CYBER CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE, INC.
DISPATCHES

 

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

 

Haven't had your laugh today? Maybe this column will really make you laugh!

  

Considering the unwillingness of our legislators to pass any bills that would help community associations and its owner to deal with the financial disaster caused by unpaid dues and/or foreclosures, homeowners really need something to laugh about. Many families are suffering because banks and mortgage companies will not be held liable for the disaster they actually caused. It looks like they bought enough of our legislators to kill all bills that would have held them responsible for the damages they did to community associations. It really is a sad state of affairs for all owners lured into Florida 's community associations under false pretenses!

 

Owners need a good laugh. Laughing is healthy, no matter what health care reforms are passed in Washington .

 

Just in time for the holidays columnist Daniel Ruth of the St. Petersburg Times wrote a piece that can really make you laugh:

Riding in on an F-350 to slay the busybodies at:

http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLRidinginonF350.html

   

"At issue was the Eagles Master homeowners' association judgment that Vizzi was in blatant, reckless disregard of the group's mandate that pickup trucks are expressively, forever and irrevocably forbidden from showing their bumpers in the sainted view of the neighborhood."

The author is making fun of the fact that the board of a community association wasted about $400,000 of good homeowners' money to prove their point. In a lawsuit, dubbed "Vizzi vs. Puckered Princes of Torts", which lasted more than six (6) years, a lot of good money was wasted to prove the point that a "cockamamie" pickup truck shouldn't be parked in a driveway for everybody to see. Oh, by the way, we are talking here about a perfect pick-up truck in mint condition, not one of the ugly kind that is always used by service providers to scare owners.

   

The columnist said in few words what many homeowners' activists are trying to explain to legislators since many years: Community associations not regulated by easy enforceable laws are a disaster for homeowners.

 

"Quite simply, it is this: the United States will not fall and decline because of draconian recessions, or some invasion by a foreign power, or a plague of locusts, or some horrific natural disaster.

 

These real or imagined threats are but mere bagatelles compared to the foreboding menace posed by lanyard-wearing, kvetching keystone kops armed with their pocket protectors, their tape measures, their whistles, and their rule books, occupying their time measuring shrubbery, checking on the color of mailboxes or whether some real estate scofflaw has a pickup truck parked in his driveway.

 

Just why anyone would want to live in some godforsaken subdivision home where one is under more surveillance than the FBI spying on a Michigan militia group of crackpots eludes me."

 

Before I forget, this community is located within the district of State Representative Kevin Ambler. The same Kevin Ambler who sponsored this year's community association bill H115, a bill that would make living in a HOA even more expensive and give boards more dictatorial powers -- and would make litigation even more complicated and costly. Most likely the board members from the Eagles Master association would support such a bill! Not to forget: Senator Fasano's bill S1196 is even worse for homeowners!

 

If you haven't had your laugh today, please read this article. It would be even more funny if the actual facts wouldn't be so sad!

 

Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

  

more than 2.5 million owners, who were lured into mandatory homeowner's associations under false pretenses, are used to be treated by the Florida legislature like stepchildren of society. Year after year! The Florida legislature already killed this session all the owner-friendly community association bills that would have help associations/owners deal with the fiscal crisis of unpaid dues and/or bank foreclosures.

     

Please read: ALL OWNER-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION BILLS ARE DEAD at:

And the lobbyists (CALL + CAI) claiming to lobby for association-friendly laws are pushing S1196, a bill that will make service providers happy -- and will bankrupt even more homeowners. They even want to give dictatorial boards back the power to enforce fines, levied by kangaroo courts, with the help of liens and foreclosures. Don't we have enough foreclosures yet?
   
HOAs in Florida don't even have halfway reasonable board election laws -- sitting boards can stay in power nearly forever -- and every criminal can serve on the HOA board of directors, no matter if he is a convicted murderer -- released from jail because he testified against his cell-mate -- or a convicted felon, convicted for embezzling funds, serving as the treasurer.
Please see result here: Felon treasurer no help for community's woes at:
It's so easy to change that: Use the condo election provision and board member eligibility rules from FS 718 and put them into FS 720. No need to reinvent the wheel -- language, case law and arbitration rulings are in place. No Einstein needed!
   
Do 1.3 million condo owners deserve better protection than 2.5 million homeowners? I really can't understand the reasoning behind the actions of our Florida legislators. Obviously the Florida legislators think that homeowners need to be punished because they were stupid enough to move into these homeowners' associations, lured into these communities with false promises!
   
Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

 

Good bills (S1222 + S 1272 -- Senator Ring) are used to cover up the bad provisions in S1196 (Senator Fasano). The sponsors of S1196 hope that condo-owners will be in favor of the combined bill and are willing to throw the homeowners living in HOAs under the bus!

 

The HOA provisions in S1196 are an insult to every homeowner who got lured into HOAs under false pretenses. And the fancy headlines used in the bill like "Compensation Prohibited" achieve exactly the opposite. Since the wording allows the board to establish guidelines greedy board members can create the rules to get paid. According to S1196 -- TOTALLY LEGAL!

Provisions in S1196 hide more documents from the owners and are making record requests outrageous expensive. What about TRANSPARENCY? Wasn't that what our Governor promised?


The proposed HOA election provisions in S1196 are a joke.

When will legislators realize the little disclaimers in these provisions like "Except as otherwise provided in the governing documents" allows the sitting board to make the rules, making the statutes moot?

In case you don't know:

BYLAWS CAN BE CHANGED BY A SIMPLE VOTE OF A DICTATORIAL BOARD -- TOTALLY LEGAL!

 

Instead of using the exact language as used in FS 718 for elections (established law with lots of case law to go by) this bill is creating more convoluted language that will create more litigation. And there are still no eligibility provision for board members in FS 720. How would you feel if you would live in a HOA where the president is a convicted murderer and drug dealer with a long rap sheet, who is out of jail because he ratted on a cell mate? This is a true story from a Florida HOA -- believe it or not! Perfectly legal by HOA statutes!

 

And allowing liens and foreclosure for fines again? I guess some legislators feel that we don't have enough foreclosures yet?

 

I am wondering if the legislators who vote in favor of these kind of bills are not understanding what they are voting for -- or if campaign funds are totally blinding their eye-sight!

 

With bills like this you turn the former "Land of the Free" into dictatorships --

even more than they already are!

I guess we voters have to wait until the Primaries to make our voices heard! People are already really mad -- and you are adding to them being mad!

 

Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

   

we always hear folks claiming that they are lobbying for this -- and for that! And it sure makes for great reading if bills are headlined "Homeowners Relief Act" -- especially in our testing times. But who are these lobbyists really lobbying for?

   

Don't forget, it always sounds good if lobbyists can claim that they are lobbying for consumers -- or associations. It gives legislators a great excuse to sponsor their bills without even reading the text or understanding the real implications. And only too often we hear that lobbyists for service providers are claiming that they represent a myriad of owners. But what if these  owners don't want to be represented by them because they actually lobby against their interest?

  

These groups don't care as long as they can impress legislators with numbers that only exist in their imagination!

    

One of the best examples can be found in Community Association Reform:

CALL (Community Association Leadership Lobby) – the lobbying arm of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff -- claims that they are lobbying for the good of community associations. Gary Poliakoff – the BOSS – is publishing article after article about the importance of reform bills that would help to get the finances of many community associations back on track.

 

There is no argument what should be the Number One priority to achieve this goal: Hold banks liable for unpaid fees for units/homes in foreclosure – and speed up these foreclosure procedures without forcing associations to pay more money for legal fees in order to make that happen.

  

And Gary Poliakoff closes his articles with appeals to owners – something like (quote): “My readers and their associations can make a difference as to what action, if any, their elected representatives will take in regard to this much-needed legislative assistance, if we are going to turn the tide on the financial crisis impacting our shared ownership communities. I trust you will share your thoughts with your state representatives and state senators.”

  
In my opinion this is just blowing smoke, because without the support of association boards his lobby machine called CALL is just an organization with no membership – with ZERO power in Tallahassee . He needs the associations for power purposes, in order to push his own private agenda. Senate Bill S 1196 is the typical example of a bill that is about as anti-owner as it gets. The wording would create even more loopholes than the association statutes already provide and add some provisions that are plainly detrimental for owners.

  

Prominently missing in this bill: Any provision that would hold banks and mortgage companies liable for unpaid dues, or would speed up the foreclosure procedures.

  

You want to know why I’m pretty sure that CALL will not seriously lobby for anything that would create more financial liability for banks and mortgage companies?

  
The reason is pretty obvious: Travis Moore is not only the lobbyist for CALL, but as well the lobbyist for the CAI (Community Associations Institute), the national trade organization for community association service providers. Among its members: Many banks, mortgage companies and their executives.

  

Do you honestly believe that the CAI will allow Travis Moore to lobby against the financial interest of the bankers, who are partially financing Moore ’s fees? Are you familiar with the words: “CONFLICT OF INTEREST”?

  

By the way, for the folks who still believe in Fairy Tales, here is another one I just heard: “The banks, feeling sorry for all the good people who live in these associations that are suffering from increased dues and special assessments, and having received millions in stimulus money, have decided that they will give all these community associations interest-free loans in order to pay all the bills. Repayment date of the interest-free loans: 2999!”

 

I just love Fairy Tales!

Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
according to OPPAGA (Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability) about 5 million of Florida's citizens live in mandatory homeowners' associations -- in HOAs without any oversight.The State of Florida doesn't even know how many HOAs there really are and where they are located.
 
State Representative Julio Robaina has worked vigorously since years to change that. And the recently published OPPAGA REPORT confirms what he has said all along.
 
Panel members of town hall meetings all over Florida -- like the town hall meeting of the Kendall Federation on Monday, February 22 -- are always being asked why nothing is being done to change these serious problems in HOAs that hurt so many of Florida's homeowners.
 
A news report from the Palm Beach County news station WPBF -- Channel 25 -- shows some of the weird legal battles fought in Florida's HOAs. http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH25HOAneedregulation.html
It as well shows State Representative Julio Robaina's explanations why all his attempts to create reforms for HOAs -- trying to protect homeowners -- ended literally nowhere!
 
But it shows as well the actual reason why owner-friendly legislation is stalling in Tallahassee. Just listen to attorney Robert Rubinstein's self-serving explanation -- clearly showing that greed from special interest is the main reason that good bills have been dying in Tallahassee. When listening to Robert Rubinstein's explanation, please never forget: He is a member of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, a law firm that made a fortune fighting legal battles in HOAs. And CALL, the lobbying arm of this law firm, is collecting money for lobbying efforts from association boards claiming to lobby for favorable association reform. In reality -- see Robert Rubinstein's comments -- they are only lobbying for bills that fill their pockets.
 
Here is Rubinstein's statement that says it all: HOAs do not need the regulations that condos and their close quarters bring. "There is very little controversy that requires such strict government regulation."
 
If there would be so little controversy in HOAs he would most likely be chasing ambulances today!

Please read my comment below!

 

Why are our legislators treating all these homeowners living in mandatory HOAs like stepchildren of society? To fill the bank accounts of attorneys like Robert Rubinstein?

Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/

COMMENT

By Jan Bergemann, President 

Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
  

I have recently heard many self-serving comments from association attorneys trying to prevent government oversight for HOAs -- despite the numerous HOA wars the media spotlights on a daily basis. Robert Rubinstein makes a living from representing associations that fight against homeowners who try to defend their rights. The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff made a fortune trying to cover up problems in HOAs, fighting legal fights for board members who violated the law.

  

This is a real pathetic attempt by an attorney of this law firm trying to protect his profit. Homeowners are left to fight for themselves, fighting against their own money, because the law firms are getting paid from association funds. 

   

Many lawyers like Rubinstein often rely on the fact that homeowners can't afford expensive lawsuits and aim at bleeding the owners financially dry to stop the legal battle.  Why? Because the lawyers’ “legal arguments” are standing on shaky ground.

  

Expensive lawsuits are fought to prevent owners from inspecting financial records. Many lawsuits we have seen were fought to cover up wrongdoing by board members and/or managers. 

  

Many of the scams, frauds and embezzlements are made possible because law firms use legal maneuvers to prevent owners from seeing so-called “public documents” in a timely manner.

   

Rubinstein's statement is plainly ridiculous when he says (quote): "There is very little controversy that requires such strict government regulation.”  If what he says were true, he would most likely be out of a job -- or chasing ambulances.

   

I will never understand that homeowners -- board members are homeowners as well -- still financially support the lobbying efforts of CALL, the lobbying arm of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff.  This money, taken by board members from association funds and donated to CALL, supports lobbying efforts that are clearly against the interest of homeowners.
  
This statement by attorney Rubinstein shows the true face of this law firm that, under the cover of lobbying for the benefit of associations, is clearly lobbying to fill their own pockets!

    

As I stated during the town hall meeting of the Kendall Federation on Monday, February 22, homeowners have to realize who their real enemies are. A lot of homeowners asked the panel members why nothing is being done to help the homeowners' associations and its members. I pointed out that some of the main reasons for lack of owners' protection are the lobbying efforts of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff and its lobbying arm CALL.

     

When will homeowners finally wake up? 

   

About the "great advice" of running for the board to have a say?

HOA statutes FS 720 don’t even have provisions in place that provide for fair elections. The provisions that deal with board elections have many loopholes and allow sitting boards to stay in power -- with no chance for opponents to win a seat. The whole election process currently in place can easily be manipulated. Banana Republics have fairer election provisions in place than Florida HOAs.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
isn't it plain ridiculous that more than 5 million Florida citizens live in mandatory homeowners' associations and the State of Florida doesn't even know where these HOAs are, how many there are and how many homes are located inside of these communities?
 

OPPAGA (Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability) published its report about the mandatory homeowners' associations in the State of Florida . It more or less confirms what we said all along: About 2.5 million families live in mandatory homeowners’ associations and the State of Florida doesn’t even have a clue how many HOAs really exist and how many homes are located within their boundaries.

 

If you want to read the OPPAGA report and some more info about it, please go to:

http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJOPPAGAREPORT2010.htm

 

OPPAGA proposes the same simple solution I made in 2004 in front of a legislative committee of the Florida House, chaired by then House Representative Jeff Kottkamp. Add two simple questions to the Uniform Business Report form for not-for-profit corporations and within a year we would have all the necessary data to talk about needed reforms and regulation – and stop all the guesswork.

1.) Are you a mandatory homeowners' association regulated by FS 720?
2.) If yes -- how many homes/lots are in your association?

 

But nothing seems to be simple in Florida , especially when special interest doesn’t want this data to be known.

 

How else can it be explained that more than 5 million citizens live in HOAs – and there is no data available – much less any real oversight.

 

More than 5 million people live in these mandatory homeowners' associations  -- and they have no place to turn to, except costly private attorneys and overloaded courts.

 

Why is our legislature treating all these taxpaying citizens like stepchildren of society?

Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


01 -25 - 2010

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
your constituents are already reading headlines like: "Florida legislators face tough choices in a budget-crunching year!" Let's face it: It's always easy to draw from nearly unlimited resources as in former years! Yes, we are in an economic crisis -- and like all families -- you need to be really frugal.
But wouldn't that be even more incentive to solve problems that would have a huge impact on many of your constituents -- without costing any taxpayer's money?
 
