Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pictures: Annual Meeting 2012

The Usual Suspects


By Buz Whelan

So there they were. Joe Olall, David Pope, and Renae Skubish, along with their candidate Donald Glasgow, forming their usual gauntlet of outrage. And there were the handouts screaming about the latest horrible and extreme changes about to be foisted on an innocent, unsuspecting membership. Ah, but luckily these saviors of the status quo were there to sound the alarm. “Old is good, new is bad,” they verily chanted to those arriving at the school entrance. Thinking is dangerous to these folks; misinformation is the weapon of choice to protect voters from anything that might move the association forward. And when they aren’t peddling misinformation, they promote absurd points of view. Here’s an example of their way of thinking: their tract states in boldface that they are particularly excised over the wording that would change the requirements for removal of a director from “with or without cause” to “for malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance…” They correctly point out that under the existing bylaws the burden is on the director to show why he/she should not be removed. In other words, a director is guilty until proven innocent. It’s an interesting concept. Hey, it works for China and North Korea. Why not Emerald Lakes? The whole concept of American justice is based on the principal of innocent until proven guilty. Maybe these folks would like to change that, too.

Incredibly, new lows were reached. Normally we have to get to the substance of debate, say a dues increase, before the fighting begins. But here we were, listening to the instructions for voting when up to the microphone marches Renae Skubish to protest. Yes, protest. She didn’t like the instructions, specifically regarding the necessity to place votes for candidates in one box and votes on bylaw revisions in another. Ever slow to grasp even the simplest reality, she wanted to be able to put votes wherever she pleased and she made a motion to that effect. Evidently, keeping votes separate because they would go to two separate counting rooms and because mixing them would only add a step of separating them immediately after the voting, and further because this process would create more opportunities for error was all too complicated for poor Renae to process. So she made her out-of-order motion to change the process to one she could more easily understand. You cannot make this stuff up.

  Later, when the floor was opened to comments on the revisions and amendments this same person came forward to point out if the Consumer Price Index reached the maximum cap or beyond every year for the next twenty it would cost over $10,000 per property. This is about as realistic as saying if it rains every day for the next year, the dams won’t hold and we’ll all be flooded out. Hey, it could happen, right? Considering that we haven’t hit a 4% CPI even once in the last 10 years, it’s more than a bit of a stretch to suppose we’ll do so every one of the next 20. Yet here come the cheers from the slow learner section, all pumped up over this ‘clever’ observation. Whew. What a close call. We almost lost the opportunities to have vicious debates between association leaders who recognize a need for a dues increase and members who have never so much as glanced at an association budget. Thanks, Dave. Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Renae. All credit to you.

Virtually every claim made in this absurd document – the one they were handing out at the entrance to the meeting place – is based on a misunderstanding of the language used in the revision documents, or worse, on deliberate distortion. Beyond that, it is a cowardly attempt at manipulating the voters. For the entire time of its existence, since November of 2009, the Committee to Revise the Bylaws has been completely transparent. They have reported their progress at almost every single monthly open meeting since then. They have taken on additional volunteers. They have had public debates. Yet these pusillanimous disrupters have made no objections at times when they could have been debated. They waited until the Annual Meeting to put out their lies and distortions when time for debate would be past. As long as this small band of malcontents can manage to influence like-minded or low information voters, Emerald Lakes will be held back by its archaic bylaws. Thank you, Dave. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Renae.

Annual Meeting Results – Only 140 Ballots Cast

Lola Lauri

Results for the election are below.  At the reorganization meeting it was determined that Alex Leslie will remain president, Millie Bishop will remain vice-president, Earl Frank will continue as treasurer, and Carmen Brodnax will remain as secretary.  The other directors are John Cress, Daniel Glasgow, and Joe Miller.

