An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published November 22, 2011


This year's attempt of CAN (Community Advocacy Network -- lobbying group of Katzman Garfinkel & Berger) and CALL (Community Association Leadership Lobby -- lobbying group of Becker & Poliakoff) to create legislative reforms to help associations deal with the financial chaos caused by unpaid dues and foreclosures can only be considered a total failure. Absolutely nothing in H 319 will help associations and the still-paying owners to deal with the financial crisis that already caused many associations to increase the monthly dues and levy special assessments, causing even more owners to default, causing even more financial problems for associations and owners.

Senator Chris Smith filed S 706 -- a bill that definitely reflects the opinion of his constituents living in condominiums: "We just can't afford any longer to pay the bills of our non-paying neighbors -- this system bankrupts us. We need help!"


We all know that the system forces the still-paying owners to make up for the deficits, but the bill surely is a loud cry for help -- help that is desperately needed. This bill has to be considered a loud cry for HELP!


Maybe CAN and CALL have actually reached the intended goals by creating enough laws to increase the billing hours of their respective firms -- meaning sufficiently increasing the firms' profits. More or less nothing contained in the community association bills that were enacted in the last few years -- promoted and praised by CAN and CALL -- did anything to really help associations/owners deal with the budget shortfalls. Owners are still forced to pay the bills of their defaulting neighbors, getting these owners into financial trouble themselves.


Associations ARE the owners -- including the board members -- who are paying the bills, including the ever-growing legal bills. All the so-called reforms contained in the bills of the last few years require legal help -- meaning more expensive legal bills.


From the very beginning I have warned gullible board members about the dangers of financing lobbying groups owned and governed by association law firms. Common sense makes it abundantly clear that law firms and association/owners have very opposing financial interests. Law firms need billing hours to exist -- the more billing hours the bigger the profits. Association/owners want nice and peaceful communities, with as few legal problems as possible. 


The law firms needed the association boards to impress the legislators: "See how many of your constituents are favoring our bills?" And the law firms needed the funds of the associations to pay for the lobbying, so they could lobby for the bills pushed for their profits for free!


Let's be honest: All the bills that passed in the last few years helped the law firms, not the associations/owners. But the association/owners paid for lobbying for these bills and are now paying for the legal bills created by the "REFORMS" -- a win-win situation for the law firms and a lose-lose situation for the associations/owners.  That includes the board members who cheered -- and paid with owners' money -- for the reforms promoted by CAN and CALL, reforms that now create HIGHER LEGAL BILLS.