Julio Robaina

“Associations protect property values”, the headline grabbing horror stories are “isolated incidents”, “Zogby polls indicate that 96% of all homeowners in associations are happy”, homeowners voluntarily choose to live in associations, and if you are not happy with your board of directors, “toss the bums out” or “move”.  Embezzlement?  Fraud?  Take it to court, “it’s a civil matter” and the real government can’t get involved.  After all “you agreed,” you see.  You’ve heard it all.  But how much of it has any merit at all?  Or are these just sound bites that have been repeated often enough to have become part of the vernacular? 
 
On The Commons with us this week is Representative Julio Robaina.  Having traveled the length and breadth of the state, listening to horror stories and asking for ideas of how to resolve the many problems faced by his constituents, Rep Robaina has sponsored legislation that is starting to help tip the scales a little in favor of the homeowner.  In its infancy, his pilot program on using law enforcement to investigate allegations of fraud in associations is yielding dramatic results.  With several arrests already made, and more to come, the rest of the country is starting to take notice.  Please join us On The Commons. We’ll get the details of his program, find out whether they are in fact “isolated incidents” and we’ll ask just how, given all the fraud and mismanagement, associations protect property values. 
 
For detailed information about the pilot program go to http://www.ccfjedu.net/SCAM/SCAMindex.htm.
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Elaine Musser

When the concept of common ownership developments first went into mass production, the intent was to relieve cash strapped local municipal governments from some of their obligations without having to resort to raising taxes.  The idea was that by privatizing some of the traditionally municipal functions, local governments could use tax revenues to help them keep pace with the rapid growth.  But like many seemingly good ideas, there are unforeseen and unintended consequences lurking in the shadows.  And now, some forty years into this experiment, we are beginning to see the really ugly side of this particular housing scheme.

 
On The Commons with us this week is Elaine Roberts Musser.  Elaine is the Executive Director of Building Bridges (Elder Abuse Prevention), she is Chair of the Triad Task Force, Yolo County Commission on Aging and Adult Services and a volunteer attorney with the Yolo County Legal Clinic’s Senior Legal Hotline.   She is also representing a 78 year old widow in her fight to keep her HOA controlled home.  In the process she is seeing, for herself just how out of control HOA management and boards really are.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, August 18, 2007. We’ll talk about Building Bridges, the Yolo County Commission on aging and how they may come to the assistance of the elderly.  And of course, we’ll learn the details of her case and to what extent the board president will go to control the members of the association.  On the Commons is broadcast live from WEBR Fairfax, Virginia., Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007.

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Professor Frank Askin

Do homeowners in mandatory membership associations voluntarily give up all their constitutionally guaranteed rights and protections?  The debate has been raging for some time now.  Advocates of associations and controlled living have always maintained that homeowners have knowingly left their rights at the entrance of the association, choosing to subject themselves to the whims and control of their neighbors and members of the HOA industry.  Homeowners, on the other hand, have insisted they have done no such thing, that they simply bought a house that happened to be in a homeowners association. 
 
On The Commons with us this week is Professor Frank Askin.  Professor Askin is a law professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a long time member of the ACLU and founder and director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers.  He maintains a blog at http://blog.nj.com/njv_frank_askin/ and is the author of Defending Rights: A Life in Law and Politics.    Professor Askin most recently represented The Committee for a Better Twin Rivers, a group of homeowners who sought to protect their Constitutional rights to free speech.  With the court opinion finally in, was it a total loss, as it would appear at first blush?  Please join us On The Commons. We’ll talk about the decision and find out what the New Jersey Supreme Court really said.
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Jan Bergmann

The American Heritage Dictionary describes community as a group of people having something in common, whether physical, geographical.emotional or intellectual. The word also denotes a sense of belonging, of being a part of a greater group. What we are seeing is a very different “community” emerging, one that does not rely on geography, but more on emotion and intellect. And thanks to the internet that “community” is growing.

On our recent trip to Florida, we stopped in to visit with Jan and Karin Bergemann who, over the years, have become more friends than fellow activists. But what happens when members of this new cyber community get together? What do they talk about?

On The Commons with us this week is an informal pool side discussion with Karin and Jan Bergemann and Terry Bartholomew, Please join us On The Commons. Eavesdrop on an informal conversation, listen to what advocates talk about when they meet socially and find out who has the most to say, the advocates or their spouses? On the Commons is a weekly radio talk show about issues facing those who live in common interest communities. On the Commons is broadcast live from WEBR Fairfax, Virginia.

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One Way Ticket to Hell

Some people have asked how to get a copy of the the song, “One Way Ticket to Hell”, that has become sort of an unoffical theme song, to the On the Commons radio show. It was donated to the homeowner movement by Harry Flagle who wrote the lyrics and the music for the song. On the Commons is a weekly radio talk show about issues facing those who live in common interest communities. On the Commons is broadcast live from WEBR Fairfax, Virginia.

