HOA infighting an all-too-familiar
Las Vegas experience

Las Vegas Sun
By J. Patrick Coolican
29 February 2012

At the Casablanca Homeowners Association, a 55-and-older condo community in central Las Vegas, residents are in open combat, with nasty allegations being hurled at the board president.

It’s a situation reminiscent of that “Seinfeld” episode in which Morty Seinfeld is accused of stealing condo association dues to buy a new Cadillac. The episode resonates in some valley homeowners associations because it feels so familiar.

I don’t mean to minimize the real grievances of frustrated residents, only to point out that no matter how advanced we think of ourselves, hostility for our neighbors can boil just beneath the surface. The wall between our civilized and our savage selves can be thin and brittle, and homeowners associations are sometimes capable of chipping away at the wall until there’s little left.

This story begins late last year, a few days after I wrote a column warning readers to pay attention to the actions of their homeowners association because they can be manipulated by unscrupulous board members and property managers or overrun by incompetence. With significant maintenance costs coming and years of revenue shortfalls from the foreclosure crisis, many HOAs face dark days ahead.

a bitter battle for control of the board

Casablanca is mired in a bitter battle for control of the board, with some residents complaining of financial mismanagement and petty corruption.

an unlicensed contractor ... shoddy work

The dissidents say board President Mary Ann Berry hired an unlicensed contractor to do shoddy work all over the community and then referred him to elderly, vulnerable residents who needed work done on their condo units.

four felony charges

The Nevada State Contractors Board filed four felony charges against Gerald R. Shaw III, the contractor, for doing work without a license.

Shaw, who has racked up similar charges in the past, hasn’t turned himself in, and his whereabouts are unknown.

Dissident residents, including board member Phil Mazzilli, say Shaw is responsible for the association getting in trouble with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, costing the HOA $14,800. They say his shoddy work on a pool deck required maintenance soon after its completion. Charlotte Arrowsmith, a Realtor, showed me a condo in the community she was trying to sell for a resident. Shaw’s work was substandard, with cheap kitchen counters and a rough paint job, which was hampering Arrowsmith’s ability to sell the condo.

Much of the animosity started with a proposed cell tower that would have produced significant revenue for the HOA but was opposed by many residents, Berry said in a letter to residents.

Basically, she’s being charged for hiring Shaw

The state contractors board has also issued a criminal citation for Berry to appear in court March 8 “for acting in the capacity of a general contractor without a license.” Basically, she’s being charged for hiring Shaw.

Berry didn’t respond to messages. Her attorneys, Michael Becker and Michael Castillo, sent me a statement: “Mary Ann Berry has dedicated 10 years of her life to voluntarily serving Casablanca Homeowners Association. Unfortunately, the voices of critics are often louder than the voices of appreciation. Ms. Berry maintains her innocence and looks forward to resolving her matter in court.”

An unfair witch hunt of a senior citizen? Perhaps. Given the animosity that clouds the situation, it’s hard to know.

circus-like atmosphere

Jerry Kurelic of Nevada Community Management, a company contracted to help manage the property, explained in a letter to the board why his company didn’t renew its contract. He said he still had the “highest respect for Berry” but had to leave because the “circus-like atmosphere” made working with the association next to impossible.

Kurelic said the cell tower proposal was met with “irrational hostility.” He said board meetings were “almost always disrupted by a very loud and very rude minority.”

He concluded: “Issues that could have been handled internally, in a professional manner, by an informed board acting on advice of counsel and management, had become the subject of anonymous fliers, government investigations and chaotic discontent within the community, which has and will result in a great financial burden borne by the association, and ultimately the owners of Casablanca.”

speculated as to whether the letter was forged

A Berry opponent speculated as to whether the letter was forged.

Kurelic did not respond to messages.

The results of a recent recall election of Berry are in dispute, and the rancor lives on.

Seniors living without power, HOA cites lack of electrical parts
8 News NOW
By Vanessa Murphy
14 September 2016

There's no power, no air conditioning, and no solution in sight for a group of seniors at the Casablanca Condominiums in Las Vegas.  The I-Team's Vanessa Murphy discovered the tenants have been dealing with these issues since a fire on Aug.13.

"No power, no nothing," longtime resident Arlene Christensen said.

For more than a month during the hot summer days, residents in 10 units of the 55 plus living community had to live without air conditioning.

"I kind of thought seniors were special," said Christensen."

Christensen and many residents like her have been displaced because of the issues.

"This is the meter that blew out," said Mary Ann Berry, Board Director for the Casablanca Condominiums.

The Homeowners Association has been scrambling to fix the electrical damage caused by the fire.

A report from Clark County Fire describes smoking, popping, and sparking from an electrical meter.

The Acting President of the Board Bill Brown says while the exact cause of the fire is unknown, the problem with getting the power back on is that equipment needed doesn't exist, and it's all thanks in part to an older building and newer technology.

Vanessa Murphy: "Is the HOA doing everything it can?"
Brown: "Absolutely.  I mean we're just as concerned as the homeowners themselves.  We're just as anxious to get this resolved as soon as possible."

In the meantime, some residents are losing hope.

"I think they have the best intentions in the world, and they're people I like and respect, but I don't think they know what they're doing," Christensen.

While the HOA waits for electrical contractors to find the right parts or present another solution, Christensen describes the lesson she learned while going through the hardship.

"That's tough, and you don't realize psychologically how you miss your home," Christensen said. "We're so spoiled; we take everything for granted."

8 News NOW reached out to NV Energy, the Contractors Board, the Public Utilities Commission and Clark County to try to find any answers. We're still waiting to hear from NV Energy, but the information we did receive from the other groups say this seems to be a problem the HOA will have to figure out with a contractor.

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