Monthly Archives: September 2014

Message From the Manager . . .

The following e-mail blast was sent to residents today.   The Community Manager must be really worried about that enormous raise the 2015 budget proposal contains for him!  He and several board members continue to behave as if we live in one of the Middle Eastern countries or Chinese provinces where democratic speech and assembly is not allowed.  At the September 23rd BOD meeting, residents waited over 4 hours to have their say – only to have President Carol Thompson state that it was late and suggest their comments weren’t welcome.  When residents insisted on speaking, they were “hurried along” and/or ignored.  Yeah, Vince, residents are welcome to attend the dog and pony show alright – as long as they just watch and dare not speak up.

Community Concerns

What are the responsibilities of an HOA manager?

Apparently to rip down  meeting flyers posted on mailboxes. If you saw someone  cruising the mailboxes this afternoon, that was Vince. What an excellent use of the salary we pay him with our dues.

At 12:25 Vince sent out an e-mail blast supposedly to address “resident concerns” about flyers on doors. Who are these residents?

Board member Bonnie Houston for one, who posted on the NextDoor.com Windmill Ridge blog that people should go to their neighbors’  doors and take down the flyers.

Then, around 1:30 p.m. Vince had a little rendezvous with his boss,  Carol Thompson in front of her house to report on his activities.

Part of the Board is doing everything it can to not let residents know about the meeting.

A simple public meeting to talk about the upcoming election. What are they so afraid of?

RVS Community Meeting — Thursday, October 2 at 7 p.m. at the Fire Station on Rancho Viejo Boulevard

The main topic of discussion will be strategy for the upcoming election and the annual meeting. This is our chance to change how the Board operates in the upcoming year.

We will also discuss what has happened since our last meeting — budget, Ranchland Utilities, reserve study.

We need people to run for the Board of Directors.

Please share this with your neighbors and ask them to attend.

Apartment Complex Approved by Commissioners

Reposted for glens@ufl.edu by BlogMaster:

10 September 2014 – Report on Apartment Complex Project near SFCC: Warren Thompson and Univest won the apartment war, with only Stefanics and Holian (?) voting against. However, our loss went beyond just the apartments: Stefanics, our representative, offered us no support, no vocal opposition to the apartments—no serious questions or comments against, etc. She just gave us an empty ‘NO’ vote. I do not like to be played with, but that is precisely what the BCC did with RV residents from 8 July – 9 September. They played with us most at the meeting by following a prearranged script: Let residents speak without time limits but confined to specific topics and with speaker intimidation by two Commissioners; with Stefanics indifference, Anaya moved for acceptance of the apartments; Jennifer Jenkins (Univest rep) was permitted a lengthy, dramatic plea for the apartments; the Commission had negligible substantive questions and discussion; the vote came quickly and decisively. Clearly, the decision had been made before the meeting. I wonder if a lawsuit could bear fruit, as was the case in Galisteo earlier this year. I doubt it worth the effort and, expense, but check out this link. http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/judge-nixes-county-s-approval-of-controversial-development-near-galisteo/article_34c089d3-9dc6-564c-8666-61f76b0069d7.html Personally, I believe BCC decided to abide and uphold scheming, distortion, deception, and dishonesty by Univest as it pursued apartments and self-interest over the past 1.5 years. It remains to be seen whether anything positive for residents and the future of RV will come from the Homework Group motivated by Univest.

Run for the Board or Volunteer for Nominations Committee

Please see “Elections” page for both forms.  The deadline for getting onto this year’s ballot is October 10, 2014.

“Committee”???

Retaliation, Intimidation, and Invasion of Privacy

At the July 30 community meeting, in response to a question, we discussed the retaliatory actions of some Board members against another Board member who had asked to see Board records that the Bylaws entitle him to see. Board members wrote to the individual’s employer, saying derogatory things about the Board member and asking the employer to “do something” about the individual. The letter was not signed but the information contained in it described things only Board members would know.

The Board has moved on to their next victim — me. On August 15, I received a letter stating that I was leasing my home in violation of the Bylaws, which state, “Any dwelling that is leased shall be leased only in its entirety…” In other words, residents are prohibited from having roommates or renting a room while they are still living in their homes.

