What Do We Want?

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Sep 22, 2022 at 11:28 AM.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    One of the potential RCSC candidates asked a fascinating question at a small gathering; "what do you want?' I was intrigued and surprised? Every RCSC board candidate i can recall ran on the premise of them telling us what he or she can do for us.

    Before i go there though, had coffee with a good friend yesterday who has spent the past 7 years reading Sun City newspapers at the state archives. I know our history pretty good, he blows me away with his knowledge. As we chatted he casually mentioned how far Sun City has fallen from its roots.

    All of which dovetailed nicely with a piece i had written for the SCHOA Guide regarding Sun City being the City of Volunteers. In it, i included the 35 year battle over whether to incorporate or not. Organizations across the community wanted it, many of the members living here wanted no part of it. It was included in the article but may not make the final cut. Go figure, i wrote too much.

    Sun City was built on a foundation of ownership, responsibility and accountability. Those living here worked tirelessly to build a sense of community. It's odd because no one wanted incorporation more than John Meeker; yet it was his actions that brought residents together to create a setting that residents loved but refused to let go of.

    All of which makes me smile because the other day on the Sun City Advocates blog a former board member referred to me clinging to our old outdated 1975 history. Guilty as charged, with this exception; i don't think those tenets are unreachable. I think if given both the opportunity and motivation, they could be reached again.

    This thread will be an exercise in "what do we want?" Clearly i have my opinions, but that's all they are. As we unfold this concept, you will see nearly every step of the way how important it is to be inclusive in the decision making process rather than the exclusive process of governance we have moved to.

    To Ben's point, since 2006, every step of the journey has brought us closer to the vision some community leaders had as they tried to shove incorporation down members throats. They wanted us to become more Peoria, Glendale and Surprise like and abandon a community of self-governance. To become a city where the decisions were made by a few, not by the many.

    Sadly, that is exactly where we are today and more exactly why we need a paradigm shift in leadership and how the RCSC functions. That is unless members are happy letting the general manager make every decision.

    Stay tuned, this will be fun to explore; what if?
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    My old friend and long time board member, Norm Dickson, had a standing argument with new board members who viewed frugality as their reason to be elected. We often saw things differently but he was passionately correct that board members weren't there to keep the RCSC from spending money. His view was they should serve to insure it was spent wisely and for the membership's benefit. Spot on.

    It's a pretty simple premise and clearly the Articles of Incorporation support that position. It was also clear in his head, we weren't a for profit corporation, but a non-profit whose existence was singular in nature. Serving the members. He advocated for all kinds of changes. One of his first and most aggressive was the Bell fitness area and Bell pool remodel. Most people don't know the plan didn't come through the long range planning committee, but it was a board action.

    He argued long and loudly for the walking pool. It was a wholly new concept and in fact one some snickered at. It was pure genius and to this day is beloved by members. His vision to refit our centers with updated fitness equipment was bold and much needed. His next project was the Fairway rebuild and that too proved to be an exceptionally strong decision. It was a 5 year project and before any work ever began, he met with every club and reassured them they would have bigger and better spaces once they reopened. He (and the entire board) also worked tirelessly to keep the membership appraised of what was going on.

    It was in fact the beginning of the end in how business was done. The new regime adopted new strategies with dealing with boards and committees. The newly hired gm was less inclined to use the membership, relying on the boards to pass things. With each passing year, the shift to a more internally run organization was at the core. Rather than inclusive, we became exclusive. With each passing year, the board bestowed the management team greater decision making process. The less folks involved, the easier to do what they wanted.

    In a perfect world, where everyone that was hired was perfect at their jobs, that might have worked. The non-profit world is unfortunately not capable of hiring the best of the best. I'm not being cold or callous, non-profits simply can't compete with for profit companies, salaries are sometimes as much as half what one could make in the real world of work. That was exacerbated when the gm used as her measuring stick, loyalty. Again, that's not unusual.

    The whole point of looking back, is setting this thread up to look forward. What history has taught us, at least those of us who have taken the time to understand it, know the great equalizer in Sun City was the quality of the volunteers who worked in conjunction with both the board and management. They never left the decision making to the general manager, boards relied on the community to help supply answers.

