( 06 - 17 - 2003 )

Remember, all names are changed to protect the innocent and guilty. The story is true! The telling is a fictional telling from three board members, who might have said this, had they been telling the truth from their 'slant'. 
By gosh, by golly, we just looked at your website about CAM operation. Here’s how we in our HOA handle our association, with the help of our CAM. This is how we keep order and maintain the beauty and homeowner value in our lovely South Florida neighborhood. We are three members of the board there. Our CAM’s website has a lot of the same management tasks we saw on your website, so CAMs must have pretty much the same understanding of management. There are only a few things that his website doesn’t advertise that yours does. Our CAM is a little more efficient, perhaps. We thought we’d share with you how he has helped us. Oh, by the way, he came up with the title “Our Neighborly Community.” Don’t you like it? We’d like to comment on some of the points on your website, though, that we don’t understand or think are a little overboard. We’ll just tell you our story.
The website advertises "straight line reserve" calculations. Huh? Oh, a reserve! We know what that is. That's the extra we charge over the operating expenses. But what is 'straight line calculation'? Why do you calculate anything? We just charge more than the operating expenses and keep it in the bank for a rainy day (or something a board member might want to do) -- we don't include that amount on the budget we give to homeowners.
We think 2 financial reports are wasteful and inefficient– a budget and a separate financial report accounting for the association balance is unnecessary and unimportant to those who aren’t involved in the day to day operations. Besides, that would tell homeowners how much money is in the bank. Don't you think folks would ask too many questions if you did that? They might get upset if they know how much money is in the kitty and ask for it back.
Notices for board meetings? We do that – we tell every board member and our friends. If we did anything else, who knows who might come. We do notice the annual meeting every year, and at least the three years before this year, we sent 2 notices out. The first told everyone that the homeowners could nominate themselves for a board position and the second one was sent a month before the election meeting and it ‘dispensed with elections’, and included a proxy for the meeting, to be used to meet the quorum. Hardly anybody ever showed up so we just canceled the annual meetings.
Parliamentary Procedure
What's parliamentary assistance? Isn't that something in England?
Provide timely information to association members
Provide information to owners as needed? Oh yeah, our CAM did that, too. Some people got upset about that, but we defended him, cause neighbors have a right to know what's going on. Our CAM was only looking out for the community's best interest. Our CAM sent out a lovely newsletter entitled "Our Neighborly Community." It was a full page letter to all 71 homeowners telling them that the Smiths were child abusers and liars. Our Cam explained how the Smiths were trying to bankrupt the association by insisting upon an expensive audit, as required by the bylaws. Well, the Smiths actually said as long as we changed the bylaws, a financial report conforming with state law would be sufficient. But the point is that they just complained complained complained. Who do they think they are, anyway, lawyers? Anyway, that doesn't matter. Our CAM handled it. He explained in "Our Neighborly Community" that we had better things to spend our money on, like beautifying the neighborhood. He even informed everybody how the new green Victorian mailbox that we are requiring everyone to get has improved homeowner value. He also told the homeowners that he had given the Smiths all the records as required by law, for 7 years, but the Smiths lied saying they had not got the financials and many other necessary documents. Some neighbors grumbled about the letter, because they just don't want to know what's going on -- apathy is terrible, don't you think? Others were glad we told them, so they know how concerned we are about the community and how we will let them know who the bad people are
The Official Records of the Association – Maintaining proper authority
Actually, we only have a few records, and some were mixed up with our CAM's former client's papers. It doesn't matter because nobody believes the Smiths, now, anyway. And anyone who does isn't welcome in our circle!! See, the Smiths' wrote our CAM a really nasty letter, asking to see the records of the association in 10 days, as required by some section or other. They outlined all this stuff they demanded to see, just to cause trouble. And then they tried to intimidate us or our CAM by mailing it certified mail. But our CAM handled it, and showed them a thing or two. He gave them a 2 hour appointment, at his convenience. The Smiths had the gall to write back AGAIN, asking for a different time because of Mrs. Smiths' doctor's appointment and school (you'd think at her age she'd be out of school for heavens sakes), although they did say that if another time wasn't possible they would find a way to be there. Our CAM didn't fall for that old trick! He wrote back - and mailed it certified mail, just like they did -- and told the Smiths they could not see the records until the 11th day, and he gave them 2 hours. He sure showed the Smiths who was boss!! Of course, the Smiths had to show up with some friend who wasn't even a member of the community! Our CAM simply sat in the extra chair himself, saying he didn't expect a third person. So that witch sat on the floor and took pictures of his office! Can you believe that? Our CAM had a box in his warehouse, with a few old papers, like the legal opinions, bank records, architectural designs, and title to the common area (a small park). Unfortunately, rats or something got into it and left droppings everywhere. Yich. Our CAM wisely knew the Smiths wouldn't want to dig through that! So instead he gave them a box with the original covenants, which had a lot less fecal matter than the other box. But the Smiths were so ungrateful, after we let them see the original documents! They complained again, that they couldn't have more time to copy all the documents! At the price our CAM charged for copies, you'd think they wouldn't want to!
