Petty dictators

Power corrupts. Even the power of citizen democracy corrupts: Home Owners Association demands ex-marine scrape semper-fi sticker off his car or else…

DALLAS - Frank Larison is a disabled veteran with more than 14 years of service, including more than a year of combat duty in Vietnam.

The 58-year-old former Marine now finds himself under attack by his Dallas homeowners association for displaying seven decals on his vehicle supporting the Marine Corps.

"To me, it's being patriotic, and it shows that I served," the veteran told FOX 4.

The board says the decals are advertisements that violate HOA rules, and must be covered or removed.

Otherwise, the homeowners association for The Woodlands II on The Creek --- where Larimore has lived for eight years --- says in a letter it will tow the car at Larimore's expense. The board also threatens to fine him $50 for any future incident.

Larimore says the decals, ranging from the Marine emblem to Semper Fi slogans, aren't advertisements for anything. "You can't buy freedom," he reasoned.

This might be funny if it weren't a less frequent story. There are numerous examples of this kind of Home Owners Association abuse all across the country.

What is more important is the example it sets for us in how 'citizen democracy' could look in our near future. Progressives and the left seem particularly enamored of the idea of citizen boards and committees dispensing progressive democracy and governing all aspects of our lives.

There is no shortage of zealots willing to take on the burden of governing the unwashed masses. We are already seeing the 'grassroots' organizations that could be controlling our lives in order to 'combat' urban sprawl and provide social justice. Groups like ACORN are being funded with billions of dollars by Obama and the Democrats. Something like the communal councils in Venezuela. You know, 'Reconfiguring democracy'. Sounds like transformation to me.

Posted by Eric Simonson at May 31, 2009 8:50 PM
Comment #282286

My husband was on the home owners association in our complex. There are lots of people who just like to boss and when they get power they get nasty.

Home owners associations have legitimate goals. But like all human organizations, they tend to grab power.

You are right that these kinds of minor oppressions are a good warning against intrusive authorities.

Posted by: Christine at May 31, 2009 10:10 PM
Comment #282287

The ACORN Claim has no merit. The money in question was to buy up and rehabilitate derelict properties so they could be better sold on the market. ACORN? Not a thing to do with it.

Honestly, I have no fondness for homeowners associations. My family’s had their share of run-ins with these sorts of folks, and the sort of things they do. If you think liberals, especially ones with roots in inner cities, would be unconditionally in love with these kinds of groups, then you haven’t really asked enough people their honest opinion about these folks.

I’d say, let the disabled vet keep his stickers and everything. I think its facing opposition more from the kind of morons who worry about property values being lowered by the appearance of a car parked in somebody’s driveway.

Has it occured to you that busybodies and petty tyrants exist in all walks of life, among all parties?

Of all the serious things to have a discussion about, we choose this. My sympathy’s with the guy, but what does this really matter to national politics?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 31, 2009 10:18 PM
Comment #282292

Ever deal with M.U.D. district? These little fiefdoms are frequently run by messianic types.
These small time dictatorships come into being because they usually keep under the radar. When they really get over the line, that’s when they make the news and usually are headed for a coup d’etat. Same with HOA’s. Meh. People are jerks. Listen to all of us rant here about solving the worlds problems. Would you want some of the posters here on your HOA?

Posted by: gergle at May 31, 2009 11:45 PM
Comment #282293


Has anybody bothered to check the association contract that these folks signed to move in?

Homeowners association cannot just act arbitrarily they have a contract to back them up.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 31, 2009 11:47 PM
Comment #282303

Rocky, HO Assn. contracts are drafted by attorneys bought and paid for by the Developers, and one of their main goals is to insure NO PUBLIC controversies hitting the media UNTIL after every house in the development has been sold. Which means, these contracts OFTEN violate basic constitutional rights and freedoms, and many suits against HO Assn.’s have been brought and won due to the narrow focus and intents of the attorney’s who drafted the contract. They are afterall, business contract attorney’s, not constitutional attorneys, which has left some of them way out of the specialized depth in drafting Homeowner Assn. contracts which will hold up under Bill of Right’s scrutiny.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 1, 2009 2:52 AM
Comment #282304

Eric, you will have to look to the Developer of the subdivision and their attorneys for this abridgment of individual rights. Businesses are very prone to violate individual rights in the name of profits. Which begs the question, why are business and the GOP so married to each other in rhetoric and policy?

