Category Archives: Kansas

70 Years Ago Today…Far Far Away in Normandy

guest blog by Nila Ridings

It’s with deep emotions and a heavy heart that I write this blog about D-Day.

On that beach, dressed in the United States Army military fatigues with a rifle and a helmet was the man that ten years later would become the most influential person in my life. He was six feet tall, slender, beautiful blue eyes, thick dark brown hair with a wave on the side, a grin that melted everybody’s heart, and a sense of humor that could turn the toughest situations into one that made me laugh. Mom’s girlfriends said he was so dreamy looking he could have been a movie star. By the grace of God, I was one of three lucky girls that got to call him Dad.

He wasn’t a war hero, he was my hero. From my earliest memories in life, he was always my best friend. He was a very successful businessman, but first and foremost he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, friend, and employer. He never missed my dance recitals, or a chance to make latrines for my Girl Scout camp. He was at every event I was a part of in school even when he was sitting in the freezing cold on concrete bleachers while I was cheering for our team until I lost my voice. He taught me about life, people, money management, construction, honesty, integrity, motivation, ambition, problem-solving, decision-making, project management, and taking good care of customers. He lived by his motto of “Work hard and play hard but never do too much of either one!”

We went to air shows and boat shows, car races and rodeos, the circus and ice skating performances. We went to Disneyland and Fairy Land, and coast to coast in the family station wagon. We ate well and lived comfortably in a beautiful HOA-FREE neighborhood. We had nice cars, boats, clothes, and a vacation home.

I’ve been extremely fortunate. And, my Dad told me to never buy a home with an HOA. I didn’t listen to his advice and I’ve paid the price. I fight every day to educate others about the horrors of HOAs and try to protect them from this misery. My Dad is my driving force, the wind beneath my wings, and the angel on my shoulder. He knew this HOA battle would grow ugly and brutal and I fight it to honor him.

He fought for our country to protect our freedoms from being destroyed by our enemies. When WWII was over, he returned to Kansas and never shared a word about what he saw on June 6, 1944. I just always knew we would take no vacations where we slept in a tent or away from American soil. And rice was never served on our dinner table. I did not know where my Dad was on D-Day until after both of my parents were gone and a family friend told me. I cried for hours.

Many men lost their lives. Wives lost their husbands, children lost their dads, mothers and fathers lost their sons, and brothers and sisters lost their brothers, and families lost loved ones seventy years ago on this fateful day. May we pause to remember each of them. And, pray that the citizens of our country and especially those of us in HOAs will recognize they did not make the ultimate sacrifice so we could turn against and battle each other on American soil today.

Beyond words…I love you and miss you, Dad.

Thank you for your service to our great country.

Elmer L. Ridings, 1922-1988

Teenage Girl Builds Her Own Tiny House

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Sicily Kolbeck built her dream home, lost her best friend in the midst of building, and gave a TED Talk. How old is she? 13. What did she learn? Many lessons about construction but even more about life, loving, losing, and living on.

Her story really touches my heart. I was 13 when I built a lake home with my dad, who was my best friend, too. I miss and think of him every day. I know if he was still here, I never ever would have purchased in an HOA.

I wish Sicily all the best in her new home whether she takes it to college, lives in the wilderness, or hooks up and pulls it around Alaska. Most of all, I hope she’ll always remember her dad’s loving hands helped her build not just a tiny home but confidence that will take her many places that she has yet to dream of.

I also hope she will inspire other young people to build a tiny house so they won’t fall into the condo concentration camp. Or the maintence-not-provided scam. If it takes a few feet of living space on a trailer to protect the younger generation from the nightmares of HOA living, I’m all for it!

Enjoy both videos as Miss Sicily shares her story!

