A few days ago a neighbor, well known for her loyal and blind support for The Board and the management company, stopped me in the underground parking lot to unleash a diatribe about my lack of respect for The Board, and the excellent service provided by management company to keep the building clean and insuring the smooth running of the day-to-day operations in the complex.
About the excellent service we receive from the management company, I reiterated to my neighbor the views expressed in my article titled “Direct Democracy”:
Any person familiar with the basic rules of logical reasoning, will agree that when someone claims that he/she is getting an Excellent service from a management company, it unavoidably means that the claimant was exposed to a minimum of two different management companies, and one is bad or mediocre and the other one is excellent. In the case of our complex, the current management company was selected by the builder when construction was completed, and ever since, Boards for a number of considerations, stayed with the same management company. Had we relied on the services of another company, with proper merits we could have said company X failed to provide adequate service for approx. $330.000 (current amount paid by the complex for the three full time employees of the management company), and company Y did an Excellent job. As a possibility we all know well that other management companies do exist in The Condo Industry that may do a better work for less than $330.000. But since the current management company has enjoyed the exclusive right to service the complex since 1999, we don’t have any other source of reference, and owners/cheerleaders of The Board before announcing a value judgement such as Excellent, Very Good, Impressive should ask themselves Excellent compared to what, Very Good compared to which competitor,…”
As to the “lack of respect” problem, manifested in my behavior according to my neighbor’s perception, I am not sure if she is expressing her own opinion or voicing on behalf of The Board an invalid grievance often conveyed to me in writing by The Management company. During the last thirteen years I received numerous letters pointing out to me that I should refrain from “…unsubstantiated and abusive attacks against the Board and management in every communication”.
I have often counter argued, and it is well obvious from my articles published in this blog, that I always provide facts, dates, adequate description of events. So every allegation I make is supported with an adequate level of solid evidence and what the logical conclusion of each piece of evidence is. And if The Board and The management have any issues with the abusive attacks, they have to stop their abusive exploitation of the rules, laws, regulations, and extend a decent respect to the opinion of unit owners, and start believing like any “Reasonable Man/Woman”, that respect is a two way street. If you want respect you have to extend it first to others, the way a “Reasonable Man/Woman” will do.
My understanding of the notion of the “Reasonable Man/Woman” is based on the following definition of The Ontario Court of Appeal:
A reasonable Board Member who expects respect should not promise during 2 consecutive AGMs, in front of 67 unit owners, that The Board will not invest any money in “Band Aid” projects, and then reverse his/her decision for the expediency of the moment, and invest thousands of dollars in a project (speed bumps) that works six months of the year only (winter time the bumps must be removed for snow removal vehicles).
A reasonable Board Member who expects respect from unit owners should not set a deadline for applications (volunteers for The Rules Committee), and then announce a new extension, simply because the only 2 owners who submitted their candidacy before the deadline are considered “Persona Non Grata”. When you conveniently twist the rules and abuse your power you should never expect respect.
When you arrange 2 meetings of owners to discuss if an antenna project The Board is considering adopting, is compatible with the viewing habits of unit owners, and the majority of unit owners tells openly The Board that the antenna project does not even come close to their viewing habits, and despite the clear answer of owners, The Board spits at their faces and moves ahead with the project, that is not respect
A reasonable person before endorsing a $10.000 project (door viewers) spends 5 minutes on the internet to check the validity of an estimate submitted by a contractor. I dismantled my own viewer, and traced the product to 2 US distributors in 5 minutes of search on the internet. Both US suppliers offered the same wide angle viewers we have on our doors for $ 9.00 CAN (including shipping charges to a Toronto address and customs clearance) for a high volume purchase of 200 units. So if we minus $9.00 from the $50.00 charged by the contractor, we are left with an amount of $41.00 charged for labor. I dismantled and reinstalled my own door viewer in less than 5 minutes. Now we are confronted by the big mystery that no one can explain: How did so many enlightened minds (5 members of The Board) and the agents selecting and managing the contractors on behalf of The Board, miss the blatantly unfair price of $41.00 charged by the contractor for 5 minutes of labor, or the equivalent of $492.00 per hour. You want respect answer the following question: “Why did The Board favor this contractor and agreed to pay the unreasonable price of $492.00 per hour of labor?”
Don’t expect too much respect when you blindly rubber stamp projects without investing a few minutes to assess the validity of a claim/estimate submitted by a contractor. All Board members are educated individuals, and this is what Albert Einstein has to say about “education”: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”
I can bore my readers “Ad Nauseam” with dozens of well documented decisions taken by The Board during the last 10 years that represents nothing but contempt of owners and their opinions. So to make a long story short, my neighbors/cheerleaders of The Board should seriously try to promote to The Board the cardinal principle of “you want to see respect from owners then lead by example and show respect to unit owners.” I promise the rest will proceed naturally.
Last but not least, the most disrespectful position adopted by The Board was the refusal of the 5 members to lift the ban placed on my freedom of speech (in paper form), and my association with my fellow unit owners (through door-to-door delivery of my views), based on the argument that the rule used by The Board was “Duly Enacted” and considered reasonable in the industry (The Condo Industry).
The notion of a “Duly Enacted” laws, rules, regulations is an integral part of a logic frequently adopted by individuals and groups obsessively attached to power. Slavery rules were duly enacted in Southern States where slavery was legal. Abraham Lincoln did not buy that argument. He sacrificed the lives of 500.000 Americans to impose just rules banning slavery, instead of passively accepting “Duly Enacted” rules supporting slavery. Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, knew well that Nazi Germany had “Duly Enacted” rules to justify the atrocities committed against Jews, Gypsies, and other minorities. Like Lincoln they defied every single duly enacted rule to save the lives of thousands of Jews, and other innocent minorities in Nazi occupied Europe, and became legends considered “The Righteous Among Nations”. Nelson Mandela, did not give a damn about the duly enacted rules of South Africa supporting apartheid. He spend more than two decades in jail to highlight the plight of his nation, instead of endorsing the argument that “Duly Enacted” rules should be followed even if they are not just.
After all the previously mentioned examples I can guarantee my neighbors and The Board that the issue of using corporate rules to silence in a disrespectful manner an outspoken critic in the building, will not disappear. In our culture we have a saying: “It is not the size of the dog that will scare the bear. It is the ferocity of the fight that will convince the bear to retreat”, in other words blind respect will never be extended to The Board for ill conceived plans and decisions that do not contribute anything to the “Common Good”, and if and when they decide to mobilize their legal power to serve the “Common Good”, respect will be extended unequivocally.
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