Monday, December 31, 2012

The Death of the American Shopping Mall - Jobs & Economy - The Atlantic Cities

The Death of the American Shopping Mall - Jobs & Economy - The Atlantic Cities:
"I believe we’re seeing clear signs that the e-commerce revolution is seriously impacting commercial real estate. Online retailers are relentlessly gaining share in many retail categories, and offline players are fighting for progressively smaller pieces of the retail pie. A number of physical retailers have already succumbed to online competition including Circuit City, Borders, CompUSA, Tower Records and Blockbuster, and many others are showing signs of serious economic distress. These mall and shopping center stalwarts are closing stores by the thousands, and there are few large physical chains opening stores to take their place. Yet the quantity of commercial real estate targeting retail continues to grow, albeit slowly. Rapidly declining demand for real estate amid growing supply is a recipe for financial disaster."
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Borders wiped out independent book stores, then got wiped out by Amazon. Shopping malls wiped out Main Street and now the malls are in the crosshairs of e-commerce.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brian Collister’s Blog: Ousted HOA president demands millions | WOAI: San Antonio News

Brian Collister’s Blog: Ousted HOA president demands millions | WOAI: San Antonio News
She's back. And you have to hand it to Lisa Pfeiffer, if nothing else, she is persistent. The former president of the Ventura Homeowners association and other former board members have filed a claim against the HOA's insurance for more than $4,000,000 dollars. Pfeiffer was forced to resign last November after I reported she had closed all board meetings, spent more than $100,000 to sue several homeowners and then rigged her own re-election. In the insurance claim Pfeiffer and her board cronies claim they were discirminated against, harassed and unfairly thrown out of office.
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Wow. The video is quite a treat.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oxford graduate quit mainstream society to live a hobbit-style existence in mud hut in the Welsh hills | Mail Online

Oxford graduate quit mainstream society to live a hobbit-style existence in mud hut in the Welsh hills | Mail Online

"Her daily chores involve tending to her vegetable plot and collecting fruit, looking after her three goats, seven chickens and two horses and chopping firewood. She gets her drinking water from a nearby stream and only rarely ventures to the shops for treats like rice and chocolate."
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Nice digs.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

URI leader defends prof's NRA remark as protected speech | First Amendment Center – news, commentary, analysis on free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition

URI leader defends prof's NRA remark as protected speech | First Amendment Center – news, commentary, analysis on free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition:
The president of the University of Rhode Island has issued a statement supporting the right of a professor to express his views after he called for the National Rifle Association CEO’s “head on a stick.”
President David Dooley’s comments on Dec. 23 came after a statement last week in which Dooley distanced the university from a posting on Twitter by history professor Erik Loomis. Loomis wrote the post on Dec. 14, the day 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman using a semi-automatic weapon inside a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
“I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick,” Loomis wrote. LaPierre is the chief executive of the NRA, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby.
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This professor doesn't have tenure. Gun nuts tried to get him fired after he made the "head on a stick" comment on Twitter.  As with the Michael Mann lawsuit against National Review Online (see below), this situation raises some interesting issues about how freedom of expression and academic freedom operate with highly-charged political issues that play out across the internet.  The editorial function is either absent or involves less time for deliberation, so things are often "published" that in years past might have been edited out.  And now instead of a  daily news cycle, we have instant reverberations across social media platforms.

Michael Mann v. National Review Online

his will be an interesting lawsuit to watch. Penn State climate change scientist and Nobel Laureate Michael Mann is suing National Review Online, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and right wing "journalists" Marc Steyn and Rand Simberg for defamation. They accused him of academic fraud for his work on climate change and basically compared him to Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky. The price of climate change denial just went up. Mann is represented by Cozen O'Connor. It isn't fun to be sued by those folks. NRO is already doing online begging for money.

And it is worth noting that internet posts accusing other people of crime, fraud, and other moral failings are risky propositions these days. 

Florida homeowners foreclosing on banks - Dec. 26, 2012

Florida homeowners foreclosing on banks - Dec. 26, 2012:
  "Hundreds of homeowners and condo associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to pay dues and other expenses on the properties they've repossessed."
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Banks have this unfortunate habit of foreclosing on a condo or HOA unit and not paying the monthly assessments.  Why should they be treated differently than any other delinquent owner?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Clay Twp. basin topic of Thursday meeting - News

Clay Twp. basin topic of Thursday meeting - News: At the meeting, the letter states, a homeowners' association will be established and members elected. The association will then take over care and maintenance of the stormwater basin.

That doesn't sit well with David Martin and some of his neighbors.

"This really should go to Clay Township, and they should be responsible," said Martin, whose Foggy Bottom Road home is a stone's throw from the basin. "We pay them through our taxes to take care of property like this."

Usually.

But in the case of Wildflower Pond, buyers purchasing houses in the development signed an agreement that a homeowners' association would be formed.
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Welcome to Privatopia, where you render taxes to both public and private governments.  And don't ask the former to bear the cost of maintaining retention basins and repairing deteriorating thoroughfares and sinkholes.  After all, you agreed that's not their responsibility, didn't you?

Man's rough month includes homeowners association fight | Local News - KMBC Home

Man's rough month includes homeowners association fight | Local News - KMBC Home: KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Just days before Christmas and days after the death of his granddaughter, a Johnson County man had his bank account seized by his homeowners association for being behind on his dues.

We're broke," said Sam Marsala. "We're terribly in the hole. That's all I can say."

According to court records, Marsala's bank account was garnished five days ago. He said he thinks he owes his homes association about $4,300 in back dues, money it uses to maintain the swimming pool, landscaping and trash pickup.

"I'm not going to deny that I owe them some money," he said.

Marsala said he's an electrical engineer, but his business in the solar industry hasn't been very good for several years. He's also taking care of his granddaughter, Fiona, who was born two years ago with a rare, terminal form of epilepsy.
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So much for the quaint notion that HOA private government is less impersonal and bureaucratic and fosters community. HOAs want their money just as much as the county tax assessor --- regardless of whether it's Christmas or the Fourth of July.

Summit Combined Housing Authority to help with special assessments in 2013 | SummitDaily.com

Summit Combined Housing Authority to help with special assessments in 2013 | SummitDaily.com: The special assessment program was created from the remains of a down payment assistance loan program, which is being discontinued because many lenders would not approve the funds.

The money from that program has been rolled over to create the special assessment loan program.
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Now loans will be offered to defer capital expenses in Privatopia.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Turf war: Homeowners called before their association’s board for installing an artificial lawn


Turf war: Homeowners called before their association’s board for installing an artificial lawn: The couple is only saving around $250 per year in watering costs, because they also have shrubs, flowers, rose bushes and trees in the middle of their lawn, those landscape features still require watering, Dawn said.

But now, the DeVine-Pelt couple said they have been called before their HOA’s board on Jan. 8 to discuss the installation of the lawn. And, it’s possible they could be ordered to remove the lawn if the board does not give post-installation approval, she said.