(link to Tiny House talk)

Teen Builds Her Own Tiny Home for $9k

Ye Olde Clubhouse…The Other Money Pit

guest blog by Nila Ridings

You may pass it by every day with merely a glance and no thoughts to the cost of the HOA clubhouse.  Yet, when we take a closer look at its financial drain you’ll probably sit up and take notice. 
These party palaces can suck away more money than a 40 foot speed boat with twin engines.  And in the case of Quivira Falls there is rarely a party or a paid rental to be found. Most communities restrict usage to homeowners. That makes sense except when the homeowners rarely rent it.
A short time ago, the Quivira Falls board president slyly pulled off a self-dealing maneuver and milked the HOA cash cow for a complete redecorating of the clubhouse.  She claimed to be in the “decorating business” so she slid the job through her company.  No other bids were taken.  There is probably more to the redecorating details, but here’s the list of what I know was done: new window treatments, new hardwood flooring, paint throughout, new bathrooms, new kitchen, new door locks, mold abatement, and custom-framed photographs.  She claimed none of this cost too much because she was keeping “the boys” busy during the winter months.  “The boys” just happened to be employed by the property manager.  None of these redecorating expenses included the price for labor.  Did you ever know of a construction project that didn’t require labor?  And furthermore since the houses are rotten and need repairs and painting, why weren’t these guys laid off like most construction workers and the wages saved until better weather so it could be spent on the townhomes not the clubhouse?
According to the May 2014 issue of QF The News, rentals so far this year have totaled $1,000.  Nice even number, but expenses so far are: janitorial supplies $292.30, pest control $76.72, R&M (whatever that is?) $213.13, utilities $2,393.79.  I’m not a CPA, but my calculations total the expenses at $5,075.94-$1,000=($4,075.94) in the hole. Summer is coming in Kansas so the cooling cost on this money-sucker is going to skyrocket to nearly $900 per month.  You may be asking why the utilities are costing so much for a building that by the rentals would indicate it is empty at least 29 days per month.  Well, here’s the answer: the property manager has ONE EMPLOYEE working in that building Monday through Friday.  Thousands of dollars per year are spent on heating and cooling just for one person to sit at a desk and answer the phone, play computer games or whatever, in that building!
Before the redecorating “money maker,” the previous HOA president had stucco applied to the exterior and told me the cost was $100,000.  There have always been yearly landscaping expenses and most recently lighting was installed on the entry stairs attached to a deck that extends beyond the doors.  I call this place the Taj Mahal.  
It eats money like a slot machine but it’s really too small to be of much benefit.  Most clubhouses are one big room, this one is a small room and another small room with a conference table.  Select homeowners use it for Bunco games.  Others who have tried to use it for meetings regarding the conditions of the community, have been given the excuse of either the furnace doesn’t work in the winter or the air conditioning is broken in the summer.  Always an excuse for keeping the “pariahs” out of the clubhouse their money is being spent on. 
Wichita has a condo association where the clubhouse has a bar.  Its been the source of more than one juicy rumor and drunken fight.  But one night it became the place of a flaming disaster.  A board member rented it to someone outside of the COA and the stories are varied but all pretty much conclude with it being quite the drunken scene.  In the wee hours of the morning it ignited into flames and burned to the ground.  The board members blamed the fire on one of their most-hated condo owners.  (You know the guy that was eventually beaten with a crowbar.)  The Fire Marshall testified that the cause was an outlet behind the refrigerator.  Apparently, it was damaged when somehow the refrigerator was pushed back too far into the wall and the plug smashed into the outlet.  His explanation was logical but the bullies on the board still blame their enemy.  And the damage was around one million dollars.
I’ve had friends who lived at a lake community in the area.  They have a golf course, stables, and a clubhouse with a restaurant.  Now, there’s another “hook” on the HOA concept.  You must eat so many meals per month at the restaurant or pay anyway.  When HOA life goes sour the last thing people want to do is have a meal with their enemies sitting across the dining room pointing, whispering, and glaring at them.  They were happy to sell and get out of there, but part of the revenue comes from “outsiders” renting the venue for parties and wedding receptions. That reduces the financial sting a bit. 
Next time you drive past your clubhouse envision that it is bleeding money because it probably is.  If you are thinking of buying into an HOA…well…I would advise you not to do that, but certainly put the cost of a clubhouse at the top of your list for reasons to run for the exit!

