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Only 3 Options – the Elephant in the Room

June 19th, 2018 No comments

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A) In manufactured housing production, the elephant in the room is Clayton Homes. They are owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns the 2 largest industry lenders, 21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF). Berkshire also owns a large stake in the industry’s third largest single family manufactured home loan lender, Wells Fargo.

There are only three (3) options on the following topic. The Berkshire owned manufactured housing brands either:

1)     know very specifically what must happen to grow manufactured housing sales up to the industry’s sustainable potential, which some estimate to be between half a million and a million HUD Code manufactured homes (MH) annually.

2)     The Berkshire brands in MH don’t know what must occur to grow the industry to reach its potential.

3)     Some point on the spectrum between numbers 1 and 2 above.

That’s about 150 words. The rest are details and commentary.

 

B) Arguably, any of the 3 positions above ought to be alarming to the vast majority of the industry’s independents. Why?

The case has be made by voices inside and outside of MHVille, that the Warren Buffett led Berkshire brands in MHVille dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

While he’s been silent in recent months, MH Communities pro Frank Rolfe was among the industry’s professionals who blasted MHI and their “hypocrisy” and failed “leadership” in defense or promotion of the MHIndustry.

Marty Lavin, a MHI award-winner, said on-the-record that MHI only works for the interests of the big boys.” Lavin added that MHI only work for the interests of smaller companies if they happen to align with the interests of “the big boys.”

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was cited by the Washington Post (WaPo) as having been the driving force for the removal of Pam Danner at HUD. MHI‘s EVP Lesli Gooch specifically told WaPo they took no part in removing Danner. Why not?

We could outline other examples, on the Duty to Serve (DTS), DOE and the energy rule, or how Pam Danner got her job in the first place. MHI has been on the wrong side of numerous issues, plus the execution on other important issues.

The bottom line is that MHI’s track record are seen by several professionals as problematic, save for the consolidation of smaller companies into the hands of larger ones. That’s about 275 words. The rest are details and commentary.

 

C) So in about 400 words above, a case has been outlined. Logic and evidence-based concerns, plus common-sense reveals why the Berkshire brands and MHI arguably should not be trusted by the vast majority of MHVille independents. The rest are details and commentary.  We’ll invite them again to debate this publicly via video.  If we were wrong, why don’t they take us up on that invite and prove us wrong?

 

D) State communities associations have broken away from MHI. They are in the process of formalizing the launch of an independent manufactured home national communities association.

Those MH Communities have split because they lost confidence in MHI representing their interests. The rest are details and commentary.

 

E) Smoking Gun 3 documented and outlined how 21st Mortgage questionably pulled-back on lending to MH Independents in 2009. Hundreds of retailers folded afterwards.

As a result, a number of HUD Code manufactured home producers either failed, or were absorbed by Clayton.  Some where absorbed by Cavco, which is led by a former Clayton division president. Skyline Champion recently combined. Now 80 percent of the industry’s production is in the hands of those three vertically integrated firms.

The rest are details and commentary.

 

F) Manufactured housing is increasingly being recognized as the affordable housing solution that is hiding in plain sight. MHLivingNews touted that theme years ago. Others in media have been picking up on that very theme. Coincidence?

There is a need for 8.3 million affordable housing units in America today. It can only be provided cost-effectively by some form of factory building. HUD Code manufactured homes are the most affordable solution today.

 

G) Even though Clayton and MHI each have marketing and PR people, they have routinely allowed bad news stories that unjustly harm the industry’s image to go unaddressed. They have done so for years. 21st Mortgage CEO Tim Williams, the prior MHI Chairman, admitted on-the-record that the case could be made that every unfair story about MH should get addressed. Frank Rolfe has said similarly.

The above is about 700 words total to say that MHI and Berkshire may not cause every bad news story in MHVille, but they fail to address the majority of them.

The upshot? Limited new home sales and more Consolidation. See what award-winning Alan Amy said about that in the video.

 

H) The MH Communities sector recognized their need for independent representation. Retailers and others in the post production sector arguably need representation do too. MHARR is clearly representing the interests of the industry’s independent producers, as WaPo, the SBA, George Washington University and other third-party sources reflect.

 

I) Is there any reason why the Berkshire brands couldn’t repeat what they did in 2009? Shouldn’t every independent operator realize that they have a symbolic target on their head?

The rest are details and commentary.

 

J) Thanks to our supporters, we planned ahead years ago by creating the industry’s first and premier pro-industry educational platform with MHLivingNews.com.

MHProNews was a key part of the rebirth of the Louisville Show, as everyone in show management at the time said on camera and/or in writing.

We’ve proven our ability to get into mainstream media, such as Washington D.C.’s The Hill. Or consider often-referenced by others in media, Value Penguin, which ranks among the top 2 percent of all websites in America. Value Penguin dwarfs anything in MHVille for traffic.

 

K) We and those that support our efforts know what must be done to remove the shackles that have hobbled manufactured housing for years. Information and understanding are the First Phase.

Armed with evidence and reason, we are at the cusp of starting Phase 2.

The details and next steps will follow in the days ahead. Stay tuned, and sign up for our industry leading emailed headline news updates. From the biggest names in MHVille, to the mom-and pops, and thousands in between, we continue to lead the industry in readership. The reasons include insights like those above.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

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Facebook, Manufactured Housing, and American Drama

June 12th, 2018 No comments
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What do you see?

Facebook has a neat feature that reminds you of some post from the past. This morning, that Facebook feature reminded me of a post about MHVille that was from two years ago.

 

We’ve begun to use the phrase – “wheat and chaff” – more often to describe the point that people and sources of information must be discerned. Keep the good, toss what’s not useful or is incorrect.

It’s hardly a new thought. Wheat and chaff are an ancient piece of Biblical wisdom.

When we put together the story early this morning about the outcome of the presidential summit, it was the result of hours of input from a variety of sources. It is an example of wheat and chaff in action.

Perhaps 10 (+/-) sources were checked, before we drilled down what we thought was the meaty items for industry pros and investors to know.

Then, we provided the context of what it matters to manufactured housing. “That news through the lens of factory-built housing,” ©; one of our tag lines that describes what MHProNews uniquely does for the manufactured and modular home industry professionals and investors. 

It’s about American drama at its finest. Check out that report, linked below, compare it to anything else that might be used for an MH Industry pro, and please tell us what you think. 

 

Facebook, Wheat and Chaff 

I recall how Triad Financial President Don Glisson, Jr. gave us a backhanded compliment that we treasure. He said he thought we were crazy when we launched what we call today, MHProNews.  The launch was in mid-October 2009, and was near the industry’s lowest point ever in new home shipments.

Now, approaching a decade later, we as an industry are clearly not heading to extinction, as some then believed could happen.

When asked by the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) to help bring back the Louisville Snow, we jumped in with both feet. The pay was very modest, considering all that had to be done.  But we did it, and the show was a success, the first one in years. 

Tim Williams from Ohio’s association was one of several who praised our work in writing.

TimWilliamsOhioManufacturedHomesAssocExecDirectorRecommendationTonyKovachMHProNewsLouisvilleManufacturedHousingShowPromotion

One of over 1000 endorsements and recommendations, most were given without being requested. We thank each sender for that honor.  

Facebook has wheat and chaff. Pretty much everything and everyone does, starting right here.

We are pro-free enterprise. We cheer all honest and ethical forms of success. We stress honesty, and ethics, because some professions are built on the suffering of others.  From illicit drug pushers, to pimps, pornographers, thieves, racketeering, coyotes, and so on, there are illicit businesses that generate tens of billions annually.  We don’t cheer those at all.  

But if we are fair and objective, even the darkest parts of human nature reveal truths worth learning.

We must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

 

Breaking Up

Count us among those who hope and pray that the Feds break up Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other monopolistic U.S. giants. Think back, if you are old enough, to the breakup of the telecoms. AT&T was charged under antitrust laws. 

Based on Judge Harold Green’s Modified Final Judgement of 1982, AT&T on January 1 1984 became a long-distance company, while seven regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) took control of the nation’s local phone networks,” says the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

 

Some say that the monopoly over the phone business delayed the development of cell phone technologies by a decade.

It is just one of several reasons why corporate giants must be held in check and/or broken up.

To me, it isn’t just about price, which is an arguably flawed standard that antitrust regulators often use.  How many businesses has Walmart and Amazon wiped out? How many jobs has that cost the nation? Would we have seen the shift to buying so much product from China, had Walmart not become so big?  

They too should be broken up under antitrust law.  As NY Stern Professor Scott Galloway has argued, it is how you bring oxygen back into the marketplace for startups and investors.  That’s were jobs are created, instead of destroyed.

