Clarification about Election Letter From RVS Resident

Vince Montoya, the HOA Community Manager, sent out an e-mail blast today about a letter that was sent by a resident of RVS to other residents regarding the upcoming election. The letter was actually very straightforward and the author, Glen Smerage, identified himself as a resident and never said that he represented the HOA. Mr. Smerage provided his address, telephone number, and e-mail address and anyone that wants to can contact him directly.

Some people had questions as to how their addresses were obtained. One possible way is from a mailing list broker. Names and addresses are public information and brokers obtain them and segment them by zip code and many other criteria. Anyone who wishes can purchase a mailing list from a broker.

Surely, like me, many of you receive several postcards a month from real estate agents describing house sales and listings in Rancho Viejo. How did they get your name and address? From a mailing list broker or from County records.

Regarding Mr. Smerage’s offer to act as a proxy for those who do not want to attend the Annual Meeting, this practice has been going on in RVS on an informal basis for years. If you don’t attend the meeting in person but still want to vote, you have to designate a proxy.

In his e-mail Mr. Montoya positions himself as the source of “direct accurate information.” I have statements from residents who reported that prior to the 2014 election Mr. Montoya called them and said that their proxies were not filled out correctly and that he would be more than happy to come to their homes, help them fill out the forms correctly and act as their proxy. That solicitation is no different from what Mr. Smerage did. And Mr. Smerage actually lives here. Mr. Montoya does not.

There is nothing underhanded or nefarious going on.

I should note that I am a candidate for the Board and Mr. Smerage endorsed me. I did not ask for his endorsement, and did not see the letter before it was sent.

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RVS Open Director Positions

In regards to RVS Community Manager’s email “Notice of Interest – Board of Directors” sent October 4, 2016, I believe there is an error in the identification of vacancy term lengths.

How Many Board Director Positions Are Open? What Are The Terms Of Service?

It is no surprise that given the spate of resignations from our RVS Board this year, 2016, as well as last year, 2015, there is some confusion as to who must run for the open Director positions at the next Annual meeting, and how long will the term of office be.

The terms for Board members are two years and they are elected in alternate years. Three Directors run for office one year, followed by four Directors who run the subsequent year so that some continuity is maintained on the Board. (See By-Laws, 3.3, paragraphs ii. iii, and  iv.)

What Happens When There Is A Vacancy?

According to RVS By-laws:

In the event of the death, disability, or resignation of an Owner Director, the Board may declare a vacancy and appoint a successor to fill the vacancy until the next annual meeting, at which time the Voting Delegates entitled to fill such directorship shall elect a successor for the remainder of the term. (See by-Laws 3.5, 4th paragraph.)

Thus, any Director who was appointed to a vacancy as a result of a resignation will fill the vacancy until the next annual meeting which in this case will be November 15, 2016. At the Annual meeting a successor (who may be the appointee, if s/he chooses to run) will be elected to complete the remainder of the term (which in the case of filling a 2-year incomplete term, means holding office for one year).

Past practice has been that open 2-year Director positions are filled by the top vote getting candidates, and the 1-year incomplete successor term(s) is filled by the next highest vote getting candidate(s).

This is not the first time the question has arisen as to how many positions are open and for how long. 

A Brief History

2014 Election

At the Annual General meeting of the RVS HOA in November, 2014, there were four open Director positions filled:

  • Three 2-year terms filled by Bernie Paiz, Jonnalynn Grover, and John Zipprich;
  • One 1-year term to replace Paul Burguieres’ position (who resigned and was not replaced by a board appointee). Carol Thompson had completed her 2-year term as a Director and was running for a Board position. Since she received the fourth highest number of votes of the eight candidates running, her term was for the open 1-year successor position for Burguieres .

Continuing 2014 Board Members were (1-year term remaining for each):

  • Bonnie Houston,
  • Laura Corbin,
  • Jim Kerr

2015 Election

In January, 2015, we learned of Laura Corbin’s resignation (1-year term remaining of a two year term), and in April we were informed of Bonnie Houston’s resignation (1-year remaining of a two year term).