“I thought that Santa Clarita was water-wise friendly,” Dawn said.
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Maybe it is. But thanks to policies favoring the establishment of another (private) layer of local government, property owners must contend with another regulatory regime.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Couple plans to fight fines, keep Christmas decorations up | Westmoreland Co. News - WTAE Home

Couple plans to fight fines, keep Christmas decorations up | Westmoreland Co. News - WTAE Home: MURRYSVILLE, Pa. —The Rehaks’ home at Georgetown Commons in Murrysville is decorated with holiday cheer, but some in the neighborhood are saying, “No, no, no” instead of “Ho, ho, ho.”

“I was raised with a family that always decorated and you looked forward to the holidays to drive up and see the lights,” said Eric Rehak.

“I don't see anything wrong with decorating. It makes me happy. It makes the neighbors happy. Kids come by,” said Mary Rehak.

The property manager in the development changed the rules for Christmas displays, allowing residents to use only white lights.

Multicolored lights and more than one stand-alone figure are prohibited.
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Happy holidays from Privatopia, and may all your Christmas lights be white.  Film at 10 on WTAE, Pittsburgh.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

CDC: Secondhand smoke from neighbors dangerous

CDC: Secondhand smoke from neighbors dangerous:
"According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even if you're not a smoker, living in a multi-unit residence could put you at risk for cigarette smoke exposure."
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This is becoming an increasing source of conflict among people living in condominiums buildings. If there are enough complaints, condo boards and even city councils may ban smoking in multi-family residences. One example: San Rafael, California, where smoking in apartments and condos is banned.

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-10-16/news/34505361_1_secondhand-smoke-san-rafael-ban

Friday, December 14, 2012

U.S. states inch closer to pre-recession prosperity - Yahoo! News

U.S. states inch closer to pre-recession prosperity - Yahoo! News:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. states are coming close to the end of a three-year trek back to the financial prosperity they enjoyed before the recession, according to a survey released on Friday that found the recovery is slow and uneven.
The National Association of State Budget Officers and National Governors Association found that total state spending will likely rise 2.2 percent this fiscal year from last, while general fund revenues grow 3.9 percent to $692.8 billion.
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More good news.

Reston’s Shadowood condominiums make new Va. case law, can’t impose fees on rule violators - The State of NoVa - The Washington Post

Reston’s Shadowood condominiums make new Va. case law, can’t impose fees on rule violators - The State of NoVa - The Washington Post:
"In Reston, there is a condominium complex called Shadowood that has written itself into Virginia history. For years, the Shadowood Condominium Association imposed fees for things like calling the management office or having the wrong color blinds. It towed tenants’ cars for unpaid fees — on the day before Thanksgiving. It turned off the heat or air conditioning to apartments of owners who were in arrears or in violation of its many rules.

"Last year, a Fairfax County judge permanently enjoined Shadowood from doing any of that stuff. The association appealed to the state Supreme Court, using its own members/victims’ money to pay its lawyers. This summer they lost there too, enshrining Shadowood in Virginia law under the concept that you can’t make up rules and impose fees if they are not in the development’s original master deed. That ruling has earth-shaking consequences for thousands of condo associations across the state, real estate lawyers say."
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This is a long and detailed blog post that tells the horrifying story of a Reston condo association with some major governance problems.  It is a good read for the people who keep saying that association governance is no worse than municipal governance. You have to consider the lack of oversight and institutional support for private governments. Thanks to Shu Bartholomew for the link.

NAHB: Apartment and Condominium Market Remains Steady in Third Quarter

NAHB: Apartment and Condominium Market Remains Steady in Third Quarter:
December 6, 2012 - The Multifamily Production Index (MPI), released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today, remained steady with an index level of 52. It is the third straight quarter with a reading over 50.

The MPI, which measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium market on a scale of 0 to 100, was essentially unchanged in the third quarter, only dropping two points from 54 in the second quarter.
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There are positive signs in some places. Here in the Chicago area things are still stalled. Some blame that on the slow pace of foreclosure cases, but I think a number of factors are involved.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CHICAGO: Levenfeld Pearlstein Mourns Loss of Mark D. Pearlstein | Business Wire | Rock Hill Herald Online

CHICAGO: Levenfeld Pearlstein Mourns Loss of Mark D. Pearlstein | Business Wire | Rock Hill Herald Online:
CHICAGO — The Levenfeld Pearlstein family, together with the greater Illinois legal community, are mourning the loss of Mark D. Pearlstein, 64, who died on December 11 following an extended illness.

Mr. Pearlstein was co-founder of Levenfeld Pearlstein, and was well-known for his contributions to the legal community, especially in the area of community association law. He focused his practice on representing community associations and developers.

His proudest moment as an attorney was the adoption of the law he primarily drafted--known as the Community Association Manager Licensing Act--a statute in Illinois meant to regulate and license property managers. The law, which took him about six years to finalize, was a great accomplishment; it established a code of professionalism among property owners and managers.
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Mark was not only one of the best community association lawyers in the country. He was also a terrific human being who genuinely cared about the rights of owners. In one case that I know of, he served as an expert witness on behalf of an owner in a case over the right to inspect association records. A whole lot of people will miss him--including me.

Christmas sign runs afoul of rules in Pasco neighborhood | Local News | Tri-CityHerald.com

Christmas sign runs afoul of rules in Pasco neighborhood | Local News | Tri-CityHerald.com:
"To me, if the message is OK, they should be saying, "Rejoice! Jesus is the reason for the season. Amen," Meeker told the Herald. But the development's homeowners association disagreed and told Meeker, who moved in last year, that his sign is larger than the 2-foot by 2-foot dimensions allowed in the standards agreed to by all of the 215 homeowners in the development.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Patterson Irrigator - Homeowners group controller charged with embezzling nearly 1 M

Patterson Irrigator - Homeowners group controller charged with embezzling nearly 1 M: As controller for M & C, which provided association management and developer services to community associations in Northern California, Barna was responsible for the company’s account and collections departments, prosecutors said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman released Barna on a $200,000 bond during his initial appearance Nov. 28 and ordered him to appear for a status conference Jan. 14 before Senior U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb.

M & C officials said they immediately terminated Barna’s employment when they learned in June 2011 that he had taken a large sum of money from the company, including funds from the Diablo Grande homeowners association and a handful of other homeowners groups.

Carol Piering, spokeswoman for Associa, said this week that M & C has conducted both internal and external audits since Barna was dismissed

'Jesus is the reason for the season' sign sparks controversy | Local & Regional | KIMA CBS 29 - News, Weather and Sports - Yakima, WA

'Jesus is the reason for the season' sign sparks controversy | Local & Regional | KIMA CBS 29 - News, Weather and Sports - Yakima, WA: Covenants for Mediterranean Villas, off Broadmoor, say signs can't be more than two-feet by two-feet. This one is six-feet by three-and-a-half feet.

Homeowner Tim Meeker believes it's not about the size, it's about the message. He told KEPR he will not take it down, even with the threat of fines.
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More perennial Christmas season controversy in Privatopia. Film at 10.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Family gets to keep lights display after HOA struggle | The Coloradoan | coloradoan.com

Family gets to keep lights display after HOA struggle | The Coloradoan | coloradoan.com: Upon approaching the Buffalo Creek subdivision in Wellington, you can almost feel the glow of Christmas spirit — a glow that was nearly snuffed out last year when a homeowners association tried to put a stop to one household’s Christmas decorations.

