Category: Cronyism

CO homeowners helpless against rogue homeowner associations

The Moonridge Falls subdivision HOA in Grand Junction suddenly locked homeowners out of their own common space park this winter, nominally for safety, even though no accidents had occurred in the park and no one had ever been hurt in the park. The HOA effectively treated all homeowners as though they were trespassers in their own common space. Across the state, subdivisions that lock off commonly-owned amenities, like swimming pools or tennis courts — whether for safety or to eliminate vandalism — provide all homeowners keys to the locks on the amenities because the homeowners own the amenities and pay the substantial costs of maintaining them.

Homeowners in the Moonridge Falls subdivision in Grand Junction woke up last December 21 to find their homeowners association (HOA) had suddenly locked them out of their own common space park.

Residents couldn’t remember a time when the gates to the park had ever been locked. No one had been hurt in the park. No accidents had occurred in the park recently, not even a close call, but for some reason the HOA suddenly decided to lock the park and keep everyone out, even homeowners, as though it was a crime scene or a grave emergency had just occurred. The HOA put up a sign saying the park would stay locked as long as there was ice on the pond.

Yet long after the ice had melted, the locks remained, leading people to wonder what was really up, and what they could do about it.

Locked out of their own property

When they bought their homes, Moonridge homeowners paid extra for the right to access the subdivision’s heavily landscaped private park. They pay all of the park’s substantial maintenance costs through their annual dues, and the cost to maintain the park takes over 90% of their dues. And as legal owners of the common space, all homeowners all have an equal right to access it 24/7. The HOA had no more right to lock all homeowners out of their own park than they have to lock them out of their own homes.

But instead of balancing what might have been a legitimate safety concern with preserving homeowners’ rights to enjoy their own property — for example by offering all homeowners keys to the locks like other subdivisions do, the HOA took an action that treated all of its own homeowners like criminals.

Residents who had been using the park for breaks from endless Zoom meetings in the pandemic, or for outdoor respite nearby were now flat out of luck. They would now have to get in their cars and drive to a public park, even though they were paying for a very nice park right next their own homes.

Ignoring laws, infringing on homeowner rights

It turned out that the Moonridge Falls HOA was also ignoring laws and compromising homeowners’ rights in a lot more ways than just this, though.

  • The HOA cancelled its only homeowner meeting last year “because of covid,” refusing to even put on a virtual meeting, and depriving owners of their only chance to discuss the plan to deprive them of their common space for the entire winter, before it ever happened. State law requires HOAs hold at least one meeting a year.
  • The HOA had never registered with the State HOA office as has been required since 1992.
  • The HOA had never adopted policies for dealing with homeowner grievances, or for fining homeowners, even thought the law requires HOAs have such policies in place.
  • The HOA had no separate reserve fund.
  • The HOA had never given homeowners information about the state laws regulating HOAs, or about homeowner duties in regard to HOAs, as the law required.
  • The HOA held board meetings without making agendas available to homeowners. (The law says HOA boards must make agendas available to homeowners so people are aware of what their HOAs are up to.)
  • And the HOA had never adopted a policy regulating conflicts of interest by its board members. (The longtime board president, owner of a landscape maintenance company, had long given his own family’s company the contract for maintaining all of Moonridge Falls’ landscaping.)

Most homeowners never knew or paid attention to all the ways their HOA was violating their rights and ignoring state laws. But when the HOA suddenly locked off the park to everyone and blocked every attempt homeowners tried to address the move, the HOA crossed the line into being a dictator, and became worthy of more scrutiny.

Abusive HOAs have total control. Homeowners have little to no recourse.

So what can homeowners do with an HOA that abuses its decision-making power and infringes on their property rights?

Turns out, not much.

They can file a complaint against their HOA with Colorado’s HOA Information and Resources Center.  But the Resource Center can only collect complaints and compile them into an annual report. That’s it. The agency tells consumers up front on its website that it “does not have any investigative or enforcement capabilities to address your HOA complaint.”