England, we’ve read, has a supposed standard of 25 percent market-share as the threshold for anti-monopoly (anti-trust) action. That might be still be a bit too high. Once a firm hits 20 percent of a given market, there are inevitable impacts on consumers, businesses, innovation, the economy, politics, etc.  

Wheat and chaff. We must learn from whatever is good, and toss out whatever isn’t. The prism of the Ten Commandments – which clearly respects private property – ought to be the standard, timeless measure of behavior. 

What Facebook reminded me of this morning is that it has been about two years since I got a tip from a then-fellow Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member. That member pointed me to a CSPAN video about Richard Cordray and Senator Joe Donnelly. When I watched it, I got what that other MHI member as telling me.  

MHI had distorted the exchange, saying only what was good for their narrative, while ignoring what was problematic for their stated agenda.  

It seemed deliberately deceptive. It came from MHI VP Lesli Gooch, but our sources then said that MHI President Richard “Dick” Jennison had to okay it.  

It’s was at best a half-truth, designed to mislead members. As a member myself, I was outraged. We can call these things allegations, because that is what the legal guys say it should be termed. But if you look at the CSPAN video we watched, and then look at what MHI then said… 

Logically, if top MHI staff would deceive members about that, what else have or would they attempt to trick their own dues paying members about?  

They had to be held accountable. I called publicly For Jennison’s dismissal along with that of Lesli Gooch. 

It wasn’t the first or the last news tip. 

Please, we’d rather get a news tip 4 times, than not at all. Don’t presume we have something. We know the generalities, but not always the specifics. Help us, help you help the industry get the most accurate reports by sending association emails, documents, and your own insights. Our default is that we treat comments as off the record, unless you and we specifically agree to make it on the record. 

One step at a time, we’ve seen how MHI has weaponized reports. It was tricky, because no one else in the industry had directly named names and cited examples of what was happening, and who was authorizing it, the way we did. 

That incident from 2 years ago led to a series of events and reports that has arguably contributed to what has brought us to the point we are in reporting in MHVille today.  

Today, we can look back and see MHI, and their debatably Berkshire Hathaway puppet masters as they are. We give them a routine opportunities to comment before, during or after a Daily Business News story. We accurately quote from their own documents. We’ve offered to discuss or debate publicly via video, so all the industry can see. 

They duck, dodge, detract, distract, and defame in response, don’t they? Doesn’t all of that speak volumes?  If the truth was on their side, why don’t they just clear the air? 

It’s been about 1 1/3 years since they have directly responded publicly. We suspended our industry famous Cup of Coffee series for a time, because it was too politically charged for many. We plan to bring that feature back, because more of the industry’s members are beginning to see — that what we’ve been reporting sadly makes sense. 

It’s time to use antitrust laws to break up Berkshire Hathaway, not just Clayton Homes and their lending, retail, and others unit arms. 

MHI must be investigated and/or perhaps sued.  They’ve arguably misrepresented to the industry what they are and what they do. 

MHI award winner Marty Lavin is sadly correct. MHI works only for the interests of “the big boys.” They work for the smaller companies only if their interests align with that of the big boys.

‘Tip of Iceberg’ – Rick Rand; Marty Lavin, Communities have ‘No Confidence’ in Manufactured Housing Institute, New National Trade Group Announced

The rationale and evidence seems to be that smaller companies are there as a meal for the big boys that want to gobble up smaller firms for a cheap price.

The smaller firms are there to also help pay for what the big boys want. Paraphrasing what another member said, ‘the big companies figured out how to use MHI to help get the smaller companies to pay for what the big companies want.’

Manipulation is often an ugly thing. 

No one wants to believe that they were conned.  It’s not fun to have to report about such problems, but it must be done, for the sake of all those who are debatably being victimized.

George Allen Blasts MHI, NCC Ignoring Own, Spencer Roane, SECO, COBA7, Tom Lackey Controversies

These are serious allegations. but there’s also serious evidence. There are several federal investigations already underway, because where there is smoke, there is often fire.

 

For manufactured housing industry professional and investors to thrive and achieve their full potential, the industry must recognize reality.

Then, each company must decide how best to deal with reality. It’s an American drama that you and hundreds of thousands of others are caught up in, like it or not. More on that drama and its solutions in the days ahead. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

Sign Up Today!EmailedMHProNewsHeadlineNewsDailyBusinessNews

Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.

S 2155, Manufactured Housing,“Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” Back Story

May 22nd, 2018 No comments

S2155ManufacturedHousingEconomicGrowthRegulatoryReliefConsumerProtectionActBackStoryMastheadMHProNews

S. 2155 is poised to pass the House today.  It’s styled “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.”

 

Should the bill pass – and Skopos Labs/GovTrack say there is a 56 percent chance of enactment – then the following is what you can expect from the Arlington, VA based national manufactured housing association and their surrogates.

Based upon her promises, this bill would not have been signed by Hillary Clinton. So MHI – which put two pro-Clinton speakers on their Chicago stage days before the 2016 election – has no room to crow. Rather, they should be grateful to those in the industry who promoted a president who would sign such a measure.

There is a 100 percent chance of celebration and back slapping by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).  I don’t blame them, it’s natural.

But there’s a back story.  MHI don’t want the focus to be on the back story.

Indeed, as a matter of record, repeal of the onerous MLO rule is one MHProNews has supported for years.

In spite of what some consumer groups claim, the MLO repeal provision only levels the playing field for manufactured home retailers and communities. It allows them to do what real estate agents can already do. We supported both legs of the original bill, so logically, we supported each one too.

S2155ManufactuerdHousingINdustryMastheadAnalysisMHProNews

Whatever happens on this bill, there is going to be overhang from progressives, unless the case – especially for manufactured housing – is properly made as to why this bill was positive for consumers and industry alike.

 

“Tony, What’s the Beef?”

We’ve had some pros – skimmers, not readers – who’ve asked why we don’t support the bill. We have supported the measure, and did for years.

Our “beef” – as one writer put it – has been that MHI spiked this MLO-only deal years ago.

If the MLO rule is OK now, why wasn’t it OK then?

Mark my words.  MHI wanted to do this, because they and their puppet masters were desperate to be able to claim a victory on anything of substance.

Mark my words. MHI and their puppet masters are feeling the heat.

MSM = Mainstream Media

Once more, the mainstream media (MSM) has numerous reports and commentaries coming out just before the House vote.  They are slamming the measure, slamming Clayton Homes, and Berkshire Hathaway’s MHI association mouthpiece.

Part of the point is that even when they ‘succeed:’

  • the manufactured housing industry must remember this could have been done years ago, as the Daily Business News exclusively reported.
  • Clayton and their Berkshire lending brands were winning either way. They benefited if S 2155 and/or Preserving Access passed or not. This is a nuanced but critical point to understand, long after 2155 is forgotten. An MHI insider first told me about that insight, and then another did. It was MHI types that explained that the big companies benefit regardless if MHI backed bills pass, or not.  Burn that one into your mind, it frankly took me time to get it. But once that sank in, it became an eye-popping insight.

 

Look at this MHI Pattern

LesliGoochforCongressManufacturedHousingInstituteMHISVPGovtAffairsRelationsManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMastheadDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNews

Lesli Gooch, blast from her past…

MHI’s EVP Lesli Gooch proudly told the Washington Post they did not weigh in on the removal of Pam Danner.

Recall, that MHI was on the wrong side of the DOE energy rule, until pressure from this publication, MHARR, the SBA and others made them switch course.

We could go on and on like the above. But the bottom line is simple, and tragic.

Independents who are paying dues to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) are arguably paying to feed the hand that bites and fails them.

There are reasons why state associations and others have dropped their MHI membership.

 

Pulling the Head Out…

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Some don’t want to hear what they might consider to be ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ news. Reality is.  Hiding a head in the sand has never solved a problem. Image Credit WikiCommons, Dilbert.

There are some MHI loyalists who think we’re just sore because MHI gave us the boot. Hardly, that’s reversed.  MHI gave us the boot because they didn’t know how to deal with all the myriad of revelations we were publishing about their ‘alleged’ favoritism, failures, and flaws.

All of that has cost the industry, IMHO, billions of dollars a year in new home sales.  That in turn has cost manufactured home owners, billions of dollars in higher resale values.

It is time for more in the industry to dig deeply.

It is time to pull the head out of the sand, and look.

As a closing thought, please note that not everything about MHI, not everything about Berkshire Hathaway draws our concerns. We strive to be objective.