At the April 28, 2015 RVS Board meeting, Laura Corbin was appointed to fill her previously resigned position, and there was no appointment made at that time to fill Bonnie Houston’s position.

Then, we were informed of John Zipprich’s resignation (2-year term) sometime in August, 2015.

As of August 20, 2015, we were informed of the successor appointments of Rev. Dr. Barbara Boyd and Eric Sanders to fill the vacancies of Bonnie Houston and John Zipprich.

So, there was a full Board of seven Directors present at the September 22, 2015 Board meeting.

What did that mean for the election of Director candidates for the November 17, 2015 Annual meeting?

It meant that there were five Director candidate positions open for a seven member Board:

  • Four 2-year terms to replace the expired terms for Houston, Kerr, Thompson (who was the successor for Paul Burguieres’ position), and Corbin (successor for herself),
  • One 1-year successor term to complete Zipprich’s term.

The Election Results of the Annual meeting of the RSV HOA in November, 2015 for the five open positions (in vote tally order)

  • Eric Sanders: 71, term = 2 years
  • Barbara Boyd: 66, term = 2 years
  • Laura Corbin: 58, term = 2 years
  • Jim Bailey: 57, term = 2 years
  • Jim Kerr: 50, term = 1 year — to complete Paul Burguieres’ position which had previously been filled by appointee Carol Thompson.
  • Carol Thompson: 48, not re-elected
  • Marcia Kaplan: 38, not elected

Continuing 2015 Board Members (1-year terms remaining for each):

  • Bernard Paiz
  • Jonnalyn Grover

Upcoming 2016 Election

In Spring 2016 Eric Sanders (2-year term) resigned; Carol Thompson appointed successor for the remainder of 2016.

In June/July Barbara Boyd (2-year term) resigned; no action taken to fill vacancy.

in September Jim Bailey (2-year term) resigned; no action taken to fill vacancy.

2016 current Board members:

  • Bernard Paiz (end of 2-year term),
  • Jonnalyn Grover (end of 2-year term),
  • Laura Corbin (one year remaining),
  • Jim Kerr (successor-completes 2-year term for Burguieres)
  • Carol Thompson (successor for Sanders),
  • Two unfilled Director positions; each have a 1-year successor term open through November, 2017.

How Many Board Director Positions Are Open? 

By my count there are six openings:

  • Three 2-year terms (to replace Paiz, Grover, Kerr/Burguieres’ successor);
  • Three 1-year successor terms (to replace Thompson/Sanders, Boyd-unfilled, and Bailey-unfilled).

Thus, only Laura Corbin need not run for a Director position.

I hope this summation helps to clarify Director openings and terms of office.

Related Content:  Election Results 2014  and   Election Results 2015

At Least Two Board Members Forget What Country They Are Living In

At the September 29th Board meeting, member Laura Corbin brought up the topic of having a Board sponsored candidate forum prior to the election this year. She had previously asked that the subject be put on the agenda but it had been left off. President Bernie Paiz said it was his error.

He then stated that anyone in RVS could sponsor a candidate forum, it was within residents’ rights to hold one and it was possible that the Board would sponsor it. Discussion within the Nominating Committee was suggested. Board member Carol Thompson objected to any candidate forum.

I reminded the Board that residents had held such a forum two years ago and it was well attended although none of the sitting Board members participated.

Within three days Mr. Paiz changed his mind. He stated, “This Candidate Forum is not required by our Governing Documents and is not a sanctioned activity of the Board of Directors. This is a tactic to usurp the elected BOD and override the governing Documents and therefore participation will be discouraged. The only Election requirement is the formation of a Nominating Committee. Candidates are encouraged to supply bios and have the opportunity to address the attendees at the Annual Meeting. I will not be participating in this attempt of coup and strongly recommend that members of the BOD and Nominating Committee not participate.”

