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Principle of ‘The Lesser of Two Evils,’ and MHVille’s Future

September 11th, 2018 No comments

 

NationalManufacturedHomeOwnersAssocLogoMHActionLogoMastheadManufacturedHomeCommentaryMHProNews600x315

There’s a simple but profoundly useful concept taught be ancient to modern thinkers who ponder business, ethical, moral, political or other issues.

 

It’s called the principle of ‘the lesser of two evils.’

It’s simple.  When confronted with a choice, neither of which is perfect, by definition each is a some level of ‘evil’ or imperfection. Which choice does the thoughtful person make?

Morally or logically, the lessor of the two imperfect or ‘evil’ choices.

1)    The featured image above, are MHAction and the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA). Both of those groups purport to be working on behalf of the interests of the owners of pre-HUD Code mobile home owners, as well as the millions of owners of manufactured homes.

2)    There are currently two, and an emerging third, national trade association.  There is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). They each have a different mission statement, with MHI claiming to represent both production and post-production interests, and MHARR plainly stating that they work for the interests of mitigating regulatory issues that face independent producers of manufactured homes.

3)    There are two major political parties. As almost any American adult in the U.S. would know, there are Democrats and there are Republicans (a.k.a., the Grand Old Party or GOP).  Each major party, plus minor parties like Libertarians, advance their candidates for local, state or national offices.

4)    For fun and fairness, we could point to ourselves as trade publishers, and say the same thing. Compare what we do, with what any other remaining or new trade publisher does in manufactured housing.  Who brings you pablum, platitudes, or thinly veiled promotions vs. who brings you news, facts, analysis, and commentary that can be used to navigate the waters that businesses, professionals, and investors face?

Note none of the above – including ourselves – are perfect. By definition, any lack of perfection in philosophical jargon is some degree of ‘evil,’ not pure evil, but an imperfection.

Between imperfect choices, which choices from the above will people make?

 

Decisions, Decisions…

Elections are about choices.  Decisions. On a practical level,

  • one votes for a Democrat,
  • a Republican or other party, or
  • one doesn’t vote at all.

Those who don’t vote, have ‘voted’ not to participate, and have thus yielded to those who do.  The resident groups are right about this.  Their power is at the ballot box.  Just ask long-time industry professionals in states like CA or Delaware – not to mention a number of other states in between the east and west coasts – and they’ll tell you that resident groups have caused bills at the local and state level to pass that include measures such as rent control or “rent justification.”

The industry often opposes these.

Resident groups are engaged at the state level by a number of state associations. MHI and MHARR have engaged at various times and ways with NMHOA, though on differing topics. MHARR is not directly involved in community issues, but they do promote a robust entry by the GSEs into manufactured home lending, as one of several topics that are important to communities, retailers, and thus producers.

 

With the Table Set Above…

There are good reasons to believe this the upcoming midterm election could be the biggest in years, perhaps, in a generation or more.

Rob Weymouth, has been claimed as a member by the leadership of Delaware Manufactured Home Owner Association (DMHOA), which affiliates with both NMHOA and MHAction.

Weymouth, perhaps not realizing his illogical argument, in several letters to the editor in his area, has written arguing that Democrats needed to be elected, even though he admits in his own column, that the Democrats who passed a rent-control bill was “useless” to manufactured home owners.  Useless legislation, but vote for those that passed it?

MH Communities, Owners, MH Independents Alert – NMHOA and MHAction Next Steps? – Part 1

That said, Weymouth is urging manufactured homeowners to vote Democratic.

Tim Sheahan, is the president of the NMHOA. He had a lengthy submission to the FHFA on the topic of the Duty to Serve (DTS) by Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In it, he made several interesting points, which wittingly or not, he later logically contradicted.  See the report, linked below for specifics.

Tim Sheahan, NMHOA President, Controversial Points of Agreement with Marty Lavin, George Allen on Communities

The tactics and positions taken by NMHOA or MHAction tend to align more with Democratic than Republican politics.  If they see that differently, they’re leadership is welcome to send me a letter to the editor to clear up any confusion on that point.  But so far, what’s been communicated privately and publicly led us to that conclusion.

Let me be clear.  The analysis we’ve done are not put-downs to Weymouth or Sheahan. Manufactured home residents deserve respect.  There are few in the industry who’ve done more to lift up the image of manufactured home owners, as what we’ve done on MHLivingNews.com. For years, we’ve spotlighted morality tales of what not to do, when we publish articles about businesses that have gotten in legal hot water for wronging one or more residents.

So, the purpose of public discourse – there’s, our’s or other’s ideas – is to advance concepts.  Those visions ought to be examined and tested logically, using our God-given common-sense.

HumanitiesValueBuisnessCriticismDissentWhenGoingAlongGetAlongWhereWhistleblowersDiscouragedBadThingsHappenBusinssesImplodeMar

No formal training in logic or debate is needed to analyze someone’s perspective.  What is needed, is objectivity and common-sense.  What’s helpful is applying simple principles, like the lesser of two evils.

