Confessions of a Connecticut Condo Board Pariah

March 8, 2012
By

A continuing series

Yes, I’m a pariah. A social outcast. A person despised by the Board of Directors of the Woodland House Condominium Association. (Note: there’s one new member who was just elected last week; I don’t think she’s tainted yet.)

How can I be so sure of their animosity?

Doreen Stern

I can see the daggers in their eyes, that sudden flash of hatred, when I walk into the community room, where board meetings are held. Or when I pass a board member in the garage.

“It’s you, you scum of the earth, you thorn in my side. You, who think you’re so high and mighty, so smart. We’ll get you yet, you just wait and see.”

After a split second, they avert their eyes, looking down at the ground or at the table at which they’re seated. Or at the clock on the wall, when I’m addressing them during the public comment portion of the board meeting. That’s when they sometimes talk over me, trying to rush me along.

How did I get myself into such a situation?

It was easy. I attend every board meeting, and stay until the bitter end. On average, one-hundred-fifty minutes of torture. I’m usually one of only two people who remain when the meeting is adjourned.

As a result, I’m well-informed about issues the Board is discussing. I also bring forward issues I think they ought to be considering, like energy conservation and necessary repairs to the physical plant, which have been ignored. I come with color 8″ x 10″ photographs, which are indisputable. I read succinct remarks, typed beforehand, after a board member criticized me in open meeting for speaking too long.

“Why do you do this to yourself?” an elderly man in my high-rise building recently asked.

It’s easy. I pay almost eight-thousand dollars a year in condominium fees (heat, electricity, and cable are included in our assessments).

That’s not small change. If I bought a blouse at Nordstrom’s for eighty dollars and it fell apart due to poor workmanship, I’d take it back. I intend to get what I pay for here, too.

Not only that, I’m committed to democracy and open participation, to the degree that I spent eight years earning a Ph.D. in public policy. It’s an anathema to me when a board establishes a 1-person committee to select carpet that is going to cost the condominium association – us — $180K.

So you see, being who I am, there’s really no choice.

Yet I bet I’m not the only one struggling with a recalcitrant condo board of directors. In the upcoming weeks I plan to tell you about some of my experiences here, and hope to hear about yours, too.

My first post will be about trying to tack a flyer about the CT Condo Owners Alliance onto the bulletin board in the mailroom. Sounds easy, huh?

Wait till you hear!

For now, happy trails to you, until we meet again. ~ Doreen

 

Click here to sign up to be members of the Ct Condo Owners COALITION (CCOC)

leading the movement for transparency and democracy in condo governance

 

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3 Responses to Confessions of a Connecticut Condo Board Pariah

  1. ctcondoowners@yahoo.com on March 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Thanks to George Gombossy for publishing your article, Doreen.

    Note one correction: The grassroots organization Doreen alludes to is the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition, not Alliance.

    If you face similar problems like Doreen described above, please join the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition.

    If you join soon and your application accepted, we will keep you informed of legislative activity, including an anticipated 2012 condo bill and public hearing with the Judiciary Committee.

    Visit us at http://www.wix.com/ctcondoowners/ccoc.

  2. Doug Newman on March 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Doreen,

    I have been following your series and I applaud you for speaking up! Unfortunately, it should not have to come to such an adversarial position between the Board and unit owners (you).

    For the record, the firm I’m associated with manages condominium associations (I would normally would not hesitate to disclose the name but specifically want to avoid any type of self promotion here).

    In any event, a strong property manager/management firm, could easily guide this Board to operate more effectively, efficiently and democratically (a one person committee making a $180,000 decision that affects many is far from democratic).

    The Board, while well intentioned I’m sure, appears to have lost sight of its fiduciary responsibility to the Association they were elected to serve.

    Assuming you are not self-managed, you might want to take your case to the Property Manager or the President of the Property Management firm so they can help guide the Board better. Should your Association be self-managed, it might be wise to consider professional management to avoid these types of unit owner/BOD conflicts which is sad to read about, particularly amongst neighbors.

    Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.

    Doug Newman
    Cell: (203) 516-1006
    Email: douglasmnewman@gmail.com

  3. Shirl on September 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Doreen, You go girl. You are not alone.

    In certain associations, consideration could be given to renaming the designation: “Board of Directors.” Rather than BOD, a more fitting designation might be “Group of Directors” or
    “GOD” as a few perceive themselves.

    Along those lines, a committee might also be formed to oversee the decisions, actions/inactions of the GOD. Such committee could be designated as the Social Outcast Board (the S.O.B.s), an existing designation so no paperwork required from the GOD.

    !

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