by Karen Daigle Lundberg, July 1, 2019
Who rules in an authoritarian government?
“In government, authoritarianism denotes any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people.”Encyclopaedia Britannica
Here in Hot Springs Village, the year is 2019. However, if you look closely and study the politics going on in Hot Springs Village today, you might think that you have time traveled back to 100 years or so ago. The years I am referring to are the years where dictatorial regimes were formed in Europe and the Far East, these regimes were referred to as authoritarianism and even worse. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, that is where we are sitting today. Our authoritarian calls herself our CEO, and four “old guard” Board members are assisting her, most especially our Chairperson. While the facts are not quite equal in comparison, the concept of authoritarianism is alive and well in Hot Springs Village.
HSV, are we awake?
Are we awake now? Yes, comparing Hot Springs Village to hard core Authoritarian governments or even worse may be going a little overboard, but the concept is exactly the same thing. We all know that our Board of Directors are supposed to be guiding and overseeing our CEO, but we also know that that is not what is happening in Hot Springs Village. Our CEO has become her own form of authoritarian, and our Chairperson is giving her free reign in all of her actions, thereby making herself a willing conspirator in this regime.
This is happening
I understand that many of you may be thinking that these are very harsh descriptions of what is taking place in Hot Springs Village, but if you stop and think about it, I think you will see that this is exactly what is happening. I promise you that no one more than I looked forward to enjoying my days of retirement, not having the worries we have struggled throughout our entire lives through, and these are the days we were supposed to kick back and enjoy life. Many of us found Hot Springs Village and thought we had found our own personal Heaven, and this is where we could enjoy our retirement years. Little did we know! I also know that none of us want to have to fight. Our Village consists of the loveliest people I have ever met in my life, and we do not want to fight anyone or anything. Unfortunately, our CEO has made that impossible for us.
Citizens have no voice
“Authoritarian governments may hold elections and they may have contact with their citizens, but citizens do not have any voice in how they are ruled. Their leaders do not give their subjects free choice. Instead, they decide what the people can or cannot have.”Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia
Think about this: Did any of you ever think that you would buy a house, own the property the house sits on, pay your taxes, pay your membership fees, and have to go in front of a committee to plant a tree in your yard, or better yet, need to cut down a tree, and have to go and get approval, pay a fee (if approved), and then have to go and pay to have the tree cut down? Did you ever dream that you would have to get permission on landscaping your own property? Even more importantly, did you ever dream that you would live in a Village, where you pay assessment fees, and that you have no say-so whatsoever in how that money is spent?
Should I send a fruitcake to the CEO?
Did you ever dream that while, so far, we are allowed to attend Board meetings, and they have now graciously given us three minutes instead of two to speak at the podium, but nothing we say is going to make any difference in their decisions? Oh, I must remember to send our CEO a fruitcake in thanks for that extra minute we have been given.
Maybe she will send me a fruitcake?
Wait, is that the entirety of what happened? No, it is not. Even though our two-minute time was extended to three minutes, the Board Chair acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner, partially silenced the voice of property owners by eliminating the first comment session of board meetings. We went from an original four minutes (two sessions, two minutes each) to one three-minute session for comments. The comment session that was eliminated is critical because it precedes the board vote on pending agenda items. We actually lost a minute of critical time. Maybe she will send me a fruitcake instead.
We are being bulldozed over
MOST importantly, did you ever dream that you would be living in a community where you were given ONLY two votes on anything and everything that takes place in this Village? Did you ever dream that the Comprehensive Master Plan would be a Governing Document controlling Hot Springs Village? Did you ever dream that thousands of people would use a vote as their voice to tell the CEO that we have no confidence in her and that we don’t trust her, but she just continues getting on her bulldozer every day and just bulldozes her wishes and desires right over us?
This is serious
Fellow Villagers, this is serious! The last movement, which I am sure many more are coming, is they illegally suspended our Bylaws. Taking from the movie, Network, Peter Finch rants, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” and he urges everyone to open their windows and yell it out with him. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to do that. Haven’t you?
Stop them now
I read many comments and replies that people state that we can fix this when we have our next Board election. That is NOT the answer! I ask you all to look at the damage that has been done since we placed three good Board members on the Board. They are the minority. I applaud them for what they are trying to do, but they cannot be effective while they are the minority. We just had to watch the Board and CEO suspend our Bylaws, which was illegal, and our three new Board members, nor could any of the Villagers, do a thing about it. How much worse are they going to do? Frankly, I think a lot of damage is yet to come before the new election is even close. We must stop them!
I am not alone
Am I the only one that feels like my mouth has been duct taped and hands tied behind my back? Our out-of-control CEO and her co-conspirator, our Board Chairperson, have stripped us of all of our rights, and if we find a loophole, they quickly go into a secret meeting and change whatever governing document they need to in order to close the loophole. I’m tired of it, and I know that I am not alone.
We need to stand in unity
I have some ideas about how we might stop this, but we are going to have to do it together, and we are going to need a large force of people. I would like to ask everyone that if you have not already if you would like to be a part of this force to attempt to stop our CEO, please join the Hot Springs People Facebook Group that Joe and Cheryl Dowden run. I know it is a large group already, but we need as many as we can possibly get. My ideas need more investigation, but when it is time, I will be asking Joe and Cheryl to address them on their Facebook Group.
I am not willing to stand back – are you?
I truly understand that we don’t want to fight. I don’t want to fight. However, I am not willing to stand back and let someone stomp all over my rights. Are you?
by Karen Daigle Lundberg, July 1, 2019
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are solely my own opinions. I, alone, take full and complete responsibility for every word written in this article.
Edited and formatted by Cheryl Dowden