Accountability...

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    One of my favorite words; accountability. Did you ever ponder; as we age, do we become more accountable, or less? When we were young and lived life with kids and jobs and all the trappings that go with it, did we have to be more responsible?

    One of the joys of moving to Sun City was to escape all that. Lucky enough to retire early, i found myself far less mired in having to fit life into tight schedules and endless headaches. It's one of the reasons that DEVCO used to claim you lived longer by retiring to Sun City. Less stress, and stress takes it's toll.

    All of which is which is just a set-up for a question asked at the board meeting the other day; one of course that wasn't answered, not the right forum for that apparently. A member wanted to know why they were having to redo the Bell lawn bowling greens again. They had just done them 4 years back (to the tune of 450K).

    It was both a fair question and a good one too. Projects like these are expensive and doing them right should be first and foremost on everyone's list of priorities. Unfortunately in non-profits, that is not always the case. The initial remodel at the Bell greens was done by a company we (the RCSC) has fired. They were our golf course maintenance company brought in when we let go all of the RCSC golf course maintenance guys.

    Sadly, we looked to them to rebuild our greens. They put in an elaborate drainage system that would have been great for Seattle Washington, but stupid for AZ where we get less than 11 inches of rain per year. They had a company that builds greens around North America write the specs for the work, but ignored it and just did as they pleased.

    The net was the greens were closed a year longer than we had planned, and when they did open, they had major issues almost all around the perimeter of the greens. The middles played brilliantly, but from 6 feet out, there was a major drop-off issue. And of course, there was no guarantee written into the contract.

    Now four year later and the US lawn bowls Open coming to our communities for the next two years, the board took actions to fix the greens. Way less money, and they hired the contractor that wrote the specs last time to oversee the project, start to finish. It should make Sun City look like the community where bowlers will look first to retire to, and that's a good thing.

    What i hate is how we got here. The fact we are having to redo anything is shameful. And, it does beg the question: Who is, who should be held accountable? Anybody? Nobody? Everybody?
     
    CMartinez likes this.
  2. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    Alas, Bill, your questions has multiple answers. Right after the greens were built, and the greens committees looked at the result, the opinion back then was the greens were not to par. So, the contractor at the time, said water the greens more, as I recall. It was then discovered watering more made the good part of the greens, soggy. After some additional questions as to how to repair the concerns and outstanding issues, the contractor was terminated, leaving the RCSC and the lawn bowl community with a mess. Either the greens were too dry, or too wet, and required hand watering in certain areas to get to an optimum desire, which was never achieved. Hence, move forward to today, and there is a need to redo the greens properly. There were some, very experienced with greens set up and maintenance, which offered their help and expertise, but were not relied on for their input. This is what I remember of the history of how we got here. I took a severe bump to the head, so don't hold me to any dates, or names, I don't remember those for sure.

    The original contractor was sold as a great company, able to do this kind of work, as it was in the realm of grass and maintenance, which was their area of expertise. They did not do a good job from the beginning and the follow up to have them perform such retrofit was not something to rely on this company for. Would the greens committee chosen this company as their contractor, probably not. How did this company get chosen to do the work? The board of directors made the choice, based upon recommendations submitted to them. Was there an air of hesitancy to approve this company? OH yes there was.

    So, there were many hands in the pie, and there are several slices to be laid out on this big plate of "accountability". It is as if one were watching slow motion of dominoes falling, each one causing another reaction, which in this case, led to poor quality workmanship. The choices were made based upon information offered up at the time, to all who had a reasonable interest. It was a wait and see approach, which is now known, a poor choice.

    The ideal is to learn, remember the choices made back when, and make every effort to move around those choices in a positive way. We now know what "not-to-do", let us now do the right thing, in the right way, and make Sun City the premiere Lawn Bowling destination in this country. We can do it, because of the outstanding lawn bowlers we have, and their commitment to excellence.
     
