THE HOA ELECTION -- WITH NO PROXIES COUNTED

Article Courtesy of The Ashville Observer

Good Eye Publishing
P.O. Box 1302—Monticello, FL 32345
theashvilleobserver@earthlink.net
(850) 673-9456 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published July 22, 2017

Ashville Observer Editor, Ashley Hotz


2017 AAPOA REPORT

    

EMERGENCY MESSAGE to Ashville Area Property Owners/Investors:
Serious problem: a few of the AAPOA board of directors (AAPOA BOD) decided to trash our voting rights by not counting our proxy votes for the annual March election! By doing so — the election results were way different than if proxies had been included in the final counts. Result? Two board members got themselves re-elected, and so did their newbie buddy, Gary Ennis of the airstrip group, who was also “selected” for an empty seat — his first time there. He and the two board members, Michele Staffieri and John Wilson, were also illegally “selected”, not re-elected.
 

CORRECTION: It was not airstrip guy Gary Ennis who was “selected”. Identification was confusing because only first names or nicknames were writ-ten on the voting cards. The nickname “Waylon” was on it -- but no complete name. Our fact checkers said he is Thomas W. Haynes. It is my fault that the correction notes from March were forgotten or misplaced. “Waylon” did not show up for board duty for three meetings in a row - grounds for removal and replacement. To be very clear: Mr. Gary Ennis was properly elected over a year ago. It was Thomas “Waylon” Haynes who was “selected”. (End of correction statement).

The stakes are especially high with this illegal trick as there are huge issues that over the next two years will affect all of us. The “selected ones” values seem pointed towards enriching a few at great expense to the rest of us.

 

The illegal election happened with the visible collusion and support of President Betty Jo (BJ) Nelson, a close ally of Michele Staffieri. It still shocks me to remember that at a recent board meeting that BJ Nelson vigorously defended the motion to exclude proxies. Staffieri knows VERY WELL that proxy voting is a precious right stated clearly in all of our governing documents and in FL State Statute Section 720.306(8)!
 

They could only have done this illegal deed by planning it before the meeting… which they did. Here’s the evidence:
After interviews with several property owners including old timers with more than one property, this is what first alerted them: It was very odd to be given two little voting cards with two different numbers written on them when they signed them-selves in at the check-in table. There sat the memorable Lynn Salter and sweet faced April Brown. They did the volunteer job of giving out the two little voting cards.

One card had the number “1” on it. The other card’s number was the sum of the total number of your properties plus the number of proxies assigned to you for voting purposes.

“Selected” by Trickster tactics, Michele Staffieri sits at the BOD table at a recent monthly meeting


 

We wondered. Was the board considering doing away with proxies?! That seemed to be the only reason for the “1” card choice. Hairs stood up on a few necks.
 

The board and their friends need to remember that proxies are given to members who for years have proven that they can be trusted because of their patterns of good judgment, follow-through, kept promises, accuracy, plus many good works, and behavior.


Many property owners entrust proxies to others as they rarely can come in person for a wide variety of reasons (distance, illness, religious requirements, etc.) or they simply cannot easily attend the meeting in person.

TRUST — it’s a big issue here and it is important to remember the names of those who are fair and competent, and those who are selfish, manipulating, and self-serving.
 

History does NOT have to repeat itself if we keep in mind who has proven integrity over time. Remember the deeds of those serving as a board or committee member. Forgive -- but don’t forget!!

And that’s why some people are given large numbers of proxies — because they’ve earned trust, can think, often can run a business, and do what they say they’re going to do. It’s simply behavior that builds trust and respect over the years.

The first chatter heard at the meeting was mainly coming from a few of the board members commenting on the large number of proxies being as-signed, saying it’s “not fair”. This became increasingly loud as more folks signed in.

To many of us — some AAPOA board members seem to be imitating corrupted politicians!


 

The plot thickens big time and comes into sharp focus as angry, heated comments reach a high pitch, probably meant to sway the voting membership sitting nearby.

So imagine Michele Staffieri, her allies and a couple of those up for election making loud comments about there being “an awful lot of proxies” and suggesting over and over that absentee property owners who assign proxies “are not aware” of issues/conditions here —insinuating that they are ignorant of the issues affecting our community, so their proxies should not be counted!

