Opinion By Jan Bergemann
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
February 24, 2018
Representative George Moraitis is sponsoring another
anti-owner community association bill (HB
841) that will do nothing but create more arbitration cases and
lawsuits. He is selling his bill as a tool to clarify last year's
Condo Reform Bill HB 1237, but in reality it will destroy
most of the progress made last year with this bill.
A group of members
of the Miami
Condo Reform Group
protesting in front of the office of Representative
Jose Oliva -- asking him -- and all other
Florida legislators -- to VOTE NO ON HB 841 -- an
anti-owner community association bill sponsored by
Representative George Moraitis.
The problem is in the wording of the provisions this
bill is trying to "amend". It actually creates more confusion
than clarification and even contains a provision that would allow board
members to do business behind closed doors -- by Internet.
We have tried to explain it to him -- and our
lobbyist Richard Pinsky spoke against the bill, pointing out many of the
serious problems contained in the bill. We -- representatives of
owner-advocacy groups -- tried to make appointments with him, but he had
no time to meet with us, while Travis Moore and Peter Dunbar,
representing special interest, have an open door with him.
Barbara Stage, Esq. and I were in Tallahassee on
January 30 and 31, only to be told by Moraitis' legislative aid
Kassie Satterly that he
has no time to meet with us. So we sat down with Kassie Satterly and
discussed ll the flaws of the bill -- and even gave her wording to
repair the flaws in this bill. Our requests were plainly ignored.
The same happened to members of the Miami
Condo Reform Group who as well attempted to make appointments with
Representative Moraitis, trying to explain their opposition to this
horrible bill. Moraitis runs his bill to the House committees without
even considering the damage his bill will do to members of Florida
Considering all the attempts made to point out the
opposition of owners towards his bill, it was more than surprising that
Moraitis claimed in an e-mail that he wasn't aware that owners'
advocates opposed his bill. WAS HE SERIOUS?
Please read the e-mail exchanges after
Representative Moraitis obviously read one e-mail in opposition to his
bill -- making him aware that members of the Miami
Condo Reform Group will
stage a protest at Representative Jose Oliva's office asking him and
other legislators to VOTE NO ON HB 841.
the e-mail exchange:
From: Maryin Vargas [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 10:40 AM
Subject: Re: Press Release Peaceful Condominium Protest in
front of Representative Jose Oliva's Office today, 02/22/17
@ 7 PM
TODAY: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2018 at 7 pm at3798 West 12th
Avenue Hialeah, FL 33012
Emergency Protest against
Bill HB 841
TELL YOUR LEGISLATORS TO VOTE NO
We are against the changes being made to the Condominium
Law. These changes will set us back from what was
accomplished in the last Legislative Session. We will be at
Representative Jose Oliva’s office denouncing this complete
disregard for Condominium Owners protections.
Feb 22, 2018, at 6:21 PM, Moraitis, George <George.Moraitis@myfloridahouse.gov>
Good afternoon Ms. Vargas,
I was not aware of Reform Florida’s opposition to HB841
until now. I admired and supported Representative Diaz’s
work last year and the changes we are making this year do
not undo HB1237, but rather address the implementation of
many of its provisions which is common with such a large
scale reform. I am writing to you in follow up to your call
with my office to address the two areas of concern
expressed: the website deadline extension and conflicts of
The website deadline was extended until January 1, 2019 in
response to an overwhelming number of communities who
requested this extension. I support the requirement for a
website for large associations and HB841 maintains the
requirement for associations to develop and maintain a
website with only a few months of additional time.
On the issue of conflicts of interest, the Florida Bar
regulates conflicts of interest by attorneys representing
more than one party. To be clear, the Bar’s ethics rules
already prohibit conflicts when the parties are adverse.
This would be the case when an association and its
management company are in litigation with each other or are
negotiating their contract. However, in many instances it is
appropriate for the same attorney to represent both a
condominium association and its management company. An
example would be if there was an insurance claim by the
association against its insurer for property damage. Because
the Florida Bar ethics rules regulate attorney conflicts and
because of some of the practical problems with the current
language we have removed this provision from the statute.
I am available to discuss this further and hope that you can
support this legislation moving forward.
Representative George Moraitis
Florida House of Representatives, District 93
2132 East Oakland Park Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33306
(954) 762-3757 District Office
(850) 717-5093 Tallahassee Office
From: Maryin Vargas [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:32 PM
To: Moraitis, George
Cc: [LONG LIST OF EMAILS]
Subject: Press Release Peaceful Condominium Protest in front
of Representative Jose Oliva's Office today, 02/22/17 @ 7 PM
Unfortunately, Representative Moraitis this should be an
exception not the rule if there are communities that need an
extension they should go thru DBPR to get an exception.
In regards to the Florida Bar we have seen time and time
again how inept they are at regulating their own members
especially when it comes to condominiums. They can’t be
allowed such latitude when peoples homes are on the line.
The provision needs to stay there is too much risk of quid
pro quo when an association and property management company
have the same attorney. The lines are too blurred on what
favors may be happening behind the scenes.
From: Jan [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 8:26 PM
To: 'Maryin Vargas'; 'Moraitis, George'
We – and representatives from the Miami Condo Reform Group
-- were in Tallahassee on January 30 and 31. We tried to get
an appointment to meet with you to explain our serious
concerns regarding your bill HB 841. We were told that you
have no time to meet with us despite various attempts, so we
explained all our concerns, with detailed explanations, to
your legislative aid Kassie Satterly. We send e-mails with
amended wording asking you to please consider our changes.
The bill in the current form, especially the recall and
fining provisions, are anti-owner and create nothing but
lawsuits as shown in the lawsuit regarding record requests
you received earlier, filed by a member of the Becker &
Poliakoff law firm. Please note that the folks supporting
your bill in the moment are representatives of special
interest, interested in creating more money-making
Most likely the communities behind the request to extend the
deadline for creating a website with records are the same
communities that are paying Becker & Poliakoff for lobbying
(a violation of FS 718) to extend the deadline for
retro-fitting the sprinkler-systems in high-rises, despite
the fact that that was known to happen for more than 12
Your bill, supported for example by Becker & Poliakoff
(Travis Moore, CAI), is strengthening their position and
actually destroys some of the good intentions of last year’s
Condo Reform Bill HB 1237 sponsored by Representative Jose
In its momentary wording the bill is
unacceptable for homeowners and condo owners and we will
strongly protest against this bill.
We are gladly discussing with you the changes necessary to
make the bill acceptable for us owners.
Please let us know and our lobbyist Richard Pinsky will
contact you, discussing much needed changes to the bill.
Representative Moraitis surely can't claim any longer that he isn't
aware that his bill faces serious opposition by owners' advocacy groups!