CYBER CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE, INC.
DISPATCHES
GENERAL ISSUES

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

 

When will our elected officials finally accept the fact that they created a system that doesn't function and actually harms the owners -- Florida's citizens?

 
All the great plans touted by the media -- like new Fanny Mae funding rules -- will not fill all the empty homes and condo units in Florida.

  
We need to entice families, especially retirees because we don't have jobs to offer, to move again to Florida -- a state some people still like to call the Sunshine State. By the way: Try to stay warm!

   

People considering to move to Florida don't want to see media headlines that show the stupidity of a system called "community association" that makes the lives of people miserable -- and/or plainly bankrupts them.

  

Here are some of this week's headlines from Florida's media that show the total stupidity of a non-functioning system that creates a lot more misery than helping the cause of nice neighborhoods:

1.) Resident: HOA Threatens To Break Into Home: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH10shoddyconstrsign.html

     HOA threatens to break into home to remove unwanted sign from window; Owner answers with Stand-Your-Ground law!

2.) 70-year-old woman arrested for not wearing her community I.D. badge: http://www.ccfj.net/TVCH9falsearrest.html

     Cop Suspended For Wrongfully Arresting Woman; Police are supposed to enforce laws, not community rules.

3.) Another warning letter by DBPR: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJPALMAIRE112.complaint.htm

     Empty threats makes board members and association attorney laugh -- and continue to violate the statutes.

4.) Lawsuit over age restriction rules forces Florida homeowner out: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLagerestriction.html

     Husband dies, widow gets sick; daughter -- a registered nurse -- tries to help -- and all get kicked out of their home.

5.) Ironhorse Country Club files for bankruptcy: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLIronhorsebankruptcy.html

     Another golf curse chapter: attempt to make membership mandatory ends in legal disaster and the homeowners are paying the price.

6.) Homeowners' recall attempt fails because they can't explain why a 101-lot-owner doesn't pay the dues as required by documents, but has 101 votes and runs the board. Actually challenging this sweetheart deal was the main reason for this recall. But, according to the final ruling, the arbitrator expected the homeowners to come up with this explanation, not the board or the association attorney. Full documentation of this case on Monday on our website. It's great to see arbitrators with lots of common sense and an obviously high IQ ruling over Flori-duh's community associations.

 

In short: All these cases above make absolutely no sense, but are costing homeowners and condo owners lots of money!

 

Do you now know why many people call our Sunshine State FLORI-DUH -- and why nobody wants to move here? Actually, let's rephrase that: More people move out than move in!

Stop listening to special interest who are running our community associations and milking us for all it's worth.

Create the laws that make our community associations NICE NEIGHBORHOODS again. That will attract more people back to Florida than all the other grand ideas we hear that will cost even more money!

FRIENDLY MEDIA HEADLINES ARE THE BEST ADVERTISING FLORIDA CAN HAVE!

Have a great weekend -- and I hope you all can sleep nice at night -- if you are not living in a community association!

 

Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
 
Why is it that every day we open our newspaper or watch the TV news there is another scandal involving our elected officials? If it's not the officials themselves it's the story of some "fundraisers" who used other peoples' money to buy political influence.
 
And more and more of our "elected" officials seem to consider that they can use our tax dollars as they see fit. That hurts especially in a time when the economy is dead and many families are fighting for their financial survival.
 
We see "investigations" and more "investigations" with dubious outcome. There always seems to be an attorney who finds "stupid" excuses to declare his/her client innocent. And if all that doesn't help the besieged official publishes a press release threatening everybody with libel and slander lawsuits who dares to question his/her integrity.
 
The latest story deals with the Diaz De La Portilla brothers from Miami.

1.) Renier Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami-Dade School Board member who calls himself a "watchdog"

2.) Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a Florida State Senator District 36
3.) Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, candidate for Senate District 36 (a senate seat the Diaz De La Portilla brothers seem to consider their personal family heirloom) and past lobbyist for the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff.
 
Just read my opinion -- well documented (video and documents) -- about the facts and the pending investigation:
THE SAGA OF THE DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA TAG TEAM
 

And whatever the outcome of the pending investigation -- the rules governing spending of tax funds have normally more holes than a Swiss cheese -- the attempt alone should make us wonder: Are these elected officials just arrogant knowing nothing will happen -- or is it because they consider it business as usual trying to circumvent the rules?

  

Why is it that all the elected officials who consider themselves "honest" sit idle by, hoping the headlines will just disappear -- being replaced with new negative headlines?

   

Despite Internet, Twitter and Facebook I still love this picture:

How is that as Food for Thought?
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


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

The Community Associations Institute (CAI), the trade organization of the association service providers (attorneys, community managers, bankers, insurance agents etc.) often offer education courses that feature promising headlines. Definitely a good sales tactic, because these courses carry most often some hidden advertising for the CAI members.

  

Here in Florida we have CALL (Becker+Poliakoff law firm) and CAN (Katzmann Garfinkel Rosenbaum law firm) who push the agenda of the CAI. Despite the fact that they are claiming to represent the associations there is a serious flaw in this propaganda: Imagine peaceful associations? Most attorneys would be out of a job! So, do you honestly believe that they work to help the associations? Don't forget, the unemployment lines in Florida are already long enough.

   

And that is why:

ATTORNEYS OFTEN PREACH ONE THING -- BUT PRACTICE ANOTHER!

 
Please read my opinion and look at some real bad examples that clearly contradict the "wisdom" attorneys often preach in public. In reality it often works the other way around!

Let's face it: Every owner -- and board members should be owners too -- who still believes that these law firms will help to get owner-friendly association laws enacted in Tallahassee must live in a dream world!
Have a great weekend!

  

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 this article didn't catch your attention in today's newspaper -- here it is. I think it makes a very important statement:

 
Florida is 2nd most miserable state, economic index concludes

Article Courtesy of The Sun-Sentinel

By Marcia Pounds

Published April 8, 2009 

  

Florida is near the bottom of the happiness index. That is, if happiness has to do with income, debt, employment and keeping your home.

The state ranks 50th in the ranking by MainStreet.com., which included the District of Columbia in its survey of misery levels. Only Oregon at No. 51 is worse.

Florida residents' non-mortgage debt is 37.3 percent, according to the index. The state has 9.4 percent unemployment and a foreclosure rate of one per 214 households, according to MainStreet's index.

The happiness index looks at household income, debt, employment and foreclosures. The main source of financial happiness is the Midwest, according to the ranking. Nebraska, home of famed financier Warren Buffet, is in the top spot, followed by Iowa and Kansas.


If MainStreet would have added two more categories (Fraud Friendly and Protecting Scam Artists) Florida might have made it to the No. 1 spot! It looks to me like the so-called "leadership" among our legislators is working hard to achieve this goal?

What happened to the SUNSHINE STATE -- THE RETIREMENT PARADISE?

Just some Food for Thought for our elected officials: "It's not always good to be the No. 1!

 
Enjoy the holidays  -- and think about the article above!
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Senators and State Representatives,
There is not much left to say! This report says it all!
This is the future of many of Florida's community associations (Don't forget to watch the video!) and good citizens who invested their life savings in the American Dream:

Many other associations will suffer the same fate. This is just the start!

   

Today's Sun Sentinel: No freebies: Water stops if bills unpaid in South Florida, see: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLwaterturnedoff.html 

(This goes actually for all of Florida -- not only the South!)