Hey guys— don’t you know that a considerable number of long distance owners talk to the rest of us and have multiple ways of tracking what is done here be-sides depending on your bi-annual fluffy facts publication, called the AAPOA Newsletter?

Now...here’s where it gets real interesting — just when the voting for the election of board members was about to be cast and counted — observers saw that this part of the meeting was organized in specific steps to control who voted.

HERE’S HOW THEY DID IT: Just before the election was to take place, Michele Staffieri announced there was “a lot of great food” out there in the adjoining room. Sure enough, there was a long table loaded with very attractive large platters ordered from what looked like a catering provider.

Many folks did the natural thing — they happily got up to go eat and chat with neighbors.

Trouble is — the food was far from the table where the board sat. Then, as if on a listing boat, they huddled together, not moving to go eat, but in-stead, while the rest of the membership was chatting and chomping away — airstrip guy Roy Porterfield quickly made the motion to exclude proxies. It was seconded with a brief discussion, and BAM! A rapid vote count to trash the proxies!
 

SURPRISE!!
That dramatically limited the number of votes available for the “election”! Visualize the “voting” scene.

The food was in the main office, a room about twenty five feet from the BOD table located outside in the open area on the cement slab -- where the kill-the-proxy “vote” was taking place. If you were inside the room where the food was, you were out of hearing range of the BOD outside.

Incredibly, the fact is that ALL of our governing documents and FL state statute give us the right to vote in person or by proxy — why those protections must have flown like a speeding bullet right out of Michele Staffieri’s head.

Nah! Her behavior is what takes it out of the “incredible” category and puts it into the “intentional” category — since she knew full well what our protective governing documents say about
our right to vote by proxy.

Staffieri has participated on previous Bylaws’ Committees in which I participated and she was NOT ignorant of the illegal action of trashing our proxies.

 

Outraged new board member Jessica Robinson resigned by email after the May 6, 2017 regular board meeting.

May 6, 2017 -- AAPOA BOD:

To Whom It May Concern:

I Jessica Robinson, am resigning from the AAPOA Board as of May 6, 2017.
I joined the board hoping to make the community better, however, due to lack of communications and unethical behavior of a few of the board members I have found this is not possible.
Sincerely — Jessica Robinson


Once again Michele Staffieri became an instrument of selfish-ness and greed. We will remember you this time Michele, and while we will try to forgive, we will not forget...not this time.
 

Some who don’t care about our voting rights say “...why should we use proxies? People who don’t live here don’t know what’s going on!”

Well — many people both unin-formed and well informed but who can’t attend — have the right to vote by proxy. And they may not agree with what you or I want, but that’s the way democracy works …. so we need to get over it. Started in the 1980s, the Ashville Area Property Owner’s Association, Inc. was de-signed to be democratically governed.

Voting by proxy better enables us to control our property’s destiny. Many property owners consider their property to be an investment they want to collect on. Some depend exclusively on proxies to vote for keeping it a good investment. They have the absolute right to have some control over their property’s future and to keep this a beautiful, valuable place to live.
 

Did you know that more and more people are becoming aware that our weather here in this tiny section of the country is better and safer than most other areas of the U.S! Plus, we’re on high land!! Besides that we enjoy changing seasons and in winter, wonderful, temperate weather. But there are efforts to devalue our land and sell it cheap with the intent to make it into what they envision as a big profit opportunity.

 

Some say it’s the airstrip and the transport of drugs. Well, there is a lot of meth being cooked in these back woods and the local sheriff is obviously not in the business of shutting them down. North FL has become the “meth capital of FL according to long time drug investigators. Who here is helping make it a meth haven? How toxic do you want your soil, air and water? Meth ingredients are dangerous and deadly. It’s a good question to ask but the board won’t help you because there are too many in this community who reportedly have a piece of the action.

New to the area, Jessica and Mike Robinson are business people with good values, high energy, and very good common sense. They have gained influence here by being good neighbors and doing the right thing. They recently started a web based neighborhood chat website where we can exchange ideas, resources, references, etc. They are good people to have in our tiny pool of good leaders. Their son Knox is gorgeous. Too bad Jessica resigned in disgust. We need more people like her.



Many of us want to continue to vote by proxy to help us control the way the association is run and to control what it becomes. We want to enjoy the beauty and see an increase in our investment for ourselves, our heirs and posterity -- not a stinking hell hole of meth and criminals!

