I have been reading about the collapse of that Florida apartment building. That tragedy showed me problems apparently embedded in the privilege of self-government: decision-making characteristics seem shared by the volunteers running building co-op boards and the volunteers running municipal governments. Both sets of volunteers feediddle with visible trivia and ignore invisible essentials.
Village volunteer governments put in flower beds and chase out longtime residents with sky-high prices for unwanted, unneeded McMansions. Building boards redecorate the lobby and ignore the failing pipes and compromised structural elements of the building.
They all share hatred of the lone truth-teller, who tries to have them stop the lying and frauds and fix the building instead, or wants them to stop their regulatory boards from rubber-stamping spec builder applications.
I’ve lived in both settings. My glamorous penthouse with the 2,000-square-foot private roof had problems: a social, politically powerful board, greedy lawyers and a managing agent profiting from their ignorance, and shareholders reluctance to pay for a new mortgage or assessment to fix the structural deficiencies of that incredible sinking building, degraded brick walls, crashing roof from leaking building pipes criss-crossing it, water in the basement from building pipes corroding the structural columns.
What did the board do? They sued the sponsor who had a foolproof master contract. They lied to the shareholders, blaming the sponsor, nonexistent underground streams (none shown on the Viele map under that building), and they vilified me because I told the other shareholders the truth: We had to fix the building.
My leaking walls damaged my Davis Cone painting, made the apartment unlivable. Then a broken steam pipe under the 2-inch concrete slab below the fill under my living room floor released asbestos all over my apartment. Fix walls? Fix pipes? Hell no: The board blamed shareholders for problems all over the building.
I moved my possessions out and sued.
The managing agent bribed my lawyers, seriatim, with 10 of his buildings as fast as I hired new lawyers. The defending board included the No. 2 guy in Albany, who was better known to the judge than I. The managing agent was the scion of a well-known family of New York City developers.
My life partner was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the beginning of the trial and succumbed to it in the middle of the trial. I just wanted to jump into his grave after him.
I owned another apartment in the city, and I found solace in honest Southampton Village, where I had bought my property in a safe, local neighborhood in 1984.
Guys, you already know that part of the story.
One fine body…