Monday, November 02, 2009

The special "Accidentally on Purpose" issue of my housing co-op newsletter

Well, it's been nine long years since my housing co-op first started work on its much-needed rehab. And while women may only take nine months to produce a baby, our board of directors has been taking nine long years to just to produce a rehab -- and at this point in time, they haven't even gone into labor yet!

This pregnancy analogy reminds me of that new TV sit-com wherein Jenna Elfman's character gets pregnant "accidentally on purpose". She takes the dread blue-stick test and discovers that she's pregnant! And she's not just partially pregnant. She's not just half-pregnant. She actually IS pregnant.

That's what our board of directors here at Savo Island Cooperative Homes needs to understand -- you can't just be half-rehabbed. You actually have to go ahead and give birth. And I have the water leaks running all down my walls from the last rain storm to prove it.

Actually, though, our rehab did go into false labor last August. Our board members met with HUD, some City of Berkeley representatives, our architect, our project manager, our lender, etc., and it was later announced that the rehab was actually going to begin in August of 2010 -- accidentally or on purpose! Whatever. As long as I finally get my roof fixed.

But then lately I've been hearing that some other issues have been come up and it now appears that our rehab's labor contractions have stopped again. Why? Could it be because the board, at this crucial moment, has decided to fire our current management company which is doing such a good job of pushing the rehab along, and to hire another management company instead? This brings the total number of management companies that Savo Island has gone through up to fifteen -- fifteen management companies that our board has either tried to hire but couldn't due to HUD ineligibility; hired only to have the management companies quit; or have been fired by the board. That averages out to a new management company every two years since Savo was first built. That's like changing doctors a whole bunch of times when one is pregnant. And to change management companies again now, at one of the most crucial points in our rehab? That's like firing your doctor while you are in the middle of giving birth.

But our board members claim that none of this delay is their fault. "It's all HUD's fault," they exclaim. Well guess what? That's like our board going around telling everyone, "That's not my baby."

But, actually, this overdue rehab isn't totally our board's fault. It is also the fault of the 57 families who live here, who receive incredible savings on their rents which allow them to live in homes that they could not normally afford, who give nothing back in return, who let this travesty and farce of a rehab go on year after year, who never go to board meetings, who keep re-electing the same ineffective board that apparently keeps allowing the rehab to stall "Accidentally on Purpose," who never run for a seat on the board themselves, who allow the same handful of self-interested board members to stay on the board for ten or fifteen years when all these families have to do is to look out their windows or up at their ceilings in order to see that something at Savo is radically wrong -- and who keep acting like this rehab isn't their baby either.

Elsewhere in the news at Savo Island, our board of directors has had a vacant board seat open now since April but no one on the board (except of course for me) seems to be trying to fill that seat in any hurry. In fact, no one even put this crucial item on last month's agenda. And when I brought the subject up at the last meeting, I was told, "We can't discuss that now! It's not on the agenda!" And did this particular error of omission on the last meeting's agenda happen "Accidentally on Purpose" too?

PS: Here's a video tour of one of the time-and-water damaged areas here at Savo, which will give you an illustration of why we so desperately need this rehab: