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

Published November 9, 2009


While Germany celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which re-united Germany and was followed by free elections, Florida was doing just the opposite in the last 20 years. The State of Florida allowed walls to be built around our communities and nice neighborhoods were renamed Mandatory Homeowners' Associations. Because of total lack of oversight, many of these HOAs quickly turned into little dictatorships run by small groups of power-hungry owners. And free elections? The provisions supposedly regulating elections in HOAs (FS 720.306) are more than vague and allow boards to conduct elections as they please -- making sure they stay in power and squash every opposition candidate who dares to run against their clique.


HOA law doesn't contain any eligibility clauses, meaning any owner is eligible to be a candidate for the board of directors.


Not so fast! That doesn't mean that many associations don’t have very inventive boards that have nothing better to do than invent hurdles for unwanted board members. Look at this “Notice of Intent to be a Candidate for the Board of Directors” distributed to owners in the Cimarrone Property Owners Association, Inc. in Jacksonville. Who in his right mind would allow people like this to conduct a background check -- even if you have nothing to hide? Your background check would be the talk of the town at the next Kaffeeklatsch. Nothing is confidential in HOAs -- and there is nothing in FS 720 that exempts this information from Official Record Requests (FS 720.303). And for the use of May Management? That must be a joke! Who in his/her right mind would trust a management company with this kind of personal information? And I wonder how this form would look like if the owner of May Management had to fill it out!

Nominating Committee? These committees should actually be called Eliminating Committees, because that's the real reason why they have been created by the sitting boards – to eliminate unwanted opposition from the ballot that will be sent out. These eliminated candidates will be told that they can still nominate themselves from the floor -- after the election is factually already over, since the written ballots with the names of the "good" candidates previously had been mailed in.

In East Germany you needed to have the right party book in your pocket to be an eligible candidate for an election. In Florida's HOAs you need to be a good buddy of the sitting board to see your name on the ballot! East Germany has free elections now that it is reunited with West Germany. HOAs in Florida have elections that are pre-determined -- with opposition candidates already eliminated before the voters get the ballots!



I can only laugh about these overeager board members who have nothing better to do than trying to find ways to eliminate opposition candidates. But the folks who came up with this Notice of Intent to be a Candidate for the Board of Directors did in my opinion some sloppy work and forgot to include two very important questions that would definitely help to distinguish between good and bad candidates:

  • Are you a good buddy of the sitting board members and will you follow the directives of the president -- no matter how bad -- if elected?

  • What is the color of your underwear?