Vellie Hall and Gary Baise

In the past, property ownership was simple.  By virtue of ownership, the owner enjoyed sovereignty over his or her own property.  But those days are long gone.  Today more people and more agencies have more to say about what you can and can’t do and how you can use your home, than you, the property owner have.  Many of those changes and restrictions start at the local level.  So wouldn’t it make sense that the people who have the power to either complicate or simplify things are the people who are willing to listen to and work with their constituents? 
On The Commons with us this week are Gary Baise, candidate for Chairman of the Board of Fairfax County, Virginia and Vellie Dietrich Hall, candidate for Supervisor of Mason District.  Both candidates believe it is time for a change and both candidates are committed to being responsive to the citizens and tax payers of Fairfax County.  Gary is an attorney and was at the forefront of the environmental movement, working on reducing air pollution, ensuring the safety of our drinking water and protecting the environment.  Gary has a web site .  Vellie owns her own financial management company that has contracts with the Department of Defense where she has built a reputation for finding cost cutting measures and saving the tax payers millions of dollars.  Vellie’s web page is .  Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll talk about the vision they have for the future of the county and we’ll find out how they plan on making some of the much nee

ded changes.


Evan McKenzie

Most people believe that ownership is absolute.  You work hard, earn the money to buy something and once you have bought, and paid for it, you own it.  That includes property.  And in the old days, that is exactly how things worked but over the years, the notion of absolute ownership has been watered down.  In the case of property ownership, first through local restrictions and eventually through mandatory memberships in deed restricted developments. 
Are these restrictions limited to just property ownership or are there other forces at work to strip Americans of rights and liberties? 
On The Commons with us this week is Professor Evan McKenzie.  Evan is the author of Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Private Residential Government, Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois Chicago, Law professor at the John Marshall School of Law, a practicing attorney and he still finds time to maintain a blog at  He is a well respected authority, and frequent commentator, on the issues related to homeowner associations.   Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, October 13, 2007.  We’ll talk about the big picture, property ownership and the general loss of our civil rights.  We’ll talk a little about what is being done and discuss what can be done to protect what’s left of our rights.  As always, you’ll want to hear what Professor McKenzie has to say. 

Gary Baise

Most people would probably tell you that their notion of the American Dream is a house sitting in the middle of a lush green lawn that is surrounded by a white picket fence.  But acquiring that little piece of paradise, and keeping it, is fraught with obstacles.  The growing number of mandatory membership association nationwide is not the only challenge property owners face.  One of the least talked about obstacles to the free use of private property is the Federal and state environmental restrictions.   
On The Commons with us this week is Gary Baise.  Gary is a practicing attorney in Washington DC and a candidate for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.  Gary was on the forefront of the environmental movement and has seen many changes implemented over the years.  His practice today includes protecting the rights of property owners.  Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll talk about the advances made over the decades to clean our air and make our communities healthier.  We’ll talk about property rights vis a vis some of the current restrictions and we’ll find out what made a successful farmer and attorney decide to throw his hat in the ring and run for public office.  You wont want to miss this one.



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

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.


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 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.

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.


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.


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.


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


News and Views About Homeowner Associations