Rules should be designed to improve the community, not repress individual freedom.
Rules should be designed to improve the community, not repress individual freedom.
"I was appalled by what took place last night. I served 11 years as CEO of my company and 10 more years as Chairman of the Board of the multi billion dollar Company we merged with and have never witnessed such an obvious “fix’” as happened. Please keep your advocacy website.. it’s the only hope we have as residents." --Resident, Freedom Lane 4/12/2019
"Our Board treats homeowners (especially women) with dismissive arrogance. Shame on the bootlicking Board toadies who participated in fixing the election." --Resident, Independence Way 4/14/2019
"I also believe that the Board vacancy vote was just a popularity contest and I am appalled that this neighborhood felt they would be better off with two male members and no female representation. We need to see all sides of issues, not just the ones certain males think are important. Also, this nomination from the floor will set precedence--no one will want to go through the process of getting signatures, making resumes of qualifications, etc. in the future. We should all just want to be nominated from the floor. I believe all the women running for office were bamboozled." --Resident, Liberty Boulevard 4/13/2019
"What happened last night was a blatant admission by the impotent bullies who control this "Board" that they are terrified by smart competent women who consistently outthink them and expose their corruption and stupidity. Shame on everyone who participated in this sham. I am going to make sure that this goes public so that everyone knows what goes on in this community." --Resident, Patriot Lane 4/12/2019
"I too, do not think it is fair to have a nomination from the floor minutes before the vote was taken. He just briefly stood up and all we saw was the back of his head. From what others have said, it is legal, it’s in the bylaws. But I find it appalling that the other candidates had to spend hours getting signatures, preparing a speech about how they would contribute to the board and then spend an hour answering questions from the home owners; when the nominee from the floor did nothing to get elected. I also was appalled when you asked a question about bond money that was going to expire in May and the board knew nothing about this. And then the quickly adjourned the meeting. I feel they don’t want anyone on the board that will question any of their decisions. Please continue your site and co [sic] to use your research into issues that concern this community. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into keeping us informed." --Resident, Independence Way 4/12/2019
"Nothing was more appalling than what I witnessed at last night's Sewickley Ridge board elections. What a dishonest and underhanded fiasco. After four initial candidates went through all the required steps and executed due diligence to hopefully get elected, this one individual was permitted to throw his hat into the ring last minute without going through the proper procedures. Not only was this unethical but oh so WRONG. And, sleazy. I can't believe this was allowed. First, what are his credentials? Is he qualified? What is his experience with HOA? He didn't even have the intelligence, integrity or wherewithal to tell the attendees what he could do for the community as a board member. As far as I am concerned, the board has lost all credibility." -- Resident, Patriot Lane 4/12/2019
"After an unbelievably disreputable Board “election”, I can only express my total disappointment in this community as a whole. The Board and a select group of residents exploited a questionable guideline in the Bylaws. They had no interest in fairness and doing what would be best for the community. Their concern was only playing by their rules to suit only them. We are not looking at a representative democracy but an autocratic democracy. It is time we band together to vote for people with skills and abilities to do the job rather than how many social events they go to. The Board’s lack of integrity has me personally embarrassed for our community. I will do whatever I need to do to hold people accountable. With every good and talented person I have met here there has been an incompetent buffoon with an unwarranted high opinion of themselves." -- Resident, Independence Way 4/12/2019
"This election was an abomination and unethical at the very least". --Resident, American Way 4/12/2019
"What else is new, would one expect anything different from this board and it’s leadership. Doesn’t surprise anyone." --Resident, Victory Lane 4/12/2019
"I was shocked what happened last night, too. I was planning on voting for you. So sorry to hear the results... I thought for sure you would win." --Resident, American Way, 4/12/2019
"We were at Soergel's this morning and met a couple who live on Freedom....They also were disgusted and shared with us that several other residents shared our views." --Resident, Independence Way, 4/12/2019
"WHAT A SET UP! BLATANT! We are reeling. Don't give up trying to make "right" out of the "wrongs". Pathetic group here!" -- Resident, Independence Way 4/11/2019
"I resent that they think we are stupid…I am so sorry that you were not elected…At least you care about the direction that this HOA is going. When you asked the question about the bond issue, they all shrugged their shoulders. TOA is laughing all the way to the bank. They [the Board] are going to raise the monthly fees…And the best part is that no one cares!" --Resident, Freedom Lane 4/12/2019
"What is this? A banana republic?" --Resident, Independence Way 4/11/2019
"The only words I have about tonight is Bullshit!!!" I am really sorry. You would of done an amazing job." --Resident, Freedom Lane 4/11/2019
"We were so SHOCKED we were speechless and confused as to what was happening.We had no idea this rule was allowed. Now they r exposed and when u run next, this shouldn't happen. Thankfully u r maintaining the advocacy website. Today fair minded people will be outraged and talking. This wont be forgotten! Can't believe the herd mentality here." --Resident, Independence Way 4/12/2019
"Trust me if I had been there I would of said something...They just showed me once again they care about their select group. I hope God holds them accountable for their dishonesty!!! I am happy you are going to stay strong and continue the fight. Hope you have a great day." --Resident, Freedom Lane 4/12/2019
A POSITION PAPER ON THE RECENT ELECTION AT SEWICKLEY RIDGE
The recent election at Sewickley Ridge was a mockery of the election process. Residents have described what happened as “an obvious fix”, “appalling”, “a dishonest and underhanded fiasco”, “unethical, wrong, and sleazy”, “disreputable”, “exploitation of a questionable guideline in the Bylaws”, “an abomination”, “disgusting”, “a set-up”, “pathetic”, and a “Banana Republic election”. Those of you who cooked up this scheme should be ashamed. You did not get away with it.
