The absurdity of publishing only half-truths, ‘happy talk,’ endless self-promotion, and polite platitudes has been on full display in manufactured housing for years.
Google’s dictionary defines absurd this way:
- wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate – “the allegations are patently absurd”
- arousing amusement or derision; ridiculous – “gym shorts and knee socks looked absurd on such a tall girl“
MHR and MHInsider have featured Spencer Roane and George Allen recently in glowing terms. At least one of those was published after the Tom Lackey controversy erupted. In a free society with First Amendment guarantees, it is their absolute right to praise whomever they want to. As the MH Industry’s leading trade media, MHProNews defends their right to praise and elevate on a pedestal Allen, Roane, or anyone else.
Rights recognized, the wisdom of giving only praise without an honest analysis ought to be contrasted with the allegedly unethical – and perhaps illegal – acts committed by a follower and colleague of Allen and Roane; Tom Lackey.
Lackey stands accused by several people of ‘selling’ homes he did not own.
Lackey – per more than one mainstream media source – plus local officials, ‘sold’ often older manufactured homes, that were in poor condition to individuals via “contract for title.”
That method of so-called “seller financing” is promoted by Roane at SECO, who in turn is promoted by Allen and COBA7.
MHProNews contacted Lackey directly and indirectly through his SECO/COBA7 allies, to give him an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or inaccuracies that may exist in the mainstream media reports, and/or the allegations by local officials and those customers of his.
Lackey was invited by MHProNews to comment himself, or via an attorney.
Days later, Lackey has done neither, which of course is his right to remain silent.
Meanwhile, Allen and Roane – as the Daily Business News has previously reported, have repeatedly given cover to – or even praised Lackey.
That cover by Roane and Allen has occurred several times after the allegations by public officials and customers of Lackey have come to light. The most recent public embarrassment is in a report on 5.27.2018, by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, linked here.
It is important to note, as the Daily Business News previously reported, that reporter Tyler Jett and their paper have made it clear that they are sticking with this story-line. There will likely be more such reports.
There have already been several troubling news items done by that media outlet, and another.
So, there is clear evidence that this is not a one-and-done affair for that publication.
This is the latest example of how head-in-the-sand is not an option for the majority of honorable professionals in manufactured housing.
See No Evil…
Certain state associations, an industry museum, and others have promoted Allen and Roane – per state-based sources – for industry ‘political’ reasons.
Yet the pair have for years been openly promoting concepts that arguably led to the tawdry allegations about Lackey. Those accusations are being leveled from public officials, consumers, and which are found in the mainstream media.
For an industry with an ongoing image issue, it’s madness to be silent about such apparent outrages. Absurd.
Consumer protection is at the heart of the HUD Code for manufactured homes (MH). Why doesn’t the MH Industry take that consumer protection to the next level, by protecting would-be buyers via warnings against predatory operations?
MHProNews asked MHI to weigh in on this serious post-production issue, giving MHI an opportunity to defend their industry.
MHI’s reply? Silence. As of the time this is being written, there is no press release. Nor any other apparent public response by MHI. It’s their right to not weigh in, of course.
But isn’t it absurd?
A far more prudent posture would be the Biblical analogy, using the example of the wheat and the chaff. Allen and Roane have done good things in their lives, such as serve America in the military. That deserves recognition and respect.
The pair of Allen and Roane – to an apparently authentic degree – care about their peers, notably those in the community sector. There have been times the duo have done good things. The RV MH Hall of Fame recognized Allen and Roane both as inductees. That’s reality.
Fair, balanced, and honest reality ought to be a central tenant of every news report, and commentary column.
It ought to be disclosed that this writer has on various occasions engaged Allen and Roane, privately and publicly. MHProNews gave Allen and Roane several opportunities to clarify or rebut the Chattanooga Times Free Press report.
Here below was Roane’s on-the-record reply. The image is a composite, faithfully representing everything Roane said.
Against that backdrop, where are the public voices of reason from MHVille?
One that bears mention is the Georgia Manufactured Housing Association’s, Jay Hamilton.
In a polite, and hypothetical fashion, Hamilton told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in his own words the following, in an indirect way.
When there is something allegedly wrong with a member company, a good association with a code of conduct will review the evidence. Based upon that internal review, a good association may recommend expulsion, or even a referral to a regulatory agency.
Of course. Bravo. Hamilton’s exact words are found in the Times Free Press article, which once more, is linked here.
Defending the Indefensible? Why?
As reporter Tyler Jett spotlighted, Allen has given cover to Lackey and Roane. In Allen’s self-touted blog post on 5.29.2018, he mentioned nothing at all about the controversy surrounding Lackey, SECO, COBA7, or himself published by Jett.
Had Allen thought the report inaccurate, wouldn’t Allen stand on his own soap box, and decry Jett’s accuracy?
So, de facto, one may logically presume that Jett’s Times Free Press report accurately quoted Allen and Roane.
And yet, Roane denied the accuracy of the report. He said to the Daily Business News: “Those familiar with this situation are unwilling to comment further because statements already reported by news media were inaccurate or out of context.”
Roane stated that via an email, which a collage of the screen capture, is shown above.
Can’t these two gents even get their stories straight?
And why would Allen assert to the reporter, Tyler Jett, that Lackey gave title to an alleged victim? Why say something so absurd, when local officials, at least one other media outlet, and numerous consumers all say that the title was never given?
