"Death of a Canary and Rise of the Phoenix"
January 16, 2020:
Addendum to Board Meeting Synopsis of January 8, 2020:
Message Board Suspensions are Discriminatory Against Single/Widowed Members:
Here is an excerpt from a letter I sent to the Board and “our” HOA attorney concerning my illegal suspension from the message board contrary to the mandatory procedure of the Florida law that governs suspensions. I sent this letter on December 21, 2019 as part of my demand for a grievance procedure which I never received. In that letter, I talk about the discriminatory effect this illegal policy has against single and widowed homeowners.
At the last board meeting on January 8, 2020 where the issue of my suspension was addressed, the attorney literally cut me off when I raised this issue and attempted to advise the community. He shut me down and stated over me: “We’re not talking about that.” Here is what he did not want you to hear:
“Now let me explain why this entire process is actually discriminatory. I am not here talking about myself; I am addressing all of the disenfranchised single Member/Owners who are deprived of community access to the entire message board if/when you suspend that Member’s access. A married Member still has access to the community asset, the community Message Board, through his or her spouse, by simply inputting the spouse’s username and password into the system. But the single Member is 100% locked out. You have not merely disallowed them to POST a message, you have locked them out of the entire community asset, and prevented them from viewing other posts, and this is discriminatory in the application of your illegal discipline, as it is based on marital status and numbers of Members in a household. You have prevented those single Members from knowing what is going on in and around the community, and that by itself is a safety issue. That is the discriminatory effect of this asinine policy.”
That is what “our” HOA lawyer did not want you to hear.
BOD Meeting of January 8, 2020, Part 1:
Webmistress’s opening remarks: Hello everyone! The BOD brought their lawyer who sat in on the first item of business, which was the issue of your webmistress’s 30-day suspension from the message board (set to expire on January 18, 2020). Today’s synopsis will be truncated and just a summary of what went down, because the Board set up streaming and recording of the meeting, so your webmistress did not take down her usual detailed notes. Your webmistress only found out at the very end of the meeting that it was just a “test run” and that the Board would be sent an email link to the recording. To me, it seemed like it went in and out a couple of times (I was able to see it stream and then appear to stop several times), but we were very happy to see the effort and the progress being made.
First Residents’ Input Session and Message Board Issue (New Business, Item 1):
This concerns your webmistress's 30-day suspension from the message board. Both Arthur and I spoke, and our speeches are already posted below (there was some additions and ad-libs at the meeting but the essence of what we said has been posted and will not be repeated here).
Chick Coletta, who repeatedly bashes us [and others] at various opportunities (message board, for which his posts remain up, pickleball court, board meeting) got up and called for your webmistress and her husband, Arthur, to move away from Cascade Lakes. He was allowed to speak about matters not on the Agenda, which is normally verboten at the First Residents’ Input Session. Nevertheless, the Board allowed him to continue to speak off topic. Here is some of what he said according to the tape about your webmistress and her husband, Arthur: “Just move outa here, go back to where you came from.” [Lots of loud applause.] He continued, “And that fact – I don’t know if you’ve noticed Facebook, lately but everybody has unfriended these people, nobody wants to be their friend, nobody’s talkin’ to them, they’re slightin’ them on the tennis courts – not the tennis courts, the pickleball courts, and it’s a shame…on their website I was told I was named bully of the month [laughter from the audience] because I went against a few of those things.” He then went on about the Resident of the Month Award and complained that Arthur won (for December) and then stated, “I think there’s a lot to be looked into here and I would really appreciate it if some of these people moved away, it would do us all a favor.” [more laughter from the audience.]
Let’s parse his comments and show the complete and utter falsity and/or hypocrisy of his rant:
- We are not moving anywhere.
- Everyone has not unfriended us on Facebook; we have many friends here that are friends of ours on Facebook, including Chick’s immediate family. This includes Chick’s own wife, Carmen, who is a very sweet person, and quite an impressive pickleball player, and Carmine Coletta, whom we believe is Chick’s father. We have screenshots of these Facebook friends on our Facebook page as of the writing of this post for anyone who is curious. The only one in that family who unfriended us was Chick.