    When those buying here and moving in took ownership, the concept of self-governance was included in the purchase price of your home. It was ingrained in and responsibility and accountability were essential ingredients that added to our success, It was only over time, almost all of that was bred out of how Sun City came to be. It wasn't an accident, it wasn't overlooked, the decision was made to recreate Sun City in the eyes of a handful.

    It is exactly why the push back over the past couple of years has been so contentious. The management team has become comfortable in just doing what they want. Board members became accustomed to 20 members at board meetings and the occasional complaint was just blown off as a disgruntled member. When little or nothing got done, even less members came. It was simply cause and effect.

    The past two years have been challenging. Many of the membership have grown frustrated. Clearly the board is uncomfortable with members becoming more vocal and showing up. The management team appears to be beside themselves when anyone in the community is questioning their decisions. In the next thread, we'll explore that further. One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to see what i am/have been saying is true. All you need do is open your eyes and pay attention.

    In the next post, we'll explore some of the go to techniques that have worked in the past and should now be relegated to the scrap heap of failed experiments. The easy answers lie in the hands of the membership, it's time to start asking them what they want?
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022 at 11:58 AM
    OneDayAtATime, eyesopen and FYI like this.
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I awoke at 1;30 am this morning, jumped out of bed and read the bylaws just posted on line. I was going to wait till the morning when i was bright eyed and bushy tailed, but after a couple hours of sleep, i had a nagging feeling that wouldn't let me stay asleep. I had briefly looked them over and there was a mixture of emotions. I had heard some things suggesting they were headed in the right direction. Then i read some things that said otherwise. Then to cap it off, i got an email proclaiming them to be the worst bylaws ever.

    There i sat in my reading chair, blurry eyed and reading things a couple of times over. What the hell was going on? What were they trying to say? One of the things that threw me were the definitions at the very beginning, two plus pages of them. At the very top was insuring we all new we were card-holders. Ouch.

    But alas, this thread isn't about the bylaws, at least not specifically. The question asked was clear; "what do we want?" We being the membership, not me, not the Sun City Advocates, the membership as a whole. The 27,500 rooftops of owners who make up Sun City. Unfortunately getting there appears to be near on impossible. But wait, what about the 50k plus survey? Good question, but with 400 anticipated returns, hardly a wide breath of the membership is it?

    And why 50k for a survey the Long Range Planning Committee had put together 3 plus years ago? Hell, they've been talking about reaching out to members for as long as i have been here The simple answer is why should they? Does it really matter what the members say or think?

    Let me give you this tiny, tiny example. Literally, it's minuscule, but indicative of how they function. An unnamed member submitted photographs of really ratty looking lawn chairs around the pool at the Marinette Rec Center. A friend who saw the photos told me he would be ashamed to be seen throwing them into the trash; they were that bad. This member sent the photos off to the RCSC and asked if it was possible to get something better around the pool area?

    The response came back, the same inane one i have heard mouthed a hundred times:" No money in the budget this year, maybe we can get them into next years budget." It's the go to answer when they don't want to do anything...other than what they want to do. Members be damned. The other one i love so much is when there's a large expenditure, send them off to the long range planning committee and let them languish in PIF budget hell. I've tried to forewarn clubs not to let them to do that, but club members have been taught not to ruffle their feathers because if they do, they'll never get anything they ask for.

    On a larger scale, we heard and watched the Vintage Car Club ask to have the air conditioning that was taken from their shop area by an RCSC employee with a sharp pencil, be installed from their carry-over funds. Now the word is, nope, no money for it. The club has documented temperatures and humidity during the summer months and it mattered not. Apparently they didn't want to hurt the feelings of the employee who red lined it when it was taken out.

    The list is nearly endless when it comes to "not listening to members." There's a long and storied past of items dumped because the the general manager or a handful of board members wanted what they wanted. But let me be very clear, that long and storied past started in 2006 when the decision was made to carve out the membership from the process of self-governance. After reading the new bylaws, little has changed.