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Great summary C and one i do this day rue. I had to sit meekly by as this unfolded because the guy they hired to write the specs is/was a friend of mine. I had to recuse myself from any votes or even pushing him and his company because of that friendship. I watched in horror as the assistant general manager did squat to insure the job was done right and angrily went through the bid files trying to understand why we were spending so much money on a project that was well over-priced. To add insult to injury they were late starting which resulted us in losing the Bell greens for an entire bowling season.

    If there is a silver lining, i go to Bell everyday to work out and this time it is being done right. The RCSC crew are doing a great job, oversight is tight and all of the companies working on it are professional and well versed in what need be done. What a difference a day makes eh (or in this case, 4 years).
     
  4. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Well-Known Member

    To answer your question, I think as I've gotten older, I hold myself at least as or even more accountable than I did when I was younger.

    That's why it strikes me as absurd, (yes, that's the correct word), when people in supposedly responsible positions shirk their fiduciary duty, or put their personal interests and agendas above what is proper and right to do - what they were elected to do.

    I have been told that I give people WAY more credit than they deserve.
    I'm seeing now how right they are.
     
  5. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let me jump in here before i have to pull out the striped shirt and end up refereeing a cat fight (just kidding eh). I didn't read anything into E's comments other than to say she always expects people to do things for the right reasons. And in the end, i suspect they do (at least in their own minds and really that's where it all starts).

    Being a board member is a large ask for any resident to commit to. Realistically, it used to be far more difficult. Before the current GM, they used to put in far more hours. Once they made the commitment to a really qualified GM and a far greater financial investment, things changed. It took a few years before things evolved to less hours and less having to agonize over direction and decisions. Don't get me wrong, there's still an obligation to be involved, but nothing close to what it used to be.

    Here's where it gets more challenging, and i suspect part of the reason CM is as brittle as she sounded in her response. If you don't buy into everything the GM is selling, board life gets far more complicated. The easiest thing in the world is to just let the management team set the course and you rubber stamp it. And for whatever reason, that is what has happened for years. I know, the GM will never agree that is the case, but we part company on that issue. The theory is she works for the board, but does she?

    I've always functioned under the rationale that if in fact you were going in the right direction, you should be able to argue it to the masses and not only get buy-in but active participation. Let me give you the classic example. If golf was where we needed to direct the bulk of our PIF assets for a 10 to 12 year period, put it in front of the consuming public and see what kind of feedback you get. Hell, we not only told the Long Range Planning Committee (back in 2011) they had no say in golf expenditures, we disbanded them after they pushed the board to spend 6 million dollars on the Marinette remodel. What does that tell you?

    So here's the deal: Both Carole and i were odd person out in board meetings. At times it was butt ugly. Group think was alive and well and arguing only further raised the ire of other board members as some of their primary goals were to get out of the meetings so they could make their PM tee times. If you didn't fit in, you paid the price. I knew that going in and my first goal was to try and change the culture of an organization where Kumbaya was the song of the day. Carole was willing to fight for the things she felt were right for the community at large and was often left frustrated and resented.

    Think about it this way: If you volunteer, do you want to go in and suffer the infighting or go along to get along. The good news is, there has been a cultural shift in the "good old boys network" and there is some honest disagreements going on in the work sessions. That is a healthy thing for Sun City in my humble opinion.
     
  6. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    Emily, I am sorry. I got all cross over your statements, and I read something into them that isn't there. I am truly sorry to have made the statements I did, as they were not called for. All I can ask for is your forgiveness for some rather rude assumptions. You are a valued member of the TOSC, and I have no right to come across as I did. I thank you for your contributions. I wish you well in all of your endeavors, as you make life better here in Sun City for all of us.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
  7. Emily Litella

    Emily Litella Well-Known Member

    All is well, Carole. No worries, apology accepted. I knew you misread my post. You are a good, kind and decent person, and my opinion of you has not changed at all.

