THE ELECTION FOR THREE SLOTS ON THE 2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS WAS MARCH 26, 2020.
March 30, 2020:
This news site, through its resident/Editor, required that the election results be released to the residents, per our governing documents. The following is the email exchange between Deborah Balka, our Property Manager, and your Editor, in that regard. Please note that while Deborah states in her email that your Editor "requested" the tally, in fact, the only reason she sent it to your Editor was because Marion Weil, a Board Member improperly claiming the presidency (the new Board has not yet voted on its new officers, having inexplicably delayed that process), told her that your Editor made a proper written request, which is nonsense as I was not requesting a copy of a contract. In any event, here is the exchange:
On March 30, 2020 10:40 AM Deborah Balka wrote:
Good Morning Vicki,
I am told that you have requested the tally. Please know although it is public knowledge in the past I have given to residents upon written consent and they came and viewed the results or wrote them down. I have always asked to please not publicize as I would not want to hurt anyone and what difference does it make a win is a win and a loss is a loss. I am asking that you not post on your website.
Here are the results:
Arbeit - 249
Greene - 283
Schmer - 298
Silver - 224
There was a total of 386 valid votes and an additional 6 votes not counted.
Our Response, March 30, 2020 at 4:54pm:
Thank you for your email reporting the election results.
Every resident is entitled to know the election results. This isn’t about feelings; this is about transparency. We are not aware of any election where the results are not publicized to the voting public, and where the results are known to some and not to others.
Deborah, while we like you very much on a personal level, we believe it is wholly inappropriate for a non-owner employee of the HOA’s management company to ask that we not post the election results on the news site, especially when our own governing documents require the tally to be in the presence of the residents.
The past pattern of lack of transparency and not being called out about it is over. The past pattern of a few residents having complete control over this community and acting repeatedly in flagrant violation of the statutes and this community’s own governing documents, and then getting a pass or not being called out about their aberrant behavior, is over.
The two new candidates beat out the incumbents in terms of total vote tally by significant amounts and significant percentages. That tells you how dissatisfied this community is with the leadership of the 2019 Board.
We are reporting the news; these rule-breakers are creating the news. Put the monkey on the back of whom it belongs.
Kindest personal regards, Vicki and Arthur
March 28, 2020:
The following is the email exchange between your Editor and Board Members Marion Weil and Eileen Olitsky concerning the elections.
The following e-mail was sent to the new Board of Directors at 5:09pm:
1. What was the specific vote tally for each candidate?
2. Why was the most important part of the residents' meeting, the counting, muted so that the residents who were locked out of the ballroom could not hear online what everyone in the ballroom was able to hear?
Board Member Marion Weil responded promptly to the below email, which was greatly appreciated:
"I copied Deborah Balka who can get you the count of votes.
The counting was done in different rooms based on the necessary physical distance for all due to the novel corona COVID-19 virus. Streaming would not have been possible then.
Marion Weil for the Board of Directors"
My Response Email to the new Board:
"Thank you for your prompt response, which raises even more questions:
1. The counting was to have been done at separate tables in the ballroom per the last board meeting. If there were a change in that protocol, who decided on that change and why wasn’t it even mentioned at the residents’ meeting? And when everybody flooded the ballroom at the end and sat closely together, apparently that was ok, so it eliminated the so-called concern for safety.
2. Also, what does that have to do with muting the audio of the ballroom where some of the counting was clearly taking place?
Eileen Olitsky, another Board member, wrote:
“I have lived here over seven years and I never remember the board releasing the count to the residents. Ron has always kept that for the record. Am I correct?”
“I appreciate Eileen’s participation in this email thread, because it allows for education and growth, so thank you, Eileen, it is appreciated. Open communication is critical. And Eileen has an equal voice as a board member just like any other board member. The entire process is required to be open and must occur in the presence of the residents, and there is no confidentiality, and this makes sense, since it is a residents’ meeting. If what you are saying is that the way it was done in the past was not open and not in the presence of the residents, of which I am not aware since I was not here, then it was done in violation of Florida statute 720.306(6) and our own bylaws, page 3-5, Section V, NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS, Section G.”
Board Member Marion responded to Your Editor:
“No one was together after the counting, except to leave the room. And there was no one sitting together. People wanted to be separated, and so they were. They didn't want more than 10 in a room. This way there were never more than 8 together.
The counting is not done aloud. The only possible sound that could be heard would have been the rustling of paper from the election counters.
