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Home Forums FAQ’s – Frequently Asked Questions What Happened to the Forum?!!!

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    • #934
      MOWebDev
      Keymaster

        What Happened to the Forum?!!!

        Many of you have asked what happened to the forum. You read our message suggesting that we were under a legal threat from the company that works for us, Association Services, BCS. Well, it’s a bit of an ugly story. But, each and every one of you are legal members of the Woodland Hills HOA, so you deserve to know.

        The short version is we have been accused of both “slander” and “libel” by Tiffany York, the owner of Association Services, BCS. We’ve been told that, from now on, the only communication we will have from them on this topic is through their attorney. Naturally, since the remedy for “slander” and “libel” is a lawsuit, we must expect and prepare for this. Such preparation included the temporary shutdown of the forum and the re-design of its functioning to protect ourselves and the community from potential lawsuits.

        We are very comfortable defending what we have written in court and have confidence that such a lawsuit would yield a favorable result for us. As for the “slander” accusation, we haven’t yet been informed by Association Services, BCS how we have slandered them. All we can say is that we don’t say things that we don’t believe to be true, so we expect to be equally comfortable defending our speech.

        How this all started.

        At this point, you are probably wondering what we wrote that resulted in an accusation of libel. In our last newsletter sent only to the members of this community dated March 29, 2024 we wrote:

        “We started this forum because we felt that information and communication about our community was virtually non-existent. For roughly three years of Covid, the only communication we received were bills for dues. Then the recent election process offered no opportunity for members to get to know the candidates, ask questions, or have public discussions. The only information provided about candidates was a paragraph submitted by the candidate when they first signed up for the election. Rather than shout at the clouds about it, we decided to launch and maintain this community forum at our own expense.”

        The italicized part was sent to us in an email highlighted by Tiffany York, the owner of Association Services, BCS (our management company) to show us the “lies” we were spreading about her company. We explained that this was simply truthful and factual information. At some point, during an hour long phone call, Tiffany claimed that her company was only under contract for billing. Of course this may be true, we don’t have a copy of her contract. But, it doesn’t make our statement false in any way.

        The other passage that was claimed to be a lie was the following paragraph from the same newsletter.

        “It also pleases us to report that the management company has decided to follow our lead and is launching a much needed newsletter. We are disappointed to learn that they are choosing to omit any reference to this forum. But, we are glad that there will now at least be some information mechanism provided to the regular members of the community. The omission of any reference to this forum from the management company makes it clear that this forum is an important tool to provide an independent source of information and communication so, please share the word about our forum to your neighbors.”

        It was asserted that readers would extrapolate from this paragraph that Association Services, BCS had exceeded their authority by deciding for the HOA Board of Directors to omit any reference to the forum in their newsletter. To this, all we can say is “That is not what we wrote.” This passage doesn’t address the particulars of the decision making process at all. It simply acknowledges that the newsletter will be sent out by Association Services, BCS with no reference to the forum.

        We were berated over the phone for an hour by Tiffany York for these “lies”. Still, in the spirit of community harmony, we offered to discuss possible clarifications and even retractions that we could publish to satisfy Association Services, BCS. These offers were disregarded. We have also asked Association Services, BCS, with our Board of Directors cc’d on the email, to make clear their intentions legally so that we may relax our defensive legal stance. Association Services, BCS has declined to reassure us that they have no intention of taking legal action, but instead reiterated their warning about what they view as defamatory and false language. After the forum had been shut down for three weeks as a result of this dispute, we asked again for an email assuring us that we would not be sued for our communication to the community. This request has yielded no response.

        Where we are now.

        This leads us to our current situation of five weeks of down-time for this community resource. We will try to keep you informed as much as possible. If legal action is initiated, we will have to follow our attorney’s guidance on updating the community on our status, so there may be gaps in our updates at some point.

        Of course we view this behavior as outrageous. We believe that whichever management company we choose to employ should treat all members of the community and their views with respect regardless of whether they are on the Board of Directors or not. Every member of the community is the customer of the management company and we pay their bill. It is up to every member to observe the performance of the management company and render criticism if they are so inclined, just as in every other customer/service provider relationship. The suppression of such criticism, particularly by threat of legal action, is entirely incompatible with a healthy community and good communication and should not be tolerated in Woodland Hills.

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