When new state condo czar Virgil Rizzo
walks into his first meetings with officials in Tallahassee today, a thick
envelope full of legal documents will be landing on Gov. Jeb Bush's desk.
"The residents of River Reach are requesting that
you re-evaluate your selection of Virgil Rizzo for the position of condominium
ombudsman," says the letter, which is unsigned, but claims to represent
residents of the River Reach condominium in Fort Lauderdale, where Rizzo
|Rizzo was named state
condo ombudsman last week by Bush to prevent condo disputes from
escalating into lawsuits. He will work with a $4 million budget fueled
by a $4 per-unit fee paid by condo owners. The state legislature created
the position this year.
His fans, including state legislators and
advocates for condo dwellers, say he is the right man to reform a state
condo complaint system that has been ineffective for years and is under
His detractors, including the board of his own
condo association, say he is a litigious troublemaker filing baseless
claims to harass them. In response, Rizzo says officers of his condo
board filed countersuits only to punish him for his charges of financial
The legal brouhaha has continued for two years,
with suits, countersuits, charges, countercharges and no end in sight.
case recently reached the point where the
officers claim that legal costs exceed the original amount Rizzo claims was
Though both sides deny they have mean-spirited motives,
the conflict has the earmarks of the classic condo grudge match, the kind
Rizzo is expected to resolve amicably in his new post.
Rizzo, 67, claims in his lawsuit that board President
Carl Miller mishandled the association's money. Miller, president of the
association for 10 years, denied Rizzo's claim. Miller and board Vice
President Ralph Caruso then filed separate lawsuits against Rizzo, claiming he
defamed their character by accusing them of mismanagement in anonymous
articles in a condo newsletter.