An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published September 24, 2009

The DBPR knowingly lied to citizens -- in writing -- and the government officials we elected to watch the shop don't care.  They are too busy with their campaigns running for higher office. 

For many months the DBPR has sent out letters and e-mails claiming that the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers (RCCAM) is making the decisions in regard to complaints against community association managers and issuing licenses to people who have been caught working as CAMs without a license.

Even if Tim Vaccaro, Director of the Division of Professions, is trying to explain it as an innocent mistake -- I surely can't buy that! The reasons behind these knowingly false explanations given to citizens are very obvious: The DBPR knows full well about the huge distaste of many citizens regarding the lack of enforcement of rules against CAMs constantly violating Florida statutes and/or issuing licenses to people who got caught working without one. Not without reason, Florida 's legislators added in 2008 this sentence to FS 468.433(2):

(b)  The department may refuse to certify an applicant only if:

3.  The applicant is found to have provided management services requiring licensure without the requisite license.

Adding this provision was caused by the fact that many of the folks knew they could always get a license even after they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar!


So, in order to cover up that these decisions were being made behind closed doors by some DBPR employees, the DBPR sent out letters and e-mails explaining that these decisions are made by the RCCAM -- a Council that has two consumer advocates as council members -- at a public meeting. This is in my opinion a willful attempt to mislead and deceive the public. Nobody in the Division can be stupid enough to not know the proper procedure.


And it being a misunderstanding or an innocent mistake is really hard to swallow since the language was very clear and precise.


Here is an example from an e-mail dated 8-20-2009 sent by Freda Harris, Management Review Specialist in the Division of Regulation (quote): "However, the council may review applications on an individual basis and may issue a license to an individual who was previously found to practice without a proper license. In the case of Ms. Fitzgerald the council reviewed her application and it was approved."


This statement leaves absolutely no doubt about the procedure that led to the issuing of a CAM license by the Division to an individual who was before found guilty of working without a license -- despite the above provision in the Florida statutes.


I would have possibly accepted the explanation of Tim Vaccaro as it being an innocent mistake, if I wouldn't have gotten a letter from Freda Harris on June 22, 2009, giving me this explanation regarding a CAM complaint I had filed against CAM Julie Marr:

Per Section 455.225(10), Florida Statutes, unless this complaint regards an unlicensed individual or a community association manager, it is confidential and exempt from disclosure at this time; however, once the investigation is complete, your case will go before the regulatory board. If the regulatory board determines that probable cause exists, meaning they believe a violation has occurred, then 10 days later your case will become public record. Therefore, unless and until probable cause is found, the department cannot disclose your complaint or the investigation.


After confirming with two members of the RCCAM that such a procedure as described in this letter doesn't exist at all, I sent a letter to DBPR Secretary Charles Drago, dated July 3, 2009,(See: CCFJ LETTER TO SECRETARY DRAGO: MISLEADING INFORMATION) explaining the false information and asking him to make the necessary changes to avoid this misinformation from being sent out. 


On July 9, 2009 I did send another letter by e-mail to Freda Harris (See: CCFJ LETTER TO FREDA HARRIS (DBPR) attaching the letter that was mailed to Secretary Drago (see above) with further explanations as to the correct procedure.


Latest then it stopped being an innocent mistake sending out this false information. 


Latest now Freda Harris and the Division should have gotten the message that they are supplying false information -- and should have corrected it. Not so! They may have revised one of their form letters, as Tim Vaccaro claimed, but that was it. From there on it was either incompetence or unwillingness to correct the mistakes. 


But the same Freda Harris sent out on August 20, 2009 the above info -- claiming that the RCCAM made the decision. 


Being curious, I sent a public record request to the DBPR asking for the minutes of the RCCAM meeting where this decision was made. Remember SUNSHINE LAW? If there was such a meeting, as Ms. Harris claimed, minutes should exist.


That started a chain of e-mail exchanges, starting with an e-mail sent to me by Tony Spivey, the 

Executive Director of the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers. In his e-mail he tries to explain that minutes "do not specifically address decisions regarding applications for licensure or disciplinary action, because those functions are performed by the department, not the Council." In other words: Such minutes do not exist because the Council is not even dealing with these kinds of issues. (By the way, Mr. Spivey had been copied with the above described e-mail exchanges in June 2009.)


It followed an exchange of e-mails with Tim Vaccaro, Director of the Division of Professions. In my response I made it very clear that this deceptive practice has to stop. But when no positive responses were forthcoming from the Division to remedy the situation, I e-mailed the following letter to Tim Vaccaro:

From: Jan Bergemann [mailto:janberg@att.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 12:15 PM
To: Vaccaro, Tim
Cc: Olson, Maureen; Liem, Charlie; Drago, Chuck; Spivey, Tony


Dear Mr. Vaccaro,

Just one simple question: If the letter was updated in June of 2009, why are letters with the same false information still being sent out?

Sorry, but this will not do it! With all due respect, your assurances are plainly not acceptable. This is the typical way the DBPR is doing business -- and it has to stop. Period! Your actions are detrimental to Florida 's citizens and taxpayers.

If that "assurance" is all you can do I will go public with it. Let's see what the elected officials have to say about it?


You are not elected, but legislators and your boss -- the Governor -- are elected officials!


Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.


I think that Florida's citizens have the right to be informed about the correct procedures on how their complaints are handled. Especially a government agency has the obligation to be precise and accurate -- without trying to cover up their weird decisions made behind closed doors.


We can't elect the DBPR executives - most likely none of them would get elected anyway -- but we are electing the politicians.  And they prove over and over again that they absolutely don't care about the welfare of their constituents. We should think twice before casting our vote for them ever again. They are really responsible for the failure of the DBPR to regulate professions and businesses and to protect Florida 's citizens! They could have long ago stopped this agency from running wild!



Make the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers a full-fledged BOARD. That will surely stop the weird decisions made by DBPR employees behind closed doors! Florida's citizens have the right to TRANSPARENCY of the system, especially when the system is financed by their tax dollars!