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 1, 2009 2:55 AM
Comment #282311


“Businesses are very prone to violate individual rights in the name of profits. Which begs the question, why are business and the GOP so married to each other in rhetoric and policy?”

you fail to mention the relationships between the dems and big labor which often also has no concern for the rights of those who are not part of thier roles. public sector labor unions in CA. the CTA, and public employees unions who are the worst offenders, often seek to rape the taxpayers in order to increase thier roles with the democrat party leading the way. they do so with no concern whatsoever for the damage they do to economic engine vital to the survival to any society.

Posted by: dbs at June 1, 2009 10:18 AM
Comment #282312

HOA’s are private entities not government entities and are subject to state and federal laws not the constitution of the United States. Only the government has to respect the freedom of speech rights guaranteed in the constitution, not an HOA or corporation. To claim they are corrupted citizen democracy at work is misleading as they are more a fascist corporation than a citizen democracy. The CCR’s are put in place by the developers not voted into place by a democracy. You either sign it or don’t live there.

from :

“Like a city, associations provide services, regulate activities, levy assessments, and may impose fines. Unlike a municipal government, homeowner association governance is not subject to the Constitutional constraints that public government must abide by.[6] Some of the tasks which HOAs carry out would otherwise be performed by local governments. A homeowners’ association can enforce its actions through the threat and levying of fines, and private legal action under civil law.

Association boards appoint corporate officers, and may create subcommittees, such as “architectural control committees,” pool committees and neighborhood watch committees. Association boards are composed of non-paid volunteers from the community elected at the annual meeting to represent the association.”

Posted by: j2t2 at June 1, 2009 11:18 AM
Comment #282313


“Rocky, HO Assn. contracts are drafted by attorneys bought and paid for by the Developers, and one of their main goals is to insure NO PUBLIC controversies hitting the media UNTIL after every house in the development has been sold.”

The point I was trying to make is exactly what j2t2 illustrated;
“The CCR’s are put in place by the developers not voted into place by a democracy. You either sign it or don’t live there.”

Whether or not the those folks that “feel” discriminated against read the agreement in question or not, the association doesn’t just arbitrarily set rules after the fact. Everyone that wishes to live within the domain of the association agrees to abide by the rules before they move in.
I feel badly for the vet that wants to keep the bumper sticker, and the vet that wants to fly the flag. These people should have known the situation, however unconstitutional it may be, when they moved in.

To cry about it now is just sour grapes.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 1, 2009 11:44 AM
Comment #282315

so let me see if i understand this. if you sign a HOA agreement without reading the fine print, it’s your own fault, and you should have known better, but if you sign a loan, credit card, agreement, and bite off more than you can chew, you are a victim of the evil corporations. is that it in anut shell? interesting hmmm. double standard…anyone…beuhler?

Posted by: dbs at June 1, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #282316

Eric -

So didja hear about the car dealership who wouldn’t allow a prospective customer’s car on the lot because it had an Obama sticker on it?

And then there’s the HOA where Dubya moved to, that up until 2000 had a restriction on non-whites moving in.

And I know that when I visit my family in the Mississippi Delta later this month, if I have an Obama sticker on there, I’ll risk retaliatory damage to my car.

And FYI, I’m retired Navy. Been there, done that…and I’ve got the scars from the 140+ stitches and staples in my scalp to show for it.

So while I agree strongly that the HOA in your case is flat wrong for obvious reasons, YOU are flat wrong for assigning their wrong actions and motivations to the rest of us. There’s plenty of idiots on the far left…just as many as on the far right - and you had the bad luck to be stuck in an HOA with some of those idiots.

But let’s make a deal - do NOT assign their idiocy to the rest of us…and I’ll try not to assign to the rest of you the idiocy of the right-wing domestic terrorist who just killed a doctor…

…come to think of it, in the past thirty years, how many Americans have been killed by left-wing domestic terrorists, and how many have been killed by right-wing domestic terrorists?


Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at June 1, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #282317


“but if you sign a loan, credit card, agreement, and bite off more than you can chew, you are a victim of the evil corporations. is that it in anut shell? interesting hmmm.”

Please don’t put words in my mouth. Show me exactly where I wrote that.

Sports stars aside, a contact is a contract.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 1, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #282318


Oh and BTW, don’t misconstrue my willingness to help someone in need as willingness to break a contract.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 1, 2009 12:19 PM
Comment #282322

””..”“..”“..”“……. (crickets chirping)


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 1, 2009 12:57 PM
Comment #282327


sorry i had to go to work.

“Oh and BTW, don’t misconstrue my willingness to help someone in need as willingness to break a contract.”

so long as you are talking about helping them of your own free will. if you are talking about gov’t programs, or tax payers helping them with no opt out clause, thats another story.

Posted by: dbs at June 1, 2009 5:49 PM
Comment #282329


So then where were we?