    It's really easy to read into things on a message board when you don't really know the person and aren't speaking face to face. I often misinterpret or don't get the full meaning of a post right away and have to re read. I've only been here four years. I don't know the history and wasn't here when you served on the board, but I'm sure you had some difficult times. Thank you for serving.

    I hope you're recovering or have recovered from your injuries. Just know there's no hard feelings and all is well between us.
     
  8. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. I know better than to read into a person's letters or meaning, and I agree, it is too easy to misconstrue a simple statement and take it out of context. I will be keeping myself under vigilant discernment about how I come across to you and others as well.

    I am healing from the fall and its associated trappings. This, too, shall pass. I feel 100% better now that I know all is well between us.

    I feel so much better, I might even skip around the house in glee! Never mind, that would probably make me fall again. LOL
     
    Cynthia likes this.
  9. aggie

    aggie Member

    I had to look up the definition of accountability to see if I was..... an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. It seems that I'm more careful of what I commit to so I can be accountable. Spread too thin tends to make a person want to go along with the majority as to not create problems. Running for the RCSC BOD is such a huge commitment with it being a 3 year term. I admire those that do serve trying to make a difference for our residents without giving preference to special interests.
     
  10. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    It's an intriguing discussion, whether we become more accountable or less as we age. For certain, as we age we have less responsibility which usually translates to less to be accountable for. When accepting a position on the board, we place ourselves in harms way from an accountability standpoint. We become "responsible" for how things turn out, our direction and the choices that are made. As noted earlier, one can understand why the board gets very comfortable letting the management team lead the way.

    The question that should be, no must be asked, is that right? Is it good enough to simply become the rubber stamp for what the management team wants? I pointed out in another thread, the board has an obligation to make informed decisions. Due diligence doesn't mandate they always make the right choice, but it does obligate them to make decisions based on good information. When they fail to do that, they leave themselves open to both criticism and the potential for legal actions.

    Nope, no threats implied or intended; just trying to make the point that when you do run for the board, there's more to it than simply buying into whatever is being sold to them at the moment. It is a thankless job, and the more apt board members are to listen to the community, the better able they are to stay on top of the right course of action. Unfortunately we have whittled down the numbers of those participating and so we hear less and less from the majority. I guess if you buy into the argument everyone is happy, then it's all good.

    All of which suggests to me as we age we do become less accountable, because way too many of us are freaking clueless as to how the community works and whether it is good bad or indifferent.
     
  11. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    In regards to the community, and knowledge of how it works, well, wouldn't it be up to the RCSC to keep the community informed? There is no way to add information to an item of concern, because all of the meetings are held behind closed doors. There is no way to gauge how decisions are made and what may be relevant or not to the ongoing discussion. RCSC has made it clear it is Title 10 of the ARS, and it does not have to play nice the way Sun City West and others perform their governing. All of the decisions are made behind closed doors, and the outcomes are pretty much rote by the time a vote is called.

    If there were meetings of the board, not just meetings by appointment to air your grievances, so folks could see their "government in action", I can promise there would be more buy in. I also suspect the available candidates for the board would be more well versed as to what their level of accountability and responsibility is. Right now, everything is pretty well scripted to be read in a way to make it all sound so rosy and clean. There have been meetings which asked for public input. Those meetings were rough, but so informative. Those meeting prove there was a voice wishing to be heard, and through these meetings, issued were solved.

    I still am of the mindset complacency has set in, as the individual card holder has so little to be able to say about how they are governed. The RCSC is some ivory tower in the sky, and there is the person, behind the curtain, telling each resident what you are to think and do. If all of a sudden, the curtain were removed, and the residents could see how governing decisions are made, I feel there would be a groundswell of interest in the accountability of the RCSC.
     
  12. Cynthia

    Cynthia Well-Known Member

    I agree but how would that change be accomplished? Since we are not able to vote on anything, wouldn’t the board be the one to change it? It wouldn’t be comfortable to them so why would they?
     