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Robert Metcalf

Homeowners who have the audacity to voice any dissatisfaction with their homeowner associations are often told to run for the board. The idea being that anyone who has served on the board of directors of their associations is less likely to complain. But suppose that “solution” backfires? What happens when the very experience of being on the board is all the proof one needs that the concept communal living is flawed? What is the “answer” then?

On The Commons with us this week is Robert Metcalf, Being a conscientious board member, Bob decided to get educated on HOAs to be a more knowledgeable and responsible board member. As treasurer he took his position seriously. He read about associations and attended the meetings and what he learned shocked and scared him to such an extent that he deiced to put his findings and his thoughts on paper. Please join us On The Commons. We’ll talk with Bob about his experiences as a board member and what compelled him to take the time to write it all down for us.

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Peyton Knight

Fads come and go. When the fads in food, fashion or fun or fade out, the impact they leave is little more than a memory or a faded photo of mini skirts, disco balls or skinny ties stuck in an album somewhere. Food, fortunately has a shelf life and Pac Man has been replaced with other games. Unfortunately not all fads are that easy to replace.

What happens when we find out, after having spent time, effort and loads of money, that the “solution” to a particular problem is not a solution at all but instead has exacerbated the problem? Can we cover it all up with pretty words?

On The Commons with us this week is Peyton Knight, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for The National Center for Public Policy Research . Based in Washington DC, The National Center for Public Policy Research is dedicated, in part, to providing solutions and research to today’s public policy problems. Today we will be talking about a major shift in how we shape and design our neighborhoods. Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, June 30, 2007. We’ll talk with Peyton about Smart Growth, what it really is and the impact it has on how and where we live. Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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Professor Frank Askin

For the past four decades homeowner associations have diminished the rights that traditionally were part of property ownership. These changes have been subtle and gradual with virtually no input from those most affected. In fact, there has been no debate about these changes, as Professor Evan McKenzie has been pointing out for almost 20 years. The bulk of the data collected and information disseminated has been one sided in this issue. But is all that about to change?

On the Commons with us this week is Professor Frank Askin. Professor Askin is a law professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a long time member of the ACLU and founder and director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers. He has successfully argued to protect the Constitutional Rights of the citizens of New Jersey and is currently waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on whether homeowners leave their constitutional rights at the entrance of a controlled development in the Twin Rivers case, . He is the author of Defending Rights: A Life in Law and Politics. He was part of the conference on Homeowner Associations held in Trenton, New Jersey in May. Please join us On The Commons. We’ll talk about the importance of the conference and whether this is the first step in allowing the homeowners to take a more active role in participating in the debate that affects them. Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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Margaret Barakiva

The sheer number of mandatory membership homeowner associations has exploded nationwide. The problems and the horror stories have also multiplied over the years. The explanations, excuses and suggested “cures”, however, have remained the same. For the past four decades one group has led the debate and the discussion and controlled the agenda of this new form of housing. The very people who need to be included in the debate have been intentionally left out, but times they are a changing.

On the Commons with us this week is Margaret Bar-akiva. Margaret, a plaintiff in the Twin Rivers case in New Jersey, and founding member of the New Jersey based Common-Interest Homeowners Coalition http://www.c-ihc.org/ , in conjunction with the Rutgers Schools of Law in Camden and Newark and Seton Hall School of Law, organized a well attended conference in Trenton, NJ in May. Please join us On The Commons. We’ll find out all about the conference and talk about the importance of having the homeowners and housing consumers controlling the agenda. Fads come and go. When the fads in food, fashion or fun or fade out, the impact they leave is little more than a memory or a faded photo of mini skirts, disco balls or skinny ties stuck in an album somewhere. Food, fortunately has a shelf life and Pac Man has been replaced with other games. Unfortunately not all fads are that easy to replace.

What happens when we find out, after having spent time, effort and loads of money, that the “solution” to a particular problem is not a solution at all but instead has exacerbated the problem? Can we cover it all up with pretty words? Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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Julio Robaina

Legislative sessions are starting to wind down across the country. Some folks are celebrating small victories, others are gearing up to try again next time and still others are waiting to see whether governors sign or veto the bills that arrive on their desks. Once all the dust settles, will the homeowners be better off this year than they were last year? How many of the bills that passed will benefit individual owners? And how many of the bills that failed should have passed? And when all is said and done, what does it all really mean anyway?

On the Commons with us this week is Representative Julio Robaina. Julio is one of those rare politicians who considers himself a public servant. At a time when many of his colleagues are afflicted with a strong case of arrogance of power, Julio remains very much a man of the people. Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, May 19, 2007. We’ll ask this upbeat, energetic legislator how the homeowner friendly bills fared in this year’s legislative session and we’ll find out what is in the works for the future. Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations