Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parades and Progress

Editor's note: The Blog would like to thank Glen Iris Lofts homeowner Steven Sharp (Ph II, Unit 501) for submitting the following post.  If you would like to guest author a post on the Blog, simply let us know via e-mail

I remember my first gay pride parade in Atlanta.  I had spent the night at, let's just call him, a friend's place.  I lay in bed after a night of not much sleep.  Get your minds out of the gutter, people... I am a chronic insomniac :-)

I remember that morning well. His small 1920s apartment with the worn, faded hardwood floors and large crown moldings and baseboards, was in one of those older brick apartment buildings close to Piedmont Park, when they still had older brick apartment buildings close to Piedmont Park.  The bedroom was flooded with too much sunlight, too much brightness on that Sunday morning in June so many years ago.

"Get out of bed!" he said to me, a cross somewhere between a request and an order.
"I don't feel like it," I said.
"It’s an important day," he responded.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"It's gay pride."
"I'm not marching, and I wasn't planning on going."
"Parades don't just happen," he explained to me.  "There's a lot that goes into them."
He continued, "The ones who are brave enough and take the time to march are just a very small part of what makes a parade a success."

"Imagine a parade with only floats and people marching with not a single spectator, no applause, no friends congregating along the route as the parade passes them by.  It would be a much different experience than what Atlanta's gay pride is with over 300,000 spectators and bystanders who traverse Piedmont Park gay pride weekend."

"I guess I never thought about it that way," as I threw my legs onto the floor, smoothed out my hair and realized that the only thing I knew about gay pride was what I had seen on the six o'clock news.

I still wasn't sure if I was going to go to the parade on that way-too-bright day for someone with a pounding headache, but my head was certainly filled with racing thoughts.

When I asked if I could submit a post to the Glen Iris Blog, all I could think about was our amazing gay pride parade - not the one as it actually is, but one with only people marching, no crowds on the sidewalks spilling onto tenth street, no cat calls, no cheers, no applause, just an emptiness along the parade route.  I imagine the looks on the faces of those who are marching compared to their expressions when the streets are packed, and I realize that the residents of Glen Iris Lofts are very much like I was all those years ago. Not aware that they are an integral part of the parade, that their voices are needed, that the Blog needs comments, it needs cheers and it needs more people posting comments to help it thrive and keep those who write it motivated.

Make an effort to get involved with the things that affect your life. Leave a comment, post a reply.  With everyone's input, comments and energy, Glen Iris Lofts will become a place where everyone has a voice; everyone has an opinion that is valued, where everyone has the same rights and opportunities as their neighbors.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A message to our readers

The Blog would like to inform its readers that our posts will resume tomorrow, Saturday March 17, 2012 and assure all of our neighbors in the Glen Iris Lofts community that our mission to effect greater transparency and more ethical conduct on the part of our Association's Board of Directors is alive and well.  A more detailed update on the status of this effort will be posted in the coming days.

Thank you for your loyal readership and the care and concern you have for our shared community.

The Blog

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Board stalls homeowner group's request for information

This post is an update to our original post titled Homeowners hire attorney to obtain information from GIL Board, posted February 29, 2012.

The Blog has just received information from a homeowner, who did not wish to be identified by name, that the GIL Board has communicated to the homeowner group's attorney, Mr. Randall M. Lipshutz, that it needs more time to prepare for the document review requested by the homeowners.  The reason behind the Board's delay is unclear.  The Blog did attempt to find out more information by contacting Christopher Gorton (Ph. II, Unit 611) - the only homeowner mentioned by name in the group's original request - via e-mail, however Mr. Gorton declined to comment on the matter, stating only that the Board had, in fact, responded to the homeowner group's request via the Association's counsel, Mindy Waitsman.

If any of our readers have any more detailed information regarding this developing story that they would like to share with their fellow homeowners, we invite you to contact the Blog anonymously at

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homeowners hire attorney to obtain information from GIL Board

Although winter is not yet over and the drop in evening temperatures can still fall below freezing, things sure seem to be heating up here at Glen Iris Lofts.

The Blog has recently learned that a group of Glen Iris Lofts homeowners have hired Atlanta law firm Lipshutz Greenblatt, LLC in an effort to enforce compliance on the part of the GIL Board to provide access to information the homeowners claim they have a legal right to review, following the Board's latest denial of their request for information. 

According to a letter sent to the Association this week by the group's attorney, Mr. Randall M. Lipshutz, Esq., (a copy of the letter obtained by the Blog has been included with this post, below) the homeowners have requested; to review all ballots, proxies and other material related to the most recent election of Board members in December; to view the emails that evidence proper Board approval of the 2012 budget, given that the budget was not approved at a Board meeting where minutes were taken; all maintenance contracts maintained by the Association in excess of $25,000; all documents related to the Board's decision to seek a loan to pay for exterior stucco work and window repairs (the so-called 'mega-loan').

This is not the first time Mr. Lipshutz has been involved in the legal affairs of Glen Iris Lofts.  Most notably, he was the attorney that drafted the Association's By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation and filed the initial Declaration of Condominium.  In their selection of legal counsel, the homeowner group could probably not have found someone with greater knowledge and familiarity with the governing documents of our Association.

The Blog sent an e-mail to the GIL Board seeking comment on the homeowner group's action, but did not receive a reply.

The Blog will keep our readers abreast of any new developments that pertain to this story as details emerge...stay tuned!

Copy of letter sent to the GIL Board from Randall M. Lipshutz, Esq., the homeowner group's attorney, can be viewed, below.  Note that if you are unable to view the letter in-line on this Web page, simply click the link below to open the letter in a new browser window.

Document Inspection Letter

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brace yourself: Minimum 22% increase in HOA fees for 2013

We hope you are sitting down.  If you aren't, you should have seat before you continue reading.

If you thought the Board's rush to borrow $450,000 was something that won't have a dramatic impact on you, think again.  When you do the math, the loan necessarily means that monthly Association assessments for 2013 will have to increase a minimum of 22% in order to make the payments on the Board's mega-loan.  And that's on top of the 15% we just got hit with this year.

Here's why.  Our current year budget (2012) is $468,000, however, only $15,000 of that is for loan payments for 2012.  If you subtract the $15,000 anticipated 2012 loan payments of $15,000 from the total budget, the result is a core budget of $453,000.  Now, add twelve months of loan payments on the $450,000 Board advertised loan request, borrowed at the rate Stuart Sutherland gave homeowners at the most recent Annual Meeting - 7.75% - and amortize that out over the five year loan term.  You will arrive at a monthly loan payment of just over $9,000 per month.  But the Board will have to collect even more than that, because we are required to set aside 10% of monthly assessments for reserve account funding.  The result is that 2013 monthly assessments will have to be at least $104,000 over and above what homeowners are paying under the 2012 budget.  That's an increase of 22% for 2013, assuming that the core budget is flat compared to 2012.

No wonder why the Board has been so miserly with details about the loan and has been otherwise mum on the subject - they were no doubt hoping no one would put all the pieces together and realize the that it's not just a loan, it's a game changer.  

We will be number one on at least one list under the Board's proposed plan - we will be the most expensive loft building per square foot in all of Metro Atlanta.  That's quite a feat, although not entirely surprising given the Sutherlands' combined years of business education training and years running an actual business enterprise total precisely zero.

If you are okay with a 2013 dues increase of 22%, then do absolutely nothing.  That certain future will be here soon enough and you'll be able to pay what you do today, plus an additional 22%.  However, if you think what's coming down the pike is outrageous and completely unacceptable, then click here right now to send us an e-mail with the subject line "Count me in" and, together, we will work to restore sanity to this clearly insane Board.

There is no time to waste.  Get involved now - before the Sutherlands drive our Association straight over the cliff of their own ineptitude.

Your neighbors at the Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Board ignores homeowners' demand for loan approval

In an unfortunate but predictable development, the GIL Board has ignored repeated homeowner demands that they seek homeowner approval before borrowing nearly a half a million dollars.  Further, the Board has has refused to allow any homeowner involvement in the process whatsoever.

If anything, the growing demand for answers seems only to have resulted in an effort on the part of the GIL Board to move faster to secure a loan that has grown in size from an initial projected request of about $300,000 to nearly a half a million dollars, at last mention.  When added to the budget that was pushed through at the most recent Annual Meeting, the present Board will have a total haul of homeowner cash for 2012 of almost a million dollars.  And, so far, they have done all of this behind closed doors, without any homeowner input or involvement.

Their position is as clear as it is untenable - they want our money, but they don't want to have to answer to anyone about what they choose to do with it.

Your help is urgently needed to put an end to what has become a very costly imperial system of Association governance, whereby those who have controlled the GIL Board for nearly a decade are so entrenched and removed from the rest of us, that they no longer even bother to stand for election or see any need to consult homeowners before borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars in our name.

Join your neighbors in putting an end to this madness and restoring transparency and accountability to our Board of Directors by sending an e-mail with the simple subject line 'Count me in".  There isn't any time to delay - join the effort to save Glen Iris Lofts today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When managers are mistaken for leaders

It's no secret that the Blog has been highly critical of the Sutherland's managerial performance of our Association - and for good reason.  Despite their near decade-long reign in dictating just about every facet of life here at Glen Iris Lofts, finding examples where traditional business management principles have even been discussed - much less implemented - is next to impossible.  The reason for this is pretty simple.  Despite the fact that they manage an annual budget that is now nearly a half a million dollars and that by the end of this year, will have enjoyed the unfettered ability to determine how and where almost $4 million dollars of Association funds will have been spent, the Sutherlands don't run our Association like a business.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More dollars burned...

