UPDATE February 9, 2016
It is now confirmed from several sources that GSMOL’s lobbyist Brian Augusta is no longer employed by GSMOL. His last day was probably around January 15th. This means the MH Community is without a lobbyist in Sacramento for the first time in perhaps over 50 years. One long time member of GSMOL, who recently resigned, believes this is the beginning of the loss of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) and other protections. We just can’t allow this to happen!
We at COMO-CAL and MH Life Magazine have tried over the last 12 years to alert the Community that this day would come. Our efforts fell on deaf ears. Neither GSMOL managers, GSMOL members or the population of MH owners did anything to prevent this from happening. It is very sad, but perhaps from the ashes will rise a new era of cooperation, teamwork and unity. And a new era of transparency. We are working on this goal and hope to have positive news within a month or so. But it will take everyone pulling together. It takes such a small financial commitment from MH owners to have real power! Just think about what COMO-CAL and the magazine have suggested. The Regional Group Plan gets everyone working together for the greater good. We’ve published 25 articles explaining the Plan, the Benefits of the Plan and how it effects you the mobilehome owner. Now more than ever, you need us and we need you! Get on board and join. The other option can be catastrophic.
UPDATE January 29, 2016
Sorry the website was down for a day or two. Thanks to Christopher Larsen, a resident at West Winds Mobile Lodge in Oceanside, the website is back up and running. Thank you Chris.
UPDATE January 26, 2016
Miss Terri Pohrman, Zone A-1 Vice President has also resigned, citing bad decisions of the majority ruling the Board of Directors and no budget.
Mr. Bob Fleak, GSMOL leader in Sonoma County, has resigned saying: The wheels have fallen off GSMOL. After twenty years as a loyal GSMOL member, I can no longer support the organization under it’s present leadership.
UPDATE January 20, 2016 – GSMOL May Close Down
Hold on to your shorts. A brave GSMOL Vice President, let’s call him Bob for now, just resigned from the GSMOL Board of Directors (January 17, 2016) and “let the cat out of the bag.” His reason: a lack of confidence in the board majority’s ability to successfully sustain a viable League. Bob felt volunteer non-profits should be leading examples of good faith and total transparency, just what COMO-CAL and MH Life Magazine have been saying for years!
This is de ja vu all over again. In 1999, a Vice President and Board Member of GSMOL, namely George Smith, filed a lawsuit against GSMOL (Steve Gullage, President, Maurice Priest, Corporate Council). George won! Here is a portion of a letter he sent to the Board of Directors:
The current policy of the Board to prohibit dissent and undermine the efforts of directors and members with differing views, destroys the democratic principles upon which our corporation was founded and chartered to operate. It has driven from our Corporation, capable leadership critical to advancing the interests of our member mobilehome residents; and, it has resulted in a statewide reduction of membership from approximately 92,000 members in January 1990 to somewhere in the vicinity of 33,000 members in February 1999. That is a net loss of approximately 59,000 in membership, equivalent to nearly a $885,000.00 loss of income this year alone.
So what happened to George Smith? (You can find the whole story at savegsmol.com)
- Contrary to the bylaws of the Corporation, the Corporation, through the acts of the majority of the Board of Directors, continuously punish and remove officers and directors that dissent or otherwise oppose or refuse to support the policies of the majority directors. The means used to punish and remove dissenting directors are acts of humiliation, censure, withholding of expense reimbursements, the denial of corporate information, the refusal to allow dissenting directors an opportunity to present agenda items for consideration at directors meetings, the suspension of directors’ and/or officers’ powers and the termination of their membership in the Corporation. Once dissenting directors and/or officers are removed, the majority on the Board then appoints replacement directors and/or officers supportive of the policies and acts of the majority on the Board. In addition, the board deliberately withholds information from the members by censoring and removing all minority views from corporate publications and member communications. By these acts, the majority of the Board perpetuate themselves and their policies and undermine the rights of the members to elect their own representatives as provided in the Corporation’s bylaws.
- Recently, the Corporation has, through the actions of the majority of its Board of Directors, punished two of its dissenting vice presidents and directors by: (a) refusing to reimburse them for expenses incurred on behalf of the Corporation including the attending of directors meetings; (b) refusing them reasonable requests to place items on the agenda for consideration at the Board of Directors meetings, (c) refusing to include their positions on agenda items in the Minutes of the Board of Directors and falsifying the minutes, (d) refusing to provide them with access or copies of requested corporate records and documents; (e) suspending them from acting as directors or vice presidents or otherwise representing their constituents and (f) removing one by vote.
