Saturday, August 23, 2008

IN THE FACE OF ARROGANCE AND STUPIDITY - REASON

Much to the chagrin of many of her great citizenry, Frisco, Texas has once again hit the national news and for reasons that conjure up memories of the 2006 debacle that involved Sydney McGee the once teacher from Fisher Elementary School in Frisco.

Veteran art teacher McGee who taught in Texas school districts for 28 years arranged and secured approval for an April, 2006 field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Apparently one of those 89 fifth-graders while in the museum and on their way to their exhibition happened to see in passing what was characterized as an “abstract nude" and later correctly identified as a Greek funerary relief from 4 BCE depicting a nude male torso in marble. Should we note that the field trip was accompanied by twelve parents?

Well, we all know what happened from that point. One parent (not in attendance) later complained and all of a sudden performance issues miraculously surfaced all culminating with the suspension and ultimate termination of McGee. The school district in an ultimate deflection states they didn’t fire her, they just didn’t renew her contract.

Now there is no doubt that this whole issue was handled very badly by Frisco ISD who embarrassed themselves, their community and the State of Texas. Though we will probably never know the real truth about all the issues it sure appears to be a matter of convenience and timing invoking the three versions of any story – theirs, mine and the real truth. If McGee was such a bad teacher why was she allowed to teach for 28 years? If McGee was such a bad teacher why did McKinney ISD provide her with a favorable performance review? I agree that if teachers fail to perform they should be given counseling and the necessary tools to do the job and that failing, held ultimately accountable for that failure.

I will concede at least that and hope that all parties would have learned that mutual respect, honesty, effective communications and fairness are four principles, which if invoked, might have prevented this tragedy.

Ultimately, Frisco, Texas and their ISD were held up to the ridicule of not just a nation, but the world and you would think someone would have noticed and learned.

Now comes Stonebriar the exclusive gated community of, yes, Frisco, Texas who through the Stonebriar Home Owners Association (HOA) told resident Jim Greenwood that he couldn’t park his Ford 150 pickup truck in his driveway overnight. They cited Jim three times for violating a subdivision rule that prohibited, “pickup trucks in your driveway."

Several of my Friends (with me close behind) immediately assumed that Greenwood’s truck was perhaps a junker and eyesore that my own City of Richardson would gloriously (to great applause) pull off the streets. Not so, the F-150 is a good looking 2007 model – I've seen the photos.

Well, we soon found out through an inquisitive media that Stonebriar HOA board members had changed their own rules, making exceptions for several luxury pick-up trucks, to include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline and the Lincoln Mark LT.

Jim, and not defiantly so, petitioned the Stonebriar HOA board for a review of that policy. Local Dallas television station WFAA noted the response of Bill Osborn, chairman of the Stonebriar HOA board, who stated they also prohibit boats, trailers, golf carts and RVs in driveways. But Osborn didn’t stop there, "The high-end vehicles that are allowed are plush with amenities and covers on the back. It doesn't look like a pickup. It's fancier." When reminded that the Lincoln Mark LT was just a dressed up version of the Ford 150, Osborn is reputed to have responded, 'It's our belief that Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” With that statement Mr. Osborn waded into Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and The Mere of Dead Faces.

Greenwood who continues his petition with the Stonebriar HOA and is now compliantly parking his Ford inside his garage (I would at least leave the door open) has communicated that, "Furthermore, one board member told my wife, that if we don't like it, we can move."

Now, I need to ask why Jim didn’t read the fine print of what appears to be incredibly restrictive covenants. Having said that how many of us take the gazillion hours to do that trusting to the good faith of our hosts? Remember your last closing?

The tragedy here is the arrogance, snobbery and the absolute stupidity of allowing and then enforcing this kind of covenant. HOA’s have brought such incredible negative attention to themselves because of this kind of onerous hedonism. The state legislature here in Texas and others around the country are now considering action to severely limit the power of HOAs because of activities like this.

Now the really interesting twist here is that our Mr. Greenwood just happens to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Concentra, one of the largest health care companies in the United States. The significance of the disagreement with some of his neighbors is the mature and classy way that he has handled the situation. Jim thought to share some of his thoughts on the Concentra web site at (http://www.concentra.com/Newsroom/).

“As the CEO of a major health care company, I’m sometimes quoted in interviews, press releases, and other communications. But I’m currently at the center of a media story that’s unrelated to my position at Concentra. And yet, in the way that separate things can be somehow related, I see some interesting connection points between the two. And that’s what I’ve chosen as the subject of my first blog.

In short, members of my homeowners’ association maintain that our 2007 Ford pickup is not classy enough for our neighborhood and needs to be parked in our garage. When I pointed out that the F-150 is practically identical to a Lincoln Mark LT, which is one of five trucks allowed by the ordinance, the response was that “Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” To me, this position is not only unreasonable but disrespectful to people who make the vehicle in our driveway.

Here are the connection points. The company I help lead serves the country’s major automakers and their employees; in fact, we see close to 30,000 patients every day, most of whom are working men and women. These people help make America great, and they deserve respect and care. When we were developing Concentra’s new mission, vision, and value statements early this year, we felt it was critically important to bring respectful care and customer service back to health care. Our vision is to “redefine patient care by treating individuals to a welcoming, respectful, and skillful experience.” Regardless of the zip code they live in, the vehicle they drive, or the clothes they wear.

My company is also concerned about the health crisis in America: the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions is rising at an alarming rate. Working Americans are at the center of this crisis, and we think they deserve access to quality, affordable health care options. We’re working hard to develop a wide range of health and wellness services that are available at the workplace, online, and near people’s homes. These include biometric testing, health coaching, weight loss and smoking cessation classes, urgent care, and many others. I think everyone would agree that the health care system has both problems and potential, and we want to harness that potential to make a real difference in people’s lives.

I think this story about me and my truck resonates with people because it points to the basic values of reasonableness, fairness, and respect. But no matter how my personal situation is resolved, Concentra and I will continue working tirelessly to achieve our mission: improving America’s health, one patient at a time.”

Well stated. Sounds like a company I want to do business with…

Some feel that Jim in his spare time should run for the Stonebriar HOA and affect some positive reform and insure that a better class of people will work for the best interests of all in the community.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

2 comments:

Pick Up Trucks said...

Bravo to Jim Greenwood, and I hope that he wins his appeal against a truly snobbish association rule.

Anonymous said...

I am an HOA President here in California. I accepted this position with the goal to ensure that everyone is treated equally. In order to ensure harmony, you need to instill unity.

Even though some of the homes are rentals, I include the tenants in the ongoings of the HOA as how decisions might affect them. Something the actual owner's do not do.

Once you begin to seperate your community with an "us and them mentality," you lose focus of your position on the Board and the people you serve.

Not to mention, the start of a downfall of a seemingly otherwise functional HOA by risking the loss of its reserve funds as a result of discriminatory lawsuits of which this is clearly one.