03/26/20 ELECTION MEETING: SYNOPSIS AND COMMENTARY BY VICKI ROBERTS WITH ASSISTANCE FROM ARTHUR ANDELSON
Posted March 27, 2020. Your Editor provides the following synopsis of the March 26, 2020 Election meeting with commentary indicated in bold blue.
[Editor’s note: Let’s begin with the statements by Board Members Jerry Dinerman and Marion Weil at the last BOD meeting of March 18, 2020 and my commentary on those statements:
“Jerry: election night is a residents’ meeting, not a Board meeting. Other than the election, the annual residents’ meeting is being postponed until further notice. Marion: that’s reasonable.
[Editor’s note: was there a board vote on that? We sure didn’t hear one today. Just don’t forget about us residents until the 2021 annual residents’ meeting. It sounds as if Jerry was making a motion to suspend the annual residents’ meeting until further notice and Marion was Seconding the motion, but there was no vote. Marion’s statement of “that’s reasonable” was her stamp of approval and her unilateral decree on the matter. Other than that, she ran a very good meeting.]”
So, according to the last board meeting, Jerry postponed the annual residents’ meeting and Marion agreed without a board vote. Now let’s fast forward a few days. A number of residents never got the email notice with the link to the livestream of the election. Your Editor emailed the entire Board and posted that email to the HOA Message Board. Board President Marion Weil, without delay, forwarded to me her copy of the email blast. Jeff Green, who deserves major kudos for handling the livestreaming, posted the link in a reply to my HOA message board post. Both of these acts were appreciated.
Upon information and belief, there must have been a fluke glitch in the system, because the internal information emailed to me by Rosemary of FirstService appears to show that the email blast was sent. It was, however, never received. It did not end up in any junk mail folder. It literally never came. We have confirmed a number of residents who also did not receive the email with the link.
Now let’s move on to the Agenda, which was mailed to all residents. That Agenda states, in pertinent part:
“Immediately following adjournment there will be a Board of Directors organizational meeting…Organizational meeting of new Board of Directors a. Officers Nominations b. Election of Officers…
Note: Residents are permitted to participate in the RESIDENTS INPUT SESSION, which session is limited to 30 minutes duration in total, 3 minutes maximum per resident…”
We all know that none of the above occurred. Marion decreed that the new BOD’s organizational meeting would take place instead immediately before the April 1, 2020 BOD meeting and that the Residents’ Input Session was limited to 10 minutes with a maximum of 1 minute per resident. All board members remained silent in the face of these illegal and unilateral decrees. These decrees also took place in the email blast that was never received by some residents as discussed above, and thoroughly flied in the face of the clear notices in the Agenda, which was mailed to residents previously, as well as the statute, Florida Statute 720.303(2)(e), which has been posted on this news site for months under the Florida Statute 720.303 page.
In addition, to add insult to injury, Jeff Green, who was running the livestream for the community, was instructed by Marion to cut off the audio during the actual counting of the vote. We do not place any blame on Jeff; Jeff does a superb job with the livestream and has done so since he assumed the task several board meetings ago. This decree, again by Marion, deprived the community of participation in the residents’ meeting/annual election. Why was the audio cut? This was an outrageous abuse of power. It deprived the residents of their rightful participation in the election and their right to be fully present. Had the residents been allowed to be in the ballroom, they would have been able to hear what was going on, so why was the audio cut to the livestream?
Marion’s shenanigans need to stop. New Board: it is time to step up to the plate and take action. If you vote for this individual to continue to be the President of this HOA, you can expect more of the same rule-breaking and dictatorial-type behavior. If enough of them care, the residents will either revolt or make sure that the next election cycle will cure the problem. And at this point we ask: how much rule-breaking is acceptable, and which rules can be broken and which can’t, and who is allowed to break rules while others are punished?
At the end of the vote count, the winners were announced. No vote tally was provided. Why not? How many votes did Linda get? How many votes did Alan get? How many votes did Richard get? How many votes did Sue get? The residents are entitled to know, just like any other election.
