As the secretary of the Nottingham Country Community Improvement Association in the early 2000's, when I was invited by the president, Kevin Rolens, to become a member of the NC Board of Directors, I took my job seriously, just as I have always done with every paid or volunteer position that I have ever held.

I was welcomed as a new member, and I did my best to be a good administrator of the job I was given.  At first I was the board member in charge of security, and I kept tabs on the Constables and their work, made sure the contracts were faithfully drawn up and signed, and so on.

Then I became the person in charge of landscaping.  Someone from the community called and asked if I would meet with them.  I of course did.  We went on a short drive around the community, and I was shown all the deteriorating spots that were not being kept up by the current contract landscaper.  When I looked at the present contract, I realized that some things were amiss.  For example, the contractor was being paid $150-175 each month to mow the esplanades on West Green.  I knew that those esplanades were being mowed by the County, so I wondered why we were doing it as well.  What I realized that we were NOT mowing those esplanades, but that fee was being collected anyway.  I'll let the reader decide where that money was going. I insisted that the contract when it came up for renewal, go out for bids. I met instant objections from the other board members, but I prevailed.

I also began checking the licenses under which the current contractor was operating.  I asked for copies, and the Associa management representative dragged his feet in providing me with the documents.  After I insisted, a copy of the landscaper's license to apply chemicals was presented to me.  Upon reading it, I noticed that it was signed by the head of the State Agricultural Department.  The signature was that of Rick Perry.  Mr. Perry was the head of the Agriculture Department BEFORE he became governor of Texas, but we were well into his tenure as governor by then! While THEY might have been stupid, I was not!

Obviously the management company at the behest of my other board members who were trying to hide what they were doing, had altered a state document to create the "license" that I was demanding to see. That is a felony, and I knew that it was, and I told them that they were doing something illegal.

I also had discovered that many of the board members were not even property owners in Nottingham Country!  Two of them were married to women who owned their home prior to their marriage, and the board members' names were not on the deed, thus not only could they not be board members, they couldn't even cast a vote in the election!  Another board member lived in a house owned by his father of the same name, so he was not eligible to serve or vote either.

The Board before I got on it had sued a resident for having "mold on the mailbox." The residents had sued back over another issue and won.  My part in that was that I discovered that their mailbox had mold because they lived on an esplanade which was watered by the HOA, and the sprinklers delivered so much water, that cars driving through the cul-de-sac sprayed water on the mailbox thus causing the mold. That fact had not even been brought up in the lawsuit. The other thing I discovered was that the homeowners who filed the suit included a spouse who was not an owner by virtue of the fact that his name was not on the deed, so the suit should have been dismissed on the grounds that one of the filers had no standing! The whole matter on both sides could have been prevented if someone had been doing their job!

The board member who was also an HOA attorney, came every third meeting so that he wouldn't get removed.

Irregular behaviors and actions happened all the time.

This board and their management company were poor excuses for doing their due diligence, in my opinion.

After that, things went downhill.

Next thing I know, I became the object of a hate-effort by the board members that wanted me gone!

So I took them all on--65 year old me! 

First, by writing a huge letter to the editor of one of the Katy papers, which described all of the alleged transgressions that I had documented, I got over 500 people to come to the Annual Meeting in November.  The president, Jim Best, and the secretary, Sharon Hess, were voted out of office.

Then, under the direction of one of the new board members, Dave Barrow, a meeting was called to vote me out of office.  This all seems extreme if you know anything about HOA's, but I promise this is all what happened!

They spent about $10,000 to call and have the meeting, print up all the stuff that they printed up, mailed out, and so on.  It was pretty bizarre.  I was accused of all sorts of things, but the only one that was ever put on paper was that I had "put up signs in the esplanades."  That was sort of amusing as I am probably the only person who ever went to the trouble to REMOVE signs from the esplanades in Nottingham Country! I was "allowed" five minutes to defend myself, and I got up and instead continued with the issues that I thought needed addressing in this neighborhood. I didn't see any need to defend myself because the 300 people who came to the meeting were all too stupid to listen to what I had to say! In my defense, my husband got up and said, "If you don't like Mary, it's probably because she caught you doing something wrong."

Recall please that I had no other means of communicating with the residents, while THEY had the newly created database of residents that "I" had created, the HOA funds to mail things out, and so on!  So I spent my time putting flyers on doors which I walked to.  They often sent someone along behind me to remove my flyers.

It was the most classic case of railroading that I have ever seen.

And there was an underlying reason for all of this activity.  I had also become active at the State level regarding the passage of HOA legislation by Senator John Carona, a senator from Plano, who was passing HOA legislation that applied only in Harris county and not in the county where he lived and where his voters would have thrown him out of office had they known.  I had testified before a few Senate committees on the matter, and since Senator Carona also just happened to own the largest HOA management company in America (which was also Nottingham Country's HOA-- Associa), THAT is what this was all about! Senator Carona could not have me exposing his management company's activities while he was doing what he was doing in Austin. [It is amazing to me that there are still Katy area homeowner associations that use this company!  Nottingham Country does not.]

Bottom line, I was voted out of office.

The line after the "bottom line," is that I kept up my due diligence talking where I could about the things they were doing that were wrong.  Two years later, they did the same thing to another lady (Rose Mary Smith) on the board and removed her as well.  She was kind enough to give me copies of their emails from two years ago, and I made copies, one of which was an email from Dave Barrow to all the other board members, outlining their plans of action, wrote a letter of explanation, and sent 200 letters to all MY friends as well as the neighbors of all the board members who had done all of this to me two years prior.

Next thing you know, I'm sitting in the back row of a NCCIA monthly board meeting and here comes Dave Barrow's wife who interrupts the meeting, yells at the Board members who are sitting in stunned silence, and begins a diatribe the content of which was pretty much that she was greatly angered that her husband had been caught, and she was embarrassed by it. No mention of his "innocence"! Then she threw a copy of her "speech" at the board and marched out the door. 

By then I was greatly enjoying myself.

After a while, in marched Dave Barrow.  He interrupted the meeting again, yelled at the Board as well, and threw his resignation letter at them and stormed out the door.

The Board harrumphed and stalled and stewed and cast sideways glances at me.  My friend and board member, Len Messina, smiled at me so as to say, "There is justice, Mary."

There will be "justice" when Mr. Barrow apologizes to the Members of the Association and to me, and when "friends" of Mr. Barrow et al who wrote letters that were full of  falsehoods also apologize, and when Mr. Barrow returns the $8,400 to the NCCIA that he caused to be spent by the NCCIA because of his false and libelous accusations against me and his very questionable actions as an NCCIA board member.

1.  My Statement of Bylaw Violations by Jim Best

2.  Dave Barrow's Email Regarding His Plan to Get Rid of Me

3.  Open Letter Sent to Residents of Nottingham Country

4.  Newsletter Front Page Note September 2004

5.  Anonymous Letter Delivered to Nottingham Residents in 2004