Tag: Ethics

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.

 

 

 

 

G.J. furniture repair business disses Biden supporters on its web page because “they are okay with stealing elections” and “killing babies”

Bruce Bertram, who owns The Chair Doctor, a Grand Junction furniture repair service, says on his website that he offers a lifetime warranty, he’s “open Sunday through Friday, about 9a to 6p. Closed Saturday. Phone 970-243-2929 for appointment,” and adds “Biden supporters not welcome.”

Bertram

When you click the link to find out more, you get the following rant:

Answer 19: Are Biden supporters really not welcome at your business?

Yes. Since Biden supporters are not supporters of the Constitution, we don’t support them. They want to censor anyone that disagrees with them so we censor them. They are okay with stealing elections, like killing babies, defend Burn Loot and Murder riots while lying about legitimate protests at the Capitol, promote communism/socialism/globalism, are trying to destroy our country, and are generally hateful, ignorant people (obviously, if you are a Biden supporter).

Top 12 Coronavirus outbreaks in Grand Junction all traced to churches

Mesa County Public Health Department’s Feb. 5 list of Coronavirus outbreak sites

As predicted in this blog in early January, Grand Junction churches became super spreaders after they started holding in-person services again January 3rd.

Churches resumed holding indoor, in-person services and other activities after the state declared on December 7th, 2020 that churches are “critical services” and eliminated the cap on the number of people who could attend.

People started packing churches again in early January.

Backsliding

As of today, all twelve of the top outbreak sites on Mesa County Public Health Department’s Covid-19 outbreak list are churches. The daily case count reached into the triple digits again yesterday after weeks of two-digit number daily case counts.

Group files ethics complaint against Rep. Boebert’s exorbitant campaign mileage reimbursements

Lauren Boebert shown n December, 2019, carrying the same flag carried by many of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021

The government watchdog group Accountable.us has filed a complaint (pdf) with the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting an investigation into House Rep. Lauren Boebert’s exorbitant mileage reimbursements in 2020. Boebert claimed to have driven 36,868 miles in 2020, enough to circumnavigate the globe almost one and a half times, even though there were several months in which there were no posted public campaign events.

By contrast, her predecessor, former District 3 Congress member Scott Tipton,  reimbursed himself a total of $12,255 from his campaign coffers for travel over the entire decade he held the office.

W. slope Republicans promote domestic extremist lies

Post from Janet Rowland’s campaign Facebook page, August 14, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a National Terrorism Advisory (pdf) 1/27, warning of a heightened risk of violence by domestic extremist groups across the country who have been emboldened by the insurrection on the Capitol on January 6th.

The Advisory says,

  • “…some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”

The Advisory says domestic violence extremists (DVEs) are

  • “motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and … opposition to immigration…” 

The bulletin further states,

• Threats of violence against critical infrastructure…increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.”

Local elected officials promote this extremist ideology

Video shows Rep. Boebert accepting gift of a Glock pistol from member of the Three Percenters

Screenshot of video in which Boebert accepts a gift of a a customized pistol

Rural Colorado United emailed out a video January 25th showing CD-3 House Rep. Lauren Boebert accepting a gift of a custom-engraved Glock pistol from the Colorado group Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump.

The gift breaks several state and federal rules and laws:

1) It violates House ethics rules (pdf) which prohibit members of Congress from accepting gifts valued over $50. Glock 22s cost between $500 – $600 without custom engraving.

2)  As of 2013 it is illegal in Colorado to gift a gun to someone who is not an immediate relative (pdf) without first performing a background check, and,

3) Unauthorized use of the Congressional seal is a federal crime.

Western Slope Republicans need to apologize and tell the truth

Republican House Rep. Lauren Boebert, CD-3, (Photo:Youtube) — advanced the Big Lie about massive election fraud that led to the insurrection.

Donald Trump repeatedly claimed in the months following the election that he had won the election by a landslide, but it was stolen from him due to massive voter fraud.

It was the most outlandish lie of Trump’s term, maybe the craziest of his life, and it led thousands of his supporters to violently attack the Capitol in an insane attempt to overturn the results of the election on his behalf. We all watched, horrified, as hordes of angry Trump supporters bashed their way through barriers and stormed the Capitol holding their Confederate and “Don’t Tread on Me” yellow Gadsden flags, intent on capturing and killing legislators, journalists and anyone with a political opinion different from their own. The insurrection, based on lies, caused the death of five people, including a police officer.

68 Elected officials in Colorado House District 3 sign letter to House leadership condemning Boebert’s actions

CD3 House Rep. Lauren Boebert is under scrutiny for her association with right wing groups that supported the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021

68 elected officials from cities and counties across Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have sent a letter (pdf) January 12 to House leaders condemning CD-3 Rep. Lauren Boebert and asking them to open an investigation into Boebert’s actions leading up to, and on the day of the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.

The letter was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and was signed by elected officials from the counties of Routt, Pueblo, Eagle, Lake, Gunnison, Pitkin, Saguache, Ouray, La Plata, Hinsdale, San Miguel, and San Juan and from the cities of Durango, Bayfield, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Eagle, Lake City, Ophir, Mountain Village, Leadville, Ridgway, Telluride, Glenwood Springs, Avon and Aspen.

Mesa County (CO) Clerk Tina Peters boasts on Twitter about how possible it is to hack an election

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports today that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters tweeted from her personal Twitter account on January 3, 2021 about just how unsafe and insecure local elections are. Peters wrote the Tweet “as the one that administers elections in my county.” 

Peters boasted about how one can count ballots that favor a certain candidate more than once, or how it is possible to “change algorithm in a voting machine.”

Petition asks the Mesa County Public Health Dept. to enforce mask mandate at Mesa Mall

A Move-On.org petition is asking the Mesa County Health Department to enforce the state-wide mask mandate inside the Mall.