You might ask: That was 16 years ago, what relevance does it have today? Good question. It turns out that Bob was being treated in a similar way as George Smith, at least regarding important information like financial reports., i.e. the bad policies were continuing. In fact we (Frank Wodley) know more about the financials than does this Vice President! MH Life Magazine and COMO-CAL have tried over the years to ALERT the Community that this was happening. But we were damned if we did and damned if we didn’t. Some still can not understand why COMO-CAL wanted a strong GSMOL. Instead, they chose to believe, wrongly so, that COMO-CAL was attacking GSMOL and trying to destroy it. No true, not for one moment. We were trying to get GSMOL members and managers to wake up and be active and get the “bad apples” out of GSMOL. Instead, they shunned us as being the enemy. We were not! We actually were doing our homework, something they failed to do. We knew the bad policies of the 1999 BOD had continued. And we were alerting everyone that the “bad apples” continued to run GSMOL.
GSMOL Likely Will Shut Down
We have predicted this moment for years. We have done our best to alert the MH Community that this would happen. We are saddened, and actually mad as hell about it. The Community needs a strong presence in Sacramento. In 1990, GSMOL had 100,000 members and a yearly revenue of $1,500,000. Had they not gone off course, they could have accomplished much and MH owners wouldn’t be suffering like they are today.
Unfortunately, our ALERTS were labeled as “self serving” by some of the community, and they shunned us. However, we challenge anyone to go back and read every article we’ve written about GSMOL. Yes, most came from Frank Wodley, but the fact is Frank Wodley was a darn good GSMOL member, Chapter President, and GSMOL Associate Manager. His first presentation before the GSMOL BOD was in October 2003. At that time Frank was worried about the image of GSMOL and wanted the BOD to brainstorm ways GSMOL could be improved. Since that time, Frank has made numerous suggestions to improve GSMOL, including a comprehensive Recomendations Report written by eight GSMOL managers, including Jim Burr (later to become GSMOL President), Donna Matthews, and others. Frank has offered the services of MH Life Magazine to promote GSMOL, at no cost to GSMOL. In 2009 Frank suggested COMO-CAL and GSMOL partner. You can read about it in the February 2016 issue of MH Life Magazine. So what happened? As with every offer, with every good suggestion, the GSMOL BOD rejected it without even a discussion! The “bad apples” prevailed. Their policies bankrupted GSMOL and led to this day. Shame on them!
More From Bob
Bob tells us that the Building in Garden Grove was sold for $775,000 in August 2012. Half the proceeds were immediately used to repay debts incurred prior to the sale. Only $250,000 of the sale proceeds went into a reserve account. Now that account is down to about $25,000! That’s all. No more. And no idea how to get more.
Further, Bob says expenses, normally $30,000/month, have been reduced to $5,000/month. And a Convention is scheduled in April 2016 which normally costs $10,000.
Bob further states:
A proposal was put forth to the board of directors a couple weeks ago, that would have balanced the budget and eliminated the monthly overspend, if accepted and approved. I, along with three or four other Board member,s voted in favor of that. The majority, however, voted against the proposal and it was defeated. The president and treasurer ignored a request to see the financial books to see for myself what else might be trimmed.
At this time, I can do no more to help. And, I am concerned that when the League runs out of money and the day of reckoning comes, the Board will rightfully be held accountable. I do not want to be on that board when that time comes. If I cannot help, I want to get out of the way because even as a board member they could not stop the excess spending.
Also, I believe that any organization, especially a non-profit one run by volunteers should be entirely transparent … which this board and they suspect previous ones, have not been.
If GSMOL falls, hopefully a new entity will spring up to take its place. We must have a lobbyist and MRL-savvy attorney and intelligent leadership to help protects us, as mobilehome owners, from unscrupulous park owners of California and their attorneys, who would wipe away our MRL rights in a heartbeat if no one stands in their way.
Without GSMOL, the MH Community is more vulnerable than at any other time in its history! How many times have we written about this in MH Life Magazine? How many times have we been ignored? Well the time as come when MH owners can’t ignore us any more. If they do, they stand to lose all their rights. The park owners will continue to attack the Mobilehome Residency Law, rent control and other protections we enjoy today. Bottom line: you might as well just hand your manager the key to your home and walk away.
However there is another option. And that’s the Regional Group Plan we’ve been promoting since November 2014. We can make lemonade from lemons if and when the MH Community comes together and supports us. It’s just $25 each, chump change for a new day in advocacy. How do you know we won’t be like GSMOL? LOL. We are ethical. We have pledged to be open, transparent, and responsive to you. We will work together, network and share. It’s your choice. Read this and go your own way. Continue to ignore us. But when you lose your home, don’t come running to us crying that we didn’t do enough. We have been offering our services for years, we are experts, no one else even tried to warn you about GSMOL, but so far you’ve tied our hands. Last year the magazine received about $3100. from subscribers, and our expenses were well over $100,000. COMO-CAL received about the same amount, hardly enough to begin to hire an attorney or lobbyist. May God bless us and protect us. Seems as if no one else cares. (However we do!)
