| Filed under

Petition

John T. Weatherford unfurls the names on his cable TV petition with RMA Director Mel Standart.

Neighbor John T. Weatherford staged a dramatic presentation on the steps of the Rancho Murieta Association Building Wednesday morning for a petition requesting the RMA board to make basic cable TV service optional for members.

Weatherford said the petition circulated by the Committee for Freedom of Choice collected signatures representing 538 households -- 23 percent of the community. Basic cable is part of monthly RMA dues paid by property owners on a per-lot basis.

Weatherford unfurled a 16-foot roll of paper printed with the names of petition signers before he gave the actual petition to RMA Director Mel Standart, secretary of the board. Standart said he was accepting the petition in his capacity as an officer of the association. He added that the president or vice president is also authorized to accept a petition from the membership.

At the September board meeting, Standart commented he was personally in favor of shutting down or selling the cable system. On Wednesday, Standart emphasized that he had no involvement with the petition, and noted he prefaced his comments as "on a personal note" at the September board meeting.

A letter from the committee submitted along with the petition asks the board to “recognize that the membership is entitled to a say in the direction of the cable system,” and proposes adding the petition statement to the November ballot as “an advisory ballot question,” with check boxes provided for “Yes, I agree” and “No, I don’t agree. Keep it mandatory.”

According to the letter, the petition signatures represent “several times the 116 (5 percent) membership signatures which are required for a vote of the membership to amend the bylaws … or to require a special election …”

Standart said the next step in the process is to verify that the signatures meet the 5 percent requirement. This will be done by RMA staff, he said. After verification, the matter would go before the board for discussion and to determine whether it will become an advisory ballot measure, Standart said.


Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Why make it advisory?

Why make it advisory?  If the RMA puts it to a vote of the membership, then the vote stands and the Association should respond in kind.  There is no precedent for an "advisory" vote!  Lets stop wasting the Associations time, funds and energy.  I am confident the membership will vote to make it optional at which time the Board must take immediate action to stop charging the membership.  The rest will take care of itself.

 

Another Urban Legend I have heard is that some people have been told that if the Cable goes away, the dues will increase.  Anyone spouting this information is not representing the facts.  What the Board and Committee should be focusing on right now, it to separate all the true costs the RMA incurs to keep this system running.  The costs should include time spent by the GM (Greg Vorster said he spent half of his time on the Cable so lets adjust the GM's salary), Administration (billing, handling customer complaints, scheduling repairs, contract administration, etc.), RMA direct labour (including the general maintenance staff), contracts (Justin's cost), vehicles, service agreements, etc.  All of these costs need to be reduced or go away.  My rough estimation is that this should reflect a dues reduction in the neighborhood of 45%.  But they have to include all the costs and not hide them.

 

Michael F. Burnett

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

Are there consequences to this "Opting Out"?

Are there consequences to this "Opting Out" that aren't being talked about?

 

Truthfully, I don't know what's the right thing to do here. Freedom of choice is a good thing but we also need to realize what could happen if the cable system becomes an option to homeowners vs. mandatory. We moved here in 2001 knowing that the cable fees were included in our homeowners dues. Yes, while the cable isn't the greatest and we finally did switch to Directv three years ago, we just prefer to look at the homeowners dues as one package that happens to include cable.

 

So some questions have come to mind. Say no other company decides to come in and buy the rights to the cable system. What will happen to the existing cable? Will it be maintained by RMA and the residents who elect to stay with it? What about the residents who feel they can't afford satellite services? Will they now be left with nothing? What if company does come in and purchases the cable system from RMA and their condition is that every resident must subscribe to their system and their fees and they are higher than we have now? Are we going to be in the same boat we are in now but with better quality services? And if we wish to keep our Dish and/or Directv we will then have to also pay for the new provider.

John T. Weatherford's picture
Joined: 08/06/2007
Posts: 66
Post rating: 0

Freedom of Choice

Beth, first off, if another provider comes in they will not have the power to make everyone subscribe. That’s what freedom of choice is.  No one makes anyone subscribe to Dish or DirecTV. The village put in DirecTV a couple of years ago, after the RMA failed to make the necessary repairs to the system, and they all have the option of subscribing or not. Incidentally the RMA by not repairing and supplying the Village with adequate TV gave up over $60,000 per year in revenue, not to mention that it was also a violation of the Cable Agreement.

