Category Archives: beekeeping

Only Slightly Related to Homeowners

OK, OK, so I do occasionally go off on a wild goose chase. I admit it. Hopefully you’ll forgive me.

For the past two days I’ve been absolutely addicted to something on the web. Can’t take my eyes off of it. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has placed a high quality live camera right next to a nest of bald eagles, that grand symbol of America.

Just a couple days ago they hatched a chick. I think there are two more eggs in the nest but I can’t tell for sure. Dad is usually off hunting.

I do believe in celestial miracles and this is one of God’s greatest! Make sure you view it full screen!

(live web cam on eagles’ nest)



Welcome To Your New Condo!!!

Yes, welcome to your new condo. You’re going to love living here. The neighbors all get along and we don’t seem to suffer the kinds of problems felt in many other Homeowners Associations. You’re buying into a little bit of Heaven, your own private home. Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Oh, we’re sorry we couldn’t give you copies of the covenants, the budget and insurance papers in time for your real estate closing. At the time you requested them, the paperwork was tied up in some minor snafu. But it’ll all get worked out soon.

Ah yes, and ignore the story in the newspapers today. Those crooked reporters always make up their facts and get the story wrong. Everybody knows how warped and dishonest the media are. Just sit back and enjoy your new life!

(link to the neighborhood Welcome Wagon!)





Beware the HOA Scam!

guest blog by Deborah Goonan (

The HOA industry, and the politicians who support the industry – perhaps for dubious reasons – use the same talking point, over and over again:

“Vote the bums out!”

What a joke! As many have pointed out here on this blog, there are many factors that make a mockery of the fair election process in homeowners or condo associations.

The very first problem is that votes are allocated according to the corporate model of governance, and not based upon a democratic basis of “one person, one vote.” In Association Governed Residential Communities, voting interests (notice I did not say “rights”) are tied directly to the share of property owned within the association.

When investors or developers own most of the property, they hold a majority of the voting interests, and therefore control the Board by default. In this respect, life in an HOA is no different than living under a dictatorial, communist, or fascist regime.

Or, another way to look at it is that, as a homeowner, you become an unwilling pawn in a game of hostile corporate takeover.

But even in cases where the developer or investor group are no longer involved, owners can form voting blocs of like-minded property owners to prey upon the remaining owners. One common scenario pits absentee landlord owners against owner occupants. This is especially common in condominium associations.

In 55+ communities, where many of the owners are in their seventies and older, it can be difficult to find candidates for the board who are healthy enough to serve! That opens the door for relatively young but unscrupulous board members to take advantage of senior citizens living on fixed incomes, and dealing with declining health.

The HOA concept is flawed to the core. The foundation is shaky from Day One.

And on top of that, there are no consistent laws that offer adequate consumer protection.

Why have so many of our elected officials failed to recognize that the HOA industry has, in effect, created an alternative local governance scheme that circumvents Constitutional principles? And what’s more, at the local and state level, misguided housing and development policies have encouraged or, in effect, required the establishment of nothing else but Association-Governed Residential Communities across the state and throughout population growth centers in the US.

It’s time to end the denial of abuse of homeowners and residents of these HOAs, COAs. It’s time to recognize that the governance model is flawed, and that, quite often, the financial model is also precarious at best.

This is America, and people need to be able to not only freely choose where they want to live, but they also must be free to live in peace. Americans should not have to risk losing their property equity and financial nest egg — not to mention their physical and mental health — because they have been sucked into a dysfunctional “community” governed by a mandatory association.

If state and local policies keep pushing these HOAs and building condos, there will very soon be no other housing alternatives. The supply of non-HOA, non-condo property to buy is already in short supply in high-growth real estate markets.

I recently relocated to Central Pennsylvania, where HOAs are not as common as they are in areas surrounding population centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. States such as Florida (where I lived for about 7 years), California, Virginia, Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, etc. have very high concentrations of HOA/condo property and a great deal of problems as a result. Local governments are increasingly required to provide financial assistance to failed or failing Associations with aging infrastructure and inadequate reserves. The industry does not want you to know about this! Advocates and concerned citizens, don’t allow your state to fall into the same trap!

Rules for Radical HOAs

Nila Ridings, the homeowners rights firebrand from Kansas, raises a question that deserves consideration.