The display at 3208 Iron Horse Way is “admittedly grandiose,” with nearly 100 handmade Christmas decorations, including a Christmas town, a full Santa and reindeer set, three additional reindeer, 12 handmade trees and a train set — and a wide array of LED lights (a new upgrade this year in an attempt to be more energy responsible) donning its gables.

Fannie, Freddie place evictions on hold for the holidays - chicagotribune.com

Fannie, Freddie place evictions on hold for the holidays - chicagotribune.com:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said on Monday they would provide a break for borrowers facing foreclosure to ensure those having problems making monthly mortgage payments will remain in their homes during the holidays.

Fannie Mae said its eviction moratorium would apply to single-family homes and two- to four-unit properties from December 19 through January 2, 2013. Freddie Mac said it would offer the suspension from December 17 through January 2, 2013.
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An even bigger Christmas present would be to write down the principal on the loans that are more than x% underwater

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Wealthy NYC suburb makes it illegal to hang laundry outside since it looks 'low class' | Mail Online

Wealthy NYC suburb makes it illegal to hang laundry outside since it looks 'low class' | Mail Online: Residents of a wealthy village near New York have been ordered not to hang their laundry outside their homes as it makes them look 'low class.'

The board of Great Neck on Long Island has passed a law which makes it a criminal offense to use a clothesline in front of your home.

The punishment if they are caught is a fine of up to $1,000 or, in severe cases, 15 days in jail.
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Too much like Appalachia for a rich suburb on Long Island?

Friday, December 07, 2012

What's ahead for community associations in 2013 - chicagotribune.com

What's ahead for community associations in 2013 - chicagotribune.com:
"Owner aggression. Owners are increasingly vocal about their rights and wants. Some are well-informed about association operations and expect boards to act properly. Others promote personal agendas or disregard the rules. Be prepared for complaints, challenges and even lawsuits.

"Board members need to make sure they are operating in accordance with the law and governing documents," said Arlington Heights-based association attorney Charles VanderVennet. "They also need to maintain ongoing communication with owners to let them know what they are doing and why, and to draw lines of responsibility. An association is not a democracy, and some owners don't accept that."
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I agree with the basic idea of this paragraphs, but in what sense is this "owner aggression"?  They are "increasingly vocal about their rights and wants"? They are "well-informed about association operations and expect boards to act properly"?  That is aggression?

Obama supporters fear their rent will rise after manager makes threats | News - Home

Obama supporters fear their rent will rise after manager makes threats | News - Home:
"A Colorado Springs apartment manager threatens to raise the rent of anyone who voted to re-elect President Barack Obama."
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The right wing hissy fit continues.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

the Citadel : A Community of Liberty

the Citadel : A Community of Liberty
"The Citadel is a developing community of Patriots in the mountains of Idaho who believe in Jefferson's Rightful Liberty and have chosen to live amongst one another, who have sworn their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor to defend one another and Liberty."
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And who think..."Economic collapse is imminent. Disruptions of Just-in-Time supply lines will lead America into chaos. Violence along racial, ethnic, religious and economic class lines will bring forth famine, disease and a fundamental reset of life in America...The Citadel will have between 3,500 and 5,000 households within the walls, with a single gate permitting access. The Citadel is not to be a closed society, instead a refuge for genuine Patriots who wish to live without neighbors who are Liberals and Establishment political ideologues,"

So they have decided to make their own fortress community in the wilds of Idaho.  Good riddance. And I suggest that they take along the following reading material:

The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allen Poe, which talks about some fictional people who tried that strategy.


Threepers Creepers: On Far-Right Fringes, the Exodus to the Woods is Under Way | Crooks and Liars

Threepers Creepers: On Far-Right Fringes, the Exodus to the Woods is Under Way | Crooks and Liars
"Now that they've lost their election and are seeing their political future circling down the drain, a lot of folks on the political right are drowning in despair and retreating even further into the cocoon of non-reality they've created for themselves. And that response is especially acute on farthest fringes of the Right, where the militiamen are stocking up for the Obamacalypse."
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Bye.  And thanks to Mystery Reader for the link.

Kane County Chronicle | Geneva homeowners association dispute yields progress

Kane County Chronicle | Geneva homeowners association dispute yields progress: GENEVA – Defendants in a court case between a Geneva homeowners association and a bank say they are hopeful that the two parties will reach a resolution with the help of a judge by mid-January.

The case between Old Second National Bank and the Prairie Ridge Townhome Owners Association was presented before a judge for the first time last week, and since then, both parties believe they have moved closer to a resolution.

The dispute is about which party – the bank’s third-party manager or an elected homeowners association that formed last year – is in control of managing fees from the subdivision’s homeowners association.
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Only in Privatopia can a case like this occur: where the jurisdiction's managers and vendors claim they and not the governing board are in control.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Susan Reinhardt on tacky Christmas yard decor | The Asheville Citizen-Times | citizen-times.com

Susan Reinhardt on tacky Christmas yard decor | The Asheville Citizen-Times | citizen-times.com: I have some wonderful neighbors in my middle-class Fairview subdivision. I also have a homeowners association, a governing body I don’t consider human, but more like a Big Brother, watch-your-back organization that in the last couple of years has siphoned my savings like a decent vein at the Red Cross bloodmobile.

We needed a new road, our asphalt being pot-holed and raggedy. I have no reason to gripe about the “patchy” job done, since I did not attend one meeting.

Putting my current homeowners association into perspective, this group pales in comparison to the evil rulings of past experiences I’ve had while living as a single mother in a couple of condos.

One association even required us to use a certain type of vertical blinds, measuring a precise length and width, I kid you not. That was during the time I accidentally bought a patio home in a retirement village, my youngest neighbor in her 90s.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Columbia residents propose new legislation - baltimoresun.com

Columbia residents propose new legislation - baltimoresun.com: According to the group of residents proposing the new bill, which includes two representatives from the Alliance for a Better Columbia and the president of the Maryland Homeowner's Association Jeanne Ketley, the purpose of the alternative legislation is to make CA more like traditional homeowners associations, of which all residential lien-payers are members.

"We are not asking for something that will make us stand out or different," said group representative and Oakland Mills resident Bill McCormack. "In fact, CA, as it is structured now, stands out and is different. In this case, we want to be like everybody else and adopt a structure that is tried, tested and true."

"When we are supporting CA through the lien fee, we need to have representation. That's critical, that is how we do things in America."

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Occidental Weekly : Taitz loses court case to Occidental over Obama’s records

The Occidental Weekly : Taitz loses court case to Occidental over Obama’s records:
According to the court observer, Judge Marginis did comment on Taitz’s quality of evidence when she presented a folder of it to the judge.
“You should know that evidence is not stuff printed from the internet,” Marginis said, responding to Taitz’s continued argument after he made the decision to quash the subpoena and award $4,000 in sanctions to Occidental College.
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True. And that is a general lesson not just for birthers, but for the many other people who like to make up their own wackadoodle legal theories and head off to court with them. That sort of thing can become expensive when the judge throws out the case.  There is a lot of room to be creative with the law, and that is a good thing. We need to have people exploring the outer limits of civil liberties and rights, for example. But making up your own law and then trying to live by it is a dangerous thing. People who claim they don't have to pay taxes and refuse to recognize the federal government, or people who keep insisting that the president was born in Kenya, need to wake up and join the real world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rich, lonely woman Betty Harris, who died aged 95, leaves $12.5 million estate to neighbour | News.com.au

Rich, lonely woman Betty Harris, who died aged 95, leaves $12.5 million estate to neighbour | News.com.au:
A rich but lonely old lady has left her entire estate, worth $12.5 million to her neighbour, who bought her bread and milk and helped her manage her daily chores.

