Deborah Goonan

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With all the bad press HOAs have been enjoying lately, it must be time for yet another industry sponsored survey, proving once again that ALL the fraud, abuses, and just plain stupidity we keep hearing about are nothing more than “isolated incidents”, simply anecdotal and really mean nothing.  You see,  “the survey says;  homeowners are overwhelmingly satisfied with their HOAs”.  Funny how the survey says the same thing time and again and yet the stories and the need for more and more enabling legislation to fix the problems continue to grow.  Something smells a little fishy here.

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons.  Deborah is a prolific blogger, commentator on many online venues  including social media.  She is a researcher who manages to pack a great deal in her day.  Unlike many advocates who, once they escape the horror of their residential associations simply disappear,  Deborah stuck with it to understand the issues and the problems.  Her blog is called Independent American Communities . You will find a lot of these ” isolated incidents” discussed there.  We talk to Deborah about the surveys conducted by CAI and get a wider understanding of surveys in general.  Assuming the data is accurate, we also talk about the stats that are completely ignored by the surveys and what that really means.  Sometimes there is a lot more information in what is not said than in what is actually disclosed.  

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Judy Thomas

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Symptoms are warning signs indicative of a problem.  These warning signs should be investigated.  Sweeping them under the rug and hoping they’ll go away is irresponsible.  Far too often that is the treatment of choice in the Homeowner association arena.  All the horror stories are symptomatic of deeper problems, and conditions that allow or even encourage the abuses to continue, unabated.  They are the results of flawed reasoning. The very people who should be concerned that their brand is defective and harmful to the owners are the very same people who flippantly dismiss every signal that all is not well.  Rather than preventing the horrors, the HOA industry blames and belittles the owners.  Their arsenal is made up of the same stupid excuses and explanations.  They  glibly refer to the hundreds and hundreds of stories as “isolated incidents”.  They have no credibility, they deserve no respect.

Judy Thomas joins us On The Commons.  Judy is an award winning journalist with the Kansas City Star who just wrote and published an amazing series of articles about many of the stories going on in associations across the country.  The main story, HOAs from hell: Homes associations torment residents they’re supposed to support  just touches on some of the many problems homeowners face on a daily basis.  The page also has links to other stories and video clips of some of the stories Judy ran across.  In an HOA no one is spared.  The color of window dressings is more important than a child’s safety and her life.  The color of a swing set takes on a life of its own and ends up costing the family a huge sum of money.  In one condo, an approved emotional pet was banned, causing the owner enough distress that he committed suicide.  Even a 91 year old great grandmother is not safe in one of these associations.  The elderly lady in this story is being charged $15 for every “letter” the HOA sends her notifying her that her garage door is no longer considered trim.  Aren’t Americans allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor without being hounded and harassed by the neighborhood thugs?  These stories are real, they are not isolated incidents.  The same stories are repeated time and again all over the place.  You just can’t make these stories up.  

If you have a story to share with Judy please send it to HOA@kcstar.com

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Greg Dorchak

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Once upon a time, not so very long ago, we were limited on where and how we got our information. The papers, radio and TV news reports decided what we should and could know. But, times they are a changing!  Technology has opened up so many doors for all of us.  Blogging, self publishing books, social media, podcasting, the internet, movies and yes, the traditional outlets that are still with us.  All of it is terrific, it gives us access to so much more information.

Greg Dorchak joins us On The Commons.  Greg is a movie maker from Austin, Texas.  He has taken advantage of all the arts that allow him to get his point across.  He is a self published author, a cartoonist as well as a movie maker.  His passion is making people laugh so he uses comedy to deliver his message. We first met Greg a couple of years ago when he was working on “The Code Enforcer” which is all about, yup, you guessed it – HOAs.  “The Code Enforcer” is on the back burner until he can get the funding to finish his movie.  And yes, it is funny. There is nothing quite like taking the Mickey out of people who take themselves too seriously, is there?  There is a ton of material in associations.  However, in the meantime he is finishing the last bits and pieces on his current movie, a romantic comedy called Kopy Kings  that takes place in a copy store.   We’ll talk to Greg, find out what it takes to make a movie and how to get the inspiration to satisfy our creative yearnings.

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