Board of Directors tries to suppress freedom of speech in Shavano Ridge
Once again, the Shavano
Ridge Board of Directors have attempted to drag our community one giant step
closer to a totalitarian dictatorship by claiming that homeowners in Shavano
Ridge have no right to exercise their first amendment rights to express
Most of you know that one
of our residents, Lih-Lan Hu, is running for a position on the Shavano Ridge
Board of Directors. Last Sunday and Monday, Lih-Lan distributed flyers
throughout the neighborhood asking that residents consider her candidacy this
Tuesday. The following day she received a notice from the management company by
special courier stating that her flyer violates the neighborhood’s no
soliciting policy as outlined in the By-laws and the CC&Rs.
covenants prohibit solicitation of any type within the subdivision.”
Shavano Ridge association manager
An examination was made of
both documents and no reference could be found in either that would substantiate
this claim. The association manager was asked three times to point out where such
information could be found in these documents, but she has not responded to
these requests. A little further investigation reveled that our association
manager’s claims were in direct opposition the United States Supreme Court
“…ordinances that prohibit door-to-door
peddling or solicitation without distinguishing between commercial and
noncommercial endeavors have been ruled unconstitutional when they prohibit
religious or noncommercial door-to-door solicitation. The Court held that the
ordinance violated the First Amendment as it applied to religious proselytizing,
anonymous political speech, and the distribution of handbills.” Watchtower
Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 00-1737).
U.S. Supreme Court, June 17, 2002
The definition of
soliciting is simply the act of asking for something. It could be an opinion,
the time of day, a favor, a thought, or some material possession. In this case,
Lih-Lan asked that you consider her on election day. She did this in the most
unobtrusive manner possible: leaving a flyer on the doorstep for homeowners to
consider at their leisure. Campaigning for office is a practice dating back to
the beginning of recorded time and a cherished tradition in this country.
The Board of Directors, in
an absolutely astounding display of perceived entitlement and duplicity, have
been using the direct solicitation approach for 13 years. They went house to
house, knocking on doors and asking for proxy ballots—they were soliciting.
Evidently, the Board seems to believe this ban on soliciting only applies to
homeowners who don’t support them. It is interesting to note, with this
practice of collecting proxy ballots as pervasive as is has been in this
community, that the association manager claims she has no knowledge of board
members going door-to-door soliciting for proxy ballots.
the best of my knowledge, the Board of Directors or members of such have not
been attempting to solicit to obtain proxies.” Shavano
Ridge association manager
Readers should judge for
themselves, based on their own experience, whether that statement suggests a
serious lapse of honesty and integrity exists within the Shavano Ridge
What is really at issue
here is not the act of soliciting, but the act of publicly expressing any
opinion that is not shared by the Board of Directors. In the past, when
homeowners have expressed opposing views, the Board of Directors have often
dismissed those views as, “trash.” Differences of opinion threaten them and
they are now trying to eliminate your ability to hear any opinion but their own.
They have been very unhappy
with homeowners who choose to express their discontent with Board policies by
publishing their own newsletter when they were denied access to the neighborhood
newsletter, “Out on the Ridge.” It appears , this publication is reserved
for “Board approved” information only.
What these homeowners are
doing is following in the footsteps of American revolutionary Thomas Paine, who,
with his numerous political pamphlets, waged a war of words against America’s
oppressors establishing the tradition of written political discourse in this
country—a tradition the British tried to stamp out in the colonies just as the
Board of Directors are trying to stamp out in Shavano Ridge.
These questionable levels of honesty and integrity and the flagrant disregard for the views of other residents, as well as the ideals established by the Constitution of this country, should have many Shavano Ridge residents wondering whether it is not long past time we made a change this election day.