The only reason RMA is continuing this fiasco is they think somehow they can make a profit. (Please reread the last sentence above) Will someone explain to me how you can make a profit when you are forcing almost 2,400 members to pay in almost $30.00 per month? My opinion is if they want to run a profit generating business than do it the old fashioned way, make a product that folks are willing to pay for, not forced to. There is absolutely nothing in the CC&R’s or By-Laws that mandate Cable TV or the mandatory dues to operate it.

For the last 6 years or so the amount of your dues that is devoted to the cable TV has been increasing and there is no evidence that that trend is going away. So there is no guarantee that our cable system won’t be the one with the highest price when the dust settles. Just because it is currently packed into the dues it is not free. It appears you have made your choice by going with a satellite company.

The idea of this petition is to find out whether or not there is any support for the current system. 23% of the rooftops want this on the ballot, now!

John T Weatherford

Steve Anderson's picture
Joined: 10/03/2007
Posts: 43
Post rating: 39

Thank You John!

I want to personally thank John Weatherford for starting this petition. It has been long overdue. With 23% of community in favor of this change, it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Thank You John!  

 

 

 

 

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

Cable Service Background

Here are some key points to think of when discussing the Cable Television Service.

  1. RMA CC&R’s
    1. The CC&R’s do not support the Cable Agreement of the Service as an asset.  I would challenge anyone to read thru the CC&R’s and find somewhere where the governing documents gives the RMA rights to manage this service.
    2. RMA is managing this service outside of the RMA CID.  This is in direct violation of the CC&R’s.
    3. In order for the RMA to take over this service, they would have had to out the measure to a vote.  I have never seen where this occurred.
    4. The funds for the Cable Service are to be used for the maintenance and upkeep and nothing else.  RMA has failed to keep these funds separate and commingles them with other RMA business.  Where does the CC&R’s give them this right?
    5. This service is for the “entire CSD Serving area”, how does this language fit into our governing documents and where does the governing documents give them this right?
  2. Television Agreement
    1. The Cable Television Agreement is a must read for anyone to understand how the RMA is supposed to be managing this service and under what authority.
    2. The agreement specifically states that the RMA is managing the service for the “entire CSD serving area”.  They are supposed to provide equal service and management to all subscribers, yet they failed at this with the Villages.
    3. The agreement also states what the Management Agency (RMA) must do if anyone of the CID’s complains that they are not providing services fairly.  The Villages did this and the RMA did not divulge this information to the membership.  Subsequently, the Villages opted to start their own service. 
    4. RMA has failed the Cable Television Agreement many times over the years.  They refer to it as their mandate, yet have also said the agreement is no longer valid.  RMA can’t have it both ways.   
  3. Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission (SMCTC)
    1. The SMCTC was established in Sacramento County to regulate cable service providers for a number of reasons and to allow subscribers an alternate avenue to voice their concerns when they are not being treated fairly.   http://www.sacmetrocable.tv/cable-complaints.html
    2. “The Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission is a joint powers agency representing seven member jurisdictions: the County of Sacramento, City of Sacramento, City of Citrus Heights, City of Elk Grove, City of Rancho Cordova, City of Folsom, and the City of Galt. The power and authority of the Commission is vested with a Board of Directors which currently consists of eleven Board members.”  Five of which are the members on the County Board of Supervisors.
    3. I had investigated this avenue back when I was on the Board and received push back since the SMCTC informed me that they had turned over their authority to the RM Community Services District.  This means that the RMCSD is supposed to be providing the same level of service as that of the SMCTC.  Has anyone heard of complaining to the RMCSD with your cable concerns?

When I was on the Board of Directors there were a number of controversial issues we were dealing with.  Anyone of them by themselves would have more stress than the average person would want to deal with.  However, the management of the Cable Television Service was the proverbial “straw that broke the camels back”.  There wasn’t any facet of the Cable Service operations, funding, and management that was being done properly.  It was literally a shambles. 

I tried to get the RMCSD to step up to the plate and take the service over as they had been granted the authority to do so by the SMCTC, but they wouldn’t even discuss the issue. 

The RMA needs to get back to their core function of focusing on the Association.  Managing this service is an ongoing failure that has only been allowed to continue by the RMA levying taxes in the form of dues on its members to fund this operation.  Its usefulness is long outlived, let’s stop the hemorrhaging.

 

Your comments