THIRD WORLD COUNTRY
HERON AT THE HAMMOCKS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC.
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
August 22, 2005
we have the example why our Florida legislators added "Election
Monitoring" as a task of the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman
when they enacted Senate Bill 1184 in 2004.
note that this is happening in Miami, Florida -- not in one of the
countries we are normally laughing at.
is the report of the Office of the Condo Ombudsman in regard to the
events leading to these serious problems that will hopefully end with a
fair election result on August 27. Let's just say one thing: It's the
polite version that just states the facts and doesn't go into the
the line: It's very obvious that the sitting board doesn't want
to see fair elections -- because that's all everybody else tries to
achieve. If a board is unable to hold a basic election according to the
governing rules, they surely shouldn't complain if somebody else takes
over. The unit owners in this condominium have the right to elect their
board in a fair election. If it turns out that the membership roster of
the association used to notify owners of the upcoming election has 62
wrong owners and addresses listed, it shows that minimum 62 owners would
have been disenfranchised by not being able to cast their vote. No
wonder the turnout at the first attempted election was so low!
president of the sitting board -- annual elections should have been
completed in November of 2004 -- is still trying to avoid having the
election conducted on August 27, 2005!
Wayne A. Martin has sent e-mails to elected officials, members of the
Advisory Council On Condominiums, and various other recipients, blaming
the failed elections on the Condo Ombudsman. The board even engaged the
law firm of Hyman, Kaplan, Ganguzza, Spector & Mars in an attempt to
diminish the involvement of the Condo Ombudsman in the elections.
Now we see belligerent attempts to stop the upcoming elections
with wild accusations of impropriety directed at the Office of the
just ask: WHO sent out the
invalid election ballots violating the rules?
used a totally outdated membership roster that disenfranchised 62 unit
surely wasn't the Ombudsman!
nearly time to start the preparations for this year's annual elections.
is in the meanwhile very obvious why unit owners petitioned the
ombudsman to monitor these elections. The board even demanded the names
of the unit-owners who dared to sign the petition. Why? To harass
everything in this association were up to par, the sitting board
shouldn't have any reason to fight an election conducted by a neutral
entity. But it seems there
is a lot more at stake than just power and seats on the board.
And it becomes more and more obvious that the sitting directors
are afraid they may lose in an election where all owners can participate
and where the election notices and candidate lists are unbiased, as
required by Florida Statutes?
you can imagine there are a lot of rumors flying around, like conflict
of interest and nepotism. It
seems the treasurer, who is doing the books of the association, is
related to the owner of the management company.
According to the reports filed with the Division of Corporations,
they are sitting together on boards of different businesses.
Nepotism AND conflict of interest?
likely there is more than meets the eye!
Florida has had its share of ugly election scandals. We always look down at Third World Countries and laugh about
Banana Republics. Many of
our citizens come from places where fair elections are unknown. They came to this country hoping for a better place to live.
If we can't even protect them in their homes against election
shenanigans, it really is a shame
ombudsman and his volunteers are trying their best to establish fair
elections for condominium associations.
They don't need to waste their valuable time fighting board
members who are obviously afraid of losing their power, if elections are
held according to the Florida Statutes. The welfare of many
families hinges on good, honest board members.
Lots of money is at stake!
Personally, I have no comprehension of WHY board
members would spend money on trying to avoid fair elections.
I appeal to our legislators to support the efforts of the Office
of the Condominium Ombudsman to conduct fair elections.
It is time to stop board members who rely on dubious methods to
stay in power!
of Condo Ombudsman -- August 21, 2005
AT THE HAMMOCKS ELECTION PROBLEMS
In accordance with the
provisions of Sections 718.5012, 718.5012(5) and 718.5012(9)
Florida Statutes, and the power and authority of the Office of
the Ombudsman, the Annual Election for directors of Heron at the
Hammocks Condominium Association will be conducted by the State
of Florida, Office of the Condominium Ombudsman on August 27,
In March of this year the Office of the Condominium
Ombudsman received a Petition for Appointment of an Election
Monitor pursuant to Florida Statute Section 718.5012(9) to
conduct the election for directors of a condominium in Miami
called Heron at the Hammocks. The law firm of Hyman, Kaplan,
Ganguzza, Spector & Mars represented the association.
