All posts by terrybar

Caroline Douglas

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Whether Einstein said it or not is debatable but what is certain is that the quote is common sense.  Yet for some reason we insist on doing the same thing over and over and over again, convincing ourselves that this time it will work.  THIS time the results will be different.  And yet again, we are disappointed and frustrated.  This is especially true when it comes to “fixing” all the problems with residential associations.  We believe that one more law requiring or prohibiting something will drastically alter the failing HOA system.  But all those statutes do little other than complicate and compound the problems.  Maybe it is time to start thinking outside the box and looking at different “solutions” – different ways of protecting homeowner assets and rights.

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline is passionate about the Law, a subject she loves and is always willing to talk about and share thoughts and ideas with us.  This week we brainstorm ideas that would allow homeowners to get what it is they want most, the right to be left alone and to enjoy the peace and sanctity of their own homes.  We explore the possibility of taking the fight to a different arena and using a different battle cry.  We learn about potential rights and remedies.  Tune in for an idea packed hour of ways to stop doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.

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Gary Solomon

Early on, in what has become a national nightmare of epic proportions for American homeowners, the HOA horror stories really horrified the public.  People who had been victimized by their neighborhood association were too embarrassed to admit they were being abused.  All that has changed.  The abuses and the horror stories seem to have become so much a part of every day life that we simply shrug them off and continue on our way until we find ourselves in the center of this web.  Those fighting a seemingly unwindable battle are rightly consumed with saving their homes, their lives, their health and their sanity. In an effort to prevent more horrors and more abuses they have tried desperately, and failed miserably, to “fix” all that is wrong with the concept. 

Professor Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons.  Dr. Solomon has studied the HOA and condo blight on America and has written extensively on the effects residential associations have on the physical, mental, emotional health and welfare of Americans.   Professor Gary Solomon has a website where you can read his papers.  Dr. Solomon says it is time to stop focussing on the stories and to start working on the solutions.  He identifies one of the biggest issues that is at the heart of the abuses and shares some of his ideas on how to stop the bleeding.  

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Mike Pugh

There is a very delicate balance in the world that, when left alone, tends to function and work as it was meant to, in complete harmony.  Sadly we seem to be incapable of leaving things alone and have yet to learn that man cannot always improve what nature, time and custom have already perfected. And when that meddling is the result of personal aesthetics, well it can almost be seen as criminal.  Today’s show is about protecting individual and property rights, defending the monarch butterflies, standing up to the bullies and winning.  

Mike Pugh joins us On The Commons.  Mike and his wife bought a house with a two acre meadow that is part of their property. It backs up to a line of trees and the meadow is only visible from the Pugh’s property.  The meadow, with its abundance of milkweed plants, has been there for decades and is an important part of the monarch butterflies migratory path.  And yes, there is a homeowners association involved.  Isn’t there always when homeowners have to fight to protect their rights and their homes?  The HOA decided that the meadow had to go and that’s how this fight started.  After years of courtroom drama, the Pughs WON in a court of law.  We’ll talk to Mike, learn more about the fascinating monarchs and the Pughs battles with the HOA.  And as is typical, the HOA bullies  can’t accept defeat gracefully, they still want the meadow mowed.  So the battle continues.   You can see Mike’s meadow here.

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John Paskert

How do you define “civilization”?  I understand it to describe people who are educated, cultured, have manners and are socially and morally advanced. The dictionary defines it as “an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture,science, industry, and government has been reached.” Some words that are used to define the opposite of civilization are decline, destruction, ignorance, rudeness, barbarism, primitiveness.  What do you think best describes life in a residential association?  And how, in a country that presents itself as the most civilized, the richest, the best and the freest can we force people to live in controlled housing developments where, in many cases, those in power are rude, barbaric, abusive, dictatorial and completely wild?  And finally, how do homeowners deal with some of these atrocities?

John Paskert joins us On The Commons. John is a retired military psychological Operations officer.  The tactics he learned while an active duty officer helped him even out the playing field somewhat in his homeowners association.  Rather than allowing the ruder and more ignorant denizens in his neighborhood to frustrate and demoralize him, he remained civilized, did his homework, and fought back in very clever and subtle ways.  He shares some of the lessons he learned operating in this new arena and also tells us some of his stories. I think the big lesson here is that there is more than one way to fight back. However, trying to become a truly civilized society, where respect and cooperation are the norm, should be our ultimate goal.  

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Jessica Suico

 I have often wondered, and worried, about children growing up in HOAs who watch their parents suffer at the hands of the HOA bullies. What is the message we are giving them?  Will they be willing and able to fight to protect their homes and families when they are raising their children in these irrational and often abusive residential associations?  Or will they simply roll over and hope the horrors end, believing this is normal? “This is just the way it is” or “They are all like this”, never realizing they can fight back and they can make life better for all concerned? 

Imagine my delight when I ran across an article penned by a college student and published in the college newspaper, The Advocate.  The article is titled;   Illegal evictions harm families, neighborhoods.  

I had to find out more about it.

Jessica Suico joins us On The Commons. Jessica is a second year student at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California.  She is majoring in journalism and works on The Advocate, the college newsletter.  The paper normally reports on all things college related, new classes, upcoming events on campus and other  news  items or topics of interest that would affect student life.  Jessica’s article is a little out of the norm for her paper but, I believe, so very important.   She witnessed the harassment and subsequent eviction of her mother and aunt from their home.  She also saw the frustration as her mother and aunt exhausted all venues seeking non existing help for people in similar situations. They may have been able to get some help had they known where to look.  That has to be part of the education.  However, in the end, a couple of elderly ladies who have had health problems were evicted, ended up in the hospital and rendered homeless.  Using the college newspaper was an excellent way of, not only getting the story out, but also of education other young college students who will be facing similar problems unless we stop the bleeding in private residential America SOON.

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Ken Ditkowski

I seem to zip through life at breakneck speeds, taking most things for granted and never really thinking about the reason we do things any particular way.  Oh, once in a while I ask myself, “What were they ever thinking?” when I run into something a little strange.  However, when things are working well the farthest thought is to wonder why it works.  It is so much easier to start looking at things that don’t make sense and figure out how to improve it.

And for a show whose sole focus is property rights, that was a little short sighted.  How can we protect ownership and rights without knowing how to properly define the property in question? That is one those things most of us have always taken for granted.

Kenneth Ditkowsky joins us On The Commons.  Ken is an attorney in Chicago  who, when he was fresh out of law school, full of self confidence and a can-do attitude found himself on the ground floor of redefining property  boundaries and ultimately changing skylines in cities across the country. Maybe even the world?  We’ll talk to Ken about the Prudential Building, the first high rise in Chicago and the hundreds of pages of legal speak explaining the ownership structure.  Ken and his partner accepted the challenge and simplified it, reducing the document down to a more manageable size.  n the process they paved the way for high-rise residential buildings to be built and ultimately changing the face of the Chicago.  We’ll talk about all the things most of us take for granted and never give a second thought to.  We’ll learn about different ways to determine the legal boundaries of a piece of property and find out what happens when mother nature decides to ” shift” the things we take for granted.  I was spellbound as I listened to Ken.  Tune in for a fascinating show.

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Larry Murphree

When the forces of evil succeed in kicking individual and property rights under the rug, then start playing word games trying to explain how you never really had those rights in the first place, it is time to take the kid gloves off.   

Everything about HOAs makes my blood boil but nothing has enraged me quite as much as the way a homeowner was treated by the very industry that sucks the life out of our homes, our families, our communities and destroys our peace of mind.  This has to stop!  While the catalyst for today’s story may have been a small flag, this is not about a flag but about our rights as homeowners and our right to live in peace in our homes.  