By the way, we believe there should, at a minimum, be an investigation of the GSMOL Board of Directors. GSMOL members and managers should complain to the state Attorney General. Perhaps even a class action lawsuit against the “bad apples.” They are the only ones responsible for the loss of GSMOL, no one else, especially Frank Wodley, COMO-CAL or MH Life Magazine.
We will actively work toward a new advocacy group, based on the Regional Group concept. We will contact area leaders. If you want to be a part of a new page in advocacy, please, please call Frank at 818-886-6479. It we don’t get our sh..t together now, we are all lost.
Resident Association Endorses COMO-CAL
I am the founder and president of the 1441 Manufactured-Home Residents Association (MRA1441), which was formed to serve residents and improve our community. Our family moved into Rowland Heights Mobile Estates in July, 2012, after our home was foreclosed in 2011. By the time we moved in, we found residents were being discriminated against and oppressed by park management, and many of the elderly were complaining that living at Rowland Heights ME was like living in a jail. Photo: Ken Meng (right) with Frank Wodley at Frank’s home in Chatsworth.
In early 2013, MRA1441 was created. In May, we organized a protest, and at the end of the year, after much research and hard work, organized a meeting with the park owner. We represented over 175 residents. As a result, the park owner finally decided to replace their abusive management, did not raise the rent on residents for one year, fixed the roads, extended clubhouse hours, and made other improvements. By organizing residents, we overcame retaliation and profoundly learned that when vulnerable residents unite, they become powerful and are then able to protect their rights.
Residents in one park can only do so much, so we began reaching out to other mobilehome organizations. Although we did not receive effective help from GSMOL, we did connect with COMO-CAL after reading a copy of MH Life Magazine. We appreciated the Magazine for courageously standing up for residents, and pointing out problems in California mobilehome parks. Through much contact with Frank Wodley, we found him to be honest, enthusiastic, hard working, he disregards personal gains, and is a person who strives to do his best. At one time he was a manger with GSMOL, however he was concerned about the lack of enforcement and the direction of the organization. Therefore in 2004 he decided to form COMO-CAL and MH Life Magazine. The Magazine is the only publication telling the truth about advocacy and issues found in mobilehome parks. We clearly recognize that Frank Wodley’s efforts and selfless dedication are due only because of his desire to help a vulnerable group of residents receive just treatment.
COMO-CAL’s Regional Plan effectively helps residents, but only if residents support it. Individual park associations are the foundation of the Regional Plan. This organization motivates residents to stand up, through unity, to resolve specific problems found in their community. The Regional Plan also provides important resources: a legal fund to provide legal assistance and a Magazine to educate and inform. The “organization” fundamentally differs from that of GSMOL. If residents embrace this plan, we predict residents will have a tremendously effective tool for dealing with park owners and park managers.
As with MRA, COMO-CAL encourages residents of mobilehome parks to establish their own community resident organizations instead of only depending on protection by another organization or government agency. Similar to unions, it is the only way to protect a vulnerable group like the mobile home residents in California. By putting local residents in positions of power and providing transparency to the group, only people with a true desire to help their fellow mobilehome residents will join in the leadership of COMO-CAL as it provides no other incentive.
After reading this endorsement, I encourage you to organize at least a few residents in your park and join COMO-CAL. Even if it is only you for now, COMO-CAL can help inform and educate you and help you organize. You can adopt a name like Manufactured-Home Residents Association for your new group, i.e. a group that promotes the general welfare of residents in your park. And you can make it specific to your park by adopting your parks address, as the Rowland Heights group did (1441).
MRA1441 endorses COMO-CAL. California residents should organize and unite through COMO-CAL for the welfare of their future generations and the future of mobilehome residents. Even if you are a GSMOL member or officer, we suggest you embrace the Regional Plan if your true desire is to serve and help residents. The Plan means resources stay in regions where they will do the most good, and gets everyone working together, effectively and efficiently. It provides for Strength in Numbers!
–Ken Meng, President, 1441 Manufactured-Home Residents Association (MRA1441), Rowland Heights, CA. [email protected] (626) 581-6580
Editor’s Note: I’m thrilled to be working with Ken Meng and MRA1441. Through much adversity (these folks are mainly Chinese speaking and are not fluent in English), they have accomplished so much. If you have a computer I suggest you visit their website (http://mra1441.org/). Photo: Members of MRA1441.
Photos can be accessed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/110013505@N07/. Each has is a wealth of information including letters from the park attorney and the unlawful detainer action.
Next month we will publish more of their story, their demonstrations, confrontations with management, the lawsuit to evict Ken Meng, and how his 17 year old son Sam was instrumental in helping them win the lawsuit. Their determination and perseverance are to be commended. Congratulations Ken Meng, his family, and their residents association MRA1441!