Candidate for Director:          Votes

Margaret Fitzgerald                  62

Bob Leon                                     60

Joe Miller                                    84                   wins 3 year term

Daniel Glasgow                          73                    wins 3 year term

Alex Leslie                                  91                      wins 3 year term

140 ballots submitted

2 ballots were declared invalid

The following are the results for the By-Law Amendments

General Amendments                 45 Accept                     91 Reject

Amendment I                             30 Accept                     106 Reject

Amendment II                            64 Accept                     72 Reject

Amendment III                           61 Accept                     75 Reject

Total Votes cast  – 138

Total invalid – 2

Total Valid – 136

NPD and the HOA: A Cancer in the Body

By Buz Whelan

Few personality types can be more destructive to a Home Owners’ Association than the individual suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The characteristics of the condition virtually guarantee anti-social behavior of a persistent and pervasive nature. Like a dog with a valued bone, they will pursue their goals, however unrealistic, over great periods of time, often decades. No matter how often they are defeated in the short term, they will persevere. All entreaties from the mainstream to join in cooperative behaviors will fail. And because their goals and fantasies are unrealistic, they will ever be chasing them.

The NPD sufferer is not to be confused with every seeker of attention at important meetings. Lots of folks with transient complaints or weak egos may pop up with inappropriate comments, but these can usually be treated with patience and even humor. The individual of which we write is a far different animal.

Here are the principal characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  • Love of self/great self-interest
  • Preoccupation with success and power
  • Attention seeking
  • Boasting or bragging about one’s own achievements often
  • Exaggeration of abilities and achievements
  • Having unrealistic goals
  • Fantasies of success beyond what is likely or possible
  • Hypersensitivity to possible slights and insults from others, usually coupled with aggressive or angry responses
  • Arrogant behavior
  • Belief in one’s own uniqueness/entitlement to special treatment
  • Difficulty in understanding another’s emotions or perspective (lack of empathy)

     In addition to the characteristics listed above one might add a lack of humor, especially of the self-deprecating nature. However overblown the self-image of the NPD sufferer may seem to be it is much too fragile to tolerate even good-natured teasing if it is at his/her expense. A dour scowl is the most common expression exhibited, and what laughter there is usually is the result of schadenfreude, the joy one might experience at the misfortune or embarrassment of a perceived rival or enemy.

     I would add, somewhat parenthetically, that matching 3 or 4 of these listed characteristics would be cause for suspicion. Matching 5 or more might be considered a diagnosis.

     For purposes of this essay, we’ll refer to the sufferer of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as NPD and use the male pronoun for reference. And while NPD is more prevalent in males, it is not exclusive to the gender.

Recognizing the long-term behavior of the NPD:

Shortly after joining the HOA, or after a change in life status such as entering retirement, the NPD will become active in the association. He will join one or more committees and spend some time ‘learning the ropes.’ Before long, possibly less than a year, he will begin dissenting at meetings. As he becomes more and more comfortable in the dissenter role, he will become more vocal and louder. Often, after feeling he has made a particularly insightful objection, he will laugh at his own accomplishment, searching the room for approval. It is during this period that his adolescent ‘rescue fantasies’ will begin to take shape in his own mind. He will envision an association in disarray, with himself striding forward to take charge and bring order out of the chaos. The association newsletter or newspaper will trumpet his triumph. Perhaps down the line even a statue will be in order; remember, this is an adolescent fantasy, not a realistic one.

As time goes on, he will begin attracting disaffected others as a powerful magnet attracts iron filings. Those who perceive themselves to have been wronged or unfairly ignored by the association, failed candidates, and otherwise disgraced members will find in him a willing champion, and he, in them, a needed army. It’s a symbiosis made in Hell. The bonds will be powerful.

In order to create the conditions requiring his rescue, he will go on a years-long campaign against the association governors, whoever they may be. He will find himself at war with every change of leadership. He will trash, or attempt to trash, every major meeting. He will rail against any move toward progress. Since accomplishment of others is a detriment to him, he will attempt to undermine any new initiative. Proposed solutions to common association problems will always be too expensive or not comprehensive enough, and he will declare this loudly. No plans will ever be complete enough to satisfy the NPD, and his complaints of this will become a common rant. At meetings, he will be cheered on by his army of malcontents, and he will draw strength from this.