Florida has a sad history of botched elections. In 2000 we were the laughing stock of the world -- I don't think you forgot already!
But despite trying since more than 10 years homeowners living in mandatory homeowners' associations asking for election provisions in the HOA statutes FS 720 that would create fair elections have been plainly ignored by our legislators.
What is so difficult to pass election provisions that would create FAIR ELECTIONS in HOAs? Is it too much to ask for? Who can be against Fair elections? Why do condos have detailed election provisions, but not HOAs?
Look at this arbitration ruling regarding a HOA election -- but please don't laugh:

HOA ELECTIONS JUST A JOKE! at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJHOAElectWaLCS.htm

  • How would you feel if your incumbent opponent declares you unsuitable for being a candidate and scratches you from the ballot? All total legal in HOA elections according to DBPR arbitrators.
  • How about an owner having 101 votes in an election but is only paying dues for about seven lots, because the board, elected with his 101 votes, says so? 
  • How about a nominating committee (spouses of sitting board members) only nominating the sitting board members and the printed ballots only showing the names of the sitting board members, ignoring all other candidates?
  • How about proxies not being accepted -- see bylaws. If you can't come to the meeting (Christmas Eve at noon) you can't vote?
The list of these shenanigans is nearly endless. All totally legal under current HOA statutes!
 
You think that's funny? No, these are sad facts -- all totally acceptable according to current Florida statutes! And these statutes are effective for more than 2,4 million homes in Florida -- according to estimates from 2004. 
 
How about you tackle some real easy issues that help your constituents and help Florida getting rid of the reputation of being a BANANA REPUBLIC? JUST A THOUGHT?
 
Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
  
CONGRATULATIONS! The Florida legislature did it again -- and the homeowners are again holding the bag: COURTESY OF THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE!
 
Please read the article:  CDD defaults may be disaster for a swath of homeowners at:
 
Another INVENTION of the FLORIDA legislature is coming back to haunt Florida's homeowners: COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION DISTRICTS. Invented in Florida for developers in order to make huge profits without risking a dime of their own money!
For many years we have been asking the Florida legislature to make the changes needed to protect homeowners moving into CDDs. To no avail! The bills -- not even a simple disclosure bill -- didn't even make it out of the starting holes! Legislators rather enjoyed the loads of campaign funds handed to them by these "generous" developers. Or they used their airplanes to travel cross country. Another developer even sent his own private House Representative to Tallahassee. Life was great for all of them, until economy and real estate market collapsed
 
The disaster will take down a few more banks -- but who cares in Tallahassee? Look at the amount of monies owed. And that's only for three counties. The owners living in these districts will see an even bigger decline in their property values -- surrounded by a big mess of not maintained properties. And don't forget: This is just the beginning of the upcoming disaster. I begin to wonder if all these homeowners are just considered collateral damage.
 
By the way: The Georgia legislature was a lot smarter: They didn't allow the creation of Community Development Districts -- despite heavy lobbying -- and the lure of campaign funds!
 
I often wonder about the ultimate goal of Florida's legislators. Are you trying to destroy Florida, once the dream retirement state in the nation?
You are sure doing a great job if that is really your ultimate goal!
 
Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
 
Over the last few years we always heard from state legislators representing districts in Central Florida that there are more or less no problems in Central Florida's community associations -- the problem are all down South in the Tri-County area!

A day-long event -- organized by TV Station LOCAL 6 (CBS)
-- showed that the  homeowners in Central Florida have huge problems caused by their associations. Families are losing their homes because of ever-increasing association fees and special assessments. And once they fall behind outrageous attorney's fees make it impossible for them to catch up. We had a case where an owner was $300.00 behind in her payments, tried to make installment arrangements (the association refused) and within 7 months the amount owed mushroomed to $1970.00 -- more than $1300.00 in attorney's fees? We had tried since years to pass bills that would have reined in the high legal fees -- to no avail. Now we have a disaster -- and it will get worse! And Rep. Kevin Ambler files H 115 -- the ATTORNEYS FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT. Is this world going crazy?
 
The All-Day Event -- headlined TAKING ON THE HOA -- on TV Channel Local 6 -- Orlando -- was a huge success and showed what's really going on in the associations in Central Florida. It attracted even more interest than the recent SUN SENTINEL TOWNHALL MEETING with Live Computer Chat. The phones rang off the hook -- more than 700 calls -- and more than 300 folks logged into the Live Chat.
Please read the report about the event and view the stories:
Residents Urged To Learn HOA Laws -- Cyber Citizens For Justice Tells Homeowners To Create Paper Trail at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH6LearnHOAlaw.html
HOA QUESTIONS: LIVE CHAT ON LOCAL 6 -- ORLANDO at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH6HOALIVECHAT.html
HOA Threatens Foreclosure Over Fees at:  http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH6Foreclthreat.html
 
Here is another story of a developer bankrupting the homeowners: Homeowners furious over fee increase at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVFOX35HOfuriousoverfees.html People are really getting desperate!
 
This association system is bankrupting many good families. They did everything they were told to do, but they may lose their homes because their associations go broke!
 
What else is needed to convince our State legislators that they have to pass owner-friendly community association bills during the next session? Owners need protection -- real fast!
 
What good will it do for the State of Florida if we have lots of associations with lots of owners unable to maintain them?
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

  

in case we didn't have enough "Trouble in Paradise" already, here comes another one -- according to newspaper articles and reports from homeowners' activists from Texas and other states.

Please read TEXAS SENATOR JOHN CARONA'S ASSOCIA INVADES FLORIDA at:

    

And it seems the modus operandi that was obviously used in other states is being applied here as well. Not only are HOAs in Florida not regulated -- everybody can do whatever he/she wants -- the laws are so vague that even judges are having problems coming up with fair rulings. The goal of power-hungry people trying to take over community associations is to eliminate high hurdles set by the need of the vote of approval by a supermajority of voting members in the original deed-restrictions. After that goal is achieved it's easy to have a small minority -- under the guidance of the management company -- rule the community with an iron fist.
      

The planned amendment in the L'ETOILE HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION in Hollywood shows you the recipe to unlimited power. Gullible owners, who really don't understand what this is all about, fall for the actual false promises and vote in favor of amendments that actually limit their own rights!

See this sad example of an attempt to grab the power!

    

Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
when homeowners' advocates warned years ago about associations taking on too many services, signing outrageous bulk contracts for TV, telephone, Internet etc., special interest called us disgruntled owners who don't know what we are talking about. Let's face it, service providers created a cash cow for themselves, with total disregard for the welfare of the owners in these community associations.
The writing was on the wall -- and nobody wanted to listen. It seems for legislators it's a lot easier to listen to special interest waiving big campaign checks! 
   
But now, as predicted, the owners are paying the price for the unwillingness of our legislators to take the necessary steps to protect their constituents. Not even after the problems were known and obvious, after the first association buildings were condemned and families lost their homes, our legislature didn't do anything to stop the bleeding. During the 2009 legislative session not one single bill trying to stop the ever growing chaos passed! Absolutely nothing was done to remedy the many mistakes made in former years. I guess all our high-ranked elected officials were too busy to position themselves for even higher offices -- and rather considered the need for campaign funds to succeed instead of the welfare of their constituents!
  
 And here the story goes:
Davenport Subdivision Legacy Park Files Chapter 11
This is just one report of many. Associations are falling behind with their bill payments. Families, many already in financial distress are asked to pay higher monthly dues and/or special assessments to make up for their non-paying neighbors. Many will end up losing their homes as well, even if they paid all the money they were supposed to pay. In many associations TV service and telephone service was cut, even to the owners who paid in time. But gee, who cares, these are just regular citizens who are not adding a lot to the campaign funds of ambitious legislators!
 
And if that's not enough, association boards in Central Florida seem to have discovered a new source of income. Car towing is the name of the game!
Metrowest residents outraged at HOA -- Cars towed from private driveways!
This just adds insult to injury! Listen to the answer of the board member to the reporter in the News Video: Arrogant and non-responsive! This is not the first report about cars being towed from private properties. The system is always the same: Change the rules without membership approval, sell stickers (at good profit), then have cars towed.
It's all about money -- not about protecting the rules and property values!
If you live in Central Florida you might have watched various news reports about car towing in Orlando: BIG BUSINESS! Making the call to the towing company often pays a Finder's Fee -- sometimes officially, sometimes under the table.
I call it KICKBACKS!
 
But, who cares, the people suffering from these abuses are just Florida's citizens, who will be hopefully dumb enough to vote for the same legislators again who did nothing for them in the first place!
 
Have a great weekend!
 
Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators, Dear State Representatives, Friends and Members,
 

Community Associations turn more and more into dictatorial financial traps for owners, caused by the lack of efficient legislation and enforcement of our laws. Some Florida legislators should be ashamed for sponsoring bills to even promote dictatorships and help to squash owners' constitutional rights. Property rights -- long gone in community associations! The stupid excuse: "You signed a contract" is about as ridiculous as it comes: Did the deed-restrictions or bylaws you initialed at time of purchase say that you have to pay attorney's fees for a violation letter written by a lawyer -- no matter if the alleged violation turns up to be bogus?

   

Read here about the latest legal scam, introduced after 2004, when the law (Senator Atwater's HOA bill S 1184) stopped the abusive method of collecting fines through liens and foreclosures. Hidden in some of this year's bills the attorney lobbying groups are trying to reintroduce it. Methods of a Banana Republic! Now they even want to remove board members for unpaid fines. Meaning: Majority board members fine a board member -- no proof necessary -- and can officially remove him/her if the "fine" isn't paid! I call it BLACKMAIL: Either you pay the unjust fine or you are no longer a board member! Another obvious attempt to squash free speech in community associations.

I can understand the attorneys' position: GREED -- but I will never understand the legislators supporting this!
 
Please read here how the "Highway Robbery" works -- a very lucrative business:
Our economy is bad enough -- when will our Florida legislators and government executives start protecting Florida's property owners against all these abuses? After we all lost the last of our life savings?
When we bought our homes and condos we wanted a nice place for our families to live, not a place in a dictatorship where our only rights left are to pay the bills (and mortgages) and stand at attention if board members, attorneys and managers say so -- and write checks when demanded!
No wonder that many homeowners' advocates claim that there should be warning signs at the entrance of many community associations:
YOU'RE LEAVING THE AMERICAN ZONE!
Just a lot of Food For Thought!
 
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators, Dear State Representatives, Friends and Members,
 
Why is it that something really bad has to happen before legislators wake up? The FBI investigations into million-dollar scams in homeowners' associations was obviously a wake-up call for Nevada's legislators. Senator Mike Schneider said it loud and clear (quote): "Finally HOA lobbyists won't have ground to stand on, thanks to the investigations."
Here in Florida we still have legislators that sponsor bills for HOA lobbyists -- in total disregard to the interest of their constituents -- and get owners in even bigger financial turmoil.
 
What does it take for Florida's legislators to pass bills protecting their constituents against these scams.
Here is something that can be done -- without digging into the state's anyway empty coffers. Just pass bills that make common sense: Gove owners the ability to enforce the laws without draining whatever savings are still left -- and punish the bad guys!
 
Like Senator Mike Schneider said (quote): "There should be felony charges in there. There should be jail time and that's how serious this is!"
Please read the article and watch the video at:
How long have Florida's homeowners have to wait before our legislature wakes up and listen to their constituents -- and not the HOA lobbyists, who are asking for more power but less accountability?
 
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


CHRISTMAS IN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS?
   

December 22, 2008

   

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators, Dear State Representatives, Friends and Members,

   

it's the time of the year where everybody talks about Christmas. And everybody knows the story about the "Grinch who stole Christmas!" We have here in Florida every year board presidents "competing" for the award of the "Community Association Grinch." So far, according to the headlines of the Florida media, this year's award goes to Tom Ferguson, president of the Villagio at Estero Condominium Associations, who sent out letters to community members threatening owners with fines, if Christmas lights and other decorations weren’t removed immediately. His excuse: "We’re just enforcing our rules!" Please read the whole story: Estero HOA turns out lights on Christmas at: http://www.ccfj.net/condoturnsoffxmaslights.html

 
Today's economy shows clearly that the community association system is failing the owners. The only ones profiting: Attorneys and service providers. Instead of protecting property values -- as purchasers were promised as a sales gimmick for buying into community associations -- these associations are creating huge financial liabilities for the homeowners. Homeowners are forced to pay for their financially irresponsible neighbors and/or for developers -- at the brink of bankruptcy -- who use homeowners as their private piggy bank to pay their unpaid bills and hit homeowners with special assessments, payable on very short notice:
Cape Coral community fights rising fees linked to neighbor's foreclosures at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLfightrisingfees.html
Another community hit with emergency HOA fee at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVFOX35emergencyfee.html
Deadline for residents to pay extra HOA fees arrives at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVFOX35HOADEADLINE.html
Gee, no Christmas for these homeowners!
 
Bulk contracts -- the favorite kickback scheme for developers, community association managers and board members -- are doing exactly the opposite: Instead of huge savings these contracts force owners to pay double and triple the actual amount, because neighbors don't pay and/or lots of homes in the community are just empty. See: Condos hit hard by bulk cable deals at: http://www.ccfj.net/condocabledeal.html.
But despite all these known problems an association board, controlled by Engle Homes, another home builder who filed for Chapter 11, burdened the already financially strapped owners with another very expensive bulk contract: Live Oak Board President Peppered Over Cable Contract at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLEnglecablecontract.html Complaints of many homeowners were plainly ignored!
 
Association attorneys and board members are blaming banks for the financial disaster in many of these community associations: HOAs cry foul over foreclosures at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAcryfoulforeclosures.html That may be correct, but it sure isn't the complete picture. Legal fees are increasing -- and so is the number of stupid and frivolous lawsuits that cost owners often more money than unpaid dues and foreclosures together. Here are some great examples for wasted association fees:
Homeowner group's truck dispute not out of sight yet at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLtruckdisputenot.html
As if they didn't create yet enough damage, the board even considers to appeal the court ruling!
Or another example: Betmar Acres Sues Resident Over Trailer at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLlawsuittrailer.html
 
The system is flawed -- and band-aids and/or biased committees will not fix it. Nor will surveys claiming that a wide majority of owners is "very happy." Owners need real solutions -- not service providers and board members hiding behind the business judgment rule.
The financial welfare of million of families all around the nation is at stake. Everybody cries for bail-outs: Owners living in community associations need a special sort of bail-out: Accountability of the people in charge and laws that make sense and protect the owners -- and strict enforcement of these laws!
And fast -- before it's too late for many families!
 
But before getting too depressed about all these problems, please read this nice little article that will sure make you laugh, even if it sometimes comes close to reality. Even Santa isn't safe from overeager board members:
SANTA FINED BY HOA BOARD - FORECLOSURE THREATENED at: http://www.ccfj.net/SANTAFINED.htm
Just enjoy!
 
If you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa -- I wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
When I grew up we talked more about love and peace, hugs and kisses, not liens and foreclosures -- or enforcing stupid rules!
I was brought up with "Frohe Weihnachten" or (in English):
Merry Christmas!
 
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


 

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators, Dear State Representatives, Friends and Members,

   

The CCFJ Town Hall Meeting on Saturday in Punta Gorda showed once again that association problems are all over Florida, not just in the Tri-County area of South Florida. And the owners demanding reforms are not just a few disgruntled folks who are unhappy! All the town hall meetings in the last few years drew crowds between 200 and 500 owners -- depending on the area. And if a town hall meeting in a relatively small community like Port Charlotte can attract about 300 interested owners, that really means something -- according to the locals.

 

Please read the report about the meeting "HOMEOWNERS DEMAND REFORMS AND ENFORCEMENT" at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJTHMPGreport.htm
   
The complaints were as well the same as they are all over Florida: Money being wasted -- or even embezzled, dictatorial and/or abusive board members, community association managers and attorneys and the total lack of enforcement of existing laws. A wide majority of the participants of town hall meetings and various surveys favor a regulatory agency -- and are willing to pay for it. The results of the CCFJ HOA REFORM SURVEY  mirror exactly the opinion of the participants of these town hall meetings -- or the participants of the meetings of the HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE last winter.
 