What happened in those three days? Carol Thompson — who Mr. Paiz seems unable to stand up to — set him straight about what could occur in RVS according to her rules. The tip-off is the phrase “non-sanctioned,” a favorite of hers. Every time residents have held any meeting not specifically sponsored by the Board she has labeled it illegal and non-sanctioned. To Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, communication in our community is a one-way process. The Board tells us what to do and residents have to abide. Why are Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, whose terms are up, so afraid of interacting with residents and fielding questions from us?

Most people vote by proxy and having candidates present their views at the annual meeting is laughable. Less than 10 percent of residents attend and most people have already voted by proxy. We need to hear the views of prospective Board members before the voting, not afterward. We need to know what kind of people they are and if they have the best interests of residents as a core value. This is especially true this year because:

  • In the first nine months of 2016 three Board members resigned. They were ill prepared for serving on the Board.
  • We are grappling with several complex and costly issues — irrigation, road and trail repair, and the County’s new solid waste recycling program. Our assessments are increasing substantially this year and may do so again because of these issues.
  • We need Board members who have an opinion as to how we can maintain our infrastructure and prevent home values from declining while avoiding frivolous expenditures.

According to Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson, having a candidate forum where candidates can present their views on governance and answer questions from residents is considered a usurpation of Board prerogative. Presentation of views and questioning of candidates is part of any election process. A coup Mr. Paiz? You and Ms. Thompson were not paying attention during civics class in high school.

I have been told several times by Ms. Thompson and her followers that if I don’t like how things are run in RVS, I should move. Rancho Viejo is in the United States, which is still a democracy. Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson prefer dictatorship. Perhaps they should move; there are a multitude of countries that could accommodate their views.

There will be a candidate forum this month held by concerned residents of our community. A date and time will be provided shortly and all candidates are encouraged to participate. Six positions are open on the Board this year although there is some behind the scenes manipulation by the Board to reduce that to five.

RVS suffers from enormous apathy. I’ve heard from several residents that they don’t get involved in politics. It isn’t all politics; it is also a pocketbook issue and it’s your money that the Board is playing with. Look at my recent post about out-of-control legal expenditures. Despite my requests for the past two years, the Board has refused to furnish residents year to date expenditures in the annual meeting package, claiming they only have to provide the following year’s budget.

We need to get rid of the dysfunctional, dictatorial Board we have now and infuse it with some new blood. We need to end the tyranny. Please, if you care about your community, your assessments, and your property values, consider running for the Board. If you wish, you can post your bio here on the blog.

Board of Directors’ Squabbling Results in Over Budget, Out of Control Legal Expenses

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.

Unfinished Business from July Board Meeting Will Most Likely Influence September Meeting

The July Board Meeting was a mixed bag.  It was cordial, but after a statement by Pres. Paiz that this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate any more resignations, Director Corbin read a list of grievances on how she was being treated by other board members.  These issues included:

  • No board communications with Director Corbin since April.  Meanwhile, the “no emails between mtgs” policy was violated by two other directors.
  • Directors Corbin and Bailey were left out of two meetings which could have been rescheduled.  She believes that personality conflicts and lack of common business consideration are factors.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer were also left out of board meetings during their terms.]
  • After calling Atty Krupnik, she didn’t receive a call back; the Association Attorney should be supporting all directors.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
  • Dir. Thompson cut her out of Neighborhood Watch communications, wouldn’t allow her to be the Treasurer, and didn’t post two requested notices. Note: NW is an organization separate from HOA management.
  • Five directors blocked her from the dispute resolution meeting that removed Jim Bailey from the presidency. Pres. Paiz claimed this was out of the board’s control because the Atty recommended it.  [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
  • BOD Meeting scheduling should allow all residents to attend.  Dir. Corbin does not think the board should treat some residents less well than others; they need to stop preventing residents from serving on Committees when they are capable and willing.

It appears to this former director that the Association Attorney continues to run our HOA. It’s way past time for the board to resolve old conflicts, end the power plays and resignations, follow the bylaws, and include all directors in decision-making.  Doing otherwise is unprofessional and expensive.

