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“Monopoly” in Manufactured Housing Alleged by George Allen, MHI Defender’s Turn by former Community-Investor, Self-Claimed EducateMHC Blogger

May 22nd, 2019 Comments off

 

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Free enterprise is predicated in part on the ability to compete. Be it in tea, banking, or other sectors of the economy, America from its earliest days as a colony includes examples of not just tax revolt, but anti-monopoly rebellion too. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt are among the scores of sources that have said as much.

 

  • The Open Markets Institute has said that antitrust or anti-monopoly efforts are one of the most important issues of our time. As they put it on their home page, the Open Markets Institute “…promote greater awareness of the political and economic dangers of monopolization, identifies the changes in policy and law that cleared the way for such consolidation, and fosters discussions with policymakers and citizens as to how to update America’s traditional political economic principles for our 21st century digital society.” Note to newcomers, MHProNews often turns direct quotes bold and brown to make them ‘pop,’ but otherwise the quoted words are as reported.
  • Several Democratic 2020 presidential contenders have made monopoly and antitrust enforcement a campaign issue.
  • The Trump Administration has let it be known that they have an executive order drafted on antitrust, a copy of which was obtained by MHProNews.
  • The Department of Justice’s antitrust point man – Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim – was cited at length in a prior Daily Business News on MHProNews report in a talk dubbed “November Rain.”
  • A top antitrust attorney named Lina Kahn was hired by Capitol Hill Democrats.  These 4 bullets make it clear that this challenge of market consolidation and monopoly are a bi-partisan concern, though the two major parties may have differing approaches.
  • Facebook’s co-founder is among several who have called for the breakup of the company.  But it isn’t just big tech that is facing calls of breakup under antitrust law.

 

That brief survey with links to various reports makes it clear that antitrust or anti-monopolistic practices sentiment has swelled in several swaths of the national political and economic discourse.

Which begs the question.  Other than MHProNews, and MHLivingNews, why has the bulk of the other trade media or bloggers in the manufactured housing industry been so obviously silent on the topic of monopolization, antitrust, and consolidation?

As MHProNews has noted before – but will hereby spotlight in a different way with additional quotes – there is an exception of sorts.

It’s George F. Allen, who shed his COBA7 moniker in favor of EducateMHC, reportedly sold his modest direct interests manufactured home communities, but still has a website called “Community-Investor.”

Before turning to Allen’s comments, let’s note that MHInsider, a far larger medium which is a staunchly pro-Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) backer, reveals nothing on a site search under the term ‘monopoly.’  Ditto a search under ‘consolidation’ or ‘antitrust.’ A search for articles about manufactured housing’s ‘enhanced preemption’ – mandated by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 – are missing from MHInsider, much like that topic turns up nothing on MHI’s website too. In fairness and accuracy – to MHInsider’s credit – they provided a few pull quotes from HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s address in New Orleans, which is more than the zero found on MHI’s website as of this morning as this article is being drafted.  But MHInsider lacks the entire – and highly useful for the industry’s independents – recent Secretary Carson speech to manufactured housing professionals.

 

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Other publishers in MHVille may lack a search tool, or have so few industry readers, that their pro-MHI stance is worth mentioning but not worth the time to document.  So, there are others, most of whom routinely sing from the same hymnal that MHI provides.  MHI-affiliated state associations often likewise regurgitate uncritically – often verbatim – MHI’s missives, perhaps for reasons noted in a prior report linked here.  That stated, one must note that a few manufactured home community (MHC) state associations broke ranks with MHI, citing the Arlington, VA based trade group’s lack of effectiveness.

 

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Onto Allen and Monopoly…

With that survey and backdrop, here’s what Allen has had to say on the topic of monopoly operating in the manufactured housing industry.

 

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The date shown is when the screen captures were performed, not the date it was published. More on that, further below.

 

To use a phrase Allen enjoys, those are salient points. He’s made others before, like this one.

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While those are comments were made in years gone by, that begs the question. When the evidence for monopolistic behavior in America and our manufactured home industry specifically has mounted, why has Allen more recently defended the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), which is the arguably the breeding ground for what Allen dubbed himself called oligarchs and monopolists?

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While MHI’s SVP Lesli Gooch has denied the charge that Ryan raised in the article above, Doug Ryan at CFED, and long time MHI member, George Allen, are among those who’ve raised the issue of monopolistic practices by MHI. 

When Allen has demonstrably agreed with the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in the past, why has he attacked the Washington, D.C. based MHARR more recently?   Aren’t his disconnects apparent?

 

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Hold those thoughts.

Be it Allen, MHI, or others – each has precisely the same rights protected by the Constitution that we all do. From the days of the British colonies, to after the time that the United States was finally formed following years of revolutionary warfare, and through the varied phases of our national history, America has had a love-hate relationship with pamphleteers and publishers. But with few exceptions – like the classic prohibition of not crying “fire” in a crowded theater when there is none – we defend in principle the constitutionally protected right citizens enjoy to say what they will, even if it is determined later to be demonstrably wrong.

Which brings us to a pressing point of free speech and free press. On the left, right and the dwindling center, there are voices in media talking about the news that have raised concerns about free speech, concentration of media, and manipulation of news reports.  That there is a need for a graphic like the one below is troubling, but speaks volumes.

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Full Measure’s Sharyl Attiksson’s media bias chart is useful in sorting out the agendas behind various headlines and news sources. 

The quotes that follow exemplify the issue, across the left-right and even academic landscape.

 

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Dan Rather quote from the compelling video, Shadows of Liberty, posted on the linked page.

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Deepa Kumar quote from the compelling video, Shadows of Liberty, posted on the linked page.

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Danny Glover quote from the compelling video, Shadows of Liberty, posted on the linked page.

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That’s problematic, but hardly new in either American or world history. In ancient times, a leader might lop the head off someone who brought bad news.  Far more recently, media in the 20th or 21st century have examples of being pushed and prodded by government and/or private interests. One must be aware of that pattern in order to begin to discern the vexing reality that someone’s worldview is forged by what media sources they adhere to most routinely.

 

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The founding fathers themselves experienced the problems of negative media that was often harsh and agenda driven.  The founders used the press and pamphleteering to stoke the flames that caused a revolution against England, and eventually turned colonies into the independent but United States. Those founders believed that it is the clash and testing of ideas that can reveal to those who scrutinize details what is or is not true.

A close reading or attention paid to statement and subsequent events may also reveal the instances when people say or write one thing, but do another.

 

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Ask yourself. Do these Marty Lavin dictums apply in this case?

 

While all fail from time to time to live up to ideals, there is a special scorn many have for blatant and repeated hypocrisy. Perhaps rightly so.

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Now the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has an antitrust statement. According to form, MHI’s numerous meetings every year are opened with a reminder that antitrust guidelines apply. But does that mean that they are adhering in deed to those antitrust guidelines, and not just merely in the mentioned word? There are highlighted items in the MHI antitrust statement, linked here, which in this writer’s informed view merit legal and regulatory oversight attention.

So why are these issues missing from MHI’s website?

 

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Every symphony has high and low notes. There may be sobering, often dark drum rolls, and heartening crescendos. Symphonies – like other art forms – are meant to entertain, reflect, and inspire life. Novelists have plots, as well as subplots. Intentionally or not, publishing, writers, and media sources go through their own peaks, valleys, twists, turns, and familiar refrains.

The wonder isn’t that Allen – not just MHProNews or MHLivingNews – has raised concerns about “consolidation.”

Rather, it’s that others in manufactured housing trade publishing have not done the same. Are they unaware? That’s highly unlikely, because this writer hears from those publishers, their team, and followers. Are they afraid to rock the boat? Fearful? Paid-off via ads or other incentives? What?

One trade media competitor, in what was an unintended backhanded compliment said ‘Tony, you [MHProNews, MHLivingNews] write about that others in the industry read or talk about at bars and during meals.’  If so, that may explain why our audience dwarfs all others.  But that statement begs the question, then why doesn’t that gent and other writer/bloggers follow the lead of tackling the real issues, instead of playing footsy with MHI-driven drivel?

 

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Why does MHI have an antitrust statement, beyond as legal cover, while doing nothing of merit to commission independent research over concerns that they as a nonprofit group are being used as a tool for consolidation?

 

Then keep your tongue from evil

and your lips from speaking deceit.

Turn aside from evil and do good…” Psalm 34:13.

 

Let’s recall anew that George Washington, and other founders, for whatever their personal failings were – and they had them, as we all do – stressed the need for morality and religion, not just laws or a constitution.

 

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With that backdrop, back to Allen, monopoly, consolidation and what to do about it in MHVille.

 

Quoting Allen

A Final Thought for Year 2018, but Key for 2019

No names here, but hope you too boycott an ongoing online MH-related news media attempt to denigrate and divide us as an industry and realty asset class!

In my opinion, life is too short to be making crass and obtuse claims of national advocacy conspiracy, corporate antitrust imaginations, and disgusting personal attacks, only befouling internet platforms better used to promote manufactured housing and the land lease community lifestyle!