Marion Weil for the Board of Directors”
Your Editor responded:
“Once again, thank you for your prompt response, Marion, which is appreciated.
1. Contrary to your email, the live stream of the ballroom clearly showed that after the counting, there were many more than 8 or 10 people together in the ballroom during the announcement of the results, and some were even sitting next to each other, which both I and Arthur saw with our own eyes, and which I reported in my Synopsis and Commentary of the Election event. Anyone can review the recorded live stream and also see it with their own eyes. So your first statement is untrue based on the actual video.
2. The ballot counting was to have been done in the ballroom with all tables appropriately separated, and there was more than enough room in that large ballroom to make it work. For example, the Owl should have been set against the stage facing outward, and then all tables could have been seen. There would have been no safety issue because there was enough room for all tables to be separated by more than six or even ten feet, as was stated at the last board meeting on March 18, 2020 by Deborah Balka and former Board member Jerry Dinerman. Per the synopsis, that exchange was as follows: “Deborah: annual elections, Ron Capatina [phonetic] will be coming. FirstService will be here. Inspectors are coming. Four tables along the room, three people at each, so that they can do the counting. The Board and other candidates are the only people allowed in the room. Jerry: three people is too close; one on each end.”
That clearly didn’t happen. And after the alleged counting, and I said alleged because the residents were deprived of witnessing it as required by law, everyone flooded the ballroom at the end and compromised everyone's safety by standing and sitting next to each other. Were those people the counters? If they were all together in the ballroom at the end to hear the results, then they could have and should have been in the ballroom doing the counting, with the tables appropriately separated.
3. It was not just rustling of papers as you claim, Marion, because Art Ritt was calling out ballots for the two others to tally at his table. The residents who were forced to watch online were deprived of hearing what was going on, both at Art Ritt’s counting table and all other counting tables which were done elsewhere outside the presence of the residents, which was illegal.
4. Under our governing documents, page 3-5, “Section V, NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS, Section G. Additional Blank Ballots and Envelopes,” all residents have the right to witness the opening of the envelopes and the counting of the ballots. ALL ENVELOPES ARE TO BE OPENED WITH THE BALLOT ENVELOPES REMOVED IN THE PRESENCE OF THE RESIDENTS. You deprived the residents of the ability to be present, not only visually in terms of the counters in other rooms, but also audibly. There were other infirmities; for example, there was no comparison of ballots with the list of qualified voters, which was required and which the residents had a right to be present for as well (same section). This election is fatally flawed.
5. Under what authority did you give the order to mute the audio? It was not a Board meeting; it was a Resident's meeting, and Ron Capatino was supposedly in charge, not you.
It is incumbent upon the new Board to sort this out and explain to the residents why this contaminated and disgraceful process occurred in the manner in which it did, without notice of the changed procedure to the residents, and without the ability of the residents to comment on the changed and flawed procedure at the Residents' Input Session, which you, Marion, decreed was one minute per person for a total of 10 minutes, contrary to statute [720.306(6)] and our own governing documents, and for which this was not your Board meeting or Resident Meeting to conduct.
This process needs to be redone and done properly and immediately.
Vicki Roberts CascadeLakesResidents.com”
Board Member Marion responded to Board Member Eileen's email (about your Editor's question about the vote tally):
"It's a properly written request. That's why I copied Deb. Yes, it's been asked for before.
[Editor's Note: No request is required because all residents should have known the tally at the time it was announced. Whether or not my "request" is a "properly written request" is irrelevant. The process was required to be open, transparent, and in the presence of all residents as our governing documents clearly and unambiguously state.]
There is an important letter posted on the Residents' Input Page under both Message Board: General and Message Board: HOA. It is a letter that was sent to all current board members and candidates concerning the selection of officers of the new board.
March 12, 2020:
Candidate Ratings by Vicki Roberts and Arthur Andelson:
There are four active candidates for three positions on the Board. This means that each candidate has a 75 percent chance of winning a seat by doing nothing more than continuing to breathe.
It is unfortunate that only four individuals chose to run, but it is understandable, because being a director is time-consuming, sometimes difficult, and in many ways a thankless job.
These are not volunteer positions, notwithstanding the fact that they come with no salaries. To be clear, let’s review and contrast the differences between a true volunteer and a director on the BOD:
A volunteer donates his or her time for the betterment of a third party or cause. A volunteer may assist the Board of Directors with various tasks or undertakings. A volunteer does not make policy decisions. A volunteer does not make financial decisions that affect the HOA. A volunteer is not an elected official. A volunteer cannot penalize a member of the HOA, either financially or with other punitive action such as taking down message board posts. The only power a volunteer has is showing up and asking what they can do to help.
