On the Commons

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.

On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax.  In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37.  On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia.  To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to http://www.radiofairfax.com and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices,  http://tunein.com/radio/Radio-Fairfax-s24818  The show will be available on http://onthecommons.us/ shortly afterwards.  Please also visit our archives at http://onthecommons.net .

On the Commons: Shu and Kenneth Ditkowsky – 8/19/17

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
This Week’s Show
I seem to zip through life at breakneck speeds, taking most things for granted and never really thinking about the reason we do things any particular way.  Oh, once in a while I ask myself, “What were they ever thinking?” when I run into something a little strange.  However, when things are working well the farthest thought is to wonder why it works.  It is so much easier to start looking at things that don’t make sense and figure out how to improve it.
And for a show whose sole focus is property rights, that was a little short sighted.  How can we protect ownership and rights without knowing how to properly define the property in question? That is one those things most of us have always taken for granted.
Kenneth Ditkowsky joins us On The Commons.  Ken is an attorney in Chicago who, when he was fresh out of law school, full of self confidence and a can-do attitude found himself on the ground floor of redefining property boundaries and ultimately changing skylines in cities across the country. Maybe even the world?  We’ll talk to Ken about the Prudential Building, the first high rise in Chicago and the hundreds of pages of legal speak explaining the ownership structure.  Ken and his partner accepted the challenge and simplified it, reducing the document down to a more manageable size.  n the process they paved the way for high-rise residential buildings to be built and ultimately changing the face of the Chicago.  We’ll talk about all the things most of us take for granted and never give a second thought to.  We’ll learn about different ways to determine the legal boundaries of a piece of property and find out what happens when mother nature decides to ” shift” the things we take for granted.  I was spellbound as I listened to Ken.  Tune in for a fascinating show.

Tell us your stories in

On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax. In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37. On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia. To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to Radio Fairfax and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices, Radio Fairfax MobileThe show will be available on On the Commons shortly afterwards. Please also visit our archives at On the Commons.Leaving the American Zone
Shu Bartholomew
Host and producer

On The Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions

On the Commons with Shu and Tyler Berding 7/8/17

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
This Week’s Show
They don’t build things like they used to.  The Pyramids of Egypt have been around since approximately 2700 BC, that’s almost 5000 years.  I wonder how much maintenance has been done on them over the centuries?  Our cardboard and scotch tape buildings fail after a few years and will probably not be a source of amazement in a century.  In fact, at this rate, most of them will not be still standing and that’s with maintenance.  How times they are a changing!
Tyler Berding joins us On The Commons this week.  Tyler is a founding partner of Berding and Weil, a law firm in California specializing in construction defect litigation and condominiums.  He has long warned us of the perils we are facing by not being adequately funded for multi unit housing.  Tyler also maintains a blog called, not surprisingly,  Condo Issues.  Tyler talks about a couple of recent tragic building failures in California that claimed the lives of several people.  He explains why he believes these buildings are failing and what can be done about it.  He also tells us about one bill he wrote that he thinks might help in the future.  But at no time does he promise us that we will be building and living in anything that is remotely as well built as the Pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians.  Take another listen.

Tell us your stories in

On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax. In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37. On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia. To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to Radio Fairfax and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices, Radio Fairfax MobileThe show will be available on On the Commons shortly afterwards. Please also visit our archives at On the Commons.Leaving the American Zone
Shu Bartholomew
Host and producer

On The Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions

On the Commons with Shu and Jan Bergemann 04/22/17

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
This Week’s Show
Do you ever feel like you are being watched?  That your every move is being recorded, noted, tagged, documented and archived for future reference?  That’s because you are being watched from every corner and every angle imaginable.  No, it is not science fiction, it is the here and now of our every day lives.  In the land of the free and the brave, eyes and ears are everywhere, watching you.  Any false move is likely to result in hefty fines and even lead to the confiscation of your home.  Just what are these false moves that could have such dire consequences?  And what new tools and techniques are being used to rat you out?  And how is technology helping?
Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons.  Jan is the founder and President of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice  a grass roots organization dedicated to protecting the owners in condo and homeowner associations.  We talk to Jan about the state of association living in Florida.  We learn about a bill making its way through the legislative process that would not give board members a pass should they commit a crime.  And you’ll never guess who is opposing this bill. We learn about a new app called “The Parking Boss” which is being used to enforce rental restrictions in condos and gated communities.  The Parking Boss?  And for those who have had their fill of being inspected from every angle and snooped and spied on, there is a glimmer of hope.  We’ll find out whether there is life after an HOA dies.  And just for fun, along the way we learn about some of the most petty violations people have been cited and fined for.
On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax. In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37. On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia. To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to Radio Fairfax and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices, Radio Fairfax MobileThe show will be available on On the Commons shortly afterwards. Please also visit our archives at On the Commons.Leaving the American Zone
Shu Bartholomew
Host and producer

