Opinion By Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
March 22, 2014
Every good dictator hates oversight and
fair elections! And so do the "leading ladies" of the so-called Broward
Coalition. This group consisting of board members in the
Broward area has a long-standing reputation of opposing any kind of
legislation that is even remotely considered owner-friendly. Already at
the times when former State Representative Julio Robaina
filed his owner-friendly condo bills these folks were in the forefront of
the opposition. Like the lobbying groups of the law firms (CAI + CALL)
they pretend to lobby for "associations," but in reality they
are lobbying for keeping the power over their neighbors. Fighting
owner-friendly laws is their daily business -- and they will do everything
to stay in power.
Read the letter sent by Mary Macfie,
1st Vice President of the Broward Coalition, to the other coalition
members, written by Patti Lynn, President of the Broward Coalition.
This letter tells you in uncertain words what they are really after: STAYING
Date: March 17, 2014 at 6:16:08 PM EDT
Subject: Re: This bill affects HOA's
Broward Coalition HOA Member,
case that you are not aware, a bill has been
introduced in the Florida Legislature, (SB
1346), which will affect you and your homeowner
Broward Coalition is strongly opposed to
the bill, as: It imposes fines and
sanctions on board members; it imposes a $4.00
per door tax on every house
in an association; it will stop your association
from imposing a lien, for fines over $1000., on
those homeowners who refuse to
keep their property maintained or refuse
to abide by your association rules.
am asking each of you to send the letter below
to your State Representative.
You may send it by the US Mail, or by
e-mail. We must STOP this
bill from becoming law.
you are unsure of the name of your
District may be found on your Voter
is important that we act on this immediately.
The money that we save may be your own.
Look at the highlights of this letter -- and the FORM
LETTER board members are supposed to send to their
- "It imposes
fines and sanctions on board members" -- what a horrible
idea to hold these board members, who constantly violate and/or
plainly ignore Florida laws, accountable for knowingly breaking or
ignoring existing laws!
imposes a $4.00 per door tax on every house in an association"
-- that idea
would take away some of the money they are paying to certain law firms
to hire their services as their "personal body guards" to
threaten and intimidate any owner who might dare to challenge their
dictatorial actions. When considering this expense, please remember
what you get in return for paying a measly $4 annually.
will stop your association from imposing a lien, for fines over
$1000" -- it will stop
dictatorial board members from filing liens for unjust fines -- fines
that are levied by these groups who are accuser, judge, jury and
executioner all in one! Nothing in these proposed changes will stop
associations from enforcing the rules and/or going after violators. It
just takes away another dictatorial tool often used to subdue any
owner who might challenge the board's action. Remember, they want to
punish owners who violate the rules, but these same board members
don't like the idea of getting punished for violating the laws.
- "The bill
requires mailings regarding elections and maintenance fees, which will
impose financial hardships on many associations. Our
elections are simple. We have nominations and we ask if those
nominees will accept. We publish the slate in our newsletter and we
also put a proxy form in the newsletter. If a neighbor doesn't
want to attend the meeting, he, or she, gives the proxy to another
member, and they cast the vote" -- it requires fair
elections -- nothing else. The letter already tells you why they hate
the idea of fair elections. The proposal would take away their
dictatorial power to control the outcome of the election. Yes, the
momentary election process is simple for the sitting board members:
They can nominate their candidates only, declaring every other
volunteer incapable of serving as a board member. The nominating
committee consists of spouses and friends of the sitting board
members. Imagine the possibility of secret ballots? A horrifying idea.
No more going around collecting proxies from mostly elderly owners who
are easily to intimidate with threats of retaliation if they don't
name the sitting board members as proxy holders: "We will invent
some "violations", fine you, lien and foreclose on your
property and kick you out of your home -- if you don't sign the
proxy!" Remember, the board has the deep pockets while homeowners
have to spend lots of money to defend their homes! The headline of the
website of the Broward Coalition already contains the unveiled threat:
"WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!"