The BOD is a governmental entity. A director on the board of directors has both a legal and fiduciary responsibility to the members, today, yesterday, in the past, tomorrow, and every single day moving forward. A director gets to decide how others’ money will be spent. A director gets to decide a myriad of issues affecting others, including removing message board posts and dismissing volunteers. A director must run for office and be duly elected. A director cannot be dismissed (recalled) without following proper legal procedure. A director has prestige and wields an enormous amount of power. They even get their name on a plaque in the hallway of the clubhouse.
As previously reported, Meet the Candidates Night was woefully deficient in educating the community, of which your Editor and roving reporter are members, about their future leaders.
This news site’s questionnaire was crafted with the hope that the questions and answers would shed some light on the candidates as future leaders with respect to specific issues that concern the community. It was troubling that 2 out of 4 candidates chose to thoroughly ignore our email with the attached questionnaire. A complete nonresponse by those who seek to control residents’ money and discipline does not bode well for the community. It is also unfortunate that not one candidate responded to the actual questions.
We also reviewed all candidates using our eleven point criteria listed initially on this page.
With the above in mind, in alphabetical order, we give you any and all responses to our questionnaire as well as our candidate ratings and the bases therefor.
One of two candidates who did not respond at all was incumbent/candidate Linda Arbeit.
Linda Arbeit is a very personable individual who always greets one with a smile and kindness. However, those qualities are not critical to board business. Linda is a great secretary, although per our bylaws, neither the secretary nor the treasurer of the HOA has to be a board member (see page 3-9, Section VIII, Subsection A of our governing documents), so again, that quality is not critical to board business. Linda could continue to be the secretary under our governing documents but not be a board member. Linda is an incumbent; that fact alone is largely irrelevant, except to the extent that one has a record from which to evaluate, and that is important.
Linda told your Editor some time ago that she does not read the HOA message board. This was surprising and troubling to your Editor. If one is a member of a governing board of a community, the least one can do is be aware of what the constituency is saying. One critical way to determine that is by actually reading the message board (and this news site).
Consistent with that clear lack of interest in the residents she represents, Linda Arbeit did not give us the courtesy of a response to our candidate questionnaire. If this candidate, who is a current board member, and who does not read the HOA message board by her own admission, cannot even give us the courtesy of a response, how responsive is she going to be as a board member? This is particularly disconcerting because your Editor and her husband are residents, i.e., part of her direct constituency. For this reason alone, Linda receives a demerit.
Helpful hint to all candidates: Being responsive to your prospective constituency is critical to effective governance. People want to be heard. They want to have a voice. They want to feel as if you care about what they have to say and offer, even if you vote against their wishes or position on a particular matter. Newsflash: they may actually have something helpful and constructive to contribute. Ignoring your constituency is probably one of the worst things you could do.
Additionally, as an encumbent, Linda along with other current board members engaged in secret board meetings on various topics and secret board votes disciplining a resident, all of which are serious statutory violations, and for this she must receive another demerit.
We do believe that it behooves Linda to brush up on our governing documents, stop engaging in illegal board meetings and illegal board votes, and also to make a commitment to read the HOA message board (via email subscription, which is by far the easiest and smoothest way) and our news site, which is current and informative.
At the Meet the Candidates Night, Linda’s responses to the questions appeared to be somewhat scattered and rambling. Two of the three questions she was asked came from us and both were on the questionnaire which she received in advance. The questions in our questionnaire were provided two nights earlier, so if she had read the questionnaire, she would have been prepared for the questions and theoretically could have been more prepared to respond. Based on her responses, however, it appeared that she was hearing the questions for the first time.
Ultimately she stated that for HOA message board issues, she would follow the grievance procedure of the statute, but clearly she did not when such a procedure was demanded by your Editor, and instead she voted, along with the rest of the board, to censure your Editor in an illegal appeal process completely contrary to the mandates of the statute she claimed she would follow; further adding insult to injury, said arbitrary appeal process appears nowhere in the statute or our governing documents. The whole purpose of the grievance procedure is to take the decision away from the board, which is what the statute specifically demands, because otherwise the board is acting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, which is strictly verboten under the statute as well as under our governing documents. Giving lip service to the statute and then defying it so blatantly earned Linda another demerit.