The best example is from Monday.  Please check that article out.  We give credit where it is due, period. We are evidence, reason, and fact-based. We are pro-industry.  We’re not against big-business.  We are against big business that behaves in monopolistic, crony capitalists, or otherwise behave in unethical ways.

See the first take on MHARR’s related report, linked above.  Enough said for today. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

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UPDATE 6:27 PM ET.  As expected the bill has passed. Let’s see how the prediction above plays out.  Details of the passage are found at the link below.

Related Reports:

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

 

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

Sign Up Today!EmailedMHProNewsHeadlineNewsDailyBusinessNews

Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.

 

Anti-MH Industry MHAction Protesters Have Struck Manufactured Housing Again, and Again

May 12th, 2018 No comments

MHActionLogoAntiIndustryMHActionProtestorsSturkManufacturedHousingAgainMastheadCommentaryMHProNews

In the aftermath of last year’s Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) annual meeting, an MHI advocate metaphorically taunted MHProNews for our reporting on looming protests of their meeting.

That skeptic isn’t doubting the forecast of MHAction protests any more.

MHAction initially targeted the MHI annual event in Orlando last year.  But a combination of disruptive factors – including a hurricane and MHProNews coverage of the predicted protests by the activist group -resulted in a change of the activist group’s plans.

Since then, as the Daily Business News has reported, MHAction has protested a Frank Rolfe event and HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s recent speech at the MHI Congress and Expo.

MHAction had only pivoted from Orlando.  There have been, and are, other MHAction efforts underway besides these two noted today.

There is a cost to getting people to a protest like these. That bus used by MHAction wasn’t free. There’s a price for MHAction’s staff.  There are expenses to organize friendly or receptive media outlets to provide coverage for their negative-coverage seeking behavior.

An MHI member told MHProNews after the attempts at disrupting Secretary Carson’s address at the Paris Hotel in Vegas that the protestors were “ineffective.”  “Secretary Carson easily turned them into a punch line,” that member told me.

While the come back from the stage by Dr. Carson was quick, the video below reveals that disruption at MHI’s event nevertheless took place.

It is one more example of a challenge that is bubbling up periodically, and which is drawing problematic media coverage for not just MHI, but for the industry they represent. The MHAction protest was mentioned by the Washington Post in their story about HUD.  This particular protest in Vegas last April at the MHI meeting has been mentioned or covered at some length by a number of progressive media outlets.

It is one more item that requires an effective response from MHI.  Even with the repeated forewarning MHProNews provided, which MHI never thanked us for, they seemed ill prepared to deal with MHAction at their Congress and Expo. You can see for yourself.

 

What will these media seeking MHAction protestors do next?

How will it impact the image of the vast majority of the industry’s ethical manufactured housing businesses?

Watch for an upcoming report on MHAction. To learn more about prior reports about this activist group, see those Related Reports linked below. To sign up for MHProNews’ industry-leading emailed headline news, click the link below.  It’s all part of the industry’s most popular, independent, and trusted trade media news.  MH Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

 

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Related Reports:

Frank Rolfe, MHU/RV Horizons Protest by MHAction; Nathan Smith/SSK/MHI Flashbacks?

Meet the Faces, Groups Behind Anti-MH Industry Activists, Protesters

Greener, Stylish Manufactured Homes – Hidden Facts in the Washington Post Manufactured Housing Narrative

To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click this link. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

 

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Publisher and industry consultant, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

Sign Up Today!EmailedMHProNewsHeadlineNewsDailyBusinessNews

Click here to sign up in 5 seconds for the manufactured home industry’s leading – and still growing – emailed headline news updates.

 

HUD Secretary Carson, Advocacy Groups, Politicos, & Manufactured Housing Shock

April 7th, 2018 No comments

 HUDSecBenCarsonAdvocayGroupsPoliticosManufacturedHousingIndustryShockMastheadManufacturedHomeIndustryCommentaryMHProNews

Affordable housing, including manufactured homes, is not a partisan issue.

 

At least, it shouldn’t be.

When HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) shared the brief exchange below, there was an energy in Carson’s words.

 

 

It’s an energy – “a shock” – that many have experienced over the years when it comes to the surprising realities vs. the unjust, troubled stigmas attached to manufactured homes.

“Trailer House Trauma,” Fresh Look at Manufactured Housing’s Opportunities

 So, why aren’t their more such moments of positive shocks for the manufactured home industry?

 Let’s look at the facts for some clues.

  

MH Cohesion?

Whenever the manufactured housing (MH) industry acted in a rational, and cohesive fashion, it has routinely been able to accomplish in Congress what it needed to do.

That’s true because at its heart, the MH industry has a great, and non-partisan story.

That’s what a dispassionate look at the periodic history of the industry reveals.

For example,

      in 1974, when the HUD Code was first passed into law.

      Or in 2000, when the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) was passed.

      And again in 2008, when the Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing was passed as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA).

So when the industry acts cohesively it succeeds. So, why doesn’t it do so more often?

 

Big and Small…

Since before the founding of what today is called the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), there’s long been a split between larger and smaller “independent” producers of HUD Code manufactured homes.

MHARR was a breakaway from the body that today is known as the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). MHARR was created precisely because of those differing points of view between bigger and smaller producers of federally regulated HUD Code manufactured homes.

  

“Consumer Groups” and Manufactured Housing 

In several states, there are manufactured home consumer groups that emerged some years ago.

While “resident groups” engage on issues such as finance, those residents/manufactured home owner associations tend to focus on issues relating to land lease communities. 

In California, there tends to be fast and hard lines between the MH Industry and resident groups. 

Meanwhile, in places such as Ohio and Florida, those state MH Industry trade associations have at times meet and worked successfully with resident groups on key issues.

  

Non-Profits, Advocacy, and Manufactured Housing

Foundations and nonprofit groups have a history of positive interest in manufactured housing dating back at least some two decades. 

For example, as a Daily Business News yesterday reported, CFED – which rebranded as Prosperity Now – is largely a serious and positive advocate for manufactured homes. 

 

ManufacturedHousingTopTenTruthsCFEDManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews500

For years, CFED/Prosperity Now worked on projects that taken as a whole, promote manufactured homes as a tool for personal wealth building, especially for minorities, and lower income Americans of all ethnic groups.

 

CFED/Prosperity Now research has produced reams of documentation that arguably ought to be done by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

 ManufacturedHousingTopTenTruthsImHomeInnovationsinManufacturedHomesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews5-10-600

 

Based upon their overall positive work advocating for manufactured homes, it’s a little baffling for outsiders looking in to see conflict between MHI and Prosperity Now.

But conflicts do exist between MHI and Prosperity Now, on issues that include land lease communities, but also on financing. Prosperity Now has been a loud opponent to the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. 

 

Like them or not, consider for a moment the perspective of Prosperity Now on these two issues: 

      the issues of “insecurity” for residents in land lease communities,

      and MHI’s position – notably on higher points and fees that benefits primarily the Berkshire Hathaway owned manufactured home lenders.

Absent those two bullets, Prosperity Now should be seen by the vast majority of industry pros as a strong advocate for manufactured housing.

So why hasn’t MHI – the industry’s self-proclaimed “umbrella” and “post-productionassociation – found a way to work directly with Prosperity Now, when Ohio and Florida have found ways to work with their resident groups? Fair question, right?

So for any who believe that it is only MHI and MHARR alone who ‘can’t get along,’ they are mistaken or misinformed.

 

MHI, MHARR and Consumer Groups

This writer, while an MHI member – perhaps naively – attempted for years to get MHI and MHARR to work together.

MHI's New CEO, Dick Jennison

This was one of the photos taken by MHProNews, reflecting routine behind the scenes effort some years ago to get MHI and MHARR to work more closely together. Richard Dick Jennison, MHI President and CEO, left, Mark Weiss, J.D., MHARR President and CEO, right.

The photo taken by MHProNews of Dick Jennison and Mark Weiss, J.D., shaking hands was just one tiny example symbolic of that effort.

MHI in meetings has reportedly told their members that the consumer groups “can not be reasoned with.”  

Something similar has been said in MHI meetings about MHARR. One elected executive committee member stood at an MHI meeting a few years ago, and proclaimed that the “elephant in the room” was MHARR’s then president, Danny Ghorbani.

Yet as noted above, history shows that MHI and MHARR have achieved good things when they pulled together. 

MHARR seems to have a better working relationship with the resident group, NMHOA than MHI does. 

We’ll pose a question that we will leave dangling for now.

Why is it that MHI can get along with MHARR, but only at times? 