The petition states,

Covid-19 is spreading fast and hard through Mesa County. Many people are still not taking the threat seriously. It is putting [Mall] employees, tenants, and guests at a ridiculously high risk of catching and spreading the virus. The effects are dangerous and deadly and we have a moral and social imperative to do what we can to keep each other safe. The Mesa Mall is responsible for the safety of those who enter it’s walls. If they can’t provide a safe place for people to work, shop, and visit, then they should shut down for the health and safety of our community.

A mask mandate is currently in place throughout Colorado to reduce the spread of the deadly, communicable Corona virus that is sweeping the country. It requires everyone 11 years and older to wear a face mask in enclosed public places. Masks are recommended anywhere people are sharing air.

How to effectively complain about businesses that aren’t enforcing the mask order:

Boebert reimburses herself over $30k for mileage in 2020 — enough to circumnavigate the globe 1.5 times

Colorado Pols examined District 3 Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert’s campaign expenditures and discovered Ms. Boebert reimbursed herself a total of $30,177 in mileage expense from her campaign donations in 2020. She reimbursed herself about $22,000 of that in one lump on 11/11/2020.

For the sake of comparison, Colorado Pols compared Boebert’s mileage reimbursements with those of outgoing CD-3 Congressman Scott Tipton’s claimed mileage expenses over the entire time he served in Congress, and found Tipton reimbursed himself a total of $12,255 from his campaign — over the entire last TEN YEARS he held the office.

Mesa County Commissioners use taxpayer money to recruit evangelical Christian foster families

Janet Rowland’s religious nonprofit got $57,360 in taxpayer funds in 2017  to recruit Christian foster families and place adopted kids in religious homes. (Photo: KKCO 11 News)

Newly-discovered Mesa County documents (pdf) reveal that in 2017, the Board of County Commissioners handed over $57,000 in taxpayer funds to a Christian organization represented by Janet Rowland for the purpose of recruiting solely evangelical Christian foster families in Mesa County.

Rose Pugliese, John Justman and Scott McInnis — all Republicans — unanimously agreed to enter into a contract (pdf) to pay $57,360 in taxpayer funds to Project 1.27, a Christian ministry that works through churches to recruit religious foster and adoptive families to assure children are “cared for within Christian communities.”

Janet Rowland was Project 1.27’s national director.

The group engages in  “[foster] training with a solid Christian perspective,” and provides training to “Christian parents wishing to foster and adopt.” The group’s website makes no mention of recruiting families belonging to any other religions or of no religion.

The county’s contract required 20 hours a month be spent on “faith based recruitment.”

Project 1.27’s website only addresses recruitment of Christian families, saying they provide “state-required, biblically-based training for Christian parents wishing to foster and adopt.”

This is misleading since legally, no state can require “biblically-based training” in anything. Project 1.27’s website does not say it is open to recruitment of families from any other religion, or non-religious families.

Election worker at Clifton Christian Church polling place tells voter he should “attend church on Sundays”

This is what we were afraid of when it became known that Mesa County was using churches as polling places.

When a local man went to the polling place in the Clifton Christian Church and mentioned he preferred that the county use non-religious locations as polling places, the poll worker pulled out the snark and told him he should “attend church on Sundays.”

Government is strictly prohibited under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment from promoting specific religious beliefs, like this poll worker did while she was representing County government.

The poll worker violated the voter’s right to be free from religious coercion in a polling place. 

But we knew this would happen.

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?

March planned to draw attention to police murder of Fruita man, Gage Lorentz

Gage Lorentz was murdered las March 21 by a Carlsbad Caverns National Park Ranger who shot him after pulling him over for going too fast on a dirt road. Lorentz was unarmed and unintoxicated at the time. No charges have been brought in the case.

A peaceful march will be held Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at Stoker Stadium to demand justice for Gage Lorentz, a 26 year old Fruita man who was shot and killed March 21 by a Carlsbad Caverns National Park National Park Ranger after the ranger pulled him over for speeding on a dirt road. 

Lorentz was unarmed and had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time he was pulled over.

Lorentz was driving home from Pecos, Texas, where he worked on drilling rigs, to see his family in Fruita when he took a short detour to meet a friend in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. While in the Park, Ranger Robert Mitchell pulled Lorentz over for speeding on a dirt road near the Rattlesnake Springs area of the park, a type of traffic stop that typically results in a warning or a ticket.

Body cam video shows Lorentz, clearly nervous, complying with the officer’s orders to get out of his truck and keep his hands visible, but he refused the officer’s demand to turn around and put his back to the officer. Mitchell started a scuffle with Lorentz and ended up shooting and killing Lorentz. No one has been charged in Lorentz’s murder.

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.

Trump administration dismantling Grand Junction’s Postal Service ahead of election

Dumpster at the postal sorting annex on Patterson with a flats sorting machine in it.

Yesterday morning I went to the U.S. Postal Service sorting annex on Patterson to drop off a postage-paid package. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a red dumpster by the loading docks. When I went inside to drop the package off for scanning, I jokingly asked the clerk if that was their high-speed sorter outside in the dumpster, referring to reports that the mail is being hobbled before the election as Trump pushes baseless arguments against mail-in voting.

The clerk said “No, that’s our flats sorting machine. We had just gotten it. It took 2 months to set it up and they were just about to do a test run when the Postmaster General ordered us to take it out. Now we’re sorting flats by hand. We really could have used it. No wonder they say we’re losing money when they throw out expensive machines like that.” **

The Los Angeles Times reported August 20th that the slowdown in the mail has left postal warehouses in Los Angeles full of rotting packages of meat, fruit and dead animals, drawing gnats, flies, rats and mice. One California postal customer who saw the mess said it was “like Armageddon.”