Sun City Lite...

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The challenge for everyone moving to Sun City is; they know nothing about our history, we succeeded when we shouldn’t have. Over the years, a handful of folks became “historians” of sorts and have tried to preserve the how and the why it overcame all odds.

    That’s why my recent series on Del Webb’s Sun City...The Nation That Changed The Country was so much fun to write (and hopefully read). It was a Reader’s Digest version of Del’s life and the company that built this awesome place we live; Sun City Arizona.

    While it is easy to watch events unfold, the simple reality is it wasn’t an accident. Building Sun City was an exercise in patience and diligence. Steps and missteps were a constant, but the eye was always on building a sustainable community where those living here took ownership.

    Alas, we have moved far afield and that is where this thread will explore how that happened and what we need to to get back on track. Should be interesting.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Did you know the year lite beer was first introduced was 1967? That meant i had nine years to drink the calorie saving crap and still get drunk. Just another way of saying i've been sober a hell of a long time. Never drank coffee until i sobered up in 1976 and then at all those AA meetings, i started to swill it. Funny thing was, i hated the decaf crap. Two things rooted in me from the 70's was lite beer and decaf coffee. Both bad imitations of the real thing.

    Upon completing the 19 piece series on Del Webb's Sun City, it became ever more apparent what an incredible role the residents in the community played in making Sun City what it is. John Meeker was brilliance personified, but he understood his role was only a small part of the master plan. He knew it was imperative the community had to assume ownership. He could hold their hand, give them guidance, but they were the ones who would ultimately make it work. It was a constant churning off effort to bring more people to the fold.

    Frankly, it is why we were as successful as we are. It was a process of inclusion. Fast forward to today and what i see is something wholly different, a Sun City lite version of days gone by. Kind of like drinking decaf coffee or lite beer, nowhere near as satisfying. For some it may be just fine; less calories or less caffeine, but lacking in what was the "real thing." I'll try and keep these shorter than some of my past diatribes so as not to lose folks, so that's all for now. Gotta go get a cup of joe the real stuff eh?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Ownership; "the act, state, or right of possessing something." Funny how we think about such a simple phrase. If we buy a house or car, we are the owners. Some of us take care of things better than others. My wife for example is way better than i am at maintaining the stuff we own; she just is. One of the reasons Sun City took root and exploded in popularity was because those buying here got it. They were not only the owners of their homes, but the amazing amenities that came with them.

    John Meeker and DEVCO worked very hard to get buyers to understand that. Ingrained in every purchase was the idea they had to take on the responsibility of ownership or it wouldn't work. He knew eventually build-out would occur and the company would leave. It's why those first five years following 1978 were so tumultuous. The infighting for direction was fierce. Some wanted to be frugal, others saw the need to invest in our future. In the early 80's there were countless races with a dozen or more candidates, all with substantial platforms regarding governance.

    Then a funny thing happened; the RCSC corporation became bigger than the resident population. We shifted from a community centered focus, to more of a big brother mentality. Board members used to make decisions and direct the general manager who's primary role was running the day to day operations. As we morphed, membership allowed the transformation with barely a whimper. Hell, let somebody else do it became the mantra. Ownership became the domain of the RCSC, we became the dues payers., the revenue stream. Management made decisions, the board saw their role as "supporting" them. I still cringe over those statements.

    There's a reason Meeker pushed for a community based construct. As smart as he was, he understood the more involvement by the community at large, the better the chance to get it right. Centralizing authority makes life easier, but in the end, unless we are hiring the pope who they claim is infallible, we are setting ourselves up to be less effective. Rather than drawing new owners in, the current structure is effectively pushing them away. Hence the header title; Sun City Lite.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The question has been asked and answered on here many times; can we ever go back? I suspect not. People have changed, less committed to involvement. Their focus is on work and leisure time, not governance. Unless or until it affects their pocketbook or the club they belong to, most will ignore all the noise that comes with decisions the board makes (or rubber stamps management's choices). We all just simply assume, they (management) knows best. But do they? How's that massive infusion of cash in golf working out for you?

    Worse yet, look at this year's slate of candidates. 3 people (all well qualified it appears) for three openings. That's not new. there were only 3 of us when i ran. The bigger problem is new board members come on and are quickly minimized by the senior directors who have drank the koolaid and see their role as nothing more than a supporting cast of characters for management. The worst part is, they freely admit that is what their role has been reduced to. If we are ever to break the cycle, it won't happen by accident.

    Basically we are stuck in a position we all just hope the gm makes good/great choices. Hardly the way Sun City was built, but for now, it is what it is.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  5. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Good point, out of many that you have made,
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I was watching the video from the two candidate forums this morning. Everyone laments the lack of member participation. Everyone thinks we need do a better job of getting residents involved. It makes me smile; not because it is funny, but because i said many of the same things when i was running.

