The HOA Board's Phony "Up-or-Down Vote" Argument
Note: Here is a quick link to the board's ill-conceived Nine-Question ballot.
As the Special Meeting on the reform package nears and the community-wide support for the reforms has become more and more evident, the HOA Board has finally been flushed out. While it professed to be neutral, we believe the Board has adamantly opposed the reforms from the outset.
The Board has looked with little success for arguments to fight the reforms. Since the reforms are common-sense and much needed fixes to visible problems, the board has not had much luck finding any. After all, how can it justify opposing a strong procurement policy, a fair election policy, electronic voting and updating the bylaws?
The Board has been forced to be more transparent about its opposition to term limits—in fact, it has become obvious that this is the Board’s true agenda. But the Board struggles to mount an effective campaign on this one issue alone, particularly since the term limits issue is so directly tied to its own self-interests, as opposed to the interests of the HOA as a whole.
So, the Board has conjured up a phony issue. It is attacking the reform effort for wanting an ‘up-or-down vote’ on the reform package. It goes so far as to assert that calling for an ‘up-or-down vote’ somehow insults the intelligence of the HOA’s members. ‘They should be allowed to vote on each element piecemeal’, it blusters.
In reality, an ‘up-or-down vote’ is the standard practice for such elections. Check out http://www.azcleanelections.gov for many examples.
Moreover, the reform package was crafted as an integrated set of measures that, collectively, could address key problems in the HOA that have led to such intense discord. It creates a path for greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the HOA’s members.
This is what the 1,200+ members who signed the reform petition called for.
We always contemplated an ‘up-or-down vote’. Shortly after the petition was submitted in March, we provided the HOA’s management company a draft ballot in a good-faith effort to ease its burden in preparing for the Special Meeting.
We were dismayed when we saw what the board was actually proposing for the ballot. Instead of offering a single ‘up-or-down vote’, the Board’s ballot proposed nine separate votes spread across three pages!
To make matters much worse, there was absolutely NO explanation of each of the issues to be voted on. There was no description of the amendment being voted on, nothing to put it in context, no information about what the effect would be of approving it. Nothing…not so much as a subject line. Click on this link to see for yourself how utterly confusing and uninformative the Board’s proposed ballot was.
Here is one example of the many problems with the Board’s approach. Several of the amendments remove the existing text in the Bylaws regarding ‘proxy voting’, which has been banned for years by State statutes. This is basic housekeeping, which the Board should have been taken care of years ago. But there is nothing on the ballot that explains that at all.
By breaking up amendments to the individual paragraphs of the Bylaws in this way, the Board’s proposal made it very possible that some of the amendments would have been approved, while others were not. This could have led to a set of Bylaws with huge internal contradictions. This makes absolutely no sense.
There is no legitimate argument for not having an ‘up-or-down vote’.
There is a related issue that is very pertinent.
We anticipated that the Board would not prepare anything that offered voters proper information about the issues being voted on. After all, it had done just that in last year’s recall election. We all know that the entity holding an election has an obligation to provide sufficient information to voters so they can make an informed decision, but the Board simply doesn’t do that. (This is one of many, many issues that should be addressed in the development of a proper election policy, as contemplated by the reforms.)
We prepared a one-page paper that both explained the reforms and made the case for approval. (https://www.thefoothillsinfo.com/post/the-case-for-the-bylaws-reforms) We requested that the Board include this with the ballots so that the members could better understand the issues. We even offered to pay, so that there would be no cost to the HOA. We also made clear that we had absolutely no objection if the Board wanted to include a similar paper opposing the reforms. This is of course similar to how governmental elections are conducted…provide relevant information to the voters, and then let them decide.
The Board flatly refused.
The only information that accompanied the ballot was the actual petition. The only information about the rationale for each proposed amendment in the petition is the very cursory “Purpose” phrase preceding each one.
Had the Board’s proposal gone forward, for a voter to have any idea at all of what the proposed amendment was about, he would have had to search through the petition to find the corresponding section. Even then, he would have found only a few words to describe the amendment.
Does this make any sense at all? Of course not!
We urge all HOA members to see the Board’s misdirection about an ‘up-or-down vote” for what it is, and to focus on the actual substance of the reforms. Vote APPROVE!