I am not leasing my home. I do have overnight guests from time to time. I was informed that I should respond to the letter within 14 days or I would be fined. I did respond within the time period in writing but received a violation letter anyway stating that I had not responded. Again, nobody signed the letter, but there is a title — compliance coordinator. I had my attorney write a letter explaining that I am not leasing my home. In response I received a second letter with a larger fine. Then I received another letter saying I had not complied. I am now getting letters every day, with ever increasing fines, even though the Board has scheduled a hearing. That is harassment.

If the Board has asked for legal advice on this matter from the HOA attorney, it is residents’ dues that are paying for this.

The Board and the Community Manager have apparently enlisted one of my neighbors to watch my home. They call this “an inspection of the community.” I suppose there may be a positive side to this. I could post a sign in front of my house saying, “Burglars beware, my neighbor has this house under constant surveillance.”

The Board has taken quite an interest in who is sleeping in my home and they want me to pay a fine. But the Bylaws apply to all residents. Last October, the HOA attorney advised Board President Carol Thompson to declare in writing that she has a potential conflict of interest because she has a business relationship with HOAMCO, the company that manages RVS. (In this ethics-challenged state there is apparently no such thing as an actual conflict of interest, only a potential one.) This fact was disclosed at the October Board meeting but mysteriously never made it into the minutes. There was another special meeting, the minutes of which have not been published because Ms. Thompson does not want this fact to become known. The Association paid for legal fees but no minutes were published.

Ms. Thompson has never recused herself from voting on the HOAMCO contract and has never disclosed her business relationship with HOAMCO in writing. Nor, almost a year after the attorney’s opinion, has she been fined to my knowledge.

Section 6.4 of the Bylaws states that, “Unless otherwise approved by a majority of the other directors, no Owner Director may transact business with the Association or any Association contractor during his or her term as director or within two years after the term expires. A director shall promptly disclose in writing to the Board any actual or potential conflict of interest affecting the director relative to his or her performance as a director.  A director’s failure to make such disclosure shall be grounds for removal by a a majority vote of the other Board members.”

I have read and reread the Bylaws and still can’t find any clause that says that Carol Thompson is exempt from them. She was also instrumental in passing a revised Board records policy that forbids any Board records from being taken off the premises of the Community Manager’s office. Yet this past summer, just a few weeks after the policy was passed, Ms. Thompson came to my block to help resolve a DRC dispute between two neighbors and she brought the original documents, not copies, with her. Again I looked for the clause that said that the Bylaws do not apply to her but could not find it.

So folks, what do you think? Should the Bylaws apply only to some residents? Are some people just way too important to comply with the governing documents?

I think the Bylaws apply to all residents equally. Though I do not believe that I have violated the Bylaws, I am willing to pay a fine when I see a copy of a letter from Carol Thompson disclosing her potential conflict of interest. I’m not interested in increasing the already way over-budget legal expenditures incurred by this rogue Board of Directors.

A hearing has been scheduled on my supposed violation next Tuesday evening at 6:10 p.m., just prior to the regular Board meeting at the Association offices. I invite all residents to the hearing. The Board wants it to be private. I want it to be public. And stick around for the regular Board meeting. See how your Board operates.

President Continues to Violate the By-Laws

As a Director I requested records from the President and Community Manager that were continually denied, despite ByLaws that guarantee Directors the right to examine records.  Even after a dispute resolution was started, that was denied, too.  I felt compelled to inform residents of these improper actions.  Please see the tab under Behind the Curtain or click Improper BOD Vote.

David Pfeifer

Notice: Budget Meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the HOA office

The Board is holding a meeting on Monday to discuss the budget for the upcoming year. Residents were not notified. The budget is funded with your HOA dues and you have a right to know how the Board, that is supposed to represent you, plans to spend your money.

If you can, attend the meeting.

What Happens When You Have a Rogue Board of Directors?

A few residents have approached me, asking, “How can that be happening?” regarding actions that RVS Board members have taken that we publicized at the July community meeting. My response is, “How could it not be happening?” The RVS Board answers to nobody.