While the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA, pdf) regulates HOAs and was created to protect consumers from abusive HOAs, it contains no mechanism for enforcement — zero — effectively leaving it without any “teeth.” So Colorado homeowners who belong to HOAs are at the mercy of abusive boards, whose members often are poorly qualified, in experience, knowledge or temperament, to hold positions of power over their neighbors.

The sad reality is that Colorado law leaves HOA Boards free to grab homeowners’ land, violate their rights, break state and federal laws, impose petty rules on a whim and make people’s lives miserable without ever having to worry about any corrective or punitive action being taken.

The only recourse homeowners have to fight a bad HOA is to file a lawsuit — and that is time consuming, costs lots of money and may not even solve the problem.

HOA horror stories abound

Complaints about abusive HOAs abound in Colorado, and everywhere across the country. Petty, poorly thought-out and even cruel decisions by HOA boards are common:

Power-hungry HOA boards that escalate conflicts instead of working to resolve them can bankrupt entire subdivisions by insisting on facing down homeowners who fight back by suing.

So, what’s the answer?

There is no real good answer right now. But there are things you can try:

Some say the answer is to vote out your HOA board, but because of the ways abusive boards operate, that can be difficult.

As private governments, HOA boards have no oversight and can easily engage in election fraud, for example by having existing board members “count” the ballots, and proclaiming who the winners are without providing homeowners with vote tallies. Boards can effectively appoint the same people — or their family members — to positions of power over and over again for years, assuring the same people get to lord over subdivisions for years, or decades, where they can continue using their position to benefit themselves financially and make life hard for homeowners they don’t like.

How else can homeowners fight back?

  • Pay attention to what your HOA board is doing. Too many people ignore this until it is too late, because they don’t want to get involved.
  • Get familiar with the CCIOA, and insist that your HOA follow the law.
  • Insist that your HOA board be transparent in scheduling and holding all its meetings, and they make agendas for all of their meetings available to homeowners, so homeowners can see if their Board is doing — or planning on doing things — may infringe on their property rights or make life difficult.
  • Insist your HOA board members end contracts that have even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
  • Insist your HOA board adhere to state law how it conducts its elections, so everyone has a, equal chance to get a say on the board. The CCIOA requires ballots be counted by neutral third parties who have no interest in the outcome. It doesn’t allow existing board members or candidates to count ballots. Don’t be fooled by things like offers to “notarize” the results of an illegitimately-held election as a way to legitimize it. Notarizing is not required by state law, and has no effect on whether the election was legally held. Adhering to the law that details how to hold a fair election is required by the law.
  • Lobby your elected state legislators to put much-needed teeth into the CCIOA.

HOAs with bad reputations can drag down property values and make things harder for homeowners and realtor strying to sell homes in subdivisions with bad reputations.

Millions of people in Colorado live in over 8,000 homeowner associations. It’s time for Colorado’s legislators fix the mess they created for all these people by failing to include any enforcement in the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act.

The HOA Resource Office must get the funding it needs to investigate and pursue complaints against HOAs and and issue corrective actions.

 

 

 

 

Beware electing a developer as County Commissioner. Here’s why:

Republican Mesa County Commissioner candidate is shown trespassing on the Grand Valley Canal banks in his latest ad.

Cody Davis is running for Mesa County Commissioner in District 1. His website doesn’t say it, but Cody is a partner with his brother in Chronos Builders, a company that develops land and builds houses and subdivisions, and as such there couldn’t be a worse choice to hold this particular office.

The fact that he is a land developer and home builder is precisely what makes him not just an inappropriate person, but potentially a dangerous person to sit on the Mesa County Board of Commissioners.

Why?