For some time, MHProNews has systematically examined numerous issues that impact manufactured housing and manufactured home owners.  It has led up to this moment.

 

What’s the best way to advance the interests of manufactured home owners and businesses alike?

Let’s keep it simple.  Some respond to emotional appeals.  Set aside pure emotions, which can be manipulated.  As Poverty Inc demonstrated, what sounds big hearted can in fact be harmful to the very people that people of good will intend to help.

Let’s give NMHOA and MHAction the benefit of the doubt for now.  Let’s say, for discussion’s sake, that they want the best interest of hundreds of their members or millions of MH residents.  Let’s further say they aren’t working – as MHAction’s ties suggest – for the interests of billionaires like George Soros.

If that is so, then who is doing more for manufactured home residents?  Is it Democrats, as Weymouth and his DMHOA leadership think?  Or is it the emerging new GOP, under President Donald J. Trump?

 

Compare – and Decide

What precisely did the administration of President Barack H. Obama do for MH residents during his 8 years in office?

Compare that to what the President of the United States (POTUS) Donald J. Trump has already done to raise millions of more people out of poverty?  Think about how in 20 months millions are off of food stamps, have new jobs with higher pay, have lower utility bills, more take home pay, and more.  Better paying jobs that President Obama said would never come back, are back under President Trump.  Set aside style or tweets, etc, and look at results.  Considered objectively, isn’t it an easy comparison between Mr. Obama and POTUS Trump?

Former President Obama, unable to stand on his actual record, is now back on the campaign trail.  He’s trying to imply or claim in recent days that the increasingly booming economy is due to his policies.  That’s easily debunked nonsense. Coal, manufacturing, and other jobs that Mr. Obama said would never come back, are under President Trump’s pro-growth policies.

The fact that Mr. Obama even feels the need to make such obviously false claims should speak volumes.  Don’t let the supposedly soaring rhetoric carry your colleagues off.  Because a growing number of the former 44th president’s supporters left him for the Trump movement.

In fact, about 1/3 of the counties that candidate Obama won, where won years later by candidate Donald J. Trump.

Under President Obama, starting with his first midterms, Democrats lost a net of some 1,000 seats at the federal, state and local levels.

Keep in mind, that President Trump, much like the late President Ronald Reagan, is a former Democrat. That fact caused concerns for many in the GOP power structure.

President Trump has been:

  • good for job creation ,
  • Blue collar workers,
  • Good for minorities,
  • Good for women,
  • has reduced the numbers on public assistance,
  • has boosted investments in American businesses, which is good for owners, investors, and professionals.
  • It is those investors that could – under the right policies – begin building more communities that could rebalance the supply-demand equation for manufactured home community residents.

Here’s the bottom line.  Democratic policies since the Great Society some 50 years ago, spent over $22 trillion dollars until 2014, with no appreciable difference in poverty rates.

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The principles of Poverty, Inc – applied to the U.S. – will tell us that what’s needed is to clear the path for small businesses to open, operate and do business that lift people out of poverty and create opportunities.

Acclaimed Poverty Inc. Video, MHVille – Why Left & Right Should Listen, Learn From Each Other

Superficial thinking has arguably gotten:

  • manufactured housing professionals by the thousands, and
  • manufactured home owners by the hundreds of thousands,
  • both into less than ideal or even problematic positions.

It will take clear thinking, facts, and evidence to correct what’s gone wrong in manufactured housing.

MHARR, outspent by some 7 to 1 by MHI, has routinely picked the correct positions time and again on issues that face the industry.  By contrast, MHI has repeatedly taken positions that they claim are good for many, but in fact work for the interests of a few ‘consolidators’ of smaller businesses.

FEDs, MHI, Buffett’s Berkshire’s Clayton Homes Moat, Affordable Housing, and Billion$ in Manufactured Home Market Manipulation

It is hard to find something good to say (sorry) about the public positions and actions of MHAction.  There is clear overlap between MHAction and NMHOA.  That said, both NMHOA and MHAction, along with their state affiliates need to be engaged, as some professional associations have tried.  But it is resident group’s thinking that must be engaged, analyzed and put on display, as we have in articles linked from this column, above and below.

Ishbel Dickens said she was open to a public discussion debate of the issues with me, but never actually did so.  We’ve more recently made a similar invitation to NMHOA and MHAction’s current leaders.  We’ll see what they do, but so far, there’s no one jumping at the chance.  Why not?  Do they lack confidence in their positions?

If they are not willing to defend their positions, perhaps they should consider changing them?  In fact, that’s the purpose of analysis and debate. To discern through testing what’s true, what’s not, so that people can make the best decisions moving ahead.

The answer for residents is demonstrably not rent control,  Nor is it Democratic policies.  Frankly, it isn’t purely Republican policies that will fix things either.  As an independent, President Donald Trump’s policies – which blend elements from both major parties – are what could prove to be the path ahead.