    Here it is, right smack dab at the top of the list; what do members want? To be heard; how freaking hard is that?
    Cheri Marchio, eyesopen and FYI like this.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    "To be heard; How freaking hard is that?" I know, dumb question on my part. The answer is obvious, near on impossible. Where's the logic in listening to members? What's the impetus behind it? Why in the world should they care what we think or say?

    The answers to all of the above are contained in our history. The community documents, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were written to insure our elected board members would listen. Our documents were written to insure the general manager worked for the board. Since 2006, everything has been rewritten;, redefined to give more control to the management team and less interest in listening to what members think or say.

    I've written it before, the classic Faustian bargain. Give us the power (management) and we'll reduce your (boards) workload and take any heat off of you. The perfect example is the Vintage Car Club and the case of the missing air conditioning. Who in their right mind would design a club building without air conditioning? Certainly not the club members who designed it. It was there originally. And then it wasn't. A member of management apparently had the power/authority to take it out and replace it with a swamp cooler. They work fine for 7 0r 8 months out of the year, but when high humidity hits us, they are worthless.

    So what did they save? Does it even matter? Hell, we heard the other day there was a 160k mistake made in the door installation. How the flock does that happen? And even more important, who was held accountable for that kind of blunder? To the board president's point, therein is the problem of claiming they are running things more "business like." How business like was this dealt with? Anybody's head role? In the real for profit world, somebody would be out looking for work.

    We know that's not how the RCSC functions. They measure success by how much everyone bands together and protects one another. Loyalty from team members (RCSC employees) and more loyalty between board members. Think not, check on who's been fired over the years; employees who have spoken out and board members who have refused to worship at the altar of the general manager.

    I've watched spell-bound since i left the board in 2014. With each passing year, sin after sin, few dared speak out. With each passing year, the documents were gutted and the relationship between member and the board worsened. I guess the good news was, the relationship between the board and the management team was strengthened. That bond between them became impenetrable. Members simply stopped coming and stopped caring.

    That's what happens when you push people away. That's what happens when they raise concerns and are ignored. That's what happens when the board relinquishes their authority to the management. They just do as they please and the board meekly sits back and watches. Oh well.

    My absolute hope was the newly minted bylaws would start us in a new direction. They haven't. They are more of the same. The good news is, they are on less pages as they apparently pulled out all the board policies they have been shoveling into them and put them back as board policies. For anyone who has clicked on the link to view them, good luck figuring them out. There's no clarifying what was sent back to board policies, there's no strike out language to be able to read what was versus what is. It's simply a clean copy of what they are proposing.

    The good news is they are holding a planning meeting next Thursday following the board meeting. The bad news is, and it tells us everything we need to know about the new bylaws, they don't nor do the want our feedback or questions. They haven't cared what we thought or said for years, why would they start now?
    OneDayAtATime likes this.
  5. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Active Member

    To your point, Bill, the working meeting should have a draft of the bylaws with all of the strikeouts and all of the new/added/revised language. This draft is pretty worthless unless we go line by line with the previous bylaws to compare. I have been involved in numerous revisions, and they have never been presented for a work group or review like this!
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I know the committee worked hard on this. Work product aside, the rollout could not have been more poorly executed. It demeaned everything they did. It flies in the face of the board president's contention; "we have to operate more like a business." Even the most ineffective not-for-profit would have done a better job than what we have seen to date. The RCSC has simply proven the direction since 2006 could not have been more wrong-headed.

