All posts by terrybar

Jan Bergmann

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Much like a bunch of dominoes artfully set up in neat, precise rows, our entire economy is failing.  Knock one domino over and you have a chain reaction and they all fall, one after the other.  Pull the rug out from under one industry and they all come tumbling down.  It is no surprise that times are tough all around.  And in time past, when things got bad families, friends and communities rallied around and endured the bad times together.  But times they are a changing.  Communities, once the glue that  kept everything together, appear now to be exacerbating some of the problems. 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Jan Bergemann.  Jan, President of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice, is the “go – to” person in Florida when people have problems with their associations.  He maintains a couple of web pages, www.ccfj.net and ccfjedu.net and is a wealth of knowledge about all things related to association issues.  Please join us On The Commons.  We will talk about the problems that seem to arise right from the very beginning when a developer gets into trouble to the problems that arise as foreclosed properties grow in number and the remaining homeowners decide they can no longer shoulder all the “common” expenses. 

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Frank Short

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Ever wonder why a bad idea is cloned, copied and used over and over again?  And how do you stop a bad idea from multiplying like a rabbit?  Well, every year or two our elected officials get together and introduce ideas they hope will become law.  And every time the legislature gathers for its annual or biennial ritual, homeowners hope that some of the laws that are introduced will be homeowner friendly and  protect their property rights.  And at the same time, the HOA industry gathers with their gifts and long wish lists seeking to expand the powers of associations and  managers. 
 
And as this annual ritual blows across the country like a mad March wind, what should individual owners look for?  How can they protect their property and their rights?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Frank Short.  Frank is an attorney, an avid proponent for the rights of the individual, a frequent guest and a friend of the show.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, March 14, 2009 as we celebrate another annual ritual, St Patrick’s Day, and talk about the bills that  were introduced in Virginia, the ones that passed, the ones that didn’t and a few that were amended and look nothing at all like they did in the beginning.  We’ll also give you a heads up of the next bad idea that is poised and ready to be cloned, copied and enacted in every state in the country.  We’ll even tell you where to look for it. 

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Senator Mike Schneider

Legend has it that Hans Brinker saved the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands by sticking his finger in a hole in the dam, thus saving the city from flooding and its citizens from certain drowning.  In the story Hans is successful in plugging the dam.   Fortunately for Hans and the Dutch, the dam only had one hole so it was possible to plug the leak and live to tell the story.
 
Unfortunately, every time one hole is patched up in the  HOA dam, several more sprout up to take its place.   And for the handful of legislators trying to enact legislation preventing some of the wrongdoings it is a never ending story.  There just don’t seem to be enough fingers, attached to enough legislators to plug all the holes in this particular dam.  Every time a new statute is adopted that is  designed to prevent fraud and abuse, someone finds a way to circumvent it.  And every time there is a breach in the system, the crimes and horror stories get worse. 
 
As the housing market faces a crisis and the financial health of HOAs is in an unprecedented freefall, is there any hope to save residential America or will the whole concept of controlled housing drown in a sea of crime and corruption?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Nevada State  Senator Mike Schneider.  Senator Schneider, a frequent guest on the show, is sponsoring legislation intended to protect the Nevada homeowners.  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll find out why the Governor vetoed a homeowner friendly bill, what the bill would have, and equally importantly, wouldn’t have done had it been passed into law.  We’ll also find out what he plans on doing about the vetoed bill.  We will get an update on the FBI investigation that is still ongoing Las Vegas and we’ll find out just how so many corrupt people manage to gain control of HOAs, how they do it and why.  And we’ll also talk about legislation that is being considered in this session.  We’ll also ask him, if after all these years of trying to plug all the leaky holes in the dam, whether he is optimistic about achieving his goals.

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Maida Genser

Every day there is news of yet another assault on individual and property rights.  Whether the real government wants to replace your home with a new, upscale high rise condominium to increase their tax base or your HOA government wants to strip you of a basic and fundamental right, simply because they want to, the war is raging.  But protecting what is yours requires knowledge and information.  And at no time in history has information been more readily available than it is now.  The internet has opened up so many new worlds, ready to be explored.  And many people do turn to the internet to find out what they can do about a situation that is making life miserable and has the potential to ruin their health and their wealth.
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Maida Genser.  Maida is the founder and president of the Florida based Citizens for Pets in Condos  www.petsincondos.org .  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, February 28, 2009.   We’ll get to know this amazing lady who, when faced with having to get rid of her pets started something really big.  She got her problem resolved but then decided to help others in similar situations.  Her first step was to start a petition to allow pets in condos, then she put up a web page asking people to sign it and then kept adding information to it.  There is a wealth of valuable information there.  Condo owners have used the information to keep their pets.  Some of these folks have sent in their success stories, almost 22,000 people have signed her petition and now she is working on getting legislation enacted to ensure that people who need a pet for emotional support can have one.  Tune in and find out how one person can make a huge difference and then, if you haven’t signed her petition yet, please do so.   