We would be remiss in our reporting if we failed to point out that when the message board question was read by the administrator, audible groans from the audience ensued. It is unfortunate that a number of residents have complete and utter disrespect for the Florida statutes, their own governing documents, and their own neighbors. This palpable display of disrespect was a reflection on them, not the statute, our governing documents, or their co-residents.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, our rating for Linda is calculated as a maximum of 5 stars less three demerits equals a total of 2 stars.
As Budget Chairperson, Richard has a healthy concern for budgeting. This is a very positive point. Many residents feel that the Board spends community money like drunken sailors on leave. Perhaps the addition of Richard will rein in some of them. We hope that in the future he will be responsive to all residents because he did not give us the courtesy of a response. For that, he receives a demerit.
In addition, while it is not required for a board member to be effervescent in his or her communication with residents, Richard’s interaction with another resident was seen as overly aggressive in volume and language. This shuts down open communication. For this reason he receives another demerit.
Therefore, we calculate five stars minus two demerits and rate Richard with 3 stars. We do note that we are cautiously optimistic about Richard and we hope that he will validate our leap of faith.
Sue’s timely response to our candidate questionnaire was as follows:
Thank you for the invitation to respond to your questions. However, as your website can possibly be viewed by others outside of the Cascade Lakes community, I respectfully decline your offer.
This candidate believes that everyone in the community should be heard. This candidate, as Chairperson of the Rules & Regulations Committee, is familiar with the rules. This candidate appears clearly to have independent thought. This candidate has consistently shown integrity, honesty, and an indefatigable desire to serve what she believes is in the best interests of the community. This candidate appears willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart. For these reasons, while untested as a director, we rate Sue with 5 stars with the optimistic hope that she will prove us right in our confidence in her, and we do so with the clear understanding that she may vote in ways contrary to what we might want or prefer on any given issue.
Alan also did not answer any question in our questionnaire, however he did timely respond as opposed to ignoring us. Here is his timely response and our response back to him:
I have told you in the past that I applaud that you and Arthur are trying to do good things for the community acting as the loyal opposition. I think raising issues is a healthy thing. However, putting them on a public website is not. The board is attempting to give Cascade Lakes a very positive internet presence. Note our recent upgrades of 55places.com and our own website and community video. I have told you both that posting negative comments about the community on your open website undermines those efforts. I further think that posting information about the candidates, who have only agreed to making their opinions known within Cascade Lakes, is a violation of our privacy. I personally, do not give you permission to post anything about me or my opinions on a public website.
There is a process to get your questions answered. You may ask questions at the meet the candidates or get invited to a tea where you may ask any candidate any question you wish.
Thank you for your response to our candidate questionnaire. As you know, we clearly disclosed therein that we would post candidates’ responses.
Contrary to your email, we are not the “loyal opposition” in your words; we are a news site and we report the truth, and when the board and/or its committees breaks the rules, we call them out.
Also contrary to your email, one may not ask questions at “meet the candidates” because it is not an open town hall type forum. It is a very structured and limited event where some anonymous questions are picked out of a box. There’s no open questions or opportunity for follow up questions.
And again contrary to your email, if one is not invited to a tea, one is closed out, which is most of the community.
Also, these private teas are really behind the scenes wheeling and dealing sessions with promises that are made to a small group of people to the exclusion of the community and actually create an elitist structure within the community. These teas create little cliques where most residents are excluded.
What you are essentially espousing is that just a small group of people should control the community. That’s not the way a community should be run. That makes our news site even more important for the majority of the residents who are shut out and who don’t even know about these secret teas, how many there are, who is running them, and the people attending. The teas are campaign events. You are essentially pandering to get votes and/or making private promises to small groups of people.
We find the practices used in the Cascade Lakes Board of Directors election process to be antithetical to a true democratic process.
As to what is posted on our news site, you cannot dictate what we post on our news site. Your opinions and your positions, especially because you are a current board member, are a matter of public interest. Furthermore, your right of privacy ends when you walk out your front door and when you make statements.
Your statement that the candidates “have only agreed to making their opinions known within Cascade Lakes” is untrue as well as unrealistic. Informed individuals in the community, especially candidates, have known or should have known for months that we would be reporting extensively on the election process because it has been posted on our news site for months.