- A lot of people want to be our friends and are our friends; we see and greet each other every single day.
- The only person who slighted anyone on the Pickleball courts to our knowledge was Diane Fiorillo-Green, the new President of the Pickleball Club, who set a poor leadership example by refusing to play with Arthur when their turns came up, and then usurping his place in line for next in play on the next available court thereafter. In fact, this past Saturday, January 4, 2020, Chick and Arthur played together as a two-man team, and Chick was asking Arthur for pointers since Arthur is currently the #1 player on the ladder.
- Contrary to his claim, Chick was not named bully of the month. There is no such award. We call out bullies as we see them because we have a zero-tolerance policy for bullies. He is listed multiple times for repeatedly earning a berth in our Hall of Meanness, but we would never give an award for such a distinction and it is nothing to be proud of, notwithstanding the crowd’s laughter and applause.
- The current Resident of the Month is Howard Greene, MD, who is happy and honored to be recognized. Chick is apparently fixated on Arthur, who won in December, which is so last year.
- Chick thinks “there’s a lot to be looked into here.” We agree, so keep checking this website for updates!
Miles Alter, a past Board President, took the podium and stated, among other things, referring to this website and your webmistress and her husband, “the information contained on a website by another resident is accurate, and there is a grievance – and I’m assuming that’s why our attorney is here today – there is a procedure for grievance appeal…” He then suggested that the Board “bring them into the tent and perhaps these individuals belong on the legal advisory committee…” [writer’s note: I had previously asked the Board about this in a prior open meeting, and I was told first by Director Mark Goodman that there really isn’t a committee, but then I stated that Paul Friedlander is listed as the “committee” in various places (News & Views, for example), so I called him and we spoke, but thereafter, I never heard from the Board again.]. Miles’ speech was a neutral, honest, level-headed, well thought out, and professional speech from someone who often disagrees with us. He did not get any applause for his efforts.
There were a few other brief comments by other residents that were negative towards your webmistress and her husband. There was more applause for that.
One resident approached Arthur in the early afternoon after the Board meeting and said he/she was so upset by this lynch mob display that he/she left the Board meeting and apologized to Arthur and said, “I am so sorry the way you and Vicki were treated. I am very upset about it” and that Member was still shaken up by it in the afternoon. Other residents expressed similar sentiments.
Newsflash: We know others before us have been driven away; we’ve heard the stories. We are young, healthy, happy, and retired, and we are not going anywhere. Also, while I will be able to post messages as of January 18, 2020 on the Cascade Lakes message board, my inclination is to post what I want to post here on this site, because this site, unlike that site, according to what we wrote at the top of all pages here, is for “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothin’ But the Truth.” We will remain true to that. Hope springs eternal that in the future the Board will follow the rules, be transparent, and everyone will conduct themselves neighborly so that we can happily report all great things that are happening in our wonderful community.
During the time I was at the podium, some people grumbled that no one looks at this site. I replied that we have site analytics that belie those assertions. These analytics tell us exactly how many visitors come to the site, what time they come (by the hour), the pages they view, and the frequency and length of the viewing. These analytics are automatic, and we review them every day. So, while the naysayers claim not to be visiting this site, and claim that no one is visiting this site, let me tell you, they’re all looking. The truth is that our site has taken off like wildfire because it is an interesting and fun site with a lot of good information to keep this community informed. We welcome input, and we also appreciate all of the private emails we regularly receive concerning this site and what we are doing for the community.
In conclusion, I do not excuse the manner in which the Board handled this from day one, ignoring written request after request which ultimately led to today’s proceedings. Hopefully moving forward the Board will be more responsive to requests so that things don’t need to escalate. We later found out that our written requests were routinely ignored by the Board on the advice of their counsel. Again, your counsel is costing this community lots of money for his so-called advice. I understand the catch-22 the Board finds itself in: it may wish to timely respond but the lawyer is saying don’t put anything in writing to these people. At some point the Board is going to have to decide: will it continue to take this expensive advice which is not helping anyone and is hurting the community, or will it take a leap of faith and communicate with us.