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Bill Murray

Right from the very beginning, homeowners who live in HOAs have been told the Declaration is a contract and the relationship between owner and association is a contractual one.  The very word “contract” seemed to be sufficient explanation for all the bizarre, nutty, abusive, ridiculous, sad and tragic occurrences in associations across the country.  Your dog’s too fat?  It’s a contract.  Your mini blinds are the wrong shade of white?  It’s a contract.  Your vehicle is not snazzy enough?  It’s a contract.  You owe the HOA money?  Too bad, you lose your house, it’s a contract.   No matter how absurd the situation, the answer always was “It’s a contract.” and the advice, “If you don’t like it, MOVE.”  The only input the owners could have once they were trapped in an HOA, was to amend the “contract” by an affirmative vote of a super majority of the owners.  If you are going to stick people in HOAs by virtue of local municipal mandates and lack of choice, I suppose it makes sense to allow the principals to vote on the changes.  But are all proposed changes good for the individual owner?  And what happens if the owners decide they really don’t want to amend the governing docs.?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Bill Murray.  Bill is one of 32 plaintiffs in the Bemis vs. Lake Holiday Country Club case and along with his brother maintains a blog http://www.lakeholidaynews.com/ .  This case appears to have inspired the Virginia legislature to consider a bill that would give the courts the statutory authority to amend docs even after the homeowners themselves chose not to approve the amendment.  The bill was struck earlier this week in Virginia but may be headed to a state house near you.  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll get to understand the makeup of Lake Holiday and talk about the particulars of the Bemis case.  We’ll also discuss SB 6016 and SB 1489, how close they came to becoming the law, what it would have done to the Bemis case, what it could have done to what’s left of your property rights and we’ll find out whether any other sinister plans are lurking in the shadows, waiting to knock your contractual rights off their feet.

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Don Schellhardt

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land called America, the citizens were free.  They adopted a set of rules, guaranteeing that the freedoms the founders fought for would last through the ages and be passed on from generation to generation. To ensure that their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren  would remain free, they wrote the Bill of Rights.  These rights included such basic things as the freedom of religion, speech, assembly, to be secure in their homes,  be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of the law, be subject to excessive fines.  And the concept worked – for awhile. 
 
And then the government gave the citizens home and condo associations and told them the associations would protect their property values and once the owners were drawn in they started losing the rights their forefathers fought so hard to give them.  But a few of the owners have decided to fight back and reclaim their rights as free citizens.  But how does one turn back the clock to the days when free people were allowed to be free?  Will they be able to get together, celebrate the holidays, decorate their homes and worship and communicate with each other? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Don Schellhardt.  Don is the founder and president of www.hfagroup.net .  He is an attorney and a HAM as well.  Because of the restrictions on antennas by HOAs and condos, many HAM operators are finding that they not only cannot enjoy their hobby but also are not able to provide certain protections to their communities.  So Don and his fellow HAMs tried to get the FCC involved but they said “No Thanks” so Don approached CAI and asked if they could come to some understanding, perhaps encouraging some HOAs to allow antennas.  The two members of CAI agreed and posted an article on CAI’s web page.  The article is very difficult to find and attempts to access it prior to the show failed.  I have since found it  and hope this link works for you.  http://www.caionline.org/govt/news/Political%20HeadsUp%20Public%20Document%20Library/ham_radio.pdf  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll learn more about HAMS and what they provide the community.  We’ll learn about antennas and also why we should ALL support allowing HAM antennas in HOAs. 

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April Charney

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Foreclosures are everywhere.  Drive through any neighborhood and chances are you will see signs of vacant houses, “For Sale” signs with “Bank owned” riders,  homes noticeably neglected and abandoned.  The newspapers and other media outlets report on the sheer number of homes that are being foreclosed on.  The news on the economy is equally dire.  What on earth is going on?  Is there a connection between the economy and all the foreclosures?

