Yes, Mobilehome Magazine attended the GSMOL April 2014 Convention. Although not allowed to participate (while we submitted our Associate Membership Application and our $50 as Attorney Bruce Stanton had suggested; our membership was denied without explanation), we talked with many folks and made new friends. Most had never heard of Mobilehome Magazine and several volunteered to distribute MHMag in their park.
We had a nice chat with GSMOL’s Community Organizer Darrow Sprague. He is a sharp guy, very knowledgable and a terrific addition to the GSMOL team. We shared some our experiences with mobilehome advocacy and he jokingly asked Miss Terri if he could take her photo for Mobilehome Magazine! We had a good time. Thank you Darrow. We are planning to write a book some day about all of this.

The Convention

This Convention was typical of past Conventions, with educational seminars the first two days, an award banquet the second evening and a business meeting the last morning.
On January 5, 2014, well before the convention, we suggested that GSMOL set aside some time for the following. Some attending the Convention were very concerned and there was some discussion of (3) and (4).

Pre Convention Suggestions

1. A “State of the GSMOL Organization” which includes such topics as details of the sale of the building in Garden Grove in 2012, and where those funds went. What the current projects are? Changes since the sale of the building? A step by step plan to increase membership and provide members with better services and information…etc.
2. Steps being taken to open up the Organization to comments and suggestions from all California mobilehome owners, members and non-members. Why not conduct surveys to ascertain just what mh owners want from GSMOL and report the results in the Californian?
3. A discussion regarding Financial Statements. We feel members need and deserve periodic Financial Statements. Why not publish one in the Californian along with the current GSMOL membership numbers, say every quarter?
4. We would like to see an updated method to elect new board members so that the process is more democratic and involves all GSMOL members.
5. And of course, we at MHMag would like to reiterate our desire to work with GSMOL. To that end, we suggest we schedule regular conference calls to brainstorm. Perhaps we could offer to help distribute the Californian to parks not already getting it? We have a terrific network of volunteers and currently deliver to over 100 parks across California.

Letter to GSMOL Delegates & Observers

Here is a letter we handed out with the magazine:
Dear GSMOL Convention Attendee:
The 2014 GSMOL Convention is finally here. We understand some of you are concerned about the future of GSMOL. We are too. Our hope is you will be willing to openly express your concerns. We can’t lose GSMOL. Mobilehome owners need a strong advocate in Sacramento. In fact, we have recently offered to help build their membership by distributing the Californian with our network, which reaches 25,000 homes per month.
Mobilehome Magazine (MHMag) has a strong record of advocacy dating back to 2003, first with GSMOL, then as a state-wide group the Coalition of Mobilehome Owners – California (COMO-CAL), and now as MHMag. MHMag is “for mobilehome owners, by mobilehome owners.” We gladly accept articles, especially when others will benefit. Thousands receive MHMag and feel connected and informed. We would like to invite you and your members to receive Mobilehome Magazine free. Just give us a call, send us an email, or see Frank Wodley at the Convention.
Contrary to what you may have heard, the 25 articles published in 2013 about GSMOL are all supportive. They include GSMOL legislation, this Convention, GSMOL Conferences, and offers from MHMag to support GSMOL and work together. In fact we have taken multiple surveys of “Joe” mobilehome owner. He wants MHMag and GSMOL working together. As in the saying: “There is Strength in Numbers.”
For reasons unknown, the GSMOL board refuses to even talk with us. Some board members have even attacked us, saying some articles are detrimental to GSMOL. They probably were referring to sections of an article or two reporting on GSMOL’s seriously declining membership. Of course our purpose was not to “torpedo” GSMOL, as a BOD member recently stated, but to make folks aware that without everyone’s support, GSMOL may close its doors for good. The same plea was made by Jim Burr, GSMOL Legislative Chair, in December 2009 (we have copies). At that time membership was 15,136, but has shrunk another 4,000-5,000 as of today.
You may say: “We want proof MHMag is really helping GSMOL.” No problem! In fact many park leaders have sent us emails like the following: “I have signed up GSMOL members because of the magazine;” “Those in our park that read your magazine feel it is a breath of fresh air and have renewed their membership with GSMOL because of it.” In fact, most receiving MHMag have never known about GSMOL. Now they are! And that’s tens of thousands.