 

Yet for most of the the past 20 years (+/-), the two are at odds, because one association arguably favors larger players, while the other fights for the rights of smaller, independent companies.

It’s against that backdrop of more tension than cohesion that the following undisputed facts ought to be considered. MHI hired a man a few years ago, part of who’s de facto job description was to recruit MHARR members into MHI.

Clayton and Cavco have in recent years both purchased companies that are MHARR members.

Is the trajectory of MHI’s and their larger members’ efforts to eliminate MHARR?

 80PercentClaytonChampionSkylineCavcoMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryConsolidation

 

Dr. Carson, HUD, and Manufactured Housing

It is against that brief history that Secretary Carson must consider the internal political minefield of manufactured housing.

On the one hand, manufactured homes are just as “amazing” as Dr. Carson said.

The regulations and “guidance,” most notably during the Pam Danner era, have been just as “ridiculous” as Secretary Carson told that Senate oversight hearing, as the video above attests.

If MHI wanted to get along with the industry voices that don’t agree with them 100 percent of the time, logically the Arlington based group would only need to do is what it did at times when cohesion existed.  Namely?

Listen, understand, and compromise.

MHI can posture beautifully, but it is their actions – not words alone – that must be the focus.  Their members are buying up, and they are actively recruiting MHARR members.

There are MHARR members, and some in MHI, that believe that Pam Danner came to be HUD’s MH program administrator as part of a specific MHI team member’s efforts.  If so, that means those  “ridiculous” excesses are courtesy of one or more MHI staffer’s efforts.

Since: 

   Danner was removed from the program a few weeks ago

   Lois Starkey was dismissed from HUD,

   and Danner’s overzealous and “ridiculous” regulatory burdens were put on hold by Carson and the Trump Administration,

an opportunity for a new beginning exists. What will happen next?

 

Absent trust and cohesion between

      MHI and MHARR, or between

      MHI and nonprofit Consumer Groups,

several risks exist.

 

Widely Recognized Fact

In finance, or production, in or out of manufactured housing, there is a simple principle at work.

The heavier the regulations, the harder it is for smaller companies to compete against larger ones.  The following third-party research illustrates the point.

NationalAssocManufacturersNAMCostForComplianceMastheadManufacturedHomeIndustryBlogDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

While MHARR was audibly protesting Danner’s work – and sought her removal from the MH program – by contrast, MHI went through various gyrations that did all — save ask for Danner’s removal.  Odd?  Or shadow boxing?

Let’s consider that as consistent with MHI’s apparent and alleged goal of acting in ways that are more burdensome for smaller companies (see Related Reports, linked at the end, below).

This is why CFED’s Doug Ryan accused Berkshire Hathaway (BH) of having monopoly power in manufactured housing over financing. While MHI all too often fails to respond to negative media, in that case their SVP Lesli Gooch leapt to respond and defend Berkshire brands in manufactured housing. By doing so, the Arlington association reflected anew who’s interests there dominate.  Yet the fact remains, that 3 of the 3 largest MH lenders are owned outright by BH – 21st Mortgage Corp and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), or they have a large stake in their company (Wells Fargo).

DougRyanCFED-MHI2016CongressExpo-ManufacturedHousingIndustryNews-MHProNews

Doug Ryan, CFED/Prosperity Now, credit MHProNews. 

When Democratic Congressional reps target Berkshire Hathaway and MHI – also using the words “near monopoly” – it should make CFPB, more in Congress, leadership at HUD and others in the Trump Administration stop and think.

Nonprofits, President Trump, and political voices across the left-right divide are calling “foul” with regard to giant companies dominating and pushing around smaller ones.  

From as far left as the Nation to as far right as Breitbart, the issue of monopoly has been raised. The Nation specifically cited Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Clayton Homes. 

It’s no secret that Buffett opposed Trump in 2016, by strongly supporting the candidate – Secretary Hillary Clinton – who favored the continued use of heavy regulations.

How many see various movements at work nationally, and in the halls of Washington, D.C.?

 

It’s Not a Vote…

The fact that many inside and outside of manufactured housing have raised similar concerns and issues about monopolistic power ought to be carefully considered by members of Congress and the Trump Administration.

pam-danner-hud-code-manufactured-housing-program-administrator-mhi-2014-summer-meeting-indianapolis-in-alexander-hotel-c2014-mhpronews-com--575x430

Pam Danner, addressing MHI members. Photo credit, MHProNews.

MHI SVP Gooch’s Regulatory Comments Letter to HUD in January were overall good.  But oddly, Gooch failed to mention:

  • who will replace Danner?
  • And what about the harm already done by Danner’s leadership to smaller independents? 
  • Or why did MHI stand mute for years, and promoted Danner on various association event stages?

 

Reenergize?

Secretary Carson and the HUD team have a unique opportunity to reenergize the “amazing” manufactured housing industry in several ways.

The next steps taken at HUD and beyond could tell us who understands the fact that

  • with robust competition,
  • and unleashing the private sector,
  • that HUD could over time do exactly what Senator Tillis and the nonprofits alike suggested.  Save tax dollars by liberating private sector produced manufactured homes. That, argued Tillis, will allow more dollars to be used for others that need a hand up.

That would achieve some of what advocacy groups desire: raising more people out of poverty using modern manufactured homes.

Save tax dollars, give more people a leg up. Learn more in the related research reports, linked below. ## (News, analysis and commentary.) (Third party images are provided under fair use guidelines.) 

Related Reports:

“Move, Open, Live” De Rose Industries & Senator Thom Tillis’ Mobile Home Comments

“Kevin…the Problem of Your Industry…”

MHI Lender Shakes Up DTS and MLO Rule Discussions

 

FactoryBuiltCarsClothingAppliancesElectronicsCellsSmartPhonesHomesItJustFollowsLATonyKovachC2017MHproNewsBy L.A. “Tony” Kovach – Masthead commentary, for MHProNews.com.

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Office 863-213-4090 |Connect on LinkedIn:
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What Tim Williams, Dick Jennison, Rick Robinson, Lesli Gooch, et al, Taught Me About the Manufactured Housing Institute

February 11th, 2018 No comments

 TimWilliams21stMortgageMHIChairmanRichardDickJennisonPresidentCEORickRobinsonSVPGenCounselLesliGoochForCongressMHISVPMastheadDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Warren Buffett doesn’t need to convince me or gain my agreement with him on that point.  On that and the value of history, Mr. Buffett and this Masthead writer would agree.

Buffett and we agree too on the value of research, reading, asking, listening, probing, and understanding.

For the record, people can disagree professionally, without disparagement.

We’ve said not one word against Clayton Homes’ products, nor against the vast majority of their people, nor against most of those in MHI’s membership, etc. In fact, professionals from those operations and 21st are among our sources. That should be obvious from the kinds of insights, quotes, etc. that we’ve produced over the last year or so.

We agree with the Urban Institute’s stated principle that evidence and the facts should guide research.

There must be good reasons why leaders at Clayton Homes, 21st, and MHI won’t engage us in a public, video-recorded discussion or debate forum. One of the reasons why they won’t do so was suggested in yesterday’s blockbuster Daily Business News report on the Urban Institute, linked below.

 

Was the Urban Institute Misled, Duped, or Part of a Manufactured Housing Industry Scam?

But another point to consider in why they won’t publicly discuss our concerns and allegations is this. Logically, if they were correct and we were honestly mistaken, they could prove it, right? Or logically, even if they know they were wrong, they could attempt to spin the truth, etc. But how do they argue against so many of their own facts, documents, track record, and their on-the-record statements, and quotes?  Isn’t that a compelling reason for them to duck, dodge, distract, and delay, instead of engaging?

21stMortgageCorpTimWillamsJune112009LetterBerkshireHathawayWarrenBuffettClaytonHomesManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-704x768 (1)

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

 

What They Said, Did, and Didn’t Do That Taught Me About the Realities of the Manufactured Housing Institute

Give MHI credit.  Their mixers are pleasurable.  You’re at some nice resort.  The networking has value.  All of that ‘social glue’ is arguably part of their way to keep people distracted from the sad reality that as a lobbying organization, MHI has failed to advance an agenda that helps the majority of the professionals in the industry.

We’re far from alone in believing that to be true.  State associations have now quit MHI for exactly that reason.

Maybe you have to be an ex-smoker to learn how to passionately oppose cigarettes. FYI, that’s an analogy, I’m not a smoker. Or with the same proceeding disclaimer, maybe one must be or know a former drug addict to realize just how horrible addictions can be.  As an ex-multiyear, MHI member, I’ve learned the hard, painful, and expensive lessons.