Efficiency and Experience
Our CAM knew how to take care of troublemakers. He was also very efficient. He brought his own forms from the condo association and used them for our Homeowner's Association, which saved us a lot of time. It helped us too! We hated having to get homeowners together for annual elections. Our CAM showed us how we wouldn’t have to do that. We could just use condo meeting notices that are so confusing here that nobody offers to put in their name to run for the board. So we just dispensed with elections and everything has become so much easier the last few years. The Smiths complained about that too! They said homeowner law was different from condo law - isn't that silly? Our CAM fixed that, too. He called our attorney (whom he knew for many years) and told him the problem. They decided to hold a meeting and notify members of it.
The Attorney and CAM – Timely meetings to Clarify Misunderstandings 
Our CAM and attorney held this information meeting, and this time we invited everyone including the Smiths! We brought our attorney to assure the community that we were doing things properly. The Smiths' had stirred everyone up. It didn't matter that we didn't hold elections or annual meetings for three years. Our attorney had the official set of articles of incorporation which said the term of office for directors was 2 years. Nobody wanted to come to the meeting anyway, and nobody signed up to be a nominee so there were equal number of candidates as there were positions! Condo law is good enough for our community, too. Therefore, the board could indeed "roll over" until other directors were duly elected. Some people got real mad because the Smiths pointed out that nobody came to the meeting because our CAM had told the homeowners a month before the annual meeting that the Board had dispensed with elections. Our attorney calmly indulged this nonsense and said that the law said the board could roll over. And our CAM stated that he is a licensed CAM, and our attorney was right! The attorney and Nancy our treasurer explained the budget too and how that was a financial report—it had a rough ballpark figure of what we spent and what we might think we would spend the next year. We just lumped some extra in “miscellaneous” and “reserve”. (The next year we started all over with 0 balance – we did this every year, although nobody wanted to know that –the extra several thousand dollars each year just went into the treasury). That calmed most of the people. And that was the end of that. 
Amendments to the Articles – Term of Office & Proxies
Oh, well, there was that pain in the neck, Dick, who used to be a board member & he was a pain then. Dick is a retired geologist that just nitpicked all the time; he kept telling us we had to "read the governing documents." What do you expect from someone that plays with rocks? I don't know what the Smiths' did to pay him off, but he tried to cause trouble again, and he had been pretty quiet for several years now. He claimed the Smiths were right, and there were amendments to the Articles of Incorporation that the developer had filed, that changed the term of office to one year. And the jerk waved a bunch of papers around in the air! Well, our attorney handled that too, and repeated that he had the proper and official documents. But to show how patient he was, he suggested that Dick show him the "amendments" and he would verify whether they were accurate or not. Someone else started yelling and the subject was changed, so our attorney never got them. But, we are quite sure Dick made them up. Besides, F, one of our board members and friends, was an attorney! (Later, at the election all this ruckus forced us to have, our attorney used the original documents without the amendments and that silly state section or law, and told the Smiths and the other troublemakers that proxies couldn’t be used for voting. Condos don’t permit that, why should HOAs?) 
Professionalism and Humor and Board Expertise Help to Guide 
Our Board Vice President "F" (the former attorney) also said the term of Directors was two years, and he stopped all the quibbling when he said that we can't have multiple documents confusing people. Thank goodness for him. Our CAM, always helpful, thanked F and our attorney for their good work. Then, the husband of Nancy (our treasurer) helped out as well. He raised his voice above the racket and told the troublemakers off, saying they should shut up because they weren't even lawyers and after all, F and our lawyer give us all the advice we need. But then Mr. Smith had to show off. He pulled out his billfold and pulled out cards for current bar memberships for three different states, including Florida! Like that means anything. Well, Nancy’s husband is a doctor and real smart. He raised his voice even louder -- he had to shout to be heard -- and pointed out that Mr. Smith was just a "half-baked lawyer" and his wife was only a "lawyer-wanna-be". He called Dick a 'brain tumor on drugs.' A bit of humor always breaks the tension, and what a cute thing for a doctor to say! 
Clarifying & Calming – being patient with even disagreeable members
Finally everybody quieted down and F and OUR CAM suggested we end the meeting. Before everybody left, though, F said he wanted to point out that Dick committed a "CRIME" by videotaping the meeting without the permission of everyone in the room. So he called for a vote, and that witch Mrs. Smith, who isn't even a lawyer, had the gall to ask him to "cite the statute." She claimed that the homeowner statutes expressly permitted videotaping. She just doesn't show any respect for F, who is far more experienced than she will ever be. Well F decided it would be better not to cause a scene, so he smiled and let it go, showing how petty and wrong she is. Everyone knows F is mature and experienced-- he had been a criminal lawyer for 25 years – we think he might still be, but we are not sure! He is such a saint, as one of our friends called him. We are sure lucky here in our neighborly community. 
The CAM & Board President Counter Rumors
If only the Smiths would leave, and take Dick with them. As our board president said in the meeting, the Smiths just don't get it - they just can't follow the rules. He recounted for everyone again at the meeting how bad the Smiths are. The Smiths even mounted a smear campaign, when they told a neighbor that we should provide a financial report even though we sent a handwritten budget out every year with a ballpark figure of how much we need to spend! So what if we didn't have a balance sheet, or pay taxes on the money we have in the bank. We are nonprofit, after all. It doesn't matter how much we have on hand or what we keep it for, as long as nobody knows. We reveal our finances on "a need to know basis", and homeowners don't need to know - neither does the IRS. What was even more terrible than this nitpicking was when the Smiths maligned F (whom we had appointed director because he was so nice and he really wanted to help out). The Smiths told a neighbor F should not sign checks until we gave a full accounting! What nerve! The Smiths claimed F was subject to a disciplinary resignation from the Bar for embezzling over $200,000 from a client. They just make up these crazy stories. They have no way of knowing a person's private affairs like that, anyway. They are just lying and trying to make him look bad. Besides, isn't that libel? or is it slander? They claim truth is a defense, and discussing such a thing is ok and pertinent to a public concern, like our accounting and our homes. We know they are just lying and we point this out.
Reporting on a Need to Know Basis
All of this really started over the little kitty we have because F wisely suggested we keep the dues high so we can keep adding to our rainy day fund each year. Our CAM thought that was a fine idea. Then if we want to do something or sue someone, we won't have to make a special assessment. They are so smart - last time we tried to build tennis courts, our neighbors raised such a ruckus that we gave up. This way, we'll already have enough money and we won't have to tell anyone. But Mrs. Smith had to be nosy. Can you believe she pieced all the "budgets" together over several years and figured out we had all this? Mrs. Smith is an engineer, so she is nitpicking too, like that other nerd Dick. You'd think that that would be enough. But no, Mrs. Smith went back to lawschool, so she can cause trouble for a living. You would think she would act her age, and just be content to bake cookies and play with her grandson. We sure wish she would.
The Board and our CAM – Beautifying the Community
The Smiths still complained about the beautiful Victorian style mailbox we encouraged homeowners to buy to improve the value of their homes. The Spanish style of architecture of the community isn't uniform enough - everyone had different types of mailboxes and none of the houses looked exactly alike. We're not sure what the covenants say because our CAM hasn't gotten around to reading them yet. We haven't done any cost-benefit analysis as our old lawyer suggested. That's silly. We saw a condo complex that had the same mailboxes - if they can do it, we can too. We know our efforts have greatly increased the value of our homes here in the South Florida community on the water. And the mailbox that Sally, our board secretary, bought cost $400 - of course it will increase homeowner value. We agreed with her that everyone should get one. Besides, some uniformity will improve things here. We tried to convince our neighbors but nobody cared! So we figured we would just go after them one at a time. We did a survey of whose mailboxes looked bad, and we wrote letters saying they had to change to this one.
Our CAM helped us find a better Attorney
Our old attorney probably would have said something negative about these efforts to beautify the community. He had the nerve to tell us he didn't think we should use Association money to help our Board President in the problem with his house. That old attorney was too narrow minded to realize that if our president's house increases in value, so will everyone else's! A rising tide lifts all boats! Besides, why shouldn't the board have a few perks? This is such a thankless job, after all. But our CAM came to the rescue. He suggested we fire that lawyer and get one who would do what we wanted. Our CAM even found him for us! Our CAM had known him for many years, and together they helped other communities. 