Scott McInnis tells write-in candidate Bob Prescott to get out of the commissioner race because he’s “not on the team”

Mesa County Commissioner and OGRE leader, Scott McInnis

Click to hear the radio ad write-in candidate Bob Prescott made in response to Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis’ repeated bullying (now playing on Moose Country radio stations):

The leader of Mesa County’s Old Guard Republican Establishment (OGREs), Scott McInnis, has told write-in commissioner candidate Bob Prescott to his face, twice now, that he needs to get out of the race, because “You’re not on the team,” and “You need to just go away” because “you’ve already lost.”

Prescott reports McInnis dissed him this way most recently at a Mesa County Republican Party luncheon held at Warehouse 2565 where around 30 people were in attendance.

Why is McInnis so rude to Prescott?

CMU President Tim Foster appears to have quietly un-endorsed Janet Rowland

Original endorsement ad Janet Rowland posted ad on her Facebook page that violated the Hatch and Fair Campaign Practices Acts. She later revised it to remove Foster’s title as President of CMU.

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President Tim Foster appears to have quietly asked Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland (R) to remove any mention of his name from her campaign Facebook page, effectively un-endorsing her — a reversal of his previous whole-hearted endorsement.

Tim Foster endorses anti-science candidate with a track record of plagiarism for Mesa County Commissioner

“Principled”? Tim Foster’s endorsement of anti-science, documented plagiarist Janet Rowland for Mesa County Commissioner. (Screen shot taken from Janet Rowland’s Facebook page on 8/19/20.)

Tim Foster wants to make one thing clear: he is endorsing Janet Rowland for Mesa County Commissioner not in his capacity as longtime President of Colorado Mesa University (CMU), but strictly as an individual.

Well, Okay.

While he certainly has the right as a private citizen to endorse Rowland, doing so nevertheless makes Mesa County residents scratch their heads and wonder why Foster, who everyone knows heads a local university with a Nursing Program, Graduate Nursing Programs and a Physician Assistant program, would endorse an anti-science candidate who actively promotes Q-Anon-based anti-mask disinformation on her social media.

It seems incongruous. Rowland’s posts directly conflict with guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for controlling the pandemic. All this is going on while CMU is making a monumental effort at a tremendous expense to get students and staff to comply with strict on-campus masking and physical distancing rules to minimize the potential public health threat posed by CMU’s opening the school year with in-person learning amid the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

How Trump’s sabotage of the Post Office is playing out locally

Trump mega-donor and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

In May of 2020, President Trump appointed Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor with no postal experience as Postmaster General of the United States.

After taking office in June, Mr. DeJoy immediately started making changes to the Postal Service that resulted in delayed delivery of mail across the country. His actions included removal of 23 top postal executives, removing high-speed mail sorting machines from post offices around the country and prohibiting employees from logging overtime to deliver mail.

Rally planned 8/19 to save the Post Office from the Trump administration’s sabotage-NOTE THIS RALLY HAS BEEN CHANGED TO TUESDAY, AUG. 25TH AT NOON

A rally is planned at noon on Wednesday, August 19 TUESDAY, AUGUST 25TH, in the parking lot behind the Alpine Bank building across from the Main Post Office to protest the deliberate slow-down of the U.S. Postal Service by the Trump administration. The rally is to show our community’s support for postal workers who work under unbelievable constraints. Attendees will walk to Senator Cory Gardner’s office to demand, in person, that he join Democrats in the Senate in calling for an immediate reversal of the ongoing attacks on our right to vote by mail.

Masks are required, and even though the rally will be outside, it will likely be difficult to maintain six feet of physical distancing from others, so please take care to maintain the gap. It will also be quite hot outside, so consider wearing a hat and bringing water. If the poor air quality in the valley has been negatively impacting your health, please consider staying home.

Mesa County Commissioner write-in candidate faces steep hurdles, including misinformation and potential bias from Clerk’s Office


Employees of the Mesa County Clerk’s Elections department haven’t correctly understood what counts as a valid write-in vote, but the misunderstanding was discovered in enough time to correct it before the November general election.

