March 4, 2023:
“FSR Management Company’s Unethical Endorsement of Candidates who Line Their Pockets”
On the afternoon of March 3, 2023, your management company, FirstService Residential (FSR), sent out a community-wide email which stated therein, in the middle of a paragraph about the pending vote on the Amendments to the governing documents:
“The Current Board of Directors are financially responsible and act in the best interest of the community.”
Three of those board members are up for re-election, and stating that they are fiscally responsible and act in the best interest of the community constitutes a political endorsement of those candidates by an interested vendor, one who has benefited financially from these candidates outside the terms of its contract on multiple occasions.
The management company’s employees received two raises and holiday bonuses after these candidates met and approved these payments behind your backs. The most recent raises occurred in June 2022 and January 2023, the latter of which was when their new contract started.
The bonuses were received in late 2022 after the management company partied with these board members/candidates for re-election privately behind your backs.
You would never have known had Arthur not been on the board and had not this News Site reported on all of these shenanigans.
These board member/candidates:
1. failed to engage in competitive bidding,
2. failed to negotiate contracts,
3. gave multiple secret raises to this management company outside of and above and beyond their contract terms,
4. gave a raise to the landscaping vendor outside and above and beyond the terms of that contract,
5. Spent $618,000 on new roads where one board member/candidate, Bob Dingee, an engineer, stated unequivocally that the roads were sound for another three to five years.
This incurred a waste of over six figures for redoing the roads 20% earlier than necessary (resealing would have run about $70,000, given us beautiful roads, and saved a fortune because there was nothing wrong with the roads by Bob’s own admission).
All of the above might lead to the conclusion that they were anything but fiscally responsible and in fact were fiscally irresponsible. They also lacked transparency because they did most of it behind your backs.
I don’t want to hear that we’re in better shape than other HOAs; that’s irrelevant.
I don’t want to hear that our maintenance dues only went up 3 percent; that’s irrelevant.
I don’t want to hear that we came within our budget, because backing into a budget is no way to claim financial bragging rights when you’re routinely giving away the farm behind the members’ backs, failing to negotiate contracts, failing to send out renewals for competitive bidding, and partying with vendors right before you give them secret bonuses.
On March 2, 2023 at one of the Town Hall meetings, another Board member/candidate, Harvey Ginsberg, actually stated in response to a question that there is no competitive bidding on renewals of contracts, which is shocking because a renewal is actually a new contract, so that’s absurd and certainly not fiscally responsible.
A flurry of emails ensued from this email blast from FSR to the entire community praising the current board/board candidates, starting with Director Arthur who immediately sent an email to the entire Board, the property manager, her assistant, her supervisor, and the other five candidates as follows (and all emails are completely unedited and just copied and pasted):
This email is being sent to FSR personnel, current Board members, and all candidates.
The below mass email to the entire community from FSR which has the only database for the entire community contains the following sentence:
"The Current Board of Directors are financially responsible and act in the best interest of the community."
The inclusion of that sentence is extremely improper and unethical; it is campaigning for the current Board members who are up for re-election, and FSR represents the entire community, not just some Board members who approved their contract and their out of contract raises and who partied with you at your sponsored Board Appreciation Luncheon.
You, FSR employees, should immediately send out a corrected email and apologize for this inappropriate and outrageous sentence. You have no right and no business interfering with the politics of this community and the pending election. This is grounds for challenging election results by any losing candidate that is not a current Board member.
Arthur Andelson, Director”
He then sent an immediate follow up email to all of them as follows:
The mass email to the community from FSR endorsing the current Board members running for re-election is actionable in my opinion. FSR wrote in its mass email to the entire community:
"The current Board of Directors are financially responsible and act in the best interest of the community."
There are candidates that completely disagree with that, there are members who disagree with that, there is evidence that that is not true, and this type of electioneering by FSR which is the only entity with the list of all residents' email addresses, is likely very illegal.
This is so outrageous because this is considered an ENDORSEMENT which FSR has NO RIGHT to do.
FSR: You just interfered with this election and once again, a losing candidate who is not a current board member will have the right to challenge this in court and may be successful after the HOA has to foot the bill and redo the elections.
Arthur Andelson, Director”
As Arthur stated above, there are candidates who completely disagree with the property management company’s claim and endorsement, there are many HOA members who disagree with it, and there is ample evidence to refute the claim. In fact the current majority of the board is not financially responsible and does not act in the best interest of the community.
Director Sue Schmer responded to that email:
“Dear Arthur and all who are in this email chain,
I would like to state the following:
I was briefly in the office this morning after playing tennis to find out how many ballots were returned.
At that time, I was asked to review the email
blast regarding that portion pertaining to the upcoming ballot vote . I did some editing, deleting some words that I thought were inappropriate. However, the wording to which you refer was edited by me . The Board is financially responsible as it is part of its role responsibilities. Board members believe that they are acting in the best interests of the community even though , at times, I disagree with the majority.I didn’t think it was related to the upcoming board election, albeit you disagree.