BOD Meeting of January 8, 2020, Part 2:
And now for a summary of the rest of the meeting:
- Ballroom Curtains: Eileen moved to remove all of them to see if they will be removed permanently. Vote: 6-0-1 (Linda abstained). Motion passed. As I understand it, they need to be cleaned or something has to be done.
- Iguana Control: there was a discussion about it with various vendors having given quotes. Mark suggested giving it to the legal committee to review the various contracts and ask for their recommendation, such as a missing cancellation clause which several Board members mentioned. There was a further suggestion to amend the motion to include giving it to the legal committee depending on their recommendation, and then it may come back to the Board for final approval. [writer’s note: see my comments above concerning the legal “committee,” which currently consists of one person, Paul Friedlander, who specialized in tax law, not contracts, according to what he told your webmistress.] Ultimately, this was tabled to the next meeting.
- New Street Lights: this was a discussion only; no action was taken.
- Already handled (Message Board suspension of your webmistress): This was handled first so that the lawyer could be excused when this issue was concluded, which was the right thing to do. Time is money.
- Sports Center Signage: to replace the tennis signs with two sports signs. Price was discussed; this was tabled to the next meeting to see if better prices can be obtained.
- Community Exterior Announcement Board: $2,250.17 for two boards, 30 x 36; Harvey moved to accept the proposal, no second, motion dies.
- Installation of Fencing from South Fountain to Spring Oak Corner: Shelley Andreas, Landscaping Chair, spoke. The ficus plants are failing. Suggestion to create a committee consisting of Landscaping, Facilities, and Safety & Security to research the cost and feasibility of a fence, what type, etc. A motion was made to create an ad hoc committee from Landscaping, Facilities, and Safety & Security to look into durability, safety, security, and aesthetics. Harvey moved to create said ad hoc committee to look into fencing and other options, Eileen seconded, motion passes unanimously.
- Front Door Alarm Connection: this is to deal with the concerns of the fire inspector. The clubhouse doors don’t open automatically in case of a fire. The proposal to fix this issue is $3,450 plus permits, so close to $4,000. Alan asked about getting competitive bids. Eileen stated that getting a second opinion is logical. Others were concerned that the current vendor’s box will not be workable for other potential vendors. Mark suggested they approve the contract subject to another quote or negotiate this one down. The fitness center is included in the quote. Motion to accept the contract based on renegotiating made by Marion, seconded by Linda; Motion passes 5-0-1: Gerry had left the meeting prior to this vote; Alan Silver abstained.
- Bluetooth Speakers for patio: two speakers, $348.00 each, safety (no cords, wires), sound quality, long lasting. “Will be paid by the Entertainment Committee.” [writer’s note: actually, it will come out of the Entertainment Committee’s budget; the Committee itself is not paying anything; the monies belong to the HOA.] However, this process of seeking Board approval is proper, so mazel tov on this one. About three feet high, about 1 foot wide. No stand is necessary. Will be stored with Mike’s sound equipment. Works completely independent of the sound system. Weighs about 22 lbs. each. Per Diane, they can carry them in and out. Mike Deckinger states it is much safer, no cable running all around. Eileen moves to accept the purchase of the 2 Bluetooth speakers, Alan seconds it. Motion passes unanimously (6-0-0).
Second Residents’ Input Session:
Several residents spoke about whether we should put off clubhouse issues until renovation, the iguanas, the Cross Rider in the fitness center needing maintenance as it has been broken for 6-8 weeks (the new contract starts in January), the blood drive had 15 people sign up including Deborah Balka, who was the first one, the carpeting/rug at the front door of the clubhouse gets caught in people’s walkers [writer’s note: I myself almost tripped on it walking out the other night], it should be removed or taped down.
Round Table Discussion:
Marion asked Deborah to put mailboxes on the next Agenda. [writer’s note: my recollection from the last time this was raised was that this is about $322 dollars per household, so get ready for another lively debate.] The streaming/recording is the test case, Board will be provided with a link. Your webmistress asked, how about linking it for everybody? No response. The meeting was then adjourned at 11:40am.
And that’s what went down at this Board meeting. Cheers!
