Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The meeting where I went all Norma Rae on her ass

I don't enjoy my condo association meetings. The wrong people do the talking and there's always too  much whining and it all inevitably goes down when I'd rather be home watching NCIS. But I'm there to help my neighbor Sally, who had a stroke that's left her deaf and so I sit with her, trying to take down what everyone is saying so she can read it on screen and follow along.

Last night's meeting was just as long (90 minutes!) and tedious as I've come to expect. But I'm glad I was there because, well, somebody needs to remind people that our neighborhood is diverse and our building reflects that.

Late last year* it was agreed that our building is in terrible disrepair and we simply don't have the money to fix what needs fixing. I could try to explain how we got into this mess -- and much of these meetings is devoted to assigning blame -- but the bottom line is this: we're in a hole and we've got to dig out.

Our new board President, Pedro, and a rather aggressive new neighbor, Cathy, asked how much the board can legally, unilaterally raise assessments. The answer: 15%/month. And so Pedro decided that's what we should do. Fortunately the other board members talked him out of that. While the money is, most definitely, needed, that's a steep increase to suddenly hit people with. (For me, it would have been an extra $40/month.)

Instead they settled on a "13th month" assessment, where we each double our allotted assessment in September. That one-time only hit turns out to be about 8% -- far more affordable than 15% -- and since it's not due for six months, it gives people a chance to start saving for it or earmark their tax refund for it.

Well, Gwen doesn't like the idea. She says she wants to see documentation on where exactly the money is going. She wants us to consider a higher, ongoing increase. She wants ... she wants ... she wants ...

I don't give a shit what Gwen wants. First of all, she doesn't even live in the building. Her father, the sweet but vague and neverendlingly annoying Mr. B., owns two condos and she no longer trusts him to manage his own affairs. OK. But that's between the two of them, father and daughter, and there's no Gal in that equation.

Secondly, she's being more than a little insensitive. Considering that she looks to be about 60, she can't use naivete as an excuse. I lost my patience and spoke up. Or, perhaps more accurately, opened a can of whup ass.

I pointed out that while a single extra assessment, due in six months, may not be all we need, it's all many of our neighbors can afford. While she and Mr. B. use one of the condos as an income generating rental property, we have neighbors who are eking by. Retirees, working mothers, those underemployed and working 20-25 hours/week in retail. It's unconscionable for her to not take their situations into account. They are our neighbors.

I won.

And yes, it feels like a victory.

*Or was it early this year? It's all a hideous blur!


  1. It *was* a victory. Good for you.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. well...way to go Gal...i am so proud of you!!!


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