Numerous members of the community had entered the ballroom prior to the announcement of the election victors, so apparently there was selective enforcement of the ban on entering the ballroom, and if you, common resident, didn’t get the memo, then too bad, you’re not part of the elite crowd and didn’t get to hear anything that was going on, since your access was muted.
Ron Capatino [phonetic] of FirstService announced that the new board can have its organizational meeting before the next board meeting “per statute.” He ignored the fact that the actual notice and Agenda stated otherwise, to wit, that it would occur immediately after the election at this meeting. And his take on the statute is a tortured view of it, as discussed below. Also, while he administered the election, it is not his place, and it is wholly improper, for him to make policy decisions about anything.
Finally, what happened to the minimum six feet of social distancing to protect the community against COVID-19? (1) Board members Marion and Linda were seen on the video entering the ballroom prior to the commencement of the meeting through the main ballroom doors at the exact same time. It reminded me of the classic sit-com, All In The Family, where Archie Bunker and Meathead would struggle to get through the door at the same time. (2) Election counters were seen multiple times huddled together, shoulder to shoulder, reviewing ballots. (3) Also, when a flood of residents entered the ballroom for the final election results, Diane Green was seen sitting next to another resident, shoulder to shoulder, in the front row. This is not social distancing. Social distancing does not mean social distancing part of the time. There was a consistent and demonstrable lack of social distancing.
Board members Marion and Linda remained in the ballroom. I saw board members Harvey Ginsberg and Mark Goodman online. Other board members may have been online at some point.
With all of the above as background, I give you the synopsis and my additional commentary.]
Marion: Welcome to the annual meeting and general election.
[Editor’s note: I thought Jerry and Marion postponed the annual meeting indefinitely, as stated above? And how can it be an annual meeting of residents when Marion cut off the audio of the livestream, the only access that the common residents had? This is a farce.]
Marion: This is a different session, online, there are 44 people, 43 and myself; more people may come online as we announce…
[Editor’s note: the total number of people online fluctuated and topped out at 80; your Editor was tracking it throughout the meeting.]
Marion: We have a quorum of the total voting…392 ballots.
[Editor’s note: 392 of 600 equals 65.333% which is an excellent return. Recall that at the last meeting Marion advised that three ballots at that point were voided, presumably because the designated household voter neglected to sign the envelope.]
Marion: The annual approval of the 2019 meeting Minutes…waiver of the reading of the Minutes…the board agrees to waive…
Ron Capatino: [phonetic] Twelve people volunteered to be inspectors.
[Editor’s note: there were a lot more than 12 people that flooded the ballroom to hear the reading of the results. I guess you’ll have to make friends with one of them to find out what the actual count was.]
Ron Capatino: There are no additional ballots in the ballot box; balloting is now closed.
Marion: counters can start their jobs.
[Editor’s note: I thought Ron Capatino was administering the election, not Marion, and this was not a Board meeting, so Marion had no authority to interfere with Ron’s administration of the election and order the counters to do anything or even to have ordered Jeff to mute the audio. Ron stated that there were 12 “inspectors.” None of them was visible on the video. There were only three actual vote counters on the video. Jeff Green appeared to be one; another resident was another. It appeared that Art Ritt was actually going through the original individual ballots and announcing the votes. I say “appeared” because Marion had ordered the audio cut, so unless one is an exquisite lip-reader and had a super-duper hi-res computer, reading lips was virtually impossible.]
Marion: Residents’ Input Session, the entire session will be no more than 10 minutes because of the unusual way we’re doing this.
[Editor’s note: Bullshit. There is nothing unusual about this. This statement is a blatant lie. The streaming has been happening for numerous board meetings ever since your Editor and Roving Reporter pointed out the Federal Fair Housing Act violations for not providing access to the disabled, and at the last board meeting, March 18, 2020, which was eight days earlier, the Resident Input Session went fine, with residents given three minutes to speak if they chose, and a number of residents online did in fact speak. Only Phyllis Dinerman couldn’t get her mic going. Everyone else who wanted to speak did so. Marion makes up rules in complete disregard for statutory mandates and the rest of the Board remains silent once again.
