Mission Accomplished!

Now Let's Kill The Council!

An Opinion By Jan Bergemann

President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published Monday, July 24, 2006


It seems that The Powers That Be think that it's now time to kill the Advisory Council On Condominiums after some of its members have accomplished their main goals:  To kill the effectiveness of the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman and to render this Council useless.


The 2004 Florida Legislature had created the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman and the Advisory Council On Condominiums.  These provisions were against the will of the specialized attorneys that heavily opposed condo bill HB 1223, sponsored by House Representative Julio Robaina. 


When these two provisions passed as part of the big association bill SB 1184, these attorneys quickly changed tactics.  Using their connections in the Florida Legislature, they made sure that their key people were appointed to the Council.  Now they were in position to render the Council ineffective as a tool for consumer proposals, while fighting the Condo Ombudsman by using every method – ethical or not!


Attorney Joe Adams of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff P.A. used his influence as the chair of the Council to start a smear campaign against the Condo Ombudsman in order to remove him from office. The way some attorneys are doing business they sure don't like anybody in official capacity that will look over their shoulders -- and dare to speak up about the wrongdoings!


Adams' ways of doing business as chair of the Council caused a condo owner to file an ethics complaint against him. Despite very strong facts, the Commission on Ethics found no probable cause. Nobody involved was too surprised about that decision -- just check out the statistics of the Commission! It seems the word "Ethics" is not very high on Florida's priority list!


Ever since January 2006 the Council hasn’t published any more meeting minutes, despite having met three times for  "public" meetings.  Why should the condo owners, who pay for these meetings, know what's being discussed? 


Remember how the Council harped on “alleged problems” with Dr. Rizzo?  Since Governor Bush fired Ombudsman Virgil Rizzo on June 1, 2006, it seems the attorneys have run out of personal agenda issues.  Now they have switched to the mode of working to kill the Council.  (History repeats itself, as the service providers already killed the first Condo Advisory Council in the early 1990’s) They don't want to hear public input that makes it obvious that their fairy tale of just a few "unlucky" owners being "disgruntled" is far from the truth.


Holding the key positions on the Council, these attorneys obviously haven't figured out what the legislative intent was for creating this Council.  Intent was to listen to public input and propose improvements to the existing laws and rules, according to the requests of the public, not the personal agenda of the attorneys and service providers!


The 2005 Report was a clear show of the real intentions of the Council. Despite many public speakers’ complaints about the ineffectiveness of the DBPR and the problems with lack of widespread education, this report did everything to cover up the real problems the Council members heard about! The legislative proposals made in this report were not made based on public input, but on what the attorneys like to see enacted -- for their own personal gain! 


This Council shows how bad appointees can destroy a good concept that was supposed to help Florida's condo owners!


Three seats on the council are up for new appointments -- latest on October 1, 2006.   The Governor, the Speaker, and the Senate President need to make their decisions before they finally leave office!  Florida's condo owners will easily determine from the appointments they make whether or not these three officials care about their constituents -- or the bank accounts of the service providers. For much too long Florida's government executives have catered to the welfare of these service providers.


What sort of legacy will be left by Governor Jeb Bush, the Speaker of the House Allan Bense, and Senate President Tom Lee?


Allowing attorneys to lobby for their own bank accounts by using condo owners' money -- that has been the sad situation for too many years.  


Will we see them allow more of the same nonsense we’ve seen during the last two years?