Opinion By Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
March 26, 2011
am not sure if all the members of Florida's community associations
realized that they dodged a bullet when the provisions in House
Bill H 5005 regarding the removal
of license requirements for community association managers (CAMs)
and all wording regarding dissolving the Division of Florida
Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes and the Condo
Ombudsman's Office were removed. It showed that a -- more or less
-- united approach can sway legislators to do the right thing.
NUMBER ONE goes to association board members and owners, who should no
longer have a problem to separate friends from foes, meaning groups and
organizations that lobby for favorable association laws -- and groups that
lobby for more profits for service providers. After the battle against Deregulation
Bill H 5005 it's not very difficult to pick out who is who. All
the more or less known groups dealing with community associations and
managers were very outspoken in opposition to H 5005. Lead by CCFJ,
CAN and many other local organizations and coalitions, advocates
spoke out against this horrendous bill that would have destroyed what
little protection there was left for community associations and their owners.
group was suspiciously absent from this public relations battle trying to
convince legislators that the community association provisions had to be
removed. CALL (Community Association Leadership Lobby) -- the
lobbying group of Becker & Poliakoff -- was nowhere to be seen
or heard in the forefront of the battle against this bill. CALL's regular
bloggers and columnists wrote about pool and spa safety requirements, landscaping rules, replacement of wiring due to Chinese drywall and multicondominium financial issues,
at a time when associations/owners needed every voice to avoid disaster --
disaster that was imminent if the bill had been enacted. At
the first committee stop of PCB
BCAS 11-01 Gary Poliakoff's troops (Moore, Muller etc.) were nowhere to be
seen or heard opposing this horrendous bill. But in a blog in the Sun
Sentinel dated March 24, 2011 Gary Poliakoff wants to take credit for
defeating these dangerous provisions. In my opinion, plainly pathetic!
are the facts -- come to your own conclusion: Gary Poliakoff wrote
an e-mail on Monday, March 21, 2011 3:47 PM saying: “I just
returned from an extended vacation in
, Bali, and
. Let me see what I can do. My initial thought is to agree with the
deregulation of managers and elimination of arbitration.” (This
was not a client-attorney privileged e-mail.) Pretty obvious that he
agrees with the provisions in the bill we all fought so hard to defeat, no
matter what he says after the bill was defeated. On Tuesday
afternoon the changed language was already posted on the website of the
House Committee on Economic Affairs (AMENDED
H 5005). That means that within 24 hours Poliakoff changed his
mind, successfully fought the bad bill and had the bill totally rewritten
-- all within 24 hours? A miracle worker OR somebody who is claiming undue
credit? Just think about it.
On the other hand, CALL tries to push S530,
a bill they are calling a glitch bill for the totally ill-advised S1196
from last year. This bill follows the same pattern: Increase the profits
for service providers to the detriment of associations and owners!
Considering the economic problems many of our community associations now
face, this is really the last thing we need.
is what I think about the lobbying efforts of CALL and the law firm
of Becker & Poliakoff P.A.: They claim to lobby
for association-friendly legislation, but all their efforts in
are actually aimed at increasing billing hours — see S530 and last
year’s S1196. They have every right to lobby for whatever they want, but
they shouldn’t try to mislead the public about their real motives! How
can a law firm and its lobbying group even claim to lobby for associations
if a big part of the firm’s income comes from representing
NUMBER TWO goes to the DBPR employees of the Division of Florida
Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes and the Condo Ombudsman's
Office and the employees working in CAM LICENSING/REGULATION.
the discussion about H5005 many of our members and supporters were saying: Why are we fighting this bill? The Division is pretty useless
and its employees are not doing what they are being paid to do. Wouldn't
we be better off without the Division?
For now this bill and the contained provisions have been defeated, but
even the filing of such a bill has put the DIVISION and CAM Regulation on probation. Next time such a bill comes up, most likely
fewer people will be willing to fight against such provisions, if the DBPR's way of doing business doesn't change. We don't need folks
in a regulatory agency wasting our dollars just waiting for the next weekend! Most folks
who contacted me were not complaining about the system, but about the executive staff that
for many years has chosen to
do NOTHING. Many attorneys, CAMs, board members and owners feel that the Division is pretty useless.
The necessary laws are in place, but the executives of the Division fail to use them.
But there is hope on the horizon: For the first time in recent history a governor
didn't make a politically motivated appointment as Secretary of the Department
of Business and Professional Regulation. Governor Rick Scott
has appointed Ken Lawson, a former U.S. Treasury Department investigator,
as the new DBPR Secretary. Hopefully, Lawson will clean up shop unlike the many DBPR secretaries before him, who were all political appointees unwilling to change the
"DO NOTHING" attitude.
Let's see if the new DBPR Secretary really means business. Lawson surely has the necessary background! Maybe he will take the time to listen to the people
that have to deal with the Division and CAM regulation
employees on a daily basis. Maybe he will make the necessary changes to create an effective regulation tool. That is what Florida really needs!
bill was a warning to all the DBPR employees: You are on probation!
A similar bill may pop up again, if the new Secretary fails to correct the
many problems and doesn't remove some of the pretty useless Division
ARE ON A ROLL!
LET'S KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK:
the moment Florida's homeowners and condo owners have another pressing
issue: DEFEAT the so-called GLITCH
BILL S 530, pushed by CALL and attorney Peter Dunbar.
It's another horrendous bill that will do nothing but increase the costs
SEND YOUR E-MAILS!
Senate Committee on Community Affairs will hear on Monday, March 28, 2011 at
1:00 p.m. in the Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412
the above bill. This bill will create more lawsuits and billing hours.
If senators want to help some "obviously needy" attorneys like
Peter Dunbar and Gary Poliakoff, they really should vote YES on
this ill-advised bill. This bill will, like last year's S1196,
create nothing but more confusion and legal fees. It looks like this
is exactly what the sponsors have in mind!
if senators want to help associations and its members, they should vote
to KILL S530 -- owners have enough problems in their communities
-- and revive Senator Jeremy Ring's bill S1516
in its original version, a bill that would really help the
constituents deal with the economic disaster. I honestly cannot
understand how somebody -- other than dictators -- can be against FAIR
ELECTIONS in HOAs and oppose a provision that would require
insurance companies to inform all owners if a property insurance policy
is cancelled for non-payment. We had two cases recently where the owners
lost all their life-savings because boards took it upon themselves to
stop paying the premium. Is that what Florida stands for?
Please contact the
committee members and ask them to VOTE NO on this bill that will do
nothing but create more billing hours for attorneys!
you contact the legislators, please write in the subject line:
PLEASE VOTE NO ON
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