Board Members Sell Out And Get Out!

guest blog by Nila Ridings
What do Walt, C.J., Bill, Molly, Pat, Porter, Vern, and Tom have in common? They were all HOA board members. Shortly after serving on the board or while on the board they sold and got out!  Could that be because they had access to records and information about lawsuits that the ordinary HOA “pariah” didn’t?  Could it be because they saw the “light” on this dilapidated HOA and all of it’s failed plans and programs?  Or is it because of the million dollar debt?
Whatever the reason, it does make a difference when you have access to “insider” information.
When a “pariah” wants to see HOA records they must make the request and pay by the hour to examine them.  A “pariah” has to pay additional copying fees for each page.  They don’t know how many lawsuits the HOA has filed or how many have been filed against the HOA.  They don’t have a say in whether the board borrows $1,000,000 on a line of credit… and then agrees to pay the property manager 10% of it as some sort of “finder’s fee” or “management fee” on top of the hundreds of thousands per year he’s already collecting.
What seems to have been “brushed under the rug” in a majority of HOAs is the fiduciary duty that a board member has to the homeowners.  What happened to that?  Is it just some unheard of and forgotten obligation that board members routinely ignore?
And how have these board members managed to get thousands of dollars worth of work done on their units before selling them?  While the neighborhood “pariahs” have work orders that collect dust for years.
I’m going to offer up this piece of advice for whatever it’s worth to our readers. If your board members are heading out the exit…you should, too.  Pay close attention to the real estate listings in your HOA.  Check the addresses against your county records for owners’ names.  Board members’ properties listed for sale could be a sure sign something is rotten in the HOA!!!
“Pariah” was used in an HOA newsletter by the HOA president to describe homeowners who insisted the dues be used to repair their wood rotted houses as opposed to having the clubhouse completely redone.  Since the clubhouse is rarely rented anyway, that project made no sense when the exterior of the houses was rotted so severely there is frame damage.  But the board president decided to self-deal the clubhouse redo through her personal “decorating” company. And the HOA newsletter (it was learned in court) is printed by her “publishing” company!  Which was how she justified pocketing all the advertising dollars from the ads that paid for the newsletter…and the profits became hers, too.  Another one of her self-dealings!  Her “pariah” newsletter was presented in front of a judge and jury…it most definitely helped the homeowner win all counts of the lawsuit.  Hooray!  Just another reminder you just can’t fix stupid!
Oh yes, and imagine this…the state has NO RECORD of her owning a decorating or publishing company. How many 80 year olds do you know who have the energy to own and manage two flourishing businesses that “cater” to the HOA while being president of the HOA? Since she’s been exposed she uses her middle finger to express her displeasure to her neighbors.  Nope, she’s not even a classy old lady!

Nila Ridings on National Radio Show

My frequent guest blogger, Nila Ridings, is going to be a guest of HOA expert Shu Bartholomew this Saturday. Many of you know Shu as one of the most stalwart Homeowners Rights advocates in the country. Her weekly radio show airs in and around Fairfax, Virginia, but better yet, she broadcasts on the Internet so she has a national and even international audience. Shu interviews the top figures in the fight against abuse by rogue Homeowners Associations. And, indeed, Nila Ridings is one of the nation’s top fighters against this disingenuous, tyrannical and corrupt movement. 

Nila is famous in Kansas as the leader of a group of about twenty people who fought for a new law in Kansas that reigns in some of the monstrous actions of rogue HOA boards. During that time, Nila was nicknamed ‘The General’ by her associates. Her story is a great one. 

Shu Bartholomew’s show is called “On The Commons” and it can be heard live or through a downloaded podcast where you can listen at your convenience.

One warrior interviewing another warrior. It promises to be another great show!

Be there or be square!