What is OCHA?
  An uninformed trade organization misrepresenting itself?
By Jan Bergemann

It is always great to see how industry partisans scramble if consumer activists dare to come up with their own ideas about how things should be done.
The latest example comes from OCHA, the Orange County Homeowners Association, in their March Newsletter. 
Not only that this organization is anything but a homeowners association as the name implies, but they explain on their WebPages at : http://www.ochafl.org/ that they are representing Orange County's residential homeowners and their community associations. Actually, they are in fact representing the homeowners' association industry and are nothing else than a local cover-up for the CAI – Community Association Institute. Just check the names of the OCHA board members against the CAI membership list - or look at the abbreviations behind the names.  The CAI clearly is a trade organization, representing the interests of the industry partisans, definitely not the interests of the homeowners. It’s as well an organization where Executives – in this case Lynn Jordan from Colorado - are stating : “Since it is CAI's public policy to facilitate, support, encourage, coerce, bribe....” (end quote!)

This organization seems to use as well pretty weird tactics to collect their membership dues. Just recently homeowners in AZ discovered that their association was paying membership dues to an organization called CAI, an organization most of the homeowners had never heard of. The management company, as well a member of CAI, listed the dues under office supplies!

Just recently a CAI executive had finally to admit in a committee hearing, that yes, the CAI is a trade organization representing the interest of the industry, not that of the private homeowners.
Private homeowners are only a very small portion of their membership and are not really represented when decisions are being made.

But since quite a while homeowners’ activists all over the nation are getting used to name-calling by the industry partisans. The latest example is an article by Richard Spears, past-president of OCHA, in the March Newsletter, headlined “Legislative Update”. 
Under this heading is an article titled : "No More Foreclosures?"
We want the general public to read this entire story written by Richard Spears because it is factually inaccurate and falsely represents the character and intent of one of our members and our organization:

No More Foreclosure?
Bob Janauskas of Ocala is a fellow who believes he was wronged by his pre-turnover homeowners association some years back.  He has formed an alliance with a number of anti-HOA anarchists around the state called Cyber Citizens For Justice, the last time we checked.  It appears the group consists of homeowners who, once they have purchased a property in a community with a mandatory association, wish to wriggle out of their obligations under their contract/conditions of purchase also called Declarations of Covenants and Restrictions.  Janauskas is nothing if not persistent and over the years he has, now and then, been able to get someone to put a bill in the hopper.  This time around. he's got a House member- and a Senator to sponsor a bill which would remove an association's ability to foreclose on a property in arrears when all other avenues of recourse have been exhausted.  This would clearly remove an associations most potent tool in its enforcement arsenal. On the positive side, Attorney Paul Wean of Orlando, who is Vice Chairman of the CAI Florida Legislative Alliance, has instructed FLA’s lobbyists to "'beat this one with a stick until its dead!” 

Parenthetically, I'm proud that Mr. Wean is also a member of OCHA's Legislative Affairs Committee. In a most positive further development, we are advised that Representative Randy Johnson has acceded to the request of Speaker of the House Tom Feeney to work to defeat this legislation.  Rep. Johnson has advised that he's working very hard on the issue and we're grateful to him.  It’s a pleasure to be on the same page with Representative Johnson on an issue this time around and we're hopeful that he and we will be successful.

The fact that he is calling the members of CCFJ "ANARCHISTS" is just a typical way of treating people with different opinions. It seems that people who can’t come up with reasonable arguments in their favor resort to name-calling. And I guess the legislators in question will be happy to know, that the industry feels that they are working with anarchists, not their constituents!

Stating falsehoods to OCHA members about bills that were never filed is a blatant disregard of the truth. It isn't 'how' but why would attorney Paul Wean advise FLA lobbyists to "beat something to death with a stick", if it doesn't exist? 
This sounds more like part of a Sci-Fi thriller than daily life.
Homeowners all around Orlando know Mr. Wean’s reputation and his all-around connections with CAI. The law-firm of Wean & Malchow, PA. is specialized in association law, according to their own information. Just recently a member of this firm, representing the ousted board of an association, was told by a judge in a written court decision (quote): “This Court further finds that the expense to the Association which has been generated by the Board of Directors which has been ousted is an unnecessary, defiant expense, raising non-justifiable issues of fact and law that created additional expense for the homeowners association.”
The law-suit in question was filed by this firm, specializing in homeowners' association issues!

But maybe Richard Spears wanted to avoid the actual facts of the real bill which was proposed by members of CCFJ, the Mandated Property Reform Task Force Bill ( HB 887 and SB 1484 ), sponsored by Senator Clary and House Representative Melvin, because he obviously doesn’t like this one either. His mind was already made up before the actual bill was filed. In an e-mail to David Ramsay, another CAI executive, Mr. Spears already stated his opinion about Task Force hearings :
” We had exactly the same problem in Florida in 1996 and CAI/FLA did a lousy job of combating it. However, four years later the damage has been repaired. The object of course is to take David's advice and get our people to these hearings from the outset and save ourselves a lot of grief and work later on. 
Thanks, David. 
Dick Spears “(end quote!)

Another CAI executive stated in an e-mail (quote) :
"I would suggest that any sort of "task force" is likely just to be a traveling gripe-show."

So much for the willingness of the industry to listen to the problems of homeowners in Mandated Properties.

On a final note please mark the nice comments about Representative Johnson, who is according to the article working hard to defeat this legislation. 
This representative sometimes seems to be a little over-eager, reading an e-mail he send to somebody asking for his support for the Task Force bill. 
Here is his response (quote):
“*** Name surpressed***, you have my commitment to kill these bills.  I will see to it personally.
Randy” (end quote!)

Anything else to add? 

That’s how some of our legislators are working for the people. I guess the homeowners in his district will have something to say at the next elections?

And all this under the pretense of representing the homeowners? 
Have they ever asked the homeowners if they appreciate this kind of representation?
Do all these homeowners know that they are being charged for this kind of representation?

Please read dispatch with e-mail exchange!
Click here!

Please read as well article:
CAI is taking over Florida Condo Courses from DBPR