|DBPR CLAIMS: HIDDEN RECORDS ARE PUBLIC|
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published September 27, 2011
As long as I can remember, board members and owners had an easy way to find out about the complaint history of a CAM (community association manager) they wanted to hire -- or had on their short list of contacting for a bid. All they had to do was go to the DBPR website -- Search License by Name -- and check the license history of each CAM.
After clicking View License Complaint all complaints ever filed against a licensed CAM were displayed -- creating a complete complaint history -- not only the cases where the DBPR found a cause for punishment. And as we all know: "Where there's smoke, there's fire!"
The DBPR -- in its infinite wisdom -- removed all complaints from public view, leaving only the ones where probable cause was found. That change of policy removed in some cases more than half of all the complaints listed before. Add to it the fact that the DBPR Division of Professions has a reputation of trying to protect the professionals -- many valid complaints were closed with a note of "Insufficient evidence" -- it is pretty obvious that as well many valid complaints were removed from public view!
I'm not quite sure if removing complaints against licensed professionals from public view goes along with Governor Rick Scott's policy: "FLORIDA HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW -- HOLDING GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE." But it wouldn't be the first time our esteemed leaders in Tallahassee say one thing but do the opposite!
is the excuse sent to me by Tim
I'm still wondering: How can someone make a public record request if he/she doesn't know if such a record exists in the first place?
This is the language the DBPR posted on its website:
When asking more questions -- I found that new policy very confusing, to say the least -- I received more answers and explanations from Tim Vaccaro. See below:
The only way to find the complete list of all complaints filed against any individual CAM is by making a PUBLIC RECORD REQUEST [Pursuant to Chapter 119.07(4), Florida Statutes] requesting any and all documents regarding complaints against the specific licensee.
Option 1: If there are no complaints on record the DBPR will definitely tell you so.
Option 2: If there are any complaints filed -- hidden from public view or not -- the DBPR has to provide the complete complaint files of ALL complaints -- not only the ones displayed on their website.
According to the responses I received from the DBPR, this is what you have to do to get a complete complaint history of any individual CAM:
Send an e-mail to the DBPR -- Division of Professions:
Write in the SUBJECT LINE: Public Records Request Pursuant to Chapter 119.07(4), Florida Statutes
State the Name and the License Number of the CAM you are inquiring about and state that you want all records available in regard to all complaints ever filed against this individual.
This will definitely give you the intended result -- or a response from the DBPR claiming that no complaints were filed against this CAM.
We'll see where this is going!
IMPORTANT: PART II
Where this is going? This is going to cost you money. The first board members and owners making public record requests received invoices, instead of the requested records. The invoices I saw so far range in price from a nice dinner for two at a Carrabba's Italian Restaurant up to a dinner at one of the fancy restaurants at Miami's South Beach.
explanation from Tim Vaccaro, DBPR
Here is the solution if you don't want to spend money, but want to know what the CAM you want to hire is all about:
Following this How-To suggestion means: You'll get the info you wanted -- without spending a dime.
Don't forget: Florida Statutes (FS 720.3055(2)(a)1. + FS 718.3026(2)(a)) don't require a competitive bidding process for management services.