May 26, 2005
is another example of using the power of the Advisory Council on Condominiums
for private gain.
was no mention of SB 1520 being discussed during the Council meeting on March
31, 2005. The agenda was quiet in this matter.
But that didn't stop the Council from deciding to
write a letter to Governor Jeb Bush, asking him to veto SB 1520, a bill that
deals with defining travel clubs. See
more explanation in article below.
member Mike Andrew is working for the Marriott Vacation Club. Even if he
officially abstained from voting on the motion, Andrew was the member who started
the discussion and asked for the Council to support the agenda of his
public input, no discussion with the public -- the public didn't even know
the fate of SB 1520 would be discussed, since there was no mention on the
here we are! The council writes an official letter to the Governor asking him
to veto the bill.
it was even suggested that the Ombudsman should write a similar letter!
hope he does not follow this suggestion. In my opinion both the Council and
the Ombudsman Office were created to help the public, owners and board
were definitely not created -- and paid for with unit owners’ money -- to
help in the in-fight of the industry. And
again, the Council strayed again far away from their agenda and the
is not a matter of the bill being good or bad -- or if it deserves to be
a matter of the ruling Powers That Be on the Council do whatever they want and
make up their own rules as they go along.
meetings sometimes remind me on the meetings of a bad condo board.
the problem of bad condo boards part of the reason why this council was
worries kings of time share
Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel
Susan Strother Clarke
May 25, 2005
Most businesses chafe at regulation.
But big names among Florida's time-share companies are doing just the opposite
-- getting worked up about a measure that could actually loosen rules in their
David Siegel e-mailed Jeb Bush. Jim Lewis, chief of Disney's Vacation Club,
penned a letter to the Guv. And I'm told Bill Marriott himself contacted Bush,
all urging him to veto SB 1520.
What's so bad about this measure?
It's not the overall bill, which includes some consumer-protection issues and
was approved by lawmakers this year.
But it's an amendment that has time-share folks concerned. It defines travel
clubs -- which are similar to time shares -- and says the clubs are regulated
by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Most players in the time-share industry fall under the stricter rules of the
Department of Business and Professional Regulation. These rules are loaded
with buyer protections, like the right to back out of a deal.
The amendment was put on the bill by lobbyists for Steve Case, the former AOL
exec. Case and his partners -- surprise! -- own a travel club known as
The difference between time shares and travel clubs? Travel-club customers
never actually own real estate. That's the key reason clubs don't think they
should be subject to the more stringent rules of the time-share business.
Some of this is just an industry squabble. Travel clubs are relatively new
players in the time-share world. The industry doesn't quite know what to make
of the competition.
In the case of Executive Resorts, customers buy in to stay at a fancy house
somewhere for a couple of weeks a year. Typically, the customer is far more
high end than someone who buys a time share.
But time-share officials say they are concerned because the definition of
travel clubs is too broad. It would have the unintended effect, they say, of
deregulating other parts of the time-share industry.
The American Resort Development Association, the time-share industry's trade
group, claims that would open the door to the type of vendor that tainted the
business years ago -- essentially selling swampland to unsuspecting
Obviously, that would damage Florida's $5 billion-a-year time-share business.
"Unscrupulous developers will now be able to take advantage of
unprotected consumers," Siegel wrote in his e-mail, "creating a
black eye for the entire tourism industry in our state."
Rest assured that the travel-club folks are responding to the organized
onslaught from traditional time sharers. They're meeting later this week with
the governor's staff to explain their position.
Tough to say what Bush will do, but I'm told he's likely to take action on the
bill very soon.
BOTTOM LINE. The
Metro Orlando Urban League has opened an office in the Disney/SBA National
Entrepreneur Center. Daniel Johnson is the business-development manager. . . .
SeaWorld Orlando opens its Blue Horizons show Thursday. You'll see the usual
tourism types there, but SeaWorld considers it more of an arty show -- so its
guest list reflects that, including Margot Knight from United Arts and Mary
Ann Dean from the Shakespeare Festival. . . . The American Society for
Training & Development meets in Orlando next month, and one speaker is
Rudy Giuliani. In an ad, Giuliani is referred to as an "international
icon" as well as a former NYC mayor. Bet that looks good on the old