TALES FROM THE GALT GULAG -- PART III

Horror stories abound at the condo towers on Galt Ocean Mile

Article Courtesy of THE FORT LAUDERDALE CITY NEWS

By Grayson Walker, Ph.D.

Published May 2007

   

The word gulag is an acronym for the former Soviet Union’s penal system.

Since then, it has come into common use to describe any repressive system. Thus, the name of my column is “Tales From The Galt Gulag.” I will write about the repression of Owners of Florida condominiums.

 
Publisher Steve Kelley and I call the Galt Gulag the “biggest crime scene in Fort Lauderdale. ”America
Something is happening in America – and in the Galt gulag. We are losing our national character. It is as if we are afflicted with massive osteoporosis that has removed the backbones of many people.

Instead of standing up for what is right, we are evolving into a culture that celebrates a miserable mix of mediocrity and tyranny. Board meetings become cattle calls where the sycophants hiss like ancient cats, make crude jokes about those that stand up for what is right, and shout down any that disagree with them.

This is not the American way. This is not the America of my youth. America was created by fearless people who left the security of Europe to come here and build a new life. These were independent people with the spirit of a warrior. They refused to knuckle under to the tyranny of European monarchies. They believed in liberty and equality. This sense of being willing to stand up for what is right, was echoed in the words of Patrick Henry. “Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775, in Congress.)

On July 4, 1776, Congress published our Declaration of Independence. These famous words are part of the fading American spirit, “… When a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.” Our Declaration of Independence was signed by all members of Congress. If the revolution had failed, those signatures would have been death sentences for all of the signatories.

Here at the twenty buildings of the Galt Gulag, the lives of thousands of citizens are controlled by a few “Condo Commandos.” You will recall Donna Laporte’s definition of a condo commando as an egocentric person on a condominium’s board of directors who rules by intimidation, putting his/her interests ahead of others, abusive any board member who gets in the way, dominates meetings, won’t let others speak, and prone to angry outbursts.

What has happened to the American character on the Galt Gulag, that they have lost their independence, knuckle under to petty tyrants, and actively undermine the principles of America?

Windows

It seems that many condominium associations are ignoring Florida law, are ignorant of the law, or are intentionally breaking the law. Some of these lawless condominium associations are pressuring Owners to waste their money buying windows on the retail market. Some Boards are sending threatening letters to Owners in what almost amounts to extortion.

Sadly, many Owners have been duped by their lawless condominium association, and wasted many thousands of dollars buying windows that  do not belong to them. However, when their windows were damaged by Hurricane Wilma, and they attempted to file a claim with their insurance company, they were told they were not covered, since Florida law makes them the responsibility of the condominium association.

If an individual Owner is forced to replace his/her windows, they must buy them at retail. Add to this the premium that many vendors add to anything on the Galt Mile, and it is easy to see how the individual Owner is overcharged to replace the windows in a condominium. The individual Owner must buy at retail prices, often with a premium added because of the location.

On the other hand, if a condominium Association were to decide to replace many or all windows in a building, they enter the window market with great buying power. An Association could send out requests for proposal (RFP) to window manufacturers, and buy windows for as little as 50% of retail prices. Florida law now requires that condominiums insure our windows and patio doors. Florida new statewide building code requires special high-impact window frames and two-layer laminated glass. 

Depending upon where one lives, there are new installation and specification requirements for windows and doors. 

 

If your Condominium Association has not repaired or replaced your windows, call the Fort Lauderdale Code Enforcement Department. Your windows must operate smoothly, have screens, be watertight, and have no broken panes or frames. This is the minimum housing requirement. 

You can reach the Code Enforcement Department at 954- 828-5207. When you make your report, insist on a callback and a site visit. Your windows are the responsibility of your Condominium Association. If you have spent your money to repair or replace your windows, you should submit your bills for reimbursement. If your windows need repair, you should notify your condominium association, by certified mail. If your condominium association refuses to repair the windows, you should report them to Fort Lauderdale’s Code Enforcement. You should also discuss the matter with an attorney who is a specialist in Condominium Law. 

 

Fort Lauderdale Code Enforcement

Recently, I had the occasion to report a code violation to the government of Fort Lauderdale. I was impressed by the modern, easy to use, online services that our City has for its citizens. Their URL is http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/building_services/index.htm 

Their system made it very simple to use, and allows you to track the status of a permit, an individual address, or a code violation. Until this week, that is when they decided that my complaint required a political cover-up. They changed the system, and they now hide all of the details from the citizens. What are you afraid of, Ms. McCaffrey that you need to conceal information from the public so quickly? Government in the Sunshine should not allow you to take away public Internet access to important public records.