 

Most important sentence: When water in a condo community with master meters is turned off, residents who pay maintenance bills suffer if their neighbors don't keep up.
Same goes for all other association bills -- like cable TV etc.. If we finally stop believing in the fairy tale that community associations protect property values and start using common sense to save what still can be saved, it's imperative that our elected officials stop protecting special interest and start looking after the financial welfare of their constituents.

 

Good legislative bills were filed to protect the owners who are still able to pay their maintenance fees and taxes. H1397/S2302 with available amendments would stop much of the bleeding -- no matter what special interest or the lobbying groups of the attorneys claiming to represent the interests of associations are telling you! The community association bills House and Senate are pushing so far will do absolutely nothing to help the owners!

 

You are playing politics on the backs of Florida's citizens!

 

You claim BUDGET SHORTFALL is No. 1 priority. Most likely you are correct. But if you fail to do anything about the serious problems in Florida's community associations your budget shortfall will be even bigger next year.

 

Who do you think pays taxes for abandoned, condemned or foreclosed homes and condos -- and bankrupt community associations? Who will be there next year to vote for your re-election? Just think about it! There is still time left in this session!

 

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.



U.S. property bust threatens condo "death spiral"
 
April 3, 2009
 

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

 

What will it take before our elected officials realize how serious the situation in our community associations really is?

This article is typical for what is happening in condos, co-ops and homeowners' associations all over Florida:

 

Another TV news report this week was headlined: "HOA Fees Skyrocketing" (See: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLFeesskyrocketing.html). That's another complaint we hear daily from homeowners. Especially troublesome if these associations have no amenities like in this case.

 

Associations are unable to pay their bills, reserve funds are being used to pay water and cable bills. In many associations there is total financial chaos -- and it will get worse! Association boards realize that they spend more money for legal fees trying to collect unpaid fees than they collect. Owners, being promised that these associations will protect property values, find out that these associations are actually financial death traps. There is not one day when I'm not being contacted by desperate board members and owners asking for any kind of solution for their desperate financial needs. Don't forget: No bank loans available if more than 10% of the owners are behind in their dues.

Then add the increase of embezzlement to the disaster!

 

And it looks like our legislators are under the impression that bankers and developers are an endangered species that need to be protected. Never forget: These are exactly the folks that caused the whole problem in the first place!

   

Developers go bankrupt left and right. It looks like Engle Homes is next. They have ceased all construction according to media reports and board directors appointed by the company are resigning: Four Resign From Live Oak Preserve CDD Boards (SEE: http://www.ccfj.net/HOAFLEngleDirresign.html) And they will leave owners with very expensive long-term contracts that will most likely kill the owners' finances as well. Just look what happened in the communities that LEVITT & SONS left behind when filing for Chapter 7!

 

The "empire" of another developer seems to dismantle fast: Adam Schlesinger's Ceebraid-Signal is obviously in deep trouble. Please read: Firm takes over Keys resort icon at http://www.ccfj.net/condokeysresort.html. That's the same developer who threatened to use FS 718.117 (also called the "Eminent Domain Statute" for condos!) to kick out elderly condo owners who had invested their life savings in this project! Don't forget, the Boca Raton city council was always eager to please the developer -- no matter what! They nearly fell over each other to please Schlesinger. See: http://www.ccfj.net/condoedenstalled.html

 

Owners are stuck and are facing bills they can't pay -- without their fault. They did everything -- and paid every bill - they were asked to do. Mark my words: It will get a lot worse! What we are seeing is just the start!

 

What has to happen before Florida legislators are willing to enact laws that protect the owners? Or do they want to wait for a total breakdown of the system before creating a stimulus package to bail out the associations -- a stimulus package from money that plainly isn't there?


Or is the unwillingness to act caused by the fact that owners didn't contribute to the PACs of the so-called "Leadership" before the session started? Look at the names mentioned in this article: "Special interests funnel $6 million to Florida lawmakers" (SEE: http://www.ccfj.net/SPECIALINTEREST.htm) 

Actually, lawmakers seem to think that Florida's homeowners are independently wealthy. Instead of working on bills that make common sense, they are passing bills that allow associations to purchase already bankrupt golf courses, digging an even deeper hole for owners. All over Florida owners fight with the outrageous cost of maintaining existing golf courses. Interest in golf is declining quickly -- not only due to the bad economy. Homes tied to "golf curses" are shunned by potential buyers.

 

Owners living in community associations need laws that enable them to be able to protect themselves and their associations -- before the problems can't be repaired any more. There is still time in this legislative session. Please do it before the community association system collapses like banks, car manufacturers and the real estate market.

 

OWNERS LIVING IN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS ARE NOT JUST CASH COWS WAITING TO BE FLEECED BY SPECIAL INTEREST! THEY WILL FIGHT BACK IF THEIR HOMES AND FAMILIES ARE THREATENED! AND THAT MIGHT GET REAL UGLY!

 

Have a great weekend!

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,
 

In quite a few recent newspaper articles we were told that there have been two surveys conducted that dealt with HOA REFORM. One article went so far to state that these "surveys mirror each other."

We think it is important that everybody understands that CCFJ conducted a real survey, while CAN (Community Advocacy Network -- the lobbying group of the law firm of Katzman Garfinkel) conducted a so-called push poll. HUGE DIFFERENCE!

  

While CCFJ analyzed 1033 valid responses from citizens from all over Florida, CAN based its "findings" on 282 anonymous responses  from who knows whom!

Especially Donna Berger's (CAN) claim that the push poll showed that "Boards want more power" was definitely not based on the answers to questions of this push poll. Not sure where she got that from? Attorney's imagination?

 

Please read the explanations about the big difference between a survey and a push poll, written by David I. Goldenberg, Ph.D. His article explains why results differ and what happens if questions are being asked without providing necessary explanation.

   

Please read this interesting article written by a "SURVEY EXPERT" at:

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

This survey shows what the owners really want, not what lobbyist groups"sell" as the opinion of the owners.

 

Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
Newspaper headlines like this: "As Tax Notices Arrive This Month, Homeowners Find Ugly Shock" can be found all over the state in the moment.  Property taxes continue to haunt Florida's homeowners.
 
But in Palm-Aire (Pompano Beach) voters were lured into voting for a Special Tax District -- under false pretenses. The misleading propaganda was paid for with condo association funds, violating Florida statutes. The one behind it: Pompano Beach Vice Mayor George Brummer and the so-called "Palm-Aire Council of Presidents", an unofficial entity that helped to collect funds from condo associations -- calling it the "GREEN SPACE PROJECT!" According to Florida statutes condo associations are not allowed to use association funds for lobbying purposes. The DBPR confirmed that in various rulings! But when angry condo owners checked the financial records of their associations, they found a lot more wrong than just donations to a committee trying to create a Special Tax District. From Christmas bonuses to bills paid without proper invoices, it was all there. Please read my opinion about these financial "irregularities" at:
It is high time that the State of Florida and its law enforcement agencies put a stop to the abuse of association funds by board members, who consider association funds their private piggy bank!
 
And there is nothing worse than an elected official with a private agenda, like Pompano Beach Vice Mayor George Brummer. He really worked hard to increase the already outrageous high property taxes in the Palm-Aire district! 
    