MHARR’s president and former president said as much.  See the video, below.

Looking back, isn’t it clear that they were right?

Life is full of decisions, as we all know.  It often comes down to two imperfect options.  Pick the better of the two, which the ancients called the principle of the lesser of two evils. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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

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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DC Complexity plus Rising Sales, Rising Pressures on MH

February 5th, 2016 No comments

Reminder: like so many of you, we love the manufactured housing industry, and believe strongly in its future. Good news exists like the wine that cheers us ahead; troubling news is there for us to identify, navigate and overcome so our home owners and we as professionals can grow even more.

rising-home-sales-shutterstock-masthead-blog-mhpronews-Let’s note the rising new home MH shipment report, linked here, and look at a positive step forward.

DC Complexity

MHI issued a statement, which reads in part as follows:

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to increase the flexibility for low income families to use a Section 8 voucher to purchase a manufactured home.  The amendment was approved by voice vote…”

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Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

This amendment, which was supported by Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA), allows vouchers to be used not just for the cost of leasing the land (which is currently permitted) but also for other monthly costs of purchasing a manufactured home loan, including mortgage payments, property tax, and insurance. The change would allow families that receive a tenant-based Section 8 voucher to help pay for an alternative to renting an apartment – allowing them to actually purchase a home.  The amendment does not provide any direct funds or require anyone to use a voucher to live in a manufactured home. However, with this change the approximately 2.1 million Section 8 voucher holders in America will now have the option to use their Section 8 voucher to buy a manufactured home.  

The broader bill that now includes this provision, H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 472-0. It will now be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Among the comments from readers on this was this:

More than ten years ago at an MHI convention (name withheld) suggested to Barney Frank that this was the one thing gov’t could do which would help everyone.  It went nowhere as he wasn’t listening.

Under the right circumstances this measure could be the most exciting thing since the HUD Code.

But, things are never as good or as bad as one thinks.  This does however, have the potential to really help. Why piss away apt rent money? Let people use that money to buy their MH.

Now let’s see the details and hope for the best.”

The reason the Masthead will refer to this as DC Complexity is this easily overlooked part of the MHI release:

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Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member, Financial Services Committee.

This amendment, which was supported by Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA), allows vouchers to be used…”

Recall that it was Maxine Waters that recently lead a public charge to have Clayton Homes investigated by the Department of Justice?

We shouldn’t look sideways at this potential for this gift to MH. Congressional Representative Waters is on the attack on MH on one topic, and yet supporting MH on this issue. That reveals how complex DC can be.

In this political environment, it doesn’t pay to burn a bridge in the nation’s capitol, does it?

Unreported in the release where acknowledgments of others who have publicly called on HUD for like reforms, including MHARR, MHI and another as seen from this link here.

Seattle Times –The Beat(ing) of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Clayton Homes and MH lending goes on…

The news alert read like this…

Washington state moves to protect mobile-home buyers

Center for Public Integrity

The ongoing investigation of the industry, “The Mobile-Home Trap,” has focused on Clayton Homes, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire …

In the wake of the above and related, we received this comment that was initially sent on the record by a well know industry leader, and then a follow up message requested it not be on the record.

Tony,

In my opinion the Section 8 MHI posting and the DOJ investigation of Clayton Homes financial entities appears to be a concert conducted to appeal to the 98%ers and to get local NIMBY’s to remake the LLC communities into a new type of affordable housing.

The goal is to offset troubling local affordable housing issues nationwide.  Since Socialism and Rent Control appear to be a Democrat and Progressives theme and a claim to equality in housing. Only one “Gotcha” is needed to validate and prove Clayton Homes finance arm’s troubles.

The trend and recent actions clearly shows a path to change for the future of HUD (Code manufactured) housing.” (Editor’s note – the words “Code manufactured” – was implied, but not in the original, and was inserted above for clarity of meaning).

Follow ups made it clear that this writer wasn’t throwing someone under the bus, nor necessarily favoring what is happening on this issue. Rather, that professional suggests that the HUD Code MH and MHC industries are being forced into changes, whether it wants them or not.

About Lesli Gooch’s Op-Ed

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Marty Lavin, JD looking happy and trim in the dining area of his winter residence in Miami Beach, the 70′ custom Italian ship, the Spy Sea.

Marty Lavin, JD, is a successful, award-winning attorney who’s business interests included MH lending, communities and retail sales. His opinion is worth noting, because he worked with one of the GSEs during the 2000s. When he read Dr. Gooch’s OpEd, he shared the following comment on the record to us:

I think Dr. Gooch is very well intended, but the industry position doesn’t necessarily align with the ends of the GSEs. Perhaps a better understanding of their position might lead to a better outcome…if that is possible. It’s much more than just helping consumers buy homes. The GSEs need these folks to be able to stay in them. Therein lies the rub.”

