If you think Congress is tough, try serving on a condo
It’s political season and candidates are telling us about their
valuable education and experience in the military, business and
government, all reasons we should make them our leaders.
But I want someone who was part of a homeowners association.
Not one of those suburban homeowner associations where they gather once
a year to sip wine and congratulate each other on having above-average
children and the same political philosophies.
No, I want someone who has been in the trenches, doing battle in a
condo association where people with competing values duke it out on a
“Raise the monthly fee; invest in the building!” “Cut fees, cut costs!”
“Let dogs live here!” “Ban animals!” “No children, no noise after 8
p.m. No satellite antennas!” “Live and let live!” “We should recycle.”
“This ain’t Woodstock. Go back where you came from!”
Yes, I’m talking about someone who has endured the condo wars of
Florida, great training for honing political skills because the nice
little old lady in Unit 955 actually is meaner and sneakier than your
average terrorist. Also, that polite young man in Unit 1142 apparently
is selling heroin and meth, to judge from the quality of people
visiting him at 3 a.m.
Serving on a homeowner association board is tough duty. A congressman
can hide behind his aides, but life isn’t so sheltered for the person
who is elected or chosen to set rules and establish finances for
buildings full of people.
Get a tough skin or get used to sneaking out of your condo at odd hours
to escape the neighbors — constituents — who want to complain about a
visitor parking his car in the wrong spot or the tattooed woman who
doesn’t make eye contact in the hallway.
Then you have the people who won’t clean up after their dog or who
insist they should be able to bring glass to the pool or keep the sauna
party going until all hours.
A Senate filibuster by Ted Cruz is nothing compared to the monologues
of angry residents at condo board meetings, and there are no special
interest groups to line your pockets at feel-good cocktail parties.
Make a wrong vote at a condo board meeting and you won’t just be voted
out of office. You may have to move elsewhere to escape critics with
Get a few years experience resolving issues like these and then you
will be ready to whip Congress into shape.
is a writer in Pensacola, where he
turns out everything from books to blogs on a wide variety of subjects,
often with a sense of humor. He's socially liberal, fiscally
conservative, which means he doesn't care who you marry, but he wants
government to spend his tax money wisely. Mark moved to Pensacola in
1978 after working for newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire
and for The Associated Press in Vermont and Atlanta. He was a
columnist, reporter and editor for the Pensacola News Journal for 23
years. He also hosted talk shows on radio and television and published
two books, "Pensacola On My Mind" and "Sand In My Shoes." He graduated
from the University of Massachusetts-Boston with a bachelor's degree in
English and from Troy University with a master's degree in counseling.