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

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

 

Latest after the first three meetings of the House Select Committee the old fairy tale of the association attorneys that just a "few disgruntled owners are whining" can finally be laid to rest. The meeting rooms are packed -- and the presentations of the many owners -- willing to travel far distances to be heard -- can all be summed up in one little sentence: Total lack of enforcement and total lack of accountability of the people in charge. This creates the many problems the committee members hear about -- wherever they go! The excuse used by legislators from Central and North Florida that the problems only exist in South Florida were proven wrong in Orlando. And just wait for Tampa! Many folks living West of Orlando were told to go to the Tampa meeting because the conference room in Orlando was small!

Please read my report and comments about the Orlando meeting. It was just another eye-opener!
 
Just a little note that might give you a better picture how big the problems in some of these associations really are:
The meetings of the Select Committee draw bigger crowds than some of the big well-advertised rallies we saw about property tax reforms!
WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?
 
It is time that the statutes regulating associations are overhauled and real enforcement tools are created. Owners need real reforms, not just more band-aids! Legislators have to put a stop to financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending, and even clear embezzlement in our associations and stop the financial bleeding many of our neighbors just can’t afford any longer. We need enforcement and accountability of the people in charge.
 
If you're interested, please don't miss the next meeting of the Select Committee in Tampa on Saturday, February 23, 2008!
Go here for more details: http://www.ccfj.net/HSCTampameetnotice.html
See you there!
 
And last not least: A BIG THANK YOU TO THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE, who are willing to give their Saturdays listening to the problems of their constituents. We all should be thankful that there are still legislators willing to listen to us little guys, who can't afford fancy lobbyists!
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
First it was CALL -- now it is CAN! Donna Berger is singing the same old song: The organization I represent speaks for thousands of owners, it's the "unified voice" of all the owners.
Listen up, according to Donna Berger (quote): "When CAN speaks, it sends a clear message that’s backed with the power of thousands of voices," she speaks for thousands of owners.
Oops, what happened to Gary Poliakoff's "CALL"? Remember, Donna Berger made the claim that CALL represents the voices of the owners, when being the CALL-Lady? Now they all followed her to CAN?
Just kidding! I'm just trying to show how pathetic her claims really are.
She paired with two other well-known attorneys -- Leigh Katzman and Peter Dunbar -- whose reputation among owners isn't the "best" -- to be polite. But they sure have a huge EGO (quote): "CAN is spearheaded by Florida’s most knowledgeable community association law attorneys."
Please read my opinion about this new "organization" and the attorneys "spearheading" it at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJCANDONNABERGER.htm
 
They are asking well-meaning board members to finance their organization with association dues.

Beware:  These fees will be used  -- according to the press release -- to effect positive change! Positive change to what? The bank accounts of these "specialized attorneys"?

And please consider that most association documents don't allow dues to be used for lobbying efforts. Shouldn't they know that, being -- according to their own words -- "Florida’s most knowledgeable community association law attorneys?"
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Homeowners and Condo-Owners, Friends and Members,
 

It seems pretty obvious that our legislators will fail to come up with solutions that will solve the serious problems that are facing our Florida citizens. Personally, the ballot initiative we will vote on in January 2008 will fall way short of what is really needed to stop the downfall of our economy that creates serious financial hardship to many of our citizens.

 

Nothing really "dropped like a rock" -- from property insurance premiums to property taxes, there is no relief in sight.

 

That leaves us citizens with the initiative to take the necessary steps to assure that we get the financial relief we so desperately need to assure the welfare of our families. Legislators will have another shot at fixing the property insurance crisis. If they don't, another ballot initiative may be needed to find the fix to assure that we have affordable insurance premiums.

GO HERE, LOOK AT THE PROPOSALS AND MAIL IN THE PETITIONS!
IT'S UP TO YOU -- NOBODY ELSE TO BLAME!

http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJ2008Petitions.htm

 

Don't forget: If we don't help ourselves, nobody will help us! Get going, folks!

 

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 there are very few places owners living in mandatory associations can turn to in order to find information, we have created a new website -- a work in progress -- that is supposed to help owners -- and board members -- to deal with the daily problems in our associations.
Please take a look at our new website at: http://www.ccfjedu.net and bookmark it for future references!
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
 
You'll find "our" interpretations of Florida Statutes -- and some suggestions how to deal with them! Especially some of the newly enacted provisions in FS 720 (homeowners' associations) may create some headaches for owners, because our legislators enacted provisions without providing the necessary tools. FS 720.311 requires the aggrieved party to offer presuit mediation and supply the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and hourly rates of certified mediators. In short: Such a list doesn't exist according to the Florida Supreme Court. We have attempted to create such a list by contacting about 1700 mediators on the list of the Supreme Court! Here are the results so far: http://www.ccfjedu.net/HOAMEDIATION.htm. Please click on: Certified Mediator List By County
 
Since our government officials so far failed to create the necessary sources for owners to find answers to their many questions, we felt it's about time that somebody starts to educate our homeowners -- from the owners' point of view! Since the DBPR is wasting each year $500,000 of condo-owners' money to give it to a trade organization (CAI) for "educating" no more than 5,000 condo-owners, we felt it's about time to help out all the other owners with information needs! Go, take a look! Suggestions are welcome!
This website was created by owners, for owners -- to benefit owners!
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

 

 

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
Everybody knows how difficult it is for an owner to fight in court against a homeowners' or condo-owners' association. Not only is the owner fighting deep pockets and his/her own money -- a board can use unlimited financial resources -- there are many boards that will fight, even if they may be totally wrong. Don't forget, many of these board members don't want to admit that they were wrong or made mistakes. And since the statutes give them the finances to fight even the most stupid law suits, we are seeing vicious court battles -- at the expense of the owners! It seems that the laws are pretty clear regarding the inspection of documents. You think so? It would be, if the statutes wouldn't contain the words "access" and "rebuttable"! And even if the owner is right -- and judges say so -- there is often a long way to go before the final ruling.
It gets even more difficult, if you are fighting a well-known lobbyist and political consultant -- Judith Stern – who is the president of a condo association in Broward County with the defendant being represented by Stuart Zoberg from the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff.
The case of ROBERT AIELLO vs. COLONIAL MANOR WEST APARTMENTS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. is about as ridiculous as it gets. It started as a little records request and has in the meanwhile turned into a very expensive full-blown law suit. After two-and-a-half years the plaintiff still hasn't received a final favorable ruling. The reason: The defendant, Judith Stern, as president of the condo, is using her political influence and the finances of the condo -- even using an earmarked special maintenance assessment -- to pay for legal fees -- just to prevent final defeat. Two favorable summary judgments and an Appeals Court ruling still didn't put an end to this sad chapter of condo litigation.
If you ask why such a seemingly simple matter can take so long, please read here the story of this law suit:
Broward Judges Playing Musical Chairs At Expense Of Plaintiff at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJBrowardJudgesMusicalChairs.htm
So far 6 (SIX) different judges have been presiding over this case. Every time it seemed that some progress was made, the judge either recused himself/herself or was transferred for various reasons! And there seems to be a method behind this madness!
In recent weeks we’ve read a lot about shenanigans of the Broward County court system in the Miami Herald -- and it seems that we have here another case of possible manipulation of the system? Will somebody finally investigate the Broward County court system?

 

Six different judges presiding over one trial?  Surely that is unacceptable for citizens

and a shameful way to waste taxpayers’ dollars! 

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


NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH FOR OWNERS IN MANDATORY ASSOCIATIONS?
 
Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
It is absolutely unbelievable that citizens in our nation have to go to a STATE SUPREME COURT to fight for their CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH! Do you believe that citizens in our nation have to appeal to a court to determine that every citizen has the right to free speech, not only citizens living outside of mandatory association?
To be very honest: In my opinion any attorney claiming that owners lost the protection of the US Constitution when buying a home or condo in an association is an enemy of our Constitution. And calling these attorneys OFFICERS OF THE COURT?
We send our troops overseas to fight for rights of other nations, but in this country a bunch of attorneys can hold millions of citizens hostage with ill-advised interpretations of our laws. But if they would be really correct in their assumption -- which many well-known legal scholars doubt -- the people to blame would be our legislators who were asleep at the wheel!
Suppressing Freedom of Speech has always been the trademark of dictatorships!
Association boards use owners' dues to make their opinion known, but often disallow opposing opinions to be printed in association newsletters and/or to be posted on association website bulletin boards. Censorship is running rampant!
And if owners are fed up with dictatorial boards and create their own flyers and open their own website they are getting sued or are receiving nasty letters from attorneys threatening them with expensive lawsuits. I guess we have to consider ourselves lucky that they can't send us to Siberia?
Please read another example of abuse of association funds by a board hating competing opinions:
http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJopCimarrone.htm
We owners can only hope that the NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT comes up this month with a ruling favorable for the owners and that our legislators finally realize that they are the ones who need to create the protection for the owners that are being abused by association boards and their attorneys, who are trying to deny them even basic constitutional rights!
IS THIS THE LAND OF THE FREE?
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
We are all looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend. But do we really remember the people who died fighting for our freedom and our Constitution? We are sending our troops in foreign countries to protect the rights of foreign citizens, but do our politicians really care about our Constitution and the rights of our citizens being protected by the Constitution?
Many homeowners are fighting their own war about constitutional rights, because a small group of lawyers represented by the trade organization CAI (Community Associations Institute) claims that we lost our constitutional rights at the gate. Their claim: Owners signed their constitutional rights away when they bought a home -- or condo -- in a mandatory association!
Personally I think the idea is absolutely ridiculous. Every US citizen has the right to protection under the US Constitution. Our legislators here in Florida swear the Oath of Office starting with these words (quote): "I, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida."
Were these words forgotten when they created the association laws that allow these attorneys to claim that we lost our constitutional rights?
Please read the article:
HOW STRONG IS OUR CONSTITUTION?
Please read the arguments brought pro and con. Read why homeowners have to battle their own association in the New Jersey Supreme Court to regain their constitutional rights.
How is that possible in the "LAND OF THE FREE?"
And after seeing the chaos created by some of these associations why aren't our legislators stepping in, making sure that the laws regulating these associations are enforced and make it clear that our Constitution is in force all over the nation, not only outside of associations?
Or may be we should see laws enacted that force associations to post big signs at their gates:
"YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN ZONE!"
Memorial Day weekend is a great time to consider this issue! Please think about it -- and act accordingly!
 
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Dear Governor Charlie Crist, dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, dear Senators and House Representatives,
 
We wish you all good luck for this year's legislative session and hope that you will find ways to ease the financial burden we homeowners in Florida are facing by enacting the right consumer-friendly bills.
You did real great during the special session for insurance reform (THANK YOU!) and we owners can only pray that you are continuing to work on solutions that will make living in Florida affordable again.
The three main issues: Property Tax Reform, Property Insurance Reform and Community Association Reform.
You may ask why community association reform?
Many owners paid much higher special assessments to their associations than property insurance and property tax together!

We all know that we will never be able to roll back the clock totally, but a mix of savings in property insurance and property tax alone will not be sufficient, if we don’t see bills enacted that will finally stop the financial mismanagement, uncontrolled spending and even clear embezzlement in our associations!

 

Since the debate is still raging about the best way to find a solution for the property tax problem, it seems already clear what consumers need in regards to insurance reforms:

Mitigation discounts (various bills are on the table) and the important bills HB 1307 and HB 1267/SB 2498 that will help to lower the rates significantly and keep our money in Florida! If enacted this combined package will sure do the trick! Old business wisdom: Competition lowers the prices! Anybody who still thinks that we are able to lure the property insurance industry back to Florida with all kinds of incentives must have missed the writing on the wall in the last few years! They'll come back voluntarily when they realize wee can do without them! Florida is too big a market -- despite hurricanes and tornados!

 

There is only one real owner-friendly bill in regards to Association Reform on the table: COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION BILL H1373 and S2816 -- filed by Representative Julio Robaina and Senator Alex Villalobos!

If you are really willing to help your constituents who are slowly but surely priced out of Florida -- these should be your main goals! In my humble opinion the whole economy of Florida hinges on solutions for these 3 problems!
Good luck!

 

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

"State laws that regulate homeowners associations lack criminal sanctions."
 
Dear Governor Charlie Crist, Dear Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
According to Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Preston Mighdoll we don't have statutes that address fraud and embezzlement in condominium and homeowners' associations!
 
It seems that law enforcement doesn’t see embezzlement as a criminal offense – if it takes place in an association. In this case we are talking more than $650,000 missing -- and still counting! In another association it's more than $1-million -- still counting! Details will be made available this week!
 
Please read my opinion about the lack of criminal prosecution in associations at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJcrimlawsnotappl.htm

Under Mighdoll's theory, somebody could go to the next board meeting, shoot the president -- and get away with it since the crime took place in a HOA over an association dispute -- and the HOA statutes lack criminal sanctions?

[Disclaimer: "The above idea was just thrown in for purposes of discussion!  Please don't try it in your association!"]

The claim, made by homeowners’ activists for quite a few years, is really true: “If you enter a mandatory association YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN ZONE!

This is another sad chapter in the ongoing saga of FRAUD FRIENDLY FLORIDA!

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


Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,

   

just in time for the holidays some judges obviously decided to give some owners early Christmas presents in form of favorable judgments.

But in both cases the owners were only able to prevail because they had the necessary legal representation to go through lengthy -- and very costly -- court proceedings.
The Jupiter flag man was lucky to find a pro-bono attorney in Barry Silver, who took on this case -- and finally got the rewards: http://www.ccfj.net/flyoldglorycostart.html
This case lasted 5(five) years and is still not really over! Without a pro-bono attorney George Andres would have lost his home -- for flying Ol' Glory from a flag pole on his own private property.
 
The owner in the other case is obviously lucky enough to have the financial means to pay a good attorney -- Blane Carneal -- to fight for his rights, now acknowledged by a judge in a partial Summary Judgment. Read the ruling: http://www.ccfj.net/condolawsuitColonial.html and the Amended Complaint: http://www.ccfj.net/COLMANORamlawsuit.html that caused this ruling.
Funny enough, after all the board put the owner through they are now are upset that the ruling was made public and the other owners have been informed about the ruling. Gee, I was always under the impression that a court ruling is a public document?
Honestly, who likes to see in public that they suffered a crushing defeat? It sure isn't good for the reputation of the board members and/or the law firm, especially if the board used money from an "earmarked" special maintenance assessment to pay the law firm -- another clear violation of the Florida Statutes.
 