In fact, people have the right to know truthful community information before moving here, and it is noteworthy that you have never challenged the truthfulness of the contents of our news site but rather just that certain news items are “negative” in your words, as you state in your email. So you just don’t want the truth out there. However, if we were not being honest, that would be negative. If the honesty makes you uncomfortable, as a board member you have the power to correct the malfeasance. And if you think what we are writing is negative, why are you acting improperly? Fix your own behavior and follow the rules; don’t put the monkey on our backs. We’re just reporting the news; you and your fellow board members are creating it.
You and others are posting information on other public websites that is not completely accurate but rather what you want to publicize to the world at large, which we find to be negative because it is misleading, and it is information which you have the power to correct rather than promote. You can’t have it both ways where you publicly post on public websites what you want but demand others’ silence, or where you expect to be able to dictate the removal and silencing of truthful contents of what others post that may differ from the misleading information you want publicized and promoted.
Vicki and Arthur
Alan, as an encumbent, along with other board members, engaged in secret board meetings on various topics and secret board votes disciplining a resident, all of which are serious statutory violations, and for this he must receive a demerit. We do believe that it behooves Alan to brush up on our governing documents, and stop engaging in illegal board meetings and illegal board votes.
Also, for repeatedly ceding his power to the President and thus the community’s voice through his vote, thus vitiating his independence as a director, he receives another demerit.
Overall, Alan is a hard worker who could be an effective board member if he exercised more independence in his equal power with all other directors, brushed up on the statutes and our governing documents, and really took the time to understand and implement them. Thus, we calculate five stars minus 2 demerits, giving Alan a rating of three stars.
Arbeit, Linda: 2 stars
Greene, Richard: 3 stars
Schmer, Sue: 5 stars
Silver, Alan: 3 stars
Notice: Something to think about before you cast your vote:
Next week we will be posting our analysis of the selection of officers by the incoming board, especially the office of President. Those of you attending teas as well as the entire community may want to wait before casting ballots for this important discussion. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here are three simple questions to ask the candidates either at the teas, or when you see them in and about the community:
(1) who will you be voting for to serve as President for the next year;
(2) why; and
(3) what promises or commitments, if any, were you given in exchange for your vote for the office of President?
March 11, 2020:
Addendum to Meet the Candidates Night Report:
This addendum is filed by your roving reporter, Arthur Andelson.
In addition to the below infirmities of the Meet the Candidates night, there was a further flaw in the manner in which the administrator conducted the event.
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.
March 10, 2020:
Meet the Candidates Night
Meet the Candidates Night commenced at 7:01pm on March 9, 2020. Each candidate gave an opening and closing statement which was sandwiched by a brief period where each was asked a whopping total of three questions from an anonymous resident, read by an administrator. The entire process lasted 48 minutes, having concluded at 7:49pm. This event, by its arbitrary process, while heavily attended by the constituency, was only marginally helpful.
We say arbitrary because there is no process designated in our governing documents. It seems to have been made up a long while ago and just repeated ritually through the years. To choose those who will control our money and discipline in this flimsy manner appears to this news site to be grossly inadequate.
Having anticipated this gross inadequacy from the manner this process was somewhat explained in advance (and ultimately carried out with even fewer questions asked than we anticipated), this news site issued a more thorough and detailed list of questions to each candidate, which we emailed to each of them on Saturday night, March 7, 2020 and which we reproduce in its entirety below. The deadline for candidates’ written responses is Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 5pm.
We will post any and all responses within 24 hours after the aforesaid deadline along with our final ratings. We urge all residents who are interested in how and by whom we will be governed to hold off marking their ballots until that time.
Email Sent To Each Candidate Saturday night, March 7, 2020:
The current procedure for asking questions of board candidates is very limited. For a position that is so important, that controls millions of dollars of residents’ money and metes out discipline, the residents should have much more information from the candidates in order to make an informed decision on whom to vote for. We also believe there should be an open forum just like a town hall.
Because of the strict limitations which don’t allow much information flow at all, we invite you to respond to the below questions by replying back and answering next to each one in a color other than black or white so that we can see your responses. Each candidate is getting this identical email. Failure to respond will be noted on our website. Our questions and your answers will be posted on our website. Because time is of the essence, all written responses are due in no later than Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 5pm.
Vicki Roberts Editor, CascadeLakesResidents.com
A. The Shed:
Please read the below comments and answer the questions about this topic.
Currently there are two temporary metal containers left over from the builder that probably should have been removed a long time ago. There are no permits for these containers because none was required because they are not considered permanent structures.
