Persecution Complex

Windsor Place resident Pat Snyder wages a jihad against the homeowners' association, which she accuses of cronyism, racism--even hastening the death of an elderly black woman

Snyder and Tillman of the NAACP also tell of an ugly incident that took place around that time, just as the temperature was inching past the century mark. One of Anderson's upstairs neighbors--a man Tillman describes as "twice Rosa's size"--knocked on her door.

Both Tillman and Snyder say Anderson was frightened, and believed the man constituted a physical threat. She slammed her door on him, then called the police. The officers spoke to Anderson and the neighbor and left. No citations were issued.

The neighbor, a renter, says he meant Anderson no harm. But he doesn't deny that the confrontation took place.

"We was all burning up, so I was the one that went on down there. And I was a little mad," says the tenant, who declined to give his name. "Why don't you try sitting around in this thing without any AC in the summertime?"

A woman emerges from a bedroom. She and the man say they have lived at Windsor Place for seven years, with no trouble with neighbors. Until recently. The woman is black.

"We don't want no trouble," she says resignedly. "We never wanted nothing bad to happen to that lady."

When they read Rosa Anderson's letter for the first time, Scott Schaible and Steve Loomis puff heavily on cigarettes. Leroy Heflin scratches his forehead thoughtfully.

Schaible finally says, "There was a day when we talked to her, and she kept slamming the door on us, refused to talk to us and refused to allow the workmen in. I think Joe [Wilson] called the police and asked them if they would talk to her. And she talked to them, individually from us."

Loomis shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
"I'm gonna go on the record here," Loomis says. "Something is not being said that needs to be said. Okay, she was black. But she was holding up the plumbing to her unit and the ones above her. I don't see what that has to do with the color of her skin. And ironically, she wasn't even out of pocket. Somebody else had already paid for this in advance.

"I hardly think that we were discriminating against her on some sort of racial line."

Such arguments carry little weight with Rosa Anderson's champions.
"The homeowners' association has acted like gods in this whole thing," says Oscar Tillman, the NAACP president, "but Rosa was born of stuff that doesn't back down. This is a sad ending for a lady who spent her whole life helping people."

Pat Snyder sees Anderson's stand against the workmen as nothing less than a blow for private property rights--and good taste.

"This was a proud woman," Snyder says. "She had a very strong sense of aesthetics. She saw what an abortion those pipes were and she didn't want to have that in her apartment."

Snyder also notes that Anderson was one of the only resident-owners living on the ground floor. Nearly every other ground-floor unit was a rental whose tenants have no voting rights in the homeowners' association.

"They [the other owners] didn't know what was going to happen," Snyder says. "Rosa was the only first-floor owner on the property who objected to this because she was the only one who would have to live with it every day."

Snyder says the association board inflamed tempers by spreading word that Anderson was responsible for holding up everyone's cooling.

"They did not properly respond to her concerns for due compensation, for the taking of her private property," Snyder explains. "They were creating a utility easement into her private property. These are legitimate legal concerns. And when they tell you, 'Rosa signed this piece of paper,' that was after they had the two police officers come in. Who authorized them to run their pipes through there? Whatever they had Rosa sign, it was obviously done under duress."

Though the new heating and cooling system has been in place for seven months, Pat Snyder has no plan to remove the unauthorized air conditioners from her windows. She claims she needs them because the repair job did not restore cool air to her condo as promised. She says the vertical pipes running to her apartment are so choked with hard-water deposits that any benefits derived from the new pipes leading to them are negligible.

Schaible says that the problem is not with the risers, but with the pipes connecting them with the air handler within Snyder's condo. If she would replace those pipes, which are not the community's responsibility, her place should stay cool, he says.

The matter will likely wind up in court.
Schaible, who has had his share of run-ins with the irascible Snyder, says her allegations are the products of an overwrought imagination.

"Really, as far as I can tell, her only purpose in life is to show up at our meetings and cause problems," he says. "What it comes down to is that some people just aren't cut out for community living."

But Snyder has her allies at Windsor Place. One of them is Donna Gahagans, another condo owner and a counselor with the City of Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department.

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