6.  $21,600  The money the Sutherlands have spent to have our community Intranet hosted with WebEx and the most expensive options package they had.  Never mind that nearly all of the money spent for those features was for naught, as everything that would have made it a truly useful resource for homeowners necessarily also enabled them to sometimes criticize the Sutherland Board - and Kit wasn't going to have that - not for a minute.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A penny saved is a dollar burned

The Sutherland's are always eager to point out anything and everything they do or are responsible for that saves our Association money.  However, there are really two sides to that coin.  A more balanced assessment of their volunteer efforts and their financial impact on our Association would also have to include the less well known - and certainly less well polished side - the additional cost incurred as a result of their wasteful spending, mismanagement of Association affairs, their uneven pursuit of Association receivables and the additional bloat in the cost of contracted services borne of their cozy relationship with - and over-reliance on - our management company, CMA.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Use of surveillance cameras within our Association

Given the extraordinary amount of time required to both research blog content as well as author posts, the Blog now posts original content six days a week, Monday through Saturday.  However, every Sunday we will post other articles, blog posts, etc. that may be relevant to the Glen Iris Lofts community.

Today's post is a re-blog from the HOA Law Blog, titled Surveillance Cameras Within Your Association, authored by Steven J. Tinnely, Esq., posted January 26, 2012 and addresses the use of security cameras in HOA common areas.

Video surveillance cameras are now being installed almost everywhere, so why not in your homeowners association (HOA)? When used properly surveillance cameras can provide additional security, a greater sense of safety and a deterrent to would be criminals. Yet several questions and considerations are often raised with respect to the installation of surveillance cameras within a HOA.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Board's mega-loan poll results: 54 to 1

The Blog recently conducted an online poll that many of you participated in. We asked if you thought the Glen Iris Lofts Board should be required to get homeowner approval before proceeding with their plan to borrow more than $400,000. The results were an overwhelming fifty-four affirmative votes and only one ‘no’ vote. While not a formal poll, readers were only able to vote once and, given that fact, it’s a pretty clear message to the Board of Directors that homeowner sentiment is clearly and heavily weighted toward their inclusion and consultation before proceeding with obtaining a loan of this size – especially when doing so comes with so many ramifications for the members of this Association.

Surely, the GIL Board will respect the wishes of such an overwhelming number of homeowners and schedule a time and place where those that have questions can ask them and the Board can provide more specific information than it has to-date on the subject.

If not, then everyone would at least have to acknowledge that Glen Iris Board, indeed, serves only a community of two.

the Blog


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fix for all Phase II parking garage problems finally identified

It seems like the problems – and cost to remedy them – surrounding the Phase II parking garage never seem to end. Specifically:
  1. Every effort to prevent birds from building nests in the insulation and spreading diseases and mold as a consequence has failed and birds continue to damage the property and leave behind copious droppings on people and their cars; 
  2. The third floor lofts located above the second floor of the parking garage are adversely impacted during cold weather as the thin layer of patchwork insulation is insufficient to enable those units to maintain warmth; 
  3. Cold weather has also necessitated the purchase and installation of an elaborate web of plug-in electric pipe heaters to prevent the exposed plumbing that snakes along the ceiling of the second floor parking level from freezing and bursting (potentially raining raw sewage onto everyone and everything below...yuk!) during winter months – driving up utility expenses for a ticking time bomb solution that has no way of being monitored for the mechanical failures that are inevitable as the heat strips age;
  4. The northern and western sides of the first floor parking level serve as lawsuit in-waiting as there is no barrier to prevent a small child – or pet – from suffering as much as a ten foot free fall from the grass to the pavement floor of the garage below. While it is unclear if the lack of a barrier violates building codes, the Blog has confirmed that the deficiency would prevent our property from passing a housing safety inspection by the Atlanta Housing Authority; 
  5. The lack of personal and property security inherent in the parking garages has been a persistent source of very vocal complaints from homeowners for the past nine years as their cars have been broken into repeatedly and a few have even been stolen from the property outright. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sutherland support dwindles as homeowners shut out of loan process

KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN  Being in the driver's seat of our association has its perks - just ask Kit and Stuart Sutherland; they've had their derrieres planted firmly there for the past eight years.  Not only do you get to bend and stretch every detail of the home lives of over one hundred of your neighbors until it can be shoe-horned into something more to your liking, you always have a steady supply of sycophant vendors and homeowners lined up to stroke your ego and whisper sweet yeses into your ear.  And best of all, the job comes with your very own girl Friday, who's commanded by your every wish.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

She has your money to burn

About a month ago, on January 16, 2012, the Blog ran a post entitled the $3,064 phone call, where we pointed out that our Association was on the wrong rate plan with Georgia Power. In that post, we detailed our analysis of prior and current electricity usage, which indicated a minimum possible savings of $3,064 on the Board's budget for common area electrical expenses over the coming year. We even included the phone number so that they could easily call and switch our rate plan.