The NPD is given away by his own demands. He will never assist in improving conditions. He will accept only full power. Sharing power and credit are antithetical to his ultimate goal. Unless and until all his conditions are met, he will continue to disrupt and obstruct.

How does an HOA deal with such an individual? The first necessity is strong leadership. Attempting to placate the NPD only reinforces his negative behaviors. He must be dealt with firmly and publicly. Public humiliation is Kryptonite to the NPD. As shown in the list of characteristics, hypersensitivity to slights, such as criticism, provoke exaggerated negative responses, but to avoid criticizing him is a mistake and plays into the NPD’s hands. Bad behavior must never be tolerated, or it will be reinforced. When it occurs at important meetings, it must be rebuked, quickly and decisively. While that may not be sufficient, it is necessary. To allow meetings to be hijacked by an NPD is to become an accomplice. No chairperson or board member should ever allow that.

While there is no simple solution to the NPD, good governance is the best long-term answer. Honesty with the membership, inclusivity, above-reproach behavior by directors, and always keeping the best interests of the association at the fore make the rants of the NPD ever more pathetic to the observer. It’s well to remember that even the crying infant goes to sleep if ignored long enough.

Costly Mistakes

Lola Lauri

Think Your Dues are High?  Township Fines Could Be Even Higher

     Warning!  One simple action could save you from having to pay thousands of dollars in finesTobyhanna and Tunkhannock townships stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from Emerald Lakes’ homeowners in the weeks and even years to come.

     While walking through the community this weekend, I counted more than 50 homes that either did not have their new address signs installed, or had them displayed improperly.  I saw signs that were too low, some that had numbers only on one side, and some that were tucked too far into the bushes to see from the road.

     Time is up! The Monroe County readdressing project is completed, and your township will be assessing fines of up to $1,000 per day for homeowners who are not in compliance. For those who don’t pay, there could be jail time of up to 30 days per violation. 

     This project was designed to create a “uniform system of roadway name signs for all streets or roads, both public and private…to preserve the general health, safety, and welfare of the residents” (  The new system should significantly improve the ability of emergency services to find residents in need of services.

     Your new address signs must be at least 4 feet from the bottom of the numbers to the ground, and contain 4-inch white, reflective numbers placed on a green reflective background.  Your post must be set so that your address is visible for at least 50 feet in each direction. All signs must be attached to a standalone pole.  Do NOT attach signs to trees or utility poles.  People have been cut or otherwise injured when climbing poles with signs attached to them.

     We had our “deluxe” signs installed for about $125 each, but a DIY version can cost significantly less.  Check out the resources document on the Emerald Lakes Residents’ Facebook page to find recommendations from association members for local people who are willing to do the work for you.  If you choose to build your own, see the following links for information specific to your township:

     We know that our towns are always in need of extra money.  Enforcing this code is a simple way for them to raise lots of it.  Putting up your street signs not only helps to keep your family safe in times of emergency, but also keeps your wallet safe from throwing extra cash to the township coffers.

Senior Corner – Octoberfest Buffet

Eileen Avrich


Octoberfest Buffet at Woodloch Pines, Inc.

11:00 Arrival at The Inn
Complimentary Coffee, Tea & Homemade Sweet Breads

12:15pm Luncheon

Beerwurst, Bloodwurst, Head Cheese, Hard Salami, Bologna, Liverwurst
Onions, Sliced Tomatoes, Cheese Chunks & Grape Bunches, Cucumber &
Onion Salad, Sliced Melon, Creamed & Plain Herring, Green & Black Olives,
Pickles, Fruited Jello Molds, Fruit Salad, Applesauce,Cole Slaw, Homemade
Bread Selection

Grilled Bratwurst, Boiled Knockwurst on Rolls, Sauerbraten w/Gravy, Potato
Pancakes, Spaetzle, Red Cabbage, German Potato Salad, Sauerkraut, Honey
Sesame Roast Pork Tenderloin Carving Station
Warm Apple Strudel a la mode

1:30pm Boat Rides
2:15pm German Band & Dancing
3:00pm Bingo
4:00pm Departure
12:00pm to 4:00pm Complimentary Beer & Wine

Total Cost Per Person $60.00
Deposite $25.00 Per Person Non Refundable
Deposite Due Sept 6 2012
Final Payment Oct 4 2012
Total Cost Includes Transportation & All Graturities
Contact Betty & Peter Stefura

Agenda for the Aug. 25th Annual Meeting

Update: (8/21/12): There has been an issue raised about the legality of this agenda based on our Bylaws, Article VIII, Section 6.  We will publish an updated agenda if and when we receive one.  Also, we would like to remind ELA members that registration for voting is between 9:30 and 11 am and only registered members will be allowed to vote.



August 25, 2012



Welcome to the 36TH Annual Meeting of the Association for 2012




Running from the Floor?  Please bring nominating petitions to the Judge-of-Elections!

1.   Call to Order – 11:00 a.m. – Pledge of Allegiance / Introductions (Al Leslie, President of the Board of Directors)

2.   Re-state the Annual Meeting agenda – vote for By-Law changes – election of three (3) Directors

3.   Approve minutes of August 27, 2011

4.   Explanation of ballots – Maryann O’Leary, Chairman of Elections Committee (re-state procedure for running from floor)

5.   Meeting Ground Rules:

            a.   Robert’s Rules of Order and By-Laws govern;

            b.   Three (3) minutes will be allowed for each Board candidate and candidates running from the floor.

6.   Assign Sergeant-at-Arms

7.   Intro of Candidates (including from floor candidates) – Dale Wash, Chair, Nominating Comm.

8.   Candidates Statement (3 minutes max. each)

9.   Explanation of voting instructions – Carmen Brodnax, Judge-of-Elections

10. Opening of polls for Directors & By-Law Changes

11. Voting – Board of Directors & By-Law Changes

12. Manager’s Report (Allen Roth)

13. Financial Report – Earl Frank, Treasurer

14. Raymond Zavada, CPA – annual audit

15. George Hludzik, Esq. – collections

16. Presentation of Awards

17. Q&A – General Membership

            a.   Voting members must rise, give their name and lot number and be recognized before speaking;

            b.   Two (2) minutes allotted to each speaker (total of 4 speakers per issue during the Q&A)

18. VOTING Results

19. Announcements / Adjournment

Ready for Some Shenanigans?

Lola Lauri

Searching for some food and fun last weekend led Bob and I over to Shenanigans (on Lake Harmony Rd, off Rt 903). This place is always a fun mix of locals and tourists looking for an evening out.  We walked in at 8:00, just as the family dinner hour was ending, and the more “mature” audiences had not yet arrived.  Early evenings see families and groups of vacationers, eating on the deck out front or in the booths inside the sun room that affords a lovely view of the sky and the woods across the street.  Inside, the eclectic décor includes etched glass art deco mirrors, street signs from around the country, lots of televisions for the sports fans, and two full-sized classic Schwinn bicycles hanging from the ceiling.

Just a few steps up from the entrance is the etched glass and wood-framed stage, graced on either side with life-sized statues of the Blues Brothers. This stage overlooks the large bar area.  Doug and Richard are behind the bar, and they really know how to take care of the customers.  Ask Richard for his chocolate martini, it’s delicious and packs a wallop!  We decided to eat at the bar, where a few customers were drinking and waiting for the evening festivities to begin.

The menu has a wide variety of choices, from burgers and sandwiches to steak and seafood dinners.  Bob chose the French dip, which comes on a large, soft roll with homemade potato chips on the side.  I had the crab cake dinner with mashed potatoes and a surprisingly yummy combination of snow peas and roasted red peppers.  The crab cakes are firm and crispy and arrive drizzled with a lemon horseradish sauce that gives them just the right amount of zing.  If you don’t have a large appetite, order the crab cake sandwich instead; the dinner was too much for me to finish.  Friendly folks around the bar were enjoying other dishes and they told us you might want to try the seared tuna, or the Yuengling Lager pot roast, too.

