Advisory Council On Condominiums

Second Meeting


By Jan Bergemann

Published February 23, 2005


Dear Members Of The Condo Advisory Council,


It is nice to see you will have the second meeting on Thursday, February 24, in Tallahassee.  I would like to make a few remarks in regard to the approach of this council meeting.  So far, very little has been achieved and it seems very obvious that the chairman has his own agenda.  In my personal opinion, it is unlucky that a member of the same law firm that heavily opposed the bill creating this council was awarded with being elected chairman of this council.  I guess it can only happen in Florida?  And if another member of this law firm publicly states that the newly appointed condo ombudsman is a catastrophe, then we all know where we stand!


As to the Condo Ombudsman:  Many condo owners feel that the creation of the Ombudsman Office was a big step in the right direction.  There are most likely more steps to come, despite the opposition of certain industry members.  Even without staff and the necessary resources, Dr. Rizzo has already started to make an impact and has gotten lots of support from owners.  (See a letter attached below!)  We know that especially some attorneys don't like his existence, since they obviously don't like to see their actions monitored, especially during association election time.  Please be advised that these provisions in the statutes were created because of complaints from many condo owners, who compared their election process with Banana Republics.  And it is pretty obvious that certain attorneys helped to create this impression.


So, please don't take letters of complaints from certain attorneys too serious. If they ran the elections as required by Florida Statutes, it wouldn't be necessary to monitor the elections.


There is no doubt that there is big demand for insurance reforms.  And suggestions are welcome to find solutions for the problems many condo owners faced after last year's hurricanes. There are already certain bills pending trying to deal with this problem.  But creating legislation giving board members emergency powers that would make any dictatorship proud is definitely not the right approach.  You might know that owners have heavily criticized decisions of boards in many condominiums, some even leading to recalls. Giving these boards nearly unlimited power is in my opinion ridiculous! Owners all over the state are in the moment trying to push for legislation to level the playing field. Actually, when I read the proposal, I wasn't sure if the author was really serious.

The existing system, written by these same attorneys, has definitely failed the owners in condo and homeowners' associations.

And since the attorneys love to use polls to make a point, how about this one from the website of the Community Associations Institute:

In general, would you recommend community association living to a friend?

Yes                              [  9.1%]

No                               [ 86.9%]

Depends on the friend    [  4.0%]

Recent town hall meetings have shown that there are lots of problems in these associations.  Last Saturday in Plantation, Florida only one participant out of more than 400 stated to have no problems in her association.  Everybody else was there to ask questions regarding many problems.


Let's get into the real discussion and forget about the fairy tale published by the service providers that “only a few disgruntled owners” are unhappy!  We have a serious problem and it is about time for all of us to face the music.


It is about time that the members of the council will go public and go to the areas where you find many condos and the people having the problems. They are willing to speak up; the interest is there!  Last Saturday in Plantation was a very good example that owners and board members were asking questions and wanted answers. The Condo Advisory Council was created to find the problems  -- and to propose solutions to solve these problems. You will not succeed by holding meetings in areas where there are very few condos!


The owners are the citizens with a vested interest, not law firms or other service providers. The Condo Advisory Council members were appointed to help the legislature find solutions to improve a flawed system, not to promote personal agendas of the council members.

So much said, please get busy and do the work that the Florida legislature created this council to do.

FS 718.50151

(2)  The functions of the advisory council shall be to:

(a)  Receive, from the public, input regarding issues of concern with respect to condominiums and recommendations for changes in the condominium law. The issues that the council shall consider include, but are not limited to, the rights and responsibilities of the unit owners in relation to the rights and responsibilities of the association.

(b)  Review, evaluate, and advise the division concerning revisions and adoption of rules affecting condominiums.

(c)  Recommend improvements, if needed, in the education programs offered by the division.


I wish you all a successful meeting and hope that the public will finally be informed and made part of the deliberations!


Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


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)

Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 6:22 AM

Subject: Board Mandate for installation of hurricane shutters to unit owners rescinded

After a long grueling fight against the Palm Beach House Condo Association against having to install hurricane shutters in unit members condos, and with the aid of Jeb Bush's new Ombudsman, Virgil Rizzo, giving me assistance against such a mandate from the association without owner voting approval, the PBH Board of Directors by a 9-0 vote officially rescinded their foolish mandate last night (02-21-05)  which went against the State Statutes regarding this matter. Without Mr. Rizzo's expert advice and assistance, the unit members and I at the Palm Beach House could not have succeeded  in fighting the Board and their lawyers concerning this unlawful Mandate. 

Yours truly,  Jack Smith