HOAs can be heartless…

Fifteen year old Collin Clabaugh has had a rough time of things lately. In late December 2018, at 14 years old, he was forced to move from his home in California to his grandparents’ home in Prescott, Arizona. His mother was very ill and hospitalized and his father was busy trying to take care of her. Then, in February of 2019, Collin’s mom, Bonnie, succumbed to organ failure due to medications she was taking. Two weeks after that, Collin’s father, Clay, killed himself. He couldn’t bear to go on without his wife. Collin has been living with his grandmother, Melodie Passmore, and her husband, Randy, at The Gardens at Willow Creek ever since.

Now, Collin and his grandmother are the subject of worldwide news coverage because the members of the homeowner’s association at The Gardens at Willow Creek have demanded that Collin move out by June 30, 2020. Why? Because Collin is under 19, the minimum age to reside in the senior living community where his grandparents had bought their home four years ago. The Gardens at Willow Creek is an age restricted community for people over age 55. Someone complained about Collin’s presence, prompting the HOA board to send Mrs. Passmore a strongly worded legal letter.

I dunno… sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

I hosted a lively Facebook discussion about this situation yesterday. A couple of people pointed out that legal documents must have teeth, otherwise they can be violated. I fully appreciate that point, although I also think there are extraordinary situations in which rules should be bent. Personally, I think a teenager who has nowhere else to go other than foster care after losing both parents to early death is in an extraordinary situation. There’s no way the Passmores could have foreseen that their grandson would be orphaned when they purchased their home. According to Mrs. Passmore’s Facebook post about this incident, they bought there because they could afford the house and liked it, not because they necessarily cared about living in a childfree community.

I did read in an article yesterday, that thanks to all of the furore over this situation, the HOA seems to want to try to reach a workable solution with the Passmores. I hope they do come to a resolution, since moving would be a true hardship for this family. The Passmores are in their 70s and no doubt expected that this would be the last home they’d ever need to buy. They’ve also spent a lot of money fixing up their home to their liking. Unfortunately, I suspect they’ll end up having to move, but maybe they’ll find a better place with conditions they can live with. Sometimes moving to a new home can be a blessing. It certainly has been for us on multiple occasions.

I hope that when Bill and I finally end our global adventures, we are able to buy a home in a rural area without having to deal with a homeowner’s association full of busybodies. I do understand why some people like them. They want to make sure their neighbors have to respect their rights and can’t do things that affect property values. But why purchase a home if you have a group of people telling you who can live there, how many pets you can have, what you can grow in your yard, and what color you can paint the shutters? If you don’t obey the covenants, which are sometimes enforced in an arbitrary manner, you can end up getting fined, in legal trouble, or even find yourself in foreclosure. In that situation, I would rather rent. That way, if the HOA or the landlord get too uppity, intrusive, or controlling, moving is much easier to do.

Of course, there are downsides to not living with a HOA. You might have neighbors who have no respect for other people and tell you to fuck off when you ask them to turn down their music or quit putting their dilapidated cars on cinder blocks in the front yard. But then, a lot of times, you can call the police if the neighbors are violating the law. I think Bill and I were happiest with our living situations when we were in homes that were out in the country. Neighbors were some distance away, and we had lots of trees around us for privacy. In Georgia, we lived in a house way back in the woods. In the summer, we couldn’t even see our neighbors’ houses. The only people who ever rang our doorbell were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our house in North Carolina was somewhat similar, in that it was rural and quiet, although the neighbors were closer. My idea of hell is living in a subdivision with zero lots… or in a condo or apartment where I have to share walls with three or four other families. I hope we never have to live that way again, although I would never say “never”.

I don’t know where we’ll be going after we’re done in Wiesbaden, but I hope it’s a place where people have hearts that still beat. Anyway, I wish Mrs. Passmore and her grandson, Collin, luck. Hopefully, they have a sharp lawyer who can help them out with this problem. Barring that, I hope their house sells quickly and they can move somewhere where people aren’t so compassion challenged.

celebrities, law

Grasping at straws…

Ever heard this expression? It came up this morning over breakfast. Bill and I were talking about a recent news story and he said, “I think those people are ‘grasping at straws’, trying to save themselves.”