Once more, a close reading of his observations aren’t a slam on Lesli Gooch, or MHI. Marty Lavin has years of experience working with a particular GSE. He understands where they are coming from. Lavin is applying good reasoning: in the absence of meeting the GSE’s concerns, he believes they won’t voluntarily budge.

MHI-itis?

This leads to a broader issue, one we’ve raised in a slightly different way before.

What is keeping MHI from achieving its goals?

Yes, among other factors, there’s opposition in DC from so-called consumer groups. But those same groups claim to champion manufactured housing as a good solution for affordable quality living.

Manufactured housing and its lending ought to be seen as non-partisan issues. Yet all to often, it’s precisely in political and ‘crony capitalist’ terms how MH and it’s lending are being portrayed. That’s tragic, because the status quo is harming millions of owners of low cost MH, and untold thousands of buyers annually who in pre-Dodd-Frank had financing, and thanks to the CFPB’s 2014 implementation of those rules, today do not.

We know that DC works differently than many states do. But the principles are similar. State governments and the federal government mirror each other in the sense there is an executive, legislative and judicial branch and then there are executive branch agencies that enforce rules and regulations. There is lobbying at the state level akin to what happens in Washington, DC.

We know a number of MH state associations that are getting the job done for their members, while working in concert whenever possible with consumer groups. Let’s suggest that’s a model that MHI needs to better implement.

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Ishbel Dickens, NMHOA, photo credit Madison Park Times.

Why? Until we either get consumer groups on the same page as the industry – for the sake of consumers and for

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Doug Ryan, CFED’s point man on manufactured housing.

professionals alike – there exists an often adversarial relationship with non-profits such as Ishbel Dickens of NMHOA and Doug Ryan at CFED, to name but two examples.

Those groups are linked with what is going on in the ongoing media war launched against Clayton Homes et al, as the Center for Public Integrity’s own release indicates, “The ongoing investigation of the industry, “The Mobile-Home Trap,” has focused on Clayton Homes, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire…”

Our Daily Business News take on this thorny issue is below.

Seattle Times announces State Investigation of Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes, as expected – Analysis –

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Image credit – collage of Industry Association logos by MHProNews, each logo is the property of their respective organization, and is used here under Fair Use guidelines.

DC Talk and DC Complexity

Once more, your Masthead scribe will be in DC to listen to what is going on there, first hand. The rules of the association are clear. I can’t report on what goes on in the meeting, but what is said in the hallways outside the meeting rooms and beyond the event are fair game.

We’ll see what that hallway and beyond – DC talk – will reveal.

We still want to see S 682 passed, because it is good for consumers and good for the industry. There are those who say Preserving Access is “dead, dead, dead” – that we might at best save the MLO comp rule portion of it.

Another well placed source says the entire bill is still at play, and that’s exactly why the Seattle Times et al are continuing their assault on MHI’s backed bill.

Is passage of the bill doable? Yes. Will it get done the way things are moving now? What do you think?  We Provide, You Decide. ©

Quoting from the MHI website…

MHI Mission Statement – MHI is the national trade organization representing all segments of the factory-built housing industry. MHI serves its membership by providing industry research, promotion, education and government relations programs, and by building and facilitating consensus within the industry.”

Let’s ask: is this mission statement being fully lived up to?

If the mission statement were a reality, would we be further along or perhaps have even already passed the highly modest CFPB/Dodd-Frank reform legislation sought in HR 650-S 682?

What the high numbers of comments, forwards and thousands of reads on our recent Masthead on a related topic suggests is that change must come to MHI, the only question is how and when.

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Graphic credit, OpenSourceway and FlickrCreativeCommons

We want the bill passed, for reasons noted numerous times over the years. It might get passed with no changes at MHI, just rocking along with business as usual there. But my sincere concern is that without change, we are whistling in the wind.

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com1I’m looking forward to visits on Capitol Hill.

We’ll catch up with another Masthead after the MHI meetings, perhaps next Wednesday.jan-hollingsworth-for-mhlivingnews-com-55

Until then, stay current with Matthew Silver’s Daily Business News, and you’ve simply got to read Jan Hollingsworth’s latest:

http://manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-frugal-manufactured-mansions-take-their-place-in-the-california-sun/

Your insights and thoughts? They’re valued.

Let’s end as we began. Good news cheers us on, issues are there for us to learn from and navigate. Onward! ##

l.a.'tony'kovach-us-supreme-court-washington-dc-mhpronews-com-By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

 

Manufactured Housing – Losing, Lemmings and MH Winning

January 26th, 2016 No comments

Housing isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a human necessity. Physically – not spiritually – speaking, there is food, clothing, transportation and shelter. In the natural order, all else is a bonus.

In the USA, affordable housing is a growing need. No industry – on paper – can make a better case for being the affordable housing solution. Manufactured homes – MH – is a uniquely American industry.