If anything, I bend over backwards to make sure that things are fair, ethical and equitable. I would never try to promote any candidate, as my recent my actions regarding equity and fairness will attest. However, the FSR staff should not be held responsible for what I considered a reasonable wording from what was the original content.
If there is any blame, I will take full responsibility and apologize to any candidate who is not a current board member. FSR is a neutral party in the upcoming board elections and will remain so.
And to all on this email chain, I strongly urge you not to share these emails with anyone who is not on this email chain, as that would be unfair as well.
Arthur responded to Sue’s email as follows:
“Sue and All:
Sue, it is unfortunate that you chose to participate in this unethical email blast. Asking for it to remain confidential is also highly inappropriate and irresponsible and it smacks of an attempted cover-up. It's the opposite of honesty, openness, and transparency. There is no reason to sugar coat this because it's blatant electioneering and it was included and injected into the middle of a paragraph about the amendment ballot which it had nothing to do with.
Your personal feelings or what you participated in by editing (to use your word) for FSR I find inappropriate because this is an FSR management company email blast, not a Board email blast. Since you had access to this before it went out, why wasn't I included as an equal board member?
Bottom line: you don't get a pass and they don't get a pass. This is pure electioneering no matter how you spin it and it's completely unethical for an HOA vendor to engage in this behavior. If you want to vote for these incumbents, Sue, go right ahead, as that's your personal choice. But having FSR send an email blast endorsing these Board member candidates by singing their praises and vouching for their fiscal responsibility after having been given secret bonuses and multiple secret raises behind the backs of the members with their money after partying with all of you privately is unconscionable to say the least.
Sue’s response was:
The only pass I have ever asked for was a hall pass to use the bathroom when I was in junior and senior high school. I am not asking for one. There was no other board member other than me who was involved. It was just a matter of “happenstance” that I was in the office at that time.
The reason why I strongly believe that these emails should not be disseminated is that they can be perceived as something other than what they were intended to mean, namely ,an attempt to get as many votes as possible so that we can truly access what the community wants.
I will not make any remarks that further question my intentions as I do not feel the need to do so. As I have previously said to all board members, “Everything good or bad about me has already been said.”
I accept all criticism as another way of looking at things. Hopefully, all on this email chain will look in the right direction.
To all- have a good weekend!
FSR sent out this eblast to the community, with or without the help of Director Sue Schmer. Electioneering by a vendor with a direct financial interest in the outcome of the election because this current board gives them repeated raises with members’ money is unethical to say the very least.
And these raises in the past were done without any Minutes, and would never have been discovered if Arthur weren’t on the Board to expose it. So how is that financially responsible?
They got their raises outside the contract from these candidates, and got their bonuses after secretly partying with the Board/these candidates, so now they’re electioneering for the Board members who are candidates in the upcoming elections here.
The fact that a Board member cops to helping draft this endorsement and then wants it kept quiet is both inappropriate and is an attempt to avoid transparency.
The management company’s e-mail blast of its endorsement of these current board members/candidates is so over the top that the only question should be what are the consequences, sanctions, and/or penalties for this unethical behavior.
If you are not disturbed by FirstService Residential’s immersing itself into the HOA’s politics, then please stop reading now.
If, on the other hand, you are rightly disturbed and outraged, I have a simple question: since when do HOA vendors inject themselves into the politics of an HOA’s Board elections, especially when they have the exclusive control of all the contact information of the voting members, and when their financial interests are directly tied to these specific Board members/candidates?
There are five non-Board member candidates in the race:
Shelly Andreas, Jay Bleiman, Tony D’Agrosa, Alice Silver, and George Klein (the latter three are known as the T.A.G. Team (Tony, Alice, George), or the Dream Team, or the slate because they are running as a unit, and that is the subject of my Election Report; they are running on a slate of business sense, and of Honesty, Openness, and Transparency).
All five of them deserve a free and fair election without undue influence by bad actors who are paid vendors who have no right to interfere by subtle and not so subtle endorsements of current board members also in the race, especially when the endorsement itself is demonstrably untrue.
This is pure, unadulterated election tampering in my opinion and the opinion of others. Backing candidates with whom you privately party shortly before they give you bonuses and who then give you extracontractual and secret raises on top of their salaries, and who do it multiple times, is unacceptable. I have learned that they’ve been giving these raises outside the terms of the contract twice a year for years.
These raises incur additional HOA debt that the members pay for. It is against the financial interest of the members and it’s done secretly. Had this News Site not exposed all of this, you’d still be in the dark about all of it: the partying, the bonuses, the multiple raises on top of the contract.
This is the opposite of fiscal responsibility, and these raises and bonuses were secretly made without performance reviews, without benchmarks, and behind the backs of the members in closed meetings not meant to ever see the light of day.
It’s bad enough that the HOA has unethical and morally corrupt members running around and spreading vicious lies and rumors about the candidates at the pool and in and around the common areas, hoping and praying that the members will buy the dung that they’re flinging. But expanding on the lack of ethics to now infect vendors is taking it to a whole new level.
Your faithful scribe, Vicki Roberts