Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Expert Who Imposed A Collective Punishment

In my previous article I pointed out to readers that I will provide detailed analysis of several projects that took place in our building based on advice solicited by The Board from experts, with the end result of being nothing short of wasteful use of financial resources, and significant contributors to a ballooning in monthly “Maintenance Fees” at the rate of 100% increase every 10 years.

One of the most prominent fiascos we had during the last decade that I would like to cover in this posting is “The Speed Bumps Project”.  It started with two complaints only known by the management office (confirmed by the Assistant Property Manager in an email dated March 6, 2013). Again, let me clarify a critical point 2 complaints in a complex where you have 576 residential units (an average of two persons per residential unit = 1152 human beings), almost every unit has at least one car (many own 2 cars plus) so 300 cars is a reasonable figure to rely upon for the daily volume of traffic in and out of the underground parking lots, and decision makers felt a desperate need to do something, anything to calm the fear of the 2 residents who were shocked by the failure of the cars exiting the underground parking lot to make a full stop at the exit stop sign and allow a pedestrian to continue his or her journey to the main road.

So The Joint Committee (a substitute name used to avoid identifying the real name of The Committee) hires the services of an expert in “Traffic Management”, with a policing background, but who never heard the maxim “First Do No Harm”.

The “Expert” fails to notice that a bad architectural design (clearly disregarded by the builder) imposing a blind corner right at the exit of an underground parking lot, aggravated by the presence of an artificial wide plant bed preventing pedestrians approaching the underground parking exit, and drivers exiting the underground parking lot from having a clear view of incoming cars and pedestrian movement, cannot be corrected by sub-optimal decisions  adopted by a committee willing to serve the myopic expectations of 2 residents.

Two residents miraculously managed to create an imperative to do something about non-conforming drivers who do not fully respect “Stop Sign” rules. Every year prior to elections, while Board members are collecting proxy forms at a station set up near the mail room,  dozens of unit owners repeat again and again, the grievance that our maintenance fees are too high. Instead of doing something serious about the legitimate grievances of a staggering number of condo owners, Board members casually dismiss the concerns of unit owners by peddling the fear that unless the current rate of increase is maintained, they will be forced to impose on unit owners a “Special Assessment”. This issue will be the subject of a future posting dedicated solely to the goal of dismissing the myth that nothing can be done by decision makers about high maintenance fees. The 2 pedestrians must be very influential, because it takes serious political clout to force decision makers into an action that requires a substantial amount of money, not to address the root of the problem, but to win the argument that we (The Board) did something about the grievance, and it doesn’t have to be the most economical or the most efficient that provides the maximum benefit for the highest number of unit owners.

The “Expert” decided that the best way to force drivers to make a full stop at any stop sign in the complex, would be to install removable “High Radius Speed Bumps”, and after spending thousands of dollars on a “Band Aid” solution that works 6 months of the year only (speed bumps must be removed winter time for the safety of snow ploughs and adequate removal of snow accumulated on the property), threats of lawsuits forced The Joint Committee to spend more money to replace the “speed bumps” with lower radius “speed humps”.
The following is a partial reproduction of a letter dated June 10, 2013, threatening legal action if decision makers do not subject the “speed bump” project to a full review:

[Please note that modifications were made to conceal any detail that may lead to the identification of the complex]
During the question and answer period of our annual general meeting of 2013, it became apparent that the speed bumps project adopted by the Committee was predominantly based on the advice of a person with strong policing background and no medical training that will allow him to fathom the impact of his recommendations on the human body. Had he grasped during his long years of policing experience a rudimentary understanding of traveling shock waves through the human body, combined with the fact that the complex is home to a significant number of retired couples, he would have suggested “speed humps” instead of “speed bumps”. “Speed humps” are 4 to 5 times wider than “speed bumps”, with a much lower radius of elevation, and the vertical shock transfer to the spine of any human being traveling inside a car is minimal.

The Board of Directors … also contradicted its own policy, clearly documented in the minutes of AGMs, that it will refrain from adopting “band aid solutions”, and diverted considerable amount of money to a “band aid project” that under ideal conditions works only six months of a year because the speed bumps must be removed during the winter season to allow for the proper clearing of the accumulated snow in the complex. If during the winter season you can rely on the common sense of drivers to prevent accidents at stop signs, nothing prevents the Board of Directors of the complex from relying on the judgement call of drivers to avoid previously mentioned accidents during the summer season. Common sense does not vanish from the brain of a driver due to the exposure of his/her brain to the summer heat or excessive humidity.

Approximately 4 weeks ago the speed bumps were reinstalled, and already a member of my household is struggling with the sudden onset of acute pain due to the tremendous pressure inflicted by the speed bumps on the spinal column, even when the crossing of the barriers is done at an extremely low speed.
A chiropractor and a Registered Physiotherapist were consulted, and both professionals are ready to provide sworn affidavits in case common sense does not prevail and courts become the last resort to settle the issues at stake, basically stating the following medical/scientific facts that the “Expert” consulted for the speed bumps project failed to bring to the decision makers’ attention:

a)    Many women (non-menopausal) who suffer from a variety of thyroid problems have disrupted calcium metabolism in their bodies. Instead of the calcium being deposited in the bones, the mineral is deposited in the soft tissues, thus triggering a medical problem known as Osteomalacia or softening of the bones. When a car crosses a speed bump, even at low speeds, a vertical shock wave travels through the spine of the driver and any passenger inside the car, and exposes a vertebrae compromised by osteomalacia to a vertical pressure 10 times more powerful than any pressure exercised on the same vertebrae by normal walking.
b)    Speed bumps can trigger hair line fractures in any vertebrae in the spine of a person suffering from osteomalacia. The hair line fracture is extremely difficult to locate even with the most advanced medical imaging techniques. A hair line fracture can precipitate a sudden sharp acute pain with severe physical and psychological ramifications.
c)     A shock wave from speed bumps can easily displace the Intervertebral Discs of a person suffering from osteomalacia. Displaced discs can pinch a spinal nerve and thus trigger an acute pain with serious long-term psycho-somatic problems.
d)    All previously detailed medical problems can equally affect menauposal women with compromised bone density. The smaller the bone frame of a menopausal women, the less chances she has of coping with the vertical shock wave that travels through her body while crossing the speed bump.

I have no further comments and every unit owner should decide for himself/herself how efficiently his/her money was spent on a “Band Aid” solution/”Collective Punishment”, to appease 2 residents at the expense of 1150 (approximate figure).

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