Tuesday, June 8, 2010

El Presidente

Once again, I've decided to take on the role of President of the condo board where my parents live.

Last year was my first try at this impressive-sounding (but thankless) position. Our condo board (as it exists) is what is called "self-managed." This means it has farmed out the tasks of bookkeeping, groundskeeping, errand-running and common area cleaning to different parties (all of whom need to be poked and prodded to keep in motion), with the frustrating tasks of condo fee processing left to whomever is on the board.

When I signed up last year, I was keen to learn all about 'managing' a condo, and what an experience it has been. Two other condo owners volunteered to be on the board (with me as president), then promptly disappeared when it was time to do any work. These two both moved out of town and rented out their units, leaving me to deal with little problems like:
  • water pipes leaking between two condos and causing water damage that has to be fixed. They both point to the other (and the building, because it is supposed to take care of common property), leaving the board to arbitrate who should pay for repairs,
  • a (heating) boiler failure at the end of November, going into the coldest stretch of winter, with half of the condo association wanting to upgrade the boiler and half not wanting to go to the time and expense but wanting multiple estimates before proceeding with fixing the problem
  • a garage that is structurally unsound, with some tenants that want to build a carport with rooftop garden (not surprisingly, ones on the second floor who would benefit most from it -not the poor schmoes who would then have their garden view turned into the equivalent of a basement window well) and HOBOS living in the present garage, butting out their cigarettes in the wall insulation
  • a bevvy of other projects that need to be done to upkeep this 90 year old heritage-designated building

As a newbie to the condo board, I had no idea what I was allowed to do and what I shouldn't do. I knew that I needed to pay bills and collect condo fees, but that's where my knowledge (and perceived authority) ended. I stepped gingerly for a year, was criticized by others and thought for sure there would be a coup d'tat (or at least some of my critics would quickly step up to take the reins away from such an imbecilic President at the next Annual General Meeting).

Guess what? When the AGM was called, I got very little affirmative RSVPs. Then, the day before the AGM, in flooded a bunch of proxy votes entrusted to ... ME! Out of 12 owners, only three showed up for the meeting (although I didn't need them there - I had enough proxies to be a quorum all by myself). It was a disappointing turnout, but a message had been sent.

Apathy, laziness and lack of willing to step up and do things their way has given me a clear mandate - they don't care what I do. I plan on getting a lot done this year, and I'll do whatever the hell I please.

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