Betty Harris, who died aged 95 in 2009, chose to leave her estate to her neighbour in the millionaires enclave of Point Piper in Sydney after she felt her niece was trying to force her into a nursing home.
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Proving once again that being nice to your neighbors pays off.  The lady in the post below should read this.

WWL - AM870 | FM105.3 | News | Talk | Sports - Cops Tell D. Springs Woman To Take Down ''offensive'' Christmas Lights

WWL - AM870 | FM105.3 | News | Talk | Sports - Cops Tell D. Springs Woman To Take Down ''offensive'' Christmas Lights
A Denham Springs woman got a visit from the cops after nearby residents were offended by her somewhat unorthodox Christmas lights display. Homeowner Sarah Henderson intentionally fashioned the lights on her roof (photo, above) to look like a human hand "flipping the bird."  Neighbors called police to complain, and Denham Springs Police Corporal Shawn Perkins paid her a visit. Corporal Perkins said the woman told him she put the display as a direct message to her neighbors.  "It was a message to an ongoing dispute she was having with other homeowners on that same street," Perkins told WWL First News. Perkins says he informed Henderson that the display was in violation of obscenity laws and that it must come down, or else.
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And a Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Backyard camping about to go legal in Superior - Boulder Daily Camera

Backyard camping about to go legal in Superior - Boulder Daily Camera:
Magley said the anti-camping language in the code evolved from the town's desire not to see itinerant housing popping up willy-nilly in residents' yards.

"We don't want someone renting out their backyard to someone to camp," he said. "But we also wouldn't want to prevent kids enjoying camping in their backyards over the weekend."

Ian Elverson, president of the 2,804-home Rock Creek Homeowners Association, said there are no official statistics on how many families in Superior engage in the time-honored practice of backyard camping. But he said there's been no shortage of anecdotal evidence that it happens on a regular basis.
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The town is out HOAing the HOA.

Northwest Herald | Township road thieves: Letter to the editor

Northwest Herald | Township road thieves:
"Municipal and homeowners association property owners pay about 90 percent of the cost of maintaining township subdivision roads. Decade after decade, townships have filled their coffers at the expense of municipal and homeowners association taxpayers. Over the years, townships have benefited by millions of hard-earned tax dollars from these sources. Example: McHenry Township Road District revenue in 2011 was $2,924,321.77. Most of this amount was spent on township subdivision roads. Illinois township laws are unfair to McHenry County municipal taxpayers. Illinois township laws are unfair to McHenry County homeowners associations."
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As Fred Pilot would say, "so there!"

Homeowners in Katy neighborhood upset over vehicles towed from in front of their own homes | abc13.com

Homeowners in Katy neighborhood upset over vehicles towed from in front of their own homes | abc13.com: KATY, TX (KTRK) -- There's a battle brewing between homeowners and the association in charge of the neighborhood, all over where people are parking their cars.
Some homeowners in Katy are upset because they say their cars are being towed from in front of their own houses. The homeowners association says it's not where people are parking, but the way they are parking that's causing problems.

Sonia Azad will have more on this story this afternoon on ABC13 Eyewitness News.
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First come the tow trucks, then the TV news crews, followed by the lawyers.  Good for the tow operators, good for TV news viewership and good for the CID bar.  Privatopia. What a country!

Auxiliary players in Plymouth Hill Condo Association scheme plead guilty - The Times Herald

Auxiliary players in Plymouth Hill Condo Association scheme plead guilty - The Times Herald: COURTHOUSE — While they might have been on the sidelines — not quite in the spotlight like the scheme’s ringleaders — John Jurkofsky and Roosevelt Harris are doing time for their involvement in an operation that got them rich with other people’s money.

Last month, Jurkofsky and Harris pleaded guilty to theft by deception and criminal conspiracy in the case of the Plymouth Hill Condo Association, which resulted in the swindling of hundreds of thousands of dollars from condominium residents in the form of charging inflated prices for resident fees and contracted services.
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Most of the prosecutions of managers and board members to date have been for embezzlement, which is a relatively simple crime. People who have the right to touch the money decide to steal it. But the more sophisticated way to bilk CID residents is the "death of the thousand cuts" approach--set up a system of inflated or completely bogus charges that eventually add up to a fortune.

Courthouse News Service: Sex offender banned, sues condo association

Courthouse News Service:
AUSTIN (CN) - A sex offender sued his condo association for banning registered sex offenders from living there soon after he was released from prison. Theodore Whipple and his wife sued the Valley View Village Condominium Homeowners Association in Federal Court.
Whipple claims he was convicted of a sex offense 20 years ago and that he has lived with his wife at the condominium since 2008.
"On September 17, 2012, the husband was released from prison and returned to their condominium home after serving a 34-month sentence for failing to register correctly his residence in the sex offender registry," the complaint states.
"On September 18, 2012, the condominium association posted a notice on plaintiffs' door announcing for the first time that registered sex offenders are not allowed to live in the condominium."
Whipple says he is classified as a low-risk sex offender, and that Valley View has banned all registered sex offenders, regardless of their risk level.
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What limits should there be on the power of CIDs to exclude people?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Economists, Obama administration at odds over role of mortgage debt in recovery - The Washington Post

Economists, Obama administration at odds over role of mortgage debt in recovery - The Washington Post

“No one was in doubt that debt overhangs were an important problem,” Summers said recently at a conference. But despite exploring many proposals, the administration did not see a plan that did not have the potential to cause “effects worse than the cure,” he said, such as cratering the financial system by forcing banks to absorb huge losses.
At a more basic level, officials simply did not believe that a big program of debt forgiveness was a smart investment, costing hundreds of billions of dollars — money that it preferred to spend on a massive economic stimulus package that could much more quickly lift the economy. The administration also announced a more modest program designed to avert foreclosures by reducing mortgage payments but not the total debt balance.
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The underlying policy issue here is whether it's good policy and precedent to erase debt that fueled an asset bubble, in this case residential real estate. I don't believe it is.  People all too easily forget the beating the economy takes when debt driven asset bubbles pop.  The debt overhang is a harsh consequence but a necessary market object lesson for both lenders and borrowers. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Decorated vet stands his ground in dispute over American flag

Decorated vet stands his ground in dispute over American flag: SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - The deadline has passed for a retired Army sergeant to remove the American flag and flag pole from his front yard at a Sevierville condominium community.

The sergeant, Homer Hampton, has refused to obey the association's order.

"Good Lord willing, it's going to stay up," said Hampton "As long as I'm living, I will fight this thing."