If so, join me in 2019, committing to read only print and online trade publications advancing the causes, and improving the image, of HUD-Code manufactured housing and land lease communities! No more caterwauling (‘to fight like cats’) in public and in private. Period.”

To spell it out for those not informed, Allen called there for a boycott of MHProNews, and of this writer. The ironies and hypocrisy there are thick.  Because of his own self-contradictions, and his own de facto concerns over the very kind of monopolization and consolidation – in that quoted case above, of media – that he blasted previously about MHI and Clayton. Can George spell hypocrisy?

Yet Allen’s aptly cited problems with consolidation, oligarchy, and monopoly. He still calls consolidation “a problem” in even recent posts.

 

WeveGotAProblemGeorgeFAllenQuoteCommunityInvestorEducateMHCSECOMobileHomeParkManufacturedHomesMHProNews

To see more disconnects between Allen and his flip-flops, then and now, click here.

 

Nevertheless, he is hypocritically attacking this platform, and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), each of which have consistently been sounding alarms about those issues – with specific examples – to the attention of the thousands of the industry’s readers.

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Allen has pointed out the obvious, that MHARR is a sponsor of our website. But that’s out in the open, MHARR has banner ads here. What Allen fails to mention is that MHI used to sponsor MHProNews too. Our coverage has been based upon our LLC’s own research and work, without favor. What Allen has, by contrast, avoided is what are the ways that he is being coached, rewarded, and influenced?  In pointing an errant finger, are three pointing back at George’s chest? Note too that MHProNews cites sources from MHI, MHEC members, MHARR, and others.  We do so accurately and in their historic context. 

 

Allen’s voice is significant, but small compared to this platform’s.  We have more readers in a few hours than he will have all week.  So, why bother?  Because frankly, reviewing the history of Allen’s musings make clear some of the very problems he once asserted, and now denies.  Its instructive to unpack Allen.

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Many of these quotes are from MHI insiders.

Allen is interesting to the extent that he does periodically make accurate statements.  But a stopped clock is correct twice daily too.  More politely, he is a reason why we believe in the wheat and chaff approach to people and sources. We all have our good and bad days, our good points, and our weaker ones.  Our readers have pointed out that we get typos, for instance.  Guilty as charged.  That’s our chaff, but who strive for finer wheat that feeds our audience that doesn’t find like content from other’s in the industry trade media.

Closely read, Allen’s arguably consistent about only one thing, support for himself.

With that said, he has apparently been re-embraced by the very people – MHI and their leaders – that he railed against for unfair treatment by examining his business interests under the cover of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), and then unethically going into competition against him. Allen personally felt the sting of manipulative and costly maneuvers from MHI, whose structure and funding point to firms in Omaha and the Knoxville, TN metro areas as their dominating, driving forces.  He ought to be leading the charge, instead of giving the manipulators cover.

Rephrased, Allen knows first-hand who pulls the puppet strings at Arlington, VA based MHI. He fought them, he was marginalized, he lost. That is, he lost until he was more recently reembraced to be the apparent purported surrogate and attack dog for the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis.  Now, for example, MHI Chairman Joe Stegmayer is back on Allen’s stage.

The key to understanding Allen’s pivots in publishing is to understand that he is highly motivated by self-interest.  That is per a former, significant client of his, who told this writer that the way to understand Allen is summed up in this saying: “With George, it’s always AAA – All About Allen.” Pondering that claim, and watching the pattern after that was heard, that source arguably proved correct.

The point here isn’t that Allen has flip-flopped, or that the balance of the industry’s trade media has been mute on the issues of monopolization, consolidation, antitrust, and market manipulation that has kept manufactured housing underperforming.

 

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While MHI in their monthly shipment report doesn’t deny the decline, neither are they addressing the underlying causes, nor have they proposed a remedy via their messages to the industry. Why not?

Frankly, we’ve covered much of that ground previously.

So the point here now is to make clear to new industry readers, investors wondering why a stock isn’t performing as it could be, outside researchers, legal, and public officials looking into MHVille seeking to grasp the facts that have caused obvious patterns to be obscured by others –including, but not limited to, the industry’s trade media.

 

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Be Skeptical, Question and Test

It’s entirely logical to test the accuracy of the reports and analysis here on MHProNews and MHLivingNews. It is logical to likewise test the writing and publishing of others in this same news and commentary space, to see how consistent each sources may be, or what evidence is offered by said sources beyond mere words.

GeorgeAllenPhotoPamDannerPhotoEducateMHCMobileHomeCommunityInvestorManufacturedHomeProfessionalNewsUnlike Allen’s railing – as was cited above – about “…making crass and obtuse claims of national advocacy conspiracy, corporate antitrust imaginations, and disgusting personal attacks…” we’ve provided on MHLivingNews and MHProNews the documents and direct quotes from the sources involved.

Besides, Allen himself said similarly – as this report makes clear – only he’s not been consistent about it.

Allen uses the old debaters’ tricks of red herrings, commits the ad hominin attack fallacy, and demonstrably accuses others of what he does himself. It’s the classic definition of a hypocrite.

 

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When we’ve given documented opportunities to Allen to publicly debate the issues we claim.  Bring on the supporting evidence as to what are the factors hindering manufactured housing industry’s growth, during an affordable housing crisis.

Other than MHARR and our trade media, who today in MHVille have offered a cogent explanation for the why and how the explains the cause of over 15 years of manufactured housing as an industry’s underperformance?

That underperformance in turn cost taxpayers, homeowners, and independent businesses collectively billions, at each turn.  Some of those independent businesses are the smaller community owners that Allen and his allies claim to care about.

That public debate offer with George Allen is one he’s routinely ducked out on. Thus, noting his roar like the lion in Wizard of Oz – but his failure to back up that roar – he’s arguably earned the mantle of that fictional character. It should be noted, Cowardly Lion finally got his courage, and did the right things.

We hope and pray Allen will do the same. Because Allen, in fairness and accuracy, has at times – albeit inconsistently – argued similar claims to those we, MHARR or others in MHVille seeking to maintain a lower profile have raised. Let’s note that some of those MHI sources, unhappy with what the Arlington trade group is apparently doing, have said they would testify to federal investigators about what they know.

Let’s return to one of those flashes from the past of apparent candor from Allen about the problem of monopoly power.

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George Allen, photo credit, MHProNews.com.

Hopefully you already realize we live and work in turbulent times, where the national economy and our industry’s business model are concerned. But have YOU stopped and considered the lasting effects horizontal (consolidation) and vertical integration have had, and continue to have, on our industry and realty asset class?

If you’re one of those who believe the MHIndustry needs a new, independent national trade association to protect and advance the business interests and concerns of the post production sector of manufactured housing, you’ll want to read this week’s blog posting from beginning to end. Because there is indeed a third such party ‘waiting in the wings’ for the timing and leadership to be right and effective from the word ‘Go’!

  • In short order, the number of independent (street) MHRetailers plummeted from more than 14,000 to fewer than 4,000.”

After listing some of the extensive holdings of Buffett led Berkshire in manufactured housing, Allen says:

Now, here’s the proverbial ‘rub’. With quiet but increasing frequency we read of conspiracies and monopolies gradually taking over (if not already ‘taken over’) the political agenda of the manufactured housing industry.”

Assuming truth and legitimacy of these claims of ‘conspiracies and monopolies gradually taking over the political agenda of the manufactured housing industry’, what’re the solutions? In the same op/ed piece in THE JOURNAL, the writer makes this case for a new independent national trade association to represent the post production sector of manufactured housing:

  • “…to monitor issues in the nation’s capitol, mobilize for effective action, and fight for their interests and issues, rather than the few industry-dominant lenders and the corporate conglomerates that stand behind them.” And until that happens, the writer opines, our shipments of new HUD-Code homes will continue to languish well below 100,000 units per year.

So, where’s this new independent national trade association going to come from? Surely not the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’) with its’ 80+ percent national member market share of new HUD-Code manufactured housing distribution; nor, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) and its’ regional housing manufacturing firms.”

Allen on that occasion from his blog dated 21 August, 2016 proposed himself  and his now defunct COBA7 as the industry’s solution and savior.  It is as if he set out to prove the point noted above from that former client of his that said, “With George, it’s always AAA – All About Allen.”

But sadly, one must ask, is Allen a white hat in MHVille, or a black hat?

 

White Hats, Black Hats…

 

 

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Allenites – those who uncritically follow him – turn a blind eye to problems like his ‘education’ on lease-purchase, or contract for title, which an industry attorney has called ‘illegal’ in the Dodd-Frank era, and which the NY State Attorney General’s office punished dozens of manufactured home communities for practicing. Hasn’t Allen condemned the kind of problematic negative news headline causing issues that his buddy Tom Lackey is accused of running? If so, why didn’t Allen called Lackey out, and asked for his ouster from SECO’s board? See the Chattanooga Times Free Press report, which notably cited MHProNews in part of its coverage. Note the circle.  MHVillage – which is a sister firm to MHInsider, which has Allen as a writer.  MHInsider’s parent company is part of MHI.