These cases show that only owners with the necessary financial means can fight for their right in associations. Many of these cases we see on a daily basis have very little to do with right or wrong, but with the financial means to fight it to the end! Boards and their aware are fully aware of this problem and are very often relying on the fact that they will beat the owner financially before the case ends up in a court room in front of a competent judge!
Is this the our legislature wants to send out about our association laws that lack governmental enforcement: You can only find justice if you have enough money to financially survive years of litigation?
 
Happy Holidays!
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


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

 

while homeowners and condo-owners in Florida are scrambling to find money to pay for property insurance, property taxes and association dues, the DBPR is rich enough to give away presents to a certain professional group  -- as a Reward or Thank-You for what?

Read this announcement by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) (quote from Issue 28 -- September 11, 2006):
YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!
Is your real estate license up for renewal this month? Good news: The state is picking up the tab. The Department of Business and Professional Regulations is waiving real estate license fees for two years, saving associates $ 85 and brokers $ 95. Every licensee is entitled to one free fee renewal during the program, which begins September 30, 2006 and ends March 31, 2008. Corporate license fees and continuing education costs are not included in the fee waiver program. More info at 850.487.1305.
 
We are talking serious money here -- not just peanuts or a few bucks!
 
If the DBPR has too much money, may be they should have waived the $4 they charge annually Florida's condo-owners for a job that doesn't even deserve the grade "F". On a daily basis the inefficiency of the DBPR and the unwillingness to do the job as intended by the legislature causes owners all over the State of Florida to spend outrageous amounts of legal fees to protect their homes and their rights!
 
Hopefully we see some desperately needed changes here in 2007 -- because the problems with the DBPR rank closely behind property insurance and property taxes as a top priority on the mind of Florida's property owners!
 
DBPR: Do your job as intended -- instead of giving away gifts!
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


 

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

    

Another letter written by a frustrated president of a homeowners' association is pointing out that the DBPR is clearly failing Florida's citizens -- citizens the Department is supposed to protect! Nineteen (19) month after the complaint was filed -- together with necessary proof of the allegations and a DBPR arbitration ruling that confirms the alleged facts -- nothing has happened. As many owners all around Florida will tell you:
THAT'S DBPR BUSINESS AS USUAL!
Please read the complete article with many more pressing examples  of DBPR incompetence -- and especially the important letter: http://www.ccfj.net/DBPRcomplaints.html
 
Please note: This is a complaint filed by the board of a huge association, not by some "disgruntled" homeowner. It plainly shows that the problems are everywhere -- and will continue until the government agency, financed by taxpayers' money, will finally start to do what they are supposed to do: Enforce the rules and punish the bad guys!
 
We have said it before -- and we say it again: Without enforcing the existing laws and punishing the violators we will not see any improvement in this system that cost Florida's homeowners and condo-owners millions and millions of dollars every year. And the shenanigans continue -- to the detriment of the owners!
When will our legislators finally put a stop to this and create the enforcement our citizens deserve?
Our patience is really being tested, not only by the property insurance disaster!
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor, Florida Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
Over the last few years we saw a lot of things written and said about the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). Nothing good! We saw OPPAGA writing reports about the ineffectiveness of the DBPR -- everybody hoping these reports would finally wake up certain government officials in charge. We saw new secretaries come and go -- all with a very short life-span in this job.
Until we saw Governor Bush appointing Simone Marstiller, who made it a point to avoid trying to improve the incompetent agency and instead made it her task to silence critics as a way of damage control.
 
A hopeless bureaucrat, she worked on fighting everybody who even dared to criticize her department! From Day One of her tenure she was after Condo Ombudsman Dr. Virgil Rizzo, because his quarterly reports were a thorn in her side. It showed how much good a small ombudsman's office can do compared with her well funded department that is known for being totally ineffective -- actually useless! The biggest problem: She assumed an authority she doesn't even have -- according to Florida law. Did anybody ever claim bureaucrats can read?
Please read my whole opinion at: http://www.ccfj.net/DBPRAuthority.html
 
We had already suggested earlier to rename the department into DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL PROTECTION (DBPP). That's minimum how many of Florida's citizens see it, whose money is being wasted, especially the dollars of condo-owners by the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes.
And, with a lot of backstabbing and twisted accusations, she finally succeeded in having the Governor remove Dr. Rizzo from his position, a person who many condo owners felt was finally making an impact helping Florida's condo-owners under siege.
 
I guess Florida's citizens have to wait until next year before we can hope that we finally get a DBPR secretary trying to clean out the stable and working on creating a department that would function as envisioned by the legislature and doing the work Florida's citizens are paying for!
Another bureaucrat will not do! We already saw enough of these types come and go over the last few years! We saw enough of our taxes wasted by people unwilling to do the job!
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Secretary Simone Marstiller, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
Many owners always wonder why there is such a resistance to owner-friendly association reforms and the reason why some people oppose these reforms.
It actually sums up in two words: Money and power!
The service providers don't want to give up their beloved cash-cow and certain board members don't want to give up their power! Recent board recalls and association election results have rattled the cages of these people! Their actions speak for itself!
When dealing with these issues you see a lot of alphabet-salad thrown at you, giving the impression that there are many different organizations with lots of membership involved.
Actually -- that is the picture these people want to paint. But de facto there are just a few actual players -- and if you look behind the scenes the same names are popping up.
Please see my opinion about the organizations claiming to represent "millions of owners" and the actual facts they try to cover up with their statements!
 
It all really started when the Community Associations Institute lost its credibility regarding claims who they actually represent! Today everybody knows that they are just a trade-organization for association service providers -- nothing else! That started the creation of many other organizations all over the nation, with CAI executives behind the scenes. It isn't hard to figure out who is who, if you compare the names involved in these organizations, who desperately claim to represent all these owners -- owners who don't even know that these organizations exist! And as everybody knows:
Any organization can only represent the people who gave them a mandate to represent them.
Homeowners activists are labeled  "anarchist" or a "disgruntled troublemaker" by the leaders of these organizations! Name-calling doesn't make things right!

The REAL troublemakers are the people who abuse the existing system, make fortunes at the expense of owners, and like to abuse the power given to them by inadequate laws.

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


Dear Governor Jeb Bush, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
We saw in Nazi Germany what happened when so called "Blockfuehrer" were rewarded for spying on their neighbors, making accusations knowing their names would never be revealed.
Please notice as well "fining without due process"?
In the USA it is one of the basic laws that the accused has the right to face the accuser.
But, as usual, homeowners' associations and their management companies feel they are exempt from our laws and offer money rewards to neighbors with the assurance that their names will never be revealed.
See the whole story at: http://www.ccfj.net/REWARDletter.htm
You can read the scanned version of the flyer below!
What happened to our basic rights and the "Land of the Free", if something like this is allowed in our Country?
 
Warm Regards,
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


Dear Governor, Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
a botched investigation makes the Commission on Ethics find "No Probable Cause" in a case brought by a condo-owner against former Condominium Advisory Council chairman Joseph Adams.
The actual complaint alleged that:
  • Joseph Adams is using his influence as the chairman of the Advisory Council on Condominiums to suppress public testimony directed against Community Associations Institute interests -- for example, the education courses paid for by Florida condo-owners.
  • It was alleged that Adams was trying to see to it that the official minutes didn't reflect badly on the CAI, a trade organization of which he is a member!
  • It was alleged that Mr. Adams is using his influence as chairman of the Council to promote the agenda of his law firm and the Community Associations Institute!
The filed complaint never alleged that:
  • Mr. Adams was part of the original group of people responsible for signing the contract. Everybody knows that the initial contract was signed long before the Condo Council was created!
  • Mr. Adams is a paid executive of the CAI.
  • Somebody forced Mr. Adams to become a CAI member.
  • Mr. Adams or the Council has control over the Division's budget.
  • Mr. Peet was unhappy with the educational services of the CAI.

