Hundreds of condo owners ask panel for help --

but attorney calls them "just the few unlucky ones!"


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

March 28, 2006


The sad highlight of the town hall meeting came at the end, when CAI attorney Leigh Katzman summarized his opinion and called all the condo owners who brought their grievances in front of the panel (quote) : "Just the few unlucky ones, while the majority of owners is absolutely happy." 


I'm not sure if these attorneys, who always repeat this pathetic sermon, want to be taken seriously? In my opinion this puts them in the same category as the people who still claim that the holocaust never took place in the 1940s!


Leigh Katzman filled in for Donna Berger, who -- again -- had to cancel on short notice. Seems for Berger it's easier to spin fairy tales from the safety of her office than debating with the people with a vested interest -- the condo owners! I don't think she wants to face the music her law firm creates! But Berger always demands public debates -- and has been invited often enough but then she fails to show up!


Already twice before Katzman's remarks had stirred up the audience, and Representative Yolly Roberson had to step in and ask the audience to refrain from booing and interrupting the speaker!


Leigh Katzman is, according to his firm's website, the managing partner of the law firm of Katzmann & Korr P.A. and an active member of the Broward County Chapter of Community Associations Institute. Katzman has stirred up controversy before. The law firm has obviously a reputation of making a living by filing liens and foreclosure papers. An Anti-Foreclosure Rally In Miami last year targeted Katzman, whose firm is involved in a class action lawsuit in the Federal Court for violation of the FDCPA (FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT). See:  AGAN v. KATZMAN & KORR, P.A.


The motivation of these attorneys to fight legislative reforms is very obvious: $$$$ MONEY $$$$ -- but definitely not the welfare of the owners as they like to claim!


No wonder these attorneys collide with the owners who would rather like to see legislation that would reduce the number of legal fights and create peaceful communities!

The town hall meeting -- organized by Representative Yolly Roberson (D-North Miami) and supported by Representatives Julio Robaina (R-Miami) and Franklin Sands (D-Weston) -- turned into another rally for owners demanding legislative reforms. 


A big "Thank You" to the representatives and the volunteers who took the time on a Saturday afternoon! The representatives and a knowledgeable panel listened to a heated debate and the complaints of more than 200 attendees. 


It is just amazing that these stories -- told and documented -- can happen and are happening in the State of Florida -- in our society. 


We heard owners, whose units are suffering from serious building defects, being threatened by board members to shut up or risk the same fate as the owners of the Castle Beach condos -- meaning losing their homes! But no mention of trying to repair the defects!


We heard about the dubious election in the Playa Del Mar condos, where the attorney stopped the appointed election 

Condo owners are listening to the heated discussion

and are waiting their turn to speak!

monitors from entering the meeting room, while the ballot box was moved around, and effectively prevented a fair election. Still no reaction from the DBPR. The only reaction so far looks more like a cover-up!


We heard the owners praising the Office of the Condo Ombudsman -- and the volunteers who conduct the elections. 

We heard the reason why the DBPR is not getting more complaints: Many condo owners have given up and consider that dealing with the DBPR is a waste of time. We heard outrageous examples of time-consuming investigations and arbitrations that went nowhere or ended with a simple warning letter -- after many, many months of frustrated waiting. The current flawed system needs a serious overhaul if it's ever supposed to

Owners waiting in line to tell their stories.

stop the many violations and abuses. 


The welfare of millions of condo owners is at serious risk!


We heard about the many necessary repairs that are left undone -- owners instead are being threatened with reprisals if they don't stop asking for necessary repairs!


We heard about the frustration of many owners in regard to the long-term board members, who are using every method -- legal or illegal -- to stay in power. 


We heard about the methods used to discourage new candidates for the board from coming forward. It even goes so far that candidates running against sitting board members are slandered in the official association newsletters and otherwise "discouraged" to stop campaigning. 


We heard about election ballots being "checked" before being officially counted and the private address of the president up for election made the official mailing address for ballots! BANANA REPUBLIC at its best!


Together with the cry for help at last week's condo meeting at the Miami Beach City Hall, attended by hundreds of owners -- standing room only -- it was clear testimony why the condo bill HB 1227/SB 2570 is so desperately needed! Legislators have to realize that serious reforms are needed to assure a more peaceful community living in our state! 

Legislators have to realize that the few attorneys and board members opposing reforms are just trying to pursue their own private agendas -- not the will of the majority of condo owners! 

Step one to remedy the situation is enacting the condo bill -- with term-limits as proposed. Condo owners need relief from a system that doesn't work for their welfare and leaves their communities divided by litigation -- while desperately needed money is being used for legal fees instead of maintenance and repairs.

I was disturbed to see that many "blue" roofs still cover homes and condos down South. But it explains to me why we see lots of litigation, instead of desperately needed repairs. The statutes leave many issues open for interpretation -- and instead of taking care of repairs many associations are busy "interpreting" the statutes -- with the "help" of expensive attorneys! This has to change -- with the next hurricane season already looming on the horizon!




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