Fort Lauderdale, Florida

An Opinion By Jan Bergemann

Published Monday, September 5, 2005

The agenda clearly shows the actual intent of the people responsible for setting up the meeting: 'Since the Council is forced to listen to the public input as required by law, we pick a date where many of the interested citizens are still on vacation from Labor Day, and participation will therefore be much less. We don't want anything to happen like in October 2003, where hundreds of condo-owners gathered in Davie at the hearing of the House Select Committee on Condominiums to demand changes in condo laws.'

That may be the thinking somewhere along the lines?

Guess another public outcry like the one in Davie, Florida would be too embarrassing for the specialized attorneys who always claim that just a few "disgruntled" owners are unhappy. It seems like the organizers hope that all the owners will show up to the public session on Wednesday evening, so they can take care of their "little" business the next morning -- more or less unofficially excluding the public.

Please be aware that the real interesting issues, that really concern all owners in associations -- are on the agenda for Thursday morning. See: AGENDA!

The Council wants to talk with the Condo Ombudsman -- again! Too many public ears were listening in Miami? And since the latest “Office Of Condominium Ombudsman Quarterly Report” was already strongly opposed by Donna Berger, (another Becker & Poliakoff P.A. attorney), we already know more or less what Joe Adams will have to say. 


Talking about Council Chairman Joe Adams? 

The condo owner, who had already filed a complaint against Joe Adams with the Florida Ethics Commission in June, amended his complaint and gave a more detailed description of the alleged ethics violations. Interesting reading!

Anyway, I'm not sure what to think of whoever appointed Joe Adams to the Council, resulting in his being the chairman of a panel that is supposed to hear public input from condo unit owners. Many of these owners are intimidated when they hear that the chairman is a member of the law firm that handles the legal affairs of their community -- the association they want to complain about. Quite a few already backed away from speaking up -- afraid of retaliation. I don't think this was the "legislative intent" when creating this panel.


If you go to the meeting to make your opinion known, please take along a written presentation to attach to the official minutes.  Otherwise, it could very well happen that the Council minutes give a totally different interpretation of what you actually said -- if The Powers That Be didn't really like what you had to say!


And for all the homeowners who are permanently complaining about lack of enforcement and the lack of an official place to turn to for homeowners living in associations: Please come to the meeting. Ask the Council to include in their legislative recommendations the protection of homeowners living in homeowners' associations, by giving the Ombudsman and a government agency with enforcement powers jurisdiction over these associations. All owners living in associations should have equal rights. Even if this is a Council for condos, this recommendation could easily be included in their legislative proposals.




Look at this very important issue listed among the Agenda items for Thursday morning:

(5)               New Business

(b)  Council’s Report to Legislature

                                                              i.      Division

                                                            ii.      Legislative Recommendation


This is the most important part, because here it will clearly show whether the powers running the Council are willing to consider the input of the many public presentations during the past meetings -- or whether they are just pushing their own personal agenda as they have before! 

This is the reason why it is important that many condo owners and homeowners will be present on Thursday morning. This panel needs a watchdog -- and the most efficient watchdogs are interested citizens sitting in the audience. You can surely let the Council members know that you are unhappy -- in case they are pulling some stunts!

Public participation is very important! If our legislators see the interest in these issues they are more inclined to help us to create the necessary legislative reforms.


Be there and be heard! The time for hiding behind closed doors is over! It's high time to go to the meetings and make your voice heard! 


If you can go Wednesday and Thursday -- go! But if you can only make it one day, go Thursday morning. 


It's time for the watchdogs to take a stand!