Everybody who thinks otherwise -- or even claims that the problems are just imagined by a very few -- is running through life wearing blinders.
  
These town hall meetings show clearly that reforms are wanted and needed -- Florida's citizens demand it!
      
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators, Dear   State Representatives, Friends and Members,

 

For many years homeowners’ activists have claimed that there is a lot of crime in our associations. Don't forget: Lots of money, very little protection. For many years owners have claimed that elections are rigged, frivolous lawsuits are filed and lots of money is being scammed. Now, finally, after many years of complaints, the FBI has served lots of search warrants to attorneys, management companies and homeowners’ associations in Nevada .

 

Please read: FEDERAL CONSPIRACY PROBE: Legislator alleges HOA snake oil at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOANVHOACONSPIRACY.html

 

And if you want to hear more details, please listen to "On The Commons" at:

http://www.ccfj.net/OTCSMSNV101208.html

Guest is Senator Mike Schneider from Nevada .  For many years he has been pushing for laws to protect owners in associations and stricter enforcement of existing laws. His bill created the first HOA Ombudsman's office in the nation.

And he tells the story of his fight against special interest -- called Community Association Institute. According to Senator Mike Schneider, all the firms investigated by the FBI are CAI members. He tells the story of this trade organization using its influence in the legislature to seat its members on Committees and Councils supposed to create owner-friendly laws and regulating the associations. He tells about the CAI chartering planes to fly naïve board members to the Capitol to fight good bills. It's easy, because the attorneys are telling these board members that their way of living is endangered if this or that bill passes -- or doesn't pass.  Outfitted with a t-shirt saying "Save Our Homes," they roam the hallways of the Capitol letting everybody know that this bill is "really bad" and the sponsor sure is a bad guy! And as you well know -- it often works. See: ANNUAL DOG AND PONY SHOW at: http://www.ccfj.net/CALLdogponyshow.htm

Haven't we seen it all in Tallahassee ?

 

In Nevada the legislator targeted was Senator Mike Schneider; here in Florida it was State Representative Julio Robaina.  In Nevada it was organized by the CAI attorneys; here in Florida by CALL, the lobbying arm of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, a CAI member!  The pattern used is exactly the same. And, as Senator Mike Schneider says: "The general public believes whatever they say is gospel because they are attorneys."

 

And he hopes that all legislators around the nation will learn from this case of corruption in Nevada : "This FBI investigation should be a final wake-up call for all state legislators to make necessary changes to protect the owners living in these associations." His suggestion: Regulate them like government entities. HOAs in the Sunshine?

 

Maybe our legislators here in Florida will take a little time to study this problem! If they don't have the time, they should just ask their colleague, Julio Robaina. He knows all about the problems -- and needs help from his colleagues to try to fix it!

 

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Friends and Homeowners,
 
Condo Bill H 995 sponsored by Representative Julio Robaina and Senator Alex Villalobos was definitely a great success. Cooperation among the parties with a vested interest created a bill that had the  consensus  and praise of most all parties involved. Every newspaper reported favorably about the bill  -- with favorable comments from owners, service providers and attorneys!
The bill was the result of TEAMWORK!
 
We are trying to achieve the same result with a much needed Homeowners' Association Reform bill that is being prepared for the next session. In order to find out what people really want, CCFJ, Inc. has created this interactive survey to give everybody the opportunity to let us know what their priorities are.
We are interested to learn what people really want -- not what others claim they want. It will help to get all the information needed to put together a big HOA REFORM BILL for the next legislative session. Please take the five minutes to fill out this survey -- you can do it directly on the website and just submit. Real easy!  
 
Orlando Channel 6 (CBS) just showed a news report (Problemsolvers) headlined: HOA Complaints Include Mailbox Waxing, No For-Sale Signs with quite a few comments from me talking about HOAs and CCFJ. You can read the report and watch the video at: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH6HOAcomplaints.html The reporter Mike Holfeld was surprised about the huge response he got from the viewers and is going to follow up with more reports! More proof how much reform of FS 720 is really needed. 
 
It is an issue that effects many Florida citizens -- and their lives and financial welfare. This survey is the beginning of a campaign for much needed homeowners' association reform.   Thank you for helping by filling out this survey! 
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,

    

Our legislators are trying to stop the foreclosure problem, even giving financial help to avoid families getting thrown out of their homes. But again they forgot about the homeowners living in Florida's homeowners' associations.

   

Our legislators in their infinite wisdom even passed H 679 -- a HOA bill that will even increase the cost for homeowners and associations and will create even more foreclosures. Hopefully Governor Charlie Crist will see through the smokescreen and will VETO THIS BILL -- a bill that is detrimental for homeowners.

  

The foreclosure disaster in associations has even increased. Attorneys are pushing boards to beat banks and mortgage companies "to the punch" and to foreclose for small amounts of unpaid dues. Please read here an article of the Tampa Tribune, where special interest attorneys are trying to justify this financially bad decision:

Neighbors Kick Family Out Of Home

at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLkickoutofhome.html

The only winners are the attorneys. Families lose their homes and associations get stuck with homes they never wanted and even create more liability without the chance to ever recover the money. Numbers from associations show that filing liens and foreclosures is like throwing good money after bad! One association, for example, spent in 2007 more than $38,000 in legal fees for liens and foreclosures, but only recovered $23,000. A DEFICIT OF $15,000, not even counting the loss of dues during that period! Families lost their homes, associations lost their money -- but the bank accounts of the attorneys are loving it!

 

In a time where association budgets are down the drain and associations have to seriously increase their dues in order to pay their bills this makes the situation even worse!

Boards have finally to understand that attorneys pushing for liens and foreclosures for small amounts of unpaid dues have only one thing in mind: PERSONAL FINANCIAL GAIN! PERIOD!

  

It's plainly bad business, drags associations even deeper into the financial hole -- and plainly makes no sense. It sure isn't selective enforcement if a HOA doesn't pay legal fees to foreclose on a home that has absolute no commercial value, because it's run down and mortgaged to the hilt. It just turns into another financial liability for the association members!

THIS IS NOT ONLY BAD BUSINESS, IT'S PLAINLY PATHETIC!

Newspapers and TV News are full of these stories, it happens daily!  In a time of financial struggle for many families, homeowners' associations show their true ugly face: Instead of protecting property values, as buyers were promised, these associations create an additional financial burden on families and create even more foreclosures -- and cause more families to lose their homes, because association dues increase rapidly since many homes are no longer pay their dues for various reasons!

The real problem are not the small amounts of unpaid dues, it's the outrageous high lawyers' fees!

Making families lose their homes over small amounts of unpaid dues -- Is that what our society stands for?

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



"Foreclosures force homeowners associations to skimp"
APRIL 17, 2008
 

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

the article "Foreclosures force homeowners associations to skimp" is just one of many articles and warning signs proving that our associations are under economic siege. But the people quoted in the article, attorneys and community association managers, don't feel that pinch. They are prospering more than ever. Cutting back on cost for legal bills and management services leaves more money for maintenance, money desperately needed to keep our associations working.

The House leadership sent out 9 (nine) of their members to listen to Florida's owners: The House Select Committee on Condominium  and Homeowners' Association Governance (SEE REPORT). They came back with good recommendations, but were ignored by House leadership. Instead House leadership decided to push an ill-advised HOA bill (H 679), more or less the opposite to the recommendations of the House Select Committee. This bill -- among many other serious flaws) will create even more confusion in HOA elections and allows sitting board members to send violation letters, now empowered with renewed lien and foreclosure threat, to opposing candidates, forcing them to withdraw their candidacy if they want to keep their homes! Rep. Ambler's Home Court Advantage "dream"? Doomed to failure before it even starts! It will do nothing to reduce legal fees -- mark my words!

ONLY IN TALLAHASSEE!
5 members of the House Safety & Security Council -- from both parties -- voted against H 679: FOR VERY GOOD REASONS!
Other members voiced serious concerns, but voted YEA as a "courtesy"!
If the legislature doesn't plan on doing damage control to help Florida's homeowners under siege, don't pass an ill-advised bill that does even more damage! Stop HOA plans for this year and let's work on a HOA bill for next year -- one that will help the homeowners and not the service providers! Your constituents may thank you in November! I can assure you with the problems homeowners facing in their associations combined with our bad economy this will be a serious election issue. Homeowners are getting desperate!
 
Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

The AARP agrees, so do newspapers and TV stations: 

Homeowners' associations are out of control!

The AARP published the BILL of RIGHTS for HOMEOWNERS in ASSOCIATIONS as a sample model statute, asking legislators in the whole nation to adopt this proposal to protect the owners in these associations! TV stations and newspapers are more and more often reporting about problems in homeowners' associations. The general complaint: The lack of a regulatory agency where owners can go for information, get help with questions and create a way to settle disputes without expensive litigation.

Please watch a Special Report from Channel 8 (Tampa) dealing with problems in homeowners' associations and discussing the need for reforms of FS 720. Please go here to watch: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH8HOAoutofcontrol.html

   

Members of CCFJ, Inc. -- a consumer alliance representing the interests of owners living in different kinds of associations -- are working on the draft for a bill for next year's session that will use existing Florida statutes and the AARP sample model statute to create a consumer-friendly statute that will finally protect the rights of homeowners.

  

Please take a look at the draft so far: http://www.ccfjedu.net/HOABILL2008.html

We are still working on the correct wording for FS 720.311 -- especially the mediation provisions. I guess everybody has realized in the meanwhile that we were all lead down the wrong path with that revision this spring -- called PRESUIT MEDIATION OFFER! See October Senate report (Interim Project Summary 2008-148)! For more info please contact me directly!

We can already see that our legislature will never be able to roll back the clock and create serious reductions for property insurance and property taxes. That means we need bills enacted that will finally stop the financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending and even clear embezzlement in our associations! Otherwise many owners just can't afford to live in Florida any longer!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Secretary Holly Benson, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

We owners sure have enough problems in our associations without dealing with unprofessional professionals. One of the few provisions that really work in our statutes are the recall provisions for board members. With the help of a recently much improving arbitration section of the DBPR it's a valuable weapon against abusive boards, managers and attorneys -- a solution without creating huge litigation expenses.

But while a homeowners' representative is supposed to fill out a "QUALIFIED REPRESENTATIVE APPLICATION", it's obvious that it is assumed that a certified attorney knows what he is doing. Not so! We have seen attorneys filing "weird" documents, clearly indicating that they have never read the statutes or the DBPR guidelines regarding recalls.

It gets even worse if the attorney files motion over motion, showing that he has never even tried to figure out how these arbitration filings should be handled, especially if it's the husband of one of the board members targeted for recall. Then it's plain ridiculous!

In this case it's attorney Daniel A. Nicholas from the well-known law firm of Broad & Cassel.

Please read the "very interesting" recall arbitration story -- with lots of documents -- of the Drayton Place Owners' Association in Jacksonville.

I'm sorry, but it's just unbelievable what is happening here. Isn't it sad if an attorney is filing a motion to disqualify a homeowners' representative for not being competent, if his own filings show that he is not even familiar with recall proceedings? Adding character assassination to the motion and accusing the owner of having "conflicting self serving motive behind his actions" can only be considered funny if you know that this attorney is the husband of one of the recalled board members. Talking "CONFLICT OF INTEREST?"

As a final attempt to derail the recall effort of the owners, he quickly called for a new election, an election that should have taken place month ago, trying to have this recall declared moot!

When will we finally get proper election regulations enacted in FS 720? Shouldn't homeowners living in mandatory associations have the right to rely on enforceable election provisions? What will it take to convince our legislators that enforceable statutes are needed for homeowners' associations?

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Friends and Members,

Recalling the Board has turned out to be the best weapon against dictatorial boards and bad service providers.

We have said it over and over again and have proven it all along: It's the least expensive way to create the necessary changes in your community!

See: RECALL THE BOARD at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJRECALL.htm

It has been well known for a long time that there are no attorney's fees granted in board recall arbitrations -- neither in condo nor in HOAs. But we see it being tried over and over again, despite a long history of Motions For Attorney's Fees In Recall Arbitrations being denied. I can understand if attorneys, who are normally not involved in HOA issues, try this. But if well-known specialized attorneys try it, I can only see two reasons: They didn't do their homework or they needed some more billable hours. In both cases the owners pay for the incompetence of the attorney.

Here is the case where Becker&Poliakoff attorney Lisa Magill tried the impossible:
http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLImagination.html

Posted as well is the original ruling that established that the condo rules used to deny attorney's fees in recall arbitration cases are as well valid for recall arbitration in homeowners' associations.:

PLANTER'S WALK HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. v. Homeowners Voting For Recall
http://www.ccfj.net/ArbrecallPlantersWalk.pdf

This arbitration ruling should as well stop the shenanigans of board members threatened with a recall. We see more and more of these board members who walk behind owners as they collect recall petitions.  Then the board members visit the owners who just signed these petitions. They show bogus pre-written affidavits stating that the recalls were signed under wrong pretenses and are hereby rescinded. Especially many elderly homeowners have been threatened with fines or the threat of huge legal fees being caused by recall petitions, which then would have to be paid by the owners who signed the petition. 

LET'S MAKE ONE THING VERY CLEAR:

HOMEOWNERS SIGNING RECALL PETITIONS WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LEGAL AND/OR ATTORNEY'S FEES -- AS LONG AS THEY DON'T HIRE THEIR OWN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT THE HOMEOWNERS THAT VOTE FOR RECALL!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



ELECTIONS IN HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATIONS -- WHAT A JOKE!
 
Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

We have said it often enough -- and nobody seems to be willing to listen.

ELECTIONS IN FLORIDA 'S HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATIONS ARE A JOKE -- NOTHING ELSE!

Total lack of enforceable provisions leaves victory to anybody who is willing to cheat and/or bully the neighbors!
Some association leaders remind me of school-yard bullies who want our lunch money. Only the stakes are much higher -- lots of money lying around unprotected -- and the bad guys know there is no accountability for financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, kickbacks and even clear embezzlement. When you watch what's going on in some of our communities you get the feeling that some people think it's fun to waste neighbors' money!

And as the headline of an investigative article in the Miami Herald said:

The well-written article spells it out correctly: Homeowners’ associations have few places to go

Actually, the election provisions in FS 720 are so vague that even arbitrators can't make sense of them. Since you all know about the election problems in condo associations -- FS 718 has precise election provisions -- you can possibly imagine the problems we are seeing in unregulated homeowners’ associations without any oversight!

 

The funniest part of the article in my opinion was Gary Poliakoff being quoted as saying that "many problems could be avoided if associations let their attorneys oversee the process to ensure it's done according to the community's bylaws and state law."
I wouldn't trust these "specialized" attorneys with a dime -- much less with a fair election. We have seen enough examples where attorneys tried everything to keep the sitting board in power! Don't forget: The sitting board signed their retainer agreement -- and a new board would most likely kick them out. These attorneys sure have a financial interest to keep the old board in power -- even if it means stopping officially appointed election monitors to avoid a fair election! Remember?
 

The most ridiculous sentence in the Florida Statutes supposedly regulating homeowners' associations can be found in FS 720.302(2)  The Legislature recognizes that it is not in the best interest of homeowners' associations or the individual association members thereof to create or impose a bureau or other agency of state government to regulate the affairs of homeowners' associations.

I have never seen a more unrealistic evaluation of a problem that concerns millions of citizens. In order to agree with this sentence you have to have either a financial interest in making money from associations being unregulated or you must be wearing blinders unwilling to face the many problems.