At 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays there is karaoke at Shenanigans, and the host will tell you “Karaoke is Japanese for tone deaf,” so go ahead and take a turn.  There are a couple of song books floating around, but if you want a song, just ask for it; they seem to have most everything.  The crowd seems equally pleased with the latest Rhianna song as they are with old Sinatra classics.  On this night, there was a bachelorette party sitting at the high-top tables by the stage, and these girls were having a blast singing together.  Bob sang “You and I” from Alice Cooper, and I did a terrible version of “Walk Like an Egyptian” from The Bangles, but it was a forgiving crowd and I got rousing cheers on the way back to my seat anyway.

Wander up the stairs to the right of the stage and you will come to the entrance to Boomer’s Nightclub. (There is also a separate entrance around the side of the building.)  While the front room is an upscale bar and restaurant, the nightclub is a bit run-down.  The fixtures (especially the bathrooms) are dated and worn, probably because of the rowdier and younger crowd that hangs out in here.  With a black-and-white checkered floor and shiny chrome-colored barstools, the 50’s diner-style room pulses with colored lights and loud music.  Smoking is allowed in the nightclub, so you may want to leave your coat in the car before the dancing begins. We wandered in at about 11 o’clock and the old-fashioned jukebox was playing not-so-old-fashioned tunes.  We ordered drinks (plastic cups only, here in the back) and admired the Poconos-classic heart-shaped hot tub sunken in the wall behind the bar.  Above the dance floor and around the back of the room is a 5-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe, her iconic white dress frozen in a permanent updraft.  Soon enough, a DJ began playing, and the dance floor filled up with a nice crowd.  When we had our fill of dancing, we moved further back and played a couple of games of pool before calling it a night.

Shenanigans really does have something for everyone, and everything that Bob and I needed for a fun night out.

A Turn in the Barrel


by Buz Whelan


     Combative. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think back on the Town Hall Meeting of Saturday, August 11. The subject was by-laws, specifically a group of revisions and amendments intended to modernize and streamline our antiquated, cumbersome and even contradictive current document. You would have thought we were unveiling plans to load people onto freight cars and ship them to ‘resettlement’ camps. I can only hope that the attendees at the meeting are not a representative sample of those who will attend and vote at the Annual Meeting on the 25th.

     I’ve never quite come to grips with why people who attend our most important meetings, Town Hall, Special and Annual, are so angry with their elected officials and others who try to work to improve the community. If you’ve never been on the dais at one of these meetings, it may be difficult to grasp the depth of contempt and distrust attendees have for whoever is putting on the presentation. Many are repeaters, ones you can count on to raise the same standard objections at meeting after meeting. The best example would probably be David Pope. David’s complaint is always the same: you’re not prepared; you don’t have a plan. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard these same tired, clichéd rants. It’s all so disingenuous.

     David was invited by me on no fewer than three occasions going back to February to help with the preparations. Evidently he had other priorities. Yet, there he was, fuming and fussing and saying that it was obvious we were unprepared. He went further. He went on about how we only had a financial plan, but no physical one. (I didn’t get it either.)  

     Now, David sits on the Finance and Planning Committee. He is well aware that we commissioned a reserve study by the Kipcon Engineering Co. He is well aware that we on the committee agreed unanimously (see, that includes David) to wait for the final document from Kipcon to use as an important source document in the preparation of a comprehensive 5-year plan. To bluster on about there not being a plan in place was intellectually dishonest. But Mr. Pope has been at this for a very long time. I wrote about this very thing in my Sept. ’09 President’s Message. As a candidate running for the board in 1998, Mr. Pope wrote in the Emerald News that the most pressing problem facing the community was the lack of a long range plan. If elected, he would make it his number one priority to develop such a plan. And still we wait.