On The Commons this week we are joined by April Charney.  April, described as the angel of foreclosure defense by MSNBC and awesome by some of her clients, is a Jackson Area Legal Aid attorney in Florida who has earned the reputation of being the leading expert on foreclosures.  She speaks at seminars across the country and trains attorneys to defend homeowners.  She is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates www.naca.net and was named National Consumer Lawyer of the year in 2007.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, January 17, 2009.   We’ll talk to April and  try to demystify what is happening.  We’ll also find out  what we should do as individuals, and as communities, to protect ourselves and where to find a competent attorney to represent us should we need one.  You don’t want to miss this one. 

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Jan Bergmann

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
There is a mistaken belief that a homeowner’s association will enhance and protect property values.  This little lie has been repeated over and over again since the early days when housing consumers were first being led to HOAs like lambs to the slaughter house.  Yet Americans cling to the notion that their property values will be protected from unapproved hoses, red doors and cars up on blocks.  What will it take to dispel this myth?  Will homeowners ever realize that their property values could be adversely affected by the HOA? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Jan Bergemann.  Jan, president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice www.ccfj.net , has been very active with Florida’s thousands of condo and HOA owners.  CCFJ has hosted Town Hall meetings, put on seminars, attended hearings organized by state legislators, conducted their own survey and worked with all the pro owner groups and individuals.  Because Jan also fields a number of calls from owners as well as reporters. he has his finger on the pulse of the latest issues and hot buttons.  Please join us On The Commons.   We’ll find out what happened at the latest Town Hall meeting they had and talk about just how well values are holding up in the current times. 

 

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Pia Trigiani

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
It is ironic that HOAs were created to give municipal governments a means of shunting off their responsibilities onto the private sector, while still collecting those precious tax dollars.   And now, some four decades into this experiment, more bureaucracy is being created to supposedly control them.  With time, and the belief that you can’t fight City Hall, HOAs have become a prominent part of the American housing landscape.  But all is still not well in home and condo associations.  The problems mount and the complaints are too loud to ignore so state legislators grapple with ways of dealing with the many problems with them.  Unfortunately, attempts thus far to tame the beast have failed.  Is there a magic pill or a potion that will protect the rights of the individuals in HOAs?  Should there be more oversight or should we be framing the debate around whether or not this is a viable form of housing and if so, are they worth the added expenses?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Pia Trigiani.  Pia, a principal with the newly established law firm, MercerTrigiani has been named Chair of the newly formed Common Interest Community Board in Virginia.  This board was established in July to oversee management, promulgate more rules and provide some “help” to the homeowners.   Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, December 20, 2008.  We’ll find out more about the CICB, who sits on the Board and just what kind of help Virginia’s association homeowners can expect to get, and probably more importantly NOT get from them. 
 
Since law makers across the country seem to be totally clueless as to how to handle the growing problems in HOAs and the homeowners are never asked for their ideas of what should be done, we are soliciting your input.  How should we handle the growing problems in HOAs?  Send your thoughts to onthecommons@cox.net

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Evan McKenzie

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
Almost four decades ago residential America began to change.  No longer were Americans living in their own castles but instead, at the end of the day, found themselves going home to neighborhoods where the neighbors made all the decisions.  This brave new blueprint for our communities was to deliver lifestyles beyond the reaches and wildest dreams of most Americans.  Homeowners in these newfangled developments would have access to sparkling pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, golf courses, bridle paths, ponds, lakes and yes, even gazebos.  The cost?  A few dollars a month.  But wait, there is more.  In addition, these new experimental developments promised to not only protect property values but enhance them as well.  And the cost?  A few dollars a month ……. and complete control of that property. 
 
Has this new experiment delivered everything it promised?  Are American homeowners happier and better off today than they were before HOAs became the norm rather than the exception??
 
On The Commons this week we welcome back Professor Evan McKenzie.  Evan is the author of the best selling book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.  He teaches Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Common Interest Community Law at the John Marshall School of Law.  Evan is also a practicing attorney and maintains an active blog at http://privatopia.blogspot.com/ .   Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll skip all the usual pudgy pooch, dusty mailbox horror stories that seem to grab the headlines and go right to the heart of what is happening in today’s climate of economic uncertainty.  Are condo and homeowner associations surviving and just how secure are America’s 60 million HOA owners?  As a keen observer of associations, politics and current events, Evan puts HOAs right in the middle of the big picture.  You won’t want to miss this one. 

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