While The Board Was Asleep At The Wheel:

Southpoint Manager’s Report

 
On March 6, 2007, Southpoint’s new manager, Joann Wilson, delivered a scathing report detailing the complete failure of the former manager and the board. Ms. Wilson wrote that she noticed “several things which needed immediate attention, namely the (1) trash area in the front of the South building, (2) the gyms, (3) the Cabanas on the beach, (4) the bookkeeping situation, and the overall cleanliness, especially the (5) garage and (6) hallways.” Several indeed. Ms. Wilson was charitable in this listing.

In addition to these six (6) problem areas, she went on to address problems with the (7) employee health insurance, (8) West stairwell doors, (9) trash dumpster area, (10) storage areas in the garage, (11) trash chutes, (12) proper signage, (13) elevator floors, (14) job descriptions, (15) new pool furniture, (16) G1 Awning, (17) Contract services, including (18) cable TV services.
Congratulations, Ms. Wilson! 

These are but a few of the complaints that Southpoint’s Concerned Owners have been raising to the Board for years. The first question is why has the board been asleep at the wheel for all these years? The second question is why did the board ignore these issues when they were raised by the Owners?

Help for Owners

Attorney Inger Garcia can be reached at www.IngerGarcia.com or by telephone at 954-752-1213. 

Jan Bergemann’s Cyber Citizens For Justice is an organization of Owners, for Owners, to protect Owners’ rights. For more information, please visit them at www.CCFJ.net or telephone 386-740-1503 or by email at Jan@ccfj.net 

 

The Galt Mile Yahoo! Discussion group is a free forum. You can reach it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GaltMile/ and if you wish to subscribe, simply send an email to GaltMile-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 

  

The Southpoint Condominium Yahoo Discussion group is a free forum. You can reach it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SouthpointCondominium/ and if you wish to subscribe, simply send an email to SouthpointCondominium-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 

  
The Broward Chapter of the CCFJ’s Yahoo! Discussion group is a free forum. You can reach it at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/BrowardCCFJ/ and if you wish to subscribe, simply send an email to BrowardCCFJ-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 

   
The Southpoint Condominium website can be reached at
http://Southpoint-Condominium.org

     

The AARP’s Bill of Rights for Homeowners is available online at http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/consume/2006_15_homeowner.pdf

Government Officials

Governor Charlie Crist can be reached at 850-488-7146 or by email at Charlie.Crist@myflorida.com .

Your State Representative is Ellyn Bogdanoff. She can be reached at 954-762-3757 or by email at Ellyn.Bogdanoff@myfloridahouse.gov.

State Representative Julio Robaina can be reached at 305-442-6868 or by email at Julio.Robaina@myfloridahouse.gov 


Harold Hyman of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Bureau of Enforcement canbe reached at 954-202-3982 or by email at Harold.Hyman@dbpr.state.fl.us .

Danille Carroll is our Condominium Ombudsman. She can be reached at 954-202-3234 or by email at Danille.
Carroll@dbpr.state.fl.us


Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Bruce Roberts can be reached at 954-828-5700.
State Attorney Michael J. Satz can be reached at 954-831-6955.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle can be reached at 954-828-5003, or by email at MayorJames@aol.com .
The Galt Gulag’s Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner is Christine Teel. She can be reached 954-828-5003, or by email at CTeel@fortlauderdale.gov 

  
Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas can be reached at 954-828-5013, by fax at 954-828-5021, or by email at GGretsas@fortlauderdale.gov 

Code Enforcement Head Cate Mc-Caffrey can be reached at 954-828-4989, or by email at CMccaffrey@Fort-Lauderdale.gov .
Code Enforcement Supervisor John Gossman can be reached at 954-828-5806, or by email at JGossman@Fort-Lauderdale.gov 
Galt Gulag Code Enforcement Officer Al Lovinshimer can be reached at 954-828-5118, or by email at ALovinghimer@FortLauderdale.gov .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    

I own an apartment in the Galt Gulag, at the Southpoint condominium, on the Galt Mile in Fort Lauderdale. Many people do not realize how many rights they give up when they buy an apartment in a condominium association. I have taught American Government, Constitutional Law, and Ethics for over twenty-years, but I was not prepared for life in the Galt Gulag.

At the June 2005 Board meeting, Board President Marty Glazer called the critics of the Board “insurgents.” I am an insurgent in the Galt Gulag. 

I can be reached at AGWIII@comcast.net or 954-567-0520.

 

TALES FROM THE GALT GULAG -- PART I

TALES FROM THE GALT GULAG -- PART II

CONDO ARTICLES HOME NEWS PAGE