The 2017 budget was presented and approved at the September 28 Board of Directors meeting. Our assessments will be increasing, attributable mainly to the County mandating curbside recycling which will increase our costs by $8 a month per household.
The allocation for legal expenses was increased by 300 percent — from $3,000 in 2016 to $9,000 in 2017. Why? Because that is about what the Board has already spent in 2016 and in their wisdom they want to continue wasting our money on unnecessary expenditures rather than finding ways to cut back. One of the major causes of the runaway legal expenditures is the dysfunction of the Board. Three members have resigned mid-term. A very expensive dispute resolution involving Jim Bailey and the other Board members occurred in July. All attendees signed a non-disclosure agreement. In mid-September Jim Bailey resigned.
At the September Board meeting I asked if the legal costs of the dispute resolution were the cause of the legal budget being overspent so drastically. President Paiz said it was. I asked how much that unsuccessful dispute resolution cost and Paiz said he could not tell me because it was confidential. He said he would have to ask Lynn Krupnik, who received payment for the dispute resolution, if it was “OK to release the information.” He stated that it would cost $250 to get an answer, Ms. Krupnik’s hourly rate. Apparently she does not bill in anything less than hourly increments. All RVS residents pay for the attorney’s services and we have the right to know the amount paid to her. While the content of the dispute may be confidential, the cost is not.
Rancho Viejo North has a legal budget of $2,000 and it usually goes unspent. Why does Rancho Viejo South spend so much more? The North has a Board composed of rational people who solve disagreements without involving an attorney. Our Board likes to waste residents’ money on their internal disputes and asking for legal advice from Ms. Krupnik on ridiculous things. Our Board does not represent the interests of residents. They are a disgrace.
Last week RVS residents received a “landscaping newsletter” from Vince Montoya. A newsletter usually provides information. This “newsletter” from Heads Up, our landscaping contractor, was nothing more than a free advertisement for their services. I assume the RVS Board approved this. The ad is apparently going to be a monthly occurrence. If Heads Up wants to advertise its services it can do so in our quarterly newsletter and pay for the ad, just like any other business. Does the Board think residents are so stupid that we can’t see this is a blatant subsidy of Heads Up?
There are many cases of HOAs across the country having too cozy a relationship with their vendors and service providers. Sometimes kickbacks are involved. I hope that is not happening here but I can’t be sure based on the past behavior of our Board.
If you object to this clumsy attempt to fool us and want it to stop, notify the Board president, Bernie Paiz: email@example.com
Simmering tensions exploded at Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting and unless you were there, I doubt you will ever find out about the sheer nastiness of the evening. The minutes will never reflect what actually happened.
The tone was set at the beginning when, in his president’s report, Jim Bailey stated that he thought conflict was a positive thing and then highlighted the changes he had made to make the Board more open and enhance communications between the Board and homeowners. He compared his approach to that of former Board president Carol Thompson and criticized her style of Board leadership. Carol — who was recently appointed to the Board —objected, saying that his remarks in a public setting were inappropriate. The two of them had a sharp exchange and Carol’s supporters in the audience started shouting at Jim, all identifying themselves as “friends of Carol.”
Remarkably, after that the Board went back to regular business until at the end of the meeting, under new business Board member Barbara Boyd introduced a motion to remove Jim Bailey as president. The motion was immediately seconded and Mr. Bailey ruled it out of order according to the Bylaws, stated that it would not be acted upon and tried to adjourn the meeting. Total chaos erupted. Jim, who was sitting next to Bernie Paiz, touched Bernie’s arm and Bernie shouted at Jim not to touch him. Bernie then said he was taking over the meeting and called for a vote on the motion. Jim shouted that a vote was out of order and would not take place. Residents were also shouting; some spoke in favor of Jim, others against him. Bernie repeatedly shouted at Jim to shut up. Jim threatened a lawsuit and Bernie told him to “bring it on; I’ll see you in court.”
The meeting was adjourned without a vote. If there is a lawsuit, legal fees will be paid by residents, at least for one side of the dispute.
Board members seem more interested in plotting against each other than representing the interests of homeowners. We deserve better. I hope more residents will show an interest in running for the Board when the next election comes around.