The problem became apparent on July 13, 2020 when write-in candidate for the District 3 County Commissioner seat Bob Prescott, went to the Mesa County Clerk’s Elections Office to ask exactly what constitutes a valid write-in vote.

Prescott asks the clerk “What do you consider a legal vote” for a write-in candidate?

The clerk responds “That’s up to you. It needs to appear just like this, as ‘Bob Prescott.’ If they put in ‘Robert,” it would be rejected.”

According to Colorado law, that information was wrong.

Shadowy Chamber “social welfare” group funds billboard thanking racially tone-deaf members of G.J. City Council “for their service”

The Chamber and WCBA’s billboard thanking the most tone-deaf city council members when it comes to racism in Grand Junction

The little-known, seedy political arm of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), has appeared again in Grand Junction, this time funding a billboard praising four sitting Grand Junction City Council members who recently earned the reputation for being the most tone-deaf when it comes to racism: Philip Pe’a, Duke Wortmann, Phyllis Norris and Kraig Andrews.

Pe’a was the councilman who was so threatened by what he claimed was the presence of G.J. Police Department’s “swat team” at the June 3 Council meeting that he proclaimed he thought he might need to bring his Glock handgun into the meeting. That was the meeting that was attended by a crowd of City residents who showed up to protest pervasive racism they had seen or experienced in Grand Junction, or to support friends who had experienced it.

Grand Junction’s Police Chief later confirmed there were no SWAT team members at the meeting that day.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the President’s guilt, CO Sen. Cory Gardner votes to acquit him

Republican Cory Gardner voted to protect Trump, who was documented to have violated U.S. law, from removal from office.

Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner voted this afternoon to acquit President Trump of the high crimes of obstructing Congress and abusing the power of his office, even though House Representatives presented overwhelming evidence during the impeachment trial that the President was guilty on both charges. A vote of two thirds of the Senate was required to convict the President. With the exception of a single Republican vote by Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to remove the President, the vote was divided along party lines.

The House accused the President of withholding taxpayer funds destined for Ukraine in an attempt to force Ukraine to announce fake investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden — a move that Trump envisioned would advantage him in the 2020 elections — and of blocking Congress from accessing witnesses and documents pertinent to the President’s actions.

GAO concluded Trump broke the law

Beware electing Janet Rowland as county commissioner again

Former County Commissioner Janet Rowland (January 2005 – January 2013) once compared same-sex marriage to bestiality on a state-wide talk show, drawing condemnation from around the nation.

Janet Rowland is running for Mesa County Commissioner.

Yes, again.

She’s already been a Mesa County Commissioner — from January, 2005 to January, 2013 — but that doesn’t mean her being commissioner again is a good idea. It arguably is not a good idea. From her previous two terms, we have an abundance of experience with her and know what is in store if Janet Rowland gets another chance to be Commissioner. 

So let’s take a look at the past and see what it tells us.

Morally and ethically challenged

Certainly Janet has done some good things through her career, like trying to address child abuse and finding homes for foster kids. While those endeavors are laudable, we also need to take into account all the things she’s done that have set a poor example for kids, and our entire community and that have harmed the County.

Plagiarism

Shortly after losing statewide election for lieutenant governor as Bob Beauprez’s running mate in 2006, and while she was previously Mesa County Commissioner, Janet was a guest columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, at the time a competing newspaper to the Daily Sentinel. She wrote several articles for the Free Press until one day a sharp reader noticed Janet had lifted most of one of her columns word for word from a government-published pamphlet, and brought this information to the attention of the Free Press’s editor.

 

Feb. 3, 2007 column in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel about Janet Rowland plagiarizing a guest column she wrote for the G.J. Free Press.

The Daily Sentinel reported on Rowland’s plagiarism on February 3, 2007:

A Mesa County official has plagiarized a government substance abuse booklet in her two most recent columns in the Grand Junction Free Press, that newspaper’s editor confirmed Friday.

