Yeah, I’m “retired” — though I like to refer to myself as “semi-retired”: not working, but not sitting on my rear end watching TV every day, either.
New to Homeowners Associations & HOA Life
After moving to Avondale, AZ in August 2016, I found myself in my first HOA community. Not knowing exactly how this works, and with a little time on my hands, I started going to board meetings — and I’ve been to every board meeting since I moved in! My impression of the board wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t that good, either. It was obvious to me that nobody on the board had a good working knowledge of the communities “governing documents” — those official documents that legally binds the association, the board, the officers, and the members to a set of carved-in-stone rules.
So I soon found myself on the board, in October 2017. Now the story of how I actually got to be on the board is pretty long and involved, but I’ll spare you the gory details, but if you’re interested, check out these posts on the HOA Perspectives site I inherited: Elections Experience, HOA Members are Neighbors, and Do You Know Where Your Documents Are? There are also some interesting posts on my unofficial community information site and the 2018 Election pages.
After one year as association secretary, I’m now president of the association. I’ve already made some significant contributions to the board and the community… and I’ve made some waves, too. But all in all, it’s “just another day in the office” if you’ve got some time to spare looking into things. I think it’s good that we have a larger-than-average management company, because there are a number of things they do that I don’t think smaller management companies are capable of doing. But there are still significant things going on that really merit careful attention by someone who has been involved in running a business — or a significant chunk of one, as I have — and in my personal opinion, I don’t think prior board members really had the necessary business skillset to properly manage an HOA. I’m happy to say that the newest board complement (elected September 2018) has a great mix of talent, and I think we’ll get along well and accomplish a lot.
Without Rules, Chaos Rules
Have you ever been in a club, association, or other organization where Robert’s Rules of Order were used? Some people might question whether these rules — or other parliamentary process guides — are actually necessary. I’ll ask people: “When was the last time you and a bunch of other people were in a room, charged with doing something or making decisions, and everyone agreed on everything?” It happens… but not always, and in many circles, not often or at all!
I got my first exposure to Robert’s Rules of Order way back in the 1960’s as a young teenage member of the Order of DeMolay. All of our “business” was conducted using the version of Robert’s Rules way back then. Of course, back then, people followed rules because they were… well, rules to be followed! Not like today’s mentality of “question everything” and “I’m special” (just like 7.6 billion other people on the planet, right?). (I’m not at all questioning the uniqueness of everyone, but I do question the right of everyone to simply ignore all the rules. Even I drive 5-10 mph over the speed limit.)
I’ve also used Robert’s Rules in a couple of other organizations, and I’ve developed the motto you see above: Without Rules, Chaos Rules.
So when I got involved in the HOA, I decided it was “Robert’s Rules refresher time”, and sought out the local chapter of the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP). There were several chapters — they prefer to call their local groups “units” — in the Phoenix area, but only one was both close by and met during the day time. (Most working people apparently like to meet at night instead of taking time off of work. Workaholics!) So I began attending the Agua Fria Unit of the Arizona State Association of Parliamentarians (ASAP!). I asked about joining the NAP, and was told I had to take a test — just to be a member, you have to take and pass a test!
I’ve been involved with them now since early 2017, and they’re quite an interesting bunch. A small group, normally with 5-8 people attending each monthly meeting, and other than a husband and wife team that regularly attend, I’m generally the youngest of the bunch! These ladies (I’m the only other guy besides the husband-half of the “younger” crowd) have been doing parliamentary processes for a long time. I learn a lot from them every time we meet.
I think everyone who regularly attends the meetings has been an officer once or twice over the years… so when they saw me — the “new blood” — I think they started wondering how to put me to work. So elections of officers occurred this month (November 2018), and I’m “Vice-President Elect”. Normally being VP is just “fill in for the president when they’re absent”, but in this group, the VP is also in charge of the program for each meeting, the “program” being that portion of the meeting, usually later in the morning, where some sort of educational activity takes place. This will be an interesting year for me!
That’s not all I’m doing, but I’m old and tired of typing now, so the rest will just have to wait until after my next NAP meeting.