Don’t be fooled by the idiotic rationale of BJ Nelson who says the vote to exclude proxies was made by a member, so it’s o.k. She is waaaaaaaay off base.

If any property owner makes an illegal motion at a Membership Meeting, the “leaders” such as those who sit on the board, are supposed to politely inform them that the motion can’t go to a vote because it conflicts with governing documents. Staffieri and Nelson didn’t know that? Come on, don’t insult our intelligence!

And now there is more and more anger because no matter what we say, or what the attorney’s say — which is that they need to right this wrong and hold a legal election as soon as possible, yet they do nothing to make this right! They want to control board decisions at any cost so they ignore legal advice.

I continue to have a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about what has happened here after this election. It takes a lot to get me riled.

A lot has happened that is not good over the past few years previous to this most disturbing episode.

Yes, in total this board has made some really bad decisions, and have run a sloppy road equipment shop that hates/refuses to use Purchase Orders and doesn’t want to keep records of maintenance. That is wrong and against our rules as a homeowner’s association.

People tried to ignore the times when there was plenty of free gasoline for Michele, Butch and heavens knows who else from the big gas tank at the Operations Center. Is that how they get their allies and form buddy relationships to profit from them, who then vote for the way the Staffieris want them to vote?

Remember please that all of this gas was used during a period when NONE OF THE AAPOA ROAD MAINTENANCE TRUCKS OR MACHINES REQUIRED GASOLINE!!


The treasurer who finally put a stop to it says thousands of dollars of gasoline were purchased though he voted against it. They waited until he was out of town to vote to approve yet another large delivery of gas!

Not good for sure. Michele has no problem ignoring complaints about this, including mine by telling me to “never send me an email again!”
 

Yep. Criticism about spending our money on gas is upsetting to those doing these deeds. Better to “get along and ignore” like a “real friend”. Friend to whom? We are all in this together here, and if you steal from me, you steal from all of us by doing these things.

O.K...the community let this slide, but THE STOLEN ELECTION IS THE LAST STRAW AND CANNOT STAND!!

 

So we older warriors are putting our facts together, talking to a fine attorney, and are eating a lot of spinach like ‘ol Popeye, because we need to get strength to go into battle again.
 

Something good is coming from this mess. Seeing and talking to the battle worn warriors speak out and write letters with fire in their bellies makes me proud of them. Most of them worked for years on committees or sat on the board over the years. They worked hard on legal questions and the Bylaws -- following the exactly worded, excellent advice of our attorneys who study homeowner association laws and are meticulous in their work.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE OLD WARRIORS WHEN our community took big hits when the motor grader and bush hog were sold for peanuts to a board member’s co-worker? Many in our community were outraged by their actions which resulted in a great loss to our community. The work buddy who bought the equipment said, “it was the best deal I ever got”.

We worked to petition them out of office. Husband Richard and I drove all over the state of Florida meeting some wonderful property owners who gladly gave us their signature to remove them.

 

But it’s hard. It takes just over 50% of property owner signatures to remove board members. At this point in my life I’m not ready to go for weeks of weekends to travel to get signatures.
 

Not this year. I still run a computer business with hubby Richard and are now in our twenty first year in business in Jefferson County. We can’t afford to take time off until we sell our business and retire. Hopefully soon.

Doug Coon lives across our pond and has donated much to the com-munity including serving on the board, holding appreciation parties for the road crew, and donating money to do the right things that need to be done. His wife is very ill so he stays home to care for her. Mr. Coon’s proxies were not counted.



Oh, let’s please remember too that it was the old warriors who back during the old days (circa 2008-10) found major embezzlement and were able to get that money back. And of course we changed the weird, out-of-date accounting system that only one person knew how to use. So ripe for stealing! We insisted on them using well known account-ing software so the accounts could be more easily examined. We also finally established an Emergency Fund and yaaay… purchase orders (at least for a time).

 

We at least caught some of the big bad stuff and fixed them to the degree that we could considering all the resistance from those who like to keep secrets, employ unethical tactics, and will do anything to maintain control.

But we old warriors are scouting around for help from not only the old warrior group, but from new people with brains, integrity and smarts. Our old voices are increasingly disrespected by the current board because of lies told by those who fear us, like those who profit from being a board member… like Michele Staffieri and her husband Butch. Butch makes money running the roads and the equipment.
 