The deadline for Hampton to remove the flag pole and lights from in front of his condo unit has come and gone.
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HOA flag flap No. 436,860. And more bad press for Privatopia. Film at 10.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Residential gun sales hot topic in Pleasant Hill - San Jose Mercury News

Residential gun sales hot topic in Pleasant Hill - San Jose Mercury News:
Whether Tedjakusuma keeps inventory at home is a major concern of residents who believe residential gun sales threaten public safety. The U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that from 2005 to 2010, an estimated 172,000 guns per year were stolen during residential burglaries.
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Selling guns from a suburban home, using the internet--the American entrepreneurial spirit knows no limits.

Class action lawsuit filed against some Arizona HOA's | azfamily.com Phoenix

Class action lawsuit filed against some Arizona HOA's | azfamily.com Phoenix:
Robert hired his own attorney, Roger Wood, who told 3 On Your Side that he's discovered thousands of liens and lawsuits that he claims were wrongfully filed against Arizona homeowners, like the Leathams.

As a result, Woods recently filed a class action lawsuit against AAM, claiming it, and 26 other management companies, violated fair debt collections practices by charging illegal and exorbitant collection fees.

“That act is set up to help consumers, to help people like my plaintiffs in this case to protect themselves from unjust, unlawful predatory collection practices,” Wood explained.
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This one should be worth watching.

Gov. Jerry Brown calls for greener world, jabs at GOP 'declinists' - San Jose Mercury News

Gov. Jerry Brown calls for greener world, jabs at GOP 'declinists' - San Jose Mercury News

He said he wouldn't say what party such "declinists" tend to associate with, but "I can tell you they're losing power from coast to coast," he said, earning applause from the audience. And those who hung the nickname "Governor Moonbeam" -- "not a term of endearment" -- on him during his earlier gubernatorial terms "aren't around anymore, but I am."
California on Wednesday launched its new system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on carbon, as the state's Air Resources Board began auctioning permits to create a marketplace for such emissions. Businesses must either cut their emissions or buy permits from other companies for each extra ton of pollution discharged each year.
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Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link. I think California's diverse economy will make a big comeback.

Students build forts to bring comfort to central Edmonton

Students build forts to bring comfort to central Edmonton: EDMONTON - Saying they want to inspire and spread the love, a group of architecture students is setting up an informal living room at various spots around central Edmonton. With used furniture and a tarp to block the wind, their “forts” will offer free hot chocolate and a casual place to socialize, starting Friday. The installation is meant to change to a physical space to encourage more social interaction between strangers on city streets, said Tara McCashin, a Dalhousie University student working at Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd.
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You can do this only if you call it art. If you call it home, you have to move.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

George Evan McKenzie

The photo on my Facebook badge on Veteran's Day (see below) was my father, George Evan McKenzie. He served in the US Navy in World War II. He was a disabled veteran who died of service-connected causes in 1985.

I would like to extend my thanks to all the veterans and service men and women who risk everything to protect us.

Actions of just a few don't diminish HOAs | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com

Actions of just a few don't diminish HOAs | Reno Gazette-Journal | rgj.com

It is vital that any and all improprieties be exposed and dealt with by the proper authorities. It is also important not to assume that improprieties are common at HOAs in Nevada. One of the reasons these cases attract as much attention as they do is because they are the exception, not the norm.
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A bit of spin control by the Nevada CAI folks.  A major criminal conspiracy to take over and corrupt HOAs.  Lots of indictments, plea bargains and people turning up dead. Isolated incident No. 576,896.  Nothing to to see here; please move along.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Illinois Supreme Court to Consider Possible Limits on Homeowners Association Security | Sedgwick LLP - JDSupra

Illinois Supreme Court to Consider Possible Limits on Homeowners Association Security | Sedgwick LLP - JDSupra
The case is Poris v. Lake Holiday Property Owners Association. The big question: what powers do HOA security guards have to conduct traffic stops and detention for violation of an HOA speed limit? Did the detention constitute false imprisonment?  The Illinois Supreme Court will decide. The appellate court opinion that is the basis of the appeal is here.

Now that's geek chic! Tolkien superfan re-creates Bilbo Baggins' hobbit house out of 2,600 BALLOONS | Mail Online

Now that's geek chic! Tolkien superfan re-creates Bilbo Baggins' hobbit house out of 2,600 BALLOONS | Mail Online
Where do people get the time to do things like this? I'm lucky if I can find time to read a newspaper.


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Monday, November 05, 2012

Backyard battle over huge hole in Granbury | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth

Backyard battle over huge hole in Granbury | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth: GRANBURY — A walk through Sandi Wynne's backyard in Granbury reveals a big danger, and the battle brewing with her homeowners association.

"It's over 100 feet long," said Wynne as she pointed to the huge hole on her property. "It's about 30 feet wide."

Minor erosion grew into the massive problem after a small creek that ran next to Wynne's home turned into a raging river. It happened in January after several days of heavy rain.

"I went out there and the yard was gone," she said.
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Sounds like the opening scene from another X-Files episode set somewhere in Privatopia.

Canada Post delivers mailbox fee to developers - The Globe and Mail

Canada Post delivers mailbox fee to developers - The Globe and Mail: Ron Olson, president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, said builders and developers across the country were “blindsided” by the move and will fight it.

Mr. Olson said that the cost will definitely be passed on to home buyers. “Why should new homeowners pay that kind of cost when other people who are receiving mail right to their door have none?” he said. “They’re charging them for substandard service.”
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A perfect excuse to form a homeowners association, eh?

Fearing unrest, Woodstock community locking gates after election - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Fearing unrest, Woodstock community locking gates after election - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5: WOODSTOCK, Ga. -

Fearing chaos depending on the outcome of the election, a community in Woodstock is taking steps to protect themselves. The homeowners association president of Cottages of Woodstock sent an email to the residents saying all gates will be closed 24/7 starting on Tuesday night.

Some residents in the community for people 55 and over told FOX 5 that they were surprised by the actions of HOA president Bill Stanley.

Hilda Wiggs said she was taken aback when she saw the email from Stanley saying "in light of the contentious nature of the upcoming election, and some of the rhetoric indicating possible civil unrest, I have decided to close the community gates 24/7.
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A bit off the deep end, wouldn't you agree?

Prosecutors to seek death penalty for HOA shooter | Metro Louisville - WLKY Home

Prosecutors to seek death penalty for HOA shooter | Metro Louisville - WLKY Home:
Mahmoud Yousef Hindi, a former physician, is facing two counts of murder and seven counts of wanton endangerment in the shootings at an eastern Louisville church. Prosecutors will seek execution if Hindi is convicted on the murder charges. Hindi, 55, told police he was frustrated over battles with the association and went to the Sept. 6 meeting with a loaded gun. Police say he shot 73-year-old David Merritt and 69-year-old Marvin Fisher, two association members.
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Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to the latest development in this case.

America's cheapest private island could be yours for just $120,000 | Mail Online

America's cheapest private island could be yours for just $120,000 | Mail Online
Sounds like a heck of a deal.


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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Homeowner says HOA took down her political sign | News - Home

Homeowner says HOA took down her political sign | News - Home 

A Colorado Springs resident says a member of her homeowners association took down a political sign she made because of the sign's political affiliation.

Dianne Soto made a sign supporting President Barack Obama. She said it has either been taken down, or attempted to be taken down several times. One of the people she saw tearing down the sign told her he was a board member of her HOA.

"He said that he was from Warren Management, which is our property management company for the HOA, and that he was within his rights to take it down," Soto said.

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Yet another election season political sign set to in Privatopia.  Film at 10.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Romney Wants to Privatize Disaster Relief

Romney Wants to Privatize Disaster Relief
According to Bill Black, who teaches economics at the University of Missouri and is a former federal regulator. Thanks to Matt Bowler of the San Diego Union-Tribune for the link.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Neighborhood says 'no' to political signs | WCNC.com Charlotte

Neighborhood says 'no' to political signs | WCNC.com Charlotte: HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- The Carrington Ridge neighborhood in Huntersville does not allow political signs to be placed in front yards. Still, there are some homeowners who still do it.

Bena, who asked us not to use her last name, said she didn't know about that rule until the Home Owners Association sent her a letter Monday telling her to remove the Obama/Biden sign from her yard.

"As soon as I checked the mail, I drove around the circle, right by the HOA President's house and there was his Romney-Ryan sign in his yard," Bena said.

She showed NBC Charlotte a photo she snapped during Trick or Treating on Halloween night that showed the sign still up at the HOA President's house.
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The double standard lives on in Privatopia.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BBC News - Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria

BBC News - Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria:
Archaeologists in Bulgaria say they have uncovered the oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe. The walled fortified settlement, near the modern town of Provadia, is thought to have been an important centre for salt production. Its discovery in north-east Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago. Archaeologists believe that the town was home to some 350 people and dates back to between 4700 and 4200 BC.
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Police allowed to install cameras on private property without warrant | Ars Technica

Police allowed to install cameras on private property without warrant | Ars Technica:
"A federal judge has ruled that police officers in Wisconsin did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly installed cameras on private property without judicial approval. The officers installed the cameras in an open field where they suspected the defendants, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, were growing marijuana. The police eventually obtained a search warrant, but not until after some potentially incriminating images were captured by the cameras. The defendants have asked the judge to suppress all images collected prior to the issuance of the search warrant."
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Interesting ruling. Warrantless surveillance cameras on private property don't violate the 4th amendment?  It appears that the defendants did not offer any evidence in their motion proving that they own or lease the property. However, they posted it as if they did:  "The property in question was heavily wooded, with a locked gate and "no trespassing" signs to notify strangers that they were unwelcome. But the judges found that this did not establish the "reasonable expectation of privacy" required for Fourth Amendment protection. In their view, such a rule would mean that (in the words of a key 1984 Supreme Court precedent) "police officers would have to guess before every search whether landowners had erected fences sufficiently high, posted a sufficient number of warning signs, or located contraband in an area sufficiently secluded to establish a right of privacy."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

9-year-old boy’s fort causes a stir with the neighbors | www.statesman.com

9-year-old boy’s fort causes a stir with the neighbors | www.statesman.com: Nicholas Aarsvold, 9, does what little boys do: Play in the woods, throw rocks in the creek and build stuff.

However, his latest creation, a small “fort” nestled between two nandina shrubs in front of his Northwest Hills townhome, is causing a stir with some neighbors who believe it’s unsightly.

Nicholas’s fort violates the architectural rules set by the Summerwood Homeowners Association, said Stan Scheiber, the managing agent for the community of 136 townhomes near Steck Avenue, west of MoPac Boulevard. On Thursday, the association’s board of directors voted to send Ramona Aarsvold, the boy’s mother, a letter giving her 10 days to take the structure down.
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Recently a girl's pink playhouse caused a ruckus in Privatopia.  Now it's a little boy's play fortress.  More bad press for Privatopia. Film at 10.

Report Labels Indiana Toll Road an Intergenerational Cash Transfer

Report Labels Indiana Toll Road an Intergenerational Cash Transfer:
A College of William and Mary professor believes the toll road public-private partnerships currently in vogue among transportation bureaucrats may end up costing the public a great deal of money in the long run. John B. Gilmour makes the case in the journal Public Administration Review, using the Indiana Toll Road as an example.
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Yet more evidence that state and local governments need to be a whole lot more careful about privatization than they have been to date. The short term benefits, if any, may end up being outweighed by the long term costs.

Condos now missing $1 million in accounting scandal - Connecticut Post

Condos now missing $1 million in accounting scandal - Connecticut Post:
A Westport property management firm is facing more legal trouble in a widening accounting scandal and from fallout from a string of thefts at a Greenwich apartment complex.

This week, Community Association Underwriters of America Inc. filed a lawsuit against Consolidated Management Group, of Westport, and its former controller in an attempt to recover more than $1 million missing from the bank accounts of eight condominium associations that Consolidated manages.
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All these reports, and there are too many to even keep track of these days, demonstrate that people who own units in associations have to watch their BOD and property management firm very closely; that there is a need for governmental oversight of association finances; and that this form of privatization is in need of some serious study.

unique urban planning in denmark | one big photo

unique urban planning in denmark | one big photo
Fascinating design--thanks to Tom Besore for the link.

Condo association denies plagiarism, says MCO history 'not copyrighted' - Loop North News

Condo association denies plagiarism, says MCO history 'not copyrighted' - Loop North News:
Despite word-for-word duplication of two paragraphs from Marina City Online’s comprehensive history of Marina City to a 32-page soft-cover book recently published by Marina Towers Condominium Association, the condo association at Marina City denied wrongdoing late last week, claiming “MCO has not copyrighted” any of its text.
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This is an interesting situation. I don't know what happened in Marina City, but as a university professor who reads student work all the time, I have noticed that there is far more plagiarism than there was in the past, and at the same time there is an increasing sense among the people who do it that there is nothing wrong with it. When I point out to a student that they have cut and pasted language directly from a US Supreme Court opinion into their student brief, with no attribution or quotation marks, they seem baffled to hear that this is plagiarism. They think they did nothing wrong and that I am being picky and petty when I call them on it.  Why? I blame the ubiquity of the internet and the effortlessness that search engines like Google have introduced into the process of creating documents--which many people think is the same thing as writing.  I think it has become so easy to cut and paste text from online sources directly into documents that it seems normal and natural to many people.  They think they are writing when all they are doing is cutting and pasting.  The definition of "writing" seems to have gone through some Borg-like cultural metamorphosis in which authorship has been assimilated into the internet. But the definition of plagiarism hasn't changed, and in fact it is also easier to catch it now. So far, resistance is not futile.