  13. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    It is interesting to think of elections for the RCSC, as folks run for the board, having absolutely no clue what it takes to govern at the RCSC. There are statements made about communications, committees, and golf. Truly, no one knows what it is they are running for, or much less, against. Fiduciary responsibility, to what, to whom? It is a shock to the system to realize what is entailed to be a Director on the RCSC.

    Unlike the RCSC, Sun City West has a program to educate its residents to the governing of the community. There are regular classes scheduled for any cardholder in good standing, to attend, and learn the ins and outs of the governing bodies of the area. These classes, from what I understand, are usually full, and most who attend, feel it was a real eye opener. These classes also invite buy in from the locals to want to run for office, based upon an informed decision. No, its not all Pollyanna, but at least the opportunity to know about the area and its government is available to the residents. No, I do not want to be SCW, but I do appreciate some of their programs and offerings to their residents.

    At one point, it was suggested the same type of community education could be offered here as well, to create the local education of potential board members as well as keep cardholders apprised as to how the RCSC makes decisions. It went nowhere.

    Why? I feel it helps to keep the fear of the unknown alive and well. If its comfortable to keep doing the same old thing, why do anything else? The definition of insanity is doing the same old thing over and over, yet expecting a different outcome. If someone tells you facing a live audience of cardholders means you can't truly express your feelings, that closed door meetings are the only way to effect business decisions, and my favorite, this is the way it has always been done, it becomes easy to tell yourself it must be true, and close the door and turn off the lights at night. It will take some directors to stand tall and ask for a change.

    Change how work sessions are handled. Schedule a work session to be attended by cardholders, those folks which have a stake in the success of the RCSC. Oh Darn, I forgot, the RCSC is a corporation, and has no stakeholders. Here is an idea, how about we act like our cardholders do care about the success of the RCSC, its longevity, and its governing principles. Let us trust these cardholders, who volunteer their time to various committees, support the RCSC endeavors, and go out of their way to participate in the governing procedures really do want a stake in its overall success. Now, let's just take one meeting, one work session, and have it live with real people and real directors. No one has to be interactive, just allow folks to see how decisions are made regarding the RCSC. What would that action require? A few directors to say it is time to be available to our peers. It doesn't have to be the budget meeting, just an average meeting of discussions and directions. You could even abbreviate the meeting, with a certain agenda to be discussed, but at least it would get the door open for folks to understand how the RCSC comes to its decisions and why.

    The board room is where the light of day needs to be brought in. The loathsome fear of being eaten alive by cardholders needs to be dispelled. The untruth of having an open meeting is savagery needs to be undone. We need some directors who are willing to be cutting edge, and seek the benefits of engaging cardholders as a solution source rather than a commodity to be managed. It will take a shift from the "usual" mentality to an "embracing" architecture of leadership. We need someone willing to embrace a new culture and redefine accountability for the RCSC.
     
    Cynthia and BruceW like this.
  14. BruceW

    BruceW Member

    Hear, Hear!
    Even though I don't live the Sun City life yet, it seems like this is desperately needed.
     
  15. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Good comments gang; don't hold your breath until someone runs on that kind of reform platform and gives it two years for it to unfold. Management would be dead set against it and current board members would blanch at the idea of shaking up the status quo and giving up that kind of power. We skirted around those kinds of ideas when Carole and I were on the board and the interest level was stuck at two. Not implying anything sinister, it is just people are creatures of habit who get locked into one way of thinking. Anything else is new and dangerous.

    What makes this so interesting is as we were taking some potential new owners around Sun City today we talked about my experiences running a local union. The old theory has always been to control from the top down, hoard power and concentrate it in the hands of a few. We flipped the skit, turned people loose with education and communication skills and grew our power base in ways no one expected. Not much different here in that there is virtually nothing that could be hurt while the upside is unlimited.
     
