By Andy Kramek, July 13, 2021
The full phrase, from which I took the title for this article, is of course,
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1849)
In case French speakers are a little thin on the ground in HSV, that translates as “The more things change, the more they stay the same” – which seems to fit somehow.
In a recent post on the Property Owners Group FaceBook page, Lloyd Sherman said this (reposted with permission from Mr. Sherman):
THE CMP IS BACK – While I hope I am wrong about this, but does anyone else notice that we seem to be back at exactly the same point we were when the CMP was being implemented? Staff continues to make decisions about what the Village needs (or wants) without sufficient property owner input. We are once again discussing “suspension” strategy. We just added over 2,000 more lots to our inventory of over 3,500. Anyone really think that was strategic more than it was a ploy to ensure there was a second vote to implement the upcoming assessment increase? NOTHING has changed in the way the POA does business, so how can you really expect a change going forward?Lloyd Sherman, July 11, 2021
I am very much afraid that he is absolutely correct!
Many people have asked me why we moved our primary residence out of the Village in 2019. There was no single reason but our health was certainly a factor. Although we had lived in the Village for four years it was increasingly clear that the combination of high humidity and the forest environment (i.e. insects, mold and pollen) were having a negative impact on our general health and made it clear that we would not be able to stay in the longer term. However, there was no urgency and we could certainly have stayed for a few more years without any real issue. So why did we go when we did?
The short answer is that we recognized that, whether by accident or design, the POA had ceased to be concerned with managing the Village on behalf of the property owners and had, instead, become a self-sustaining bureaucracy whose only interest was in maintaining its own financial interest, power and control. The Board existed merely to rubber-stamp whatever it was that the “Staff” wanted. So just who comprised this mysterious “Staff”?
Well, it was a few senior employees led, and in some cases appointed, by the then “CEO”, that formed a small and select group of insiders. Generally, their qualifications were, at best, questionable for the positions they held and the authority that they wielded. Of course, they also received significantly better salaries and benefits than were justified in a rural non-profit corporation like the POA. The control of this group of cronies over the daily functions and operations of the POA was total and absolute and, regrettably, they were supported by a relatively small, but vociferous, group of residents.
Their manifesto and handbook, the so-called Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP), was a New Urbanist vision document that cost the Village half a million dollars. It outlined a plan, without specifying how it could ever be implemented, that was totally inappropriate for a heavily forested community of about 14,000 people spread over 26,000 acres in the foothills of the Ozarks. However, any suggestion that it was not equivalent to holy writ was treated with contempt and ridicule. Enormous amounts of POA effort, time (and money) went into attending New Urbanist conferences and developing implementation plans for this monstrosity, each more absurd and impractical than the last.
Despite the campaign pledges of the, then prospective, Board candidates (the so-called LTD ticket), to force major change on the POA it was perfectly clear that the upper echelons of the POA had no interest in either listening to the property owners or accepting change. Indeed things were, the way we saw it, only going to deteriorate further irrespective of who was on the Board. Even if the “CEO” could be deposed (and she subsequently was, albeit at considerable financial cost) it was clear that without a complete restructuring of the POA the staff-driven steamroller would continue on its merry way unabated.
We regretfully decided that we had seen the Village at its best and that it was not going to get any better in the immediate future. So we took the plunge, sold our main house and moved out to a place with a warmer, dryer, climate and no POA. However, we still have some property, and hence an interest, in HSV. From what we have seen, from this distance, it certainly looks as if we called it correctly! The last two years have seen an increasingly dysfunctional and ineffective Board of Directors who, having got rid of the CEO, seem unable to agree even among themselves what their role should be. So they have simply allowed the POA staff to continue to run things however they want and gone along with it.
Unfortunately, despite a couple of minor changes, the individuals who comprised the cabal that formed under the aegis of the last full-time General Manager (Mr T*****), and his “CEO” successor (Ms N*****), are still there and still in control. I would now include the two-time “interim GM” as an integral part of that group. The consequence is, of course, that nothing of any significance has changed. Even worse, there is no sign that any major change will occur in the near future.
We really do wish the very best to all our friends in HSV and want nothing but the brightest and best future for the Village. However, while we wish we could be optimistic, given the recent history, we really cannot be anything but pessimistic. That is, unless a majority of property owners in general, and residents in particular, get together and agree on exactly what the future of the Village should be and take the necessary steps to ensure that the correct people are put into positions – both on the Board and within the POA – to make it happen.
How likely is that? Well it depends on getting property owners involved, learning from the past, agreeing on the future and, most importantly, on cleaning house at the POA. That means bringing in people with the necessary background and experience to restore its primary function – managing the Village for, and on behalf of, the property owners.
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