AN AFFIDAVIT MAKES WRONG RIGHT!
MINIMUM IN THE OPINION OF THE DIVISION
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published January 30, 2008
Until about last week everybody who had read FS 718.112(2)(d)(3) and FAC 61B-23.0021(7) was under the impression that format and contents of the so called information sheet that has to be included in the second election notice is clearly defined by Florida Administrative Code (quote): "...information sheet which may describe the candidate's background, education, and qualifications as well as other factors.. ".
But that was only the interpretation of people who read these rules using common sense. Wait until attorneys and the DIVISION'S Fort Lauderdale Bureau of Compliance get their hands on these rules and interpret the "REAL MEANING" of these rules.
Never forget the DIVISION'S RULE OF THUMB:
Rule No. 1: The association board is always right!
Rule No. 2: If the association board is not right, Rule No. 1 applies!
Rule No. 3: The owner is only right if it can't be avoided and the DIVISION is proven wrong!
In a recent second election notice of THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE PLAZA OF BAL HARBOUR CONDOMINIUM, INC. this flyer was included:
To me -- and many others -- it's clearly a flyer asking the owners to re-elect the sitting board. You even have to decipher the signature in order to find out which "candidate" created this flyer. The required content -- background, education, and qualifications -- is clearly missing and you are hard pressed to consider this an "information" sheet. The only information contained is: "Vote for the sitting board -- they did a good job!" That may be their opinion, but I guess not everybody thinks so because one owner filed a complaint with the DIVISION, and on first look they stopped the election because of the violation of the Condo Act and FAC 61B-23.0021(7).
This flyer was clearly not a candidate sheet in the meaning of the rules, it didn't even promote the candidacy of a specific candidate but clearly endorses a group. I can't find any information about the candidate's background, education, and qualifications -- if you can even find out who the candidate really is! You have to take a close look at the signature, and the signee even claims that he didn't sign the flyer. Question: Who created something that's supposed to look like a signature?
All was fine, until association attorney Robert Blanch from the law firm Siegfried, Rivera, Lerner, De La Torre & Sobel got his hands on the interpretation and had the signee of the flyer, Mark Litvak, who even admits that he didn't sign the flyer (signed in his absence and on his behalf), state in an affidavit that this document was not supposed to be an endorsement of the board by the association of the candidates. Actually, the people listed on the flyer are all but one the sitting board members, who -- believe it or not -- don't endorse themselves, according to the affidavit! You really have to read the affidavit yourself in order to believe that somebody was actually willing to sign such a document full of contradicting statements.
But this affidavit, together with a letter from attorney Robert Blanch, gave Investigation Specialist Henry J. Carroll from the Ft. Lauderdale Bureau of Compliance enough excuses to close the case. In a letter dated January 2, 2008, Carroll states (quote): "No violation of the Condominium Act has been demonstrated and the Division is unable to consider this matter further."
I have always wondered who makes these kind of decisions in the DIVISION. They sure don't make any sense whatsoever and just show that the DIVISION is more inclined to find excuses for boards and community managers, who commit violations, than to enforce the existing statutes and rules. A big part of the problems we see in our associations can be traced back to the obvious unwillingness of the DIVISION to enforce rules and statutes!