"Don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house."



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

Published March 1, 2010


Many board members and managers of community associations are really working hard to make a laughing stock out of themselves. The latest story of the "folks in charge" making little or no sense happened in SUMMERFIELD/RIVERWALK VILLAGE ASSOCIATION, INC. in Bradenton.


And the media is having a field day:


It seems the words "SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT" are virtually unknown in this community and especially among the members of its "leadership." 


Alan Roth, a District 1 supervisor whose wife is on the Summerfield/Riverwalk Homeowners Association's deed compliance committee, was totally upset when called upon the fact that his lawn was violating the same rules as the owner who got fined $1,600 for his lawn violation. That really didn't sit well with Roth -- and he more or less blamed the owner who took the pictures showing his violations. Instead of acknowledging his own violations, Roth blamed the person who got fined and came up with the disingenuous statement: “If you don’t like the rules of any club, join another club.” 


My suggestion sounds a little different: "If your club is run by morons, kick out the morons!"


Why is it that many board members always think that the rules only apply to the lowly homeowners, but not to the so-called leadership?

Incidents like this are pretty common in community associations since Florida failed to create any regulation for the estimated 2.5 million homes within mandatory homeowners' associations (See OPPAGA REPORT). 


The icing on the cake in this case was supplied by Cynthia Wills, CMCA, AMS, Director of Community Associations. When the owner, who was fined $1,600, showed up in front of the kangaroo court with the fancy name of "DEED COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE" with witnesses to defend her case, two of these witnesses were kicked out because "they were not homeowners." Coming back to following rules, the rules don't say that witnesses have to be deeded homeowners. Meaning these folks are not only violating their own rules, they are as well making up rules when it fits their purpose. 


The owner, rightfully upset that her witnesses were kicked out dared to ask Manager Wills for the rules that allowed her witnesses to be kicked out. Since there were no such rules in place, Wills came up with a response that would have most likely made a second grader proud:

From: [email protected]
Sent: 2/25/2010 3:49:14 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: RE: Request for Clarification 3rd request


By the very fact that a homeowners association is not a public entity, but rather a private entity, makes meetings of that association private.  It is not in the documents.


Cynthia Wills, CMCA, AMS

Director of Community Associations

8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202

941-907-0202  phone   941-907-0211  fax

[email protected]

Monday - Thursday, 7:00 am - 6:00 pm


That surely leaves us all with one important unanswered question: "Shouldn't the members of the Board and the Compliance Committee be the first ones to be in compliance with the rules?"


This surely isn't the first time that I have heard complaints about Cynthia Wills, who has been described as “arrogant” by more than one owner. Actually, one owner described her as "the Queen Bee using the association as her kingdom, treating homeowners like her serfs!"


Wills' management style has created a rash of resignations in "Town Hall". Employees "resigning" from Town Hall called her style "abusive, cruel and harassing." The "OPEN LETTER" speaks for itself.  It was sent to IDA on December 10, 2009 by one of the employees who resigned. 


"Making up rules" seems to be only too common with this association's board and management. They already ran afoul with the Commission on Human Relations ("FCHR"). Cynthia Wills was the named defendant in a LAW-SUIT filed by the Florida Attorney General. The lawsuit alleged that defendants engaged in discriminatory housing practices in violation of § 760.37, Florida Statutes (2006), based on interference, coercion, or intimidation. The defendants settled the lawsuit out of court.


This case started out with a notice of violation of the "Business on Premises" rule. The notice stated the rule "does not permit a regular employee working out of the home." Actually, they only created the rule -- retroactively -- when they found out that such a rule didn't exist and they really had no rule disallowing a regular employee.


Imagine you moved -- by mistake -- into one of these communities where the leadership thinks that they can act as dictators. Isn't that a horrible thought? 


Add the fact that Representatives Ambler (H 115) and Sachs and Senator Fasano (H1317/S1196) are pushing bills that would allow again the enforcement of fines, levied by these kangaroo courts, using liens and foreclosure.


That surely opens up the question: 

Where do we have the bigger morons: In our community associations or in Tallahassee?


Is the Florida air causing these mental breakdowns –

or are we just living in a big loony bin?