Allen failed to mention at all then that Dick Moore/Bob Crawford had launched a third party effort dubbed the MHIDEA, which MHProNews reported years before this specific 8-21-2016 musing by Allen.

While the effort never garnered the traction its concept merited, MHIDEA – short for the Manufactured Housing Independent DEaler Alliance – was launched in 2008, even before the full effects of Buffett’s Moat became clear.

 

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Never forget that even during medieval times, castles and their moats were in fact breached.

 

MHProNews reviewed MHIDEA’s otherwise insightful notions in depth in a report, linked below.

 

Giving Thanks for Manufactured Housing Independents, Applauding “MHIdea!”

 

During the 2010 timeframe, MHProNews reported on the MHIDEA efforts. Hindsight can be 2020. Had MHIDEA been better supported – by us and others – would the industry’s current issues be as severe as they are now?

By contrast, MHARR covered these issues to various degrees, and in a consistent fashion.  It must be noted that several of Allen’s references to concerns over monopolization were oblique references to claims and allegations made by MHARR.  They have been by far the most consistent in the industry on the topics that they’ve engaged upon.

Once more, it must be noted that MHI avoids these controversies, as reflected by using the site-search tool on their website.  If they suddenly, after weeks and months of such reports suddenly popped information that mentions these issues onto their platform, that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve avoided it for some years.

 

 

Summing Up

This current and historic survey revealed the following.

  • MHARR has consistently called out the problems of market monopolization, proposed solutions, and has done so for a period of years. It should be noted that the MHARR website is relatively new, so one would have to go to MHProNews’ MHARR module, or specific MHARR monthly articles to see the years of consistency in their reports and analysis.

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  • MHIDEA – while effectively dormant at this time – raised these concerns over a decade ago.
  • NAMHCO – which does not yet have a website – is still young, but has made it clear that they felt that MHI was ineffective and not advancing the interests of their members, which is why they said they broke from MHI in 2017.
  • MHI has nothing on several potentially positive items for the industry, ignored publishing Secretary Carson’s fine speech, and has nothing on these controversies.
  • MHInsider – essentially parrots the MHI stance, as have most if not all of the lesser known trade bloggers and publishers.
  • Blogger George Allen has flip-flopped, apparently based on if he’s getting benefits from MHI or not. But what’s clear is that Allen on several occasions raised the issue of monopoly, consolidation, and ‘oligarchy.’  More recently, Allen has attacked MHARR, and MHProNews for making arguments similar to those he himself previously advanced.  Allen does not bother to explain his contradictions, which can demonstrably occur within the same blog post.
  • MHProNews raised the issues years ago, in reporting on the MHIDEA and MHARR reports. But frankly, this writer – and our LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC family of publications – were not convinced initially. We reported what others said, but did not strongly advocate on the issues of monopoly, consolidation, marketing rigging, and the need for legal and federal action.
  • As I’ve said previously, per the SPJ standards of journalism ethics that call for clearly stating errors or omissions once noted, it took years of evidence, documents, news tips, and commentary by others until the scope and chutzpah of the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis was fully grasped in more recent years.
  • Oddly, some of Allen’s and MHI’s circle and readers have been among those who’ve for some time explained why they thought market manipulation was underway. They explained Allen’s role – or lack thereof – in masking or exposing it at various times.
  • It should also be noted that MHInsider publisher Darren Krolewski himself praised this publication and writer for taking on the tough issues. He was among those that informed us of what was underway, where MHI was allegedly undermining our pro-industry growth work, even as we were dues paying members of that association.

 

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Krolewski is now co-president of MHVillage, and the publisher of MHInsider. He now arguably avoids the difficult topics he once praised us for tackling on MHProNews.

 

Allen could perhaps go back and purge his site, if he was incentivized to do so. But we already have the screen captures, so why bother?

While he loves to charge that we misquote or do something ‘out of context,’ he’s not once provided evidence of that claim. In fact, as noted, when invited to debate or prove his case in a third-party moderated forum, publicly in front of an industry audience, and on video so others could witness it later, he’s always declined that offer.

The allegations and concerns raised in this report clearly tie directly into the issue of what we’ve dubbed  the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis.

Namely, that leaders at Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), Joe Stegmayer (MHI Chair), MHI salaried staff, and their inside and/or outside attorneys have repeatedly been invited to discuss and debate these concerns publicly.  Such offers to those leaders have been documented. The offer was to do hold such a discussion/debate in front of a live manufactured home industry professional audience.  That means that those who understand and/or are the most impacted by the issues to be discussed would be in attendance. A third-party moderator, plus video recording so others could see it all later, were part of the offer.

The powers that be in MHVille have declined every time. It’s their right to remain silent.  But that means that the allegations against them stand unrefuted.  One might ask, why they haven’t sued us – with or without just cause – as they’ve threatened in writing several times to do?  Is it perhaps because their leaders have praised us often, and for years, and that would come up in any legal proceedings?  How could they possibly explain it all away with a straight face?

 

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What the axis apparently did instead was reembraced Allen, who was persona non grata after their purported backstab of Allen only a few years ago. Allen was apparently re-engaged and rewarded precisely, to be used as a purported surrogate and as an attack dog against MHARR, MHProNews, and this writer.  Given that they can’t or won’t defend their actions, they’ve turned to the smear tactics instead. Allen and company do what they allege we do, interesting ploy, isn’t it?

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Last week, an MHI member named Andy Gedo began to enter into a question/answer with this writer about an article posted on LinkedIn.  That posted article spotlighted how Kevin Clayton, in a recent video interview with CNBC, did not deny that Berkshire monopolization of not only manufactured housing, but the broader housing market, was underway. Gedo initially questioned, but gave up on, defending Clayton against that claim. The Gedo discussion with this writer in its entirety is linked below.

 

Andy Gedo, Partner at ManageAmerica, Raises Clayton Homes Monopolistic Practices Debate; Manufactured Housing Institute Related Issues

 

While these incidents, Berkshire Hathaway documents and direct quotes in context linked here or other concerns are not proof in an absolute or legal sense, it is enough to cause more federal regulators, public officials, candidates, media/researchers to sharpen their scrutiny.  That’s frankly part of the reason to do such summary articles, which then link evidence and examples.

The reason we say ‘more’ is because there are already – beyond MHARR, NAMHCO, MHIDEA, MHProNews, and MHLivingNews – non-industry sources that have spotlighted some of these same concerns.  Some of those are linked below.

 

  The New York Times had an interesting article on the historic trends, and named several industries being monopolized.

  The Atlantic, without specifying how the monopolization was being accomplished, noted that the independent retailers in manufactured housing were being rapidly eliminated/consolidated, that report is linked here.

  GuruFocus said “Warren Buffett Can’t Escape Unethical Strategic Moats,” their specific points are linked here.

  The Nation called it “The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett’s Billions…” and specifies Clayton Homes among those using the strategic moat in ‘dirty’ ways.

  The Jacksonville Florida Times Union summarized the connection between the John Oliver viral hit video dubbed “Mobile Homes,” MHI, Clayton Homes, and their related lenders. That op-ed was first fact-checked by an editor, before it was published not only in the one newspaper it was submitted, but at least in 5 Florida newspapers.

But what those other sources may lack are specific examples of documents and video that were not yet published, until the trade media our LLC deploys covered them.

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by Tim Williams, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, these all line up to demonstrate how independent retailers, communities, and producers – among others – where purportedly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. Why hasn’t Allen told his readers how that cost them money? https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

 

What this summary does is reveal to industry readers and to outsiders looking in that there is substantial evidence of monopolization, consolidation, and examples of potential violations of antitrust laws at play in manufactured housing that date back about a decade or more. That’s almost roughly the same timeframe that Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway bought Clayton Homes, and began the slow ‘strategic moat’ and other related conquest techniques of the manufactured housing industry.

No one with common sense can believe that Buffett, Berkshire, and their billions could somehow have failed to grow manufactured housing to over 500,000 or more shipments a year.  MHI’s president himself said that was doable.

 

MHI CEO Dick Jennison’s Pledge – 500,000 New Manufactured Home Shipments

 

Which leads thoughtful readers and researchers with the vexing concerns that manufactured housing has been de facto sabotaged, largely from within.

 

 

That’s why the industry is the ‘best kept secret’ in affordable housing, as Terry Decio from Skyline Homes lamented on camera.

TerryDecioSkylineChampionHomesPhotoQuoteImTiredofManufacturedHousingbeingBestKeptSecretReadyHelpHouseAmericaDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

That’s arguably why Secretary Carson’s full address isn’t found on MHInsider, or at all on MHI’s website.  Carson made it clear he wants to promote the manufactured housing solution, and end the secrecy that hangs over the industry.