MostMenNeverConsideredWhatHouseIsActuallyThoughHeedlesslyPoorAllTheirLivesBecauseTheyThinkMustHaveTheirNeighborsHaveThoreau-MHLivingNews-c2015-allrightsreserved-

The collage above is both real and symbolic.  The homes shown are from independent producers and from major firms alike. There is work to do to make the collage a reality. Image credit, MHLivingNews.com.

The facts noted aren’t opinions, they are indisputable realities that if debated we could easily make the case for, and we do that digitally daily here, and to the public-at-large on MHLivingNews.

As the industry’s premier professional trade media – and most respected independent voice – the Masthead blog on MHProNews brings you views today and moving ahead that will take a politically incorrect, but pro-goal and solution oriented look at the following question.

So why doesn’t the MH Industry win more often in DC?

It’s a multi-billion dollar a year question. That means, your share of lost profits could be in the millions. Why doesn’t MH do better in the media, and better politically in DC?

1million-`billion-1trillion-credit=blahdyblahblahblahg.blogspot-posted-masthead-mhpronews-com-

Housing is a trillion dollar a year industry. MH is doing maybe 5 billion a year in sales. When will we take the steps necessary to advance the industry’s cause successfully, so that professionals and investors can earn what the industry’s true potential is? Image credit, blah-blah, blah.

We asked, here are examples of what we’ve been told.

The industry blew it during the early part of the Obama Administration and in the waning days of the Bush era,” an insider told MHProNews. “We had the opportunity to do great things for MH in Washington (DC), and fumbled it away.”

MHI’s CEO has the solid support of the Executive Committee,” another said. “A strong statement of support was made for Dick Jennison when his contract was extended.”

The flip side of that are those who say that Jennison has a tenuous relationship with staffers, and has a series of what some would say are notable – and avoidable – missteps with non-profit groups such as CFED, with MHARR and with others.

Example. While we see the world very differently than anti-MHC activist Ishbel Dickens on most things, please note her quote to us below:

IshbelDickensMadisonParksTimes-credit-postedMastheadBlogMHProNews-com-

Isbhel can tell you as well as anyone that we disagree on most things, but this statement of her’s we happen to have confirmed – quite by chance – by MHI. Ishbel Dickens, NMHOA, photo credit Madison Park Times.

Tim and I have met with the Board Chair and the in-house counsel for MHI and offered to try to negotiate acceptable compromise legislation regarding HR 650. However, to no avail.”

The “Tim” above means Tim Sheahan, NMHOA President. MHI’s Chair at the time referenced was

TimSheahanPresidentNMHOA-creditNMHOA-postedMastheadBlog-MHProNews-com-

Tim Sheahan, President, NMHOA. Photo credit. National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA).

Nathan Smith, of SSK Communities. MHI’s attorney naturally reports to its president, Richard “Dick” Jennison.

Some of the other missteps made by paid MHI staff were documented – by MHI! – on MHProNews. An example is linked here, where Dick Jennison is said to have instructed Jason Boehlert to pull the trigger on issuing the victory-lap statement on meetings with the non-profits.

So what?

The problem was, that Jennison and Boehlert alledgedly didn’t clear the comment with the non-profits.

He wanted a victory to report, and we were personally asked to report it, to maximize the spread of the RichardDickJennison-MHI-CEO-PostedMHProNews-com‘good news’ on this topic to the MH Industry at large.

We did, word for word as we were asked to publish it. They were pleased, and thanked us for publishing their letter by Jason.

However, when the non-profits saw what they had published on MHProNews, they let Dick know they wanted to rip Jennison a new one.

We’ve sat on facts and insights like these and numerous others we have in hand, hoping the mistakes at MHI were going to be corrected.

In that hope, let me hereby admit my being wrong.  In the wake of the ongoing mishandling of the media, non-profits, politicos, MHI’s own members, etc. – and others that we won’t mention or publish today, but may soon – we are past tired of waiting.  

Moi had to look in the mirror and ask a tough question.  Are all in MH going to suffer and wait endlessly for the next track to replay on the same scarred vinyl record?

vinyl-record-player-scratching-surface-nightclubbing-dj-credit-dreamtime-postedMastheadBlogMHProNews-

Vunyl record, stuck playing the same track, over and over. Royalty free image credit, dreamtime.

Inside MH

For those who don’t understand DC politics, the support of CFED and other non-profit groups such as Dickens-led NMHOA for MHI’s Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act bill would have meant the difference between a fight to pass the earlier or current versions of HR 650/S 682, and smooth sailing with both major parties in an agreement.

Dickens knows that reality. So read her words again with that context:

Tim (Sheahan) and I have met with the Board Chair (Nathan Smith) and the in-house counsel for MHI and offered to try to negotiate acceptable compromise legislation regarding HR 650. However, to no avail.”

I recall the briefing Nathan Smith gave to MHI members in attendance at MHI about the then-latest meeting on Preserving Access. It was what you’d expect from the opposite side of NMHOA’s pole in politics.