Don't forget: Most of the legal mumbo-jumbo in FS 720 is unenforceable and can easily be ignored by the people in charge! They know that Joe and Jane Homeowner don't have $50,000+ to spend on legal fees on a lawsuit with a dubious outcome!

And they just can't afford to pay the special assessments levied by a board that has dictatorial powers!

 

WHEN WILL OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN FLORIDA FINALLY REALIZE THAT SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE?
THE WHOLE WORLD WAS LAUGHING ABOUT OUR ELECTIONS IN THE YEAR 2000!
Believe me, they haven't seen elections in a Florida homeowners' association. They would think they are watching a sitcom.

But since it's real life and the welfare of many families is at stake it isn't funny at all!

Just think about it!

Have a great Fourth of July!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



PLAN B -- HOW TO STOP THE FINANCIAL BLEEDING IN OUR ASSOCIATIONS?
WE JUST HAVE TO HELP OURSELVES!
 
Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
Since our Florida legislature is obviously unwilling to create the necessary laws to protect homeowners in HOAs regulated by FS 720 it is time that we homeowners start helping ourselves. It may not always be pretty, but it serves a purpose! The recent legislative session gave service providers everything -- and homeowners and condo owners nothing! Just adding more legal mumbo-jumbo to more or less unenforceable provisions for homeowners' associations. Condo-owners even have to deal with the possibility of eminent domain, created by S 314. Now developers have the great possibility to throw out condo-owners -- greed will prevail! Do you all think that this will help our failing economy? Or will encourage more retirees to risk their life-savings to move to Florida? Or stop the steady stream of folks who have had it with this state and move out?
And since published numbers already indicate that the promised savings (?) from property insurance and property tax reform don't amount to too much, we need to find ways to stop the financial bleeding in our communities! Financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, kickbacks and even clear embezzlement add even more burden to our already overburdened finances. Much of this waste is avoidable. 
We just have to take initiative and protect ourselves.
 
Here is my idea of how we homeowners can help ourselves and stop the financial bleeding in our associations:
It's a shame that is has to come that far, but since our legislators clearly failed us we have to take our fate into our own hands -- until the ballot initiative in January and elections in November of 2008! Then we voters will have a say!
 
Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

Since it's obvious that the legislature again failed to help Florida's homeowners and condo-owners living in mandatory associations it's time that we owners help ourselves. Community association bill S 902/H433 is just another bill that makes service providers happy and owners poorer! It just adds more pages to the anyway unenforceable homeowners' association statute (FS 720), that only helps owners if they have plenty of money to burn!
I guess after paying property insurance and property tax we owners don't have any money left to spend on attorneys fighting for our rights created by statutes without teeth! After crunching all numbers available our savings(?) created by property insurance reform and proposed property tax reform will not even be enough to pay for the initial call to such an attorney!

 

That leaves us with the only option left by Florida statutes -- the only really functioning provision in FS 718 and FS 720: RECALL THE BOARD! Don't get me wrong, there are many good board members out there, but there are as many who take their directions from attorneys and managers. They have to go -- and with them these service providers who only have their profits in mind!

Recalls are a plain numbers' game -- and easy to achieve. Don't rely on fair elections! The election provisions in FS 720 are plainly ridiculous -- Banana Republics have fairer election provisions. And Florida's legislators refused to pass a bill that would have tried to create reasonable election rules this past session! Recall works like a charm if you follow the guidelines to the dot! It's the fastest and least expensive way to create necessary changes in your community!

 

We will have everything ready to roll next week to help owners in their quest to regain control of their communities. Helping with recalls is allowed by Florida statutes -- no UPL. WE WILL REVEAL PLAN B NEXT WEEK!

The recipe is simple: Either your board is willing to take the necessary steps -- or you have to use the recall provisions to install a board that is working for you -- the owners. The amounts of owners' money wasted in associations caused by financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, kickbacks and even clear embezzlement is unbelievable. Much of this waste is avoidable. And -- as we have seen -- is often protected by the service providers that have taken control of our communities. And since our counties are fighting reductions of property tax -- we have to stop the double taxation caused by association dues and property taxes.

Owners have tried long enough to convince Florida's legislators to create enforceable statutes that protect our rights, finances and welfare.

 TO NO AVAIL!

If nobody wants to help us owners we need to help ourselves! It may not always be pretty but it serves a purpose!
The common threat is no longer working in Florida: There are no more property values to protect! Actually, your chances to sell property outside of mandatory associations have gone up!

Who wants to live in a gated community if attorneys can proclaim that you signed your constitutional rights away at the gate?

So, going public and exposing the problems in your community is not lowering your property values! They are already down the drain!

It's time to fight back!
 
Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

    

This was the meat of a law suit filed against Ronald Dietz, president of the ISLAND CLUB AT CORKSCREW WOODLANDS HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC. in Estero: "THE DEFENDANT RONALD DIETZ, WITH EVIL MOTIVE AND ACTUAL MALICE INTENDED TO CAUSE PLAINTIFF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, AND TO FALSELY DEPICT PLAINTIFF TO BE A THIEF, AND A MAN LACKING GOOD MORAL CHARACTER."

And that was the final ruling of the judge: "Ronald Dietz is indebted to Plaintiff Alan Schleifer in the sum of $5255.00."

In between: A desperate attempt of the board to indemnify Ronald Dietz, a note in the association newsletter distorting the facts and a violation of a written settlement agreement.

Please read the whole story with documents at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLDietzSCC.html

It may be worthwhile mentioning that this is one of the boards CALL (The lobbying group of Becker & Poliakoff) represents.

Maybe this verdict will teach some board members that they are not untouchable -- and that being board president doesn't give them carte blanche to insult their neighbors or call them names, just because they don't agree with their opinions!

In order to explain the attitude of this board president here a quote from a recent board meeting: "I'm the CEO and this association is not a democratic organization!" 

And then people wonder why there are so many problems in Florida's associations!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

    

after listening to so-called "HOA specialists" a HOA board filed a law suit against a neighbor, claiming that the lettering on his Hummer was violating the deed-restrictions. Oh, my ....!

 

The Turtle Creek Homeowners' Association in Orlando, home to so-called HOA specialists like Paul Wean (Wean & Malchow P.A.) and Sue Carpenter, (COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS, INC.) registered agent and community manager, suffered a crushing defeat in court -- to the tune of $57,111.50 -- not counting their own legal fees.

I always wonder how so-called experts can talk board members into risking their community's money by filing lawsuits such as this. It's a lose-lose situation for starters, because even a favorable judgment wouldn't really serve the community. Who actually believes that suing a neighbor for parking a Hummer with company insignia in the driveway will raise the property values?

I guess this board has a lot of explaining to do when neighbors are asking: "WHY?"

 

Owners are supposed to pay maintenance dues according to the governing documents! Maintenance dues are supposed to maintain the common grounds and beautify the community, not buying attorneys a new Mercedes by having them file useless law suits! When will this stop?

See Article and court rulings at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLTurtleCreeklawsuit.html

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

   

while our homeowners' association boards continue to ignore basic human needs by referencing their "holy" deed-restrictions, our legislature doesn't even consider to give the homeowners caught in this system a fair and honest election system that would help to elect boards really empowered by the membership. Just read this article: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLfamevict.html and start wondering where our society is going! This family's home burned to the ground and they lost nearly everything. They found somebody to rent them a 3-bedroom home -- obviously much to the dismay of the board of the HOA. For whatever reasons? Too many kids -- or wrong skin color? No matter what -- it's just sad that this can happen in our society! May be we shouldn't send our troops abroad to clean up other nations' mess, but should start with the cleaning in our own country!

If you feel you need a laugh after reading this sad story, please go to: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLCCspoofWestchase.html  and watch the video from Comedy Central!

 

Even comedians have realized that the system of Florida's homeowners' associations is a joke -- at the expense of the homeowners! Watch this spoof about the Support-Our-Troops sign flap in the Westchase Community Association in Tampa, Fl.

It shows what the "right to fine without due process" created for homeowners' associations can do to the sanity of people -- and the people trying to protect "holy" property values with ridiculous decisions!

 

Have a great evening!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

Homeowners in a homeowners' association finally had it with their board. After lengthy court battles, the board ignored court rulings, they finally filed suit in federal court under the RICO ACT.

Please read the whole story at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAVARICO.html

RICO stands for: Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization

 

We see the regular story unfold: Year long court battles, frivolous law suits and board members with a personal agenda and their attorneys unwilling to obey by the ruling of the courts. Same old story we hear permanently here in Florida as well. The pattern is always the same!

And since many of our Florida legislators, unlike legislators in other states, still haven't gotten the message that their constituents are under siege, it may be a good idea for us homeowners to put our resources together, pick out some of the most obnoxious board members and their attorneys and file some law suits in federal court. You can be sure that O&E insurance policy for boards will decline coverage for these kind of law suits, because in these cases intent comes into play! May be these boards and their attorneys will take rulings from a federal court more serious? We homeowners living in associations have rights as well -- we didn't sign them away at the gate as these attorneys always try to tell us!

Just think about -- it may be some way out of all the problems we are facing?

Anyway, have a great weekend and if you are a Florida legislator, you hopefully find -- besides some great Easter eggs -- as well the wisdom that there is really something wrong in our
homeowners associations -- and laws are needed that protect the welfare of the homeowners, not the bank account of some specialized attorneys who are looking for more easy income under the cover of working for the welfare of our associations!

 

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Secretary Simone Marstiller, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

Another recall arbitration case -- this time well handled by Susan Wilkinson-Harnden, the DBPR HOA Chief arbitrator -- where the owners paid dearly for recalling a board that seemingly mismanaged lots of their money.

See the very good ruling at: http://www.ccfj.net/ArbFLrecallSandpointe.html

This was another case where owners tried to stop a run-away board that is suspected of mishandling funds. But it was a well-connected board -- more about that later -- that didn't want to be recalled -- may be for certain reasons -- and used all the association's financial resources to avoid being ousted. Despite a wide majority of owners supporting the recall, the former board even hired a certified forensic document examiner to prove that petitions were pre-marked by hand or otherwise completed by someone other than the individual casting the vote.

Pre-marked an issue? Only for Karl Scheuerman, the DBPR Chief Arbitrator. We all sign daily pre-marked contracts, and nobody is challenging the validity of all these contracts. Signed your contract to purchase your home at a title company? Then you know what I'm talking about. Even the fact that you received the deed-restrictions was pre-marked! But it always seems the DBPR is making its own rules! When will these people understand that they are paid with our money?

We owners need laws with teeth that protect our welfare. Why are we owners supposed to spend our hard-earned money to fight for our rights after being forced into these mandatory associations? Forced? Yes, nothing else is really available!

But instead of laws with teeth we see a really bad house bill HB 391 (Rep. Domino) and a well-intended, but badly amended house bill HB 839 (Rep. Kottkamp) making their way through the House with absolutely no consideration to the welfare of the owners. All these bills, if ever enacted, will do is create more legal issues! Attorneys are already telling clients to wait for these bills to become law so they can pounce on the owners.

When will our legislators realize that they are obligated to protect the welfare of the constituents, especially retirees and low income minorities, who can't fight for their rights?

We homeowners suffered enough from hurricanes, we don't really need the legal profession using us as their cash cows! Why trying to create fancy insurance bills, if you let the attorneys grab our wallets -- protected by so-called HOA statutes?

Thank you for listening to our concerns!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



 

Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

here is another example that our associations are not governed by common sense! We need laws protecting our citizens against stupidity!
See today's article in the Tampa Tribune about the wife of a soldier serving in Iraq receiving a violation letter for posting a nice-looking "Support Our Troops" sign in the front yard. Threatening a $100 daily fine!

When does this nonsense stop? Families of soldiers serving our country overseas should have the full support of the community. What is wrong with our society?

You will hear the arguments from board members, managers and attorneys that the sky falls down if the precious rules are not 100% observed. What are we? A nation of robots following rules -- or a nation of caring citizens that support and help neighbors!?
Next week the annual "CALL" Dog and Pony show will be back in Tallahassee to convince legislators that all is fine in our associations and no reforms are needed! But liens and foreclosures are needed to subdue unruly owners! Like this lady whose husband serves in Iraq?

Look at the board members who are supporting these attorneys! Just ask who is paying for their trip? They will claim they represent all the owners in their communities! Many of them are just supporting their private agenda at the expense of due-paying members of the community they are "representing"!

Don't believe it! Especially many of the board members supporting CALL have a very good reason for doing so! Quite a few of them are the same people that are creating these ugly headlines we see daily in the media!

Association reforms are desperately needed!

Our Florida legislators should consider stopping this outrage owners in associations are facing!
Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

if you read this article at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLlawnfees.html you know why the specialized attorneys don't want government oversight, regulation and accountability for homeowners' associations -- using all kinds of different excuses!

A legal bill over a case of resodding a homeowners' lawn without his permission already reaching legal fees of more than $100,000 -- and the jury trial starts on Monday? A resodding being done, according to the article, by a landscaping company owned by one of the directors of the board? Common sense? Definitely not! Protecting property values? Definitely not! Enriching attorneys? Definitely YES!

 

That is exactly the reason why these attorneys are fighting to protect their cash cow. That is the reason why attorneys like Peter Dunbar, Joe Adams, Donna Berger and Paul Wean are running around pushing for bills that will take away the little protection homeowners got through legislative changes in 2004.

That is the reason why bills like HB 391 (Rep. Carl Domino) and SB 546 (Senator Mike Fasano) shouldn't even be considered by honest legislators, who care for their constituents.

We have elections in homeowners' associations that would make any Banana Republic proud! We have many expensive lawsuits -- not just a few caused by "disgruntled homeowners" as pitched by these attorneys -- that cost outrageous legal fees. All under the cover of protecting property values!

Common sense tells you that this system doesn't help the homeowners! When will our legislators realize it and create legislation that will protect their constituents against these kind of abuses?

The necessary bills to protect the homeowners are written -- ready to go! But who will push them through the legislature and enact them? What has to happen before our legislators wake up?

Have a great weekend!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

remember when HOA attorney Steven Mezer opined (quote): "Freedom of speech does not apply in the Tudor Cay case because homeowners associations concern themselves with private property, not public property. He has a right to push the First Amendment, but the law doesn't apply here!"

Yesterday an appeals court in NJ finally proved him wrong. Despite an Amicus Brief filed by the Community Associations Institute the appeals court -- in a landmark decision -- ruled that homeowners' associations must respect residents' free speech rights. "For the first time anywhere in the United States, an appellate court has ruled that such private communities are 'constitutional actors' and must therefore respect their members' freedom of speech," explained Rutgers Law Professor Frank Askin, lead counsel in the case.

 

We know that there are quite a few associations that are governed like Banana Republics. Homeowners in associations have constitutional rights, no matter what certain attorneys would like us to believe!
When will our Florida legislators realize that we homeowners are not Citizens III.  Class and enact statutes that effectively protect our rights against abuses?

Please read comments and the complete ruling of the New Jersey Appellate Court at: http://www.ccfj.net/twinriversaskin.htm

 

If certain attorneys, managers and board members don't like the US Constitution -- that's their problem! But we owners feel that our government executives have the obligation to protect our rights!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

we have talked often about weird elections in HOAs that would make any Banana Republic proud. And it shows how much a sitting board can do -- legally -- to eliminate any competition.

In this case the candidate's qualification wasn't shown -- on purpose -- to the nominating committee and the name of the candidate wasn't listed on the ballot! And actually, the chances to be elected without being on the ballot is like winning in a political election as a write-in candidate. ZERO!