I thought about that for a moment, then decided to look up the etymology of where that phrase came from. It turns out the expression “grasping at straws” has a number of claimed sources ranging from works published in the 1300s until the 1700s. Prior to the mid 1800s, we didn’t “clutch” at straws or “grasp” at straws. Instead, we’d “catch” at straws.

“Grasping at straws” refers to a person who is drowning and grasping at anything, including flimsy reeds, to try to rescue him or herself. It’s generally inferred that a person who is “grasping at straws” is acting in desperation and futility and will be unable to save his or herself from destruction. Below is a video prepared by an erudite British gentleman who describes what “grasping at straws” means.

Telling us how it is…

I think of Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, both of whom are currently in legal hot water because they’ve been accused of money laundering and fraud. Unlike other people involved in the so-called “Varsity Blues” case, Loughlin and Giannulli elected not to make a deal with prosecutors. They decided they didn’t want to make a deal because they were certain they would be able to convince a jury of their innocence. Lori Loughlin, after all, memorably played the ever perky “Aunt Becky” on Full House and Fuller House for years. She’s made a lot of money playing sweet, wholesome, girl next door types. It’s hard to conceive of her as a criminal.

Making a deal with the prosecutors meant Loughlin and her husband would almost definitely have to go to jail. It might have only been for a short time, given their somewhat clean legal histories. But, because they couldn’t bear the idea of going to jail, Loughlin and Giannulli have decided to take their chances with a jury trial. Now, it appears that they could do some hard time. Their situation may soon become desperate and they might now be “grasping at straws” to try to save themselves from prison.

Naturally, Hollywood has also taken an interest in this case. A made for TV movie is planned for the Lifetime network about “Varsity Blues”. I’m not surprised this is happening, given that another high profile star, Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives fame, is also involved in the scandal. It’s perfect fodder for the “television for women” network. Huffman and Loughlin won’t be playing themselves, though, because there’s a chance one or both of them might be behind bars.

When I think of someone who is about to become very desperate, Lori Loughlin and her husband both come to mind. While I don’t condone what they did, I do have some compassion for their situation. I’m sure being in an A list crowd like theirs is makes them believe that their daughters can’t succeed unless they go to an A list school like the University of Southern California. Loughlin has claimed it’s what any “caring mom” would do for her child, given the means. Huffman, on the other hand, was smart enough to see the writing on the wall, admit guilt, and take a deal.

Actually, I think caring moms would encourage their children to succeed on their own and make their own way. Loughin and Giannulli have two gorgeous daughters who were already succeeding in creating brands for themselves. Olivia Jade Giannulli has been particularly successful in her ad campaigns with major brands, although she’s lost business since her parents got caught in the scandal. One could argue that they didn’t even need to go to college. Olivia Jade has outright said she doesn’t care about school and is mainly there to appease her parents, who didn’t have the opportunity to go to college.

“I don’t really care about school.”

It’s tragic to me that this very beautiful young woman who already has a career was taking a coveted spot at a top university that a truly deserving student could have had. She doesn’t care about school, so she should drop out and let someone else take her place. I feel kind of sad for her, personally, too. It’s likely her parents are about to go to the big house, and they could be there for a very long time. That is sure to be a source of embarrassment and humiliation for her, especially since going to the university was her parents’ dream, not Olivia’s.

People tend to grasp at straws when they are faced with certain disaster. They look for anything and everything that might work to help them get out of whatever fine mess they’ve gotten themselves into. The vast majority of the time, grasping at straws is ineffective and leads to a swift drowning by the facts. It’s usually better to just face the music and work toward settling issues, rather than conjuring up harebrained schemes that aren’t likely to work. Lori Loughlin and her husband probably should have just bitten the bullet and taken a deal. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe this situation will end like O.J. Simpson’s first trial did. Maybe they’ll get away with bribing an official to get their daughters into prestigious USC. Maybe they’ll just get a slap on the wrist. But the odds are, this is not going to be pretty for them… and grasping at straws is going to get them nowhere.