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Homeowner Associations and the Role of the Media

By       Message George Staropoli     Permalink
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"Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent, and enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it."   Bill Moyers (Moyers on Democracy).

The publication and discussion of substantive  homeowner association issues, especially those concerning constitutional issues – the lack of due process, the imposition of a contract under claims of highly questionable voluntary consent, the unequal protection of the laws, and the overwhelming evidence of HOAs as state actors under current US Supreme Court tests, just to name a few — are not only avoided, but resisted by the established media.  Rather, isolated HOA stories, cast in terms of personal issues, are repeated across the country, more and more, without any coverage of the broader political, social and legal implications of these events.  Why is there this neglect of these serious substantive issues when HOA regimes privately govern some 20% of the population?  (Data according to Community Associations Institute, CAI, and US Census Bureau.)

Bill Moyers speaks out about the failure of the media in his June 8, 2008 address to the national Conference on Media Reform:

And yet the press remains in denial in its role of passing on the unverified claims as facts, while . . . blocking out any other narrative.  That’s the great danger.  It’s not that they dominate the story that we tell ourselves publicly everyday, it’s that they don’t allow any alternative, competing narrative to emerge, by which the people could measure the veracity of ALL the claims.

When the state becomes the guardian to the power and privilege to the neglect of justice, to the neglect of the people who have neither power or privilege, you can no longer claim to have a representative government.

To what extent has this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” reporting by the media influenced the public interest firms like The Goldwater Institute with its opposition to Arizona HOA reform legislation, SB 1162, based on the simple statement of “contract interference”? 

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This bill runs afoul of freedom of contract, the principle that the government should not interfere with agreements reached by willing parties. This principle recognizes that the state should not superintend the wisdom of contractual relationships.  (Goldwater Institute Daily email release of May 22, 2008.

Two Arizona attorneys, who fight for homeowners and who have attended several legislative committees on behalf of reforms, have criticized the Institute as not aware of the reality of the HOA legal scheme; and that the awareness of this reality would call for the defense of, and not opposition to, the liberty of the individual homeowner against an imposed contract. 

Your suggestion that it is inappropriate to seek to limit the powers of such associations because the relationship between the homeowner and the association is one of contract would be the same as suggesting that citizens of this country should not seek to limit the powers of our state, federal and local governments. (Steve Cheifetz, attorney for homeowners).

As a trial attorney, I am witnessing a clear trend that concerns me greatly. Associations are using their “contract” to act in any way they please without fear of legal consequence. A few of the many cases I have encountered over the last year demonstrate this point. (Clint Goodman, attorney for homeowners).

The impact of the constitutional issues contained in the failed Arizona bill apply equally  to all of the other states as well.  Except for one weekly newspaper that covers issues at the Arizona state capitol, there was no public coverage or discussion of this event that affected over 1 million Arizona residents living in HOAs.  

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George K. Staropoli is president and founder of Citizens for Constiutional Local Government, Inc, and author of "Establishing the New America of independent HOA principalities." He has appeared before and has made presentations to several state (more...)

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