The first annual meeting with election didn't have a quorum. So the board appointed itself as the new board -- no new date to be set.  But a letter from an attorney made the board call a new election -- but they still refuse to add the candidate's name on the ballot.

Instead the candidate was served with a law suit claiming his actions amounted to retaliatory harassment and extortion.

Please read the whole article from The Tampa Tribune at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLfeudcase.htm

Still believe when the service providers tell you how easy it is to make a difference -- running for the board of directors? I think it rather proves the point we homeowners are trying to make: Elections in a homeowners' association would make every Banana Republic proud! And if all intimidation doesn't deter the pesky volunteer from wanting to be a candidate for the board election -- let's just sue! That will teach him not to mingle in association business!

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

first we had the CAI (Community Associations Institute) claiming to represent the interests of all owners living in associations. Just by looking behind the scenes it became obvious that the CAI was a trade organization for the service providers.

 

Then we had CALL (Community Association Leadership Lobby), the lobbying group of the law firm of Becker&Poliakoff, claiming to represent the interests of all the owners living in associations. Actually the law firm was hired to do the legal work, not to voice the opinion of the owners! HUGE DIFFERENCE!

 

Now we get COCA (Coalition Of Community Associations) claiming to represent "about 3 million homeowners". They admit they are not even organized, don't have a membership, but nevertheless claim to be the voice of 3 million citizens! Since the founder, Richard Spears, doesn't forget to mention that he is a member of the Florida Commission on Ethics, he must be under the impression that everybody has to take his word for granted. Sorry, but his own ethics have been doubted by many citizens before! Just look at the list of founders next to Richard Spears -- attorneys Scott A. Justice and Paul L. Wean -- Chairman of the Florida Legislative Alliance (CAI)

Do I need to say more?

The players of all these organizations are more or less the same. Names repeat itself -- as do the numbers of the people they claim to represent!
Not one of these groups has a public mandate given to them by the owners they are all claiming to represent.

I am straight forward asking our legislators: Are these the kind of organizations you want to be holding the torch for? They are working against the interests of the citizens -- your constituents!

If you want more details, please see the articles and comments at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLleaders4.html

Happy Holidays!

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



 

Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

it is really interesting to see how far some of our elected House Representatives are willing to go to help special interest. The latest example is Representative Carl Domino, Jupiter! He filed House Bill 391, a bill that would kill some major achievements created by the Governor's HOA Task Force in 2004. A similar bill was filed by Senator Fasano -- SB 0546 . But I don't think we have to talk about Senator Fasano's bill filing abilities. Yesterday's Editorial in the St. Pete Times said it all: More head-scratching legislation filed by Senator Fasano!

 

Since I was interested to know the reason for filing this bill I called Representative Domino's office this morning and talked to Sheri Healy, his legislative assistant. When asking about the reasons for sponsoring this bill, making her aware that it would kill a few provisions created by the Governor's Task Force, she suggested I talk to the lobbyist who is behind this bill: Travis Moore, the lobbyist for the Community Associations Institute, the trade organization of association attorneys and managers. I should have known, after seeing Representative Domino co-sponsoring HB 1593 during the last legislative session -- a bill homeowners dubbed "The Bill Of Shame!"

  

It seems that Representative Domino is more interested in the welfare of special interests than in the welfare of his constituents. This bill is a typical example of promoting the income of special interests at the detriment of the constituents!
Please remember: Representative Domino's district is a breeding ground for law suits in associations. Fox 29 (Palm Beach County) reported in 2004 about HOA problems under the headline: HOA NIGHTMARES . A phone bank during the FOX 29 news hour created more interest than a similar event discussing problems with used car dealers. That shows the widespread problem -- according to the newscasters!

And Representative Domino, obviously not interested in the welfare of his constituents who elected him into office, is filing a bill that would make their daily lives even more miserable. Is it because he is confident that he will get re-elected, since so far nobody is challenging his re-election bid in 2006? May be that needs to change?
Citizens in Florida need legislators that care about the welfare of their constituents. We have already enough problems after all the hurricanes. We don't need legislators willing to create more bills to increase the income of special interests! This bill is a typical example!

It is time the media reports about these outrageous problems. We hear about the problems many owners are experiencing. We see the ugly headlines about outrageous law suits in associations. But we read very little about the legislators who make all these problems possible by introducing bills like HB 391, bills that are encouraging the abuse of owners by special interests!

HB 391 and SB 546 just don't deserve to be considered in a committee hearing. They are detrimental to the welfare of Florida's homeowners living in associations!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Dear Friends and Dear Members,

 

even in the most remote area of Florida it should be known by know that FS 720.304 allows homeowners in associations to fly Old Glory in a respectful manner. But it seems a community in Orlando hasn't gotten the message yet. A letter from management considers flying a flag from a flag pole a violation and threatens with further action, if the "violation" isn't removed.

 

The quote: "According to our attorney, he recommends that we do not change our current rules on flags; this is to include the prohibitation of yard mounted flagpoles."

We are writing the year 2005! Bill SB 149 was enacted by signature of Governor Jeb Bush on April 18, 2002. Shouldn't that be enough time to get familiar with the provisions of this bill?

It seems that always veterans are the target of this "harassment"! Veterans, who devoted their lives to defend Old Glory!

This community claims to have suspended their strict regulations after 9/11 -- to give owners the chance to show their patriotism. Patriotism on borrowed time?

Please read the whole story -- with documents -- at: http://www.ccfj.net/flyoldgloryHC1.html

The only ones that profit from a battle like this are the same attorneys who write these "opinions"!

Who will help this veteran who is fighting for his right to fly Old Glory from a flag pole?

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

last night every TV station in Central Florida reported about the board of the Majestic Oaks Homeowners Association in Ocala that distributed a flyer telling their neighbors that by taking in hurricane victims they would violate the deed-restrictions. An outrage followed, especially after it turned out that the deed-restrictions contain no restrictions like that. More or less the board created it's own interpretation of the rules -- like we see it happen so often!

What happened in Majestic Oaks is a disgrace for our society.

The Ocala Star Banner reported today in a very good article what is going on in this community -- two board members already resigned. See: http://www.ccfj.net/Stormvictimsdenied5.htm

 

Members of CCFJ, Inc. are trying to remove the remaining board members, using the new recall provisions proposed by the Governor's HOA Task Force in 2004. Cliff Daley, a homeowner in Majestic Oaks, will talk this afternoon at 2.30 p.m. on the talk show "On The Commons" about his feelings and his determination to remove the responsible board members from office! You can listen directly - or download the show later -- see instructions at: http://www.ccfj.net/onthecommons.htm

POWER CORRUPTS -- AND MORE POWER CORRUPTS EVEN MORE!

There is only one reason why we see these outrageous problems: Total lack of enforcement of our HOA Laws (FS 720) and total lack of accountability of the people in charge! When will our legislators finally step up to the plate and will do something about it? It's high time!

Just for your information: The California legislature passed Senator Ducheny's association foreclosure-abuse-prevention bill (SB 137). The bill is on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk ready for signature. He is expected to sign the bill after vetoing a similar bill last year! The bill was amended according to the Governor's requests. The bill will disallow liens and foreclosures for unpaid dues of less than $1,800. It as well stops the outrageous attorney's fees that come along with these foreclosure abuses! CA legislators realized that there are other ways to collect unpaid dues, without charging outrageous attorney fees and making families homeless! When will Florida follow?

Have a great weekend!

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

This is not a sick joke, this is actually the wording of a flyer that was distributed by the Board of Directors of the Majestic Oaks Homeowners Association of Ocala, Inc. over the weekend. BELIEVE IT OR NOT -- this is a homeowners' association in OCALA, FL -USA! In my opinion this -- and many other outrageous occurrences -- is the result of our government creating little kingdoms without oversight and accountability of the people in charge -- letting condo commandos run wild, protected by attorneys that consider these associations a welcome cash cow!


WE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MAJESTIC OAKS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT SEVERAL CHURCHES MAY REQUEST INDIVIDUALS OR FAMILIES OPEN THEIR HOMES TO HURRICANE KATRINA'S VICTIMS. THIS IS TO ADVISE YOU THAT OUR COVENANTS AND BY-LAWS PROHIBIT ADDITIONAL FAMILIES IN FAMILY HOMES.

NO DWELLING SHALL BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE EXCEPT FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES. WE APPRECIATE THE CONCERN FOR THESE INDIVIDUALS HOWEVER, WE ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS OR THE SALVATION ARMY.

YOUR COOPERATION AND SUPPORT IN THIS MATTER IS APPRECIATED.

RESPECTFULLY,

MAJESTIC OAKS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

BOARD OF DIRECTORS 


I think that says it all! You can read more at: http://www.ccfj.net/Stormvictimsdenied.htm

Is this what our society stands for? If not -- let's change it real fast in a combined effort!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

we heard in May that so-called community leaders want to fight against home-owner-friendly bills by joining forces with CAI (Community Associations Institute) and CALL (the Becker&Poliakoff lobbying group) to defeat CCFJ, Inc. -- a Consumer Alliance. May be they feel that the pastures are greener on the service-provider side of the fence?

One of these leaders was Mel Phillips, CONA President from Pasco County. It seems no holds are barred when these wanna-be community leaders are out trying to find support among the homeowners. Last Tuesday, at a meeting in Pasco County, Phillips and Senator Mike Fasano spoke to about 200 homeowners, promising to join the CAI and fight the so-called HOA mediation and arbitration bill, a cash cow for attorneys -- useless for homeowners and boards!

Look for a more detailed report at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLwannabes.html

Wouldn't it be nice if these wanna-be community leaders do their homework before speaking up?

 

The bill Phillips vouched to see repealed created FS 720.311, was a CAI bill pushed through the HOA Task Force against the votes of the members of CCFJ, Inc. We saw the writing on the wall and warned against the outrageous cost for associations and homeowners -- with not much to show for!

 

I think it's embarrassing if you claim to be a community leader and publicly state that you want to join forces with the same trade-organization that is responsible for the bill in question in the first place, but want to defeat the group that publicly spoke up against the bill when it was introduced -- and fought it all the way?

 

I think that is one of the main reasons that we homeowners are having such problems in our associations.

UNINFORMED LEADERSHIP!

But these are the same people who scream "bloody murder" when mandatory education of board members is discussed!

I guess you know the commercial?

Annual Membership CAI (Trade Organization): $ 85.00

Wanna-be community leaders with egg on their face: Priceless!

Have a great week!

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

The Sun Sentinel printed a really interesting EDITORIAL regarding the ongoing fight for association reforms. Even if the legislative session is over, the war with words between owners and service providers is continuing.

The editorial suggested that the feuding parties should sit down and talk. Great idea, but only if both sides are willing to bring something to the table. CALL (Community Association Leadership Lobby) and CAI (Community Associations Institute) have so far done nothing to propose any reforms, despite the fact that everybody in the know has realized that reforms are needed. Instead of counter-offers we heard name-calling and similar lousy arguments!

The interests of both sides are opposite -- to say the least. While we owners need consumer-protection to enjoy our homes, attorneys are interested in mediation, arbitration and law suits -- meaning making lots of money at the expense of owners. Every year they are able to kill the reform bills the specialized attorneys made another financial killing.

 

Don't forget that all these lawsuits have only one real winner: The attorneys!
And only one real loser: The owners!

Florida's citizens need our elected officials to step in and sort out the many problems. And there are legislators willing to do just that!

Our proposals are on the table -- actually on our website! We are always willing to talk!

Please read my response to this editorial at: http://www.ccfj.net/Editorialbills.htm

Suddenly the bills we proposed and got enacted in 2004 are considered sensible measures. I remember when CALL and CAI representatives were fighting them and calling them useless and out of line. Condo Ombudsman and Condo Advisory Council were considered waste of tax money by CALL. Now a leading attorney of the law firm of Becker&Poliakoff is the chairman of the Condo Advisory Council. Wasn't there an old saying like: "If you can't beat them, join them to covertly plot for their demise"?

We need legislators willing to be the mediators between the feuding parties. We owners don't have the money to charter airplanes and fight consumer-friendly bills in Tallahassee. We owners need help -- and our legislators are the ones who should help us!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Friends and Members,

mad about not succeeding in re-establishing liens and foreclosures to Florida Statutes 720 the old Florida Community Associations Institute "gang" is at it again. Under the leadership of Richard Spears, a well known former CAI-executive, they want to form another "organization" to fight homeowner-friendly reforms. It's already easily predictable who will join his cause. Isn't it funny that he wants to represent the same associations and people the CAI (a trade organization for service providers) and CALL (the Becker&Poliakoff lobbying group) already claim to represent? And the real funny part: Most of the owners, who seem to be so "well" represented, don't even know who all these groups and organizations are who claim to represent them!

 

See my opinion about all these "great" civic leaders at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLleadersCAI.html

Great civic leaders would stand in the forefront of the fight for owner-friendly reforms, not trying to protect the special interests!

Now, that the legislators are slowly realizing that organizations like CAI and CALL are actually not representing the owners, CAI supporters all over the nation are trying to create new organizations falsely claiming to represent owners' interests.

There are only two sides of the fence:

Owners on one side, service providers on the other! There is nothing on top of the fence!

Service providers want to make as much money as possible for the least service, while owners want to spend as little money as possible for the best service. And owners want their rights and welfare protected!

Everybody claiming to be representing owners' interests but fighting bills that would create education, easy -- and inexpensive -- enforcement of our laws and regulations and accountability of the people in charge has to have a hidden agenda -- not with the best interest of owners in mind!

 

Our little rally against one of the most notorious foreclosure lawyers was a great success. See:

It's time that we let the public know what we think about these "specialized" attorneys. More rallies are planned!

 

And if you think you heard it all, please think again:
An association in Davie, FL has levied a special assessment in the amount of $350 to fight a cop who is parking his squad car in the drive way. The claim: The squad car is a commercial vehicle and violates the deed-restrictions. May be a recall of the board (using last year's great recall reforms) would save the neighbors a lot of money and grief. And this law suit definitely doesn't improve the property values, the normal excuse for stupid law suits!

 

We can't charter airplanes to support our bills in Tallahassee and we don't have the money to finance cover-up organizations making propaganda under false pretenses, but we can succeed by using our numbers.

Apathy is our worst enemy -- and that of our bank accounts!

Next year a few of our legislative opponents are running for state-wide office. They showed as state legislators which side they are on. Next year will be time to defeat them in their bid for state-wide office. I'll keep you posted!

Join us and help to create the laws that protect the rights of the owners, not the wallets of industry and service providers. Don't let them beat us one by one! They hope we will file law suits and/or mediation and arbitration requests with the DBPR.

Don't fall into that trap. The only winners: The attorneys! The losers: Always the owners!

 

Changing the laws and making them owner-friendly is a feasible task! We have shown it and will continue to do so!

Sign our Guest Book, join our organization and help us create the laws that will help us owners!

UNITED WE STAND!

Have a great weekend!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/



Dear Friends and Members,

Lots of interesting News from different states.

AZ passed an HOA omnibus bills (HB 2154), sealed and signed by the Governor since 05/09/05. Even if some activists may not like it, I feel it's a step in the right direction. Well done, CHORE!

 

Here in Florida, after getting a good budget approved for his office, the Condo Ombudsman published his first report. Obviously not much appreciated by certain groups and an agency already under heavy fire because of the OPPAGA report.

 
Please read the full report at: http://www.ccfj.net/OMBUDSM1.report.html

Great work! This is just what Florida's condo-owners needed -- and got -- thanks to House Representative Julio Robaina. A place to go to and talk with a live person about the many problems. This will definitely help reduce the many law suits that make the daily ugly headlines. The Ombudsman is definitely on the right path!