The majority of Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Feb. 1 column in the Free Press, titled “The importance of a strong parent-child bond,” was lifted verbatim from a 2006 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication titled, “Making a Difference: Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol.”

A reading of Rowland’s unattributed column and the text of the booklet revealed the two are virtually identical. The only differences were found in the column’s first sentence and its lead into several bullet points.

The editor said if Rowland had been a staff writer, she probably would have been fired.

 

Janet’s first reaction to the plagiarism charge was to claim she couldn’t even remember writing the columns. (Denial.) When that failed to tamp down the controversy, she next said the information she used in her columns had been intended for “mass duplication anyhow,” adding that if people wanted to make what she did out as something evil, that was THEIR prerogative. (Sour grapes.) Next, she blamed the plagiarism on others, saying she had included the necessary attributions in her column, but Free Press staff had edited them out. (Lying and blaming.) Free Press management quickly produced the emails that contained the articles exactly as they had received them from Janet for publication, showing that they contained no references or attributions.

Job openings with the county pay $87,500/year plus benefits and require no experience

Salaries for each of the three Mesa County Commissioners for the month of June, 2019

Mesa County has two job openings right now that pay $87,300/year gross salary with additional generous perks and benefits, and that require absolutely no experience and no required level of educational attainment. That’s a pretty good wage in Mesa County for someone with no experience and no particular educational attainment, since the wages here are so low compared to the rest of the state. (The average weekly wage in Denver in the last quarter of 2018 was $1,414. In Mesa County it was $895). The opening is for two new county commissioners. The only requirements to be county commissioner — literally — are that you have to be a minimum of 18 years old and have lived in either County Commissioner District 1 or District 3 for at least one year. That’s it. In case you don’t believe me, the photo above gives the salaries for each of our three county commissioners for just one month — the month of June, 2019. The information was printed in the legal notices in the Sunday, August 11, 2019 issue of the Daily Sentinel. You can see the minimal requirements for the job yourself posted on Mesa County’s website. Multiply the above salary by 12 to get your new annual gross salary if you land this job ($87,500/year). Oh, and did I mention it’s also free to apply? You can even have a criminal record and it’s okay. This position can be held for up to 8 years.

Tim Foster’s political stumping as CMU president may violate laws

Ad posted by Janet Rowland may violate the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act

[Update 8/14/19: Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland pulled this ad from her Facebook page after this article was published].

People are questioning whether an ad that Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland recently posted on her campaign Facebook page violates the law.

In the ad, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster endorses Rowland for commissioner in his capacity as president of CMU, not as a private individual as the law requires. The law says Foster is permitted to make such an endorsement, but ONLY in his capacity as a private individual; he is specifically prohibited from using his position as a state employee for politicking or attempting to influence an election.

The ad appears to violate two separate federal laws: the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Technical guidance issued for state employees by the Colorado’s Division of Human Resources (pdf) on the implementation of these laws states,

“The Hatch Act limits the political activities of individuals employed in state departments and higher education institutions (departments) that have programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants.”

CMU accepts federal funding, thus Foster is subject to both laws.

Wife of CMU Vice President given vacant seat on G.J. Regional Airport Board

John and Linde Marshall (Photo: Facebook)

Eight people applied for the open at-large seat on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Board, and it was awarded to just one, Linde Marshall, who happens to be married to Colorado Mesa University Vice President of Student Affairs, John Marshall. According to CMU’s website, Linde Marshall also works for CMU, in the office of University President Tim Foster.

The Daily Sentinel for some reason failed to mention either of Linde Marshall’s important connections to CMU and it’s powerful president and rainmaker, Tim Foster when providing descriptions of the candidates for the seat. The Sentinel only said Ms. Marshall is “a small business owner with a background in public relations.” Seems like important info to omit.