WHY I PRESENT MY EXPERIENCE
Some of my friends have suggested that I not write about GSMOL. They say that CoMO-LAC may someday work together with GSMOL and I shouldn’t make waves. I respect their opinion, but I personally feel mobilehome owners across the state have a right to know the “inner” workings of our leading advocacy group—GSMOL. All that I write can be substantiated. And this is not “sour grapes” on my part. Actually, my experience with GSMOL has stimulated me to form CoMO-LAC, something that should have been done long ago.
My hope in presenting this is that mobilehome owners will become more interested and participate in all advocacy organizations, rather than sit back and think someone else is taking care of business. There are thousands of GSMOL members who do not know how GSMOL works. This is a glimpse into the “inner workings” of GSMOL. I remain dedicated to supporting all mobilehome owners and if you read THE VOICE you know CoMO-LAC will work and promote any group that has that as their goal.
This is a continuation of my story from last month. You will recall I had been taken to court by my park manager who claimed “unlawful harassment.” Although the manager was on the stand the better part of one day, I never testified or said one word. Fortunately, the Judge found the evidence against me lacking . I can now say that every charge against me was false and fabricated. In fact many of the situations did happen, but not like Sally would have liked the Judge to believe. Many of my friends suggested I had a good case of harassment against the park.
WORKING FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS
Since the beginning of 2004 I have worked hard trying to “improve” GSMOL. I’ve been especially concerned with their Enforcement Legal Fund (ELF) as written in last months article. And naively I’ve felt that someone should be responsible to the membership of GSMOL for the loss of members, the resulting loss of operating capital, the loss of ability to get laws passed, and the loss of advertising revenue. I’ve wanted to see GSMOL focus on the needs of the membership, not on new legislation. I’ve wanted to start a GSMOL e-mail network and have more communication and networking between GSMOL volunteers, managers, members, and leadership. Alas, my efforts have been to no avail. The leadership would not discuss these issues and even attacked me as being a TRAITOR and not having the interests of mobilehome owners at heart. How much further from the truth can that be? In the June 2004 Californian, Steve Gullage wrote: “There are a few who will tell you that the ELF program will not work and is destined to failure. This is their wish, not ours. …If these non-supporters of GSMOL, and our programs come into your park and spout off against ELF, send them on their way. They are not there to help you, but to serve their own agenda. They would see GSMOL fail rather than to be proven wrong. The park owners and managers love what they are doing. Don’t help them—help yourselves.” Of course Steve was very wrong about my intentions. I challenged ELF because it wasn’t working. Today, GSMOL is still struggling with the ELF program. ELF could have helped us long ago, but it hasn’t, not one person. That’s why I questioned the program! GSMOL members should take a more active role in their organization, and let the GSMOL leadership know this is not acceptable. Enforcement is critical—get on with it! Just think what CoMO-LAC could do with $100,000.
In July 2004 I formed an independent committee which submitted a “Recommendations Report” to the GSMOL Board of Directors asking that the focus of GSMOL be more on the local level. Seven other GSMOL managers contributed to the report—some at the Regional Manager level. Certainly the leadership of GSMOL would listen to this group of managers. It defies reason, but the leadership essentially ignored the report! And not one of our recommendations has been implemented. We asked the leadership to share more with us, to be a more open group, to publish Board minutes in the Californian, to have an email network so that active GSMOL members could communicate among themselves and …. Some of the original 8 managers have written very critical letters of resignation to GSMOL, I was fired as Associate Manager of the San Fernando Valley (no explanation was given—although obviously it was political) and others continue – business as usual. In March 2005 I sent in my $20.00 membership for renewal, only to have GSMOL leadership hold it, essentially denying to renew my membership. Finally, after four months and several letters explaining they were breaking the law and threatening to go to the State Attorney General, my membership was renewed ! Many of us still believe ENFORCEMENT of the laws is critical.
GSMOL AND CoMO-LAC
As you may know if you read THE VOICE, when CoMO-LAC was formed, we wrote a letter to GSMOL saying we were not in competition with GSMOL and could actually compliment GSMOL. In fact we wanted to work together. I attended this years GSMOL Convention as a Delegate at Large. Why did I go you may ask? Because we need to support any organization that is helping mobilehome owners. In fact the bylaws of GSMOL state their purpose is to promote the general welfare of mobilehome owners. Yes, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE OF MOBILEHOME OWNERS. Actually that is the purpose of CoMO-LAC also.
So why are our two organizations so different? Perhaps the biggest difference IS the leadership. Also the general openness and flexibility. CoMO-LAC encourages its members to participate, and to make suggestions. I suggested having an open discussion between GSMOL members and leaders at the 2006 Convention. Last year I challenged the Vice Presidents to have such discussions in their local areas. Of course neither happened. CoMO-LAC wants its members to network and communicate with one another. To share their ideas. GSMOL does not. We openly discuss CoMO-LAC, the organization and welcome feedback. The Californian could provide members with lots of information. What are the park owners doing? Who are they? What is their organization like? How are they taking advantage of us? And more importantly, what GSMOL is going to do about it! Alas, they just want more members.
THE GSMOL CONVENTION
Not only did I go to the GSMOL Convention as a delegate, I also ran for the state-wide office of GSMOL state secretary. Why not, I’ve attended almost all board meetings in Garden Grove. In fact I attended the last board meeting and the recently appointed Secretary Jean Phillips was a no show. Her first Board of Directors meeting and she didn’t show up! For your information all GSMOL Directors, except one, have been appointed by the Board. Lloyd Logan is the exception.
NEXT MONTH: THE “ELECTION”
GSMOL bylaws state that candidates Actually there would not have been any election, but I suggested the Board of Directors read their bylaws regarding a position that had been filled as a consequence of some one leaving
The leadership of GSMOL was not about to “let me in the door.” When hat transpired really showed the true colors of GSMOL leadership. Steve Gullage asked Maurice Priest to read parts of my e-mail regarding CoMO-LAC going statewide. Then he asked Mr. Priest if GSMOL had ever ousted a member that had started another group. Mr. Priest was quick to reply that in fact GSMOL had ousted a member in 1996 for just that. (The member was David Henessey, founder of CMRAA). Of course I wanted the chance to defend myself, but they would have none of that. I wasn’t recognized and I couldn’t say a word. The election was held, and most delegates voted against me. My final words: “Be careful who you support. Take an active role in an organization if you really want the truth about it.”