Kansas City man lands in big house for embezzling from homeowners associations - Kansas City Business Journal

Kansas City man lands in big house for embezzling from homeowners associations - Kansas City Business Journal:
Dale Palmer, who owned Kansas City-based Home Owner Association Services, was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for embezzling from dozens of homeowners associations.
Palmer, 54, of Kansas City, faces 46 months without parole and an $825,937 restitution order. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud in February.
According to prosecutors, Palmer embezzled more than $750,000 from homeowners associations in Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin and Illinois while he ran the property and account management service from July 2009 to March 2011.
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More embezzlement.  And yet the industry keeps right on claiming that no governmental oversight is needed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Boonsboro, MD, woman sentenced for stealing HOA funds

Local News - AM 930 WFMD Online:
A woman who stole more than $137,000 from the Ballenger Creek Meadows Homeowners Association learned her fate on Tuesday. In Frederick County Circuit Court, Judge Ed Dwyer sentenced Nancy Walker, 63, to 15 years in jail, with all but 18-months suspended.
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There have been so many of these HOA/condo embezzlement cases in recent years that I have lost count. This one features an unusual claim: she says she needed the money for what looks like one of those Nigerian 419 scams. If this story is true (and it appears to be), it underscores the central problem at the core of this institution: great responsibilities are placed in the hands of people who too often are unqualified (intellectually, morally, or in some other way) to do what is expected of them. Imagine having your money controlled by somebody who would fall for this:

"As the investigation continued, according to the facts of the case, detectives contacted Walker, who said in April, 2011, she met a man on the Internet named David Mancini from West Virginia. She never met him in person but spoke with him over the phone. Authorities say Mancini told her that he was in a South African hospital, and needed money for medical expenses. She provided him with $50,000 from her own funds, and borrowed $30,000 from her sister. In November, 2011, Mancini contacted her and said he needed money to get out of jail in South Africa. Throughout this whole period, Mancini promised  he would pay her back...Investigators told Walker that the man they spoke with was an African male, not a Caucasian as the picture she had of him indicated. "She had been tricked," according to the facts of the case."


At Least 17 Waterville Valley Condo Groups Missing Funds | LoanSafe

At Least 17 Waterville Valley Condo Groups Missing Funds | LoanSafe: (Source: By Dave Solomon, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester (MCT) WATERVILLE VALLEY —
At least 17 different condominium associations in the Waterville Valley area reported missing funds to local police last week, triggering a weekend search of the condo management company offices and an investigation that is likely to be turned over to the county attorney or attorney general for prosecution.

Waterville Valley Chief of Police David C. Noyes said the amount reported missing is “at least” in the tens of thousands of dollars. A search warrant was executed Saturday and Sunday, he said, at the offices of Stone Property Management, 35 Tecumseh Road.

“They do business with 28 different associations in town,” Noyes said. “Seventeen have come forward so far and made complaints.”
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Oops. Yet another one of those isolated instances. Nothing to see here--move along.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Party Rock Anthem' Halloween house shut down by HOA | MNN - Mother Nature Network

'Party Rock Anthem' Halloween house shut down by HOA | MNN - Mother Nature Network:
"Late last week, it occurred to me that Kevin Judd, the mastermind behind a series of absolutely bananas synchronized light shows at/on his Riverside, Calif. home over the past several years, has been awfully quiet as of late."
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Guess why?  His HOA.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

HOA fee issue likely headed back to Nevada Supreme Court - VEGAS INC

HOA fee issue likely headed back to Nevada Supreme Court - VEGAS INC
This is from October 9. It seems that the legal challenges to HOA fees and fines has been underway for some time.  Investor owners (and now the Bank of America) are challenging the practices that lawyers for HOAs and condo associations have been using agains individual owners, who are unable to fight back properly.  Reporter Steve Green has been writing about it on Vegas, Inc.:


"The investors, represented by Las Vegas attorneys James Adams and Puoy Premsrirut, in recent years have sued hundreds of Nevada HOAs and their collection agencies in state and federal court and before the state Real Estate Division. The investors’ attorneys claim HOAs and their collection agencies regularly file inflated liens against foreclosed homes to recover not just excessive past-due monthly HOA assessments that accumulate while the homes sit vacant, but unauthorized collection costs for those assessments as well. The liens must be paid off for the investors and other buyers to obtain titles to the homes. The investors claim state law and sometimes HOA governing documents limit the liens to an amount equaling six or nine months of assessments depending on the circumstances."

B of A sues 28 Nevada HOAs, collection agencies in lien dispute - VEGAS INC

B of A sues 28 Nevada HOAs, collection agencies in lien dispute - VEGAS INC
Here's another story on what could be a blockbuster lawsuit filed by Bank of America against 28 HOAs and other defendants.  I am looking for a copy of the complaint.

"The bank filed suit Tuesday in Clark County District Court charging that state law limits the ''super-priority" first-position liens that HOAs can place against homes to an amount equal to nine months of HOA assessments -- but that the HOAs are "improperly'' filing liens demanding payment of attorney's fees and collection costs on top of that.These liens typically cover unpaid HOA assessments that accumulate while homes in foreclosure sit vacant, as well as costs to collect those unpaid bills. Charges that the HOAs and their bill collectors have been inflating the liens are pending in numerous lawsuits, with many attorneys expecting the Nevada Supreme Court or the Legislature to ultimately decide what limits should be placed on the liens..."The court should issue a judicial declaration establishing an association's super-priority lien does not include attorney's fees or collection costs. Under the plain language of (state law), only nine months of regular, budgeted common assessments are included in the super-priority amount," the suit says."

Bank of America sues Nevada homeowner associations over excessive fees and fines - www.ktnv.com

Bank of America sues Nevada homeowner associations - www.ktnv.com:
A North Las Vegas home that Realtor Ryan Melvin has been trying to short sell is a prime example of why Bank of America is suing HOAs across Nevada.

"This has the collection fees of almost $1500. The violations and fines of $14,500."

Almost $16,500. Mostly for fines over weeds, trash, and pine needles. All at a home that Melvin's clients moved out of and were trying to short sell with B of A.
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Activists have been screaming about bogus fees and fines for decades, but they don't have the means to go to war over it. But now the nation's largest banks are major owners of HOA/condo units.  That means the lawyers and managers who have been the real powers in privatopia suddenly have to go up against the big dogs in the meat locker, instead of individual owners who can't afford a lawyer.   And that could lead to some major changes in the way associations do business.

Thanks to Rodney Gray for publicizing this story.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Suspect in Ky. HOA shooting: 'I had to kill them' - SFGate

Suspect in Ky. HOA shooting: 'I had to kill them' - SFGate:
That evening, Hindi said, he took a loaded gun and spare bullets to the meeting, but didn't shoot anyone immediately because he was waiting for an opportunity to address his issues with the homeowners' association.

Hindi said he felt ignored for about 30 minutes and wasn't given a chance to speak, so he took the gun from his brief case and set it in his lap.

"I stood up and shot Mr. Merritt that way. He was sitting," Hindi said. "And, then ... I turned to Mr. Fisher and shot him also. This is exactly what I had in mind ... If they were not going to talk like human beings, I was going to shoot them."
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And now the prosecutors are deciding whether to seek the death penalty for what Hindi admits was a premeditated murder of two people.  Despite the fact that he has given a detailed confession, it is highly unlikely that he will be executed. Only one person has been involuntarily executed in Kentucky since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. The other two people who were executed volunteered to be put to death.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Apollo Beach man fatally shot in confrontation often riled neighbors - Tampa Bay Times

Apollo Beach man fatally shot in confrontation often riled neighbors - Tampa Bay Times

According to the court filing, Gallik wore a sign around his neck that read, "Death to Southshore Falls." He bathed outside, ran a generator, hung wet clothes in the front yard, solicited donations of food from neighbors and threatened a neighbor to get electricity for his computer, records show.

The filing also paints a tense picture of Gallik's relationship with his neighbors.
He threatened them, posted "foul and offensive" signs, allowed his dog to defecate on the street and verbally abused neighbors to the point that they called the sheriff's office.