On paper they answer to you, the residents, but let’s face it, most residents are indifferent. The same six or seven of us show up at monthly Board meetings. Every once in awhile a resident attends for the first time and that person usually finds it to be an eye-opening experience. A few more show up at the annual meeting, which is a carefully orchestrated event in which the Board members thank each other for working tirelessly on behalf of the residents. Believe me, they could not care less about you.

The Board includes a budget for the upcoming year in your meeting packet but they do not include the actual expenditures for the current year and that is a much more important document. A budget is only a plan. It’s the actual expenditures that count and it’s your money. Financial malfeasance is a major problem within HOAs across the country.

Our Board minutes are posted on the HOAMCO website but since last year they have been greatly abbreviated and are virtually useless in describing what happened at the meetings. There have also been instances of statements made at meetings being changed and usually the most important discussions are omitted. Only issues that require a vote are included. And it takes two months for the minutes to show up on the website. The financial reports are also posted but they are very hard to find. There is no requirement for a financial audit and RVS has not had one in three years, although one is scheduled.

Look at other entities that function with a Board of Directors structure. Public companies have Boards that answer to shareholders — those who own stock in the company. Sometimes the Boards are packed with cronies of the CEO. And a very small percentage of shareholders show up at the annual meeting. But there are other controls in place for public companies — they must make available very detailed quarterly and annual financial reports — to shareholders and to the public. And employees, who are often also shareholders, are also vocal in holding the Board accountable for company performance. That does not exist in an HOA structure. Rather, HOA Boards across the country essentially answer to themselves. All it takes is an uninterested and apathetic community of residents.

Take a look at the attached video and article. This took place in Florida, which has some of the strongest HOA laws and a state enforcement agency (that doesn’t exist in New Mexico).

http://www.local10.com/news/community-president-buys-car-pays-self-salary-with-neighborhood-money/27853208

We have some of the same issues here in RVS — intimidation, a majority of the Board that rubberstamps what the President wants (often in violation of the Bylaws), a need for total control, and expenditures approved after they have been incurred. The HOA is supposed to be for the benefit of the residents, not for the power needs of the Board. Residents of RVS need to take back control before it’s too late. Hold your Board accountable.

Two Budget Categories With Out of Control Expenditures

If you look at the financial information provided from 2010 through June 2014 (see Budget Blown), you will see two categories where expenditures have increased dramatically: legal fees and the newsletter.

Legal

The legal fees budget was $1,200 in 2010 and expenditures were $3,740. In 2011 the budget was increased to $4,800 but expenditures were still over budget  — $5,008. In 2012, the first full year of Carol Thompson’s presidency,  the budget was  $4,200 but actual expenditures increased to $12,048. And in 2013, with a budget of $5,000, actual expenditures rose to $15,571. In four years, the budget increased by almost 320 percent and actual expenditures increased by over 315 percent. If a resident asks what the money is spent on you are told that the information is confidential. Nonsense. While specific details about who is involved in legal issues cannot be disclosed, general information such as “a DRC issue” or “a dispute among Board members” can be disclosed. Those of you who attended the July 31 meeting may recall the presentation regarding ballooning legal expenditures of the North Association during the year Ms. Thompson was on the Board there. 

Newsletter

The newsletter budget was $3,900 in 2010 and expenditures were $4,506. In 2011, the budget was $6,000 and expenditures were within budget at $5,989. In 2012 the budget was again $6,000 but expenses rose to $11,047, mainly because the Board decided to pay the newsletter editor. In 2013, the budget was increased to $10,530 but expenditures rose to $13,072. Again, expenditures exploded after the current Board president took office in November 2011. 

The expenditures are somewhat offset by advertising revenue, but not enough to break even. And although residents’ dues pay for the newsletter, you don’t have the right to have a letter to the editor published. 

You do have a right to have input into how your dues are spent. Make your views know before the next budget is prepared. By the way, residents are excluded from budget committee meetings. 

 

 

 

 

Residents Are Not Invited to Budget Committee Meetings

The Budget Committee is meeting to prepare the 2015 budget, but President Thompson said at the last Board Meeting that residents will not be invited to participate in this process.

Please see the link below for what has happened to legal fees since Carol Thompson became president:

Budget Overruns