For Your Consideration, A Review

In light of the recent, or rather ongoing, attacks on several members and staff at the Appraisal Institute (AI), I wanted to offer some perspective on the accusations and conjecture that has been offered over the last couple of weeks.  As the author of these blogs is an appraiser, and this deals with the largest real property valuation organization in the country, I thought it may be apropos to style this blog after an appraisal review.  While the main premise of this blog deals with a serious subject, applying it to an appraisal review will let us look at using our appraisal analysis (some parody is implied).  Obviously, a blog is not an appraisal, and some normal parts of a normal appraisal review will not translate well to reviewing a blog. 

Introduction:

The purpose of the appraisal review is to develop an opinion of quality for the referenced appraisal report (blog).   The appraisal review was developed, and the report was prepared in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. No opinion of value is offered as the reviewer is only performing a compliance review and is not a value related review. 

Report under review:  https://bit.ly/379q8Bw

Date of Report Under Review: 07/19/2021          

Date of Review Report: 08/02/2021

Identification of the Problem to be Solved: This review is intended to assist the client and intended users in understanding the development and reporting of the market value report under review.  There is a second tier to this assignment which includes the reviewer’s consultation. 

Client and Intended user(s): the appraisal profession and stakeholders thereof

Original Appraisal (OA) States: FOJs are resume builders only, actively running the once-proud organization into the ground for their own personal enrichment.

Reviewer notes that this is anecdotal and has no support other than personal opinion.  Reviewer is familiar with many of the leadership and committee members and knows many that are volunteering their time to contribute positively to the profession.  As in any organization there are likely some that want to climb the ladder but that is human nature and inclusive to every organization.

OA States: They don’t represent diversity, especially the actions of all the women who signed the sham petition process to push for Sandy because it will result in less diversity – remember that the CEO scuttled the diversity committee run by Bob Stevens in 2015 because it was a threat to his hold on power.

Reviewer notes that the fallacy shown in the analysis renders a significant concern to the credibility of the report. Applying a test of reasonableness, the reviewer has noted that the member running with the petition, Sandra Adomatis, is in fact a woman; she is also a designated SRA member; she is primarily a residential specialist. How can a woman that is an SRA that is a prominent and respected residential appraiser not increase diversity? The organization is mostly male, mostly designated MAI and non-residential in practice. It would seem that including Mrs. Adomatis would be a benefit to the organization, in light of the fact that there has not been a solely designated SRA president since 2003.  The last female the organization had as president happened in 2012. It seems the techniques and methods in this analysis are applying adjustments that are based in nothing beyond fabrication. It would be unfair to not also mention that three of the individuals mentioned as part of the alleged petition signers were on the diversity committee, and by all accounts have put considerable time and effort into it.

Issues with Narrative in the OA

The report is mostly full of conjecture and ad hominem attacks. The persistent personal attacks in this report and many other previous and a subsequent report are aimed squarely at one individual.  The repeated frequency of the attacks may indicate a strong personal bias.  Personal bias inhibits objective analysis.

The term “sham petition process” is used over and over.  A petition is allowed under the bylaws in the organization.  Noting it as a sham is not factual and is, at best, disingenuous.

Issues with the Development Process

All data in the report is indirectly obtained information.  Meaning that there is zero empirical support for the repeated accusations.  The author of the OA is not member of the organization. The only information that is used is coming from a board member(s) and/or members with direct links to board members.  Keep in mind that some information being disclosed is likely under executive session and as such is questionable from the start as there is not honor in breaking confidence that was agreed upon.  The assumptions made here are not credible as the assumptions are only made to support the opinion of the author of the review, meaning that no diligence was attempted to vet the information. Also keep in mind that board members have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization and participating in such activity may very well be a crime.

While the reviewer has no knowledge directly of the members in leadership that are sharing the information with the author of the OA, it has become increasing obvious who is leaking the information as the information is often wrong or is being twisted to such a degree that known personal opinions are shaped to support the intended narrative.  The author of the OA gets misinformation and appears to further spin the information to support the chosen narrative.   In the end, many of the things written in the narrative are patently false or intentionally made up.