Uniformity and Exterior Maintenance – CAM enforcement of Board Rules
Of course, the Smiths refused to get this mailbox. Well, a lot of people don't have it but we were going to get to them. We already forced one homeowner to buy it, when we sued him. He settled, and so he took his stupid mailbox and moved. We won and it only cost us $1000. Our CAM told the Smiths they had to purchase the green mailbox --conveniently, theirs had been vandalized repeatedly so we could tell them it looked bad. They balked again and put up a cheap home depot thing. So our CAM told them they had to submit a design. They had the gall to submit a design they knew we wouldn't approve! We don't approve any mailbox other than the green one. Everyone knows that. So our CAM just stuck their 'design' in his box and didn't dignify the Smiths' with an answer. The only mistake our CAM made was not just throwing it away. But so what? We fixed the Smiths – nobody believes them anyway, after our letter informing the neighbors of what bad people they are. And so we had our attorney send the Smiths' a letter threatening to sue. Our lawyer told them they had to pay $90 for sending them the letter, and they had to get “a” board approved mailbox. We don't quite understand why he didn't just say "the" mailbox, but we all knew what he meant. Certainly the Smiths did.
Fining as a Means of Enforcement
We sure wish our CAM had just thrown their design away, because that other pest Dick found it. But now we made sure nobody believes Dick either. Our CAM only made that mistake because he was distracted, but our CAM didn’t give up – he knew how to fix the Smiths. He wrote a letter to all the community, again notifying them of a meeting. (We wouldn't make this a habit, of course, but it was important people showed up at these two). We even mailed an agenda out that included the institution of fines. It will take at least $20,000 to enforce our covenants and get people to comply with the "mailbox rule”. Fines are one way of raising money and also adding to the lawsuit fund. Unfortunately, the Smiths caused trouble again.
The Frivolous Lawsuit
The Smiths showed up, as usual. We had to start the meeting late, though, because our new attorney called us in for a small conference, delaying it. He had just been served that afternoon with a lawsuit by the Smiths! Those cretins sued US. Can you believe it? Our VP the former attorney told everyone that the budget will be higher because of such frivolous lawsuits. We added $10,000 to the operating budget for legal expenses and mailed out that budget to everybody. They really don’t like the Smiths now.
The Election – Our CAM and our ATTORNEY help
We knew an election had to take place, with this stupid lawsuit. So our attorney told everyone at the “election” that it was only held because of a “silly statute” that required a homeowner in an HOA to be allowed to nominate himself at a meeting. Sighing deeply, he explained that we all had to follow form over substance, because some people are so petty, even though it was not necessary and nobody wanted to nominate themselves at the election anyway. Our CAM and our Attorney also pointed out that the only ballots that would be allowed are those mailed in to the CAM, or personally voted at the meeting by those who were present. Proxies are not allowed for voting.

Our Attorney had the "official" governing docs, as you recall, and those don’t talk about proxies (only the developer's amendments add that proxies are allowed for voting), so the homeowner’s statute requiring they be allowed was not applicable because our original governing docs were silent. Our Attorney is so clever! Everybody started shouting, and our friends yelled that the Smiths were cheating anyway because THEIR proxies (signed by other homeowners) had only 7 names on it, one for each board member, and not the names of all the candidates (11). It was biased. OUR CAM shook his head sadly. He said he wasn’t devious like the Smiths who resorted to low tactics of using proxies for absentee votes. Unfortunately, some other neighbor stood up and calmly said the Smiths were correct. Some people said that man was a successful lawyer too, with over twenty or twenty-five years experience. With him and Mr. Smith, OUR CAM and lawyer finally decided it would be less trouble to allow a vote and to allow the proxies. 

The New Board
We were able to keep 3 of our loyal comrades on the board. Fortunately we were able to convince one of the new members that we really only wanted to help the neighbors. When only our friends showed up – homeowners still don’t much care to go to silly meetings – at least that one new member realized homeowners want the same thing. To beautify our community. The new member realized that the Smiths have "an agenda" and are not to be trusted. Unfortunately, we still haven’t been able to agree on a budget or assessments. But we’ll just keep the kitty we already have in the bank, and use the money we charged homeowners without an assessment. Sadly, we know if we force those 12 or 13 who didn’t pay, they will just argue the assessment was not legal. We think the Attorney might not want us to do that, with pending litigation. And we don’t have any rules, either, because nobody has decided what to enforce or not. Nobody can agree.
Our Neighborly Community
We will win in the end, we are sure of it. Our neighborly community will retain its beauty and its charm.