The Privacy Act was well- intentioned. Really. I respect it- obviously.
Despite my distaste for the antics in my swamp, there are better ways to educate and and argue points than abusing personal and sensitive information. There must be a wall of protection in this age of social media on the information highway-for sure!The problem with the Privacy Act is and always will be the multitude of ways it can be misinterpreted.
In my swamp the council members hide behind very literal translations of the Privacy Act because doing so affords them …privacy from inquiring minds. For example: My swamp council uses the strata council minutes to toot their own horns. True, minutes are supposed to inform the corporation of actions taken by the Council on behalf of all owners….you know, how well Council is maintaining the Common Property and respecting/enforcing the bylaws. But the difference is our group of “spindoctors” answer some individual owner issues by advising the rest of us how unilateral decisions were made that benefit individual owners. Those of us with questions, complaints and concerns with the management and the Council are relegated to the pile of a)discussion at the next strata council meeting or b) stall by having the corporate attorney deal with it.
Decisions and actions the Council makes as a result of issues between owners is a slippery slope. When those issues are between individual owners and individual council members, it’s a sheet of black ice. In my swamp a complaint against the Strata Council is ignored if I make it; however, the minutes always indicate one owner(me) poses such a burden to the good intentions of the Council that legal advice has to be sought – again. As readers know, the legal boondoggle takes months and affords the Council another dodge from accountability.
What my swamp leaders do is campaign. How do they do it? They cater to the individual wish lists of owners and seize every opportunity to smear owners who would prefer Council comply with bylaws. It feels like a Tea Party in the swamp!!! Council, of course advises they base all their actions on a complaint but the specifics of the complaint are protected by the Privacy Act. When Council co-opts the property management in their flagrant abuse of authority – well, let’s just say that’s a pretty large and murky moat for one swamp dweller to navigate.
Here’s how the Council in my swamp functions. The greenthumb omnipotent suggests something and slyly sells the benefits to her core supporters. She does this at her impromptu gatherings or while she’s out smoking her ciggies and obsessively sweeping her dead greenery.She is such a stereotypical bully that owners listen to her as though she were a consummate orator when in fact she is really just an aggressive forked tongue manipulator who plunges into decisions without thought.
When her Council and property management are asked for disclosure through documents she misplaces things and no one else in the swamp or management appear bothered by the disorganization. Property management claims they are too busy to black out individual owner names or sensitive information the Privacy Act does protect. Lawyers boondoggle by intimating that requests for documentation allowed through the Strata Property Act are “private”.
The question that needles me of course is this: Private from whom? How is a request for specific budget expenditures “private”? A question regarding a particular owner’s financials is of course not my business. If an owner is having hardship and works out an arrangement with Council well that is none of my business specifically. Council takes steps to ensure the corporation will eventually collect any outstanding monies – unless of course you are a council member in my swamp who owes fees. Owners get lien notices but council members get the honour system.
Issues between owners are also protected by the Privacy Act but even so, if permission is granted by owners to share their information, Council cannot with hold it. Any documents sent out on my behalf as an owner I have a right to see. Names and unit numbers etc need to be blacked out. Again this appears to put property management in a position where it might have to earn its money and expend some effort beyond cashing cheques.
If an owner gets permission to alter Common Property I pay to maintain I have a right to see what kind of promises are being made to some owners. Oftentimes, especially in my swamp, Council does things outside of the bylaws and the Strata Property Act regarding Common Property and then they hide behind the Privacy Act in order to avoid disclosure.
What’s interesting is how famous swamp gatherings are held with people not on Council and my “private” information is shared and discussed with owners and spouses so my reputation can be pitchforked and perceptions fabricated to suit Council’s need to control completely. Requests to have my file purged are ignored.
So, I keep writing and pointing out Council’s growing ineptitude. You’d think by now these people would learn from their mistakes despite refusing to take responsibility for any of them. You’d think that constant written requests and concerns I fire at them would make them a better Council. Nope. You’d think some other swamp dwellers would start scratching their heads and questioning some of Council’s more ridiculous actions…….ignoring an outstanding debt doesn’t make it go away it just allows it to get bigger.
Privacy Act is indeed well-intentioned but in my swamp it’s a tool to keep owners out of the loop, Council and its property management unaccountable and lawyers running up tabs. The swamp is smelling more and more like a cesspool ….