Media Should Re-Visit Dodd-Frank Reporting in Light of Congressional Testimony

 

One need not look too far back on MHProNews and MHLivingNews to realize that we supported MHI on several, but not all, issues.

Renters’ Nation: The Dark Side of Dodd-Frank and Its Impact on Affordable Housing

RichardCordrayCFPB-ManufacturedHousingRegulationsCSPANstill-InsideMHvideoPostedMHProNews-com-

While still an MHI elected board member, MHProNews created this graphic. It summarized key admissions by Cordray. Why did MHI never use it?

How Did We Come to Be Members of MHI?

Years ago, MHI members convinced me that if our organization – MHProNews/MHLivingNews/consulting, et al – wanted to be a force for positive change in the manufactured home industry, we simply had to become members of MHI.  Those voices – however well-meaning they may have been – where they in hindsight mistaken?  Or perhaps unwittingly, did those voices lead us into an unsought, unexpected, and undesired – dark grace?

A current MHI member company president told me at Louisville that what MHI has been doing for years ‘has made no sense.’ He reminded me that ‘Tony, you [MHProNews] are challenging people’s paradigms.’ He said what we know: some don’t get it. But others, like him, do get it.

Others are in between.

If that company president had a choice, I’m not sure he would be an MHI member. Why do I say that? Because he thanked me for all that we are doing to spotlight what is actually going on in our industry. As in the case of many companies, he too reports to others…

That MHI member is not alone, others have personally told me similarly.  Clearly, there are MHI cheer leaders too.

RichardDickJennisonManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIPresidentCEOIndustryMHLivingNewsDailyBuisnessNewsMastheadBlogMHProNews

MHProNews and our sister operations spent thousands upon thousands of dollars supporting MHI efforts on Preserving Access. It was a waste – save this. It forced us to look deeper into what was really going on at MHI. The photo is a still from a video, and on that video, Jennison promised – promised dozens in that room that Preserving Access would be passed. It failed. In hindsight, given POTUS Barack Obama’s promise to veto the bill, what where they thinking?  Or was it there as a show of effort, while the industry consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer big ccompanies?

 

With that backdrop, the truth is I had several industry voices telling me – literally from the day they met Dick Jennison – that they didn’t trust the man.  I freely admit to arguing against their view, Jennison seemed like a fine gent to me. But they in time were proven right. I was mistaken.  You may have heard the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  It was Jennison himself over time – by word, deed, and omission – that proved their points.

A different, high profile, MHI member president told me recently that he wished Jennison had never been hired.

But as noted, for some time – I liked Dick, mostly up to the point that:

Ø  women then working in the MHI office made a point of contacting and asking me to help them with a ‘hostile workplace’ issue, and they pointed specifically at Dick.

Ø  and up to the point when on camera, he began to argue for slow growth.

I was stunned at both of those bullets.

I think Tim Williams/21st would not deny in a court of law that I was stunned by Jennison’s on-camera statement, because I took it up with him personally not long after that occurred.  What association president worth their salt – working in an industry where most were then struggling for sales – would argue for slow growth?  Perhaps the most logical way to understand it, was covered in yesterday’s Daily Business News special report.

 

Nathan Smith

I liked Nathan Smith too, he’s an easy to like guy. To this day, Nathan is likeable! But how did it square with his electric personna of his that he didn’t lift a finger to even inquire about the allegations of those women in the MHI office, complaining about Dick Jennison?

In the #metoo era, in hindsight, doesn’t that looks bad?

Sexual Harassment-Not Just Hollywood, Media, Politicos-Manufactured Housing Workplace Claims, High Profile MH Cases Too?

 

Tim Williams, President & CEO of 21st Mortgage, Prior MHI Chairman

Tim Williams and I had several fine conversations over the course of many years. I quite liked the gent. I recall Jim Clayton telling me how smart Williams is.  I to this day, I would honestly agree. Tim Williams/21st is a very smart man. Judging from the kind words he gave MHProNews to publish, he liked us too.

TimWilliams21stMortgageCEOPresident-currentMHIChairman-onValueMHProNews-MHLivingNews-

 

But how did it square with Buffett’s claimed support for integrity, that Williams defended Jennison and Gooch, who had sent out a message to MHI members that was pure spin, deceptive half-truths, and not the full truth?  Why did he defend Jennison, when he arguably should have been removed his MHI president?

Or why would you reward Jennison with a raise and bonuses – a national association CEO – who year after year, failed to accomplish what the assocation said was their goal? Once more, perhaps the best way to understand that decision or those bonus/raise is covered in yesterday’s MHProNews special report.

 

Rick Robinson, SVP and General Counsel for MHI

Rick Robinson is a nice guy too. Rick is witty, clever, and a fine writer. But he was also apparently happy to look the other way when questionable things were happening at MHI.  Perhaps you can chalk it up to doing his job as an attorney for his client?

TonyIWillNotBeTakingQuestionsFromThePressRickRobinsonMHISVPGeneralCounselMastheadMHProNews

The topic was HUD, and Rick Robinson would not take questions from MHProNews, at the very time that the HUD issue was raging in MH industry circles. As a state executive told MHProNews, if they liked their position, why not get as much publicity as they possibly could?

 

These are just a sampling. These and other examples that could be cited took this writer from someone who was pro-MHI, to now, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ vantage point about that same organization.

 

Tim Williams in San Antonio

I didn’t need extra sources to tell me that Tim Williams stated in a room with a few dozen MHI members in it, the following. That neither Williams/21st, nor Vanderbilt (VMF), turned over data that the GSEs wanted to make DTS happen in a more robust fashion. Having sources is arguably often better than relying on yourself. But I heard Tim say as much with my own ears, and I was watching the then MHI chair saying it when he was only a few yards away from where I sat in the same meeting room.

It was a stunning set of statements.

Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

 

HUD and MHI

There came a point in time when I no longer needed sources to tell me that MHI was shadow boxing.  MHI was posturing that they wanted to modify HUD’s over-regulation. As noted above, having other sources – which we do – is often better.

That said, I personally asked numerous top-level MHI people face-to-face in San Antonio a variation on the following question. Where they going to support the removal of Pam Danner from her role at HUD?

Not one person in leadership would answer that face-to-face question!

LesliGoochforCongressManufacturedHousingInstituteMHISVPGovtAffairsRelationsManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryMastheadDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNews

Think about it. Lesli Gooch has been exactly as successful on getting the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act passed into law as she was at getting elected to Congress…. think about it, because it isn’t a put down. Those are the sad facts.

 

Lesli Gooch, MHI SVP

Lesli Gooch’s otherwise fine letter last summer about Regulatory Reform – re: those executive Presidential orders – missed what is arguably the key point. Gooch never mentioned removing Pam Danner at all.  That statement of her’s is now public record.

How is that possible?  These are intelligent people. I’ve never called them unintelligent.

So, they surely knew that logically, the head of HUD’s MH department had a lot of power, for good or ill. Not removing Danner could make everything else they claimed to be trying, useless.

That’s how shadow boxing works, isn’t it?  All show, no go?

When the most award-winning independent retailer in MHI history told us on-the-record that he supported Danner’s re-assignment – and Doug Gorman considers Danner a personal friend – how could MHI turn a blind eye to that, and so many others who raised concerns with MHI about Danner?

Cowards?

It was after returning from San Antonio that MHI sent me an unsigned letter, with no names on it, saying I’d been removed for membership because it came to our attention that I was trade media. ‘We have no such category for membership.’  What? Don’t they claim to represent ‘all aspects of factory-built housing?’  Doesn’t MHI have (and had) members who publish, not just us?  Hypocrisy?

It was pure farce.  A cowardly fiction.

LATonyKovachMHProNewsDailyBusinessNewsMHCMD-com

Because my last MHI meeting badge – which we’ve kept as evidence – clearly reflected that we are both media and provide other industry services.

 

What These Talented People Taught Me

Talent can be used, or misused.

Rephrasing the above.  It was their own behavior, time after time, plus ongoing feedback from MHI members — including voices within the Clayton-21st circles – that began to compel me to rethink MHI.

Add to that MHI staff action, inaction, and years of failure that forced me one-step-at-a-time to realize what they in fact are doing to this great industry.

They don’t actually fight regulations, do they?  How could they claim otherwise, when in the DOE rule they are on the record as having advocated for them?

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Shifts on DOE Regulatory Rule, Report, Analysis

They don’t fight the CFPB, when their own Government Relations Vice President said that it Would Not get past then President Barack Obama’s veto – if it ever made it that far.  It never made it that far.