Oh yeah, you accused me of being a hypocrite.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 1, 2009 6:47 PM
Comment #282341


It seems that when confronted with the facts the right usually pulls back to one of three positions;

1)They change the subject to something else and attack.

2)They obfuscate, and go off on a tangent.


3)They bail.

While I understand that life does rear it’s ugly head occasionally, it has now been nearly 24 hours since you accused me of applying a double standard to this subject.

Prove it.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 2, 2009 10:20 AM
Comment #282346


i made a comparison to your statement and the fact the left seems to support bailing out people who didn’t read the fine print, and got into mortgages they couldn’t afford.

you made this statement:

“I feel badly for the vet that wants to keep the bumper sticker, and the vet that wants to fly the flag. These people should have known the situation, however unconstitutional it may be, when they moved in.”

“To cry about it now is just sour grapes.”

i merely made a comparison that seems to have hit a nerve. if you don’t think the tax payers should bailout people who got in over thier heads, or failed to read the fine print, then just say so, and i’ll admit i was wrong.

you either believe in being responsible for your own actions, and decisions, or you don’t.

anyone for sour grapes?

Posted by: dbs at June 2, 2009 11:55 AM
Comment #282347


BTW you’ll notice that the original comment was not adressed to you personally. although your comment did inspire my reply, it was actually adressed to the left in general. i’m more than happy to continue this conversation if you like though.

Posted by: dbs at June 2, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #282354

Just another example of crazy talk from the right.

Posted by: Jeff at June 2, 2009 2:55 PM
Comment #282362


“if you don’t think the tax payers should bailout people who got in over thier heads, or failed to read the fine print, then just say so, and i’ll admit i was wrong.”

Apples and oranges anyone.

See #2 in my above post.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 2, 2009 6:13 PM
Comment #282365


sorry rocky, not apples and oranges, but responsibility for ones actions or lack there of.
which is it? are we responsible for our own mistakes or not? seems now you don’t want to answer my question, why is that? the ex marine should have known what he was signing. i agree with you on that one. now what about the loan, or credit card contract? seems all the proof i need is right there in your response.

“Apples and oranges anyone.”

your kidding right? why should the taxpayers be put on the hook for someone elses lack of due diligence?

Posted by: dbs at June 2, 2009 7:20 PM
Comment #282372


Since you choose to take us off on a tangent, and it seems that no one is interested in this thread anymore anyway, let me tell you a little story.

A few years ago a guy found what he thought was his “dream” house. It had everything he wanted in a house, and it was in a nice small city, far away from the traffic and crime of the metropolis he was living in.
Unfortunately he owned another house in the metropolis that he needed to sell in order to move to his “dream” house, and the house in the big city wasn’t ready to sell, but the “dream” house was in a hot market area, and if he didn’t act fast he would lose it.
In order to buy his “dream” house he decided to take one of those “interest only loans” with an outrageously high interest, with the intent of selling the original house in which he had some serious equity, and refinancing the “dream” to a lower rate.
Within months of listing the house the market crashed, and shortly after that the value of both house plummeted. Especially the “dream” house which fell even faster than the “other”. Still the guy held out trying to stick to the plan, but to no avail.
Soon the guy was so far under water on the “dream” that even if he was able to sell the “other” house he would never be able to get enough money to refinance his “dream”. Yet he continued to pay both mortgages in full and on time.

Bad news/good news.
Unfortunately for the guy, as the market plummeted so did the business that he was involved in, and shortly it became apparent that if he continued to try to hold on he might lose both houses.
So as painful as it was he decided to default on his “dream” and move back into the “other” house, which, nearly 3 years later, had still not sold.

Fortunately, the “dream” was the collateral for the mortgage so he could walk away with no issues other than the credit hit he would take. Also fortunately the “other” house hadn’t sold so he had a place to move back to which, if business starts to pick up again, he will still be able to pay for.

Here’s the bottom line.
There are lots of folks out there that have truly taken it in the shorts. These folks don’t have the “other” house to move back to. They haven’t “gamed the system”, they’ve just had the bad luck of buying their “dream” at the wrong time.
I don’t have a problem helping these folks out so that we all win. Sure, it’s going to cost some money, but we would have people that would be able to keep their houses, and loan companies that won’t be taking huge losses on the defaults.
That seems like a win/win proposition to me.

However, on the other hand, it seems that there are those on the right that already have theirs, could give a rat’s &ss about any one else, and can’t see anything past the bottom line of their bank account.

That’s my opinion and I believe I am entitled to it.