Jeff: we have Vicki Roberts.
[Editor’s note: this time I could not locate the “Raise Hand” icon; I sent a message to Jeff advising him of this and stating that I wished to speak; he immediately acknowledged me and announced my name, so again, kudos to Jeff.]
Vicki Roberts: Can you hear me?
Marion: We can hear you.
Vicki Roberts: Thank you. Vicki Roberts, Landon Circle. The Agenda says the Organizational meeting is immediately after the adjournment. The email says it will not take place until before the next board meeting. That’s not right because as of the results of the election, it’s a new board, and at that point there are no officers, not even you, Marion. It has to happen immediately and then tonight you need to inform the residents who the new officers are, because after the election, you’re no longer the President.
Marion: ok, Vicki, thank you for your remarks. The Organizational meeting will be on April 1st just before the opening meeting.
[Editor’s note: this change from what is clearly spelled out on the Agenda was not made by any open meeting board vote, since the last time there was an open board meeting was March 18th and it was not mentioned there. This is again another illegal act by Marion.]
Marion: We’re going to pause the audio taping until everything is counted and then we will come back and announce the election results.
[Editor’s note: At this point, the audio was muted. This is the people’s election, and they have a right to hear the process, the counting, and the details of the actual votes. How long is this community going to put up with these constant abuses of power by this individual?]
[Editor’s further note: VIDEO ONLY FROM THIS POINT FORWARD UNTIL AUDIO UNMUTED. Therefore, I will state was I was able to see.
The ballots were opened and removed from the envelopes. A resident who appeared to be Art Ritt had them in a pile and was going through them one by one at the center of a table. Jeff Green was at video right, with pen in hand and writing on a paper. Another resident was at video left doing the same. This took some time. During this process, the number of people online fluctuated from between 65 and 80. Linda Arbeit was seated, looking a tad forlorn or concerned. Marion stood at the edge of the stage.
The counting was done at 7:28pm at which point the counter registered 75 people online. At 7:39pm I sent a message to Jeff: “why muted? It’s supposed to be an open meeting.” At 7:40pm Jeff reads it per the computer. At that point Diane Green is seen in the room. Why? Was she an official inspector? Who actually were the official inspectors? Why wasn’t the community given the names of the official inspectors?
Debra Balka of FirstService is seen at 7:41pm. At 7:42pm Elly Bookstein and her husband were seen entering the ballroom with others. Debra Balka was then seen touching Marion and Diane Green. As mentioned above, Diane Green was also seen sitting in the front row next to another resident, shoulder to shoulder. Where is the social distancing?
The audio was unmuted at 7:43pm.]
Ron Capatino: welcome back. We have the results. The new Board members are Arbeit, Greene, and Schmer. The Board will do the Organizational meeting before the next board meeting which is allowed per statute. [clapping was heard by the numerous people in the ballroom.]
[Editor’s note: Actually, Florida Statute 720.303(2)(e) states in pertinent part: “At the first board meeting, excluding the organizational meeting, which follows the annual meeting of the members…” The statute clearly states that the organizational meeting is supposed to follow the annual meeting because at that point there are no officers of the new Board. That is why the new Board has to vote in new officers immediately. Also, what Ron was stating was not what was noticed on the Agenda. And there was never a board vote in an open meeting to suddenly change the rule, which would be improper anyway.
This is the same person, Ron Capatino, who disallowed a question at the Meet the Candidates Night on the basis that it was about term limits. At that time, I posted the following in that synopsis and commentary of March 10, 2020, addendum added March 11, 2020:
“A resident had a question about term limits. The administrator refused to read it and stated that Florida statute does not enforce term limits and therefore it is a moot point. (He actually said “mute” point, but he meant moot point.) The Florida statute imposing term limits refers to condominiums and specifically does not include HOAs, so that statement was correct.