Larry Murphree joins us On the Commons.  Larry, an Air Force veteran, updates us on his battle with his condominium board and the industry attorneys who advise them on how to mistreat and abuse the homeowners.  The battle has been raging for over 7 years and still goes on.  We’ll talk to Larry and get the details of how his decision to move into a condo has adversely affected his life and his bank account.  Of all the horrors, abuses and invasion of one’s privacy, none even come close to the offensive treatment at the hand of a board and it’s attorney hell bent on destroying an owner and robbing him of all he has spent a lifetime working for.  All this is being done legally.  Legislators, are you listening?

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John Cowherd

Thanks to our listeners and  guests On The Commons is starting year 19

I always thought if housing consumers knew and understood what they are getting themselves into, most of them would never voluntarily buy a home in an HOA.  That was before I knew that a house without the shackles of the absurd “private government” was a thing of the past.  HOAs are too financially lucrative for local governments to allow them to disappear into the mists of time.  Why would they when they could collect free property taxes without providing the services those tax dollars were designed to pay for?  Ah, but fear not, through their sense of fair play, at least some, if not all, state governments have opted for transparency by requiring sellers to provide consumers with disclosure packages.  But just how reliable are these packages?  What are the remedies for incomplete or outdated information?

John Cowherd joins us On The Commons.  John, a realestate attorney in Northern Virginia is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who is familiar with HOA and condo law and will represent the owners. He keeps up with legislation and litigation in Virginia that affects our homes.  We talk to John about a recent Fairfax County court decision in the case of Liam and Brandee Daly v. Gullick Group, Inc.  The case is right on point when it comes to consumer protections via disclosures.  We also learn about a new  Virginia state law that took affect July 1, 2018 listing what is required to be included in the disclosure packages required by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  We’ll find out if this new law really offers any protection to housing consumers or is it just another case of “feel good” legislation designed to mislead consumers again?  Tune in and you be the judge.  John also has a blog called Words of Conveyance

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Mike Gingerich

Over the years I have watched HOAs get bigger and more powerful.  Housing consumers have fewer choices in where and how they live.  The concept of being king or queen of one’s own home is long gone, giving way to a 90 plus Billion dollar annual industry that feeds off our homes and neighborhoods.  And sometimes the fodder they feed on is actually our very homes.  The concept of “ownership” has been replaced by a series of rules and regulations with little oversight and no checks and balances.  The more we try to fix the problems the deeper the hole we find ourselves in becomes. 

Mike Gingerich joins us On The Commons.  Several years ago Mike bought a home in a large homeowners association in California and as a psychologist started studying the makeup of his HOA.  He then expanded his research beyond his own neighborhood and looked at residential associations across the country.  By their very makeup he concluded that HOAs are coming undone. The clues are are there but, as Mike says, they are  “hidden in plain sight”.  You can read his paper  HOAs Coming Undone  on  From the HOA Trenches .  Mike also has a terrific website Hidden Valley Lake Owner Advocate.  Tune in and see how many board members you have known come to mind as you listen to why Mike believes HOAs are coming undone.  

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Raelene Schifano

The story goes something like this, condominiums and homeowner associations provide the owners with carefree living and enhanced property values.  Well, that’s the story, but the truth bears absolutely no resemblance to the sales pitch. While the carefree bit refers to not having to mow your lawn, the hours and heartache that go with providing oversight, at least trying to, and protecting your rights are never mentioned.  The stress takes a toll on your health, and the financial cost of being a condo owner is inconceivable. 

Raelene Schifano joins us On The Commons. Rae, a lifelong resident of Washington State decided to buy a condo believing her property will be well cared for when she and her husband traveled.  It didn’t take the condo long to start levying fines against her and her husband for some of the most outrageous and insane reasons.  Being a business owner with plenty of guts and gumption, Rae refused to be intimidated and fought back.  She got involved at the grass roots level in her association and then started working in the legislative arena educating law makers on what happens when they allow power hungry and money grabbing HOA boards, managers and industry members unfettered access to the lives and bank accounts of unsuspecting owners.  Listen to Rae’s story, then contact the legislators in your state and DEMAND that fines by condos and HOAs be BANNED.  

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