Channel 47 NEWS  -- CBS -- Jacksonville had a very good report headlined:

The truth about Homeowners Associations , see: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLtruth.html

You can watch the complete video -- with yours truly -- at: http://www.wtev.com/mediacenter/?videoId=968

And in Nevada legislators are on the track to pass a new bill protecting owners against losing their homes. While here in Florida some legislators are still running around with blinders -- a Senator wrote that he feels that somebody is pulling his leg when talking about the many problems -- other state legislators obviously can read the writing on the wall. I guess here in Florida it always takes a little longer, especially among the Good Ol' Boys! Progress comes slow!

   

Read the story about the new Nevada bill at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOANVbillnewrules.html

The fight goes on and one day even the most stubborn legislator has to take off the blinders and face the truth -- and start protecting his constituents!

Take care

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Dear Friends and Members,

 

the writing is on the wall. In all states with major association problems legislators are finally realizing that not just a few "disgruntled" homeowners are complaining about abuses, but that there is a serious problem threatening the welfare of our citizens!

 

The California Law Revision Commission will recommend the creation of a state bureau to oversee California's homeowners associations. "After considering written and oral testimony, the panel found the public generally favored the idea of the new bureau," according to commission's Vice Chairman Edmund Regalia.

Funding and other minor details will still be discussed!

In Arizona the official session was opened with 17 (seventeen) !! Association Bills being filed. See: HOA reform back on Legislature's to-do list

Among the main issues in AZ: Creation of Regulatory Agency and Stopping Foreclosure abuse! Texas will follow as well when their session opens!

The main opposition against reforms all over the nation: The Community Association Institute. Under the pretense of speaking for the associations and trying to protect the welfare of the owners they are working against all desperately needed reforms. The actual reason for opposing reforms: The income of the service-providers -- members of this trade organization!

We will see the same here in Florida when our association bills will be filed. It's time that everybody realizes that just a small, but well-financed, minority is interested in keeping the status quo -- for financial reasons! Please keep that in mind when the bills are being discussed!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

 

we all still remember the election disaster of the year 2000. But are we all aware that in many associations owners are disenfranchised on a daily basis. Some of the methods used in association elections wouldn't even hold up in a Banana Republic. Our new Condo Ombudsman can testify to the fact that election problems are one of the hottest issues he has been confronted with in his short time in office. Some of you may have read about the weirdest election stories in the media. Lengthy -- and very expensive -- lawsuits have been fought over election disputes. And always the owners paid the bill -- involved or not!

But it seems the newest story from Punta Gorda is making it to the record books:

Out of 998 proxies turned in by members in good standing the board invalidated 669 for "various" reasons, according to statement from parties involved!

And then proclaimed victory for the candidates supported by the sitting board.

We have to create safeguards to avoid these shenanigans. They turn out to be very costly for the owners. And if the Division is unable to respond to an arbitration petition within 24 days this can quickly turn into disaster. In a case in Palm Beach County a board quickly signed a contract before action was taken. The owners now pay for the ludicrous contract. Owners need protection -- real fast!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Friends and Members,

for your information: Tom Skiba is the CEO of the Community Association Institute (CAI) -- just in case you don't know yet!

Honestly, every judge would have ruled his answers evasive.

Why is it that 99% of the cases that make the ugly headlines, especially foreclosures, involve CAI members? Why is it that only attorney CAI members have been successfully sued for violation of FDCPA -- a Federal consumer protection law?

He talked about all the good education the CAI provides. I have seen some of the material provided here in FL to board members attending CAI courses.

Enforcement! Enforcement! Enforcement!

This is why we will fight to stop this so-called CAI education paid for by the condo-owners here in FL.

 

It is time that boards and homeowners receive a real education -- not one telling them the best ways for the service providers to make lots of money at the expense of homeowners. We need an unbiased entity taking care of enforcement of existing laws and the education to avoid all these useless legal bills.

FAIRNESS IS THE GOAL!

 

As you can imagine I was especially interested to hear the answer to my question:

"Why is the CAI still working with the false pretense of representing the interests of the homeowners?
Everybody knows by now that the CAI is plainly a trade organization protecting the wallets of their attorney + industry members, definitely not the welfare of the homeowners.

When will the CAI finally start telling the truth?

It sure might help them in the long run?"

Tom Skiba's only answer: "We're telling the truth!"

I challenge that and nothing in my opinion is further from the truth than this answer!

Homeowners, who joined the CAI, are often disappointed when they find out that they are surrounded by fellow members who consider homeowners their enemy! According to the words of well-known CAI members!

 

But this is the kind of response we are hearing all the time from these CAI members! Honestly, I think we homeowners have the vested right to decide our own fate, without the expensive intrusion of the CAI. When we need hired guns, we might want to call them -- if necessary! Otherwise, please leave us alone and don't tell legislators what's good for us! Just say: "It's good for your wallets!" -- and we're hearing the real truth!

In case you haven't listened to the show yet, please do so! You will get educated what the CAI is all about!  Here is the link to download the show!

 

Have a great Sunday!

Take care

Jan Bergemann



Dear Governor, Senators, Representatives, Friends and Members,

 

Congratulations to all public officials elected into office on Tuesday. Let's work together on the welfare of Florida's citizens! Lots of problems to be solved!

 

An article in today's Sun Sentinel -- headlined: Homeowners utilize new law to oust board -- see: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLnewlawrecall.htm shows that the new recall provisions are successful in avoiding costly legal battles in court. In another case in Seminole County the attorney for the ousted board advised them not to challenge the recall, which used the newly created forms. It would just be a waste of money! What a difference to a recall in Orange County that started about three years ago and which has so far cost the association members nearly $200,000, and is according to the judge (quote): "an 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." (end quote!)

 

SB 2984 and SB 1184 were definitely a big step in the right direction to create an even playing field in associations and we thank all legislators involved in the success of these bills. But the biggest step is still missing: The creation of a long overdue Ombudsman's Office for HOAs, to create the fairness we are all looking for. Bills attempting this will be filed for the next session. It's a trend legislators nation-wide seem to be following after finding out that by far not all is well in HOA La-La-Land, as the industry tried to make everybody believe for many years!

See the CA version of the proposal to create the Ombudsman's Office: 

CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION PROPOSES HOA OMBUDSMAN'S OFFICE

 

In another case -- using the new legislation -- a homeowner in Hillsborough County filed for mediation after being hounded by board members and attorney letters for many month, accusing her of violating deed-restrictions and failing to maintain her home. After the attorney for the board received the mediation request, his biggest concern seemed to be that the owner ‘usurped’ him by filing the petition. Gee, not happy being on the defensive?

We homeowners need this kind of protection in order to fully enjoy our homes and protect our wallets from useless legal fees! And we hope that all legislators will finally realize that we owners don't ask for too much, considering that we are willing to pay for this protection of our rights!

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/

IN ALLIANCE WITH:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 11 
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHCGPB)
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)


Dear Governor, dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

the CALIFORNIA LAW REVISION COMMISSION has published the draft of a study asking for the creation of Common Interest Development Oversight Agency -- named OMBUDSMAN'S OFFICE!

Please see the complete proposal at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOACALRCagency.html

The discussion in many states with lots of mandated properties goes on, since there are still huge loopholes with owners being left unprotected.

In CA they propose to create this Ombudsman's Office under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs. The agency should take care of easy enforcement, public information and education and create a place where consumers can turn to without having to use expensive litigation to fight for their rights. CA officials obviously finally recognized the obligation of the government to protect consumers against many abuses.

California, as well a state with many retirees and minority groups, has nearly the same problems as Florida. California legislators just voted in favor of legislation disallowing foreclosure under most circumstances.

See article: California on verge of big change in association foreclosure laws
http://www.ccfj.net/HOACAvergeforecl.html

The CA proposal of the Ombudsman's Office reads like the proposal CCFJ, Inc. made at the meeting of the HOA Task Force in St. Augustine in January. The only real difference? CA wants $5 a year from the owners to finance the Ombudsman's Office. We suggested $4 here in Florida. But CA was always more expensive!

I think it's high time for Florida to tackle these consumer friendly reforms during the next legislative session.

Florida has more problems than any other state! Shouldn't we change that real fast with the help of our elected officials?

Warm Regards

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/

IN ALLIANCE WITH:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 11 
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHCGPB)
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)



05 - 11 - 2004

Florida's Florida Legislative Session 2004 is over. So are many hard fought battles about the fate of many bills regarding mandated properties. We got SB 1184 and SB 2984 ordered enrolled, waiting for the Governor's signature. 
 
Even if we consumers didn't get all we wanted, the bills are a good start for more reforms necessary to finally solve the many problems owners living in mandated communities are experiencing. 
My opinion about the result of this session is summarized at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJSummLeg2004.html
If your web server doesn't work with hotlinks, please go to our Home Page and click on Latest News.
 
We won some, we lost some, but we for sure made progress in the right directions. We still have a long way to go, but with our consumer movement growing rapidly we have built a nice foundation to continue working on more reforms. It's is imperative for the welfare of owners that the laws provide disclosure, consumer-protection and enforcement of existing laws. We need to get back to the times when we could honestly say: "Our Home is our Castle!" 
And it is high time that our dues are again being used for the purpose intended: Maintenance and Beautification of our Communities!
 
Please read my summary of the fight for owners' rights! And help us to get ready for next year, with more consumer-friendly bills being prepared for the next session!
 
Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
 
IN ALLIANCE WITH: 
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 11  
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP)  
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA)  
Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHCGPB)
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN) 
Property Rights Florida (PRF) 



03 - 01 - 2004

Dear Members, friends, Media and Elected Officials.

 As everyone knows, a House Select Committee met throughout the State of Florida and heard many horror stories from unit owners who live in Condominium Associations, ranging from illegal fines, intimidation, embezzlement, predatory foreclosures etc. As a result of these hearings, meaningful legislation was drafted by the Chair of the House Select, Honorable Representative Julio Robaina. Most importantly, the House Bill proposes the creation of an Ombudsman's office with real enforcement powers.

 A similar committee appointed by the Department of Business and Professional regulations at the request of Governor Bush also heard the similar horror stories from homeowners who live in HOA. Shamefully, most of the members appointed to this Task Force represent the trade industries that may have been most responsible for these horror stories. The end result, as expected, most of this  committee's recommendations  will not favor Floridians living in Homeowners Associations.  Appointing trade organization representatives to this Task Force to create more harmony and improve relations in associations will have about the same result as appointing members of Al Qaeda to a Task Force that seeks recommendations on keeping our country safer. They are most likely not interested in a positive result since it goes against their personal interest!.  In addition, we have repeatedly requested  Governor Bush to issue an executive order, thereby creating an agency with enforcement powers  to be better able to put an end to so many abuses.

When someone threatens the peace of your home, that is a form of  terrorism.

 So why has there been a lack of action by some of our elected officials for so long?

Just about every city, county and state official has heard these very same complaints, sometimes on a daily basis and everyone is well aware that these horror stories are true and are happening. Yet, Homeowners and Condo owners have stated that they are willing to finance an Ombudsmen's office with real enforcement powers from private funds, so lack of state revenues cannot be an excuse to prevent a solution to this serious social problem.

 What are the reasons behind the lack of action by our elected officials?

 Considering the substantial amount of campaign money that trade organizations like attorney firms, community association organizations, property management companies and court-appointed receivers donate to candidates, is there any doubt why some of our state government officials are in some form connected to these trade industries?  Could there be corruption at a level way beyond our imagination?

One thing for sure is that everyday we are receiving more and more  information revealing  the truth behind this elaborate mystery.

 Meanwhile, through our alliances, our message is reaching Nine Million Americans nationwide, enough to make a difference even in a presidential election. The millions who live in HOA and Condos are once again putting pressure on the Florida Legislature to take a valid stand and come to the aid of their constituents.  Campaign money may be  important, but when it comes time for any election, it is the number of votes that elects a person to office. Voting in favor of an ombudsman's office with real enforcement powers will help put and end to the amounts of calls of horror stories your office gets of HOA and Condominium Associations.  Voting against it and ignoring the complaints from your constituents will certainly lead to more serious matters, as 40% of all Florida residents will be living in a condominium or HOA by the year 2006.

The media, the people and the nation is watching.  Protect your constituents NOW!

Humberto Sanchez 
CCFJ, Inc. -- Public Relations Director 

IN ALLIANCE WITH:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of Palm Beach (FHCPB) 
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)



02 - 26 - 2004
CCFJ, Inc. -  PRESS RELEASE

If HB 1223, the sweeping condo bill filed by Representative Robaina, will be enacted, condo-owners in Florida will finally see the checks and balances needed to guarantee a more peaceful living in this kind of environment. This kind of legislation is desperately needed to stop the daily flow of complaints and ugly headlines we see in the moment. This is the kind of consumer protection necessary to stop the many known abuses. We hope that many Florida legislators from both parties join this call by co-sponsoring this important bill created after listening to the complaints of thousands of citizens  in state-wide hearings.

But homeowners living in associations, being used to be treated as citizens third class by the legislature, are still waiting for the actual relief necessary to bring harmony to their communities. The proposed recommendations of the HOA Task Force are definitely not going far enough to protect these owners against the many abuses and legal problems they are facing. Without a government agency with enforcement power there will never be peace and harmony in these homeowners' associations.

And while Republican legislators all over the nation are trying to accommodate the many complaints from homeowners living in these associations, Governor Bush is being blamed by many constituents for stalling the attempts to create an ombudsman's office, like the one proposed in the condo bill, for homeowners associations. On many occasions speakers, claiming to speak for the Governor, have stated that "The Governor is against regulation!"

Is the Governor really willing to alienate the many Florida citizens living in homeowners' associations? The many letters, calls and e-mails his office, the DBPR and the members of the HOA Task Force received -- definitely more than the infamous 571 votes of the 2000 election -- don't really bode well for the Governor, who hopes to deliver Florida for his brother in the November elections. Adding these homeowners to the list of unhappy citizens created by a dismal legislative session last year, the telephone rate hike and a health care reform not well liked by Florida's retirees -- see membership loss by AARP -- will make it even harder for the President to win Florida. Wouldn't it be embarrassing for a Governor to lose his state in his brother's re-election bid? 

After the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a nationwide organization with more than 9 million members, joined the alliance by signing a national resolution asking legislators for their support on this pressing issue, these demands are definitely not any more the demand of a few disgruntled homeowners, like the about 200 specialized CAI attorneys want the legislators to believe.

But Florida's homeowners haven't given up hope that the Governor will use his significant influence on Republican lawmakers to add the ombudsman's office proposal to the recommendations of the HOA Task Force. This would turn a seriously flawed bill proposal into a consumer-friendly bill, really creating harmony and improving relations as envisioned by the Governor when creating this task force.

Florida's homeowners hope to avoid turning this problem into a serious election issue, but see no other possibility if their request for a government agency with enforcement power is denied in the upcoming legislative session. An agency, which homeowners even offer to finance! It is definitely up to Florida's elected officials to make this choice!

Florida's homeowners deserve associations to be "...of, by and for the owners!" 

Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

IN ALLIANCE WITH:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of Palm Beach (FHCPB) 
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)



02 - 20 - 2004

Dear Governor Bush, Honorable Legislators, Friends and Members,

the start of the legislative session is getting closer, but the discussion about reforms in regards to mandated properties is already in full swing. And after all the hearings and media reports there can't be any doubt about the fact that serious reforms are necessary. Legislators just can't turn their back any longer on the millions of Florida's citizens living in mandated properties. The problems are growing by the day. And the constituents are asking for serious reforms, not just band-aids. Adding more pages of unenforceable laws to already unenforceable statutes is only making the problems only worse. 