However, three pages of the investigative report are rebuttals to these false claims that had never been made!

You can read the complete investigation report at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJPRACethics3.htm

If this is the way ethics complaints are dealt with in Florida we might consider dissolving such a panel -- saving lots of taxpayers money -- and just letting ethics go down the drain! Look at the actual statistics of the Commission On Ethics and you know what I'm talking about. Their record speaks for itself!

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


Dear Governor, Dear Alan Bookman, Dear Legislators, Dear Friends and Dear Members,
 
we are used to quite some shenanigans of specialized attorneys, but what Donna Berger of the law firm of Becker&Poliakoff P.A. delivered in her letter headlined: "THE ACTIONS OF THE OMBUDSMAN" is outright libel and a bunch of falsehoods. If our government officials and the Florida BAR are willing to condone these kind of actions by an attorney and lobbyist it is no wonder that many citizens are losing any respect towards these professions.

See letter and my opinion at: http://www.ccfj.net/CALL-BERGERLETTER.htm

 

There is nothing wrong with a good discussion about existing problems. There is nothing wrong with opposing opinions. It is no miracle that specialized attorneys and homeowners are on opposite sides of the fence. But if one side puts on "Dog and Pony Shows" using outright falsehoods, this has to be stopped by the people in charge.

 
This has nothing to do any more with opposing interests. This has to do with mudslinging and dragging citizens' names in the dirt. If that is what our society and our State of Florida stands for, then so be it! Otherwise I expect the people in charge to take action and stop this kind of behavior by a member of the Florida BAR and a registered lobbyist.
 
Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/

PLEASE CO-SPONSOR HB 1229
 
Honorable Representatives,

the big HOA + Condominium reform bill was finally published yesterday evening. Representative Julio Robaina collected much input from owners all around the state over the year  -- and HB 1229 is the result!

Thank you, Representative Robaina, for all your efforts!
A few little necessary changes and we have the foundation for an excellent tool to protect owners from many abuses. It's about time! We need to GIVE ASSOCIATIONS BACK TO THE OWNERS!
Please consider adding your name next to that of Representative Robaina as co-sponsor of this consumer-friendly bill. The reform is long overdue!
 
The opposition -- attorneys, service providers and board members, claiming to represent the associations and owners -- will try to tell you that this bill will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of citizens owning property in associations and make it impossible for associations to conduct daily operations. Far from the truth! Please never forget: Many of the people you will hear complaining about this bill will do so because their personal financial gain is in danger of being reduced. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye!
 
How can enforcement of laws and punishment of violators be detrimental to the welfare of associations?
Is jailing bank robbers detrimental to the welfare of the banks?
 
Please show that you care for the welfare of your constituents and co-sponsor this consumer-orientated bill. Your constituents need your help! We owners need your help!
Your support will be much appreciated!
We are looking forward working with you on this very consumer-friendly legislation!
Please let your constituents know you care!
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 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHCGPB)
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)

Dear Governor, Dear Legislators , Friends and Members,

 

please don't accuse me of bashing Secretary Carr and the DBPR. But this is really going too far. The complaints about this Department are really piling up.

It seems that not only home- and condo-owners are unhappy with Secretary Carr and the DBPR. 

It's obviously the whole Department! 
See  today's article: Title Insurance Practices Probed
at:
http://www.ccfj.net/DBPRTitleIns.html
See below the important part of this article. It seems our Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has joined the club of people unhappy with Secretary Carr and the DBPR How long will this be allowed to continue?  
This Department has the obligation to protect consumers! But it seems that the Secretary feels that it is her obligation to protect the professionals! Can it be more obvious?
 
Warm Regards
Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
http://www.ccfj.net/

State records show that last May, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher sought out the help of Diane Carr, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Her department oversees licensing of real estate agents and brokers.

"In the course of the these investigations the Department has determined that it has become common practice for real estate agents, brokers, and agencies to expect, encourage or require title insurance agencies to reward them in different ways for referral of title insurance business,'' Gallagher wrote to Carr in a May 25 letter.

He went on to ask that Carr's office discipline agents who have received compensation from title insurance companies.

But Carr's department never took any action other than to pledge to publish in a newsletter sent to the real estate industry a notice that state law bars title agencies from compensating real estate agents for referrals. That notice has not been published.

While state law prohibits title companies from paying referrals, Juana Watkins, acting director of the state Division of Real Estate, said it's permissible under the state's real estate regulations for agents to accept inducements, as long as they disclose them to the consumer. As long as they do so, she said, regulators have no authority to discipline agents. However, under federal housing and urban development regulations, referral fees are prohibited for anyone connected with a real estate closing. The rule applies to federally backed loans, which make up 97 percent of all real estate transactions.

Nina Bannister, a spokeswoman for Gallagher's office, said Gallagher would not comment. But, she said, Gallagher and other department officials are frustrated by the lack of action from Carr's office.



Dear Legislators, Friends and Members,
 
we would hereby like to invite you to our Annual Meeting on November 19/20, 2004, in the Quality Inn, Ocala, 3621 W. Silver Springs Blvd. (SR 40 ). We will have a very good program with interesting guest speakers. Please see details and driving directions at: http://www.ccfj.net/CCFJAnnMeet.htm or go to our website and click on the provided link.
 
We will present our H.U.G.S. award to our Legislator of the Year -- Representative Julio Robaina . We will hear from our future "Voice in Tallahassee" Jerry Melvin. While in office in Tallahassee -- until kicked out by term limits -- Jerry Melvin was well known as a champion for the elderly and homeowners. He sponsored our first Mandated Property Task Force Bill.
 
During the public meeting on Friday evening we will discuss last year's legislative session and the need for more legislative proposals and reforms for next year. Especially easier enforcement of the existing statutes -- and finally the creation of an Ombudsman's Office for homeowners' associations. It was well described in an article last week that was published in the Sun Sentinel -- headlined: Fairness is the goal
 
On Saturday morning we will have a workshop for CCFJ members and members of our allies, where we will discuss the suggestions for changes in detail and will work on finalizing legislative proposals. Good ideas to protect the welfare of owners are always welcome!
 
Please contact me for more detailed information and discounted hotel accommodations.
 
We are looking forward seeing you all in Ocala!
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 
Property Owners Association in the Villages (POA) 
Property Rights Florida (PRF)
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches (FHCGPB)

Dear Legislators,  Friends and Members,

 

after a lengthy telephone conversation with the very helpful staff of OPPAGA yesterday, I received an e-mail outlining the next steps of the review. In order to solve the problem of soliciting testimony, that would often require lengthy travels -- inconvenient especially for our elderly friends -- the decision has been made to create an interactive website where you all can easily file your grievances from your home. It will help to finish the review in a shorter time span. It seems that many of the complaints against the DBPR are going in similar directions. This new website will help all of us to air our grievances, but will allow OPPAGA to get an easier handle on the problems.

It will be important that this review is ready in time of the next legislative session, so that necessary improvements of the system can be discussed and hopefully enacted in the legislature.
 

I will inform you as soon as the new website is available on line. I think it's a good solution which enables everybody to participate. It definitely will solve the often heard complaint of not being able to be heard because of inability to travel.


Please read the below letter carefully, so you know what is intended with this review. We don't want a witch hunt, we want improvements that will help us in the future. Besides filing your grievances please make proposals for improvements as well. Your help will be very important for the success of this review!

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

OPPAGA has begun its review of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes. Our review will evaluate the division’s performance of its primary functions and will include an assessment of its processes for handling consumer complaints related to condominiums, as well as timeshares, mobile homes, and yacht- and shipbrokers. Our review will also identify opportunities for improving the division’s effectiveness in performing its primary functions, including complaint processing.  However, our review will not look at the merits of individual consumer complaints nor try to achieve resolution for those complaints. 
Although OPPAGA will not be taking public testimony, citizen input is very important to us. In addition to listening to the tapes of public testimony before the House Select Committee on Condominium Association Governance, we will be soliciting feedback from citizens to assist us in identifying specific areas of concern. For this purpose, we are developing a website to allow us to obtain formal input from citizens regarding the division’s performance. We expect to have this website completed in November and will contact you with the details about how the public can provide us with the information needed for our review.
We have also created a special mailbox to facilitate receipt of e-mail specific to this review.  Accordingly, any future correspondence should be sent directly to the project team at LSCMH@oppaga.fl.gov

Dear Governor, Senators, Representatives, Members and Friends,

 
the birthday of our great nation should be an excellent moment to think about past and future and what our great country is supposed to be all about: Independence, Freedom, Liberty and Democracy!
And the American Dream -- Our Own Home!
Please read my thoughts about these issues below, or at: http://www.ccfj.net/4thjuly04.htm
Please let's all work together to achieve these goals and right the obvious wrong.
 
Representative Julio Robaina and Senator Rudy Garcia will lead the charge during the next session to reform Florida's association laws in order to protect homeowners and condo-owners against the widespread abuses. Listen carefully to yesterday's talk show "On The Commons."  You can download and listen to the show at: http://www.ccfj.net/OTCJRobaina7304.html .
Thanks, Representative Robaina! You made it absolutely clear what is needed to do the right thing!
 
If you are an owner -- you're asked to help and support the cause. Reform doesn't come from complaining and sitting idle by when others try to do the necessary work. We can only win if we are helping each other.  With elections on the doorsteps: Support the candidates willing to support our cause!
 
As a board member: you're asked to finally realize who your friends really are and that you have accepted a fiduciary duty towards your neighbors to protect their welfare -- not to some industry partisans interested in the association funds!
 
And as a legislator: please listen to the needs of your constituents, who voted you in your office. Not to the industry partisans falsely claiming that they represent the owners as well. THEY ARE NOT! They are plainly representing their own bank accounts.
 
I'm a firm believer of "My Home Is My Castle." Let's work together on achieving this goal!
 
“God Bless America!”
 
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)
01 - 01 - 2004

Dear Governor, dear Legislators, dear Media Representatives, dear Friends and Members,
 
The new year has arrived and I wish all of you a prosperous 2004, health, fun and happiness!
 
But I would like as well to remind all of you that much work needs to be done in this coming year -- and the next legislative session. In my New Year's announcement I explained what owners in Florida's Mandated Properties are looking for and what is on our wish list for 2004.

  • Create a government agency with enforcement power regulating all mandated properties to protect consumers' rights. 
  • Eliminate and/or diminish foreclosures by mandatory associations.  
  • Protect our Constitutional, Vested and Contractual Rights as owners. 
Let's make it again: "Our Home Is Our Castle!" 
 
The meetings of the HOA Task Force and the House Select Committee On Condominium Association Governance have clearly shown that legislative reforms are desperately needed to protect the consumers in Florida. For further explanations please read my announcement at: 
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2004 : http://www.ccfj.net/NEWYEAR04.html
 
If we are all willing to work together it shouldn't be too difficult to find feasible solutions to tackle these issues.

All your help is very much appreciated!

Let's make 2004 a great year that will be known for the fact that consumer protection for homeowners is re-established in Florida. We all need to be able again to ask retirees with a clear conscience to move to Florida. 
 
Happy New Year! 
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) 


08 - 25 - 2003
Dear Members and Friends,

Our friend Karen Gottlieb needs help!
Please help a homeowner in need of support!
Only united we have a chance against the almighty industry. 
A developer with deep pockets tries with all methods to get what he wants - much to the disadvantage of the homeowners, citizens and manatees!
He tried idle threats, intimidation and a SLAPP suit!
Now he tries to convince the Commissioners of Broward County!
Fill the DANIA City Hall on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 at 7 PM 
and let them know that you support their NO - VOTE!
And if you can't make it in person, please make a call!
Just see announcement at : http://www.ccfj.net/DaniaHelphtml
HELP! HELP! HELP!

And despite what the Community Association Institute is trying to publish, not all of their members agree with the politics of the leadership. Please read: 
An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees of the Community Association Institute 
Have a great week!
Jan Bergemann
President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


03 - 13 - 2003
Dear members and friends, 

While we've attempted to advance a modest proposal to create a Mandated Property Reform Task Force to review laws related to deed restrictions and mandatory homeowners associations Senator Geller and other Senators continue to advance their own agenda.

As recently as Wednesday, March 12, 2003 Senator Geller rejected an attempt to have our bill heard before his committee citing a reluctance to create 'another study commission' to review laws which preserve the status quo of developers, builders, contractors and industry partisans. 

Instead, the good Senator has indicated a desire to forestall passage of Sb 1248 (to allow the bill to die in his committe of the whole), opting for a review or our proposal and laws related to mandatory homeowner associations and inadequate disclosure during real estate sales, by the Office of Public Policy and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) which will not be completed before the 2004 Legislative session. 

While homeowners rights will be put on the back burner for another year, under the guise of "Corporate Affairs" Senator Geller is advancing his own agenda to amend laws affecting CONDO's, COOPS, Mobilehome communities and, YES, mandatory homeowners associations in planned developments, i.e., adult and residential communities. 

Other Senators we might have counted on to vote favorably for our modest proposal have joined in this effort by approving a myriad of proposals affecting these communities.

While these 'small bites of the apple' seem insignificant it's the agenda of the stakeholders and industry partisans that acquires approval. 

However, one significant provision clarifies the relationship between Chapter 617 and 720 F.S. which is a question we've been asking since ss. 617.301-617.312 enacted in 1995 became Chapter 720 F.S. during the 2000 legislative session. 

The bill that will eventually pass muster in the Senate and House indicate that homeowners associations must be created as a not for profit corporation. That's good to know! 

However, the cross-over between these two laws will create as much confusion of the applicable sections and legal wrangling as the cross-over between Chapter 607 (for profit) and 617 (not for profit) created several years ago. 

No doubt, once again, this 'clarification' will enhance the legal profession to the detrimient of seniors and retiress enticed to relocate in a planned development, i.e., adult and residential community in the Sunshine State.

BTW, none of these 'corporate affairs' bills address the need to provide full disclosure to prospective purchasers prior to contract for sale as envisions by s. 689.26 Disclosure summary statement....and full disclosure of expenditures and receipts collected by a developer or owner pursuant to s. 689.265 F.S. 

So, who's running the show in Tallahassee? 

It sure as hell isn't the 'ordinary Citizens!' 

Please take time to browse through all of these bills and their relationship to each other before final passage to formulate your own opinions. 

Also, take time to read the staff analysis of Sb 592 advanced by this committee for Senator Geller, et al. 

                                                     *** Click on link below! ***

Do we really want to continue to entice seniors and retiress to relocate and reside in a deed restricted community with a mandatory homeowners association if our Legislative body isn't interested in protecting homeowners rights? 

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ
                          **************************** SEE BELOW ****************************
Senate Bill 592 - Corporate Affairs  - Click here to read!


12 - 04 - 2002
Dear members and friends, 

One of our members, Barbara, from the Villages, gave us a brief but detailed summary of the Sumter County Legislative Delegation meeting.Thanks Barbara!

Russ, provided his expertise re CDD's and our friend, Tom, from the FSHL provided testimony to the delegation about the same subject. 

Recently we activated a Community Development District (CDD) committee in the event members are interested in advocating meaningful reform and a Noise Abatement committee chaired by Trudy, our Secretary. 

With the help of Ron, Stu, Don Browning et al., the committee advanced their agenda to control airboat noise and exhaust emissions in Marion and Sumter counties and were received very well by the delegation and commissioners. 

Read their comments in this story:

Sumter County Legislative Delegation Meeting

Also, Marion County Commissioners adopted an ordinance to eliminate airboat noise and exhaust emmisions. We recognize that enforcement is usually a problem whenever an ordinance is adopted. We learned that lesson well after a homeoowners rights ordinance was adopted in Marion county. 

Therefore, we support the effort of our members to advance meaningful reform at the state level. 

Read the full story here:
County muffles noisy boats on local waterways 

Our thanks to Marion county commissioner's for adopting this ordinance unanimously. Please be sure to include our earlier endorsement of the ordinance, sent via e-mail to your offices, in the public record of the December 3, 2002 public hearing. Thank you. 

All in all, CCFJ was adequately represented at these meetings. This is very encouraging because we are building our statewide organization while advocating Public Participation in government and addressing issues of concern. 

We intend to continue to advance our Property Reform Task Force proposal. Barbara helped us in this effort by distributing our cover letter, 2003 version of the bill and the staff analysis from the 2002 session. 

Our next presentation will be to the Marion County Legislative Delegation. Their meeting is scheduled on December 6 on the campus of CCFC from 12-4 PM 

BTW, there has not been any advanced notice of the meeting as in past years and two hours has been eliminated but if you want to speak and/or make a presentation to the delegation please call Senator Anna Cowin's office in Leesburg to place your name on the agenda. 

The number is; (352) 315-9335 Ask for Alex. If not available, leave a message with your name, address, telephone number and subject of presentation. 

BTW, we believe this will be the Senator's last meeting as the chair of the delegation. We anticipate the election of a 'local' Marion county legislator as the new chairman of the delegation.

A special note to our friends; visit our Web site, sign our Guest Book and consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button. Remember, in UNITY there is STRENGTH! 

Come JOIN with us to achieve common goals and objectives. 

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


 
11 - 18 - 2002
Dear members and friends, 

The following includes several items of interest. 

ITEM #1

Destination Florida Commission Group Discussion
Chairman Douglas summarized the highlights of the day’s meeting.  He also addressed concerns raised in the public comment session.  He then appointed a committee (Commissioners Clarence McKee and John Ruffin) to work with Tom Reimers to address the concerns with respect to the construction lien laws and the homeowners association issues.  He specifically requested that the committee; 

(1) contact the Attorney General’s office, relate the circumstances and then ask them to assign someone to look into the construction lien law issues, and; 

(2) create an organizational chart showing the agencies that relate to the Commission. 

Peggy Bailey, a citizen, volunteered to assist the committee. He asked Commissioner McKee to report on the findings at the December 2 meeting in Jacksonville.

Closing Remarks 

Chairman Douglas thanked the commission and citizens for their attendance and input.  He reiterated several issues:

·        The interim report to the Governor is due November 15, 2002. Chairman Douglas will work with DOEA to formulate the report. 

·        Chairman Douglas and Secretary White will meet prior to December 2 meeting to review all the materials of today’s meeting. 
 

  • An executive summary will be prepared, marketing strategies of other states will be reviewed, and a summary/outline for the December 2 (Jacksonville) will be prepared in preparation for the “working” meeting.
  • Chairman Douglas and Secretary White will travel to Pensacola on November 25, 2002, to conduct a public comments meeting from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Other commissioners are not required to attend. 
READ the DFC published minutes and public presentations in their entirety at our Web site which the DFC did not included in its minutes:
Minutes Summary with Presentations

ITEM #2

Our friends in the St. Augustine Shores collected enough signatures to reach the necessary percentage to hand the petition to resign to the president of their HOA board. Well done! 

Now let's see if he feels obligated to follow the rules he was always so over-eager to enforce even if they really didn't exist?

READ THE STORY HERE! 
Homeowners hand Board President Petition to resign 

ITEM #3

During a recent CCFJ board of directors meeting two new sub-committees were created and one was retained to address concerns aluded to by our members and friends. These committees fall under the umbrella of our advocacy to protect homeowners rights. 

* The Community Development District (CDD) committee 
* The Noise Abatement committee
* Tax Review committee (retained)

Don't lose sight of the facts! 

We must draft meaningful reform related to a variety of issues and seek support of members of our Legislature before the 2003 session convenes in March in order to have bills filed to protect the rights of the Citizens of our state.

Visit our Web site to learn more about these committees, review other material and sign our Guest Book. Don't forget to consider clicking on that ever present JOIN button in order to help us achieve common goals and objectives. 

Finally, a WARNING! from our member, Henry:
                                                             *** SEE BELOW ***

The best to you and yours, 
Bob, 
Ocala, FL 
Public Relations - CCFJ Inc
************************** SEE BELOW ************************* 
BEWARE!!

FYI, Just In Time For The Holidays: Those cute little electronic greeting cards you occasionally get from friends may be a real problem.

The ones I'm speaking of are those where there's a link that says "[Some Name] has sent you a greeting card. Go here to get your greeting card".

There's a new card company called "FriendGreetings.com". When you get a card notification from them and click on the link, it will take you to their site. You will be notified that you have to install an ActiveX control in order to view the card. When you begin to install, the first thing that pops up is what is known as a "EULA" (End User License Agreement). It is very long, and you will not read it. They're counting on that. When you scroll to the bottom of it and click "Accept," you have agreed to the terms of the EULA.

Part of what you will have agreed to is to have monitoring/spyware software installed on your computer which will periodically report a vast array of data back to the card company. The other part that you've agreed to is to have the software send mail to EVERY SINGLE ADDRESS IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK.

In short, you've voluntarily agreed to install a virus-type product on your machine. This is not a good thing.

See: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2124528,00.html  for details.

Since there is no virus in the email, and since you're VOLUNTARILY agreeing to install the ActiveX component, VIRUS CHECKERS WILL NOT CATCH THIS.

Just a reminder: DO NOT OPEN EMAIL ATTACHMENTS when you are not expecting them, and DO NOT RUN ANYTHING FROM THE INTERNET WHICH REQUIRES A EULA AGREEMENT.

Click on this site to view information stating the above information is TRUE.
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Search Engine
Sincerely, 
Henry 

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For comments please send e-mail to : dispatch@ccfj.net