In the filing, the association sought to make Gallik comply with HOA rules and pay fees to bring his home up to code.
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Another fatal shooting in Privatopia involving an HOA resident at odds with the HOA.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

California city bans smoking in multi-family homes | Reuters

California city bans smoking in multi-family homes | Reuters:
A San Francisco suburb on Monday banned smoking in duplexes, condominiums and other multi-family homes, with city leaders saying they hoped to lead a wave of such regulations across California and ultimately the country.

The City Council in San Rafael, a community of 57,000 people about 15 miles north of San Francisco, voted unanimously for the ban, following a handful of other California municipalities that have outlawed smoking in buildings with as few as two units.
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Thanks to Mystery Reader for this link.  Lawsuits over infiltration of second hand smoke from one unit into others are becoming common. Then came condo and apartment rules banning smoking, and now municipal ordinances.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pink Playhouse Owner Ecstatic after Learning Lawsuit was Dismissed | NBC Augusta 26

Pink Playhouse Owner Ecstatic after Learning Lawsuit was Dismissed | NBC Augusta 26: COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- It's a lawsuit that received national attention after our first story aired.

A grandmother was being sued by her neighborhood Homeowners Association over the color of her granddaughter's playhouse.

The HOA said it was an out building and she had to have permission.

Becky Rogers Peck tells us she was excited and shocked to find out the lawsuit had been dismissed and one of the first things she did was tell her grand-daughter Aubree.
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Pink prevails in this privatopian enclave.

HOA battle: Pine Village North homeowner's association fight moves to downtown Houston courthouse | abc13.com

HOA battle: Pine Village North homeowner's association fight moves to downtown Houston courthouse | abc13.com: HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A group of neighbors is taking their homeowner's association to court. They say residents are paying up but not seeing results, and now they want to know what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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Trouble in Privatopia.  Film at 10.

Fed actions to reduce mortgage rates may be helping banks more than borrowers

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/booming-banks-say-consumers-may-not-see-lower-mortgage-rates/2012/10/12/21b86456-1473-11e2-bf18-a8a596df4bee_story.html?socialreader_check=0&denied=1


JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, said Friday they won’t make home loans much cheaper for consumers, even as they reported booming profits from that business.

Those bottom lines have been padded by federal initiatives to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve is spending $40 billion a month to reduce mortgage rates to encourage Americans to buy homes. Instead, its policies may be generating more benefits for banks than borrowers...The reason why mortgage bankers are seeing so much green is that the gap has widened between what banks charge a homeowner in interest rates and what they must pay those who finance mortgage lending. The latter has dropped significantly, largely as a result of the Fed’s actions, analysts said.
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Take, take, take.  And after all this kid glove treatment, all they do is complain about over-regulation.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Fannie Mae rules make it tougher to qualify for mortgage - Chicago Tribune

Andrew  J. Wilson, Fannie Mae's 

director of media and external relations, explained some of the changes:
Q: What's happening for condo buyers?
A: We're bringing out a new version of our automated underwriting system, called Desktop Underwriter. These rules apply to lenders who use that system to qualify borrowers for loans under Fannie Mae guidelines. Currently, if you're buying a condo with less than 10 percent down, you'll have to fill out a questionnaire about the homeowners association's financials and provide information about its reserves. In the new rules, you'll have to do this if you're putting less than 20 percent down.
Q: What's Fannie Mae looking for from the homeowners association (HOA)?
A: It's asking these things to have greater confidence in the stability of the homeowners association. The lender would be expected to review the (HOA's) budget, including individual line items, income and expenses. This full review is to determine whether or not replacement reserves and can be funded and if insurance deductiblesinsurance deductibles are funded. (The broader requirement) speaks to making sure the homeowner's association has the ability to maintain and insure the property — and whether or not we would want to be buying the loans.
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Dale McFeatters: Millennials, the cheapest generation � Abilene Reporter-News

Dale McFeatters: Millennials, the cheapest generation � Abilene Reporter-News: And the Millennials seemed to have inherited their ancestors' philosophy of consumption: Mend it; make do; or do without. Worse yet, some Millennials who went astray are moving back to the cities.

This is so un-American. Our economy depends on people moving into the suburbs and deciding to move up to a riding mower.

An entire cohort of our countrymen cannot identify the terms "Turf Builder," "homeowners' association" and "allow extra time for your commute."
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HOAs (except the condo variety) appear slated to be a victim of socio-economic change.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The hidden cost of government settlements - The Washington Post

The hidden cost of government settlements - The Washington Post: When Bank of America agreed in December to pay $335 million to resolve federal charges that its mortgage-lending arm discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers, government officials hailed it as the largest fair-lending settlement in history. But, in fact, the banking giant has the right to a massive discount on the payout. Thirty-five percent of the settlement is deductible. That means Bank of America could wind up saving $117 million on its tax bill.
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Nice. We, the taxpayers, get to subsidize the settlements paid by banks for their bogus lending practices. Thanks to Mystery Reader for this engine-starter.

Thousands of families could be caught by church repair bills as archaic rights revived - Telegraph

Thousands of families could be caught by church repair bills as archaic rights revived - Telegraph: "Thousands of families are set to receive warnings that they could face large bills to repair their local church, even if they have never attended it, after parishes were ordered to enforce a 500-year-old land law...People living in more than 5,000 parishes in England are subject to the historic “chancel repair liabilities”, which affect properties built on former monastic land.:
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Thanks to Mystery Reader for this mind-boggling evidence that, no matter how bad you think your HOA is, things could always be worse.

Number of low-price homes plummets in state - latimes.com

Number of low-price homes plummets in state - latimes.com:
"Competition for lower-priced homes in California is so hot that the number of cheaper homes available for sale has sunk more than 40% in the last year, pushing out many would-be buyers. Homes that sold for $313,200 or less were the most competitive type of home nationally, but nowhere did inventory in that price range drop more than in the Golden State, according to a report released Thursday by real estate website Zillow."
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So in California, a $312,000 home is "lower-priced," even in a post-housing bubble market.  How are middle class Americans supposed to buy these palaces with their stagnant wages, assuming they aren't already reduced to selling oranges at freeway on-ramps and living in a tent in their mother-in-law's back yard?  The problem now, in post-bust America, is that investors (colloquially known to some as "vulture capitalists") have taken over the low end of the housing market:  "First-time home buyers are being squeezed out of the market by falling inventory and the rapid influx of investors looking to buy basic homes to rent out," Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries said. "Investors are paying in cash and can close sooner, which is more favorable to banks and homeowners looking to sell."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Florida homeowner association: florida homeowner association fight banks - OrlandoSentinel.com

Florida homeowner association: florida homeowner association fight banks - OrlandoSentinel.com: Jan Bergemann, president of the Cyber Citizens for Justice association watchdog group, said this week that law firms should not represent both groups.

"That should be a conflict of interest,'' Bergemann said. "Banks normally like to postpone as long as possible the moment they are the deeded owner. The homeowner association, meanwhile, has an interest to foreclose as soon as possible.'
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Conflicts of interest are determined on a case by case basis.  That said, law firms that play both sides of the street are making some denizens of Privatopia uncomfortable.