Oppression is an extremely heavy word. It’s hard to say and difficult to consider. Predictably, oppression is a good word to use in collaboration with tyranny although one could argue one feeds the other as collateral. Ancient civilizations were a perpetual treadmill of tyranny and oppression masquerading as civilized societies. No matter – what’s done is done. In the present, one would think tyranny and oppression would be so obvious as to be rooted out and confiscated but rather than learning from history, humanity has learned the art of cloaking the obvious in what we now know as good intentions and the common good.
Strata corporations are a new form of common good and good intentions.There is law in the form of legislation with oppressively heavy language meant to confound and confuse the common person but, the intention of the government and its horde of special interest groups is all about being good. Government is, after all, governing because common people exercised their right to vote.Common people as a collective do not generally prefer to question the good intentions of campaigning politicians who may be their good neighbours. Good neighbours run for strata governance with good intentions as well.
Human nature being human nature always finds a way to serve itself. A species so attached to community can always surprise when it digresses to egocentricity-especially when cloaked as good intention for the common good. There is always one person within a group clever enough to seize an opportunity and manipulate the common good and good intention for personal gain.
Strata corporations must have an elected body to administer its business, not a personal group fostering meek acquiescence as an abdication of responsibility. It is always those owners with their necks buried the deepest in sand that – with the best of intentions -create opportunity for a subtle form of oppression.
Here’s a scenario to consider: A bareland strata,an owner developer’s spouse,a majority of absent owners and a minority of resident owners all of whom- with good intentions- contravene the strata property act for convenience and enable a miscarriage of equitable process. How could that happen? Well, the common good takes an active role in introducing good intentions to the cloak of oppression strata style.
This cloak, by the way, is really comfortable. It uses all the right materials and it is nice to look at so it doesn’t offend any person. Subtle.
Failure of good neighbours to embrace common good occurs when apathy and lack of education collaborate encouraging a cloaked person to take charge. What are the steps?
1) First, be willing to take on the burden of every task required to administer the asset. Stay quiet just do it. Soon, the elected council will come to expect one particular person to do the work – “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. To assist even more, that one person is married to the developer of the strata and helps out there.Nothing like a false sense of security and authority.
2) Second, ensure all strata documentation and communication is directed to the personal address of that one person. This little action ensures control of information – information is power.
3)Suggest proxies for owner votes be directed to specific people so issues meant to be determined by the community can also be controlled.
4) Suggest a paid non-council council position for a price less than the cost of property management but enough to acknowledge the “huge” effort of managing a bare land strata. Sometimes a little fear of loss will make lazy owners act in what they perceive to be their own and not someone else’s interests).
5)Avoid writing a resolution and putting the option and alternatives to the corporation and instead, increase the budget, call it bookkeeping, and fail to provide the owners with other quotes while at the same time allowing owners to believe that in addition to bookkeeping for pay you are also doing the volunteer work of secretary treasurer but not officially being a council member.Don’t share there is an agreement—bury that in files oh and don’t sign it either! Once there is a nice warm feeling of good service oppression is ready to strike – subtle being the backhand attack.
Every year people at the annual general meeting just assume this person is on council. This person is not elected but neither does the council, once elected by the owners, choose from among themselves a Secretary or a Treasurer because the bookkeeper does it. No one questions it. No one wonders how a paid person collecting a tidy sum for minimal effort can carry proxies and write an agreement for pay and responsibility and be the go-to person for the strata corporation. Take a good long look at the beautiful cloak. It is starting to show some wear and tear. Why?
When a person assumes a position of authority outside of the law, slowly but surely, the warmth of good intentions become less insular. Despite protection patches, the subtle aspects of the cloak start to unravel and some owners begin to feel like due process has not been part of common good and good intentions. As a matter of fact that cloak is starting to look less appealing….like something that needs a good clean.Problem is, no one wants to wash the damn cloak because – well – they didn’t dirty the thing because they didn’t wear it. Why don’t we just agree to have the person who wore it clean it?
Subsequently, all those owners who admired the cloak when it was perfect, can see that it needs some effort but decide their energy is better spent putting their heads back into the comfort of their sand pile. They don’t want to hurt any feelings and they certainly don’t want the dirtier aspects of that cloak to find them. So the ragged cloak gets a new life……unless one person offers to take that cloak to the cleaners in a voice everyone can hear.
Suddenly,sand shakes out of eyes and ears and those owners gather to protect and defend the status quo against that one damn voice demanding laundry effort.With courage but assertively one owner explains to the group in common (sand in their mouths so they mumble in muffled tones):
“Good intentions and the common good are no longer part of the weave of this cloak. Look, look and see what is underneath….There is not much to see but self-serving nakedness.We have not served ourselves. We are oppressed by our own ignorance. We are oppressed by abdicating our power. We are struck by sharper intentions and a singular goal. We need to work together,and volunteer our skills and talents for each other. One person cannot be more important than another.”
And there lies the crux of the whole matter. A bareland strata does not require a paid strata council because that is ludicrous.Most bare land strata have few common expenses. One strata position cannot receive remuneration at the expense of the other positions. It has to be all or nothing. A paid strata council requires a vote and a bylaw. A strata council that is paid may not serve a corporation with good intentions or the common good because money is money and greed is greed.Owners fighting over one another for a paid role on council may not serve the best interests of the corporation. Council needs new perspective and new energy on a regular basis. Everyone should participate and learn how to serve the common good with good intentions unsullied by a paycheque…..especially when it is money for nothing and carried because the payee manipulated the process right down to the votes.
Oppression and tyranny cannot have a place in humanity or in microcosm, a strata corporation. They degrade and diminish, belittle and bully and although outward appearances have become far more subtle over the centuries, people have to be diligent and confront and clean them out for the common good and with good intentions. No one wants to deal with a sand-flea infestation right?