     There seemed to be great confusion regarding the amendment that would allow some form of mail-in balloting. The major complaint was that it was not specific or detailed enough. But the purpose of the amendment was not to prescribe the precise manner of voting but rather to remove the argument that our by-laws forbid any form of mail or absentee voting. Once that hurdle is overcome, a satisfactory method could be developed. To present a detailed plan is to invite those who may support the concept of non-attendee voting to object to a particular detail, thus making the passage of the amendment that much more difficult. The more the presenters tried to explain this, the angrier and louder the protests became. I can only hope that those who come to the Annual Meeting are a little more open-minded about this proposal.

     Then there was the usual hand-wringing over the dastardly plot to tie Emerald Lakes finances to the area economy through a cost-of-living escalator. No one could claim the proposal wasn’t detailed. We would use Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics data, published online. Anyone could check it; there could be no fudging. We specified the quad-state (NY, NJ, Pa, Conn) Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is published monthly. We specified the figures presented for the previous calendar year, published mid-January would be our standard. We made it clear that the board could not, on its own, change this. We capped it at 4%. We explained that this would ensure that the purchasing power of our total income would remain constant, that it would greatly facilitate long-range planning, and that the ugly politics that characterize our dues increase meetings would be eliminated. It was all in vain.

     One major objection was that dues amount was the only control the membership has on the board. But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? Time after time, people who have no idea how our association finances work get to decide how much we need to run this complex organization. They throw platitudes at the board saying, “Tighten your belts,” and, “Make the same sacrifices we have to make.” Silly stuff like that. They have no clue that for at least 10 years we’ve been existing on deferred maintenance, cancelled programs and scheduling cutbacks. There is no fat left in our budget. We are down to cutting meat and bone. But those who rail the loudest don’t know or understand this, so they cheer each other’s ignorance. So, little by little the community deteriorates, and with that go your property values.

     I’ve worked, along with others, on the by-law revisions and amendments for 33 months. Everybody involved, at least in my judgment, wanted to do this for the betterment of our community. The response so far has been incredibly negative, as if those who protest believe there is true evil afoot. There was even a complaint that the amendments don’t appear until the end of the document, suggesting we are trying to hide them. Can you imagine? (Okay guys, let’s put them on the last page so no one sees them.) How absurd. Has any one of these folks ever read a constitution? First, you have a statement of purpose. Then you have the body of the constitution, how things are arranged and actions carried out. Lastly, you have the amendments. But don’t take my word for it; read the United States Constitution. Look for the amendments. There are 27 of them. And they come at the end.

Senior Corner – Safe Driving After 55

Eileen Avrich

As we age, our insurance costs often increase, regardless of our driving record.  To protect yourself and others on the road, and to keep your premiums down, PennDOT suggests you consider the following:

  • Have regular eye and medical exams.  Both near and distance vision is needed to drive safely.  Also, know your medications.  Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can make you drowsy and affect your driving.
  • Consider, reducing driving at night, dusk or dawn.  Visibility is more difficult at this time; aging eyes are more sensitive to bright light or glare.  Try to avoid looking directly into headlights of approaching vehicles.
  • Mirrors – make sure they are properly adjusted.
  • Plan ahead and know your route.  Try to stay on familiar roads. 
  • Avoid difficult driving conditions if at all possible.  Rush hour, left turns, driving at night and driving in bad weather can make driving more complicated.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as eating or cell phone use.

Under Pennsylvania law, you may be entitled to a discount (discount may vary per insurance company) on your auto insurance policy if youare 55 or older and have completed a driver improvement course approved by PennDOT. 

The following organizations have approved courses:

  • AAA – for info on class availability call your local chapter.
  • AARP – We will be having a two day course in the fall (date/time TBA) for Emerald Lakes Members, contact Eileen at 570-643-2917 to sign up. For other locations and places call 888-227-7669 or write to AARP- Pennsylvania, 225 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.
  • Seniors for Safe Driving – call for availability, 800-559-4880
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