Archive for the ‘HOA Covenant Violations’ Category

It was a watershed day for our neighborhood. It was the day I announced that I had formed an exploratory committee to evaluate a potential candidacy for the Board of the Murmuring Ponds Home Owners Association in 2011.

The committee had already advised me not to target the two open positions in 2010. They felt with my job, the upcoming release of my first novel, A Flame From Within, and the fact that I had some unsightly weeds in a few of my mulch beds that I should wait until 2011. Although the committee never told me this, they thought I would get my ass beat in the polls with only two open spots in 2010. You are not off to a good start when one of your young committee volunteers compares your popularity to nobody Senator Chris Dodd trying to steal Iowa Caucus votes in the middle of a ballyhooed Obama-Hillary smack-down.

However with three openings in 2011 the committee was gaining momentum toward a consensus that I should, Go For It! Also, sometimes when there are 3 openings they can’t find enough people that want to be on the Board. That same young volunteer who compared me to Chris Dodd says this is much like a Joe Biden strategy: Even if you were only appealing to 1 percent – if you round up to 1 percent, that is – of the electorate like Biden was in the Iowa Caucus, you can still be VP as long as you show up. I was more comfortable with this analysis partly because Biden’s blustery and wind-baggy style is something I would try to emulate in my own campaign. And, I would also likely use plagiarism in my upcoming neighborhood speeches.

The Anthony Liebrandt for 2011 Murmuring Ponds HOA Board Exploratory Committee met as a team on my half painted back porch. The committee was made up of a few of my neighbors and some young college students home for the summer wanting to gain some campaign experience.

The committee agreed to complete its analysis and focus-grouping by the middle of the summer to determine the viability of an Anthony Liebrandt candidacy. This would allow for eighteen months of door-to-door communication on my positions on the issues. Of course on the issues, my door-to-door strategy would be to ask each neighbor what their position on the issues are first, that way I am sure to agree with them.

Eighteen months out is the earliest anyone has ever announced one’s candidacy for the HOA board. Especially since there are only 80 homes in the neighborhood, and usually only about 20 to 30 people will show up to vote at the annual meeting. …Actually, this is all stuff I’ve heard as I’ve never voted or been to one of the meetings. When I shared that fact with my Exploratory Committee two of the college student volunteers quit on the spot. But, then the wannabe Karl Rove/James Carville on my team spoke up, and said:

“This is perfect. Jackpot! We will frame you as an Outsider beaten down by overzealous HOA policy enforcement, tired of rising annual assessments, upset with lackadaisical yard maintenance in the shared open spaces, and fed up with the board’s decision to have a Budweiser keg, and not your preferred Miller beer at the annual block party last summer.”

Someone on the committee said that Budweiser has a much bigger market share than Miller, so we decided to scrap that last one.

My Exploratory Committee debated how best to frame my experience. I have very little. I shared with them that I was twice the class president of my high school class. The main reason I was elected was because my campaign speeches were known to be rambling satiric essays of late eighties high school life that were so long and off topic that classmates knew that as long as I kept talking they didn’t have to go back to class. My junior year speech was 18 minutes without notes. The committee decided to downplay experience.

We then talked about the home improvements I would need to make to my yard in order to gain better credibility with the more upstanding neighbors in our community. We discussed the targeted grass height for my yard. I argued that I like to keep the grass eight inches high in memory of Payne Stewart’s historic wedge shot out of the rough at Pinehurst. The committee said the new HOA policy would assess fines for anything over 7 inches, but conventional landscaper wisdom says that 3 to 4 inches is the right range.

I shared with the committee that I like my trees to hang low to the ground to give the sidewalking passerby the effect of a midnight Viet Nam patrol. Late at night, joggers know to run on the other side of the street or run the few hundred feet of my corner lot like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. A smart committee member who had recently read a How to Win Friends book said that I should probably follow the new policy of trimming the tree back to a Shaq passable 7 feet.

As the committee continued to read through the new HOA restrictions it was becoming obvious that getting the Liebrandt candidacy compliant could be an insurmountable challenge. I began wondering if the new rule about not burning for over an hour was a direct result of the six-day Olympic flame trash-can fire that I had recently after replacing my old wood siding. Also, when they requested that my trash toter be returned to the garage the night after trash pickup, I read that to say the fortnight after trash pickup. When they asked the neighborhood to look out for muskrats that were getting into one of the Murmuring Ponds, I wondered if they had noticed that I was in fact raising muskrats in a back yard kennel.

It was at this point in the committee meetings that it became obvious to everyone. I could run for the Board in 2011. Likely, I would win a seat. And, I would have a one-fifth voting influence over HOA policy. But alas, this was not quite the level of influence I was already getting. The Exploratory Committee adjourned and agreed to meet again in two years to consider a run in 2013.

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