Tag Archives: Election

REMINDER—ANNUAL MEETING, TUESDAY NOV. 15th 6 p.m.

Please attend the annual meeting next Tuesday. If you cannot be there, please vote by filling out the blue proxy form in your annual meeting packet. If you do not assign an individual to be your proxy, your form will be used only for establishing a quorum and your vote will not count. Remember to sign the form and give it to the person you have assigned as your proxy or send it to the HOA office.

You must be in good standing (not in arrears on your assessment) to be able to vote.

 

Why I’m A Candidate for the HOA Board

First, I would like to thank the residents who turned out for the Candidate Forum last Saturday. Some very thoughtful questions were asked. I also want to reach out to residents who did not attend.

I am running because we currently have a Board that is totally dysfunctional. Between December 2015 and September 2016, three of the seven Board members resigned. The Board has spent at least $6,000 of our money on legal fees related to internal disputes among Board members. The HOA attorney is representing some Board members against others. That is not what our legal budget was meant for.

Residents of RVS deserve better. You deserve rational, sane individuals who commit to representing your best interests. My objective is to have an honest, competent Board that is receptive to resident input.

Several residents have told me that they don’t get involved in politics and therefore are not interested in the activities of the HOA or voting for Board members. This isn’t about politics; it’s about money. Your money.

Your HOA Board gets to spend the money from your assessments and if you are not interested in how they spend it, there is opportunity for abuse — like the $6,000 mentioned above. Our assessments are increasing in 2017, mainly because of the County implementing a curbside recycling program. We should be looking for ways to cut costs to offset the increase, not wasting money.

For the third year in a row I have asked the Board to furnish residents with year-to-date expenditures for 2016 in the Annual Meeting packet, not just the budget for 2017. For the third year in a row they have not complied although they said would do so. Despite giving lip service to transparency, members of the current Board do not want residents to receive certain information, including how your money is spent. I want to know why. Don’t you?

Apathy is the greatest threat to an honest and accountable Board of Directors.  If residents show no interest in how the Board operates and how it spends your money, the Board can make decisions not in your best interest and waste your money as well.

We’ve had too much discord in our community over the past three years; we need Board members who can create a more harmonious environment to better serve the people who live here. I can help accomplish that.

It would be helpful if all candidates for the Board would post their views on the issues facing RVS on this blog. And I urge all residents to vote, either in person at the Annual Meeting on November 15, or by appointing a proxy.

 

 

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.

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.

The Board’s Latest Antics

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, jbailey777@mac.com before Tuesday.

Upcoming Election — Nominating Committee

Our Bylaws require that there be a Nominating Committee to oversee elections. This has usually been ignored. Finally, this year it appears that such a committee will be formed. However, rather than issuing a public request for volunteers, the Board — which makes the appointments — is doing this in private and hand-picking members.

The Board has made several pronouncements about being transparent, yet it continues to operate in secret. The appointments are being made at tomorrow’s Board meeting. If you can, please attend this meeting at 1 p.m. at the fire station. If you object to how this is being handled, please sign up to speak about item 3 on the agenda.

The Upcoming Election

Most RVS residents have received a “Notice of Interest”  from the community manager via e-mail for Board positions in the upcoming election. There are five positions up for election; individuals appointed in the last month occupy two of these. Overall, four of the seven Board positions are held by persons who were appointed, although two have successfully run for re-election.

In my opinion, Rancho Viejo South residents would be best-served if the Board were comprised of people who decide on their own that they would like to represent  their community. When Board vacancies exist, the Board president handpicks replacements. A better approach would be to issue a public notice asking for volunteers to serve out terms.

Apathy and indifference are problems in most HOAs. I encourage individuals who care about Rancho Viejo South to consider running for office and fill out the Notice of Interest that was included with the e-mail from the community manager. The Board meets quarterly so the time commitment is not that great. There are a number of issues facing us that involve substantial financial commitments. We need honest, fair individuals who care about the best interests of residents.

The Election Fix — Who Cast the Most Proxy Votes in the Board Election?

Someone who isn’t an owner or a resident of Rancho Viejo South. The Community Manager.

How to Fix an Election

It’s really simple. You allow the person who is supposed to be acting in a neutral capacity — collecting the proxies, reviewing the proxies for accuracy, and making sure there are enough proxies for a quorum — to vote the proxies. That’s what happened on Tuesday night. In all previous elections, designated proxies could only be RVS homeowners in good standing.

When an objection was made at the meeting about the community manager being allowed to vote proxies, Association Attorney Lynn Krupnik stated that anyone could be designated as a proxy; the person did not have to be an owner.  Anyone off the street could walk in and attend our meeting and vote on behalf of an owner. That’s interesting because the ballot form requires an address or lot number of an owner. What address did Vince Montoya write in?

What’s wrong with letting non-owners vote? Plenty. RVS owners who are in arrears in paying their assessments are not allowed to vote. Individuals who have no ownership interest do not pay assessments. Let’s say an owner in good standing designates as his proxy (perhaps unknowingly) an owner who is in arrears on his assessment. According to attorney Krupnik’s opinion, since anyone can be a proxy, that person who cannot vote for his own unit, can vote as a proxy for someone else. The attorney’s opinion severs the relationship between ownership/payment of assessments and voting rights. That’s a very bad precedent.

Last year the Board decided to hire neutral ballot counters because they did not believe residents could be trusted to honestly count ballots. Proxy ballots are mailed to HOAMCO; the address is the office of the Community Manager. As the recipient of the proxies, the management company is supposed to act in an unbiased and neutral manner. The Bylaws (Section 2.8) actually require that proxies be mailed to the Association Secretary, who is an owner. Again, this is a blatant disregard for the Bylaws. As a neutral third-party, the community manager’s responsibility is to open the proxies, ensure there are an adequate number to attain a quorum, and ensure that the owners who submit proxies are in good standing.

There is no way the person who is performing these administrative tasks as an employee of HOAMCO should be voting. Mr. Montoya, via his inappropriate e-mail blasts, had made clear his preferences for the Board. Allowing him to cast ballots makes a mockery of the supposed neutral and fair voting process. Mr. Montoya has been rewarded for his unethical behavior with a $9,000 raise starting in January.

The proxies that were submitted without a designated person to vote the proxy were supposed to be used for quorum purposes only. A few of us were watching how the proxies were being handled at the registration desk. There was a pile set aside and we asked the ballot counters if these were the “quorum only” proxies. They said yes.  During the committee report part of the meeting Mr. Montoya brought several proxies/ballots to Jim Kerr, the Secretary, who wrote on them. This was in full view of all attendees.

Then Mr. Montoya went outside to where the ballot counters were. I was outside and saw him with a stack of about 15 stapled yellow proxies and blue ballots, signing the ballots as quickly as he could and handing them to the ballot counters next to him. (See the picture in ELECTION FRAUD.) Could he have put his name in as the designated proxy on the “quorum only” proxies and then submitted a ballot? Could Mr. Kerr have written his name in as the designated proxy on the “quorum only” proxies?  Did the quorum only pile make its way into the counted ballot pile?

Last year it was suspected that something similar occurred and a resident asked to see the paper proxies and ballots, and was refused by former President Thompson and Community Manager Montoya (see Oct 8th comment). I presume the same thing will happen this year.

The Board attorney and HOAMCO, who should be neutral and adhere to professional standards and ethics, willingly participate in this charade. The current Board can serve for life if we let this continue.

Watch this video to see what can happen when a few people have absolute control. The Board in the video approves expenditures after the fact. We already have that. The Board uses intimidation tactics. We have that, too.

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

In January 2015 our Board will be voting to possibly change Board meetings to quarterly. That would mean that minutes and financials would not be posted for three months. That’s even less transparency than we have now.

Is this the future you want for Ranch Viejo South?

REMINDER: ANNUAL MEETING – TUESDAY NIGHT, NOV. 18TH

Many people think the meeting is tonight, Monday. It is Tuesday night, Nov. 18th — registration starts at 5:30 p.m. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Remember, if you are not going to the meeting and are submitting a proxy, your vote will not count unless you designate someone to vote on your behalf. That person’s name should be written in on page one of the proxy form under “Designated Proxy.” As it is too late to mail in the form, find someone who is going to the meeting and give them your form.

If you want to go to the meeting and need a ride, let us know via a comment here.

 

 

 

Unethical Behavior by our HOA Manager

Our HOA community manager Vince Montoya continually acts in an unprofessional manner by interjecting himself into Board elections and misusing the HOA e-mail list.

On October 30, the four Board candidates who attended the Candidate Forum received the following e-mail from him.

October 30, 2014

Vince Montoya <VMontoya@hoamco.com>

To: Vince Montoya <VMontoya@hoamco.com>

Cc: Marcia Kaplan <marcia.kaplan@q.com>, David Pfeifer <djpfeiferrvsca@gmail.com>, Madelene deRollo <mderollo@yahoo.com>, Teri Buhl <scoobagal@gmail.com>

Board Candidate Question

Dear Board Candidates,

The Communications Committee on behalf of concerned residents have requested the candidates to responded to questions they felt relevant to the upcoming election. The questions are listed below and the candidates responses will be distributed to the community.  Responses are requested back by 2 PM, Tuesday, November 4th.

Thank you for your interest in the community.

  1. Homeowners are often unclear on the governance and policy making roles and responsibilities of the HOA Board vs. those of the property management company. Share your perception of the roles of a volunteer HOA Board as part of governance vs. the management responsibilities of a professional community manager provided by the property management company.
  1. The maintenance and upkeep of our community common areas and infrastructure such as parks, walking trails and roads are paid for by homeowner assessments.  Under the guidance of current HOA Board President Carol Thompson increases to these assessments are no longer automatic. What is your philosophy regarding homeowner assessment: do you favor regular annual increases; need based increases or cutting services to maintain current assessments. Please explain your philosophy.  What is your philosophy regarding homeowner assessment: do you favor regular annual increases; need based increases or cutting services to maintain current assessments. Please explain your philosophy.
  1. RVS offers its residents common area maintenance and a variety of related amenities such as free doggie bags and a shade structure near the our icon windmill, and a newsletter, which advertising covers part of the costs of publishing.   Amenities are paid for by the homeowner assessments the same as care for the commons. Do you feel that amenities add value to the community and if so why.

It appeared that the other four candidates were not sent these questions. When I questioned Mr. Montoya about this, he said those four were sent blind carbon copies. When I objected he said he would send the message out to all candidates with a CC. I also asked why the Communications Committee did not send out this message itself.

His response was, ” All correspondence from the Committees should go through the manager.” Unlike me, Mr. Montoya sees no irony in the fact that the Communications Committee is not allowed to communicate directly with residents. According to our HOA charter, committee members are allowed to communicate independently of the management company.

Question 2 is hardly objective. In nice bold letters, it says Carol Thompson has prevented dues increases. I have lived here for five years and I do not believe increases were ever automatic. Some of us have asked previous Board members about this claim and automatic increases have never been the case.

Ms. Thompson is running on this one trick pony platform – no dues increase. That is not always a good thing, and in this case, can be misleading.

How do we know the HOA does not need a dues increase?

A few facts:

  • Despite promising to do so at the September Board meeting, Carol Thompson did not include the 2014 year-to-date expenditures in the annual meeting packet. There are several categories that are very much over budget. She does not want residents to know that.
  • With persuasion from some residents, the Board commissioned its first audit in three years. It was supposed to be ready at the beginning of October. It is still not done. When Madelene DeRollo, a candidate for the Board, called the firm doing the audit, she was told it was delayed because the firm was waiting for information from Vince Montoya. It appears to me that the audit results are being held up so results are not available until after the voting and the annual meeting. The same is true for the reserve study that was also commissioned – delayed beyond the original delivery date. If that study shows that our reserves are underfunded, the assertion that our dues not being increased is a wonderful thing suddenly does not look so great. We have aging infrastructure here in RVS, combined with shoddy work by the developer’s chosen contractors. We need adequate reserves.
  • Thompson’s claim that assessments have not increased during her tenure is incorrect. Town home assessments have increased substantially to cover roof repairs. This is normally an expenditure that is covered by reserves, but the reserves were not adequate.

When Univest took over Rancho Viejo from bankrupt Suncor, the original developer, there were outstanding issues over shoddy work by the developer’s chosen contractors. To settle these claims Univest and RVS arrived at a settlement, with Univest giving RVS $150,000. All of this money should have gone into the reserve account. Instead, $50,000 was allocated to operating expenses.

And that is how the Board can overspend the budget and not have to raise assessments. They are using that cushion. It has nothing to do with prudent financial management. That was a one-time payment. We can’t go on forever overspending budgets and pretending the HOA is being run in a fiscally sound manner.

And by the way, once those questions were sent to the entire list of candidates, Mr. Montoya came back and said.

” Dear Board Candidates,

I have attempted to reach all candidates with this request from the Communications Committee but due to varying reasons I was unable to do so in a timely fashion. Therefore, in order to remain fair to all candidates this request has be withdrawn.”

I don’t buy that. I think the questions were only for the four candidates who attended the Candidate Forum.

Mr. Montoya acts in an entirely unprofessional manner by endorsing candidates. The HOA manager should be neutral. Previous complaints to Justin Scott, HOAMCO president, have gone unanswered. Instead he says he does what the majority of the Board tells him to do. This occurs even when those Board members who are running for office tell the manager to send out e-mail blasts that support their own candidacies. That is totally unethical.

If you find this disturbing, contact Justin Scott at justin@hoamco.com and voice your displeasure.

Annual Board Meeting Agenda —A Closer Look

At the annual meeting, our HOA Board intends to continue its practice of excluding resident input into HOA governance. We are going to be spoken to, not listened to, like children who should be seen but not heard. Look at the agenda. Item 4 lists two guest speakers in a 15-minute period. Lynn Krupnik will be paid her full hourly rate of $225 for the 7-10 minutes she will speak, according to Carol Thompson.

Usually at least 60 residents attend the annual meeting. We will have a paltry 10 minutes to ask questions of Ms. Krupnik and Justin Scott, president of HOAMCO. Since Mr. Scott never responds to residents who contact him by phone or e-mail, there may be many questions for him. And let’s make sure that Ms. Krupnik earns her full hourly rate.

At the last Board meeting in September, president Carol Thompson promised to provide a 2014 year-to-date budget/expenditure analysis in the Board packet. It is not there. Only the 2015 budget is included. A budget is just a plan. What is more important are the expenditures and whether there are categories that are over budget. Those who attended our last community meeting were shown the categories that were heavily overspent, the most notable being the legal expenditures. I am certain that the reason that the expenditures are not included is that the current Board does not want residents to see those figures.

CONTACT CAROL THOMPSON carolath@msn.com AND DEMAND THAT THE BOARD MAIL OUT THE 2014 YEAR-TO-DATE EXPENDITURES TO ALL RESIDENTS AS PROMISED.

At the end of the meeting, residents are allocated 10 minutes for comments and questions. That is a ridiculously inadequate and insulting amount of time.

RESIDENTS: YOU ARE THE HOA. THIS IS YOUR ANNUAL MEETING. DON’T LET THE CURRENT BOARD TELL YOU THAT YOU SHOULD BE SEEN BUT NOT HEARD.

A sheriff’s department representative will be present at the meeting. You are paying for his presence. The Board is doing this to intimidate us. Don’t let that happen. If you have questions that don’t fit into the 10-minute allotment, stand up and demand that your question be answered. Support other residents who also want to ask questions. Be polite and non-threatening but assert your right to have your questions answered. This is your meeting and your Board is answerable to you.

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?