Alan Amy is one of the many quiet, thoughtful voices that helped advise this writer as to what was occurring, and why. Manufactured housing is the housing of the future, not just the past, said Amy.  The big boys are consolidating the industry at a discount now, knowing that they can reap billions in annual earnings once they’ve completed their conquest of the industry, and a friendly administration to their interests takes over in Washington, D.C.

 

DearTonySoheylaNoGreaterResourceSpeakstoIssuesOpportunitiesWeFaceAsIndependentRetailersGusRodriguezTejasHomesTX

Gus’ message came in response to a series of exposes on issues within manufactured housing, as well as tips, strategies, and opportunities.  From independents like Gus, to the largest players in the industry, and thousands in between, this is the most read source in the industry, because we tackle the issues most avoid – all in search of getting manufactured housing to achieve its true potential.

ManufacturedHomeMHShipments1990-2017DailybusinessNewsManufacturedHousingMHProNews600

Note the trend line. This is from an MHI member firm’s investor relations package.  They point to the industry underperforming, but they refer to it as the upside potential for growth. Manufactured housing is underperforming. Note the difference between RVs 20 years ago, and MH 20 years ago. No one else has advanced a thesis as logical and compelling. To date, Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington have not even attempted to refute the claims. Will they today?

The puzzle pieces fit, which is what Occam’s Razor calls for in its test of reason.  Otherwise, observers are to believe that Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, and MHI staff are all incompetent?  That they don’t know how to grow this industry that used to produce hundreds of thousands of homes per year?  That they can’t achieve growth during an affordable housing crisis? That’s absurd.

Once more, the powers that be are invited to refute or explain away these concerns and allegations. Or they can keep using diversionary tactics, while the industry’s shipments have shrunk for 7 months, during an affordable housing crisis?  Absurd. Preposterous.  Impossible to believe, unless the powers that be want it to be so.

And on that note, let’s call it a morning, as the sky suggests that the dawn will soon break.  We pray that dawn will be a sign for this once far greater industry that a new day is coming.  But like the founders and generations before us, freedom won’t be free. It will only come from a struggle.  That struggle begins with understanding the issues, which hopefully this report, fact-check, and analysis has helped shed fresh light upon.

It is long past time to break up the monopolists, using existing federal and state laws.  As Secretary Carson said about a different topic last night on Tucker Carlson’s show, “enforce the law.”

That’s this morning’s first look at “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Industry news, commentary, fact-checks, and analysis.) ##

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Manipulating Manufactured Housing Pros – Caterwauling Mudslinger, Just Write a Check, Pay Cash, Use Plastic, and Shut You Up

April 25th, 2019 Comments off

 

GeorgeFAllenEducateMHCCommunityInvestorImageManufacturedHousingInstituteClaytonHomes21stMortgageBerkshireHathawayMHProNews

Jealousy. Lunacy. Hypocrisy. Once was, award-winning, former community-investor George F. Allen bemoans MHARR, begs them and NAMHCO for unity with MHI, all while assailing this platform. Will someone in his circle please show him how to use the GPS app on his phone?

 

Or is Allen still navigating by using an old app-less flip phone? Does he not see that the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), the National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO), himself, we and others have all left the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for good, stated, and ongoing reasons?

Let’s unpack wanna-be “EducateMHC” magician and trickster Allen’s Good Friday assaults and caterwauling complaints about several MH industry things, as he purportedly puffs to carry MHI’s water. Yes, that’s the same MHI Allen himself quit, that he said privately and publicly betrayed had him, and that he long complained about their purported oligarchic practices. In his trying to point a finger at others, has he successfully instead pointed three fingers back at himself and his buddies affiliated with the Arlington, VA oligarchic front group?

Let’s dig into the evidence and find out.  Because after 6 months of declining new manufactured home shipments during an affordable housing crisis, manufactured housing retailers, communities, producers, lenders, and all others merit serious answers, not another artful dodge.

What is it All About?

Professionals in our industry or any other are obviously in business to make money. For the majority who want to earn an honest living, that requires information, among other factors.

So as the ancient Romans put it, “scientia potentia est” or “knowledge is potential power.”

Knowledge is only potential power because accurate information must be properly acted upon in order for it to have practical value.

But what if the information being put forth isn’t accurate?  Doesn’t that make success more difficult to obtain?  Especially for the independent business person, who may be competing against a nearby industry giant?

That’s just one reasons why critical thinking skills are necessary.  Because Allen is right about this much, there are two entirely different narratives at play in manufactured housing industry trade circles.  That begs the question, which narrative is more accurate?

As a thoughtful strategist – the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it – the purpose of education is to build character and to learn to think critically. Keep in mind what King and his colleagues accomplished.  Flash back to 1950.  Who would have thought that black Americans could have so many social, economic, and political barriers for their progress removed by the efforts of King and others working with him?

Knowledge, critical thinking – reality-based understanding – these are important for any professional, especially for those in a seemingly uphill battle.

IfMHProNewsIswritingAboutItIWantToKnowAboutItQuoteIn a normal industry, some of the types of facts and insights needed to succeed would typically come from trade associations.

Sadly, in manufactured housing – as even their exiting president Chris Stinebert obliquely suggested – the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has purportedly been failing at their own mission.  Why else would Stinebert wait until his final column to list all the ways that MHI was – from his insiders vantagepoint – failing to get to the root issues? To learn more, see the linked final article by Stinebert, here or above.

So while some moan or rail that MHProNews dares to hold MHI or other ‘big boys’ to account, it must not be forgotten that others – including, but not limited to, MHI insiders – have blasted MHI before or contemporaneously with this publication.

Rephrased, there is ample evidence that Stinebert and others in and out of MHI have provided to demonstrate that the Arlington, VA based trade group was weaponized to do the bidding of their ‘big boy’ masters.  Let Allen or others in MHI try to defend against that claim as best they can.

 

White Hats, Black Hats

Those ‘big boys’ are often tied to Omaha based Berkshire Hathaway, or Knoxville metro based Clayton Homes and their lending affiliates.  To be accurate and objective, there are other companies in the mix too.  MHI can arguably be seen as a mix of black hats and black hats.  The question then is, which hat is a given firm or individual wearing?  And are white hat firms giving black hat conglomerates cover for black hat activities?

The contention that much of the industry’s ills are in many ways internal did not begin here at  MHProNews.  One might argue that we were a bit slow on the uptake.  But if so, it was to make sure that the evidence existed to back the various claims being made, often by MHI insiders.

More recently, thanks to numerous voices inside and out of the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis, MHProNews and our publicly-facing sister site can and have sincerely advanced the troubling case that the industry is underperforming due to the fallout from purported: antitrust violations, ongoing efforts at market manipulation and association failures.

One need look no further than the historic shipment data to recognize that the industry is underperforming.

Even publicly traded MHI member companies are making that argument that the industry is underperforming, as the Skyline Champion (SKY) graphic below reflects. The comments were added by MHProNews, but the green line reflects that the industry has a long-term average of some 224,000 new HUD Code home shipments annually.  It has achieved 372,000 plus new manufactured housing units produced in 1998.  In the mobile home era, over 55o,000 units were produced and sold for 2 years running.  What was done before can surely be done again.

 

3ErasMobileHomesManufacturedHomesManufacturedHousingImprovementActEraSkylineChampionShipmentProductionGraphicMHProNews

In 1998, manufactured homes (MH) outsold RVs by some 3 to 2. In 2017, RVs outsold MHs by some 5 to 1. RVs recovered far more quickly from 2008. The facts raise questions. One, is the effectiveness of MHI as the post-production or ‘umbrella’ association in the country. The other question is more sobering. Has Buffett-Berkshire “Moat” strategies kept manufactured home production at historically low levels to allow a few big boy brands to consolidate others at a discounted ‘value’ by MHI insiders?

 

Another example of how MHI and their big boy brands are stirring the industry’s problems is the John Oliver’s satirical viral hit “Mobile Homes” video, accessible via the linked text-image box below.

 

 

That’s not caterwauling. That’s better known as following the facts, evidence, money trail, and logic.  That’s what researchers and reporters are supposed to do, George.

 

 

CaterwaulingDefinedManufacturedHousingMHProNews

 

These examples are the very essence of the critical thinking skills that Dr. King, Jr. and so many other thinker-doers through the ages have said is necessary for human progress.

 

CriticalThinkingDefinedManufacturedHousingMHProNews

 

George F. (F?) Allen’s ‘Defense’ of MHI and Certain State Association Executives

GeorgeAllenCommunityInvestorBlogMHMPostedMastheadBlogManufacturedHousingIndustryCommentaryNewsMHProNews-133x150a

George Allen, photo credit, MHProNews.com.

George F. (F?) Allen is up-front in each blog post for some years about why he writes. “Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!’”  Meaning, write him a check, take out your plastic, or cash and he’ll provided you with his sage views.

Of course.

Never mind that he’s now out of the land-lease business, so by his own prior definition, he no longer has “skin in the game.” Ooops.

Never mind that – per sources in his own circle – despite his new ‘EducateMHC’ moniker, his own daughter reportedly failed in the land-lease community business.  That reported failure almost took Allen himself under, per those same sources in Allen’s own orbit.  Ooops.

And never mind that Allen’s and his colleagues in SECO have an idea of education that has proven to be legally problematic, as the report and cross-linked information here outlines.  Ooops.

Keep in mind that Allen likes to entertain others, and is rather good at it. Among his delights are ‘magic tricks.’  The person who is adept at slight-of-hand actions has attempted a verbal slight-of-hand for some time, one could say.  In fact, why not point out that part of the ‘mystery shopping’ service that Allen provided for years was predicated on fooling people into thinking that he was an actual prospect.

So, what follows from Allen’s blog as his Good Friday topic is prudently considered through the lens of those assertions and related factoids. He’s been successful for years in writing and organizing events for a fee.  Done well, that’s a legitimate part of the American way.  Done badly or problematically, it is a good reason to apply “caveat emptor.”  Let the buyer beware.

 

Thanks, George 😉 Allen’s Over-the-Target Responses to Recent MHProNews Reports 

Naval and Air Force pilots have long had the expression that you don’t catch flak unless you are over the target.

Sources indicate to MHProNews that some of the same state executives that complained about leaks to this publication have at times shared information with Allen or others too. That’s obviously done when those same association executives doing the ‘leaks’ thought it useful to their interests.  Perhaps so, but it is mentioned here because Allen did in his missive quoted at length further below.

Part of the purpose of good media is to hold the powerful to account. Who says?  The Society of Professional Journalists and their code of ethics.

 

SPJSocietyProfessionalJournalistsCodeofConductMHProNews

 

It has been a while since Allen has taken public aim at this platform in an apparently failed attempt to get industry readers to boycott MHProNews.  That was allegedly done as ‘carrying water for’ association executives in the MHI orbit.  In response to the SPJ bullets 2 and 3, noted above, this fact-check and analysis are hereby offered.

Allen, himself a prior MHI critic, has apparently found a new way to profit from being a periodic voice to attempt to dissuade industry independents from following the reports and analysis on MHProNews. 

OligarchyDefinedGeorgeFAllenGFACommunityInvestorBlogCOBA7DailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

 

Allen has not bothered to explain in depth to his readers what changed his views about MHI, on the concerns he previously noted publicly below.  Does his lack of consistency bother him?

ManufacturedHousingIndustryMonopoly-Oligarchy-GeorgeAllen-PostedDailyBusinessNews

George Allen can’t have it both ways, but that doesn’t apparently keep him from trying. He has a modest following today, which once used to be a larger following. As a former client of his told MHProNews, with George “It’s AAA, All About Allen.” If someone is doing good, and Allen’s not somehow in the mix, it is not uncommon for Allen to attempt to undermine that source, per some of his own followers.

  

Facts, documents, and accurate quotes in context are #NettlesomeThings.

New readers should bear in mind the following points.

  • Allen and Spencer Roane have been offered the opportunity to publicly dispute the evidence presented here on MHProNews and/or on MHLivingNews regarding themselves and/or the concerns associated with MHI, that he himself previously voiced routinely. They’ve repeatedly declined to engage in a public discussion or debate.  That’s in keeping with their 5th Amendment right to remain silent, which we respect.  But that leaves others free to ponder, if they had the better case, why not make it in public?
  • MHI, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, and/or their attorneys have been made a similar offer to publicly dispute the evidence presented here or on MHLivingNews via a moderated, on camera, and in front of a live audience of industry professionals. They’ve repeatedly declined the opportunity to do so.  Once more, that’s their right.  Perhaps they’ve duck out knowing their are federal investigations underway, and that whatever they say could be used against them in a court of law?  See the video, below the next bullet.  NOTE: views of that video have apparently more than doubled since we began sharing that mainstream media report about investigations of Clayton and their related lenders, from their own hometown news station.
  • George F. Allen, various figures associated with MHI, Jim and Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams and others may be loathe to admit it today, but they have each praised this publication for being pro-industry and for the good work being done here. Now that same analysis done here that they previously praised has turned dark in their eyes.

 

 

As believers in free enterprise and the value of honest competition, Allen – right or wrong – is serving an obliquely useful function. This publication and MHLivingNews are apparently ‘over the target,’ so we are ‘catching flak.’ This isn’t the only recent attack by opposing voices.  But the other assaults are less visible, and this one by Allen is visible.

As an observable attack, Allen is thus useful to manufactured home industry investors, advocates, and professional readers to understand the ongoing dynamic within MHVille. The visceral reaction being quoted below by Allen – in his role as a periodic tool for the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis – will speak for itself.

Let’s see what Allen said, and then unpack it in a very few words.  As the reader can see from the screen capture below, provided under fair use guidelines, attacking this publication was his headline topic.  That’s a backhanded compliment. The text that follows the image shown is from his blog on that date and is unedited in any fashion.

GeorgeAllenEducateMHCBlogAnalysisFactCheckAnalysisDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

 

Nobody Else Will Tell You This!

Enough of the Name Calling, Sensationalist Caterwauling, & Questionable Claims!

Since 2009, manufactured housing’s nadir (‘worst’) year ever, when only 48,789 new HUD-Code homes were shipped nationwide, we’ve collectively and simultaneously endured and experienced:

  • The loss of easy access to chattel capital for new home loans in communities
  • Two venerable trade magazines ceasing publication (i.e. Manufactured Home Merchandiser and The Journal)
  • Two new trade pubs birthed (i.e. MHInsider and Manufactured Housing Review)
  • A near continuous online diatribe (‘bitter & abusive denunciation’) of one – but not both, national advocates for manufactured housing (i.e. MHI but not MHARR), one or another state association executive (e.g. WI being latest target), and specific corporate executives (e.g. from Clayton Homes & 21st Mortgage) not aligned with a particular yellow journalist’s views of the manufactured housing industry.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Together, as an industry and realty asset class, we should be; no, we must be, ‘working together’ to eclipse 100,000 new HUD-Code housing shipments during year 2019. Also to offset negative press coming from social activist quarters regarding predatory site rent practices foisted on homeowners/site lessees! But such a coming together will continue to elude us as long as an industry outlier broadcasts speculative contrarian tripe, tearing down manufactured housing and land lease community business models at will!

SOLUTION? Make it a point, henceforth, to support your state manufactured housing association as an active member, as well as one or more of three national advocacy bodies (i.e. MHI, MHARR & now, NAMHCO). Also ensure you’re on the receiving end of MHInsider magazine, Manufactured Housing Review online ezine, the Allen Letter (if a land lease community owner/operator), and the Allen CONFIDENTIAL! business newsletter – if a top housing manufacturer or portfolio executive!

Frankly, that’s ALL YOU NEED TO READ & BELIEVE, to stay cogently, accurately, and timely informed about industry and asset class matters! Resist any temptation to succumb to reading anything by anyone engaged in name calling, sensationalist caterwauling, and questionable claims! JUST DO IT – resist the temptation to muck & muddle your thinking. You’ll be glad you did!

If you need contact information relative to trade entities and publications identified in the previous paragraphs, simply let me know via gfa7156@aol.com or (317) 346-7156. And to subscribe to the Allen Letter and or the Allen Confidential business newsletter, visit www.educatemhc.com

FiskFiskingDefinitionManufacturedHssuingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

 

Fisking – Unpacking Allen’s Missive

In no particular order of importance.

  • Allen tells his readers who to read, and who not to read. That’s his first amendment protected right, up to the point that he may be part of an organized boycott effort, because a boycott can become legally questionable in antitrust and other types of legal controversies.
  • Allen fails to admit that he and his inner circle are reportedly regular readers here on MHProNews. Thank you, to all of our readers.  Pardon the hypocrisy of some who tell others not to do, what they themselves do.  The fact that he and his circle read here is implied by his attempted critique.
  • It is Allen who fits the caterwauling definition, because what he gave are emotional appeals and red herrings, not an actual effort to debunk even a single factual claim made here or on MHLivingNews. There is no effort made by Allen to point out any failure in logic, any inaccuracy, or any of the evidence we’ve presented that sparked his public moaning.

Here is a pull quote that bears a nod of interest.

Together, as an industry and realty asset class, we should be; no, we must be, ‘working together’ to eclipse 100,000 new HUD-Code housing shipments during year 2019.”   The reality is that the industry will not be ‘working together’ – because some are arguably working to purportedly eliminate their industry competition, by direct and indirect means.  Allen’s related quote is equally lacking in logic. He wants people to support “one or more of three national advocacy bodies (i.e. MHI, MHARR & now, NAMHCO).” Excuse me, sir? MHARR and NAMHCO exist because MHI – in their view – have failed the industry.  It is an either or proposition. 

NealTHaneyNAMHCOWhyBreakawayfromManfuacturedHousingInstituteMHI

Once the rules of engagement and methods used are better understood, then one can often predict what will follow. 