Attached to the above e-mail to the HOA board
members was a proposed form letter suggested to be sent to local
a resident in a Homeowners Association, I am writing to you
to voice my objections to the proposed bill, SB 1348. I
problems with the proposed bill, and I am asking you to
from supporting a companion bill in the House.
live in the South Florida area, where most of the homeowner
communities are. You have NOT asked me for my thoughts on
these matters, and I think that you should. For instance:
The bill eliminates the ability of Associations to lien property
for unpaid fines. The lien provision enables us to
cover the costs incurred when we are forced to take legal
action. Some residents refuse to maintain their
properties or live by the rules. Their neighbors shouldn't
have to pay for enforcement.
The bill permits the DBPR to levy fines and other penalties
against boards and individual board members. I am
a volunteer in my association, as are many others. It is
difficult to get folks to serve. This proposal will cause
me, and probably some others, to no longer volunteer.
The bill requires mailings regarding elections and maintenance
fees, which will impose financial hardships on many
associations. Our elections are simple. We have
nominations and we ask if those nominees will accept. We publish
the slate in our newsletter and we also put a proxy form in the
newsletter. If a neighbor doesn't want to attend the
meeting, he, or she, gives the proxy to another member, and they
cast the vote. It has worked well for years.
Usually, there is NO election, as there are only enough nominees
to fill the positions. As to the assessments, we have one
or 2 budget meetings every year, where every homeowner can give
their input. Our maintenance is low, not like a
condominium. Services vary in HOAs, from pool and
clubhouse maintenance, to lawn mowing, sprinkler repair, house
painting, etc. Some associations charge as little as
$25.00 per month. You are trying to require us to spend
money that we don't have.
Why are you taxing us???? A $4.00 fee for every individual
home is ridiculous!! You people have been taking money
from the condo fees for years!!! Now
you want homeowners to pay, too
It is obvious that the funds are not being used for
their intended purpose.
You want the Division of Business and Professional Regulation to
help us??? Have you ever called them?? If you speak
to three, or four, different people in that office, on the same
matter, you'll get 3 or 4 different answers. Additionally,
the bill only allows them to deal with a few matters, such as
elections and requests for documents. The REAL issues are
board members who don't allow other members to speak, who hire
their friends, and who think that they are King, Queen, or
Emperor!!! You can't legislate morality, and your new law
doesn't address those few people. If they commit a real
crime, we have the Sheriff to back us up.
I don't want to be lumped in with condominiums, or co-ops, or,
even mobile home parks. We are HOMEOWNERS, and we have a
homeowner association. Leave us alone.
Not only are a lot of these statements plainly
wrong, other statements are clearly twisting the facts. On the other hand,
just remember who these local legislators are: Some representatives like Slosberg,
Rader, Berman and Stark who are in Tallahassee nothing but
benchwarmers barely anybody takes seriously, or their local senators?
Jeremy Ring, who caused more financial damage
to Florida's homeowners than hurricanes Charlie and Wilma together by
1986 in 2008, a bill that created the Safe Harbor provisions
in FS 720, protecting banks and mortgage companies against financial
liabilities caused by their outrageous lending policies. Safe Harbor
provisions were unknown to HOAs until Ring filed that bill. This bill
caused many associations to raise their dues and levy big special
assessments -- and families lost their homes because they could no longer
afford the steadily increasing dues and/or special assessments.
Or Maria Sachs, whose husband as a named
partner in a law firm mostly representing association boards makes big
bucks from the misery of homeowners living in HOAs? Remember, Sachs
doesn't even know where she really lives?
But they sure got one thing right when they wrote:
REAL issues are board members who don't allow other members to speak, who
hire their friends, and who think that they are King, Queen, or Emperor!!!"
Because that is
what these Broward Coalition members really are: Dictators who hate
oversight and fair elections. They even admit it in their letters -- see
do you believe that Adolph, Fidel or Joseph would have liked the idea of
Oversight and/or Fair Elections?