And yes, I believe it does count to read the “small” print when it comes to HOA’s, especially when it comes to what you can and cannot do.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 2, 2009 9:29 PM
Comment #282377

I once lived in a neighborhood which had an HOA. Being a vet, I proudly displayed a flag on the appropriate holidays. (not that only vets can do that.) The second time I raised the flag, my neighbor came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to have a flag of any kind displayed. I ignored her, and the next day found a letter in my mailbox which cited me for in improper flag. Turns out, she was on the board.
Again, I ignored the letter and raised my flag on the next appropriate holiday (I belive it was July 4th). Within two days, I received a summons that I was being sued by the association to bar me from ever displaying a U.S. Flag ever again.
After attending a board meeting and being told that it was in the lawyers’ hands, I got my own lawyer, who was also a vet.
We went into court, and my attorney stood up, cited two cases stating that display of the flag was protected free speech, and could not be infringed upon. The judge dismissed the case and we walked out.
On the following Thanksgiving, I proudly displayed my flag, beginning on Thursday. On Friday, I saw several more flags up in the neighborhood. By Sunday, my street was nearly full of flags, with the exception of my neighbor on the board and a four others. Other streets also had many flags waving in the breeze.
The following spring, I and several other residents went before the board and demanded a rewrite of the rules/contract. After a long process of house-to-house campaigning, we got enough signatures to force some revisions to the agreement.
Now that neighborhood allows room for individual expression while still keeping the same ideals of a clean, refined, upscale neighborhood in which families can reside.
My point is that you can usually find others who share your feelings to join with, and cause changes which will appeal to the vast majority. Don’t just accept what the HOA tells you. There were a few petty tyrants on the board who tried to force others to do their bidding. Once they were dealt with, the rest was easy.

Posted by: Seatech1 at June 2, 2009 10:27 PM
Comment #282380


Good for you.
It is always better to work from the inside to make changes. It is your HOA, you guys have to make it work for you.

BTW, in my previous posts on this subject, my intent wasn’t imply that nothing could be done, just that it had to be done from the inside, by the residents themselves. You guys signed the contract.

However, that said, if you sign something you have to know what the details are. If you don’t issues like this won’t just go away.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 2, 2009 10:58 PM
Comment #282381


So you are admitting your hypocrisy then?

Posted by: rhinehold at June 2, 2009 10:58 PM
Comment #282383




Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 2, 2009 11:30 PM
Comment #282389


Realistically, other than offering sympathy, and taking a personal lesson to pay attention to what I sign, what am I supposed to do for those that “unknowingly” signed a contract that abridged their freedom of speech?

Is that hypocrisy?

Praising Seatech1 for actually doing something other than bitch about his situation.

Is that hypocrisy?

No offence meant to anyone in that situation, but in the scheme of things this is really small potatoes compared to the problems facing this country, AND, it was brought on by the same people that it affected the most.

Is that hypocrisy?

Or is it hypocritical to be willing to help people that didn’t possess a crystal ball before the market crapped, instead of saying “hey it sucks to be you, you’re on your own”?

Please oh Rhinehold, I await your wisdom.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 3, 2009 1:08 AM
Comment #282395

Eric et al
HOA’s are in the business of curtailing rights. That is their function. What color you paint your house, what decorations,landscaping etc. They have their little meeting that often become like little theater groups. I think they suck,pretty much. People wind up signing away their rights. I suppose they chose to do so but there are some rights that should not be subject to contractual limits, IMO, among them is freedom of speech. They examples you point out are some of the worst examples. I am with you until you once again degressed into your your paranoia about those damned progressives trying to run everyone’s lives.I would bet money that the HOAs involved in the disputes you sighted consider themselves on the conservative side.
This liberal progressive would be happy to help re-assert an awakening of individual freedoms. They have been eroded and not just with HOAs. Malls, for example, are allowed to restrict freedom of speech. Although private property they have assumed the place of the public square. As long as they are open to the public they should also be open to the rights of that public. Many have established,usually out of the way, “Free Speech Areas’. Pardon me. I thought the United States IS a free speech area.
There are tons of court rulings that have the effect of limiting personal rights. There is indeed a disturbing trend toward doing so. Most are based on contractual and property rights. An example was the arguements around segregation of public accomodation.Its not a new conflict. Perhaps we can agree that the scale needs to be tipped toward the individual rights again.