It is also obvious that a well-known designated member is part of the misinformation campaign and is more than likely feeding information that they receive from a member of the executive committee to the author of the OA. The timing of the information making into these reports and what they are trying to support indicates specific individuals. As an example, the direct attacks of board members from Region Five in the report are a result of a failed floor petition for Region Five third director recently. The member that ran and lost is part of the group of members that are part of the misinformation campaign spearheaded by these reports.  It is somehow being spun that the two board members caused the floor petition to fail. This all occurred just before the board members were named in a report. Is it a coincidence that they are now being attacked and named as a part of the “Hateful Eight”?  Not a single representative from Region Five indicate that the Chair and Vice Chair were anything but fair through the election process. It would be of note that the reviewer is a member of Region Five and has confirmed this with several sources.

And while the report states the “national sham petition process” is somehow wrong for the national board of directors, here the report jumps to the opposite stance that the regional nominating committee was wrong, and a petition was somehow okay there.  What was the difference? Perhaps it was who was involved and not the reported issues with the petition process. It seems more and more like these reports are being fueled in part by a desire to affect the leadership process within the AI. Or to support specific candidates that are being pushed by a group of influential members. It is along this strong apparent bias that the OA seems to gather its premise.

The narrative also indicates that the CEO of the organization is somehow appointing members to positions within committees.  That is not possible.  The CEO cannot appoint anyone per the bylaws.  Committee appointments are done by the president. The organization is made up of appraisers, and it is normal for groups of appraisers to disagree on even the simplest of things.  The skeptical and contrarian nature of appraisers would seem almost impossible to control for years and years.  In fact, there is a rich history of discourse and disagreement.

The direct attack on Trevor Hubbard is patently false.  The reviewer has worked with Trevor directly in a few different capacities.  Mr. Hubbard has shown nothing but support to SRA members. Many members have reached out to leadership over these false statements, some accepting the character assassination and some outraged that at the fiction of the claim.  I would suspect the real impetus of naming Hubbard in this report is because Hubbard openly supported the petition last election cycle and likely upset the same group previously mentioned and has now been singled out as an attempt to punish his autonomy.

That the report singles out any members as part of the “hateful Eight” in itself is a severe blow to any credibility in the report.  Three or four people know all the names that signed the petition.  That would be the CEO, two members of the legal counsel and possibly the person that started the process.   It is quite possible that by specifically naming any individuals in the report that those singled out did not sign the petition and have been publicly impugned with no evidence.  This is concerning as another board member was singled out last year and attacked through an internal process triggered by members simply for being willing to discuss the possibility of merely being willing to consider the merits of a petition given some unusual circumstances. 

Further credibility is stretched thinner in a subsequent follow up or addendum published on July 30, 2021, https://bit.ly/3lknFwz .  The OA lists four people that are key players for the petition process.  Once again ad hominin personal attacks and express personal bias is shown in delivering opinion with no substance attached to it.  For anyone to attack specific people without any direct knowledge of any of the events is disingenuous at best, complete dishonesty at the worst. 

In particular, the attack on Stephen Roach is less opinion and more school yard bully in the delivery.  The name calling and negative nicknames is beneath professional conduct. The attempt to impugn Mr. Roach’s name without so much as attempting to speak with Mr. Roach is misleading.  I confirmed that the author of the OA did not speak with or attempt to vet anything with Mr. Roach.  The OA misstates the number of committees that Mr. Roach actually sits on. The reviewer did confirm that Mr. Roach did not lobby a single board member in 2020 or 2021 to sign the petitions. The OA also states that the CEO rewards Mr. Roach for his service to the CEO.  It is not possible for the CEO to appoint members to committees, that is solely given to the President. In a post submission update to the attack on Mr. Roach, the report was changed.  In the original version it erroneously stated that Mr. Roach also sign the petition.  This is materially false as no one but board of directors members can sign such a petition.  

Reviewer’s Reconciliation

The OA is free of any relevant facts and subsists only on conjecture and fabricated conspiracy theory.  The report is obvious bias in intent and delivery. The lack of support in the OA makes the report significantly misleading. While empirical support lacks for the review to state that the OA is supporting the wishes of a small group of members with their own design on changing the leadership, it seems to be a likely outcome.

