Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flier HOA Op/Ed Dead Wrong

The Columbia Flier has seen fit to weigh in on the HOA Legislation proposed by the Columbia Association this afternoon.  Without couching my language at all, I have to say that it is one of the more presumptive, uninformed, and blatantly incorrect items of journalism I have ever seen.

From the start, it operates from the faulty premise that CA is looking to "reclassify" itself in a way that would exempt CA from currently applicable provisions.  This presumption is allowed for those who have not sought to educate themselves on the bill, but a complete fabrication for anyone who has undertaken even the quickest review of the proposed law.  What the proposed bill would do is create a new section under the HOA Act that would posture the Columbia Association for specific inclusion in all future bills intended for homeowners associations.  All current provisions of the HOA that apply to CA will continue to apply as specifically referenced in the bill.

In fact, as repeated throughout this process, CA could have sought the title "Super", "Mega", "Grande" Homeowners association, and the effect would have been the same.  The title "nonprofit community service corporation" was used to avoid confusion, which is only further fostered by this editorial.

Second, the Flier posits that this bill requires "more work and more public vetting."  What work, and what purpose vetting would serve, is omitted.  Surely, the single staffer that has covered this bill would be able to tell the editorial board that those members of the public so inclined to comment have declined the opportunity to edit the bill and would rather squash it altogether, most commonly under a complete misunderstanding of what is trying to be accomplished.

Third, this bill is currently under consideration by the ten Villages of Columbia, which are set to decide whether they will support this legislation by early December.  This is a contigent of Columbians who have a sincere stake in whether the legislation goes forward and have sought an informed opinion from counsel as to whether it would be favorable to support the bill.  To count the 30 residents that have spoken out against this bill as a "groundswell" is frankly ridiculous.  If the editorial board had simply asked what the posture of the bill was at present, they would have learned that there are more advocates than "a couple of board members and CA's attorney" with others still trying to educate themselves before making a decision.

Finally, and most disappointingly, the Flier has the opportunity to provide clarity in times of confusion, but instead has premised their opinion on a litany of quotes.  The actual language of the bill escapes the entire editorial without mention, citation, or reference.  That speaks to the quality of this Op/Ed more than anything I could possibly say.

I know it's a light news week, and I assure you there are many well-reasoned positions available in opposition of this bill, but for a paper with such a loud voice, I think we could have expected more than this.