However, there is nothing that prohibits an HOA from instituting term limits in its own governing documents. In fact, an HOA is fully free to do so. Therefore, the administrator’s unilateral decision to throw out a resident’s valid question was wholly inappropriate, and by doing so, it changed the round robin from that point forward so that questions were asked of candidates who otherwise would have received different questions in the order in which it was presented. This effectively changed the dynamic of this already flawed process.
The question itself was a window into community concerns about any individual repeatedly possessing controlling power over the community for years on end. The longer any individual remains in power, theoretically, the bolder that person may become in the manner in which they conduct themselves as a board member. It is apparent that this has already happened and infected the whole purpose behind having seven independent voices.
Therefore, the administrator’s inappropriate dismissal of a valid question posed by a resident deprived the community of an important response on this critical issue.
It does, however, give us the opportunity to publicly suggest that our governing documents be amended to include term limits going forward. This process, contrary to what Board President Marion Weil declared with respect to a question posed by Elliot Graff at a previous board meeting about the 80/20 rule of permitting younger residents to buy homes in Cascade Lakes, is not a big process to accomplish. In fact, a simple amendment to the governing documents on one page would suffice, with that one page being filed with the state of Florida to be part of our official documents. So, in fact, Marion’s shutting down of Elliot in this example was a way for her to shut down any further discussion about that issue. This actually proves the resident’s point in asking the term limit question. One person is unilaterally deciding what will be discussed and what will not be discussed. This is consistent with board member Alan Silver’s admission in an email that Marion has veto power of what goes on the Agenda, which is of course false.
There are two parts to this issue. Term limits might apply to board members, and/or it might apply to officers. There is a distinct difference. For example, if it only applied to officers, it would mean that one person cannot continually be the President of the Board, or perhaps they would only be permitted to be President for one year of their two-year term and also cannot serve as President in consecutive terms. There are variations on the theme that could be discussed.
In conclusion, shutting out residents’ questions or suggestions on valid issues that directly affect the community is unfair to the owners and antithetical to a democratic process.]”
Marion: Thank you everybody.
[Editor’s note: The “meeting” was adjourned at 7:44pm.
What was the actual vote tally? Why weren’t the residents at large told? The residents present in the ballroom know. All residents have a right to know.
Why was a large part of the residents’ “meeting” muted, so that only the residents who were not locked out of the ballroom could know what was going on and listen to the actual vote counting?
Why were some residents allowed in the ballroom, more than 12 inspectors, while the rest of the common folk were locked out?
Per Marion’s unilateral decrees, residents were restricted to one minute speeches instead of the statutory requirement of a minimum of three minutes, residents were blocked from hearing the actual vote counting and muted from their own meeting, and the Organizational meeting of the new board to elect officers was improperly postponed.
Who appointed Marion to be an interim acting President before the new board has voted for its new president? No one, and not one board member spoke up. Mark, did you speak up or vote? No. Linda, did you speak up or vote? No. Eileen, did you speak up or vote? No. Harvey, did you speak up or vote? No. Richard Greene, did you speak up or vote? No. Sue Schmer, did you speak up or vote? No.
Linda, Richard, and Sue: this is the official beginning of your new term as board members. Marion has apparently kept the title of President, even though she was only the President of the PRIOR board, and she was not voted as President of the new Board, since she postponed the meeting for the voting of new officers, contrary to the statute and the noticed Agenda, and without a vote of the new board. Why is the new Board allowing this? Is this your first official non-act where you are permitting this individual to take away your vote for which the community just elected you to represent it individually and independently on its behalf?
It bears repeating: Marion was the President of the FORMER board which is no longer in existence; she is not at this point the President of this HOA because the current board has not yet voted for its officers. It is incumbent upon this new board to immediately convene for the purpose of voting in the new officers. Four of you need to immediately call the Organizational meeting to order because you are having one person making all the decisions unilaterally who has not been elected as your President during a time of national crisis and community shut down, and furthermore, this HOA should not be without officers at any time, which it currently is. That is why the statute calls for the Operational meeting to take place RIGHT AFTER THE ELECTION. Time is of the essence; get busy.]
[Editor’s concluding comments: And so concludes the “meeting,” or whatever that was, of March 26, 2020.]