Posted by: bills at June 3, 2009 7:39 AM
Comment #282401


i’m familiar with that story. we talked about it before. let me tell you a story about a guy who had a home minutes away from the beach in SO. CAL. that he had owned for 16 years, with a custom pool and spa, and a sweet BBQ island. he refied when the rates were low to a short term fixed that had high payments, but he could afford them because his business was doing great, and life was good. now fast forward to 2008. his business had all but dried up because of the downturn in construction. he also was watching as the home he owned that was worth 800k at the peak of the market was dropping like a rock. he had a decision to make stay, and watch his equity drop further, and possibly loose it to forclosure, or sell and relocate to a place where housing was cheaper, and he could survive on a pitance of a wage. anyway rocky thats what i did. i don’t like it, but thats life. i could have stayed and possibly lost everything. i would never even consider taking a gov’t bailout, because it was my responsibility, and no one elses period. BTW i currently work for a wage that i haven’t worked for since the mid 80s, and i work 7 days a week. i feel your pain, but we are each responsible for our own actions, and feeling sorry for someone might justify giving to a charity that helps people with tough times, but it shouldn’t force others to fund gov’t programs to bail people out.

BTW rocky i’de of had that house paid for in 10 years free, and clear. they say life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. how very true. if you told me 2 years ago i would be living in the mid west, i’de of said you were crazy.

Posted by: dbs at June 3, 2009 8:53 AM
Comment #282404

Many Job seekers are dumbing down their resumes to get work and doing anything to nail a job, I talked with a lady working at wal-mart the other night she was 74 years old her granddaughter stiffed her, GM co signed her a house and car GD got way behind and ran off with some jerk Grandma had to go back to work out of retirement to keep it she said it was her only option.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 3, 2009 9:54 AM
Comment #282415


So what you’re saying is that we all should sell our houses and move to the Mid-West?

Sorry I couldn’t help myself.

I am not asking for sympathy, and I am quite sure you’re not either, but riddle me this;

What good are all these empty houses?
Metro Phoenix alone has thousands of houses in foreclosure.
Shall we allow them to fall into disrepair further depressing value of the neighborhoods, and the cities they are in?

As I see it we have two choices in this;

1) We help those that need help, and in doing so we are also helping the companies that hold the notes on these properties. As a byproduct this also helps the municipalities these properties, and companies are located in.


2) Tell everybody they’re on their own, create a perpetual renter class, and watch as the cities, counties, and states these properties are located in slide into the toilet.

Hey, with any luck option 2 won’t take the rest of the country down with it, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


Oh, and BTW, you still haven’t explained to me how all of this makes me a hypocrite.

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 3, 2009 1:23 PM
Comment #282424


“So what you’re saying is that we all should sell our houses and move to the Mid-West?”

i’m glad you find my story amusing.

“Oh, and BTW, you still haven’t explained to me how all of this makes me a hypocrite.”

i found your comment about the marine callous, and brought up the the personal responsibilty aspect, and how it related to those who have gotten themselves into financial trouble. appearently you don’t have the same tough sh#t attitude towards them. i never called you a hypocrite i merely pointed out what i perceived to be a double standard in holding one accoutable for thier own actions.

Posted by: dbs at June 3, 2009 7:57 PM
Comment #282425


Was the comment callous because he is a Marine, or was it just callous?

Look, people expect to sail blithely through life not paying attention to details, and when they get called on it they go nuclear.
I mean no disrespect, but if this guy wasn’t a Marine we wouldn’t have heard squat about this.

As far as the “personal” responsibility goes I am sure this Marine has a nice house in a community that has a HOA.
No offence meant to the Marine, but gee he may, or may not have to scrape a bumper sticker off of his car.
How is this more traumatic than the tens of thousands of people in financial trouble that may or may not lose everything?

Do you not see the difference?


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 3, 2009 8:15 PM
Comment #282431

The VET has brought his side of the story to the media. I would like to hear the HOA views on this issue. Could he have had a vendetta against the HOA for past violations which he lost, resulting in fines and as a result, decided to get even by throwing in the VET Trump Card? I have owned several condos and have had good and bad relationships with the HOA boards. I learned that if you want to do something that is not permited in the by-laws, you better get permission first. I also learned that when someone does something that affects the value and marketability of the development, a HOA can be good thing by enforcing the rules and regulations. Maybe this HOA board noticed that many cars in the development had bumper stickers which were in violation of the rules and regulations and was trying to be fair and consistent in their actions by having everyone, including the VET remove their stickers and decals. I certainly admire and respect any VET that has served this country. However, his status as a Veteran does not automatically give him the right to violate the rules and regulations of the HOA he bought into.

Posted by: Lance at June 3, 2009 11:06 PM
Comment #282446

If you re-read Eric’s post you will note that the prohibition sited in this case involve advertising and not bumper stickers in particular.Semper Fi is not advertising.

If you have time, please keep us posted on the outcome.

Posted by: bills at June 4, 2009 3:50 PM
Comment #282457


So it now seems you have achieved all three positions.

I accept your retraction.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 5, 2009 12:33 AM
Comment #413580

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