In a special meeting on February 23, Carol Thompson was appointed to fill the vacancy on the Board in a unanimous vote of the four members present. Board president Jim Bailey and member Laura Corbin did not attend. Vice President Bernie Paiz presided over the meeting. He said that the Board had waited over 72 hours from the resignation to fill the vacancy, as if there were some great urgency to the matter. In the past vacancies have remained open for months. Paiz stated that in the Board’s new efforts to foster transparency, an email had been sent to solicit residents who wished to submit their names for consideration for the post. Here is the email message that was sent.
|Dear Rancho Viejo South Residents,
This message shall serve as notice of a
Special Meeting called by the Board of Directors.
Below please find the details of the meeting:
Date: Tuesday, February, 23rd
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Rancho Viejo South Association Office
55 Canada Del Rancho
Purpose of Meeting: Board Vacancy/Appointment.
Per the Associations By-Laws no other business shall be discussed.
If you have any questions and or concerns please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rancho Viejo South
Do you see an invitation in this message? Me neither.
In my previous post I suggested residents submit their names if interested. One person did actually apply and two minutes before the meeting started people in the audience were asked if they wished to submit their name for consideration and two of us did. That’s what the Board considered a fair and open process.In reality nobody other than Carol Thompson was ever considered.
Ms. Thompson was nominated by Jonalynn Grover who stated her reasoning for nominating her was that Ms.Thompson had received the next highest number of votes in the last election. Community Manager Montoya said her reference to the election would be stricken from the motion so as not to” set a precedent” of filling vacancies according to vote tallies. That’s because if there is another Board opening and they follow this process the next person in line would be someone they really don’t want to be on the Board – me.
RVS residents received an email from community manager Vince Montoya on Friday about a special Board meeting February 23 to fill a Board vacancy. Eric Sanders, who was elected to the Board in November, has resigned.
I have no doubt that Carol Thompson will be appointed to his seat. The stated rationale will be that she received the next highest number of votes during the November election. Ordinarily that would make sense. But in the last two years when there were vacancies, individuals who did not run in the elections were appointed and those next in line based on votes in the previous election were passed over.
This is the second year in a row that Carol Thompson did not receive enough votes to gain a seat on the Board and yet will likely again be serving. In the 2014 election the community manager, Mr. Montoya, altered proxies that were eligible for quorum purposes only, appointed himself proxy, and voted for Carol. That allowed her to edge out Dave Pfeiffer by about 13 votes. In early 2015 when a vacancy occurred, the Board refused to appoint Dave who should have been given a seat based on the rationale that is now being employed. It took over two months for these appointments to be made. Mr. Sanders was one of the individuals appointed. Now he appears to be stepping aside to allow Carol to assume what some Board members believe to be her right — to serve on the Board as long as she wants, even if that is not the preference of residents.
In both 2014 and 2015, residents via their votes made it clear that they did not want Carol Thompson on the Board. The next Board meeting is in March and the right thing to do is advertise the opening and solicit residents who may wish to serve. A replacement should be appointed at the March meeting. There is certainly no reason to rush to hold a special meeting next Tuesday to fill the vacancy as there is no Board business until then.
The special meeting is being held during the day when fewer residents can attend the meeting. The regular March meeting will be held in the evening when attendance might be greater. The Board is clearly trying to thwart the wishes of voting residents. All the lip service about being more transparent is a lie. This is an example of the same secret backroom shenanigans that have been going on for years.
I suggest the Board establish a clear policy regarding how vacancies should be filled. The process should not be left to the whim of Board members who take different approaches based on who they like.
If you are interested in being appointed or wish to voice your views about this appointment and process, contact the Board through Jim Bailey, the president, email@example.com before Tuesday.
Perhaps the Board is listening to residents’ concerns. Next year it will be holding meetings every two months instead of quarterly. Additionally, meetings will alternate between days and evenings, allowing people who work during the day to attend meetings.
These are two commendable actions. Now if only residents were given time to speak about issues on the agenda….
Despite having an agenda with 20 minutes allocated to resident questions and comments, for the second year in a row, no resident input at the end of the meeting was allowed. What did the Board consider more important?
The Board hired the facilitator of the irrigation meetings to conduct a silly group exercise. We were also treated to a 10-minute picture presentation of the Community Manager driving around the community. Yes, those two things were way more significant than answering resident questions or listening to their comments.
The firm of Swain and Grieco made a presentation of their recently completed audit. They stated there were no material findings. However, the audit contains the following language.
“An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, the auditor considers internal control relevant to the entity’s preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Association’s internal control.”
Also we now have a situation where the one individual fills both the Board president and the treasurer positions. That is not a good practice from the standpoint of checks and balances.