Manufactured Housing Institute VP Revealed Important Truths on MHI’s Lobbying, Agenda

It was prominent MHI member Frank Rolfe who told me that his congressman told him that it was a waste of time to try and pass the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.  Ouch.

 

 

We editorially disagree with Ishbel Dickens on rent control, and a number of other industry and communities’ issues.

MHCs and Rent Control – Cure or Cause for Affordable Housing Crisis?

Candidates, citizens talk rent control, manufactured home community issues at ice cream social

But Dickens told me she offered MHI a compromise – to modify the MLO Rule that harmed everyone – if MHI/21st/VMF would drop their desire for the higher points and fees stance. Others in MHI later confirmed what Dickens said. Her email, is below.

IshbelDickensPhotoNationalManufacturedHomeOwnersAssocNMHOALogoDailyBuisnessNewsMHproNews

No open minded, thinking professional can ignore so many things, without putting a head in the sand.

Remember, these are just a few examples, there is far, far more.

In my own defense, I was never MHI’s yes man. Tim Williams said as much. I thought them wrong on the DOE Rule, and we editorialized on that point. I thought them wrong on the MHI stance on the fire sprinkler issue, etc.  We supported what we could, and asked politely about what seemed to make no sense.

MHI’s 990 claims they want member input, but apparently they don’t mean it?

 

Some Members Have No Choice…

I get it that many MHI members have no choice.  They tell me that they are compelled by fear, and other forces to be MHI members.

As a long-time MHI guy warned me, “Tony, these guys have long knives.”

I heard that, we understand.  But nothing changes until it is challenged.  Besides, frankly, the more public the challenge, the safer you are likely to be, IMHO. Look at Andy Gallagher. He may have committed, in the eyes of some at MHI, a faux pas. But because it was public, Gallagher is still safe in his job.

Andy Gallagher, “Ousting” Pam Danner, MHI, Clayton’s RVP, WVHI – “Transparency”

But Gallagher and Ayotte made just the point that we did, only differently. Pam Danner must go.  They were waiting for some magic green light to say what MHARR, Bob Crawford, Doug Gorman, MHProNews, and numerous others had said for some time.

After months of MHARR, MHProNews, some states and businesses pushing for the change, now Danner – thankfully! – is gone from the job over the HUD Code manufactured housing program administrator’s role that she had held.

But Danner is not gone because of MHI!  Rather, Danner was removed in spite of months of foot dragging by MHI.

Shake Up at HUD Manufactured Housing Program May Stop Industry Overregulation, per MH State Association

Isn’t that what the record reflects?

Are they going to seriously point to their silly resolution in Congress, rather than the obvious ask of directly calling for the removal of Danner – plus add those same concerns, as examples of why Danner needed to go?

Why has MHI so routinely been the last one to take the correct stance?  Even their former chairman admitted that the assocation had made numerous past mistakes.  MHI failure to get it right is why one of the states – see link above or below – dropped out of MHI, and they explained their reason for withdrawing.

It’s a sad, but necessary indictment of the truth about their record. Years of failure for the majority of MHI members, but those years of failure pays off for those big companies looking to consolidate the industry’s smaller companies at bargain basement prices.

That’s why the letter from AZ is so important. One of their points was along those very lines.  They pointed to success by the RV industry battling regulations that MHI failed to accomplish.

State Associations, Companies Quit Membership in Manufactured Housing Institute, (MHI), One Explains in Writing, ‘Why?’

Great point, isn’t it?

 

The End of the MHI Charade?

The

Ø  MHI charade,

Ø  or con job,

Ø  or whatever allegation or terminology one might want to use to describe it,

is not over.

 

But the MHI mask is falling off for many.

No doubt, some big companies benefit from MHI.  That’s why the organization still exists.  The big boys are happy with it.

Pragmatically, we know some who feel that they must stay, because they have no choice. But doesn’t that arguably make MHI more of a protection racket, than a normal trade association?

Extortion? RICO? Allegedly Illegal, and Dirty Side of Manufactured Housing, Exposed

 

But every single small-to-mid-sized member is arguably feeding the hand that bites their own.

MHI is firmly in the Buffett-Clayton outlined moat that uses non-profits and foundations as part of their moat-building process.  Invest the time to hear Kevin Clayton say so in the video linked here, in his own words.

GoodBusinessStrongCastleMoatAroundItUntouchableWarrenBuffettQuoteMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Warren Buffett, “the Moat,” Manufactured Housing, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt, Wells Fargo, NAI…

“Perverse”–Warren Buffett-Dodd-Frank, CFPB, Manufactured Housing, Loans, Independent Businesses Fact Check$

 

The MHI Berkshire Hathaway Challenge

In fairness, MHI only does what their masters allow them to do.

Let them publicly debate in Tunica, on a video recorded discussion they and we can video too.

DebateMastheadblodTonyKovachMHProNews

MHProNews.com/Pixabay.

Let them have a panel of their experts – whomever they want! We’ll bring a panel of industry pros, and our experts too.

Let their panel try to prove our panel wrong, on any of the claims or concerns voice here or elsewhere on this pro-industry trade media site.

WithoutDebateWithoutCritismNoAdminNoCoutnryCansucceedNoRepublicCanSurviveJohnFKennedyManufacturedHousingIndustryMastheadCommentaryMHProNews

 

Do you think they have the guts to do that? If they were in the correct, why wouldn’t they?

 

The MHI Mask

Their act of trying to mitigate regulations, when they routinely fail in that – that’s getting harder and harder for them to say with a straight face.  Their clever MHI mask is falling off, slowly but steadily. Their track record is sad, isn’t it?

We editorially applaud MHAZ and their colleagues in Nevada who had the wisdom and the guts to quit MHI.  Let me assure you, that wasn’t an easy choice for them to make.  I don’t have to ask that, its understood for anyone who understands the tragedy that has been taking place in this industry.

MHCommunitiesOfAZNealTHaneyPresidentWhyTheyQuitManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

As the Trump Administration slowly gains more control at HUD and elsewhere, expect MHI to lose credibility as a result.  That doesn’t mean they won’t have short term connections that still periodically pay off in D.C., for what Buffett called their Moat.

MH Lending, FEMA and False Profits (and False Prophets)

Circling back to the opening headline.

Tim Williams. MHI President and CEO, Richard “Dick” Jennison. Rick Robinson, MHI Senior VP and General Counsel, SVP Lesli Gooch, and others – one-step-at-a-time – helped me to see what’s really going on.

There’s far more.

But let me draw towards wrapping up this analysis and commentary, with the following.

Like Frank Rolfe, it didn’t on its face make sense to me why MHI would so often not defend the industry from media missteps, nor celebrate good news when it came from someone besides themselves.

Weather Expert’s Surprising, Bombshell Statement on Tornado Deaths and Affordable Manufactured Homes

For years, as an MHI member, we promoted the good news of manufactured housing, in the most robust way in the industry’s history, on MHLivingNews.

Why didn’t MHI support those efforts?

We were members for years, why didn’t they routinely draw attention to the good news about manufactured housing we were promoting?

Even now, when we are clearly in different camps, why wouldn’t they call attention to important pro-industry news, like the two examples posted above?

Paraphrasing Rolfe’s parallel point, it made no sense…

FrankRolfeNegativeArticlesOnIndustryNoCommentbyManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIRVHorizonsMobleHomeUniversityPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

*** …unless one realizes that MHI for many years has worked with Clayton, 21st etc. to keep industry sales low. *** Why? Arguably, by keeping sales low, that allowed Warren Buffet Moat to consolidate more of the manufactured housing – into the Berkshire/Clayton/21st et al “Moat.”

It’s shrewd.

It’s long term.

It’s exactly in keeping with Mr. Buffett’s and Kevin Clayton’s own words.

We were never alone in being betrayed by MHI. That’s other stories, for another time. Because numerous others have been betrayed too.  I’ve listened to the stories of some, and they are often heartbreaking.

I can picture the faces of some who had that stunned ‘deer in the headlights’ look, as they described their professional plights and tragedies to me.

At the time that some told me, some of that I didn’t understand in its full significance. Now, in 20-20 hindsight, I do.

Later, as the truth slowly dawned upon us here at MHProNews, after all those voices and examples and more added up, it became clear that harming independent professionals by the thousands didn’t matter to these people.

Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Gives Written Responses – “Part of a Rigged, Corrupt System”

That in turn hurt millions of Americans, who may – if MHI had defended the industry every time the media or some researcher gets it wrong – have been living in a manufactured home happily for years.

Defining a Problem without Offering a Solution is Just Whining. So, What’s Next?

In no particular order of importance, the following should occur.

