Author Topic: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"  (Read 3656 times)

Beaker

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How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« on: December 08, 2015, 07:52:29 AM »
I'm on the HOA board of an 11-unit condo building. It's all self-managed, no management company. One of the owners has decided that he doesn't like how we're running the HOA for reasons that are long and uninteresting. He's been increasingly hostile and difficult to deal with, but at the last meeting he upped the stakes by basically "filibustering" the entire meeting.

He literally walked into the meeting, sat down, and starting talking over everyone. He absolutely would not stop except to let someone answer a direct question, and sometimes not even then. The chair called him out of order, everyone else asked him to stop, we eventually voted to ask him to leave (all of this done practically shouting to be heard over him), but he just kept going. Ultimately we had to adjourn the meeting because no progress was possible.

I fully expect that he'll do this at every meeting unless we do what he wants - and then continue to do every other thing he wants. His list is long, and much of it goes against the wishes of literally every other owner and possibly the law, so just going along is not an option. Our HOA charter requires us to have open meetings, so we can't just not tell him about the meetings. We're considering hiring security, although our initial inquiries to friends indicate that security might not be willing/able to remove someone that has a legitimate right to be there.

So... does anybody have any ideas how to deal with this?

Beaker

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 08:42:06 AM »
I'm on the board of a 10 unit HOA and while we haven't had a problem like that guy, one thing we've done is use Survey Monkey for voting. That might help get stuff done without having to talk over this idiot. Or mail in voting if people would be against using the internet

SurveyMonkey is an interesting idea, thanks.

We have been moving increasingly to email - he's still a huge PITA there, but at least he can't actually drown out anyone else. Unfortunately we are required to have an annual, physical meeting to elect the board and approve the budget, so we can't go entirely remote.

matchewed

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 09:55:09 AM »
Clearly defined meeting rules and actions that happen in violation of the rules.

Beaker

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2015, 11:57:26 AM »
Clearly defined meeting rules and actions that happen in violation of the rules.

We have attempted to implement Robert's Rules of Order (basically parliamentary procedure).

But he made it pretty clear that anything that gets in his way does not exist in his world. He has zero respect for any sort of rules, including common politeness. So the "actions" would have to be something that could be applied against his will, like physical force or a property lien.

matchewed

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2015, 12:12:38 PM »
Literally have everyone turn their back to him and keep holding the meeting. Ignore him at all costs during the meetings. But prior to doing this tell him clearly that if he does not follow procedures and rules that nothing he says will ever be listened to or considered. Remind him that adults can discuss and disagree with each other while remaining civil. He clearly feels that he can't have his say, ensure that he can, but ensure that he respects other people. If he wants to act like a child then he will get treated like one.

That's my take.

Rubic

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2015, 12:48:25 PM »
Video record the meeting?  It would provide evidence that this character has been disruptive and impossible to deal with.

Also agree that you could handle voting electronically online.  Offer a mail-in option so he can't claim that he's unable to access your electronic voting mechanism.

arebelspy

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2015, 01:45:43 PM »
So to deal with him, you'll have to change the rules to add in disrupting meetings to the rules, and add either removal of the person from being allowed at the next meeting, or fines to be levied.

The problem is, to change the rules you'll have to have a meeting, which he could disrupt.

What I'd recommend is a script, you have printed, that says exactly who needs to say what lines to be said to introduce those new rules. Distribute them to the other members before the monthly meeting, and discuss the plan of action, which is that you will film the meeting, and you will just read from the script to introduce these new rules (person A entertains motion for X, person B seconds, persons C-J vote "aye").  You start a normal meeting, recording it, and if necessary, bust out the script.

Read it, ignoring his antics. Everyone ignores him, reads the new rules in, votes on them, and gets it passed, on camera.

Now you have ways to deal with him that you don't currently.

Good luck!  Will be interested to hear what solution you decide on, and how it works out. 
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arebelspy

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 01:49:05 PM »
That's of course the drastic option, but if he can't behave like an adult, it may have the be the one to use.

Make sure the new rules are written generically to apply to anyone disrupting meetings, and define what that means (3 or more interruptions or something).

Cathy may chime in with some relevant law, otherwise you may want to research that as well.

But just follow your HOA's procedures on changing things to the letter, and have the text and audio recorded for if/when he throws a legal stink.
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Clean Shaven

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2015, 02:12:42 PM »
Unfortunately we are required to have an annual, physical meeting to elect the board and approve the budget, so we can't go entirely remote.

Schedule the annual in-person meeting for the evening of disruptive guy's birthday.

dcheesi

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2015, 02:22:44 PM »
Unfortunately we are required to have an annual, physical meeting to elect the board and approve the budget, so we can't go entirely remote.

Schedule the annual in-person meeting for the evening of disruptive guy's birthday.
You're assuming this guy has friends to celebrate with. Given his behavior, I wouldn't be willing to make that assumption...

Beaker

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2015, 02:42:18 PM »
@matchewed - that might work, although it would be really difficult to actually get anything done. I'll see what the rest of the HOA thinks.

@CleanShaven - Ha! But I don't know when his birthday is, and I'm damn sure not going to ask. :)

@dcheesi - yeah, I find it hard to believe too. But sometimes people are different in different environments...

@ARS - interesting idea. I'll bring that up to the other HOA members. I have a gut level dislike for recording everything, but I suspect it's a good idea. He's already tried to get us in trouble with the state - fortunately he's really bad at anything resembling legal wrangling.


In the meantime I brushed up on our bylaws, and noticed that owners can assign a proxy. So I had an idea to basically conduct the entire meeting by proxy. Everyone would write a proxy with their specific votes, assigning them all to one unlucky HOA member. That one person would then show up at the meeting, vote all the proxies as specified (shouting over obnoxious guy if necessary), move to adjourn the meeting, and that would be that. It spares most people the pain, and the "sacrificial proxy" could at least get through it quickly. I have no doubt he'd cry foul over that, but I don't think he'd have a legal leg to stand on.


Anyway, thanks all for the interest and suggestions. The annual meeting isn't until next year (go figure) so we've still got a while to figure out what to do and then see how it shakes out. I'll try to keep you updated.

cambridgecyclist

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Re: How to deal with HOA "filibuster"
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2015, 02:12:22 PM »
There is a technological solution to this problem:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1202.6106

Various software/devices called "speech jammers" implement this.