"Board Elections" At The Cove At South Beaches Condo
OWNERS ALLEGE THAT BOARD PRESIDENT CANCELLED ANNUAL MEETING
WITH ELECTIONS ON SHORT NOTICE BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH VOTES!
An Opinion By Jan Bergemann
April 5, 2006
Here we have another condo election gone sour, and lots of people are upset about the ruling of the DBPR investigator Trudy Toorie, who ruled that serious mistakes have been made, but ordered a new election organized by the same person who is blamed for most of these mistakes.
The stories about the cancelled election differ widely. While the past president maintains that there was an emergency board meeting in which the decision was reached to cancel the election on short notice, the opposition claims that this alleged emergency meeting only took place in the imagination of the board president, who, according to the opposition, was in Maryland the day this meeting supposedly took place. One board member even says there was no such meeting -- and if it really took place -- he wasn't notified. Condo owners say that there never was any notice about such a board meeting and the president just cancelled it because he felt "under the weather"!
Then everything turned into a comedy. The owners held the meeting anyway, with a participation of more than 50% of the owners and elected a new board. The manager, who had ballots mailed to her, didn't produce them for the noticed meeting -- on advice of the president. The manager resigned in the meanwhile. Some more Seinfeld?
Owners, present at the officially noticed meeting on January 9th, realized that the manager kept their already cast ballots and signed new ballots. What would you do if the manager disappears with your ballots?
The bylaws of the association say: "Annual meeting and election must be held on the second Monday in January." So, what is the real reason for postponing the election? If there really was an emergency meeting of the board, why didn't the board vote for a new vice president, if that was the reason for not holding the meeting?
Canceling the meeting is costly, since the whole notification process has to be redone as required by statutes. The bylaws were clearly violated by postponing the meeting.
Let's say -- for argument's sake --
there was such an emergency meeting -- the bylaws would allow to postpone
the annual meeting with election as they do not -- and the DBPR ruling
would be correct. Where does
that leave Florida condo owners?
What a better way out for a president under siege?
Let's say there was no such "emergency meeting"? Then the result is more or less the same, only this time legalized by the DBPR.
This election bought the former board about 4 months more time -- maybe valuable time to finish some of their pet projects?
If the DBPR finds that the people in charge the last time made all kinds of mistakes that created an irregular election, they should have ordered safeguards to make sure that the new election will be held according to the statutes. This could create the possibility that the board, feeling it might lose again in the next election, makes serious mistakes on purpose -- and buys another 4 months in power?
We need a government agency that
uses not only the law book, but as well common sense. If you realize that Party A is unable to conduct a proper election, you
should look for a different option to conduct a fair and honest election.
Maybe the election monitors of the Condo Ombudsman should have gotten the
task to mail out the notifications, to collect the ballots and to conduct
But allowing a president to postpone an annual meeting on very short notice because he doesn't "feel well" and then rewarding him by allowing him to organize the new election?
I'm not really sure about that!