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Friends List

Nixon had his enemies list.  Clinton had one for friends. FOB they were called.  Reward your friends, punish your enemies.  That’s the way real world politics works. Only now that time-tested tradition has filtered down to the alternate universe of co-ops and condos.

They’re the latest weapon — lists of “Friends.”  Not the close knit, good natured kind that we watched on TV for almost a decade. These aren’t true friends, they may not even know each other. but more like favored owners – the in crowd in high school or the cheerleaders in Glee.

How do they know they’re Friends?  The board, or some individual director, tells them so.  Huh? This woman must be off her rocker you’re probably thinking. No, I’m not, and yes it’s happening right now in at least one Downtown building, and probably a lot more.  Let’s call the list Friends of Treacherous Towers, not its real name though it should be.

It’s a cost-free way of boards letting owners know they have favored status.  As a Friend, you get information that the rest of the residents do not. Aren’t all shareholders supposed to be treated equally? Of course, but such legal technicalities don’t deter these boards.

It would be bad enough if the selectively disclosed information had to do with regular building matters, a new management company that was hired, an old boiler that needs to be replaced. Nobody really cares about that kind of stuff. They want Page Six tidbits.

And the board obliges, digging up dirt about disfavored owners or, better yet, getting the staff to do their dirty work for them. One week the Friends of Treacherous Towers might be told that Mr. X has an illegal Jacuzzi, another that Ms. Y doesn’t recycle her garbage or Mrs. Z lets her Yorkie pee on the mailroom rug.

It’s a positively Machiavellian plan, allowing boards to punish enemies at the same time they reward friends. You’d be amazed, but a little trash talk can go a long way toward converting owners.

Only the Friends List isn’t like the Watch List.  Once you’re on the Watch List you can hardly ever get off.  But you can be erased from the Friends List as soon as you’ve done something the board doesn’t like – complained about the new mats they put in or looked at one of them cross eyed, whatever.

I know someone who was on the Friends List only to be taken off because he did something the president didn’t like, and was confined to informational purgatory until election season rolled round and Mr. President decided that more Friends mean more votes.

Of course, if there’s a new board, the old friends likely will be replaced by new ones, unless it decides to treat everyone alike.

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