Your Friendly Webmistress
The message board is a common use area.
This message board that we’re talking about is a common use area.
Your attorney says that the Terms of Service of the website are acceptable, and that the Florida statute and our own bylaws that I’m holding here regarding fines or suspensions does not apply to the website.
The website is a common use area.
On that basis, let’s take a look at all the different common uses that we have here.
We have a fitness center.
How about the card room?
Why stop there?
What about fines?
The statute limits fines to $1,000.
You make up anything you want and never have the statute or our by-laws implicated.
In essence, all HOAs in the entire state of Florida would have to comply with the statute except Cascade Lakes.
Why have the bylaws?
The absurdity of the attorney’s advice is obvious.
In my opinion, his advice to you is juvenile, dumb, and might end up being malpractice in a court of law.
Vicki Roberts' statement to the BOD concerning her improper 30-day suspension from the message board:
This is a special appearance to challenge jurisdiction only as I am not waiving my objection to this illegal procedure which is contrary to Florida Statute 720.305. This Board has no jurisdiction to conduct appeals. It is holding an illegal appeal on my completely illegal and improper 30-day suspension from the Message Board which started December 19th. Marion informed me that I would have 10 minutes to speak. Both the appeal process and the arbitrary 10-minute limit are illegal, made up, and in complete conflict with the suspension procedure specifically set forth in the Florida statute.
There is a mandatory procedure dictated by the Florida legislature whenever an HOA board desires to suspend a member from use of anything, in this case, the Message Board. The statute controls the procedure, not some bogus made up nonsensical appeal procedure or Message Board Terms of Service, which can never abrogate or abridge the statutory requirements, especially when there is a statute that is directly on point, the HOA Members’ “suspension of use rights” statute.
Pay attention: this is very important. The proper procedure under Florida Statute 720.305 (2) (a) and (b), which states as part of its title, Members’ “suspension of use rights,” is:
- If the Board desires to suspend a Member of the HOA for any reason, The Board notices a public hearing on its intention to do so; that did not happen here.
- If the Board then votes to suspend that Member, it must then give the Member the required 14 days’ notice of said intention that the statute requires. During that time, the suspension may not be imposed; that did not happen here.
- The Member then has a right to have a hearing on the suspension before a grievance committee made up of three members of the community who are neither Board members nor close relatives of Board members; that did not happen here.
- If the grievance committee votes not to suspend the member, the Board may not impose the suspension and may not override the committee’s decision; that did not happen here.
- If the grievance committee votes to suspend the member, the Board may then impose the suspension. that did not happen here.
The statute clearly states that the Board shall not adjudicate suspensions, ANY suspensions. The intent of the Legislature was to limit the Board’s power in regard to the suspension of Members and any final decisions concerning Member suspensions. Pay attention: the Legislature specifically did not want the Board of an HOA making final determinations as to fines or suspensions against any Member. Those issues are strictly to be decided by a grievance committee made up of three Members who are neither board members nor close relatives of board members and that Committee’s determinations cannot be overturned or usurped by the Board.
Here, you have completely usurped the Grievance Committee’s mandate clearly required by the Florida statute. You don’t have the final say; the Florida Legislature specifically does not want HOA boards to have the final say on fines or suspensions and created these checks and balances to limit the power of HOA boards. Only the Grievance Committee gets to determine fines or suspensions by either approving or disapproving the Board’s suggested discipline. They act as the jury of one’s peers, in front of whom the Member is entitled to produce his or her evidence and argument against the proposed fine or suspension. This is because until that point the matter is totally one sided with the Member having no input. The Grievance Committee is the final arbiter of your accusation; your accusation is the proposed suspension or fine. And your suggested discipline, the equivalent of an indictment, can only take place at an open board meeting.
This Board illegally took down posts of mine of August 25, 2019 for stating that the Board engaged in illegal private meetings and that Marion does not have veto power over what goes on the Agenda. I demanded a grievance hearing. You ignored me and issued a demerit on my file and sicced your attorney on me to try and silence me; Board member Alan Silver sent your lawyer, other Board Members, and my husband, Arthur Andelson, an email which admitted to both of these facts: an illegal board meeting and Marion’s bogus veto power. After my response to your attorney setting the record straight, he disappeared and was never heard from again.
In December 2019 I came into possession of another email, this time from Board member Eileen Olitsky, admitting to two illegal private in camera board meetings where votes were illegally taken against another Member, my husband, Arthur Andelson, under the guise of a personnel meeting. A member/owner is not by definition personnel. Arthur was illegally suspended from the Entertainment Committee for calling out Eileen’s rule-breaking without the required grievance hearing which he demanded. The Board has yet to respond to that grievance demand.
I then posted my Synopsis from the December 18, 2019 board meeting along with my writer’s notes, all of which was and is 100% factual. That post was removed by the non-board member webmaster and I was illegally suspended from the message board for 30 days. That post is on our website, CascadeLakesResidents.com, which I invite everyone to visit and enjoy. There are lots of fun things there.
You took down my factual posts but you leave up posts which attack me and my husband. There’s a post up right now calling other Members morons and dummies and a suggestion that the poster receive an award for the size of the feces he leaves in his toilet. But I expose your illegal conduct and you illegally silence me, suspend me, and put negative marks on my record.
There are three things you ought to be voting on today concerning this matter:
1. Rescind and revoke the illegal suspension of me on the message board, and immediately purge my file of all of your illegal actions against me.
2. Immediately rescind and revoke my husband’s illegal suspension from the Entertainment Committee as an emergency add-on to the Agenda for the same reason.
3. You should also as an emergency add-on to the Agenda rescind and revoke the illegal Terms of Service on the website because they are in direct conflict with the Florida Statute that covers the use of the website.
Anything you do beyond that is illegal and subject to court intervention. You have already cost this community $2,100 in legal fees for your wayward illegal actions. Stop costing this community money; stop acting illegally; and start complying with the mandates of the Florida statute.
I also have copies here of all pertinent documents:
- The full Florida Statute 720.305 which is titled in part, “suspension of use rights”;
- My two posts of August 25, 2019 on the Message Board which were removed;
- My written demand for a hearing dated August 26, 2019 which was completely ignored;
- Alan Silver’s email dated September 19, 2019 at 10:24pm admitting to an illegal board meeting and Marion’s veto power over Agenda items;
- My December 18, 2019 post on the Message Board which was removed;
- The webmaster’s email to me suspending me from use of the entire Message Board (not just posting) dated December 19, 2019 and my objection thereto;
- My December 21, 2019 demand for the grievance procedure;
- Eileen Olitsky’s December 10, 2019 at 10:01am email to Arthur Andelson admitting to two illegal private board meetings along with his line-by-line response in red refuting her statements;
- Marion’s emails to me dated January 3, 2020 claiming falsely that I requested an appeal to be added to the Agenda;
- My January 3, 2020 letter to the Board and its attorney in response.
Here is the actual statute, also posted under Relevant Rules on this website:
2019 Florida Statutes
Title XL REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
Chapter 720 HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATIONS
SECTION 305Obligations of members; remedies at law or in equity; levy of fines and suspension of use rights.
720.305 Obligations of members; remedies at law or in equity; levy of fines and suspension of use rights.—
(1) Each member and the member’s tenants, guests, and invitees, and each association, are governed by, and must comply with, this chapter, the governing documents of the community, and the rules of the association. Actions at law or in equity, or both, to redress alleged failure or refusal to comply with these provisions may be brought by the association or by any member against:
(a) The association;
(b) A member;
(c) Any director or officer of an association who willfully and knowingly fails to comply with these provisions; and
(d) Any tenants, guests, or invitees occupying a parcel or using the common areas.
The prevailing party in any such litigation is entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. A member prevailing in an action between the association and the member under this section, in addition to recovering his or her reasonable attorney fees, may recover additional amounts as determined by the court to be necessary to reimburse the member for his or her share of assessments levied by the association to fund its expenses of the litigation. This relief does not exclude other remedies provided by law. This section does not deprive any person of any other available right or remedy.