Given all that we now know, it is my sincere hope that for the sake of the industry, MHI be disbanded, as a hopelessly tarnished brand.  That won’t happen overnight. They were given many chances to change course and reform.  They declined that every time. So, given all of the above facts, evidence, concerns, failures, and allegations — how could that mess in Arlington, VA seriously be reformed?

It is my belief that MHI’s being disbanded may happen to them,

Ø  through legal actions, started by aggrieved members, and perhaps non-members too,

Ø  as part of anti-trust efforts, that they will likely be caught up in,

Ø  unless MHI disbands themselves, voluntarily, before-hand.

As we noted in yesterday’s report, people are innocent until proven guilty.  But an attorney we asked told us they see anti-trust action as a real possibility.  As we’ve done throughout, we must call all of these matters allegations, because that is what the suits tell us we should say.

But you as readers have the ability to discern fact from fiction, with common sense, and by looking at the facts.  Skimming these facts will never lead you to the correct conclusion. That’s Buffett’s biggest edge, he reads!  He invests the time!  Only for those who make a serious study, a half a day, a day, could do it.  Start with the videos and links, above and below.

Superficiality-is-the-curse-of-the-modernWorldMatthewKellyQuoteFancyInspirationBlogMHProNews720

Seek first understanding. Don’t skim. Don’t jump to conclusions.

I don’t believe MHI can survive the string of alleged abuses long-term. So, the industry needs to prepare another option for the post production sector. Thankfully, for producers, there is already the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

Study Recommending New Manufactured Housing Association for Independent Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Others Released

But all others need their own voice too, as MHARR has long advocated.

Others, like the AZ community owners’ association, are hunting for their own representation in D.C.

These are de facto votes of no-confidence in MHI.  Whatever modest role we may have played in exposing the MHI charade, we’re happy to have done, within the norms of remaining pro-manufactured housing industry.

Because we don’t believe the industry can achieve its great potential, until Berkshire Hathaway’s brands and their allies are at least put into check, and MHI is supplanted.

NewManufacturedHousing1trillion9PercentNew1percentExistingHomeSales2016CreditManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

If any of the above is wrong, please. MHI, Clayton, 21st – show me where, and I’ll modify this post.

If any of this is wrong, then let Clayton-21st-MHI gather a panel, and let us gather a panel  We’ll debate it publicly in a third-party moderated forum, and video the entire discussion, so that the entire industry can see it. There is not a day go by that we don’t pray for them, pray for the honest liberation of this great manufactured home industry, and pray for you too.

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iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com Put “News Tips” in the Subject Line.

What more needs to be said today?

AllTruthPassesThrough3StagesRidiculedViolentlyOpposedAcceptsSelfEvidentArthurSchopenhauerQuoteGalleryMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact checks, commentary.)

(Third party images and information are provided under fair use guidelines.)

L. A. “Tony” Kovach is an award winning manufactured housing industry veteran, and is the managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – the parent company to MHLivingNews.com, MHProNews.com and professional service provider to the factory-built housing industry.

Connect on LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach 

“Dark Money” “Conflicts” – Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Urban Institute, Manufactured Housing Institute, Affordable Housing Report Revelations

February 3rd, 2018 No comments

 

DarkMoneyKevinClaytonWarrenBuffettMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews550

 

Buying into the manufactured housing industry today is like buying a stock that is significantly undervalued.

That’s what many believe. Count the Masthead’s industry veteran’s author among them. Buying into manufactured housing now is like buying a stock that is significantly undervalued, and is potentially poised for serious growth.

 

The odds are good to great that everyone reading this has:

  • an interest in manufactured housing, and
  • believes manufactured homes could play an important part of the solution for America’s growing affordable housing crisis.

We believe that too.

Those in the industry, investors, media, public officials, advocates, and researchers all have viewpoints, and many have questions.

While it would take time to ramp up to 500,000 or 1 million new manufactured homes a year, it’s doable with the correct resources, plus the kind of long-term commitment that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway brands – along with other success stories in the industry – have achieved.

NewManufacturedHousing1trillion9PercentNew1percentExistingHomeSales2016CreditManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

 

With savvy millionaire and billionaire believers in the HUD Code regulated manufactured home industry, why is the industry seriously underperforming?

That’s a question that the Urban Institute posed in a new report.  With four co-authors, the report makes some interesting, questionable and meh points.  It arguably failed to address several important points.

But what the Urban Institute (UI) obviously failed to do was hide apparent conflicts of interest, which went undisclosed in their reporting.

2018-02-02_1630UrbanInstituteManufacturedHousingIndustryAffordableHousingCrisisReportMastheadBlogDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

One of those conflicts is ‘hiding in plain sight.’

 

Warren Buffett, “Lifetime Trustee” of the Urban Institute (UI)

InfographicSeeHowDarkMoneyFlowsBetwenNonProfitsOpenSecretsMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNewsThey could claim at UI that the disclosure exists on their website, because Warren Buffett is listed as a Lifetime Trustee of the Urban Institute.

Buffett’s given billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has paid millions to the Urban Institute. That’s how, says Open Secrets, so-called “Dark Money” flows.

While that dark money is often noted for political uses, it can clearly be used for research that in turn influences media, politics, business, advocacy, public officials, investments, and more.

So when four different co-authors at Urban Institute delve into a topic that so directly involves an interested party, one would think that one or more of those four would want to disclose that in their report itself, or as a footnote?  That’s what non-profit researchers are supposed to do.

 

ConflictsOfInterestGoogleMastheadManufacturedHouisngIndsutryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Conflicts of Interest = COI.

 

Instead of disclosure, instead of full transparency, the opposite occurred with UI and their report.

According to sources who claim knowledge about the research at the Urban Institute, the report writers’ promised anonymity to an association and corporate interests who ‘vetted’ their research report.

Pardon me?

A manufactured home, built by Clayton Homes, is the report’s featured image. What were they thinking at UI?

And doesn’t that make their research at least appear to be at COI, and not much more than a higher class of one of MHI’s controversial paid advertorials?

 

Conflicts of Interest – COI

According to the facts presented, and uncovered to date, it implies the report has Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, and the Manufactured Housing Institute’s finger prints all over it.

See the flash Daily Business News initial report, linked below.

 

“Follow the Money” – Controversial Urban Institute Report on Manufactured Housing

 

One need not be an attorney, journalist, or researcher to realize that it all smells of conflicts of interest.  While this writer isn’t an attorney, one concurred with our assessment. As with all of our reports, fisking, fact-checks, commentary and analysis, we encourage readers to do their own homework, and see for themselves.

That said, why where those apparent conflicts of interest not disclosed?

 

Begging the Questions…

That clear lack of transparency begs several questions.

  • Why not disclose their respective interests and involvements?
  • Who benefits from the UI report on manufactured housing?
  • What does the report steer people to look at, as they ponder the manufactured housing industry?
  • What does the report steer people away from looking at, as they research manufactured housing as an important solution for the affordable housing crisis? (Note:  HUD is one of the sources for revenue to UI.  We believe editorially that the Trump Administration and HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, ought to suspend all such payments throughout the federal government, until the dark money ties and conflicts of interest that are working against the public’s and small businesses are all cleared up.)

 

Non-Profits, Foundations and Manufactured Housing

When the topic of philanthropy was raised in the Kevin Clayton interview video, Kevin himself points to foundations and non-profits that they believe will be important for them.

Clayton’s video interview also points specifically at using manufactured housing as urban infill.

Research is often done by nonprofit organizations.

Reports they create are in turn routinely picked up by media, educators, policy advocates, investors, and government.

When investors with a long-term horizon, as Buffett has, third party research is part of what they study.  Kevin says so, in his own words, in the video.  Kevin also speaks about Buffett’s connections and sources of information.

 

Kevin Clayton Interview-Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes CEO

 

The Kevin Clayton Interview Video is a Road Map in Numerous Ways

The video laces together in Kevin’s own words the concerns and allegations over:

  • monopolistic practices,
  • how vital credit is to the industry,
  • how nonprofits and foundations are important and are part of their plan.

It’s the truth hiding in plain sight.

The Manufactured Housing Institute is a non-profit.

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Ignorance is no excuse. Forewarned is forearmed. MHI members would be wise to review the anti-trust warnings in the light of the reports linked from this page. A copy of those anti-trust warnings are found at this link, or by clicking on the MHI anti-trust warning, above.

NextStep, is at least in part, a non-profit.

So too the RV MH Hall of Fame, and the state associations which Clayton and 21st or other Berkshire Hathaway brands belong to as well.