Below is the copy of a letter (see as well: http://www.ccfj.net/TFopenletterBG.html ) that says it all. Without a strong government agency with enforcement power there is no solution to the many problems owners in mandated properties are facing. Any proposals without enforcement will only make some attorneys richer and all owners poorer! Let's just face the facts! Is that what we all want?

And many of our State Legislators facing reelection in November will be asked the question: "Did you represent the interests of these owners during the last session?" The voting records of the upcoming session will definitely answer that question!

More and more owners see the unwillingness of many of our legislators to tackle a problem many of us are facing. And it's obvious: band-aids don't help - major surgery is necessary!
A STRONG GOVERNMENT AGENCY WITH ENFORCEMENT POWER IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO HELP THE CONSTITUENTS!

This agency will be the foundation for the necessary improvements. So far you created roofs hanging in thin air!

Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

IN ALLIANCE WITH:
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Concerned Homeowners in Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of Palm Beach (FHCPB) 
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)



02 - 10 - 2004

Honorable Florida Legislators, Homeowners, Condo-Owners, Friends and Members,

It is time that we owners finally create our own voice in Tallahassee. Long enough special interest groups have claimed to represent our interests.
Please read my opinion about  "THE LEGEND OF THE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION INSTITUTE (CAI)"

You know the old saying:"Put your money where your mouth is?"
Florida homeowners and condo-owners are doing just that. Six days after calling for a fundraiser to finally hire a lobbyist to really represent our interests -- no conflict of interest, no industry involvement -- I have already received 55% of the funds necessary. And I received enough pledges to make sure that we will reach our goal by next Monday! If you haven't donated yet, please do so. Every little bit helps!
See: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJfundraiser.html
I think that's serious proof that not just a few disgruntled homeowners are complaining. And it definitely puts to rest the claim that "the few known problems are not worth creating an agency." It's no longer a good argument, it's just an excuse, especially if you wear blinders! Recent media and TV-coverage has shown the sad truth!
And there is plenty more to come!

We consumers have the right to receive the necessary government protection and not just some lip-service some of our elected officials would like to provide. And we are willing to finance that agency!
Without a strong government agency with enforcement power all attempted reforms are lip-service and absolutely useless.
But we need to have strong support from our Florida legislators. In this moment consumer-friendly bills are being written and will be filed timely which will do just that: PROTECT US CONSUMERS AGAINST ABUSE!

Honorable Legislators, if you are willing to fight for consumer protection and help us to achieve our goals by enacting these consumer-friendly bills, please let us know now. 
Please contact us if you want to help your constituents.

MISERY BY ASSOCIATION? PLEASE, LET THAT BE A THING OF THE PAST!
Your help will be very much appreciated!

Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



11 -18 - 2003

Dear Governor, Legislators, Friends and Members,

we heard again on Friday from a well-known CAI attorney at the HOA Task Force meeting in Orlando that just a few "disgruntled" owners are complaining and we don't need regulation or enforcement of existing laws. When are these people taking off their blinders and face the reality of daily life? 

As you all know consumers are pushing for a strong, well-funded agency with the power to punish the violators. The many abuses just have to stop!

Nevada, far ahead of Florida in regards to reform of mandated property, has created an ombudsman's office to take care of the many complaints. Under the strong leadership of State Senator Mike Schneider the Nevada legislators enacted many consumer-friendly reforms, opposed by the CAI and other industries. In a newspaper article the new ombudsman described the problems he is facing. It's even worse than anybody expected and he is happy that help is on the way. Nevada just passed new laws to increase the manpower of this newly created agency. Please read the article below or at: http://www.ccfj.net/HOANVombudsman.html

This report, from a neutral source, is describing what is really going on, unbiased from industry reports. This is real life and not what the trade organizations want you to believe!

There are many good associations, no questions asked. But we are as well enforcing laws punishing bank robbers. And not every citizen robs banks!

Unlike Nevada, where this agency is funded by tax dollars, we proposed to finance it by funds collected from the owners, even saving money from the general tax fund. 

When is Florida ready to enact the necessary reforms? Do we want to fall further behind?

And if you have any problems understanding what is going on in some of these associations, please read today's article in the St. Petersburg Times: Three a crowd, condo group rules
A man speaking to two women for a moment in a front yard comprised a "social gathering" subject to a fine.
See : http://www.ccfj.net/condo3croed.html

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Warm regards

Jan Bergemann
President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


10 - 30 - 2003

Dear Florida Legislators, Members and Friends,

during the recent meeting of the HOA Task Force in Miami members of the task force discussed the issue "Removal of Directors". The advice always given by the industry to unhappy homeowners is to remove the board of directors.

Easier said than done! Obviously! 
Look at this example and read the malpractice law suit filed by an association in Orlando trying to recover some of their financial losses - estimated at about $ 150,000.00? - caused by legal wrangling and lawsuits - including an Appeals Court decision. See the alleged reasons for filing the lawsuit at : http://www.ccfj.net/courtmalpractice.html

They are suing their former counsel, the law firm of Wean & Malchow, P.A. The senior partner of this law firm, Paul Wean, is the Vice Chair of the CAI-FLA, the Legislative Action Committee of the Community Association Institute, and a member of the Legislative Committee of OCHA, the Orange County Homeowners Association. 

Isn't it remarkable that leading members of the Community Association Institute are always in the middle of these problems?

The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff was found guilty in Federal Court of violation of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). Joe Adams, a member of this law firm, is the Chair of CAI-FLA, the Legislative Action Committee. Paul Wean is the Vice Chair of CAI-FLA and involved in the above malpractice law suit. Rebecca Furlow, Director of Leland Management and member of the Board of Directors of CAI-Mid-Florida, is being investigated for filing liens against homeowners, considered UPL (Unlicensed Practice of Law) according to the Florida Supreme Court.

Could it be that these people have a personal interest for fighting against regulation of homeowners' association and governmental enforcement of the laws? Please don't believe they are fighting it in the interest of the homeowners!

Homeowners living in associations need protection by the government. The government created these associations, so they should take care of the enforcement of the laws coming with it! We need legislators willing to fight for consumers' rights!

Don't we have enough foxes guarding the henhouse?
Just my thoughts!

Jan Bergemann
President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor, Florida Legislators, members and friends,

the State of Nevada has finally created a commission to reign in the powers of these homeowners' associations, often called autocratic and un-American.

Nevada State Senator Mike Schneider has been a champion of homeowners since many years and has finally achieved what seems to be a good solution. His many hours of fighting for the welfare of homeowners seems to be paying off. 
See article below!

Florida is still lacking a Senator willing to take up that fight, despite the fact that the obvious problems are well known. Offers to Senator Schneider to relocate to Florida and take up the cause of home- and unit-owners have so far not worked, but should we give up hope?

May be with all the negative headlines and the many cries for help by abused homeowners some legislator in Florida will finally wake up and realize that even homeowners have a right to peaceful enjoyment of their property, without being harassed by dictatorial boards who know full well that they can violate Florida Statutes without having to fear any retributions. Boards and their attorneys have made it a daily occurrence of violating the Statutes and telling homeowners:"If you don't like it, sue us!" They know that only a very small percentage of people are financially able to go through with civil litigation, unaffordable to most retirees.

But may be one day even Florida will find a Senator Schneider, willing to fight for the rights of more than 5 million citizens in Florida living in associations.
So far our Florida legislature has seriously failed us!
That just leaves us in the moment with thanking Senator Schneider for all he achieved for the welfare of homeowners in Nevada! Or may be we all need to relocate?
Have a nice weekend!

Jan Bergemann
President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



New State Commission to Offer Relief to Disgruntled Homeowners

Members of homeowners associations have complained for a long time that their board members have too much power, but now something is being done to help the homeowner.

Nevada State Senator Mike Schneider , has led the fight against the powerful homeowners associations that have taken over so many developments in the valley. "What happens is when you've created a board in a homeowners association, you've created a government. And sometimes these governments get out of control. They get mad with authority. So what happens is we need to reign that in," says Schneider.

The state has done that by creating a five-member commission that will be a new avenue of recourse for disgruntled homeowners association members. "The commission will have enough authority to remove board members that get out of line and also to keep homeowners in line if they threaten board members," says Schneider.

The five-member commission is exactly what Joni Briggs would have reported too after recently receiving a letter from his homeowners association. She was told to take down the sign on her garage which read 'God Bless America.' 

"We put it up to represent our support for our country, our president and our service men and women overseas," says Briggs. 

But that wasn't acceptable and so they were told to take it down which they say they won't do. 

So with all of these problems, will HOAs go away? 

Eldon Hardy says not likely: "I don't think so, it's just too big and too complicated to terminate and dissolve " 

But its not big enough that lawmakers can't add some teeth to the previous legislation. 


01 - 23 - 2003
HOA Horror Story!  Add this to your list! 

The initial review indicates this particular HOA was Administratively Dissolved (AD) a couple of years ago for failure to file its annual report. 

It was reinstated prior to the recent dissolution and the record indicates this is not the first instance of AD. In the meantime, if the record is accurate, this HOA has conducted business while in dissolution. Can they really do that? 

Maybe unregulated HOA's can do just about anything they please in Florida? Do you know? 

BTW, our organization is trying to provide adequate protections for seniors, retirees, et al., enticed to relocate and purchase property in deed restricted communities with unregulated mandatory HOA's. 

Our Property Reform Task Force will be filed by Senator Stephen Wise and we anticipate a companion bill will be filed by a member of the House. 

Therefore, we appeal to all members of the Florida Legislature to read the horror story below. 

*** SEE BELOW ***

Afterwards, get ready to sign on the dotted line to become a cosponsor of both bills; move them favorably through committees; vote YES on the floor of your respective chambers and provide an opportunity for Governor Jeb Bush to enact by his signature.

As our friends have indicated, "We must have equal protection under the laws in Florida for all Citizens and will support the task force bills." 

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ 

****************************** SEE BELOW *******************
----- Original Message ----- 
From: P
To: wishfer@worldnet.att.net 
Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2003 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: HOA

As far as I know, there never was a developer. (in our community) 

The homes are all custom homes built by several different builders. Some here for more than 20 years, some as early as 3 years ago. 

The same 4 people have been in charge for the past 10 years. . .just passing the "title" around and getting themselves voted back in by not having everyone have a vote. 

Also, we have not had a HOA meeting in 2 years, they spend money and (impose) special assessments as they desire and raise HOA fees without consent of a majority, because ....... the only majority (they recognize) is them! 

I have been living here 3 years and have yet to receive a copy of the by laws which I hear is constantly changing so no one but the "four" no what is in it. 

I have a meeting "finally" in a week and am determined to go knowing exactly what they are up to, what they can get away with, and what can be done to stop them. 

We have NO facilities, no common area for recreation, and the only "fee" we should have is to cut the grass and spray the canal!  Can't see why we need a HOA for that! 

Other development areas manage just find without one.  I bet we could too. 

Except for the All Powerful Four, who want to have "power" over the rest of our properties, I can't see the point. 

I do wish I had been told what this HOA was like before I bought the house.  But, we were not even told it had an HOA and bylaws until after the closing.  Jeez.

Indeed they are dissolved due to lack of report.  I have checked under all the names of the officers, the registered agent and again under the names they go by. . .they are no longer a corporation.  I am shocked! 

Well, not shocked.  I doubt they thought anyone would bother to look. 

I know we did not receive a financial report for 2001 and can't remember about 2000. I moved in the end of 1999, so don't hold them to responsible for me then. Haha.  But, this is 2002, and nothing yet. 

Of course, it may be at the meeting.  Can't wait to see how they spent our money. . .

You are so right, Florida is not "consumer friendly" at all!  Homeowners have less rights than I ever thought. Talk about clueless! 

My biggest peeve is that no one told me before I bought the house.  We were just told that it was a mandatory payment, just to cover things like cutting the grass and lights at the entry. . .but no big deal.  Not quite true. 

I read the rest. online. . .they were recorded in 1979.....Many of the articles do not even relate to the current situation. 

No one will be driving through our yards to build or lay electric (lines) for another lot. 

This would never have even been looked into if they did not make a comment about another special assesment to put up a gate and guardhouse. . .and refuse to let my neighbor have the fence allowed for in the restrictions. 

He moved instead of fighting. 

So, since I am not rich enough to move I guess I have to be a pain.

Again, thanks much for all you are doing for homeowners everywhere!

I am told by the Pres. of the HOA that it is mandated to have a HOA that the homeowners have no choice because it is a "deed restriction".  Wow? Now I feel really shocked. 

The government can "force" you to be "taxed" by the "private government" even if the majority of homeowners do not want it?  That seems a bit unfair. . .only in Florida. Haha. 

.......It is indeed more involved to live in a HOA community than I had ever imagined. . .and I don't even live in .... which must be the most restrictive strictly enforced community in FL. Haha.

Again, thanks much for all you (CCFJ) are doing for homeowners everywhere!
P


10 - 01 - 2002

Dear members and friends, 

Privatopia continues to be the best source of the: 'good, bad and ugly' stories pertaining to the failing concept of homeowners associations (HOA's) in our country. 

                                                                     *** SEE BELOW ***

Florida leads the parade of outrageously dictatorial decisions by the Board of Directors of deed restricted communities because HOA's are unregulated in the 'Sunshine State.' 

Access privatopia to read the following stories, et al.,

http://www.privatopia.info/

* Florida HOA says foster kids must go
* Florida HOA auctions $75,000 home at foreclosure for $18,200; $3,377 allocated to legal fees * Florida HOA officer charged with theft of HOA funds
* Evict mastiff service dog and owner, Florida HOA demands in lawsuit

A special request to CONDO owners: 
Complete the following survey and send to our CONDO Committee chair, Humberto Sanchez. 

Click here to print out Condo Survey

While you're at our Web site, please sign our Guest Book and consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button. Thank you. 

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc.


6 - 6 - 2002

Dear members and friends, 

You might not be interested in how two Mandatory Homeowners Associaion's in Marion County conduct business? 

However, these seemingly insignificant examples tend to fortify our advocacy for meaningful reform of Chapter 720 F.S. and disclosure laws before and after contract, i.e., ss. 689.26, 689.265 before and Chapter 498 F.S. Land Sales. 

The laws aluded to relate to conditions in Florida that create inadequate protection of consumer's during and after real estate transactions in the 'Sunshine State.' 

For informational purposes which community would you prefer; #1, #2, both or none? 
                                                          ********* SEE BELOW ************
The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc., 
                         ****************************** SEE BELOW ******************************
Community #1 - Resident sent letter from HOA attorney 

To insure receipt the letter was sent; 
VIA REGULAR U.S. MAIL, and
CERTIFIED.....RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Re: Disruption of Covenant Enforcement Committee Meeting

"Dear ...."

 Our firm has the pleasure of representing the ....HOA. This is the entity that was created to act as the Community Association for the ....community. 
 We were informed that you attended the association's covenant enforcement comittee residential violation hearing,..... We were informed that, when asked to leave the committee meeting, you refused to do so despite several requests. For this reason, the association's BOD's has asked that we write to you about this incident. 
 As addressed above, the association is....for this community.. As such, it is required to follow the...governing documents and Chapter 720 Florida Statutes. You, as an Owner of a Lot, are likewise required to follow the same documents and laws. 
 Section 720.303(2) specifically provides that BOD's meetings are to be open to all association members. That same section additionally provides that committees that decide architectural matters and committeess that have the power to make a final decisions relating to the expenditure of funds must also be open to all association members. Nowhere in that section, or elsewhere in the Florida law, is it required that other committee meetings, including committees such as the Covenant Enforcement Committee, be open to the membership. 
 In addition to, and in accordance with the above law, the association's By-Laws specifically exempt committess such as the Covenant Enforcement Committees, from the "open meeting" requirements. 
                                *******************************************************
Community #2 - Recently created a Covenant Review Committee
 In its most recent Newsletter the Chair wrote: 

"How about this?" 