    The difference was, I put out an action plan to do just that. It was forward thinking in that it wasn’t so much about the existing membership, because they have become removed from the process of sel-governance. New buyers were the target. With 2000 homes sales a year, better than 50% of the population would change in a ten year period. They would have been the target market but those living here already would have seen the changing dynamic.

    It would have meant a meaningful change in how and what we told those new owners. It would have been a brief but fact filled history lesson. It would have meant changing how we packaged and sold Sun City. It would have been focused on the idea of ownership being a primary responsibility or the community would change.

    Sadly, my vision was not congruent with the GM, existing board or the RCSC’s end game. Passive aggressive as a leadership style is challenging when you have board members who find it easier to go along to get along. It gets worse when they think their job is embrace the GM rather than to question or push them.

    The thing i know about organizational structure and changing the culture of it is never a big numbers game. It is an incremental function. For it to work takes a top down commitment with buy-in from the majority. It means setting defined goals and measuring outcomes.

    If the leadership is contented with the lack of involvement (it makes it way easier to run if no one cares), then the likelihood is the status quo rules the day and everything gets worse from a participation standpoint. Look at the video’s and you will see an anemic effort with woeful attendance and little substance.

    Let me be clear, that is not an attack on the candidates, they appear to be well qualified. It just means whatever they say or think about change is pointless because they have little or no teeth given the current documents the GM has written/changed. And the fact she is perfectly contented to run the show pretty well seals the deal.

    This was never the way the founders envisioned the way the community would work, but it has simply become Sun City Lite.
  7. SCR

    SCR Member

    I pretty much agree with you bioll.

    I do however, have a few comments about the current crop of candidates.

    I saw no outstanding candidate in either of the 2 forums.

    One of the candidates (I don't remember which) was more focused on night life in Sun City. What about night life outside of Sun City?
    I find more and ever increasing night life activities outside of Sun City than there will ever be in Sun City. Get out of Sun City once in awhile
    to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

    Wifi - this is an issue that definitely needs exhaustive and technical investigation to resolve. I don't believe the RCSC should be in the business of
    providing wifi for every resident, whether free or at a price. Wifi activities is in my opinion something that every individual is responsible for
    funding and obtaining on their own.

    One issue that wasn't addressed is the introduction of surveillance to all the clubs and specifically in the parking lots at rec centers in Sun City.
    Cameras are in use every where you go today, except Sun City. IT has dropped the ball on this. Cameras should be in use at every RCSC facility.

    One candidate noted that it is extremely difficult to install the wiring necessary to provide online payment for items in the craft fair.
    Why does there have to be wiring? Today's world of IT is Wireless. Even in the extreme where wiring may be required, they have this new
    invention called conduit.

    The biggest major unasked question is how does the RCSC address the issue of the lack of modern IT infrastructure. So far the current IT
    staff has proved to be inadequate at best in staying current with technology and offering advanced IT solutions. G5 is the newest wifi
    technology, but G6 and G7 are in the offing. What is our IT department doing to position us for the upcoming technology?

    Softball park facilities. I see this topic coming up more and more at every board meeting or candidate forum. I don't know how long this has been
    an agenda item, but from what I can understand from the board meetings, this has been around for several years. If this were the GM's office space,
    I'm sure it would have been taken care of long before this. This is one of those items that has to be a project that is handled by a dedicated
    project manager. The thought that the RCSC can't handle more than one major project at a time is mind blowing. A project manger would and should
    be able to handle more than one project at a time.

    One of the candidates (no name) mentioned that resale of properties is of major importance. I disagree completely. I didn't move here to make
    a killing on my property. I have no desire or intention to sell my property. I have mentioned before, that my heirs will receive a gift of my property
    and no matter what it is worth at the time of my death, they are still getting a gift. Why does everyone worry about the value of their property when
    in all instances their heirs will be gaining an asset no matter what it is worth.

    I believe all the candidates expressed that communication is important. They are correct, but if no one is listening or there is no involvement on the listeners
    part, communication means nothing. Not one of the candidates offered an opinion on how to get the community more involved. Unless their is more community
    involvement, Sun City is destined to become just another senior community like the thousands that are out there and it is well on it's way.

    PIF fees will continue to increase, and yearly assessments will rise to the point that Sun City is no longer as attractive as it once was.

    Most importantly, we need a qualified outside vendor to come in and analyze our IT infrastructure (independent of the GM) and recommend specific
    changes to bring us into the 21st century.
  8. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Candidates; good, bad or indifferent will not matter. The board has seceded power and control to management. Think not, simply watch yesterday's meeting. The transition from a community run by elected leaders to rubber-stampers has become painfully obvious. Who gets what space? Ask management. The Bell power grid goes down and clubs are displaced for months? Ask management. It's become a watered down version of how we were built and why we succeeded. If anyone is ever held accountable for F-ups, i'd be amazed.