On The Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions

On the Commons: with Shu and Dr. Karin Huffer -4/15/17

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
This Week’s Show
A timeless rebroadcast and a perpetual problem.
I am frequently contacted by homeowners who are being bullied and abused by board members and/or managers in the  association governing their neighborhood. More often than not, the source for the conflict is petty and ridiculous.   Notwithstanding the sort of personality that tends to gravitate to these positions, our legislators have seen fit to bestow extraordinary powers on them, tipping the balance very heavily in favor of the association. The experience of being caught in the crosshairs of the association causes stress induced health challenges for the homeowners.
But suppose the homeowner is disabled? The weaker and more vulnerable amongst us are more likely to be targeted because they are easier to bully, scare and abuse.  Is there any help for the?
Dr. Karin Huffer joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Huffer is a multi talented force to be reckoned with.  She is an author, a speaker, a trainer and now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  For years, Karin has known that people with disabilities are more likely to have their rights ignored, or trampled on by everyone, including the courts. She decided to do something about it.  She set up a web page and started a program called Equal Access Advocates.  She trains people to become advocates and to accompany people with disabilities in court to protect their rights. We’ll talk to Karin about her advocates, who they are and how they help their clients.  We learn a little more about the Americans With Disabilities Act and how her program ensures that people are treated fairly.  With an advocate by their side, people in court have someone very firmly in their corner.
On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax. In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37. On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia. To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to Radio Fairfax and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices, Radio Fairfax MobileThe show will be available on On the Commons shortly afterwards. Please also visit our archives at On the Commons.Leaving the American Zone
Shu Bartholomew
Host and producer

On The Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions

On the Commons: Shu and Robert Nordlund – 4/1/17

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
This Week’s Show
I often wonder what my life would be like if I had complete and total control over it.  Would I be able to deflect all the curve balls life throws at me?  Or would I still be floating on the sea of life like so much flotsam and jetsam, subject to all the vagaries lurking in the shadows, just waiting to trip me up?  Happily we can take control of many things in our lives but unfortunately for those of us living in America’s ever growing number of residential associations, we seem to be losing the war.   It is just a handful of people who make the major decisions that affect our lives and more importantly, our wallets.

Robert Nordlund joins us On The Commons.  Robert is the founder and CEO of Association Reserves in California. In his professional life he studies the common elements in an association, be it a condo, HOA, Co-op, dockominium or parkominium  to determine whether or not the corporate entity responsible for maintaining the common elements is adequately funded.
The news isn’t good.  According to Robert, 70% of all associations are underfunded, which means only 30% are not in immediate danger of incurring special assessments.  We’ll talk about the reasons for underfunded associations.  Are artificially low assessments the (only) reason for this dilemma or could other common practices be responsible for this predicament?  Could better business practices help?  And is there a “quick and dirty” way for housing consumers to figure out what the financial health of the association they are considering buying into?
I have to wonder whether throwing more money at something that is broken is the only fix or is it simply the easiest short term solution for a problem?  Are there other ways of dealing with it that we are overlooking.
Share your stories on
On The Commons is broadcast every Saturday from 2-3 PM ET on Radio Fairfax. In the Northern Virginia area, On The Commons can be heard on Cox Cable, Channel 37 and Verizon Channel 37. On Comcast channel 27 in Reston in addition to several more cable channels all across Northern Virginia. To listen LIVE globally on the internet, go to Radio Fairfax and click on “Stream Radio Fairfax” and if you are on the go, on your mobile devices, Radio Fairfax Mobile The show will be available on On the Commons shortly afterwards. Please also visit our archives atOn the Commons.Leaving the American Zone
Shu Bartholomew
Host and producer

On The Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions