Posted 2-9-2004

I think it’s about time again to explain what the Community Association Institute really is all about:  A trade organization mostly representing the interest of attorneys specializing in issues of mandated properties. Please don’t believe the fairy tale that they are representing homeowners’ interests. The dwindling membership numbers of the CAI, according to their own web pages, show clearly that many homeowners and even other service providers realize that their interests definitely don’t agree with that of these lawyers. 

That’s why it’s so hard to understand why association boards still donate money to the CAI-FLA (Legislative Action Committee) fund. These are the people who will oppose any homeowner-friendly bill in the hallways of the Capitol in Tallahassee. In my opinion board members even violate their fiduciary duty by donating association dues to the CAI-FLA, considering they work against the interests of the homeowners who are paying these dues?

In a recent publication, attorney Curtis Ekmark, CAI-AZ, “urges associations to donate funds to fight proposed new legislation to weaken HOAs. We are asking that associations contribute as much as possible to this crucial effort.”

It would in my opinion definitely be more honest if he would just say: “We attorneys need homeowners’ money to fund a lobbyist to fight homeowner- friendly bills! The newly proposed legislation will cut into our income and will avoid many lawsuits, most important source of income of attorneys.”

Remember, the law firm of Ekmark & Ekmark was association attorney on record in the infamous foreclosures of Marie Brown and Richard Glassel at Gardens at Ventana Lakes HOA, which led to the shootings of board members as reported by 20/20.

But the CAI is well entrenched in Florida’s government and politics. The future designated Speaker of the House – Representative Marco Rubio (R) Distr.111 – Miami/Dade – is a member of the law firm of Becker and Poliakoff, the undisputed leader of Florida’s CAI. So is Joe Adams, a member of the latest HOA Task Force created by Governor Bush.  Adams found great support on this panel from Co-chair William Sklar, another CAI member. Both of them made sure that enough attorney-friendly proposals were worked into the task force recommendations.

And former CAI executive Richard Spears, author of the infamous OCHA letters (See: No More Foreclosure? + Homeowner Activists are disgruntled Radicals) was awarded with an appointment as the Chair of the Florida Commission of Ethics. Maybe he should start checking on his own ethics? So far he hasn’t even considered apologizing for his false statements made in these letters. His statement:  He relied on information given to him by CAI executives.

And please don’t forget, these are the same people who have been caught violating federal laws.  (See: Fuller vs. Becker & Poliakoff.)  Or look at the malpractice lawsuit filed by an association board against the law firm of Wean & Malchow (See: SOUTHCHASE PARCEL 45 COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC. ,VS. WEAN  & MALCHOW, P.A.)   Paul Wean is the Vice Chair of the CAI-FLA, the Legislative Action Committee of the Community Association Institute.

Do we need more foxes guarding the henhouse?

We think it’s high time that homeowners and their associations get their own voice in Tallahassee and we finally see homeowner-friendly bills enacted. We homeowners want peace in our communities -- and nicely maintained common areas. Our money shouldn’t be used to file lawsuits against each other – buying the association attorney a new Mercedes – whatever the outcome!

If you want homeowners and condo-owners living in associations to have real representation in Tallahassee, please donate to the fund created by Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. and our growing number of consumer allies. This fund will serve to hire a lobbyist in Tallahassee dedicated to serve the interests of the consumers (See: FUNDRAISER – OUR VOICE IN TALLAHASSEE) . And we will make sure that there is no conflict of interest!

This Alliance was created By CONSUMERS -- For CONSUMERS!

Make sure that some over-eager board members are not donating your dues to serve the interest of these CAI attorneys. Just ask your board members for information! AND TELL THEM “NO” – if necessary!

We are working on consumer-friendly legislation for owners in mandated properties. And we consumers are definitely able to represent ourselves!

And we are as well able to cast our votes in favor of the legislators willing to fight for our rights!