Those same non-profit groups may be wrong on the facts of industry financing and much else; and in the case of CFED, they may have a conflict of interest with the CFPB – which we exclusively broke the story on – linked here. To my knowledge, CFED hasn’t tried to explain that reported conflict-of-interest away. When something is true, it makes it harder to deny.

We’re doing our job today as pro-industry trade media by exposing what too few would know otherwise. The repeated missteps in Arlington directly and indirectly can costs your operation serious money. The graphs below tell the tale.

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Facts and image credit – US Census Bureau, Reed Construction and MHProNews.

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Credit – Bipartisan Policy Center.

When And Why Facts Don’t Always Matter…

In a normal world, having the facts on your side should mean victory. In the topsy turvey world of DC, that’s not always true.

But to screw up repeatedly, to snatch a bloody nose at the hands of PBS rather than be taking another step toward industry victory on a key finance issue that harms millions of MH home owners and thousands of MH businesses, that takes real talent.

Here are some comments and insights from MHI members and loyalists:

1) A prominent state executive first said a couple of years ago that the way the Preserving Access was being handled was going to lead to its likely defeat. That same exec did what he felt he could to advance the cause with his members. In the aftermath of the ST/BF and PBS reports, the statement yesterday to us was, has said exec now been proven right? The exec and others believe so.

2) After a briefing, another industry figure described Dick Jennison – almost three years ago – as sounding “clueless” on key industry issues being pushed then and still now in DC. That professional was telling MHProNews how concerned he was about how things were being managed in negotiations with the CFPB, and in promoting the prior version of Preserving Access to Congress.

Ironically, that person is working today for MHI. Perhaps that pro is patiently waiting for Jennison to be replaced?

3) Nor is that person alone in seeing how things are being handled in Arlington. Another at MHI is also awaiting Dick’s retirement – or other exit – with an eye on Jennison’s desk and chair.  Can you image how such inner-office rivals manage to make good things happen?

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Our private and other efforts to stop the chaos have born no fruit.  So now, to end the repeated bottle necks the MHIndustry encounters in its political efforts, we and others must be willing to boldly identify the choke points. The above image is credit to Google’s online definition.

4) We hear from a growing list of long time MHI devotees – people who have paid dues and have served the organization for years – lament off-the-record why things are SNAFU’d. A polite Google definition of snafu is above, but do a search for the Urban Dictionary definition of SNAFU, please…

5) There are plenty of supporters for Arlington-based MHI’s measure. So why does MHI so often come up short? As we opened this column, affordable housing is a bipartisan issue. With the above fumbles, infighting and lack of confidence in leadership in mind, are you getting the picture of why we don’t win in DC?

Is the following quote the answer?

Tony, I’m tired of being a lemming, running off the cliff in support of the endless chase of MHI’s bill. Most of the state associations we are members of work far more effectively than MHI. You’ve been promoting passage of the current and two prior versions of Preserving Access for years. Let’s be honest. The PAC money, time and effort are being wasted. The way it works there is a mess. I was told that when Nathan (Smith) called the office, other staffers said Jennison would run to the phone. Okay, great. Dick has the (MHI) budget balanced, but the bill (HR 650/S 682) and regulatory reforms MHI lobbies for aren’t getting done. I’d rather he’d slowly swagger to the phone, because he gets the job done, than have him run because there is no good news to report.”

6) We are told there are *** larger battles looming in DC. *** Can MHI afford to keep hoping to get it right? Can we keep watching missed field goals and missed opportunities to score touchdowns? When the same mistakes keep coming up in sports or any other profession, sorry – but sooner or later – doesn’t a change have to be made?

One long time MH veteran told me a total house cleaning has to happen at MHI. Nothing less than that will do, was that professional’s take.

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Total house cleaning? Pardon me, but the Masthead doesn’t see it that way. At the same time, the question of some degree of clean-up being necessary…isn’t that a different story?

We Provide, You Decide. ©

Releasing the MHI letter to PBS

Jennison has been asked and asked to release the 3 page letter sent to PBS by MHI. What good is that letter if it is read once at PBS and then tossed into file 13?

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MHI logo is their trademark, and is used here for editorial purposes only. MHProNews Spotlight, credit, MHProNews.

Tony, please stay on that getting that alleged 3 page letter sent by MHI to PBS. The lack of transparency at MHI is stunning. Maybethe letter they sent PBS is great. Maybe it’s weak. Who the hell knows? Members paid for the work that went into that letter. We as dues payers deserve to see it published! Please, keep the heat on them regarding this issue!”

Ok.

I was asked, when was the last MHI Week in Review (WiR) published? As I told an MHI staffer a few weeks ago, sometimes that goes into my spam, so I don’t always see it. So the question intrigued me. Given the query, I did a careful check. I came up with the date, January 8th. Surely, with a growing staff at MHI, that couldn’t be correct, so I called an MHI board member, he double checked too, and the last time MHI sent out WiR. He also said, January 8th.