What happened was this: four candidates went through the prescribed vetting process and then the current Board pulled a bait and switch scheme at the last minute to add their preferred candidate to the slate. He won handily with a tally of questionable statistical probability. This blatant subterfuge was designed to prevent competent women who have demonstrated extraordinary smartness and independent thinking from serving on the Board. As to the question of why the perpetrators did this, I will let you draw your own conclusions, but I think I know. Call me if you want to talk about it.
What now? My position is that there should be a new election following Best Practices for HOA Board Elections that includes an independent entity to run the election to keep it above reproach.
The new Board is now morally illegitimate and lacks credibility because of the cheap trick that determined the outcome. Respect for the leadership is now impossible. The spirit of the community is threatened by this toxicity.
In the past, those who have offered constructive criticism of the leadership here have been labeled as disgruntled troublemakers. To ignore those who are trying to tell you the truth is dangerous.
Our election was hijacked. Lets do it over.
--Resident, Patriot Lane
This website does not publish names and addresses. If you are a Sewickley Ridge resident listed in the community's directory, you can submit a request for information about this resident by clicking on the button below.
The Board has instituted a policy that restricts the HOA website Message Board to only "messages" the Board approves. Here is a sample of the speech they prohibit:
"There has been a lot of controversy over our last election and as a husband of one of the candidates I would like to voice my opinion. I have tried to view both sides of the coin here and make an educated decision on what took place. I know that we have heard about the by-law to nominate someone from the floor as being within the rules of our association but was it fair? Not just for the other candidates but for all of us. Because something is in the rules does it really make sense to use it.
I’m sure we also remember the requirement in the declaration about TOA and the management company having a spare set of keys for our homes. That was a “rule” but as [the Board president] stated when it was presented to him, “that just wasn’t going to happen and that rule would be ignored.” I do believe we can all agree “common sense” took over and we did what was best for this community in disregarding it.
We have been educated on the fact that we are a representative democracy and I personally have no problem allowing someone to make a fair and educated decision on my behalf that supports the whole community. I thought we had four qualified candidates that represented all good points at the “Meet the Candidates” and based on the bio’s and presentations, I was in a good position to make an educated decision on who I would vote for that represented the best interest of our home and ongoing decisions that would be made in the next two years.
I have no problem with the individual nominated from the floor personally, but then I don’t really know him other than to say hello. If this individual is qualified, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to hear that and ask him questions that concern my future in this community. I’m a fair and open minded person and wanted him to get my vote by earning it so I could feel comfortable in the choices I had.
I don’t know everybody in this community and I don’t think anybody expects me to, but it does appears there is a “IN” group and a not so “IN” group. A community is defined as “a group of people living together in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. A fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interest and goals.”
I personally don’t think that the way this election was handled was indicative of that definition and did not help to promote any closure or solution to the turmoil that exists in this community. I do hope the current new leadership in this community opens itself up to the community and shows respect to all the people who live here and injects some common sense thinking. There are more than 90 homes in this community and all should be selective in finding the most qualified candidate to deliver what is promised. I know we can all do better.
The two new candidates picked would not have been my first choice based solely on their qualification and knowledge to do the job. This has no bearing on them as individuals but we are in a critical time in our community that will affect future expenses, quality and overall resale value of our property.
I am hoping this will be accepted in the publication of this community."
[Resident, Independence Way]
Our anonymous letter writer and the Board stated that there was no way the election could have been "fixed." The Board also claims it was a fair and valid election. We respectfully disagree.
We are responding by sharing some potential security flaws in the April 11, 2019 election process.
[Note: The Election Secretary was the board vice-president. Certainly not an independent and impartial official.]
Security Flaw #1 - Ballots. The election procedure was determined by the Board and property management company. All the election materials, absentee ballots, proxy forms, and completed ballots were handled by the "impartial" Election Secretary AND the property management company owner. No independent supervision or possession of election ballots. No non-board residents were permitted to supervise ballot security.
Security Flaw #2 - Supervision of Vote Counting. The votes were tallied by the same individuals listed above PLUS an employee of the property management company. No independent election monitors were permitted to look at the actual ballots to ensure they were being announced and recorded correctly.
Security Flaw #3 - No Impartial Resident Election Monitors. Not one non-board, independent and impartial resident was involved in the establishment of election/voting rules and procedures. Nor was there a non-board, independent and impartial resident involved in the distribution, receipt, and secure possession of ballots and the counting of votes.
If only the anonymous letter sender had the courage to openly support their opinions, we could have an honest debate or discussion. Not signing the letter was rather sketchy and cowardly.
1. Provided NO NOMINATION FORM
2. Provided NO STATEMENT OR BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
3. DID NOT DELIVER A PRESENTATION
4. DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN Q&A
He won handily with a "write-in" ballot tally of questionable statistical probability.
Word has been filtering in this week about the manipulation of the recent Board election. Residents are informing us that the scheme was planned between Board members and some good ‘ole boys during an outing of the Sewickley Ridge Golf League. How nice that they used a community club event to plot their ill-advised and duplicitous display of fear and ignorance to hinder and prevent a fair election. These individuals display nothing but disrespect and contempt towards all homeowners.
Homeowners are now saying the Board is “unethical, wrong, and sleazy” and “disgusting.” Support for the advocacy website has increased while respect for the Board has plummeted. Certainly not the end-result they planned on.
Be careful what you wish for, boys.
"I am sorry, but I am not convinced, and here is why. Literally 1-2 minutes before the election was to start, an individual was nominated from the floor. The residents had no chance to learn what this candidate's qualifications were, or what he believed were the important issues facing Sewickley Ridge. I can not, in good conscience ever vote for someone I know nothing about, regardless of what the election is for. Incredibly, the mystery candidate received over 90 votes, which was the second highest amount of any of the 5 candidates...what a co-incidence!!! I don't care what the by-laws say. This was an unethical and immoral election. I hope the residents will start to pay a little closer attention as to what is going on in our community. If we do not, this type of cronyism will continue un-abated." Sincerely, [Resident, Independence Way]
"They [the Board] continue to deny, deny, deny. I sure have heard a lot from disgruntled residents who feel that we were hoodwinked...At the very least, the board should have put a halt to the vote and made [floor nominee] do a presentation like the rest of [the nominees]. It may have been legal but it was not ethical, many people were offended and as far as I am concerned [the floor nominee] has NO integrity because he allowed it to happen." [Resident, American Way]
"The Board has no credibility. Their claim that they had no idea of the "floor nomination" stunt to influence the election is ludicrous. Common sense and observation indicate the Board was aware, in advance, of the selective interpretation of the Bylaws and chose to allow it with no consideration of fairness to the legitimate candidates. The election procedures and vote counting were suspect. By encouraging and allowing this farce of an election, the Board, in just one evening, created more distrust, discord, and disunity in this community and between homeowners than the advocacy efforts ever could." [Resident, Independence Way]
This election was embarrassing and raises lots of new concerns...why is this board so desperate to hold onto their power...makes me wonder if there is much more to this than meets the eye. The residents need to get involved to demand more transparency and accountability. [Resident, Independence Way]
April 23, 2019 homeowners received a one-way communication (no option for a reply) from the Board defending the manipulation of the 2019 Board election. Since the Board's message did not allow for homeowner replies and the HOA website Message Board is restricted to only Board-approved communication, this website gives residents the opportunity to respond.
The Board claims no involvement or knowledge of the questionable use of a nomination from the floor. They also claim the election was fair and valid. Many homeowners disagree...
Boards rarely mail ballots via certified mail, which requires a signature on receipt. And, because mailed ballots are not provided in duplicate form, allegations of ballot tampering are hard to prove.
One way to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, many concerns is to ensure that management is totally removed from the voting process since they have a vested interest in their contract renewal.
It also is imperative to ensure that the third-party election inspector is unbiased and independent.
Each candidate should be permitted to have a representative observe the vote-counting process.
Ultimately, each board is responsible for overseeing an election in good faith and ensuring the process is not compromised by either its own actions or management. But it also is up to titleholders to closely observe the election process to let the board and management know they will not tolerate any deviation from best practices.
In the end, election results can be challenged and individual titleholders can bring actions against the board and the association. But why subject the owners to this scenario when the prospect for having a fair election can be improved by following some simple and established safeguards?
Hold fair and open elections giving all candidates an equal opportunity to express their views and permitting each candidate to have a representative observe the vote-counting process.
Send electoral ballots by certified regular mail. Follow this rule, even if it's not required by your HOA's laws. It will provide a paper trail for votes. You'll also know the intended recipient received the ballot.
Use an independent election inspector to tabulate votes. This will ensure the election is conducted fairly.
The board should consider appointing an independent committee to validate that the outer ballot envelopes have been properly executed and signed by the qualified voter(s) prior to the scheduled time of the election.
The board should seek to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
An independent website providing a communication alternative to a Board-controlled, restrictive HOA website and Message Board. Homeowner comments and questions are encouraged.