 An organizational meeting of the newly formed Covenant Review Committee was.....convened. The purpose of the committee will be to review and revise the current....Covenants. Committee members are...........

We firmly believe that the review of the Protective Covenants should be a community effort, and although the committee is full, every effort will be made to include the....homeowners. 

For that reason, we will immediately begin working on a survey that will be distributed to all homeowners. We hope that you participate. 
Signed by the Chair 


03-27-2002

Dear members and friends. 

Sadly, in the words of the sender:  "Another HOA horror story." 
                                                        *** SEE BELOW *** 
 The names of the innocent are being protected. 

Sincerely, 
Bob
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc.,
                           ************************** SEE BELOW **************************
Dear Robert J.

Have you ever heard of the association member that wanted to have the association governed by the by-laws? 

Well that person is me. 

My wife and I live in a golf community in Panama City Beach Florida, located in the northwest panhandle. 

We have lived here for ten years, first, in a house I built myself for eight and a half years and now the new one that I also built myself in 2000. When I say myself, I mean just that; saws, hammer and nails, countless hours and plenty of sweat. 

Several years ago, I attempted along with others, to have our elections conducted secretly as prescribed by our by-laws and to have the books audited along with a few other questionable practices by our board.
This intrusion on the " clique's"  way of doing things raised their ire. We were told that they would conduct business as they always have "their way." Needless to say they still do and still remain a " clique."

Now the real story! 

I presented my plans to the Environmental Control Committee (ECC) and an approval document was returned signed  by two of the three members of the ECC which is an appointed committee and is the sole authority to approve house plans. 

The dissenting ECC member influenced the board to step in and 
overturn the ECC's approval. This was done at a "work shop" meeting to discuss covenant changes. This meeting was closed, not open, to the general membership as called for by Florida statutes. I asked to attend but was denied by the Board President. 

The reason for the dissenting member's call for action was that I planned to install "Hardy Board" siding to the second story of my home, siding that had been previously approved and used on the developer's personal home, in 1993. 

Our covenants do not prohibit siding. The only material mentioned is that a dimensional shingle must be used on the roof. Also, the bylaws have no provision to overturn the ECC's approval.

After receiving a letter from the board attorney reiterating the boards position I responded citing my approval, prior precedence of siding on the developers house, and noting that nothing prohibits siding in the covenants. I also mentioned that nothing in the by-laws allows the board to over turn the ECC's approval. Instead of the courtesy of a reply I was served with a lawsuit.

The complaint was signed by the board president. Two points stand out. He stated that the defendants " knew or should have known that this siding has never been approved or used in the community, and in summation he states " we ask that the defendants not be allowed to apply vinyl siding". 

It is easy to see the suit was not well prepared by these two statements. Vinyl was not at issue and the Hardy Board had been approved and used before. A competent board attorney with the best interests of the Association in mind would have proof read this serious committing document before affixing his signature. Apparently that was not the case.
A practice in the community has always been to conduct a survey when significant amounts of money are to be spent, if not budgeted. 

This case is going into the third year! 

Not only has the board not conducted a survey, they have yet to formerly hold a meeting  to discuss the lawsuit with the membership. 

They have exhausted the emergency reserve fund, spending large sums of money on an unbudgeted lawsuit. When questioned, the response has been " we are acting within the scope of our authority. Three boards have been involved and they still remain silent.

The case was heard  and the decision was in our favor, that both parties could proceed as they saw fit. The board "mysteriously appealed".  A meeting was never held and no board member will admit who gave the attorney the go ahead to appeal. 

The president distributed a survey to the six other board members three weeks after the appeal had been filed on 3x5 cards asking three questions: 

1. go ahead with the appeal 
2. drop the appeal 
3. or postpone the appeal. 

Does this make sense?

Two board members quit in disgust over the board's handling of the case. One asked in a letter to the board president to conduct a meeting on the suit but was denied.

The appeals court agreed with the local judge's opinion with a non-final judgment. Attorney's fees were denied to both parties and the case was remanded for further action.Trial for final judgment is not set as yet. 
Our by-laws are our contract and specifically state that the prevailing party in a dispute with the ECC is entitled to and shall be awarded attorney's fees and court costs. Florida statutes are similar.

I have offered to settle with the board when our fees were around $2,500.00 before the appeal. And again in 2001, at the annual meeting, when they were at $11.000.00. I was ignored both times. 

We have spent more than $23,000.00 thus far. The board will not admit to what they have wasted; they keep the books. The board continues to act as if they are supreme. 

Last November they issued a special assessment in the amount of 15% of the annual dues. This assessment was neither dated nor signed by a board officer. An insider leaked that the board had run out of money and the attorney wanted to be paid. 

You may have guessed that another 15% assessment followed in January to fatten the "kitty".

We have been harassed in many ways. Eggs were thrown at our house the night after the appeals ruling was known. 

City officials were requested by the board president to investigate an alleged pipe buried at night in the front of our property by me. A ditch was dug by the city utilities department with city equipment looking for the sewer tap on our property resulted from someone jumping to conclusions. 

It caused embarrassment to the employees sent to investigate. They knew why the ditch had been dug but were just following orders.

The city building department was also requested to check out our front steps, infringing on the easement, as requested by the board president. 

The same city inspector who approved our plans followed orders and was a bit embarrassed at having to do so. 

While this case has been plodding along wasting our's and the membership's money the board has been conducting business as usual, "their way." 
Numerous approvals with concessions contrary to the covenants have been made as many have been in the past. 

Our covenants require a set back of 10' on each side and 25' for front and back. Many have been approved to 71/2 on the sides, one being approved to within 5' to the side. This approval was made while we were building this house. 

Our covenants have never been amended to allow deviation from the original setbacks. Like they say "We have always done it this way".

The Homeowners Association suit against us is unprecedented and frivolous. No one has ever been sued for any reason before. The underlying reason for the suit appears to be personal rather than protecting the welfare of the subdivision.

At the beginning of this I mentioned that I questioned the authority of the board which has resulted in the "powers that be" (the clique) unleashing an attorney that does not proof read.

They have run out of money once and are sure to spend this years annual dues if not checked by the membership. 

We have no intentions on quitting until justice is served and our money is returned. When this occurs we will be satisfied knowing that the 
" clique " understands spending others money without their permission is not in the best interest of elected officials.

I hope this story arouses the interest of people governed by HOA's to stay on top of the people they elect and not sit back and allow situations like this to develop. 

Take part and ask the tough questions, it's your money.

I have asked board members "would you be pursuing this if you were using your own money?" Silence and looking at the floor was the response. 
Though not officially informed by the board, the majority of residents are aware of the lawsuit. It is disheartening to hear such
response's as "it doesn't involve me" or our assessment is only $150.00 a year "I don't care how they use it."

As the old saying goes "walk a mile in my shoes". I don't think any would change places with me. 

I hope this has some value for your readers and hopefully some HOA attorneys will seriously look at the issues and give the sound advice they are being paid for instead of filing frivolous lawsuits such as this.

Please feel free to forward this to those that may have an impact on situations like this.
Sincerely. 
A friend


03-21-2002

Honorable Governor Jeb Bush, et al., 

Dear members and friends, 

Certain key elements written in this story about the Property Reform Task Force are slightly incorrect. One glaring inaccuracy is; the task force proposals were drafted by resident members of our organization situated in various Florida locations. 

The Marion county anger was precipitated by the failure of developers to provide a yearly financial report of expenditures and reciepts, pursuant to s. 689.265 F.S. Legislation to address this issue was prefiled by Rep. Dennis Baxley and Senator Rod Smith and that's as far as the bills went. 

They languised because neither Legislator exerted appropriate pressure to have scheduled hearings while opining; '...there was simply too much to do with redistriction and setting a budget to move these bills...' YEAH RIGHT! 

Anyhow! 

The following story is important because, once again, there are allegations that prospective purchasers never received a copy of their governing documents prior to contract for sale. 

So too, it seems; NEVER? 

Only the parties involved can attest to the truth. 

*** SEE BELOW ***

Is it any wonder why we've worked so hard last year and during the current legislative session to seek adoption of our task force filed by the Dean of the House, Honorable Representative Jerry Melvin only to have it rebuffed by Senate members, in committee and chamber of the Senate? 

We'll tell you more about the final status of the task force bills in a future dispatch or News Briefing from the president of CCFJ. 

AND....we will be back with new vigor in time for the 2003 session with renewed and new support from your legislative delegates whomever they might be after the November election? 

Be forewarned! 

The stakeholders that defeated the CHIP effort and industry partisans you've recently learned about will be standing shoulder to shoulder with them, arms locked in tandem, guarding the gates with their 'beating sticks!' 

If you forgot who really is interested in protecting homeowner's right's, visit our Web site, learn the truth, sign our Guest Book and consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button. We need you, not vice-versa! 

The best to you and yours, 
Robert Janauskas 
5395 SW 81st Street
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc., 
http://www.ccfj.net/ 
**************************** SEE BELOW ********************

Homeowner digs in to defend trellis 

Homeowner Jerry Floyd is digging in for a fight with the retirement community's developer over deed restrictions. 

By Robert Sargent Jr.
Sentinel Staff Writer
March 21, 2002

OXFORD -- Call it the War of the Bougainvillea.

A dispute over an 8-foot trellis pits the developer of The Villages against the resident who planted it in front of his home to grow a bougainvillea vine.

The Villages is demanding that Jerry Floyd take the trellis down, arguing that it violates one of the many deed restrictions placed on most homes in the nearly 30,000-resident community. Floyd, who says he was not told about the deed restrictions when he bought his home, argues that the long list of rules is unfair to residents. 

"If they come here to take it down, I will handcuff myself to it," said Floyd, a retiree from Michigan who says he paid $25,000 to landscape his dream home with large palms and a brick-paved driveway.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE!

If link is not working, please click here !


03-11-2002

Dear members and friends, 

Recently we received a copy of the March 2002 Orange County Homeowners Association (OCHA) newsletter, i.e., OCHA NEWS, wherein an industry partisan, Richard Spears, singled out our organization. 

Since I was featured in the story as the leader of an "anti-HOA anarchists" movement (LOL) I sent Richard and the board of directors of OCHA a message requesting a retraction and an apology because the story was laced with blatant misrepresentions of the interests of our members.
                        *** SEE LETTER TO SPEARS, et al., BELOW ***

While Richard responded the BOD's of OCHA have not. Therefore, it seems; Richard might have additional opportunities to spew his diatribe in the OCHA NEWS. We'll see?

                         *** SEE RESPONSE FROM SPEARS BELOW *** 

Nevertheless, it is not my intention to waste your time nor contribute to a nonsensical debate with Richard and his friends. Been there, done that for several years with little or no success. To say we agree to disagree is sufficient. 

However, we believe the Spears story is an important aspect for you to consider as we continue to move forward to achieve our goals and objections. 

Read the story and appropriate comments at our Web site by clicking on headline :

What is OCHA?
An uninformed trade organization misrepresenting itself?

 You should be forwarned, the stakeholders and industry partisan are fully aware of our goals and objectives; to protect homeowners rights, regulate HOA's in adult and residential deed restricted communities with mandatory HOA's and insure that Full Disclosure not Caveat Emptor will become the "Buy Words" during real estate transaction's in the 'Sunshine State.' 

They will continue to exercise whatever power and influence they can muster to thwart meaningful reform to preserve the status-quo. 

Their task is made easier with the reliance of Legislators like Representative Randy Johnson, et al. and while they have the ability to utilize internal and external funds to engage the services of lobbyists to represent their interests. 

So, while we rely on our elected Legislators, et al., to represent our interests our task is not an easy one but keep the faith. We are not going to 'roll over and die' nor will we stand still while the industry partisans wail away with their 'stick!' 

To help us achieve our goals and objectives, visit our Web site, learn the truth, sign our Guest Book and consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button. We need you, not vice-versa!

Sincerely, 
Bob
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc., 
*************READ LETTER TO SPEARS, et al *****************
Subj:No More Foreclosures? 
Date:3/10/02 12:56:43 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:wishfer@worldnet.att.net
To:Spears9132@aol.com
CC:RHBorl@aol.com, rcouchma@ix.netcom.com, rlarue@kuykendall.com, frank.page@bdpartners.com, remling@cfl.rr.com, ScottAJustice@aol.com, PTiter@hotmail.com
Sent from the Internet 

Dear Richard, et al., 

I'm not surprised by your views re HOA Foreclosures but you should have provided factual information to your members about me, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc., its members and the bills we actually had filed in 2002. 

Personally, I'm disappointed that the leaders of OCHA would permit you to misrepresent the facts in the March 2002 edition of OCHA NEWS. In effect, you're story is a figment of your clever imagination with no basis in fact. 

Therefore, I'm requesting an appropriate retraction of the story and an apology to our members in the April OCHA NEWS. I suspect you and the leaders of OCHA will be amenable to this request. 

If you need assistance to relate to the actual bills we had filed which had nothing to do with HOA Foreclosures visit our Web site or simply ask before publishing the retraction and apology. 

Shame on you Richard. I thought you were a square-shooter! 

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your reply. 

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL
Public Relations - CCFJ, Inc., 
       ******************** READ RESPONSE FROM SPEARS ****************************
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Spears9132@aol.com 
To: wishfer@worldnet.att.net 
Cc: RHBorl@aol.com ; rcouchma@ix.netcom.com ; rlarue@kuykendall.com ; frank.page@bdpartners.com ; remling@cfl.rr.com ; Scottajustice@aol.com ; PTiter@hotmail.com ; sbloans@bellsouth.net ; CircusAlum@aol.com ; Clmoore7@aol.com 
Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2002 7:03 PM
Subject: Re: No More Foreclosures? 

Bob:

       Thanks for your E-mail on this matter.  I try very hard to be the "straight shooter" you say I am.  So, I'm dismayed by your comments.

       First, when the FLA officials tell me that something has been filed at your request and legislative staff conform it, I tend to believe them.  I do not check with organizations such as yours because I do not trust them.  Sorry, but that's the way it is.

       As to the "actual" bills you have filed, I have no interest, so please don't bother enumerating them.

       So, rather than making this matter personal, I'd appreciate it if you will be so kind as to tell me line-by-line where I have erred.  I'll then check your allegations out and, if proved to be true, I will indeed correct my error.

       If not, I'll have more to say.

                                                                               Dick


02-15-2002

Dear members and friends, 

Is it absolutely necessary for developers in concert with city/county and state governments to create a mandatory homeowners association or should residents decide how they wish to live their lives and to whom they should pay 'taxes' for services required? 

                                                               *** SEE BELOW ***

Visit our Web site, sign our Guest Book and consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button. 

Provide support and endorsement of the principles embodied in our task force bills, Hb 887 and Sb 1484, for review of the laws of our state related to disclosure, deed restricted communities and mandated homeowner associations.

We believe; Full Disclosure NOT Caveat Emptor must be the "Buy Words" during real estate transactions in the 'Sunshine State.' 

Do you? 

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. 

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations -- CCFJ, Inc., 
                               ************************* SEE BELOW *********************
Builder facing legal action in Cooper City
By Patricia Maldonado

                                  Read the Full Story!

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