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Welcome to On the Commons!

Image On The Commons is a weekly radio show, dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominiums.  It is broadcast live from WEBR, Fairfax, Virginia and available on this web site.

Join us as we explore the world of homeowner associations and condominiums, which are the fastest growing form of residential development in America today.  This housing concept includes homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and both attached and detached single-family homes.  Unfortunately this type of housing is not as utopian as its advocates would have us believe.  Living in a homeowner association means giving up a part of the American dream.  It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over one’s most valuable asset - one’s home.

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 "Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right."  --- Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B Sanders

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Its Here! 

The new On The Commons  podcast site

Seven years of easy to find On the Commons Podcasts 

 

The Curent Show

On the Commons with Ward Lucas

In the movie, Wait Until Dark, Audrey Hepburn played the role of a blind woman who was alone in her house when some "bad guys" broke in.  She sensed they were in her house but she could not see them.  It was a pretty terrifying scene.  But it is the same scenario that repeats itself every day in the hundreds of thousands of HOAs across the country.  Homeowners are subjected to the same terrifying situations that Audrey Hepburn's character was experiencing.  So much of what is being done to individual homeowners, or as the HOA industry so cavalierly puts it, " isolated incidents" is being done under cover of darkness.  Neighbors are kept in the dark or don't want to get involved for fear of becoming yet another neighborhood "isolated incident".  Sometimes the only way to deal with the abuses is to shine a bright light on the situation and in this case, the light is the press.  On the rare occasions when a media outlet decides to tell their readers about a homeowner who is being abused, the bright light the news article or the TV story shines on the 'bad guys" puts enough pressure on the HOA to start acting and behaving like mature, responsible adults.  But, getting the attention of the media is a battle on to itself.  

Ward Lucas joins us On The Commons.  Ward is an award winning print, TV and radio journalist who, over his career has covered stories of war while fighting his own war to protect his property in a homeowners association.  His experience and expertise were put to great use when he wrote Neighbors at War, the Creepy case Against your Homeowners Association.  The term " Neighbors at War" has caught on and is used often in HOA stories.  Ward also maintains a blog by the same name.  All his posts give an estimated reading time.  We'll find out why.  We'll also ask him how to capture the attention of the mainstream media and what we, as homeowners with all sorts of different backgrounds, can do to become more effective communicators.  I always have fun talking to Ward so tune in and join in the fun.  Oh, and as an added bonus, we'll hear all about his latest book.  . .Listen to Ward Lucas    

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On the Commons with Carolyn Douglas

Respect, honor, honesty, decency, justice, manners - all have been buried in the past.  Once characteristics of civilized citizens they seem to have been delegated to an age gone by as we barge ahead, like a herd of cattle, headlong into the turbulent future.   There was a time when children were taught to be polite, to respect their neighbors, to be honest and truthful. It was unthinkable for decent and honorable people to mistreat each other, abuse neighbor's rights, bully and harass them just because they wanted to be the big gorilla in the neighborhood.  Nowadays if Sam the Man across the street decides his neighbor spent too much time crossing a private driveway, Sam the Man, and his brood of thugs, find it perfectly acceptable to chastise and penalize the neighbor.  There are fines, followed by threatening letters from their attorneys and finally foreclosure to get rid of undesirable neighbors.  The unthinkable has become common place.


But in this brave new world we have created, we always have the courts, don't we? 


Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline, a former attorney, is well versed in the way the courts work.  Not being one to turn a blind eye to a lot of the injustices around her, she became a whistleblower. However, since lawyers' first loyalty is to the courts, Caroline could not alert the public to what really happens "behind closed doors" until she lost her law license.  At that point she was able to exercise her First Amendment rights.  So she wrote The Dark Side; a Law Treatise on Judging - with Memoir.  The book is packed with information but on the show we can only scratch the surface of some of the things that routinely happen behind the scenes.  We find out what and how we can protect our rights and we learn about some of the things that are done that are designed to frustrate and intimidate us. Once you know and understand what lies ahead, it is easier to navigate the murky waters of the justice system and come up with your defense and a plan of action.  I always feel like I have been drinking from a fire hydrant and that we haven't even made a dent in all we could learn from Caroline.  If you want to contact her you can reach her at 
 . . . Listen to Carolyn Douglas

 

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