(2) The association may levy reasonable fines. A fine may not exceed $100 per violation against any member or any member’s tenant, guest, or invitee for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine may be levied by the board for each day of a continuing violation, with a single notice and opportunity for hearing, except that the fine may not exceed $1,000 in the aggregate unless otherwise provided in the governing documents. A fine of less than $1,000 may not become a lien against a parcel. In any action to recover a fine, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs from the nonprevailing party as determined by the court.
(a) An association may suspend, for a reasonable period of time, the right of a member, or a member’s tenant, guest, or invitee, to use common areas and facilities for the failure of the owner of the parcel or its occupant, licensee, or invitee to comply with any provision of the declaration, the association bylaws, or reasonable rules of the association. This paragraph does not apply to that portion of common areas used to provide access or utility services to the parcel. A suspension may not prohibit an owner or tenant of a parcel from having vehicular and pedestrian ingress to and egress from the parcel, including, but not limited to, the right to park.
(b) A fine or suspension levied by the board of administration may not be imposed unless the board first provides at least 14 days’ notice to the parcel owner and, if applicable, any occupant, licensee, or invitee of the parcel owner, sought to be fined or suspended and an opportunity for a hearing before a committee of at least three members appointed by the board who are not officers, directors, or employees of the association, or the spouse, parent, child, brother, or sister of an officer, director, or employee. If the committee, by majority vote, does not approve a proposed fine or suspension, the proposed fine or suspension may not be imposed. The role of the committee is limited to determining whether to confirm or reject the fine or suspension levied by the board. If the proposed fine or suspension levied by the board is approved by the committee, the fine payment is due 5 days after the date of the committee meeting at which the fine is approved. The association must provide written notice of such fine or suspension by mail or hand delivery to the parcel owner and, if applicable, to any tenant, licensee, or invitee of the parcel owner.
(3) If a member is more than 90 days delinquent in paying any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation due to the association, the association may suspend the rights of the member, or the member’s tenant, guest, or invitee, to use common areas and facilities until the fee, fine, or other monetary obligation is paid in full. This subsection does not apply to that portion of common areas used to provide access or utility services to the parcel. A suspension may not prohibit an owner or tenant of a parcel from having vehicular and pedestrian ingress to and egress from the parcel, including, but not limited to, the right to park. The notice and hearing requirements under subsection (2) do not apply to a suspension imposed under this subsection.
(4) An association may suspend the voting rights of a parcel or member for the nonpayment of any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation due to the association that is more than 90 days delinquent. A voting interest or consent right allocated to a parcel or member which has been suspended by the association shall be subtracted from the total number of voting interests in the association, which shall be reduced by the number of suspended voting interests when calculating the total percentage or number of all voting interests available to take or approve any action, and the suspended voting interests shall not be considered for any purpose, including, but not limited to, the percentage or number of voting interests necessary to constitute a quorum, the percentage or number of voting interests required to conduct an election, or the percentage or number of voting interests required to approve an action under this chapter or pursuant to the governing documents. The notice and hearing requirements under subsection (2) do not apply to a suspension imposed under this subsection. The suspension ends upon full payment of all obligations currently due or overdue to the association.
(5) All suspensions imposed pursuant to subsection (3) or subsection (4) must be approved at a properly noticed board meeting. Upon approval, the association must notify the parcel owner and, if applicable, the parcel’s occupant, licensee, or invitee by mail or hand delivery.
(6) The suspensions permitted by paragraph (2)(a) and subsections (3) and (4) apply to a member and, when appropriate, the member’s tenants, guests, or invitees, even if the delinquency or failure that resulted in the suspension arose from less than all of the multiple parcels owned by a member.
History.—s. 37, ch. 92-49; s. 55, ch. 95-274; s. 2, ch. 97-311; s. 51, ch. 2000-258; s. 20, ch. 2004-345; s. 17, ch. 2004-353; s. 12, ch. 2007-173; s. 8, ch. 2008-202; s. 24, ch. 2010-174; s. 18, ch. 2011-196; s. 16, ch. 2013-188; s. 17, ch. 2015-97; s. 14, ch. 2018-96.
Note.—Former s. 617.305.