Therefore, how is it possible and allowable that a previous board had an improper vote by calling a new permanent shed a “replacement?”
It is not a replacement, because the original items were never permanent structures, were never required to have permits, and are not even part of the blueprints from the original builder.
You are not replacing a permanent structure with another permanent structure because the original structures were never permanent. You are not replacing an original structure that required a permit because it did not. Therefore, it is not a replacement.
By improperly calling it a replacement, which it is not, the Board erroneously mischaracterized the previous temporary containers as permanent permit-required structures which they were not, and then voted to cost this community $130,000.
Our HOA bylaws require that, based on the cost of this item, only our community has the right to vote on this new $130,000 permanent structure, not the Board.
The previous board vote on a new permanent shed in lieu of unpermitted, temporary structures was procedurally improper and should be rescinded immediately.
If that means that the community has to eat $30,000 or whatever has already been spent on this illegal endeavor, while this matter is put on hold because of the improper way it was handled, then at least that’s better than paying another $100,000 of our community money based on an illegal board vote.
The board should vote to rescind the prior illegal board vote. This is a community expense which requires a community vote.
Questions About The Shed:
1. What is your opinion about the shed?
2. Did the previous Boards have the authority on their own per the HOA bylaws to have a vote costing the community $130,000 for a new permanent structure, and if, on what authority?
3. If you are elected to the Board what are you going to do about the shed? Please indicate yes or no to the following choices:
a. Do nothing because you are in favor of the shed even though you believe the previous Board had an improper vote per our bylaws.
b. Do nothing because you are in favor of the shed because you believe the previous Board had a proper vote per our bylaws and can point out what section in our bylaws backs up your decision. If yes, identify that section.
c. Do something by trying to rescind the vote even though you are in favor of the shed because you believe the previous Board had an improper vote per our bylaws.
d. Do something by trying to rescind the vote because you are not for the shed and believe the previous Board had an improper vote per our bylaws.
e. Do nothing because you were informed by the current Board not to rock the boat if you want to get on the board and you should toe the line until you get your feet wet.
Please read the below comments and answer the questions about this topic.
Anyone is free to upgrade or change his or her mailbox subject to ARB approval. Mailboxes are strictly determined by the individual homeowner with approval of the ARB. The community may not force an individual owner to pay for a designated mailbox, period. There is to be no BOD or community vote on this matter as proven below, quoting our HOA governing documents.
Mailboxes are specifically referenced in our Declaration of Conditions, Covenants, Easements and Restrictions on file with the State of Florida; at page 1-18, it states: “Section O. Mailboxes. No mailboxes or similar improvement shall be installed on any Unit or Lot unless the location thereof has been approved by the ARB and the materials therefore [sic] and color thereof have been approved by the ARB and are in accordance with such standards for materials and colors as may be adopted by the ARB.” This necessarily means that an individual homeowner may apply to the ARB, the architectural review board of our HOA, for a specific and unique mailbox, and there is, in fact, no requirement that all mailboxes be uniform.
Furthermore, under our Rules and Regulations, page 4-8, under B. General Rules, Number 8, it states: “Mailboxes and numbers are the property of the individual homeowners. The homeowner is responsible for maintenance and/or replacement in accordance with the standards established by the property manager. New mailboxes must be in accordance with standards established by the Board of Directors.” Thus, again, there is no requirement that all mailboxes be uniform. And to the extent the Rules and Regulations are in conflict with the Declaration on file with the State of Florida, the Declaration controls and the Rules and Regs must bow to the Declaration.
Therefore, it is actually improper for our BOD to vote or for there to be a community vote on changing mailboxes en masse because the HOA does not own the mailboxes and no resident has the right to vote on issues concerning another resident’s mailbox.
So, if a mailbox looks like crap, the HOA has a right to proceed under our Rules and Regs, Section E., Violation Guidelines, at pages 4-16 to 4-17, but that’s it.
If you don’t like your mailbox, simply submit your proposed new mailbox design to the ARB. The ARB will either approve it or disapprove it. The actual ARB process is a matter for a different discussion.
All of this was explained in detail at CascadeLakesResidents.com in the February 5, 2020 synopsis and commentary, the February 19, 2020 synopsis and commentary, as well as on the Residents’ Input Page, Message Board: HOA and Message Board: General under the date of February 6, 2020.