    I get it; it's the world of non-profits where everyone can just stroll merrily along and no one cares. The reality is the board should be holding managements feet to the fire to get stuff done. That hasn't been the case for the past ten plus years and with each passing day it gets worse. The funny thing is when you talk to board members about it, they are oblivious. They act as if they are in control when they freely admit they are there to "support" (their words, not mine) management. Hell, management couldn't even implement an online ticket purchasing process they had bragged about and voted on.

    It's why i cannot sit in the room and watch as they continue to dismantle a remarkable process of self-governance.
  9. SCR

    SCR Member

    You are correct Bill. Sun City has become GM city.

    One of the glaring issues I heard (or did not hear), is that no one except maybe L was even slightly interested in bringing Technology to bear to learn how the use
    of club space is determined and metered. I suspect L was afraid to state that Technology must be used. Our technology department has absolutely no clue with
    regard to current IT standards and where tech is headed. What I heard was "using technology to monitor club usage would be costly". Could be, but it won't be as
    costly as the Grand Ave project, or the mountain view project and probably not even as costly as tearing down and rebuilding the softball facilities. Yes, technology is
    expensive but the benefits that are derived from it's use will far out way the cost. Does anyone know how many people legitimately attend the Sun Bowl concerts?
    Does anyone know how many people actually use the woodworking club facilities, the metal shop facilities, or any other club. I'm talking about how many people per
    day, how many people per month, how many people per year. Pencil and paper accounting has pretty much ceased to exist. What about use of gold courses? Is that a
    pencil and paper accounting. Pencil and paper is very prone to mistakes and data can be easily changed to support ones cause. As was stated, if a club has 1500 members,
    space is allocated based upon the 1500 members. Doesn't matter if in fact 1500 members can never be in the allocated space at one time or how many of the 1500
    regularly use the facility.

    A question was asked by an attending member at the board meeting. I believe the question was "how are space /facility requirements determined for any given club?"
    The silence was deafening. Eventually the board, as is now the practice, referred the question to management.

    You are correct the board has ceased to have absolutely no function. I truly believe that the board really doesn't want to be involved with the decision making
    processes of Sun City. In my view, the GM and subordinates take direction from the board (the GM and subordinates do not make policy decision and change
    corporate bylaws. Of course, if you have a one member board (GM) then I guess you can do whatever you want.

    The surveillance issue (use of cameras) never came up at the meeting but should be a number 2 priority for the board and the GM. Does anyone know of any
    place they can go (outside of Sun City) where cameras are not in use? Probably not. cameras are a way of life in the 21st century.

    The number 1 priority for Sun City should be the use of technology in every aspect of Sun City life. The newest crop of buyers in Sun City will expect top notch
    technology use and resources. Without technology (up to date tech) new buyer will be reluctant to consider Sun City. The board must direct the GM and subordinates
    to start looking for a technology company that can access our needs and make recommendations to get us into thew 21st century. The needs must be addressed by the community
    and not the GM. With all the email blasts that go out, there should be a blast that asks the members what they would like to see in technology use in Sun City.
    But then again, with all the errors that occur with the email blasts it would probably be sent out wrong. Another area that just goes to show that the IT department
    is ill equipped to deal with technology issues is the latest issues with the video of meetings and postings to you-tube. Too many videos incomplete or missing
    seconds of content. Should never happen. Did they ever hear of backup or redundancy? Probably not. They should forget about the fancy intros to the meetings in the video
    and pay more attention to delivering video that is 100% intact. If they can't or wont do that then they are not doing their job.

    The board completely dismissed the use of technology to solve any issue. Again, probably those on the board who have smart phones think that their phone
    all they need in terms of technology. Has anyone gone to any other adult community to see how they use technology in day to day operations to determine use
    of facilities and changing trends. Probably not.

    Do we really need a board of directors anymore?
  10. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Fair question SCR, especially after watching the mockery made at the Monday board meeting. I was stunned to see Director Hoffer speak against a motion for data collection. He used the lame argument that now that management was making the decisions on allocations of club space there was no need. What a pile of horse crap. It was a 5/4 vote not to gather data for board members on club utilization and simply an abortion of what the long range planning committee had proposed earlier in the year and in fact what the board had supported and voted on.

    I had quit the committee a month back because i saw exactly the game being played. The long range planning committee was nothing more than a shell game; if Hoffer got what he wanted he would support it, if not he would undermine it. His pretentious BS at Monday's meeting was over the top ridiculous. We had committee consensus on the importance of data collection so smart decisions could be made regarding any long range plans. Our proposal included technology tracking by clubs rather than anyone's best guess or worse yet, phony club membership numbers where club members had their spouses join to juice the equation. We wanted accurate information so we could make sound decisions.

    The committee and chair and co-chair agreed and when i watched the meeting, you saw the co-chair fighting for our proposal to be implemented and the chair acting like he was oblivious to any such discussion. It was simply shameful. I guess the good news is, management is happy about the outcome. That seems to be the primary point of the boards existence these days. I suspect there will be any number of long range planning committee members who will express their displeasure at the chair for his behavior at the next meeting.

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