It’s absurd. The allegations are tragic, on so many levels.
While Allen and Roane struggle against saying anything negative about themselves, or their SECO board member and colleague – Tom Lackey – Allen yesterday published his latest broadside against the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Allen will be quoted at length below. A few things ought to be noted, to set the table.
Allen and Roane are human. This writer, and all other mere mortals, make mistakes. When a publicly impactful error in judgment occurs, it ought to be acknowledged. Amends ought to be made. Normal people accept mistakes that are admitted, and may even respect the humility of the confession.
But instead, Lackey said nothing in public. If there is an attempt to make amends to those alleged “contract for title” victims, there is no public evidence of that yet known.
Meanwhile, Allen and Roane are tripping over each other in offering apparently phony red herrings, or praising Lackey for his role in SECO. What?
Scenarios like Lackey’s were predictable. As Roane himself told Jett – per the Chattanooga Times report, and his own on-the-record emailed statement to MHProNews – the ‘contract for title process’ is “complicated.”
So, with limited “training” in a once a year “class,” Roane is teaching a process he calls “seller financing.” That on its face uses terminology that the CFPB has previously called a “disguised credit transaction.”
It’s absurd. Tragic.
Why are Allen and Roane given stage time and/or cross-promotions for this type of activity by state associations? It’s absurd. In hindsight, isn’t it being too polite, for “political” reasons? Are associations – or a museum that does so – opening themselves up for liability?
Every state the trio are an association member of, and every museum or institution that has given them a platform or promotion, ought to ask for a public apology — by each of the three.
Absent an appropriate public apology with amends, to protect the reputations of other members, and to protect the public who might keep doing business with such people, shouldn’t each of the associations they are connected to do what Hamilton said hypocritically could be done?
This writer has at various times urged Allen and Roane to reconsider the problematic parts of their enterprises. Clearly, to no avail. But someone in the industry must at least try do it. Why? Because the majority of the honest businesses in this industry will continue to suffer so long as inexplicable, ‘allegedly’ problematic behavior is tolerated.
What’s ironic, is that when Allen publicly slaps MHI – which the Arlington, VA based group has arguably committed their own mistakes – is the retired Marine officer looking in the mirror? Isn’t he as reticent to admit wrongs, and failures, as MHI is? What happened to Semper Fi?
Where has that hiding-from-the-truth led the manufactured housing industry?
Answer, it is a self-evident part of a pattern that during an affordable housing crisis has led to the industry’s lowest sales levels in its history.
Before turning to an extended quote from Allen’s blog, a related point is in order. Multiple sources within and tied to the land-lease community sector have advised MHProNews about a now-aborted effort to launch yet another new national trade association.
Per those source, Allen “derailed,” and “sabotaged” that other new post-production association effort.
As a long-time, now-former client of Allen once told this writer, with George, “…it is AAA. All about Allen.” That source said that AAA explains much of Allen’s behavior.
Final point before Allen’s extend quote.
With the above noted, there are times that Allen makes useful observations and speaks the truth. Chaff and wheat. So, one must be discerning.
It is interesting to note that Allen apparently tosses his own COBA7 and MHI under the bus, in the except below. The one mentioned accurately, is the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). Allen is right in saying MHARR represents independent producers of HUD Code homes. He is also correct in saying that MHARR has advocated for an effective, robust post-production association.
Allen also correctly noted the frustration by state associations with MHI. The later points have of course been reported by MHProNews in more detail, and with specific evidence.
—- Start of Extended Quote from George Allen blog —-
“National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (‘NAMHCO’)
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new national advocacy presence ‘soon to be’ on the manufactured housing industry scene! Being formed to represent and advocate for business interests of land lease communities, from the smallest to largest in size, by rental homesite count.
Where do I stand on this potentially controversial matter? As administrator of COBA7, I am not one of NAMHCO’s organizers, though I certainly understand the pent-up frustration of state MH associations and property owners, feeling underserved by the three present day national MH advocates. Today’s status quo relative to the realty asset class? In my opinion,
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is 100% HUD-Code housing manufacturer focused. Land lease community owners/operators are not eligible to belong. Though MHARR does advocate for a new national presence to represent all non-manufacturing segments of the manufactured housing industry. (202) 783-4087
Manufactured Housing Institute is the ‘broad brush’ national advocate serving all segments of the manufactured housing industry. It is primarily financed and perennially led by the ‘Big Three C’ HUD-Code housing manufacturers: Clayton Homes, Champion Home Builders (soon to be, I believe, Skyline Champion), & Cavco Industries. MHI, through its’ National Communities Council division, since 1996, has, in this industry observer’s opinion, given little more than lip service to the land lease community real estate asset class it claims to serve…”
“Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance was launched in early 2014 to serve the product and service needs of land lease community owners/operators nationwide. COBA7…”
—- End of extended quote from George Allen. —-
The need for a new, post-production association ought to be self-evident.
The need for honorable professionals to police their own industry ought to be ever-more apparent.
That new national association that AZ and NV are promoting, along with current ones, ought to take steps to insure the following:
- Organizations ought to be established or reorganized with a structure that keeps big companies from dominating the smaller ones.
- An association’s professional code of conduct ought to be enforced, in a fair manner, that protects vulnerable consumers and the reputation of honest business people.
Once more, the story by Tyler Jett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press is linked here. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary)
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By L. A. Tony’ Kovach, publisher of MHProNews.com.
Tony is the award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.