Questions about the Mailboxes:
1. Who controls one’s individual mailbox, its look, its design, its upkeep, and its color?
2. What authority if any do you understand the Board has?
3. What authority if any do you understand the ARB has?
4. What authority if any do you understand the community has?
5. What authority if any do you understand the property manager has?
6. Are all mailboxes required to be uniform, and if you answer yes, state where in our governing documents this is stated.
1. Before voting on any contracts, how thorough should the directors be about each contract by reviewing them well in advance and preparing questions about them?
2. Do you believe that a professional with experience in contract drafting and negotiation and litigation to anticipate clauses that are important to protect the community would benefit the community?
3. At board meetings, when discussing contracts, do you believe the expert should be available to answer questions about the contracts and their terms and provide additional recommendations as they believe are warranted?
4. With regard to landscaping services, were all additional landscaping-related costs predetermined with Palm Beach Broward Landscaping by having a schedule A, and if not, do you believe that any contract over a certain amount should be open to a bidding process?
5. Will you have an expert review these contracts who is a litigator and specializes in drafting and negotiating contracts?
6. If the Board in a majority says no to an expert review of contracts, will you have someone on you own review the contracts and report back to you and/or the board during a meeting regarding any corrections or amendments that should be made before voting?
7. Before voting on any contracts, how thorough should the directors be about each contract by reviewing them well in advance, preparing questions about them, and seeking input from legal scholars who have experience in contract drafting, negotiation, and litigation so that the proper prophylactic clauses can be added and harmless clauses can be removed or modified?
D. What is your understanding about open meetings? Is the board allowed to vote on any matter in secret?
E. Who is allowed to add items to an upcoming board meeting Agenda?
F. Does the President of the Board have any veto power on items to be listed on an upcoming Agenda? If yes, on what do you base your answer?
G. Have you reviewed our governing documents concerning the functions, powers and responsibilities of the officers and the limitations of the powers of the President?
H. What are the powers of the President? Where is this found in our governing documents?
I. What is your understanding about the powers and responsibilities of the directors? Where is this found in our governing documents?
J. If you are a snowbird, how will you be thoroughly prepared for all board meetings?
K. If you are a snowbird, how will you attend all board meetings and vote?
L. Yes or no, are you aware that there can be no voting via email by any board member per the Florida Statute 720.303(2)(a), which states:
“Members of the board of administration may use e-mail as a means of communication but may not cast a vote on an association matter via e-mail.”
M. What things do you want to try and accomplish for the community in the next 2 years?
N. What committees do you believe you are best equipped for as the liaison and why?
O. What is your opinion about food grab and go in the library?
P. What is your opinion about having hard courts for pickleball?
Q. What is your understanding of the grievance procedure and where is it found in our governing documents?
R. Do you believe that the HOA website’s Terms of Service supersede our governing documents, and if so, on what do you base your belief?
S. Do you believe that the proper procedure with respect to questionable HOA message board posts is to follow the grievance procedure set forth in our governing documents, which essentially mirrors the Florida Statute 720.305, and if not, why not?
T. Do you regularly read CascadeLakesResidents.com to keep apprised of what is going on with your potential constituents and if not, why not?
U. Do you regularly read the HOA’s website to keep apprised of what is going on with your potential constituents, and if not, why not?
V. Rate yourself on the following categories and explain why you give yourself the rating. Ratings are as follows:
Outstanding: 5 stars Well-qualified: 4 stars Qualified: 3 stars Ok: 2 stars Oy: 1 star Definitely not ok: 0 stars
2. Knowledge of, and Adherence to, the rules (statutes, bylaws)
3. Willingness to correct errors
4. Transparency and Openness
5. Stance against bullying behavior
6. Preparedness prior to BOD meetings
7. Implementing BOD votes timely and expeditiously
8. Fiscal responsibility, including negotiating contracts
9. Understanding that there can be no wheeling and dealing behind the scenes or making agreements and side deals behind the scenes
11. Vision for the future of Cascade Lakes
This concludes the candidate questions.
Thank you again,
Vicki Roberts Editor, CascadeLakesResidents.com
UPDATE: Later, March 8, 2020:
To Tea or Not to Tea?
There are private teas happening in Cascade Lakes where candidate horse-trading is the order of the day.
Unlike these teas, our news site is 100% transparent to everyone in the community and beyond. By contrast, these secretive tea gatherings are for the so-called elite few.
These teas convey the appearance of a hierarchy in the community where an invitation is potentially coveted in exchange for clout with regard to future Board business.
Lore in the community suggests that candidates make promises at these teas in exchange for votes, a proverbial quid pro quo if you will.