  16. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    There is a reason all of the candidates running for the board always stress "communications" as one of their goals. Once inside the inner sanctum, the directors tout how much communication there already is out there. Is there? How does one effectively communicate in a vacuum? There are all kinds of tidbits thrown out, about the shows, the travels, the clubs, but what about how the board actually works? Who holds the team accountable for their decisions? Is it a great accomplishment when $40M is spent on golf over so many years? Or is a banner year when the assessments only go up $12? How can the cardholders know they have the best deal out there? Of course, we all know Sun City is the best there is, otherwise, we would have all moved on long ago. Who holds the board accountable?

    I know there are some board members who will stand their ground and make sure the cardholders are of a paramount concern. I also appreciate all of their efforts to hold their fellow directors accountable. But, when all is said and done, who and how is accomplishment measured? Who ultimately takes responsibility for their actions?

    Could pose even more questions, but I feel the gist of what I am saying is there. A board member shows up, goes along to get along, doesn't make any waves, and after a few years, the commitment is done. A few feel they have made their mark on the community by having a golf course redone or a rec center remodeled. The reality of it is, there is not a standard acceptable for directors to meet or exceed at. There are no benchmarks of quality set aside to meet. The only ones who know what kind of product the directors are putting out are the other directors. Hence, the dilemma. Who has the accountability?
     
  17. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Simple premise first and foremost: Sun City is very well run. The general manager has done a good over all job and the best example is one that usually gets single folks angry. Years back when they allowed single rec fee payments, the budgeting process was a mess. There was seldom consistency because deaths of a spouse left us in a lurch and with as many homes that turned over a year we never knew how many would produce two rec fees or one. While many hate it, a single lot assessment has allowed us to create a steady income flow that seldom varies. And as the grandfathered folks leave or die off, it gets even more predictable.

    Think not? You only have to look at Sun City West where the new rate for a single went to $465 which means a couple in a home pay $930. When we looked back in 1999 at buying there the rate was within dollars of Sun City.

    With that caveat out of the way, my problem is and has been it could be even better. Way better and golf is the classic example. The board was dominated by golfers and the GM hired a golf course expert to draft three complete course redesigns. I remember being told we got a really good price and all that really meant was the course was set for all golf all the time. We can argue/debate the merits of the decision and there-in is my problem; we didn't. The decision was made in work sessions by a board of golfers and the GM.

    Sure they voted for it in the public eye, but by then it was a given. And as C has noted virtually no one came or paid attention, so who was to stop it. I have long said it might or might not be wrong, but i would have felt a whole lot better if the community at large had a bigger voice in the process. Let's be honest though, they didn't and the one bar to the move would have been an aggressive long range planning committee and they were disbanded. Those kinds of choices deserve public hearings with a big picture presentation of what the long term strategy is.

    So yes, talking about our future shouldn't be contained to work sessions. I'll be generous and say that golfers make up 18% of our population. I'll also freely admit we must keep up our golf courses...but to what end? How much and how often are all part and parcel of that discussion. Residents deserve to be part of that, but unfortunately we've moved away from that concept.

    Carole was on the board when the nursing school was leaving and in fact was the one who found it out as i recall. The opportunity to buy the Lakes Club was there and would have changed the dynamic of the community. And that is why understanding our history was/is so important. From 1972 to build-out in 1978 the Lakes Club was used to sell Sun City. Potential buyers were courted in the bars and restaurants within it. It was the go-to place. Funny thing was when we were talking about it in the board room, we were told point blank not to talk about it with anyone in the community. Worse yet we had board members who questioned why we would even want a 38,000 square foot building on one of the finest pieces of property in all of Sun City. Really?

    Had this topic gone in front of the community with a presentation of what it could be, one has to wonder whether residents would have opted for one less golf course redesign and instead a center-piece attraction in the middle of the Sun City for all to enjoy. Sorry to dredge up my worst night-mare, but i anguish every day over what could have been with just a little effort and vision.
     
