This post previously appeared in the July 10, 2020 edition of Housing Notes. I’ve been writing these weekly summaries on housing topics for more than five years. To subscribe for free, you can sign up here. Then you can look forward to each issue every Friday at 2pm New York Time.
UPDATE JULY 13, 2020
The Appraisal Institute felt it was necessary to write a letter to respond to my original July 3rd post: The Appraisal Institute Ignores Its Membership For Third Time In Sham Election Maneuver. Their response letter was surprisingly amateur and showed how little they respect their membership. Read on.
Feedback shared with me from Appraisal Institute members today, furious about the sham election process and the genuinely disappointing “fogging” letter provided by AI President Jeff Sherman, informed me that Michael Tankersley, the candidate that emerged without explanation via the sham petition “process”, is on the nominating committee and had the inside track for his own nomination. This means Tankersley had a full nominating committee vote over the final candidate, Craig Steinley. Not only that, but Tankersley, as a member of the nominating committee, has access to “inside baseball” scuttlebutt that he can share with his cohorts to “work the room” for the nominating committee “nod” – a singular advantage which is something that Steinley does not have.
Even with that extraordinary advantage, Steinley became the – SOLE – duly vetted and selected candidate of the nominating committee. However, somehow and even with all those advantages, the board (with Tankersley on it, let’s not forget) had to go through a secret, 6-out-of-24 “process” to shove Tankersley back onto the ballot. (While Steinley is also on the board of directors, he is not on the nominating committee so he can’t place himself on the ballot).
The Appraisal Institute at a crossroads. To all those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. The sham petition process was hidden from the Appraisal Institute’s membership. In response to my initial call out of this sham election process last week, the Appraisal Institute attempted slip this by membership using a highly disrespectful “fogging” letter from the current president. It insultingly omits all the critical issues that have roiled membership while rambling on and on about process and assuming the membership isn’t very smart. No matter how much they try, AI leadership behavior in this sham election process is unethical and does not serve the membership whatsoever.
Here’s a reminder to the Board of Directors: you serve the membership, no matter who you pledged your allegiance to when you signed up for this gig. Please honor your commitment to them and your commitment to honor and integrity as leaders of the industry. For at least the last decade, this once-proud organization is a shadow of its past because of self-dealing from the same people we are witnessing now. It is up to you to do the right thing and act like the leaders you can be.
Today, all (I assume) members of the Appraisal Insitute received a letter from current AI president Jeff Sherman, with whom I’ve met and spoken with on several occasions during his tenure and liked him and what he represented. MAI members from around the country have forwarded it to me and expressed their profound disappointment in this organization that they used to love.
Here is the consensus feedback by members who received this letter.
It just makes me sad that this is the way it is. I think many of us are a bit dumbstruck by this.
I found the letter mind-boggling and a simply attempt to fog the issue at hand. I have to assume that this was written by AI counsel because it reads like a lawyer’s writing with a little softening from other parties. I will also assume this response was directed by the current CEO in an attempt to stop the viral membership backlash of the sham election process that has rattled the organization so he can continue to control who future presidents are. So I am very confused as to why Jeff signed off on this letter since its contents contradict what I have been told by past presidents, past board members, and current members. It hurt to read it.
For now, I am going to chalk this up to “fogging” so that the actual logic gets buried in the debris. This is how lawyers do this. By the way, has anyone ever considering sending the details of this action and the past ten years of self-dealing to federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois? If this is how their executives run the organization, and all the perks I keep hearing about, it makes me wonder about the state of their finances. The handling of the FMC debacle comes to mind.
But I digress.
Here is my running commentary on the letter that is presented below:
- This sham election maneuver has not been in place since 1991 – Ask the former president who made this happen (I have the name) under oath to get Sellers on the ladder in the first place and ruin the career of a star female nominee.
- An 11 member nominating committee gets to vet candidates recommended by the membership to review and they are charged with picking the best one and then announce it. They vetted 3 this year and picked one. It’s literally that simple.
- The winning candidate’s name was announced by the nominating committee.
And then magically…
- The sham maneuver was made to get the CEO’s pick inserted which should never happen.
- Tell the membership right now why there is a second candidate.
- I’ve been told repeatedly that a board member can vote for themselves in the petition process and as of today, some current board members are fighting like hell to keep any such votes hidden from membership, presumably so potential self-dealing will not be exposed.
- To repeat, one person was selected by the nominating committee and two weren’t. There is no disagreement on this. Why does the CEO get to pick a candidate that was not selected to run against the person who was selected?
Why are there suddenly two nominees without any transparency? This letter does not address this point at all yet it is the entire point. The rest of the letter is faux transparency. Give the membership the actual reason there are suddenly two candidates, one picked by the nominating committee and one picked by the CEO (and that CEO-blessed candidate should be ashamed of themselves).
- As many as 3,000 members will get to watch the 10-minute presentations of two candidates – one vetted by the nominating committee and one hand-picked by Jim Amorin. The act of showing this on video isn’t transparency at all. It’s a charade. The most deceitful part of the petition process has already occurred before the camera was turned on. There is no explanation of how the second candidate was selected.
The fogging part that is most distasteful in this letter is that it is laden with process gobblygook but contains zero transparency, something the membership is demanding right now.
Here is the closing paragraph of the letter.
I now offer to you, and to each Board member, this is not about style or personality; it must be about the best interests of the Appraisal Institute. I have supreme confidence that the trust you have placed in your elected representatives will be confirmed, regardless of the person chosen.
The problem with this closing statement is this sham election process is not being done in the best interests of the membership, but rather it is being done in the best interests of the operational executives running the show.
This is truly a sad day for the Appraisal Institute. If the board does not fight for the rights of the membership and respect the selection process, then the organization as we know it is just a monarchy, largely like when it began to be a decade ago with the same cast of characters.