Not everyone wants to talk to the media.
Politicians, business leaders, and many others sometimes have reason to dodge scrutiny. Some ignore requests for comments. Others are polite enough to officially say “no comment.”
Then, there is Harmony Communities, the controversial manager of several Fresno-area mobile home parks.
Harmony’s handling of Trails End (now called La Hacienda) was heavily in the news last year. Residents worried about what a new owner with a less-than-stellar reputation would bring. Several court cases in eviction court gave them the answer.
The Business Journal asked Harmony questions and received correspondence from Heywood Jablóm, said by the company to be its director of communications and marketing. TBJ put two and two together and realized Harmony pulled a fast one on them. The paper then exposed Harmony’s childish trick.
Say that communication director’s name out loud (or silently if kids or your boss are around). It is a joke I told when I was an immature 15-year-old with my friends.
No Apology or Contrition by the Company
I asked Harmony’s Matthew Davies why the company would do this. The response (links included):
“Subjects of man-on-the-street interviews sometimes give Heywood Jablome as their name to reporters. If the reporter’s a novice and if the newspaper’s copy editor doesn’t catch it, the name ends up in print, embarrassing the newspaper and the poor scribe who was gullible enough to scribble down the bogus moniker.”
So, Harmony lied to reporters to embarrass them. A company that has hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s lives in the palm of their hand wants to play a joke.
It would be funny except for the residents facing eviction or what they consider draconian regulations that could make them homeless.
If Harmony had any credibility, it is shot now. I hope the city of Fresno remembers this next time they have an official dealing with Harmony.
Harmony used a stock photo for its communication director, just some actor. Some sleuths found it also used on a website for a service to make men … more male.
Others Not Amused
Mariah Thompson, with California Rural Legal Assistance, is defending several La Hacienda residents facing eviction.
“I think that tells the public everything they need to know about their company values,” Thompson said.
Jess Maxcy, president of the industry group California Manufactured Housing Institute, had a succinct reaction.
“What you have described is not professional,” Maxcy said.