Why call it “week in review?” One message to MHProNews said:

There are some things they print in Week in Review and in their Housing Alerts that are so clearly fluff, one has to wonder why they bother at all. To call the FHFA outcome on Duty to serve a “significant victory” is pure spin. Total propaganda.” 

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“Total propaganda?” That’s too strong a comment, but it reflects the mood of some MHI loyalists. MHI’s logo is their property, and the above is used here under fair use guidelines.

Here above is the full MHI alert, to set the context of that writer’s comment. Please *** closely read paragraph two *** which is clearly contradictory. The above is used here under fair use guidelines, to spotlight the point of pure spin by MHI being given to members and through them, to the industry.  Is that reporting?

Let’s be clear. A truly “significant victory” for manufactured housing would mean, DTS for MH chattel lending was going to be included in the proposed rule. The word for months was that it was an all but done deal. By contrast, the reality check is that asking for public comments, means the odds are now against you. Some say, its a conspiracy. We think that’s unlikely. Candidly, isn’t the more likely case that this issue too has been badly mishandled?  More incompetence?

Release the Federal Minutes!

Do you see why some are calling for MHI to ask FHFA to release the minutes of their closed door meeting with FHFA?

MHI members can be loyal, and most are! But what does it say about those in Alrington who ok’d the Housing Alert letter above – which we’re told had to pass through Dick Jennison’s hands before going out to members – are being given spin instead of the obvious truth?

Yes. Given the pattern of recent years, the reason for frustration with Arlington and this or that particular person there is increasingly clear. Some loyalists who used to go to MHI meetings, no longer do. They send someone else from their operation, or don’t go at all.

Another MHI member told me there was no other option, no other national association “game in town” for his segment of the industry.

No competition might be helpful for job security at MHI, but in the real world, when you go years with minimal or no real results, you don’t keep large checks and big desks.”

Filling the Vacuum?

Compared to such serious issues, it seems petty to talk about the difference between how MHI and MHARR respectively count new home shipments. That’s like an American debating the cost of tea in China. That puts not a nickel in anyone’s pocket, save those who peddle that petty stuff.

But there is a big difference – a costly one – when top MHI staff are said to be keeping important facts from others, including secrets that ought to be known by other office or remote staff – or most espeically – from dues paying members, whose livelihoods are being impacted by MHI.

To be fair and balanced, there are some issues we get answers from top staff in Arlington, but on others like the 3 page letter to PBS issue – silence.  To be equally fair, we invite MHI’s president to respond to the specific issues raised by this column. Will he?

Or will something else fill that MHI vacuum?

No Third Party…not yet

The 40 billion dollar man – former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg – has floated a trial balloon. Should Hillary falter in Iowa and lose big in NH – and/or get indicted by the Feds – Bloomberg could toss an independent hat in the ring, and fund himself to the tune of $1B for the 2016 race.

Is there a trial balloon floating in MH, about a breakaway group born of the rifts and frustration within MHI?

Hmmm, yes, but at this point, they are no more serious than Bloomberg’s is, likely less so. But…

Don’t throw in the towel…

For those tired of DC politics as usual, let me say, please don’t throw in the towel yet.

Your voice matters. Who is the industry?  James Cook answered that by saying, each of us are.

These issues impact your businesses. They impact the value of MH home owners. They cost the industry billions of dollars a year.

We will continue to promote success for home owners and businesses alike. But we aren’t going to encourage lemming-like behavior that gets us no where good, and does that slowly.

Frustration-lead change looks to be coming in both major parties. Could frustration lead change be coming to MHI too?

Manufactured housing is a non-partisan issue.  The industry’s thousands of businesses and millions of home owners deserve a more cogent, cohesive effort than what we see from the Arlington, VA based MHI efforts in DC.

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Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.  Loyalty isn’t about being a yes man, its about doing what’s right for the whole organization and industry. It doesn’t take an genius to know that you don’t keep doing the same things, the same way, and expect to get a new and better result. Photo credit, WikiCommons. Poster credit, MHProNews.

We Provide, You Decide ©

Next up…Tunica!

There will be news about Tunica, and one – possibly two – new Cup of Coffee interviews for the rapidly approaching February issue of MHProNews featured articles. Look for that in under a week, and please check back this weekend for more views from the Masthead that are Inside MH.We Provide, You Decide.” © ##

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Standing Room Only seminars are scheduled for the 2016 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, including SuperCharged Marketing and Sales, Financing and MHC/Retail Lessons Learned. More Tunica Show details, linked here.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

Countdown to Conflict Begins?

May 14th, 2015 No comments

As always, there is so much going on in Manufactured Housing (MH), picking a topic to focus on tonight is a little like picking from the smorgasbord at a top notch buffet. Given the looming discussion in the U.S. Senate on a key issue for our industry, millions of MH consumers and prospective buyers, we will focus today on that pending bill.