Here are some questions for these private, secretive campaign stops:
How many tea functions are there?
Which candidates are invited?
What do the candidates need to know, need to do, and/or need to promise to be invited?
Who controls the teas?
What side deals are being promised at these teas in exchange for votes and selection of officers?
Why are there secret teas at all? What is their purpose? Do they help the community at large or do they consolidate power in the few at the expense of the many?
Why are the great majority of residents specifically excluded from the teas and instead are given but one opportunity to meet the candidates in a controlled environment with no questions or follow up allowed from the floor?
We believe that the process for electing directors as it currently exists is flawed, especially when there is no open forum or town hall that the candidates must attend where they would take questions from the floor and engage in an open meeting discussion with the community at large.
In addition, the Meet the Candidates night is happening before anyone even has a copy of their ballot statements, which were submitted to the powers that be back on February 25, 2020, almost two weeks ago, and which presumably includes their backgrounds and their vision for the community. So, there is no opportunity to pose questions to them based on their ballot statements. Also, there is no follow up after this restricted event. Yet all the while the teas continue.
Clearly the Meet the Candidates night is not an open forum for the residents. The current process provides for a limited number of questions to the candidates based on a random drawing by the management company from a box of questions anonymously submitted prior to the event.
Since when does an election cycle forbid open questions of candidates seeking to control residents’ money and discipline? None of this restrictive process is in the Cascade Lakes governing documents; it appears to have just been made up. This is no way to run a democratic election of people who will be controlling residents’ money and discipline. The Meet the Candidate rules are arbitrary, limited, controlling, and most certainly not in the bylaws.
By contrast, the teas allow the select few to bypass the normal election process. Their sole function is to consolidate power in a minority of residents at the expense of the majority.
And so the tea sippers sip, while the bourgeois get zip.
Pinkies up, people.
UPDATE: March 8, 2020:
Robert Dingee has withdrawn his candidacy for a position on the Board.
UPDATE: March 7, 2020:
All candidates were emailed an identical questionnaire about issues directly affecting the community. The deadline for responses is Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 5:00pm.
UPDATE: February 28, 2020:
This news site gave every single candidate the opportunity to be interviewed, to post their ballot statement, and their photo, at their discretion. We also made it very clear that if they chose not to be interviewed, we would not hold that against anyone. We set a deadline of Friday, February 28, 2020 at 5:00pm to respond to our email requesting an interview because time is of the essence.
All five candidates timely responded and declined our request. We respect that decision and again do not consider it in our evaluations of the candidates. We do consider the fact that they timely responded, and that is a plus for all of them. We are also residents here; being responsive to residents is a critical part of being a board member. Therefore, we thank the candidates for timely responding and give them the credit they deserve in that regard.
Being responsive to your prospective constituency is critical to effective governance. People want to be heard. They want to have a voice. They want to feel as if you care about what they have to say and offer, and they may actually have something helpful and constructive to contribute.
We will continue to post updates throughout the election cycle.
UPDATE: February 25, 2020:
The slate of candidates is out. Here are the candidates for the three open positions, in alphabetical order:
Note: Meet the Candidates night is Monday, March 9, 2020 at 7pm in the Ballroom. Elections are at the HOA annual meeting on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 7pm in the Ballroom.
Stay tuned for upcoming information on the candidates and the election as detailed below.
We will list all of the candidates, permit them to post their ballot statement on this website if they so choose, along with their photo if they wish, and we will interview those candidates who wish to be interviewed. We will also rate the candidates, regardless of whether or not they choose to be interviewed.
Categories we are interested in for rating purposes include:
2. Knowledge of, and Adherence to, the rules (statutes, bylaws)
3. Willingness to correct errors
4. Transparency and Openness
5. Stance against bullying behavior
6. Preparedness prior to BOD meetings
7. Implementing BOD votes timely and expeditiously
8. Fiscal responsibility, including negotiating contracts
9. Understanding that there can be no wheeling and dealing
behind the scenes or making agreements and side deals
behind the scenes
11. Vision for the future of Cascade Lakes
Candidate ratings, which are exclusively the opinion of the website editor, will be as follows, based on the above criteria:
Outstanding: 5 stars
Well-qualified: 4 stars
Qualified: 3 stars
Ok: 2 stars
Oy: 1 star
Definitely not ok: 0 stars
We will be updating all of the above as information becomes available and election day nears, so check back as often as you like to see any and all updates.