  18. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    Bill, I know the Lakes Club pains you grievously, but there were too many missteps all along the rosy path to have gotten us to where we needed to be. First and foremost, would have been an avenue to open communications within the board and with the cardholders. That option wasn't available, and isn't still to this day. The ground lease is still an option to go after, but it is owned by Banner, and I am sure there is little impetus for them to give up the dirt the building sits on. Then there is the long term lease GCU has on the building. Could a strongly crafted order for purchase tempt Banner to look at us with new eyes? Who could such an idea be taken to? There is the dilemma, no two way communication between the board members and cardholders. If there was a meeting held, with an agenda of seeking the Lakes Building for the cardholders of Sun City, who would offer the requisite support? That building would bring so many opportunities to the community; extra space, theater, room for the corporate offices, extra room for more clubs, the list is endless. It would take some "long range" planning to get the building to where it needs to be, but it could be gotten and done, provided all of the players have their heads out of the sand. The board would have to be willing to discuss, plan, and implement a communication strategy to effect the needed changes. There would be a need to keep everyone in the loop of information, no holding back because of board room hysteria over meeting with cardholders. In other words, real communication.

    Could the Lakes Club be purchased? Of course, everyone has their price. Could the RCSC assume the lease and wait the requisite number of years to grab onto the actual building. Of course it could. Who could head up such an endeavor? Who indeed.

    As I recall, the entirety of the building wasn't even being used, as the "conference center" needed to be remodeled, as did some of the older classrooms. If you look at the number of parking spaces versus the size of the building, it would appear to this viewer the building is not fully utilized at this time. (I spend a lot of time at the CORE, looking out the back window, pending knee shots.) So this could offer some additional square footage right off the bat. Yes, we knew it needed remodeling, but imagine how fantastic it would be to have this level of space at your fingertips to be molded and shaped for the community.

    I am not trying to reignite a bad memory, I am suggesting it may be time to view this with a new set of eyes, with a different protocol of attainment, and collaboration with the board instead of secretive back room deals.

    Addendum: It would appear the Roskamp Properties still has the lease on HTA - SC Lakes Club LLC. It is listed with the Maricopa County as a Private School. I have no way to get the information as to the lease. But based upon numerous legal filings, it may appear as if HTA - SC Lakes Club LLC, may have had some issues with being sued by several states for banking issues. I did not read each case, but there may be several states lining up to get to the firm. This would also include HTA - SCW, which a judge has now set for trial some of the alleged issues regarding the real estate company. This is all based a search on google, and I did not do any in depth reading into each allegation.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  19. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Good work C, far more research than anyone from the RCSC did when it came up for sale. What did become clear was all we were seeing after touring the building was lip service.
     
  20. CMartinez

    CMartinez Member

    So, knowing there are lots of possible legal troubles, it may mean this is the perfect time to look at this with fresh eyes, as the Lakes Building is also listed in the alleged suit. Could they be needing a cash infusion to offset the potential legal battles? Does getting rid of some of their Banner Properties alleviate some of the accusations? Would a guaranteed buyer of the property, willing to hold the lease until it expires, make the alleged "racketeering" charge go away? Who in the heck could be contacted further to get some additional information? Wouldn't this still be a big deal if it just happened to be the right time and right place to mosey in an make an offer? I trust nothing happens by accident. Everything happens at the right time for the right reasons. Could be, this is the right time to relook at the possibilities. Who would you be in contact with? I don't have a clue who to ask to take a look. I don't have any commercial real estate contacts at all, wouldn't know where to start.

    Is this a time to take this to the board and GM? Big question about the building, did we ever discuss where the additional parking would be? The only offer 10 classes out of Lakes, the bulk of which are the Rn-BSN. The rest are specialized MBA, and MEd classes for highly specialized special needs education. That right there tells me the building is under utilized for the 30,000 sq feet it houses.

    Think on it, and please let me know. If any one else who reads the TOSC has any ideas on what direction to look at next, I am all ears and eyes. This would be a big feather in the cap of Sun City and the potential for what it could offer to the cardholders.
     

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