Other Meeting Highlights:

  • Pres. Paiz. agreed to alternate daytime and evening meetings – and change which day because of the fire department’s schedule, if nevessary.
  • Barbara Boyd resigned to pursue retirement goals.  Her vacancy will not be filled, despite M. Kaplan being next in number of votes during the election.
  • Per Vince Montoya, new HOAMCO software is causing problems with website.
  • Infrastructure: seal coat is done.  Final pmt pending.  Question over price of oil and impact on quote. Windmill Ridge 2 quote was over 150K.  Need other bids.  Planning for next June/July.  Paying out of reserves, but fee increase expected.  Budget & Finance Comm looking at it.
  • Chris Schatzman and Bruno are negotiating with Ranchland Utilities.  Aging, maintenance, operations, and pond are issues.  Spending money on upgrades – we have to maintain filters and lines that HOA is responsible for.  Inoperable valves are being repaired.
  • Financials thru June – irrigation and landscaping expenditures are impacting budget.  Reserves decreased $60K from pavement preservation.  $93K lower in total cash and A/R, operating account, plus reserve expenditures.  Balance sheet is within parameters.  Income slightly ahead of budgeted because of billing cycle.  Expenses better than last month.  Net Income at a loss (1933.93), but improving – running behind last year.  Delinquencies were previously 113K – down to 95K.  [This is up from $60-80K in previous years.]
  • Landscaping: Had an ABQ company look at irrigation clocks to better understand system.  Filters were compacted from pond algae blooms. RU says pond is HOA resp. Really affects WR 4.  Pressure dropped to 20 psi – couldn’t run pop-ups.  Asked RU to boost to 35 – they refused.  Unexplained lack of water in mid-July turned out to be failed pump motor.  Repairs/shut-offs mean street-scapes not getting water; RU installing variable drives.  Water Buffalo planned for stressed trees in WR4 and spine park.  Chair Trujillo asked for money for add’l cleaning of filters.  Installing gravel at Panther Peak park.  B&F Committee approved.  Per resident, Heads-Up removed a tree at end of Chili Line – suggested replacing with xeric plants.
  • Safety Comm: recent bobcat sitings.
  • DRC: no issues.
  • Communications: saved $4K.  New newsletter format.  Donna Naes solicits articles from residents.  Defined “Ex-Officio”.  Committee of one is a committee.
  • Town Homes: new driveways.  Going to meet every other month.  Budget OK.  Pigeons still an issue.
  • Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive motion introduced by Dir. Thompson.  Heads-Up would drop off grocery bags at front doors – HOAMCO would pay for bags.  Concern over absent owners and potential crime.   North decided against because they didn’t want to set a precedent for other groups.  No second on motion – died.
  • Donna Naes application for Communications Committee was accepted.
  • Glen Smerage asked why people keep resigning from board.  Pres. Paiz said that people don’t understand time commitment and sometimes personalities don’t meld well; this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate more resignations.
  • Discussion about RV Blvd and NE/SE Connector – up to County and State.  Funding is an issue.
  • Annie McGovern asked to reconsider gravel at Panther Peak because of safety and liability issues.  Schools do not use gravel.  Also creates hot spot.

In summary, the good news is that the board, committee chairs, and HOAMCO are making progress on infrastructure and repairs.  The not-so-good news is the price tag and its impact on reserves.  Assessment increases are certainly in our future.

Another Board Resignation

Posted for Annie McGovern by Moderator:

Word on the street is that another Rancho Viejo South board member, this time Jim Bailey, has resigned from the board. No eblast has been sent by the RVS board or Community Manager, at least I have not received one, notifying residents of this event. This makes three this term.  When Eric Sanders resigned, the board appointed Carol Thompson, a direct slap in the face to residents who obviously voted otherwise during the election.  When Barbara Boyd resigned, no action was taken, even though Marcia Kaplan had the next highest votes in the election.  Why the double standard?  Am I correct that according to Roberts’ Rules of Order, though not mandated, the person with the highest number of votes in the previous election should be the next to fill a vacancy?  And does anyone know why Jim Bailey’s resignation is all so hush-hush? My understanding is that he resigned more than a week ago – and we’re sorry to see you go,  Jim.