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Official photo, Senator Richard Shelby, photo credit Wikicommons.

Let’s start with what MHI has to say on this topic, quoting:

“The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) today lauded Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) for including in his regulatory reform package important pro-consumer provisions designed to improve access to affordable financing for manufactured home buyers. Click here to view The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015. Manufactured housing language is covered in section 108.

The provisions, are identical to those contained in S. 682, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Donnelly (D-IN) and cosponsored by Senators Toomey (R-PA), Manchin (D-WV), and Cotton (R-AR). They also mirror legislation recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 650), a bill supported by the National Association of Realtors, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Organization of African Americans in Housing, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, NAMB, National Association of Mortgage Professionals, and the California Association of Mortgage Professionals.

Manufactured housing lenders have left the industry or eliminated certain loans because of increased liability, which has made it extremely difficult for buyers to find financing. The situation has hurt the resale market, forcing existing owners to accept lowball, cash-only prices for their manufactured homes. This drives down surrounding property values and negatively impacts entire neighborhoods.

Chairman Shelby’s regulatory relief package addresses the harm consumers are experiencing due to current regulations that don’t work for smaller affordable homes, making it difficult for lenders to make these loans. The bill adjusts percentage thresholds that already exist under the Dodd-Frank Act to address the impact of fixed costs on smaller loans. The bill also improves the definition of a mortgage originator, enabling manufactured housing retailers to help consumers as long as they receive no compensation – e.g., payments from lenders. This is the same standard that applies to real estate agents selling site-built homes. These are minor and reasonable adjustments to federal regulation, and preserve all the major consumer protections such as QM Ability to Repay, prohibition against steering, and loan term disclosures.

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to consider Chairman Shelby’s regulatory relief legislation on May 21st at 10:00 a.m.”

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Credit Ozy Media – see link : http://www.mhpronews.com/home/industry-news/industry-in-focus/9540-ozy-medias-trailer-park-nation-a-dizzying-mix-of-falsehood-facts-fables-and-fiction-under-a-qtrue-storyq-banner

Countdown to Conflict

In the light of this pending Senate clash over access to more MH lending, can we wonder why OZY Media picked this time frame to target manufactured housing with their spin-filled and denigrating Trailer House Nation series last week?

Is it surprise that Ishbel Dickens at NMHOA and Doug Ryan at CFED are ducking the private and public invite to engage OZY to correct that publisher’s errors in their series that undermines the very MH values that they claim to be advocating on behalf of with their work?

When you can’t defend a policy, there are tactics that can be used by those with a weak argument in a public debate. Some of them include:

  • Ignore the questions.

  • Point to something entirely different (red herrings).

  • Use the ad hominem (attack on the person).

  • Use the straw man argument, where you set up a false narrative (“the straw man”), and knock that wimpy figure down; posturing as if that KO was a legitimate blow at a real argument.

We’ve seen Ms. Dickens fail to respond before to issues and facts that don’t fit their narrative. But it is simultaneously disappointing and enlightening to see CFED’s Ryan ducking on tough questions.

Policy wonks ought to be able to articulate something beyond their talking points. When confronted with facts, a serious policy advocate ought to be able to defend it, or if shown to be wrong, be woman or man enough to admit it. Anything other than that is a kind of charlatanism.

That said, we have and will continue the policy of allowing organizations and perspectives across the spectrum here on MHProNews.com. That is how a trade journal can fuel the understating of an issue.

Let me hasten to add that a different non-for-profit has sent a private message saying they did reach out to OZY, and chided them for poor terminology and other errors. Will others stand up and do the same?

The letter Barney Frank sent to James Cook, that our reader so thoughtfully sent to MHProNews.com to be published, was read into the Congressional record in the discussion on HR 650, which passed. Working with pros like you, together, we are making a difference.

That difference depends on YOU and your circle to be engaged.

Lumaxart Graphic by Scott Maxwell

Lumaxart Graphic by Scott Maxwell.

 

We have had team members and myself write our Senators in support of S 682. So I can look you in the digital eye and say, please,

  • call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. They can connect you to your two U.S. Senators.

  • Or email them – find your senator at this link…

http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

  • …or use MHI’s Engage.

Pick your favorite way to reach out and ask for support on S 682.

Count on the fact that the other side is doing all they can to undermine the MH industry’s position. We are seeing it in slanted media coverage that hardly deserves the name ‘journalism.’

We are in a conflict over the future of our industry and the security of our MHI home owners. There are in fact many conflicts over our industry’s future and potential. These arise from within and without the MH business community. Pick up the phone to email or call your Senator. Ask them to support S 682, the Preserving access to Manufactured Housing Act.

Looking ahead…

Watch for something eye popping in the very near future. We will keep you posted. Please pass the good word on. ##

UPDATE: The article has been RELEASED! Here it is:

Dodd-Frank and Manufactured Home Financing: The Place Where Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences Collide

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By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.