20/20 To Air Story on Homeowner Associations
CAI furious ? See Press release!
COMMENT !
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Producers announce they expect to air it on national TV on Friday, April 19, 2002
April 17, 2002
By AHRC News Services

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The producers of 20/20 informed AHRC that they expect to air a story on foreclosures in homeowner associations on April 19, 2002. 

20/20 airs on Fridays at 10p.m. Eastern and Pacific time. 

The Texas homeowner coalition led the movement to bring the the foreclosure racket to the attention of the national media after an 82 year old widow, Mrs. Blevins, was evicted from her home by Community Associations Institute (CAI ) lawyers for alleged nonpayment of $800 in assessment dues. Her home was fully paid for. 

The story caused a national outrage and attorney Marian Rosen took on the case. Ms. Rosen eventually prevailed, but Mrs. Blevins had to live with friends for a year. 

CHUBB Insurance , the Directors & Officers(D&O) insurance carrier for the association, paid to repurchase the home and settled for $300,000 with Mrs. Blevins

There has been a class action suit filed against the same association for collecting high dues in violation of the CCRs. Homeowners at the association report that the annual insurance premiums for D&O for the association has since gone up from $2000 to $17,000. 

CHUBB, who had a monopoly in the D&O homeowner insurance marketplace, was selling the policies through CAI, the lawsuit industry lobby group, - the same group of lawyers that collects the legal fees for defending an association when a homeowner sues it. CHUBB has now stopped writing and marketing the D&O policies through CAI. 

20/20 urges you to send questions or comments about this 20/20 broadcast or Ideas for issues or stories youd like 20/20 to explore. 

You will find the form for commucicating with 20/20 on abc's website at: 

Email 20/20 Do you have questions or comments about a recent 20/20 broadcast? Ideas for issues or stories youd like us to explore? 


READ the press release CAI sent out in response to this message :
Subj:ABC News"20/20"Segment Focusing on Community Associations to Air on Friday, April 19, 2002
Date:    4/17/02 11:46:11 AM US Mountain Standard Time    
From:    [email protected] (Community Associations Institute) 
April 16, 2002 

Dear CAI Member: 

On Friday, April 19th, the ABC News program "20/20" has scheduled a segment on community associations. The program airs at 10 p.m. EDT on ABC. While we do not have information on the specific content of the segment, we suspect that the story will cast community associations in an unfavorable light, and may highlight stories regarding community associations and foreclosure - in particular, a Houston case - that have recently received negative media attention. 

(Please note: It is always possible that TV news shows may bump a scheduled segment at the last minute, and reschedule it to air at a later date, if a more urgent news story develops closer to air time.) 

CAI became aware that 20/20 might be working on a story on community associations in June 2001. At that time, we called the 20/20 executive producer, who would not return our calls. We then sent a package, including information and statistics, and four key CAI publications: 

* The Community Associations Factbook 

* Community First! Emerging Visions Reshaping America's Condominium and Homeowner Associations 

* Be Reasonable! How Community Associations Can Enforce Rules Without Antagonizing Residents, Going to Court or Starting World War III 

* National Survey of Homeowner Satisfaction 

We followed up repeatedly with phone calls to the executive producer. Again in August, when a producer, Bonnie Van Guilder, was identified as being assigned to the 20/20 story, we sent a similar letter and information package, again offering CAI as a resource, and identifying Barbara Byrd Keenan, CAE, as well as other CAI representatives, as experts for interview or comment. 

The producer said she appreciated our information and would call on us if needed. We made periodic phone calls to again offer our expertise, and we were politely refused. In December, we were contacted by the producer's assistant, who wanted to confirm some statistics in our Factbook. We contacted the producer again, and indicated that we would like to offer an expert to discuss any issues, and they said they were aware of our availability and would contact us if necessary. 

Most recently, we contacted the producer numerous times since February to again offer our expertise, and to confirm the story date, but were informed that ABC did not need any further information from CAI. In addition, this week CAI instructed its attorney to contact the 20/20 producer and indicate our strong displeasure with the fact that the national organization representing community associations had not been allowed to participate in a story that talks about our industry. He also requested an opportunity for CAI to present our viewpoint as part of the story. 

At this point, CAI has made every reasonable effort to make ourselves available to 20/20 for its story, and for whatever reason, the show has clearly not been interested in our perspective for any on-camera comments. 

We cannot control what tabloid-style newsmagazine programs such as 20/20 choose to say about our industry, and while we do not know for certain what spin 20/20 will put on the story, it's likely to be a negative portrayal. 

To that end, CAI will, on the morning of Friday April 19th, proactively issue the attached press release, via PR Newswire, where it will go out to more than 2,000 media outlets, wire services, TV and radio stations, and newsrooms around the nation. We don't address the 20/20 situation specifically; rather, we focus on the growth and popularity of association-managed communities - as well as media attention - in order to present a more positive message, in contrast to what we expect the 20/20 focus will be.

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COMMENTS
By Jan Bergemann
This CAI press release is just another typical proof of their arrogance. In their opinion nothing can be right without their input? They even tried to push their opinion on a news magazine with the help of an attorney?
When are they finally getting used to the fact that they are just an unbeloved trade organization, who many homeowners consider the enemy?
In my opinion they have to get used to it that correct information comes from other sources as well.
They have obviously fed media sources long enough with false or twisted information and it took the media even longer to find that out. Please remember that CAI members tried to call the Blevin's foreclosure an isolated incident. Just one example of many!
If I would be the producer of such a show I would definitely not getting my information from a source, which I know is absolutely biased and loves to feed the media false info. 
I can understand their frustration since they are used to get their way since years. It's about time it ends!
ABC and 20/20 seem to understand that their main viewers are homeowners, not industry partisans!

I'm definitely looking forward to see the show! Hopefully CAI makes some real good press releases regarding this show, will be great advertising!
I love it!


Our friend Fred from CA added :
This has to be some of the dumbest ass public relations I've ever witnessed, e.g. siccing the lawyers on the media while they are working on a story.  What a wonderful way to cultivate a favorable impression with the media, NOT!  What's next?  A Nixon administration Pentagon Papers-like effort to get a restraining order on the broadcast of the story?  (Wouldn't surprise me if this is what was implied or threatened by the CAI attorney in the phone call to ABC).