Congratulations

We want to congratulate Jean Crowder and Miss Terri (Terri Pohrman) on their election wins for board positions of Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League (GSMOL) President and Zone A-1 VP respectively.
We wish the new BOD all the best and know they will work hard to turn the page to make our much needed state-wide organization. Let’s make GSMOL strong again! Let’s “Rebuild, Renew and Restore“ it as an effective advocate for mhos.

Openness and Transparency

We strongly believe that any organization serving the public needs to be open and transparent. And this most certainly applies to our state-wide advocate (GSMOL).
The following is an article from the Union Tribune of San Diego. We feel applies:
Police scandals show need for openness: When Americans are asked about the defining feature of their government, they tend to point to its democratic institutions, but the act of electing our leaders does not necessarily ensure a free and open society.
A more important feature may be transparency – the degree that the public can see how officials conduct their business. “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both,” wrote James Madison in an oft-quoted letter about open government.
Last week was Sunshine Week, designed to remind Americans about the importance of open records and open meetings. Most people nod at these vague sentiments. But a recent San Diego scandal is a reminder of Madison’s words about the sometimes tragic consequences of a less-than-open approach toward the agencies that govern us.
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/mar/26/police-scandals-show-need-for-openness/

Suggestions to Improve GSMOL

We here at Mobilehome Magazine only want the best for California’s mobilehome owners (mhos). And that means a strong GSMOL in Sacramento. Here are some of our suggestions for improvement:
Make GSMOL transparent and open once again. That includes making financial reports, membership totals, and board meeting minutes public. They should be published in the Californian, that’s the most cost effective.
GSMOL can’t do it alone. Mobilehome Magazine and others are willing and ready to help. All of us can commit to promote the “new” GSMOL and help GSMOL grow membership and strength. Let’s work together!
Make enforcement the #1 priority in Sacramento, not another law without enforcement. California needs a program like Washington State’s Alternate Dispute Resolution Program. See insert page E.
Work to make GSMOL mobilehome owner and GSMOL member oriented. That means being responsive to membership needs and requests.
Give members the right to vote and have a say in their organization.
Sponsor free, open discussions around the state without the requirement that attendees become GSMOL members. Invite members and non-member mobilehome owners to talk about the organization and discuss what they want and need from GSMOL. Get everyone involved.
Make a special effort to eliminate divisiveness.
Promote Mobilehome Magazine. We will in turn promote GSMOL.

Bottom Line

Let everyone be assured that Mobilehome Magazine wants nothing more than to promote a new GSMOL. It would be wonderful to only focus on issues, such as interference of sales, senior abuse, rent stabilization, etc. This can be a new day in advocacy. Let’s all work for it and keep an eye on the prize.

Use Our Network

The new BOD would be smart to sit down with MHMag and brainstorm ways to work together. For instance MHMag could help if and when the day came for GSMOL members to vote for new leaders. Already we are getting the word out about GSMOL. Often GSMOL asks members to call their legislators to support a proposed law. MHMag can help get the word out to all mhos, not just GSMOL members.
The possibilities of working together are endless. That’s what mhos want and deserve.

Dream a Little Dream

What about a reorganization? We feel it would be helpful to get everyone working together. Perhaps one where GSMOL is the presence in Sacramento and MHMag provides information to as many mhos in California as possible? What about a new LEGAL “arm?” We are sure that with a little brainstorming, advocates can all be working together, doing what they do best. We believe all mhos, for $25/year, could be represented in Sacramento, could receive Mobilehome Magazine, and could be covered by some sort of legal fund.
What would MHMag look like? Of course we would publish an expanded magazine, perhaps 24 or even 30 pages. We would publish information from GSMOL about their efforts in Sacramento and the magazine.
Give us your thoughts please! What would your “ideal” advocacy in California look like? Why not dream a little dream?