Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two conversations about constitutional rights

We have two different conversations about constitutional law. One is this hyper-technical purely legal analysis you see from lawyers and judges. The other is what really happens. So in this case, hooray, there are limits on the length of traffic stops, according to the USSC. But the other conversation says that if you get assertive about your constitutional rights in a real traffic stop, they won't let you go. Instead, you might get beaten, tazed, or shot.  The cop will likely face no consequences, just by claiming you resisted, or posed a "threat," or "he reached for his waistband." None of it needs to be true because a "reasonable mistake" is good enough. So, what good are rights if cops don't respect them and get away with violating them, day in and day out? The technological fix being proposed is video--dash cams and body cameras--and that may help, but the overriding problem is that police are drunk with power in this country. They can get away with almost anything and they know it. The can manipulate the on-the-scene situation, they investigate themselves, they have the union and prosecutors and most judges on  their side, and they are professional witnesses. Until that power situation changes, I think these USSC pronouncements are only meaningful in a small number of cases that get fully litigated. For thousands of day to day interactions between citizens and police, these "big decisions" are largely irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

House Republicans want to do away with consumer protections for mobile home buyers

I just listened to (Vice) Presidential candidate Marco Rubio make the argument that Big Government regulation is the reason ordinary people are getting screwed by banks. If you can believe that, you can believe the Republicans have your best interests in mind, mobile home owners:

"The House will vote Tuesday to repeal consumer protections for low-income borrowers in rural America who have seen the promise of affordable housing turned into a financial sinkhole by a mobile home industry that makes pre-manufactured houses far more expensive to buy than they need to be.
The bill is part of the GOP majority’s campaign to chisel away at specific pieces of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that became law in 2010 but which left many details to be filled in later by regulators. In this case, it was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that did that filling. After long study of both publicly-available data and proprietary information from the industry itself, the CFPB began enforcing new consumer protections for people who borrow money for a manufactured home. When Rep. Stephen Fincher’s bill to roll back those regulations passes on Tuesday, the rules will have been in force for barely 15 months. The mobile home financing market is an esoteric landscape for a battle between consumer advocates, regulators, and politicians. Compared to the American Dream trappings that come with traditional homeownership, families in mobile homes don’t have much cultural cache."

Monday, April 13, 2015

HOA oversight bills die in Florida

"Homeowners hoping for more state oversight of the association boards that rule their communities are out of luck this year as legislation to increase scrutiny of HOAs died for lack of support in Tallahassee.  It’s the second year in a row that proposals to give the Department of Business and Professional Regulation power to investigate complaints against homeowners associations and create educational programs for HOA board members failed to even make it to a single committee hearing."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Utah Homeowner Asked To Remove US Navy Flag From Home

WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Utah Homeowner Asked To Remove US Navy Flag From Home: (KUTV) A homeowners' association in Lehi is facing backlash online after sending a letter to a resident and telling her to remove a U.S. Navy flag displayed in her front yard.

Lucia Sandoval says she put the flag up to remember her husband, who is currently deployed with the U.S Navy. But shortly after the flag went up, she received a notice stating it was out of conformity with neighborhood standards.

"In a recent review of the community, it was brought to our attention that you may not be aware of one or more of the rules for the community," the letter from the HOA reads. "Your front yard had a flag displayed not in accordance with the accepted standards. Please remove the flag ASAP."

In the letter, the HOA cites community guidelines, which read, "Flags and flagpoles shall be uniformly placed and consistent in size and shape and shall not interfere with on site utilities."

Sandoval says she didn't understand how her flag violated any of those policies and is refusing to take it down.


Another flag flap, this one in the Utah sector of Privatopia. Film at 10 on WTVC Channel 9.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The town fascism built

"Nestled in eastern Long Island is a sleepy little town called Yaphank where the streets have cozy names like Oak and Park, names that hide a dark past: they once bore signs like Hitler and Goebbels Streets.Yaphank, in the 1930s, appeared as a haven for Americans--most of them of German heritage--who sympathized with the causes of the Third Reich.

In fact, it was largely founded as a Nazi camp, one of several scattered across the U.S., where the children in the German American Bund (AKA American Nazis) could fish, swim, hunt and learn about things like eugenics."

Read more: 
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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Robert Meisner Says Condo/Homeowners Associations Beware: The Michigan Legislature Has Dealt You a Severe Blow

I don't usually reproduce press releases, but I think in this case it bears repeating. I will be looking into the legislation in question, but for now, here is the word from attorney Robert Meisner:
BINGHAM FARMS, Mich.March 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert Meisner, founder of The Meisner Law Group, PC, and nationally recognized as one of the premier community association lawyers in the country, is issuing an alert to anyone living in or thinking about buying a home in a condominium, homeowners association, or a cooperative. In a lame duck session this past December, the Michigan Legislature quietly made sweeping changes to the Michigan Nonprofit Act.
"Here's the hitch," says Meisner. "Every condo, homeowners/cooperative association is a nonprofit corporation, so the new laws apply to them. Among the things these homeowners need to know is that their boards of directors, officers, and others may already be virtually immune from liability and accountability to the association, even for gross negligence and certain intentional acts."
Meisner says that he is also concerned that the changes in the law take away much of the traditional democratic participation of the members of non-profits and make it easier for entrenched directors to remain in office. He says this allows directors to be elected without a meeting, eliminating open debate, passing matters at membership meetings without prior notice and even holding membership meetings without notice to the members. The law even allows the board to turn over complete control of the association to non-members who have no stake in the community.
"It is not just community associations that are affected," Meisner says. "The amendments have the potential to make non-profits of all kinds the tools of fraud and profit for the unscrupulous. I understand that the Michigan Legislature was trying to make the operations of non-profits more streamlined and efficient, but it seems that this legislation was rushed through without careful thought and analysis and without any input from those most affected."
Meisner is advocating that the legislature either modify or revoke the new legislation.
A nationally respected community association law specialist for over 40 years, and adjunct professor of community association law, Meisner has authored numerous legal articles, pamphlets and two books: Condo Living 1 and 2: Authoritative Guides to Buying, Selling, and Operating a Condominium.
For more information on the potential pitfalls of this new legislation, contact Robert Meisner at 248.644.4433 or

update:  and here is another attorney's summary of the changes.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

HOA wins--developer has to pay the electric bill

"An East Naples homeowners association has won its legal battle after a judge agreed Glen Eagle Golf & Country Club didn’t pay their electric bills, leaving 105 homes without streetlights for five weeks after FPL flipped the switch.

Collier Circuit Judge Hugh Hayes ruled that Glen Eagle, the development’s master association, must pay Lago Villaggio Homeowners Association $18,000, with 4.75 percent interest from March 18, 2014, and reimburse the HOA for its lawyer’s fees."

Man vows to take HOA to court over demolition demands |

Man vows to take HOA to court over demolition demands |