GoldRulesTimWilliams21stMortgageCorpDailyB-usinessNewsMHProNews

http://www.mhpronews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/how-gold-rules-tim-williams-21st-mortgage-mhi-vp-state-execs-conference-call/

 

The Clayton video interview explains why with sufficient capital, the affordable housing solution indeed ought to include a heavy dose of manufactured homes.

When a non-Berkshire Hathaway, non-MHARR company CEO told MHProNews in Louisville last month that MHI’s work for many years “has made no sense,” that’s true from the vantage point of a non-Berkshire Hathaway brand, or from someone who isn’t part of their insider circle.

Manufactured Housing Institute VP Revealed Important Truths on MHI’s Lobbying, Agenda

MHI board members have during the Richard “Dick” Jennison era complained to MHProNews that that the Arlington, VA based trade group has become a “secret society,” or an “exclusive club” that only a handful actually have any say in governance.

FrankRolfeNegativeArticlesOnIndustryNoCommentbyManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIRVHorizonsMobleHomeUniversityPostedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

http://www.mhpronews.com/blogs/daily-business-news/frank-rolfe-blasts-mhi-for-poor-media-engagement-industry-reactions/

If these points, concerns, and allegations prove true, that’s problematic for the industry, and MHI members, on several levels.

Frank Rolfe: Pressured into Silence? Manufactured Housing Industry, and Journalism

We will boil it down to its essence.

Facts Matter – Mr. Obama’s “Alternative Universe,” Trump Admin, Investors & Politicized Manufactured Housing Data

We already noted on the Daily Business News that there are two great laws that manufactured housing benefits from.

Understanding these 2 existing federal laws, and having them fully implemented, would be major advances for public officials, those needing affordable housing, housing professionals, and investors.

McCrory Lawsuit – “Significant Victory Against Zoning Discrimination” – Manufactured Homes

Note that preemption was ignored in the Urban Institute report.  Why?

Two Great Laws Already on the Books NOW,  Can Unlock Billion$ Annually for Manufactured Housing Industry Businesse$, Investor$

We’ve noted that MHARR has raised concerns over the new class of manufactured housing that Clayton dominated MHI is pushing.

Sources at MHI and with Clayton homes told MHProNews that MHI’s public relations person has spent time at Clayton location(s). On MHI’s dime?  How is that fair to the association’s smaller members?

The videos that MHI produced benefit Next Step, a nonprofit that Clayton and MHI are both supporting.

Next Step is also part of the Duty to Serve (DTS) chattel (personal property, Home only lending) financing trials mandated by the 2008 Housing and Recovery Act (HERA).  Do you see the pattern of non-profits being used by Clayton, Berkshire, et al?

Manufactured housing already has enhanced preemption under the law. Why bother with a new class of home?

Harper – Thank You Rev Donald Tye, Fighting for Enhanced Preemption of Manufactured Homes

 

People still incorrectly call a manufactured home a mobile home, even though no mobile homes have been built for over 41 years.  Will a name change work, without education of the public on what manufactured homes are, versus the widespread image of them?  Isn’t it all just shadow boxing?  Making the industry think they are doing something, when they are buying time for more consolidation to take place?

 

Manipulated

The vast majority of the people I’ve met with a Berkshire Hathaway brand, or who are MHI members, are good folks.  We have connections with dozens of them.  Some are sources for MHProNews.

We have not at any time slammed the quality of Clayton’s products.  The vast majority of the folks I’ve met and know from Clayton, 21st, et all are fine people.

Our focus has been and will remain, what holds manufactured housing back? 

It’s the same question that the Urban Institute asked.

Berkshire Hathaway, directly and indirectly through political, regulatory, capital, nonprofits, et al has manipulated and allowed to be depressed the market for manufactured housing. They are doing so in ways that appear to be monopolistic.

Fraud, Class Action, CFPB-Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt Mortgage & Finance, 21st Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute, and the Manufactured Homes Industry

Kevin Clayton has in his own words, dotted those i’s and crossed the t’s, about Buffett hating competition, and instructing the building of “the Moat.”

GoodBusinessStrongCastleMoatAroundItUntouchableWarrenBuffettQuoteMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

So too has Warren Buffett.

“Perverse”–Warren Buffett-Dodd-Frank, CFPB, Manufactured Housing, Loans, Independent Businesses Fact Check$

We believe that there is plenty of evidence that the report from an award-winning MHI member to MHProNews was true when he said (paraphrasing), that ‘the big boys have figured out how to get the smaller companies to pay for what the big companies want.’  See that, linked here.

We also believe the pattern is there to support the claims of those past and present MHI members – along with others – who have told MHProNews how they personally have suffered from the monopolistic and other business practices of Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, et al.

Killing Off 100s of Independent Manufactured Home Retailers, Production Companies – Tim Williams/21st Mortgage “Smoking Gun” Document 2

 

Recommendations?

The industry’s post-production sector should forge a new trade association, as several have already advocated and are exploring.

Study Recommending New Manufactured Housing Association for Independent Retailers, Communities, Lenders, Others Released

There needs to be civil, administrative, and criminal inquiries made into these allegations involving MHI and Berkshire Hathaway, et al.

When Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Jaime Dimon’s announcement earlier this week caused the markets to plunge, it is in the view of some analysts a warning shot across the bow of the Trump Administration.

Buffett, Bezos – Time Announcement to Drop Market Ahead of SOTU? Plus MH Market Update$

If so, that warning shot impacted investors.  No one should be above the law.

Arguably the most harmed are the mom-and-pop retailers and communities, along with any independently owned producer, supplier, or financial services company involved in manufactured housing.

Buffett became the biggest player in manufactured housing in 2003 with his first acquisitions.

Since the Kevin Clayton video interview was originally conducted, Clayton’s footprint in the industry doubled.  He did so using “the Moat,” financing, nonprofits, and other tools Kevin expresses in his own words.  Several of those are the topic of related reports, linked above and below as references.

TonyIWillNotBeTakingQuestionsFromThePressRickRobinsonMHISVPGeneralCounselMastheadMHProNews

There are reasons why Dick Jennison and Rick Robinson both ducked out on questions from a publication that is demonstrated it is pro-industry for years and years.

The Top Twelve Questions for Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO, Richard “Dick” Jennison

What are they hiding?

Expert’s NWS Statement Reveals Serious Problems in Tornado WARNINGS & Manufactured Housing Safety Data

Why are they even hiding from their members good news that they ought to be spotlighting?

RentVsBuyingHousingAnalysisWhatsBestKenHJohnsonPhDFloridaAtlanticUnivRealEstateEconomics-ManufacturedHomeLivingNews660

MHLivingNews and MHProNews have from the outset documented cases of good news for the manufactured housing industry. Why has MHI routinely failed to spotlight those good news stories for the industry to benefit from?   Learn more about the above at this link here.

 

Parting Takeaways for Today

Honorable, Non-Monopolistic Investors who take a long-term horizon view of manufactured and other forms of factory built housing ought to – and will – dive in.

Current Industry players who aren’t giants are the current best friends of a giant should demand action.

MHI needs to open its books, open its bylaws, and undergo a third-party forensic examination for conflicts of interest. We think there may be good reasons to disband the organization, as hopelessly corrupted (again, that’s not a slam on most members, but all must be aware of potential liability from maintaining their membership).

Fiduciary Responsibility to Corp Shareholders-MH Anti-Trust Concerns; Plus MH Market UPdate$

Berkshire Hathaway ought to face precisely what some have advocated, anti-trust action. That action should not be limited to Warren Buffett and his brands, because what happened last Tuesday was not the first or last time that billions of dollars in wealth could be wiped out by such market machinations.

The time for anti-trust civil, administrative and criminal investigations is long overdue.  Personalities across he political spectrum in and outside of manufactured housing say so.

Maxine Waters Statement, Preserving Access Manufactured Housing Act 2017, Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes

We believe that among the best ways to advance the industry is to expose MHI, and break up Berkshire Hathaway.

Until that happens, millions are being harmed, small business as being forced to sell for less than their value, or have been forced to close.

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Tony took the photo at the right.

Its an American tragedy.  It’s Dark Money Conflicts that are harming real business people, and everyday Americans.  These are our concerns.  We’ve laid out the facts, and just some of the evidence in the above. Given Kevin Clayton’s own words, plus the links, isn’t it more than enough?  We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact checks, commentary.)

(Third party images and information are provided under fair use guidelines.)

L. A. “Tony” Kovach is an award winning manufactured housing industry veteran, and is the managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC – the parent company to MHLivingNews.com, MHProNews.com and professional service provider to the factory-built housing industry.

Connect on LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach