Yesterday; Today...Tomorrow.

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Feb 7, 2021.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    No apologies necessary GvD, if we learned nothing else over the past 5 years, we learned words matter. I don’t disagree with much you have written. Clearly the greatest generation were wholly different from boomers. The question ultimately becomes, do those differences mean anything when it comes to caring about what is happening around and to them?

    Rather than attempting to answer the question, it seems to me, each of us need look within. This past year has been challenging to almost everyone. Self-isolating, withdrawing from humanity and not socializing has created an opportunity in my humble opinion. With nothing but time on our hands, i have found myself looking within. I suspect many others have been as reflective as i have.

    As i worked on Sun City’s history it became abundantly clear to me all of the advances we have made has come at a price. While so many love the idea of having an iPhone and all it is able to do in hand, has it made us better or worse? Has been being able to stay connected to where we moved from place to place a plus or a minus? Are we somehow better off because we have 400 channels available or were the 6 or 12 from the 60’s enough?

    Silly questions perhaps, but none the less, when asked it at least forces us to think. Sadly, we do too little of that these days. Talking heads on TV, radio and all of the other mediums shape our opinions. Social media consumes us in ways that are often counter-productive. The very idea we are slaves to technology is depressing.

    I’ve written often of Morris Massey. I’ll spare you the long version of his teachings, but the short version is our behavior is shaped in our youth and by pressures around us. The only time we really change is when we (society) are faced with a significant emotional event (SEE). I would quickly follow up, the pandemic has been exactly that. All of which suggests we could potentially use the crisis as a turning point in our lives and in our directions.

    Alas, i am getting ahead of myself. The tomorrow segment will go there. For today, i would hope people start to look within. Do you like where you/we are? As a society, are we in a good place or a bad place? Is there reason to think we can all do better? I can’t answer those questions for you, but for me, i dislike where we are and what we have become.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Before we move to Tomorrow, let’s finish some quick thoughts on Today. I’ve made it clear, I’ve stayed away from criticizing the RCSC on decisions made during the pandemic. No matter what they did, it was always going to be a tough call with people happy or unhappy based on where they stood regarding mitigation and their politics.

    With that out of the way, let’s reflect a bit. 2020 was a butt ugly year. I know too many seniors who rely/depend on the clubs and amenities for their social outlet. When they lost them, it was devastating. Their lives were turned upside down. The RCSC continued to pay employees (nope, not critical of it) and to tell the “card-holders” to pay their dues because the cost to run the facilities was the same whether they were open or not. I find the comment ludicrous on its face, in that the costs obviously weren’t identical.

    What really set me off was how blunt and uncaring they were about the impact on the community at large. Communicating in a manner that suggests you care about people isn’t that difficult, especially if you understand what your decisions are doing to people. In addition, imagine if the RCSC had spent the last year building a sense of community even though we couldn’t get together in person?

    Say what? Do you know they have been holding online concerts on other age restricted community websites? In the 70’s and 80’s DEVCO sponsored lecture series; how about had we held community online lecture series that covered the gamut of things causing concern for members? What if our publications and online emails were directed in a manner that drew people in rather than pushed them away? Imagine if we had produced a series on the history of the community to view at your leisure? Showing people you care isn’t’t that hard, if you do.

    We have excellent audio visual people on staff who could have produced any and all of the above. Instead we stayed with the same old same old and when anyone asked, we rudely responded about it being the way it is. The point here, the pandemic subjected everyone to challenges and the real question becomes; how did you respond? For example, at the museum we went in 100% the other direction and we don’t have anywhere near the operating budget the RCSC has.

    There’s more: This is where i get really disgusted with how we are being run. We know in the formative years, everything was about inclusion. The company (DEVCO ) wanted as many people involved in the governance of the community as possible. Taking ownership by the masses insured success. Compare that to the last board appointment. Yet another retread to fill an open board position. How does does that inspire people living here to get involved? The simply reality is, no one even knew there was an open position; they just filled it with someone who would vote the way they want. What a slap in the face to previous candidates who had not been elected.

    Sun City has evolved and become more like newer age restricted communities where they have single entity governance. I know it’s easier when you take owners/residents out of the equation, but does it make it better? I think not.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Many of you know, i went missing in action much of the summer and fall. I've grown weary of trying to represent my sentiments regarding Sun City AZ in ways that make it seem like the prefect place to live. And to be clear, it is awesome; it could be so much better. Our history taught us the struggle to succeed wasn't easy and at times ugly. Differences of opinion were a constant. Meeker/DEVCO was always the constant, stay on course, keep building that sense of community and one day they would survive without the company holding their hand.

    The evolution through the 80's and 90's was fascinating. Board members were elected based on platforms of being frugal or being forward thinking. Residents were involved on so many different levels. Without them we would never be where we are today. Back in those days, the general manager (GM) was simply the person who oversaw the day to day operations. Their voice was minimal in the big-picture process. Board members actually shaped direction, plans and goals. It was ownership at its finest.

    Then a funny thing happened. In the mid-2000's a group of board members decided to hire a GM to run not only the day to day operations, but to give them more of a voice in the direction of the community. It didn't happen immediately, but over time she took on more responsibilities and reduced the role of the board members. Many of them liked that as most were golfers and too many meetings and time spent doing RCSC's business meant less time on the course. It was a good trade-off for board members because the GM's main focus was re-investing the PIF in golf.