    When the members don't matter, the results are always witnessed in how little they care about what we are shown. Just doing it for the sake of saying they did it is folly. I have the working history pre-2006 and nothing was ever done like this. Bare ass minimums at best is what we get. I guess we are supposed to be grateful for that.
    eyesopen likes this.
  7. OneDayAtATime

    OneDayAtATime Active Member

    Jean Totten as One Day At A Time

    Myself and a few others were present at the first Ad Hoc By Law Revision meeting before they were closed to "the public." I remember one of the members of the committee distinctly stating that you always needed a 'reference' copy so that you could see the changes being made. She was pretty adamant about it. So one probably exists; maybe they'll share on Thursday??
    Cheri Marchio and Linda McIntyre like this.
  8. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    They also said that they were intending to publish consenting and dissenting arguments for the changes.
    Cheri Marchio and eyesopen like this.
  9. OneDayAtATime

    OneDayAtATime Active Member

    Jean Totten as One Day At A Time

    I have about 5-6 pages of notes from that meeting. First page says, "At the conclusion, we have to make the bylaws agree to the Articles. They are tantamount."
  10. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    This is exactly why they run from our history, not to it. We know for the first 40 plus years, they followed the Articles to the letter. Board members could and did get recalled. Motions were made from the floor during member meetings and were passed at that meeting. Nothing bad or horrible came from it. The community didn't collapse, hell didn't freeze over and life went on. All be it more cautiously. They (the RCSC) simply didn't do stupid stuff.

    Sadly, the changes that came in 2006 were a constant drumbeat to a more internal way of running the community. By removing members rights and then their voices, and then granting the management team the ability to do whatever they felt right, we've become a community without a voice. My hopes it would begin to be restored via the bylaw rewrite have been dashed by what i have read.

    So here's their argument: The members have the right to override the board members, they just have to jump through a ton of hoops to do it. Let's be really really clear, that's never been the way it was done. Never.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022 at 9:45 PM
    Cheri Marchio, eyesopen and FYI like this.
  11. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    You forgot to mention one VERY important point Bill. You only get to jump thru those hoops if the Management allows you to do so. If they don't agree with your grievance they simply will not authorize you to petition!

    That's why my tagline is "You get the government you deserve." If we keep on voting those like-minded directors onto the board it will never change.
    Cheri Marchio and eyesopen like this.
  12. eyesopen

    eyesopen Active Member

    “Say anything…do whatever we want!”
    RCSC unofficial motto
  13. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I just shared an email with some close friends. I revealed to them, i have become jaundiced to anything they say or write. They simply don't care what a document says. They simply don't care what Robert's Rules of Order states as how they should function. Back 20 years ago (2003), the RCSC grandfathered every home owner; guaranteed they would always be covered by the single lot per person payment. New buyers would fall under a single lot assessment whether there was one or two members in the house.

    When the new general manager was hired she determined the members weren't dying or moving out of the community fast enough. In 2009 she brought forward a proposal claiming anyone who moved lost the grandfathering. The board members that passed the clause showed up and testified the members could carry the grandfathering with them. The general manager claimed the attorney said it was unclear. They voted to strip members who moved to a different house of it.

    I have in my hands a letter on RCSC stationary written the month before the change was made stating clearly, anyone owning a home in 2003 would carry the grandfathered clause including when moving to a new home. It was written and sent to the title companies. The RCSC simply didn't care what was agreed to. I could post a half a dozen similar stories about willful and blatant disregard.

    They simply don't care. They do what they want, when they want and the members have to eat it. People wonder why i am a skeptic. It's because of how they have acted and the things they have done. Trust isn't a given, it's earned by one's actions.
    FYI, Cheri Marchio and eyesopen like this.
  14. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    That's why it's so important to vote the right people onto the Board.

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" Margaret Mead
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2022 at 6:09 PM
  15. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    It all comes down to this election; either we change the wayward course the RCSC has taken us in, or we don't. It's been suggested to me i am reading things into the bylaws that aren't there. Maybe. We'll see come Thursday where we get to sit and watch the show to try and explain their rationale. There are some changes, my question is, are they real or just smoke and mirrors?

    The one question you invariably have to ask yourself is this; does it really matter what it says? Or; does it really matter what they do? Because if we know one thing from watching the past several years, it's their actions we should be focused on. The written word has proven to mean little. Why should any of that change with the new and improved bylaws?

    The one real point of contention is whether members are allowed to petition a recall. We know one member who applied for permit recall number four times and in every case he cited the reasons for the recalls. Every time he was told no, sorry doesn't qualify. I am assured that's not the case any longer. We'll see.
    eyesopen likes this.

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