We did much better with some-one who is an expert motor-grader operator, kept good records, and even used Purchase Orders! You can guess why this BOD does not want that person in control of road maintenance.

To help plan for the future governance of this little Almost-a-Shangri-La, we are actively seeking bright talent with brains, integrity, business acumen, a love for doing the Right Thing, with a huge dose of common sense to help run this community according to our governing documents and FL Statutes.

We’ve tried our best over the past two months to make a very seriously bad deal into a legal deal for the community. After the March election shock, we first communicated our position to the BOD by email, phone, personally and by letter. Nothing good came from their end...certainly no promises to do a legal election to clean up the legal mess.
 

We then showed up for the next regular meeting of April 1, 2017 to insist they have another, legal election at the earliest possible time. We appealed to the four other legally elected board members to do the right thing.

We were adamant that “this will not stand!” and that to make it right we did NOT want to take it to legal action, but would if the illegal board kept on as it is. We told them it would be necessary to protect our community. So we contacted our Sir Lancelot attorney, Richard Benton, who knows this community well and many of its board and committee members. The first money spent on this came out of the pockets of old warriors...trying to avoid having the AAPOA go to Binding Arbitration and spend community money!

But our hearts sank during the April 1, 2017 meeting where we were insulted and bullied. And I do mean bullied. It wasn’t pretty. It scared some people, and it wasn’t professional in tone and content in any sense of the word. We did our best to be reasonable and in Win/Win mode, but that can only happen with reasonable people whose intentions and values include the Golden Rule.


New board member Jessica Robinson quit in disgust after the board refused to right the wrongs. Horrified, she sent her resignation letter by email to President BJ Nelson which is protocol.


BJ is tasked with distributing communications to other board members. Reports say that she rarely does so. She told other board members that Jessica quit because she was “too afraid” to speak out. That is not true! She is a big loss as a good board member and we need more like her.

President BJ Nelson also has a reputation for holding on to legal documents and letters — i.e. the letters from our attorney asking that a new election be held. The attorney quoted our Bylaws and FL state statutes to inspire them to immediately call a meeting to have a legal election. The letters were very polite, well written letters. They were from our esteemed attorney, Sir Richard (Rick) Benton.

We older warriors have made some progress, but to do it we will need you to get a little bit upset and do something about it too. We can do it together! Please think of it as our right to defend Democracy and fairness.

Dear God in Heaven please help.

We see our sons and daughters go off to fight wars in other countries -- often told its for “Democracy”… but here at home it is so very rare to see someone speak out.

Dear God please light a fire under this community to care enough to do and say some-thing before our neighborhood disintegrates totally into gang-land management tactics.
 

What you need to know is what our investigation found. There are a few “players” who badly want our land devalued, possibly condemned, and or/sold cheap. All so they can buy it cheap, control it, and continue their plan to make money for a few, while the rest of us pay dearly.

 

JUNE 14, 2017 UPDATE:
At the June 8th meeting the AAPOA Board of Directors made it clear that they are not going to hold a legal election, despite eloquent property owner comments and objections to the vote to exclude proxies. One especially inspiring testimony was that of John Howell, former president and respected elder who presided over the AAPOA in the eighties. He said clearly that his right to vote has been “violated”. He made clear but courteous statements to influence the board to change its tactics. But instead of reasonable actions, AAPOA President BJ Nelson roughly slid a letter towards this editor at the moment the meeting adjourned. It contained threats of suing for libel.
 

Later we read it and laughed. We knew the newsletter we’d mailed contained only one minor inaccuracy and we published a correction.
 

One: We now have mandated Binding Arbitration.

Two: BJ Nelson’s threat letter is a perfect First Amendment attack that could tempt a SLAPP lawsuit against individuals who voted to send it.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- too often intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
 

Any expert First Amendment pro bono attorney offers? Mr. Rivas?

The AAPOA board knows time has run out for them to make right the dreadful wrongs of the illegal election. They are spending AAPOA money to defend their illegal election. We just gave our splendid attorney a large retainer on July 13th for his expertise in the Binding Arbitration which is now mandated by the State of FL to settle homeowner and condo associations, when all attempts by community voices fail to move them to right egregious wrongs.

HOA ARTICLES

HOME NEWS PAGE