Now, I’ve read Rules for Radicals a number of times over the years. Saul Alinsky was the Chicago activist who taught that sneaky underhanded rebellion was a way to take over society. But read a little more deeply into his writings. Forget the politics. Forget left and right, Democrat and Republican. Forget conservative and liberal. Just sink deeply into his rhetoric and his logic.

Finally, emerge from your voyage of discovery and analyze how the HOA movement has slowly and stealthily taken over the American real estate development and home building industry. Slowly, this industry has moved almost a quarter of all Americans into a political system which is completely outside the control of the U.S. Constitution.

Make no mistake, Homeowners Associations are absolutely a form of government. They control your roads, your sewer, your trash pickup, maintenance of your local water system, policing of your neighborhood. They even form your court system, since traditional courts have washed their hands of most HOA conflicts. And to an incredible degree they control your personal finances. Of course, just like in a traditional government you pay taxes. Your monthly dues and the sudden demand for a $10,000 or $20,000 special assessment are taxes.

What rights do you actually have in an HOA? Well, what rights do you have under facism, or marxism, or communism or any other kind of non-constitutional dictatorship?

Nila Ridings is right. We all need to read Rules for Radicals, just to see what we’re up against.

(link to wiki and Rules for Radicals)


HOA Disclosure Laws Great For Embezzling

guest blog by Deborah Goonan (Independent American Communities)

Several states are talking about the need for laws requiring that HOAs be open and provide full disclosure to buyers and current owners alike. Several, such as Florida and California, have already enacted laws meant to prevent corruption and self-dealing.

But it isn’t working, because states choose not to enforce violations of the very laws they created. It is up to the owner to initiate a law suit in civil court, and most owners cannot afford to pay an attorney thousands of dollars to enforce open meetings, full access to records, and consumer disclosure statutes.

For example, Massachusetts is the latest state to attempt to enact disclosure laws. Critics call the proposed statute a “toothless tiger.”

(link to story in Newbury Port News on toughening condo owners’ rights)

On the heels of that report, I read two others this week about missing money in Association-Governed Residential Communities. Although I strive to keep current on news affecting homeowners and residents in HOAs, I also want to thank several of my readers who forward links to HOA embezzlement horror stories on a weekly basis.
Community Associations Institute (CAI) and state-level chapters have gone on record stating that these are “isolated incidents.”


Here’s another not-so-isolated incident In Lakes Northwest, Texas, where owners are investigating at least one board member suspected of embezzling money from the association.

(link to money missing from local HOA account)

And yet another incident, this one in Washington state, involving a husband and wife management team.

(HOA managers arrested over missing property funds)

CAI political lobby efforts put the blame on homeowner apathy. They say that owners just don’t get involved in self-governance of their association, unless and until conditions reach crisis mode.

While it’s true that most owners don’t attend HOA meetings and don’t pay much attention to how the annual budget is established, CAI is not telling the public – nor our lawmakers – the whole story.

The truth is, the corporate nature of Association-Governed Residential Communities vests considerable power and control to a few owners that serve on the Board of Directors. The board of directors wields considerable power and authority, but almost no accountability. Often, the Board will yield that authority to a management company, allowing the tail to wag the dog.

Unfortunately, when a homeowner, condominium, or cooperative association “elects” one or more rogue volunteers to the Board, it can be very difficult to detect corrupt activities and to remove unsuitable leaders.

It should be noted that during construction phases (which can drag on for decades in master planned communities), the Board of Directors is controlled by the developer. While some developers take pride in the quality of their work, others do not. Homeowners and residents can get stuck with a board of builder affiliates that limits transparency in order to shield the developer from liability for defective or shoddy construction or design.

Providing full and continuous disclosure of corporate association management and financial conditions is THE best way for homeowners or home buyers to be alerted to:
incidents of financial mismanagement, outright theft, or numerous complaints of defective construction.

Common sense: if disclosure laws were enforceable through more practical means, or enforceable through Attorneys General or federal regulatory agencies, and if developer or homeowner controlled boards and the managers that serve those board were truly held accountable, I believe we would reduce the opportunity of unethical developers, board members and community managers to shift the blame, lie, cheat, and steal your money.
So why are laws favoring swift and meaningful enforcement transparency and full disclosure so vehemently opposed by CAI? Why are state level CAI chapter leaders crafting “toothless tiger” bills that appear to benefit homeowners and HOA residents, but are essentially meaningless?