In the end, end users of the report would be best serviced to dismiss the report and follow up with direct interaction with the leadership.  The lack of direct involvement and discussion with the key participants in leadership removes all credibility in the OA.   The gaslighting techniques being used in the development and reporting sections of the report are not recognized techniques in honest discourse. The report is also an attempt to intimidate specific members and a staff member.  By using the techniques and methods in the OA, the report actually does what it rails against in the accusations being made against the CEO.    

Reviewer’s Consultation

The OA is written to attempt to discredit the organization and seems to be written from a place of ill intent and deceptive narrative.  In the spirit of consultation to the end users of the review, it would be best to confirm the information with those that can confirm the information presented in the OA.  The reviewer has spoken with more than a dozen participants in leadership at the AI.  Some are supporters of the CEO, and some are not. If end users allow such a piece to influence their opinion of the organization, then it is worth following up with the organization and people within it.

Three of the individuals specifically attacked in the OA offered these two statements to the reviewer. I have paraphrased some of the comments to remove direct references and to fit into the pseudo appraisal review theme.

“I am concerned for the author of the OA.  While I am put off by the comments and patently false writings, more than anything I wish the author some way of healing and getting the help that they need. It is obvious that the author has some personal issues that are challenging their well-being.”

“I was very angry at first and hurt but quickly came to a peaceful place with it. I simply prayed and continue to pray for the well-being of the author.  The author is obviously unwell. “

“’I find it really sad that the author can completely make up statements.  The lack of knowledge about who can and cannot sign a petition clearly shows that the author is grasping straws for backup to the one sided and false accusations”

Discourse and debate are great things when they are focused and deal with issues.  When the discourse devolves into ad hominem personal attacks, nothing is gained from the exercise.  The reviewer has spoken to a few external stakeholders that have mentioned that they have begun reading some of the OA but stopped when it became obvious that it was an intent to besmirch specific individuals.  But there has also been several examples of members and non-members supporting the attacks, some even claiming the work to be spot on.  

It is certainly within anyone’s rights to form an opinion about whoever or whatever that they like.  It is also within the rights of those being attacked in such a libelous manner to seek legal and civil remedies.   With the upcoming national board of directors meeting occurring in Orlando, FL later this month, there is another online push to follow the false narratives published in the OA. As most of the internal and external stakeholders are appraisers, it is suggested that objective analysis is the most important thing used when deciding to engage in the process.  Emotion, whether overly negative or positive, will only bias the analysis.  If the OA is the only source that compels an appraiser to interact in the process, it would be best practice to reach out to leadership and others in the know to help balance the analysis.

Post Commentary

I am a member of the Appraisal Institute. I have served in several positions of leadership over several years.  By being a member, I am certain to have certain bias regarding the organization.  Some of the bias that I can recognize is both positive and negative. No organization is perfect. I struggle with the organizations lack residential membership. But I have chosen to interact in the process to try and change some of the issues that I have identified as threats and weaknesses.  My attempt in writing and publishing this blog post is to appeal to folks that have a stake in the organization to please think for yourself and to verify what is presented.  Just because something is published does not make it true.  When tearing down someone of something one must ask, “what is motivating the attack?”

There is usually more to see than just what is presented.  I understand that I am also walking a fine line as my blog does reflect my personal views on things.  But I think the key difference in my blog and the blog in review, is that I have spoken with and interacted with everyone that I could to verify information and I have sourced the data from multiple sources.  The few areas of conjecture in my blog that I have written are done with careful consideration.

In defense of the quotes that I used from the three people that were attacked in the blog under review, I struggled with whether they were appropriate to include. In the end, my decision to use the quotes was to allow some platform for them to speak out.  My one critique of the Appraisal Institute up to this point related to this attack is the radio silence that has come from them.  I get that an attack on the organization is something that should be shrugged off, but the attack on members should merit some action from the organization.  Now we have volunteer members and their names attached to the attacks, and that is something the organization should not take lightly.   

As always, thanks for reading and go think for yourself.  My blog is my opinion, and it shouldn’t be yours.  Go do the research then formulate your ideas.      

Published by wfincham

Residential appraiser in the Charlottesville and Shenandoah Valley specializing in high-value homes and properties that include equestrian use, hobby farms, High-performance homes (HERS, LEED, Pearl, Earthcraft), large acreage and any residential style property.

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