DannyGhorbaniFormerMHIVpQuoteFoundingMHARRPresidentQuoteDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Why Hasn’t Allen Explained to MH Community Readers How Clayton/21st Hurt Their Interests?

Note that neither Allen, nor anyone else in the orbit of industry publishing he has cited has attempted to debunk the documents, direct quotes and evidence linked from the text-image box below.

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by Tim Williams, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, these all line up to demonstrate how independent retailers, communities, and producers – among others – where purportedly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. Why hasn’t George F. (F?) Allen told his readers how that cost them money? Why is Allen giving perps cover?

 

What Allen fails to tell his readers is how that attack on industry independents harmed independent owners of manufactured home communities.  Yet Allen claims to be their protector.  How so? Isn’t he giving other big time cons cover?

Allen cited in this and a prior posting about the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) and the National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO).  Those associations are both breakaways from MHI. They exist because each trade group’s members believed that MHI wasn’t getting the job done properly.

Allen fails to mention that important fact. By contrast, MHProNews has not missed that obvious mark.

Calls for ‘unity’ by Allen or MHI sound good, warm and fuzzy — until they are carefully examined. Unity behind what? Unity with what goal?

If the big boys absorb the smaller firms at a discounted value due to market manipulation, that’s unity.  Is that the unity that Allen wants?  Why is Allen de facto working for the interests of the consolidators that he periodically takes pot-shots at? Isn’t it just another head-fake?

What Allen ignores in his missive – either through ignorance or perhaps from incentives offered by the ‘big boys’ – is that a key reason that the industry is underperforming is rooted in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies.  Allen makes no effort to debunk the evidence published here or on MHLivingNews for that claim.  Why would he?  The powers that be and their own attorneys won’t touch that topic in public, and perhaps with good reason. So, in goes GFAllen…

Allen ignores the fact that Clayton has been the source of embarrassment to the industry, starting not long after Warren Buffett bought them for Berkshire Hathaway.

 

 

Thus, it is unlikely that Clayton, 21st, or MHI will publicly respond to our published – documented, and evidence based – concerns.

Allen laments Frank Rolfe, predatory community operators, and the John Oliver video errantly dubbed “Mobile Homes.”  But what F (F?) Allen fails to mention is that MHI is connected to each operation in that Oliver video. Ooops.

Several Florida newspapers opted to run the same letter sent by our publisher.  The reportedly did so only after an editor checked the claims and sources, per the editor that did the fact checking. The letter was sent to only 1 publication, but at least 5 have run it.

 

 

Those claims lodged here, on our sister site MHLivingNews, and summarized in that 300 word letter published in the 5 links above all remain unchallenged.

MHARR’s new initiative, that Allen both praises and slams at the same time, exists precisely because MHARR states their belief that MHI has so dropped the ball on post-production issues that they have no other choice but to try to act where MHI is failing to do so.

 

“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”

 

It’s America.  People are free to write a huckster and incentivized mouthpiece a check if they want to do so. They are free to read Allen or attend his meetings.  Those that go say the networking is pleasant and useful, but some lament the ‘education’ part of it.

But what SECO and the Allen Roundtable arguably prove is that professionals in manufactured housing are so desperate for answers and professional opportunities, that they will listen even to someone with his track record of recent years. In years gone by, Allen helped found the National Community Council (NCC), which is part of MHI. But more recently, Allen himself has quit MHI and the NCC.  Allen himself won’t pay to go to their fundraisers, errr, ‘meetings.’

Allen has positioned himself to fill a vacuum.  As soon as someone else steps up and offers an alternative, don’t be surprised if his meetings and ‘education’ vanish like a fleeting morning fog in sunny Florida.

Once more, our publisher invites Allen – or the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis – to publicly dispute and disprove

  • in front of a live audience of industry professionals,
  • with moderator and
  • on camera any of the claims made here on pro-growth MHProNews or MHLivingNews.

You can’t solve a problem by ignoring the root causes.  That’s what Allen either doesn’t get or has arguably been incentivized to ignore and obscure.

Thus despite Allen’s caterwauling and attempted slight of hands, our published case against the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis, their surrogates and allies stands.  If any of these concerns or allegations we’ve reported or that others have raised were easily disproven, why hasn’t anyone in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington orbit and/or their surrogates stepped up to the plate and made the public effort?

GeorgeFAllenPhotoEducateMHCMobileHomeLandLeaseCommunityAdvocateExpertLogoManufacturedHousingMHProNews

People can make mistakes, and people can be misled. But the mature person admits an error, and that is part of the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics. Make corrections promptly and prominently. Where has Allen ever admitted an error? He was either right to condemn MHI before, or right to defend them now. He can’t have it both ways.

Conclusions? 

George F. (F?) Allen (GFA) is arguably either:

·        confused,

·        clueless,

·        corrupt,

·        or some combination of those.

As noted, Allen and his buddy Spencer Roane have been given the opportunity several times to debate the issues he laments publicly with our publisher in a moderated session, on camera, in front of a live industry professional audience. Allen and Roane both keep ducking that offer. Shall we add the word cowardly to the bulleted Cs above?

BTW, that same offer to discuss and debate the issues has been repeatedly extended to the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis. Allen has apparently been carrying water for them in recent months, and perhaps this is missive by GFA their reply.  But given the history of Allen previously decrying their rigged system, as was shown above, what was the MH Axis thinking?  Can’t they come up with a better surrogate? If not, doesn’t that speak volumes too? 

 

UnderstandingWarrenBuffettCastleMoatMetaphorsQuotesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Never forget that even during medieval times, castles and their moats were in fact breached. And ponder that GF Allen may just be another piranha, shark, or alligator in the Buffett moat.

 

That’s this morning’s first installment of manufactured housing Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Danny Ghorbani, George Allen, Michael Power, et al: False, Misleading Statements and Tortuous Interference?

March 11th, 2014 1 comment

broadside-darius-danny-ghorbani-president-mharr-george-allen-allen-letter-community-i ... actured-housing-institute-manufactured-housing-association-for-regulatory-reformSources have told MHProNews that Danny Ghorbani, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has once more allegedly made threatening statements directed at our publisher, as Ghorbani’s response to articles and commentaries published that analyze Ghorbani’s written/public statements. Why?


“Our industry needs financing and is facing a number of regulatory challenges, as most Manufactured Housing Industry professionals know.” said L. A. “Tony” Kovach in a statement in his role as the managing member of Lifestyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company of MHProNews and its sister operation consulting and contract services affiliates.


In an industry seeking solutions, a few industry members have, using the words of George Allen, “…even agitate decision-makers and trade politicos responsible for the industry’s 15 year malaise...” which when one reads enough of the alleged semi-coded verbiage, is taken to mean Allen’s professional agitation of members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), the National Communities Council (NCC) or other affiliated trade association organizations.


In a recent pro-Ghorbani blog post, Allen begins by saying, “Finally a Leader! But Who Will Follow?” What makesgeorge-allen-manufactured-housing-community-investor-blog--left-danny-ghorbani-mharr-right-posted-mhpronews-com-daily-business-news- Ghorbani a leader in George Allen’s eyes? Allen points to a ‘paid ad’ from Ghorbani with a ‘bold agenda.’ Since when does taking out paid advertising make an association executive or a business person a leader?

Where is the track record that Messrs. Allen or Ghorbani can point to that would demonstrate either has the capability to advance such an agenda?

Where are the financial, political or other relationships needed that would allow them to do now, what neither Ghorbani or Allen has not done in the past dozen years?

For those who followed Allen’s writings over the years, it bears noting that in the past Allen blasted Ghorbani on numerous occasions, while extolling some of the same organizations (corporate and association) Allen now lambasts.

As an example, Allen begins the excerpt below by quoting from the July 2011 Journal of Manufactured and Modular Housing, when Allen stated that Danny Ghorbani made the following remark:


In MHARR’s view, retailers and community – based entities face a clear choice – continued dysfunction and decline, or a change to a new national level industry representation structure to lead the industry back to real prosperity.”


Note the similarity between this call to action by Ghorbani then, to what the MHARR CEO says in his ‘paid ad’ now? The ‘paid ad’ is a downloadable attachment on the end of this article. It makes for good reading, but as one MHIndustry leader stated some days ago, “the devil is in the details.”


But back 3 years ago Allen’s reply to Ghorbani’s assertion then began with the retort, “Huh?” Allen then wrote:


…First, lumping MHRetailers and landlease community owners/operators together is a big mistake. They’re significantly different business models, hailing from different major segments of the manufactured housing industry and landlease community real estate asset class duo; MHRetailers are akin to the MHIndustry; and landlease community folk to real estate development and investment.”


Continued dysfunction and decline? Dysfunction? Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, & How? – the ‘Four Ws & H of basic trade and secular journalism’. No really illuminating answers provided in this paragraph or column! And decline? Sure, especially among MHRetailers; again, 90 percent of them are gone, some bought – out by HUD Code home manufacturers, others now contractors, but most ‘out of business’. And LLCommunity folk? In terms of national physical occupancy, yes, we’re slipping. BUT, show me a LLCommunity owner who didn’t overpay for his/her property acquisition (i.e. Didn’t ‘buy on the come’, as in ‘rent increases to come’ – that never did!), and or has paid down their mortgage, and I’ll show you a generally healthy business model that’s frequently selling, even self – financing new and resale homes on – site, to ‘get the rent meter’ a – running and to keep it running….”


…So, with such flawed writing, and lack of justified logic, in the referenced summary paragraph and column, we’re to run off willy nilly to ‘create or change to a new national level industry representation structure’? I think not – at least not until a far better case is made for considering doing so! And enhancing association executive job security should not be part of making that particular case.”

So there you have it, in Allen’s own words, an ad-paid Allen in 2014 disagreeing with Allen in 2011.

Now Allen is praising the same Ghorbani as a “leader” for sharing similar thoughts in a ‘paid ad,’ when in 2011, Allen was calling Ghorbani a ‘flawed writer’ who used ‘unjustified logic.’

What’s the difference between Allen and Ghorbani then and now? One industry observer told MHProNews,

The common ground is found in the Arab Maxim, “My enemies enemy is my friend.” Suggesting, a marriage of convince between the two, complete with Allen admittedly accepting “paid adverting” from a Ghorbani-led MHARR.”

Some allege that Allen’s self-admitted agitating actions are precisely how Allen, in his so-called “COBA7 affiliates” or Ghorbani, through MHARR members dues, rail against MHI or those they opt to target: MHI, their ‘big company’ members or perceived allies (including, but not limited to, little company MHProNews), as a means of justifying receiving income from others.


Note that Allen went on a similar path in his Community-Investor blog and his paid Allen Report newsletter, in attacking MHI, as was documented by MHProNews previously, when again using Allen’s own words, he blasted MHI essentially for not buying him out. That full report, with numerous quotes from Allen’s writings, is linked here.


Contrast Allen 3 years ago tilting against MHARR, and saying in part:(In our case, ‘our conflict’ allows federal legislators to ‘divide & conquer us’, so to speak, when it comes to our effectively confronting onerous legislation – like what’s on the Congressional horizon at present!)...” meaning, Allen in 2011 decried the disunity in DC between MHARR and MHI as being harmful to the industry. In that statement, Allen echoes the sentiments shared by a recent Industry Voices OpEd, linked here. Yet Allen, we are told, has allegedly chastised that writer.

But who is the one who has flip-flopped, and why?

Selling Red Herrings?

“These agitating voices point their fingers at MHI – us, or others – and allegedly and essentially say, ‘look how they fail to protect you. And don’t forget to send us your cash, check or credit card ok’s so we can keep telling you how bad those others are.’…


But IMHO and as others also allege, one of many problems is they fail to provide a balanced report, or they take some information out of context or get it completely wrong. Furthermore, why don’t they show any results of their own? Yet they boldly ask others to send them a check. Does it sound like someone is selling red herrings?” Kovach quipped.


Google defines a red herring:

red her·ring
noun

1. a dried smoked herring, which is turned red by the smoke.
2.something, esp. a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.
“the book is fast-paced, exciting, and full of red herrings”

Ghorbani’s “Oops” over the Pam Danner, HUD Career Administrator Appointment?

Part of the recent controversy is about the appointment of Pam Danner as HUD’s Career Administrator for their Manufactured Housing program. A non-association source with ties to the federal government sent MHProNews this comment about Ghorbani’s message to Danner and HUD.

“…Congress changed the law. It’s in the current budget act that HUD can now hire the Administrator as a career position.  This is typical of the way Danny misrepresents things.   He gets away with it because most of the people who read his letter bombs don’t know any better.”

That statement was verified by another party who told MHProNews that the budget act passed last December 2013 contained the Congressional change, making the HUD MH position a career vs. non-career appointment. Ghorbani’s MHARR release on the subject is linked here. Why does it not reflect that fact?

It should also be noted that sources at MHI tell us that their staff and finance members have meet with key players in the Senate on GSE reform. Sources tell us that a report on that is expected at the “proper time.”

So the MHARR messages that imply that MHI is not “at the table” are not only inaccurate, MHI has personally engaged with seasoned finance and government relations professionals, while what MHARR has done is send a memo drafted by those who have little or no experience in financial matters.

Which approach might benefit the MH industry most?

“If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny, wouldn’t it?” Kovach asked, adding “Will Danny look up the new law, realize the error and apologize to Pam Danner, HUD, MHI and all in the industry for yet another fact error before launching into his attack? Will he apologize to MHI for saying that they’ve not been at the table, when in fact they were the only ones from the industry present in a Senate Banking meeting? When will Danny learn to ask questions first, and get the facts before sounding off? Or doesn’t his pattern reflect badly on himself and MHARR?”

The Right to do Wrong?

“Its America. People have the right to sell information or a service; I guess, even the right to sell a service that provides few if any measurable results…” Kovach commented.

But doesn’t this go beyond just burning money on so-called information or services that turn out to allegedly be self-dollar-bill-burning-up-flickr-creative-commons-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronewsserving vehicles that benefit those who use their bully pulpits, yet produce no measurable results? Doesn’t this in fact cost the industry’s business people their hard earned dollars too? Doesn’t a lack of unity on key issues cost retailers, communities, manufacturers, suppliers and others?  Isn’t that what Allen himself argued in 2011?”

This is why the Rand OpEd is so important.” Kovach continued. “It is a wake up call for all involved.”

“We have repeatedly offered to Danny Ghorbani, M. Mark Weiss – MHARR’s legal counsel – and the MHARR Chairman the opportunity to respond, answer questions or clear up the record on any point. As of this time, they have not done so, at least not directly to us.” Kovach said. “In fact, we have a reply from M. Mark Weiss which was followed up by a written demand that their reply not be published. Why did he reply on MHARR’s behalf at all, if they give an answer they don’t want us to publish?”

“We have evidence that they have instead replied to others, contacted one or more operations our parent operation has a contractual relationship with and have made emailed and other statements that support this allegation.” Kovach said in his role as managing member of a limited liability company.  Are they attempting to influence others who have contracts with our parent company?”

Mr. Ghorbani is said to have contacted industry publishers and commentators, to run the ad which George F. Allen has said on his blog was ‘paid advertising.’

The MHARR ad came out before and after a series of public comments by Ghorbani as MHARR CEO that allegedly were aimed at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and at various times, MHProNews. This has been done by Ghorbani, Allen, and recently, a known ally of Allen’s, Michael Power on LinkedIn (see screen capture, attached below).

Sources say Ghorbani has contacted individuals with connections to operations which have contractual relationships with Lifestyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews and its related consulting and contract services operations.

“We have covered the tactics of these various individuals before.” Kovach stated. “In Allen’s own words, in a recent blog post, he called himself an ‘agitator.’ This arguably is interestingly accurate. Please see the report we did on him previously,” linked here. It should be noted that some observers opined that for some months after the linked report was published, Allen became quieter in his agitation.

“Unlike Ken Rishel, who published my letter in response to what we saw as a questionable commentary in his emailed PDF newsletter, George Allen has not published a letter in response to a post to which Allen invited Industry Commentary.” Kovach said. “That letter to Allen and his readers are also a download at the end of this column…”

What are these fellows hiding from their followers and paid supporters?”

When asked about the renewed threat of legal action, which MHARR’s CEO and their Vice-President has been documented to having made against Tony Kovach and MHProNews previously, Kovach replied. “Would it be a surprise to anyone if we have sought legal counsel on matters related to these topics?” said Lifestyle Factory Homes, LLC’s managing member.

A number of legal references were provided for general public understanding, shown below, while specific legal advice on these related issues are being held at this time.

MHProNews was given the following reference from the dictionary.findlaw.com website:

False Statement

false statement n

: a statement that is known or believed by its maker to be incorrect or untrue and is made esp. with intent to deceive or mislead [submitted a false statement to obtain the loan] ;also
: the federal crime of concealing a material fact, making a false statement, or using documents known to be falsified see also exculpatory no doctrine compare perjury –

http://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/false-statement.html

And from legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com:

Joint and Several Liability

A designation of liability by which members of a group are either individually or mutually responsible to a party in whose favor a judgment has been awarded.

Joint and several liability is a form of liability that is used in civil cases where two or more people are found liable for damages. The winning plaintiff in such a case may collect the entire judgment from any one of the parties, or from any and all of the parties in various amounts until the judgment is paid in full. In other words, if any of the defendants do not have enough money or assets to pay an equal share of the award, the other defendants must make up the difference.

Defendants in a civil suit can be held jointly and severally liable only if their concurrent acts brought about the harm to the plaintiff. The acts of the defendants do not have to be simultaneous: they must simply contribute to the same event. For example, assume that an electrician negligently installs an electrical line. Years later, another electrician inspects the line and approves it. When the plaintiff is subsequently injured by a short circuit in the line, the plaintiff may sue both electricians and hold them jointly and severally liable.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Jointly+and+severally+liable
And from biztaxlaw.about.com:

Piercing the Corporate Veil

Definition:

The phrase piercing the corporate veil is used to describe the action of a court to hold corporate shareholders personally liable for the debts and liabilities of a corporation.

Corporations are separate entities from their shareholders and in normal circumstances, if a corporation is sued, the individual shareholders and officers cannot be brought into the lawsuit. But there are cases in which the corporation’s officers and shareholders could be sued for negligence or for debts; the action of bringing in these shareholders to be sued is called “piercing the corporate veil” or “lifting the corporate veil.”

Two instances in which the corporate veil might be pierced by the court, allowing shareholders to be sued:

In the case of fraud, in which the corporation was found to be a sham that was set up for the purpose of carrying on fraudulent deals or for fraudulent purposes.

In the case of egregious and willful activity by corporate shareholders or officers which put corporate gain over public good.

http://biztaxlaw.about.com/od/glossaryp/g/piercecorpveil.htm

MHProNews was also given the following reference from the law.Cornell.edu website:

TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE

Tortious interference is a common law tort allowing a claim for damages against a defendant who wrongfully interferes with the plaintiff’s contractual or business relationships.

And from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference

Tortious interference with contract rights can occur where the tortfeasor convinces a party to breach the contract against the plaintiff, or where the tortfeasor disrupts the ability of one party to perform his obligations under the contract, thereby preventing the plaintiff from receiving the performance promised. The classic example of this tort occurs when one party induces another party to breach a contract with a third party, in circumstances where the first party has no privilege to act as it does and acts with knowledge of the existence of the contract. Such conduct is termed tortious inducement of breach of contract.”


Giving Space between MHARR members and their CEO?

“On the one hand,” Kovach continued, “we have repeatedly made the point in private to certain people associated with MHARR member companies that we respect them and other independent business people in our industry. We have at times editorially sided with some of MHARR’s positions, such as the fire sprinkler issue, vs. the position that MHI took on the same topic…”

When Fairmont Homes provided the RV MH Hall of Fame with a display model, we showcased that effort. The point is we have proven our balanced reporting and commentary, have made it clear we have no animus towards MHARR members and routinely offer Ghorbani or those with him at MHARR to respond on our pages. If they fail to do so, that is their sole responsibility, as it is their free will choice…”

“What we don’t agree with are the alleged tactics of their CEO and some of their alleged allies of convenience. As a pro-MH Industry trade publisher we have cited others in articles we will link who have voiced their concerns about Danny Ghorbani too…”

“To rephrase, we have tried to show the daylight between MHARR members and Ghorbani…”

“What the Rand OpEd has done is suggest the clear ties of MHARR’s member dues to Danny and his published and/or emailed missives. Mr. Rand also deserves credit for pointing out the obvious fact that MHI is advancing the ball via both regulatory relief and legislative action. He also asked the question, is MHARR still relevant if they are not needed to help MHI get the job done in DC?” Kovach said. “Fair questions!”

“We have to evaluate the potential damages, time and hassle factor of the various threats and misstatements made by Ghorbani, Allen, Power or others. MHI or members of MHI may or may not opt to do so on their part as well. Clearly, if they (MHARR’s CEO and/or VP) act, then we will be left with little choice but to counter-claim…”

MHARR’s 2013 990

“The MHARR 990 is not a simple document, and we would encourage industry pros who decide to read it for themselves and get a proper understanding of how to discern it. This is public record, which we asked repeatedly that Danny and Mark to produce for us, as the law provides. They did not, so we obtained it in other ways…”

What the 2013 MHARR 990 shows in part is that Danny Ghorbani was paid $290,500 in 2013, and was the sole employee of MHARR. It also shows dues revenues of some $477,360. This begs several questions…”

  • If Mark Weiss gets paid just shy of 100k, and one figures in travel, office, phones, internet and other expenses, what is left from the MHARR budget?

  • What is the relationship between Mark Weiss, who shows his title as Vice-President of MHARR, when he is not listed as an employee of MHARR on the form 990?

  • Given a budget with little-to-no apparent wiggle room, how do they actually hope to influence federal policy and legislators? Mainly by email or written statements? Through paid ads? How is that going to work for the Industry?

  • When their CEO can’t work in common with others within our industry, when their response to a disagreement is to threaten to sue, as they did with us, how can they hope to accomplish their mission that the 990 filing says is to .”..improve relations…”?

The MHARR 990 for 2013 is attached as a download below.

“Beyond writing emails, publishing comments and emailed communiques like those dozens linked here, what can they point to in the last 5 years of substance that they have accomplished? When Danny rails against HUD, or rails against other FEDs, or rails against MHI…what has it achieved? What is the result of all the demands, position papers and tough talk? Where is their annual MHARR score card of accomplishments, that some other associations freely provide?”

We’ve asked Danny Ghorbani and M. Mark Weiss at MHARR for their accomplishments in their own words. If they won’t give one, why not? Wouldn’t they want to sound off on the largest trade media platform how great their work has been?”

By contrast, MHProNews‘ publisher has made trips to Washington DC and did follow ups which resulted in Congressman Adam Kinzinger signing onto HR 1779 and more recently with Senator Marco Rubio co-sponsoring S. 1828. What has Ghorbani, Allen or their alleged allies-of-convenience shown the industry that they can point to in the way of practical results?

“This is America. MHARR members can pay who they want, as much as they want, and those employee(s) and/or contractors of MHARR can do as little or as much as they want for their pay. Allen can make a living ‘agitating’ as he himself describes it, against MHI. They all have that right…” Kovach stated.

“But they should also realize that they are responsible for the actions or inactions of their president, and Allen is responsible for his deeds, or lack thereof…”

But what ought to be on the minds of the MHARR board is this. What if the MHARR president has crossed one or more lines? What if their president – personally or in concert with others – puts them into potentially costly, or no win legal battles? What if their president’s words costs them retail or community customers who buy homes from MHARR plants?”

And does MHARR’s CEO or his alleged ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ allies want commentary, documents and insights from federal officials and industry members from across the spectrum that demonstrates the pattern of activity in ever clearer detail to be revealed?

Danny himself provided us in the past with some information that would not be considered good news among some key MHARR members…” Kovach says.

Airing Dirty Laundry?

Some have asked, why should we air this ‘dirty laundry’ in public? My reply is simple. These others are allegedly the ones that put out the false or inaccurate statements, which FEDs and industry members receive. Doesn’t someone have to set the record straight? Isn’t that what a real trade journal does, analyze and comment?” Kovach queried.

MHI has opted to ignore MHARR for the last two years, the prior MHI president – Thayer Long – did sound off about MHARR in ways that the current administration at MHI has decided to avoid.

The powers that be at MHI tell MHProNews off the record that they want to stay focused on advancing HR 1779, S 1828, on engagement with CFPB, HUD and other regulators. They feel they have to stay focused on GSE reform in a fashion that truly can make a difference. They tell MHProNews privately they don’t have time for Danny Ghorbani’s or George Allen’s emailed, published and posted missives.

Manufactured Housing – We are not Alone

Kovach also pointed to the exclusive article from David Stevens, CEO and Presdient of the Mortgage Bankers Association, “Some voices want to unfairly characterize MHI as being asleep at the switch on Dodd-Frank, SAFE Act or other items…”

The truth is that far larger lobbying groups than our MH Industry were unable to stop some of the regulatory burdens administrated by the CFPB. Look at community bankers, for example, some of whom are closing due to regulatory burdens they say can’t be met. MH is not alone…”

Then combine that with insights from Bill Matchneer – previously with HUD and the CFPB – and his “Inside the Beltway” look at our industry’s issues. We have painted the picture of why we are where we are, not opinions, but facts from professionals across the spectrum who know. Don’t the facts, once seen and understood, belie the false allegations of those who ‘agitate’ and stir the pot, allegedly to get paid for stirring the pot?”


Or as a commentator quoted in Manufactured Housing’s Pogo, said:


Isn’t it amazing how many thousands of peoples’ lives in this industry have been upended by the unwillingness of so few people to get along?” – See more at: http://mhmarketingsalesmanagement.com/blogs/tonykovach/manufactured-housings-pogo/#sthash.TunAPqoS.dpuf

The End Game or Solution?

One of the off-the-record statements that came into MHProNews from a sensitive source, said as follows about Rand’s OpEd:

“I would think if enough Retailers were to start quoting the writers last paragraph in public venues on multiple occasions, the independent manufacturers would start looking at Danny’s strategy a little differently.

As a manufacturer I would be very concerned if this is the strategy that a majority of Retailers suggest utilizing to stop this controversy.” ##

(Image credits: FlickrCreativeCommons, Wikicommons, LinkedIn and MHProNews)

Downloads and Attachments:

Commentary on MHARR ad from a cross section of MHPros in the Industry are found here.

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