented gent with a heart as big as they come.  A composer and song writer, Harry wrote the lyrics and the music to our theme song, “One Way Ticket to Hell” and donated the song to the homeowners striving to maintain some semblance of sanity in their neighborhoods.  He owns several patents and is an Emmy Award winner for some of his contributions to the film industry. We’ll ask Harry why he wrote One Way Ticket to Hell and what the reaction to the song has been and then we’ll join Harry on a delightful stroll down memory lane to a time when life was simpler and the unimaginable was possible.  

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Barry Silver

The dictionary has many definitions for the word “home” but to me home is that safe place we all go to recharge our batteries, be with those we love or enjoy the solitude those 4 walls provide.  It is a place that is uniquely our own.  Houses, apartments, hotel rooms and units can all look alike, but much like fingerprints and snowflakes no two homes are ever exactly alike.  In a world that seems to fear individuality and promotes uniformity, a home has even more importance than ever.
In our brave new world of cookie cutter dwelling units, crammed into modern day  kommunities ,  more often than not the heart and soul of what we once called a community is gone.  In addition to all looking alike and living alike we now also are expected to be alike.  
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Barry Silver.  Barry, an attorney who practices in Florida, has spent his career fighting for the rights of individuals, including homeowners in HOAs. Currently Barry is working with several homeowners in a particular association where the owners are being evicted from their own homes.  These owners are paid up, they do not owe any money so it is not a case of “mooching off their neighbors” as proponents of this dysfunctional housing scheme would use as an acceptable reason for this barbaric behavior.  They are, however, elderly so they are vulnerable. Their alleged “crimes”, and the reason they are being evicted are petty, absurd and ridiculous.  We’ll talk to Barry about these homeowners, what they are being targeted for and where they are now. 
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Gary Solomon

The horror stories  and tales of abuse in America’s HOAs keep pouring in and there seems to be no end to the sheer gall and stupidity of some Homeowner association board members and managers. The alleged violations range from the ridiculous to the heartless to the absurd. 
 
Beyond the petty peeves of the small minded nits in the neighborhood, another emerging characteristic, or by product, of these ‘hoods appears to be verging in the barbaric.  In a recent story out of Florida, an 80 year old gentleman was evicted by the HOA for planting vegetables in his small garden patch.  The stress of being alone and homeless sent him to the hospital with heart problems.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the neighbors actually cheered when they heard the news.  
What makes people in kontrolled kommunities react with glee at a neighbor’s misfortune?  In the days before these new fangled “ghettos” became as common as muck, neighbors were friends and pitched in to help.  They had real communities.
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Dr. Gary Solomon.  Dr Solomon, a psychologist in Nevada,  noticed that something was amiss in the shiny “community” he moved into.  While the grounds may have looked manicured, the residents did not appear to be particularly happy and he wondered why.  His research led him to write a couple of papers on HOAs, the HOA Syndrome and Elder Abuse.  And since then he has been cautioning us about the harmful affects HOAs have on our health.  We talk about the health issues and the potential for further abuses with new technology that could make America’s kontrolled kommunities, or ghettos, as Dr. Solomon calls them,  even more stressful. 
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