At the election held on March 30, 2005, the Election
Monitor found that the Association, supervised by its attorneys,
committed a serious ballot infraction. On the advice of their
attorney and suggestion of the Election Monitor, the Board of
Directors convened and canceled the election, and planned to
have it rescheduled. At that election the Monitor also found
that there were a minimum number of ballots cast. This was an
indication that the unit owners may not have receive sufficient
notice of the election or did not receive voting packets and
ballots at all.
of these and other unusual circumstances surrounding the
election, the Monitor obtained a list of unit owners from the
county property appraiser and compared it with the
Associationís roster. There were 62 discrepancies that the
Board of Administration could not and refused to clarify. To
avoid any possible mishandling of the ballots for the second
rescheduled election, the Ombudsman directed the Board to
designate his office as the entity authorized to receive the
ballots pursuant to Florida Administrative Code 61B-23.0021(8)
and his authority under Florida Statute Section 718.5012. The Board of Directors refused.
In an effort to ensure
that no election misconduct, interference, or fraud would occur,
the Ombudsman wrote to the unit owners and requested that they
send their ballots to his office for the Election Monitor to
bring to the election. Because of this intervention there were
twice as many participants and voters at the second election
that was held on April 27, 2005.
the second election held on April 27, 2005 the legal
representative for the Association from the law firm of Hyman
and Kaplan canceled the election without the proper authority of
the Board of Directors. The attorney claimed that some ballots
were returned to the owners undelivered because the
Ombudsmanís mailbox was full. Not one ballot was shown to the
monitors to substantiate this claim. This was an obvious ruse to
avoid an election and perpetuate the current boardís term. The
United States Post Office has no policy to return envelopes
under the alleged circumstance.
two attempts by the Board to hold and conduct the annual
election after the appointment of an election monitor were
postponed because of 1) a ballot impropriety and 2) some
illegitimate excuse created by legal counsel. Subsequent to
those two attempts the Board of Directors made no attempt or
good faith effort to re-schedule the election despite an Order
from the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman has learned that some of the directors have business
relationships with the Association and it would be in their best
interest to continue their control and operation of the
the power and authority of the Office of the Ombudsman, the
Annual Election for directors of the Heron at the Hammocks
Condominium Association, Inc., is scheduled for August 27,
2005 at 1:00 p.m. at the Wild Lime Center lobby
located at 11450 SW 147th Ave., Miami Fl. 33196.
the President of the Heron Association, Wayne Martin, has
complained that the information sheet of one of the candidates,
Olga Loero, was not sent out with the election materials. The
Office of the Ombudsman received no information sheet from the
candidate, Mrs. Loero. Her notice of intent was received and
acknowledged and she was sent a letter confirming that she was a
candidate and that if she would like to submit a personal
information sheet she should provide one. Olga Loero did not
submit any information sheet nor has she voiced any complaint.
All pertinent election materials and notices have been sent to
each and every unit owner.
This has been verified by affidavit of chief election
monitor, Valmore Lucier.
President of the Board of Administration of Heron at the
Hammocks continues to try to obstruct a legitimate election for
directors. This election should have been completed in November
of 2004. The President, himself a candidate for the board, now,
one week before the election, also alleges that the notice of
the election was not timely posted on the condominium property.
This is incorrect. All notices and procedures have been followed
for a legitimate election. Additionally a Reminder Notice of
Election was mailed on August 19, 2005 to all unit owners in
both English and Spanish. The notice provisions required by
Florida Statutes have been exceeded.
election being conducted by the Ombudsman and the State of
Florida on August 27th will not be canceled.