    She would argue that's not the case, and creative accounting has supported her position. I've long stated the best solution would be a forensic audit but that will never happen. As a new GM comes on board this summer, he/she would be wise to do it, but they won't. Rumor has it, several of the board members won't be in the room during the bulk of the interviews. Apparently they've paired down the screeners to about half and only once they reach the final selection process will they be involved. That alone is shameful.

    We'll never get back to the days of the community involvement we enjoyed our first 40 years. At least not without some serious adjustment in the current structure. As long as the GM helps pick her replacement and only a portion of the board involved in the initial interview process the outcome is fairly predictable. Sadly, those running for the board last year were told this was the most important election in a very long time; and it was. Tragically as we move to the next phase of Sun City's future a handful of board members are working to insure they determine the outcome. Hardly the way we were built and most assuredly not why we were successful.

    This weekend...Tomorrow.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Since the museum opened in November of last year, i suspect I have given 20 or more personalized tours. I’m not sure those visiting felt the powerful impact i have as i walked and talked them through the Jane Freeman room. While all of the nostalgic pieces we added this summer are fun and cool, the exhibits we did are on a whole different level.

    We finally decided to put our amazing collection on display; at least as much as possible. Obviously only a portion of it is in use, but what is there is the Sun City story explained pictorially and with anecdotal stories supporting why it worked. It details startup (1960) through buildout (1978) and every time i tell it, it dawns on me how compelling a story it is. I’ll share it with you here as we explore our future.

    Those coming to Sun City were looking for a “new active way of life.” I would argue, those coming today and well into our future will be looking for much of the same...a better way to live. My summation for visitors to the museum envisions the idea those arriving in the 60’s and 70’s are truly our blueprint for the years to come. They came looking for fun and many found a sense of purpose well beyond hitting a golf ball 5 days a week.

    There’s over a thousand age-restricted communities across the country and all have nice homes, amenities and clubs. What they don’t have is the organizational structure we have in Sun City and to a similar degree in Sun City West. Everyone marvels at our low costs, but often fail to understand why or how? Volunteers shaped our community and while it has drooped off because so many buyers are still working, volunteerism is the key to continue our amazing way of life.

    Unfortunately, we do little to tell new buyers that. The RCSC is the one organization with the financial where-with-all to lead the way. Sadly, they elect not to do so. In fact, their efforts have focused on convincing new owners they are simply “card-holders” whose primary function is to stay current on their “lot assessment.” How pathetic is that?

    Let’s conclude this post here, i have another tour to give at the museum this morning. Either later today or Monday i will conclude my thoughts on tomorrow and how we take a step back before we take a step forward.
  5. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    A Sun City resident stepped to the mic at the last board meeting and looked at the 9 board members and asked a simple question: Who represents us? I was stunned and disappointed; there was no response. The GM and staff work for the corporation, the board is elected by the community. The problem of course is when they are sworn in, the swear allegiance to the corporation. Historically, that's not how or why it worked and until we go back to a point in time where building a sense of community is at the heart of what we do, i suspect we will continue to erode the values and tenets we were built under.

    Tomorrow (continued):
    With every tour i give at the museum, i find myself imploring visitors to grasp the significance of how both Sun City and Sun City West were built. It was a time when new-comers arrived and found something very special. They were willing to take ownership and responsibility for the way the community moved forward. Sadly, so much of today's mindset is to shun any sense of accountability. We tend to wrap ourselves in the bubble of what we know and find fault with everyone else who doesn't think that way.

    I had hoped with the transfer of power at the RCSC this year we would see a new, forward looking/thinking GM who had a firm grasp on what it took for Sun City to prosper. Now as i watch how the handful of board members involved are going about their search and how they carved out the newest board members it's pretty clear that won't be the case. What makes it worse is we will be moving into the next generation of home buyers in the coming years. GenX are right around the corner and though we (the long range planning committee) presented the board with our thoughts, they were pretty much dismissed without any consideration. Kind of like they did the last LRPC presentation; "received and put on file."

    Sun City was successful because Meeker insisted/ensured it was built around a sense of community, not a sense of corporation. The reality is the RCSC exists for us; once we are reduced to "card-holders" it feels more like we exist for the corporation. Pay the bill and be contented with what they allow us to do. I don't see any of it changing unless and until we teach those moving/buying here what ownership really means. It's about becoming responsible and holding those we elect and hire accountable. Unfortunately the community documents drafted in the 60's and 70's have been rewritten to keep that from happening. Doesn't mean we can't get it back; it just means we have to work harder to do it.

    Sun City is a great place to could be so much better.
  6. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Always somethig to add, tho I am playing catchup from being off line - something to do with a bill.
    So if we are lucky, this current "plague" might do the same thing for us.
  7. aggie

    aggie Well-Known Member

    We've been to the museum several times over the years but will book a tour later this spring. Since my first trip to Sun City was in 1964 I've seen many of the changes in person over the years. The history really brings back memories of my grandparents house which they purchased in 1962 and now is occupied by a 3rd generation sibling.

    I can say that my volunteering for RCSC concerns has fallen off because it seems that any committee input is just pushed to the side. Too many times being able to speak up in committees or at BOD meetings is just meant to make the members "feel" their ideas will be considered. I do hope that over the next 6 months or after our BOD election in November we will see steps back to more inclusion of members in decision making.

    I agree: Sun City is a great place to could be so much better.

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