Highlights from the December 21, 2022 Board Meeting:
“Ballot Balderdash – Deceptive and Deceiving”
Welcome once again to your CL-EOB (Cascade Lakes Explanation of Benefits) also known as the Highlights of the latest Board meeting.
COVID ALERT: Board director Harvey attended the meeting in person. Before the Board meeting began, Property Manager Deborah mentioned to Director Arthur that Harvey "has the sniffles." Harvey coughed once during the board meeting. He sat right next to the HOA president Jeff to his left and Secretary Pat to his right.
He has Covid. It was reported via a community-wide alert from the property manager’s office at 2:18pm the afternoon of the morning’s Board meeting, a mere four hours after the meeting adjourned. Harvey just came back from vacation. He couldn’t have taken the test before the Board meeting? Seriously?
We appreciate that he has let the community know, but having just returned from vacation, he should have waited and taken a Covid test before showing up and sitting next to his colleagues and spreading the love, especially when the property manager noticed his sniffling prior to the start of the meeting.
He’s a retired nurse; he should know better. And he was on this HOA’s ad hoc Covid Committee. We wish him a full and speedy recovery, but I do believe that he has to own this one and apologize for this seemingly huge faux pas. These kinds of blunders in my opinion directly help spread this virus and put others needlessly at risk.
Only 14 people (other than the technical people, the Board, and the property manager) showed up in the ballroom when the meeting started, and five of them were Committee Chairpersons, thus leaving only nine residents, including me, present with no such titles, and most of them were present with their spouses.
An unknown number were on Zoom, but if recent history serves as a guide, that number was also quite de minimis.
Attendance at Board meetings appears to be getting smaller. By contrast, I do note that the Google Analytics for my reports shows that the readership has grown and by a significant amount over the three years this website has existed, which is a great trend, so thank you one and all.
Director Sue has COVID and appeared via Zoom from her home. Three residents showed up after the meeting started, a married couple and one other man.
Reminder: all seven directors are equal (Jeff, Harvey, Richard, Pat, Arthur, Bob, and Sue). Four are also officers: Jeff (president), Harvey (vice-president), Richard (treasurer), and Pat (secretary) with very limited administrative functions.
Despite the fact that the officers have those additional limited administrative titles, they’re still all equal directors in charge of managing the HOA. They often think otherwise, conferring on themselves more power than they actually have.
First Residents’ Input Session: (none)
Approval of Minutes: motion to approve the November 16, 2022 Board meeting Minutes was made by Pat and seconded by Bob.
Arthur: “We have a dilemma. Minutes are to reflect all Board votes taken and there are no Minutes for the approved bonuses for FSR, which I’m ok to have because it’s in the contract, but it’s important for the residents to know every Board vote and every financial decision the Board makes, so there has to be a record.”
Bob: “I agree with Arthur.”
Harvey then moved to include the vote taken (at that closed board meeting) and Bob seconded it.
Arthur: “It needs to reflect the vote taken, and what vote. I did not attend because it was a closed meeting.”
Jeff: six members were there, so it was 6-0…Arthur did not attend.”
Arthur: “I refused to attend.”
Jeff: “we asked the attorney can we vote on this.” Apparently, he said yes since they did.
Arthur: “…because you’re spending money and where’s his legal authority?”
In other words, they spent your money seeking apparently bad legal advice in my opinion, without your knowledge, and without a Board vote. The mandates of 720.303(3) specifically prohibit secret voting except for the election of officers. It’s in plain English. And the statute requires this vote to be at an open board meeting. None of that happened.
Richard: Bonuses are included in the budget.”
Arthur: “where, Richard?”
Richard: “we’re not going to discuss anymore.”
Typical deflection. After the vote was added to Pat’s motion, the motion to approve the Minutes passed 7-0.
Also, under 720.303(5)(c)(4), this information is specifically not confidential (compensation paid to HOA or management company employees is not confidential and must be open for inspection and copying by members). Perhaps a new Board in March will start obeying the statutes.
1. Entertainment: [flyers and emails to follow for all planned events.]
2. Recreation: [flyers and emails to follow for all planned events.]
1. Guest Access Update – Harvey Ginsberg
Harvey reported that overall the system is working based on a report he received from the security advisor for United K-9 (the vendor) regarding activity over the last month, including the following: voicemail usage has doubled, the number of guests added via GateKey has increased by 15.1%, but residents continued to call the guardhouse.
Unlogged guests were turned away and their re-entry time was unknown as the report did not appear to indicate that based on Harvey’s comments. I say this because, per Harvey, the report referred to a “probability” of re-entry but not actual re-entry statistics or any facts supporting the supposition that they in fact returned and/or when they returned.
As to gifts of floral arrangements, fruit baskets, and food trays for which the resident was unaware, the guards have been instructed to call the resident. For condolence calls, enter them under the event tab or leave a voicemail for the guards.
The report per Harvey claims that processing times have improved. It was unclear as to the source of that conclusion.
Ballot Balderdash – Deceptive and Deceiving
1. Voting Percentage / Mailbox Ownership – Bob Dingee
This motion, to place a number of issues before the community, passed 6-1 with Arthur opposing because he stated that it was manipulatively worded so as to be misleading, multiple issues were being improperly lumped together to sweeten the pot and sway toward a certain result, and the ballot also contained an illegal matter.
The rest of the Board was predictably unconcerned about his concerns. This will therefore appear in the mail as a community ballot for your consideration. In my opinion it is a blatant attempt to manipulate you, the voters, and I will explain why.
They want an up or down community vote on one question with four parts to it, the first of which is lowering the percentage needed to alter an amenity.
Bob actually said, “change an amenity” which was correct and then Sue and Deborah said, “eliminate an amenity” but the motion itself says “alter” and another part of the proposed ballot says “eliminate” in part (d), which is in addition to the part that refers to “altering” an amenity.
So Sue and Deborah were referring to part (d) but Bob correctly referred to the motion itself and presumably part (a). In that sense, Sue and Deborah’s correction of Bob was misplaced, as the motion and the proposed ballot refer to both alteration and elimination in different areas. Part of this one question also includes the issue of reducing the board spending limits.
At the bottom of part (d) to this “one” question is where you say “Approve” or “Disapprove” according to the Board packet (which you are entitled to see as the matter has been voted on and approved, although it’s no secret so you actually have a right to see it in advance, too, because it’s not confidential).
It looks like you’re approving only the last part, which you probably like, but that’s not the case at all. They are deliberately trying to sweeten the deal with some issues that you like so that you will be more inclined to give them what they want: a lower percentage required to “alter” an amenity.
Stay tuned for my upcoming CL-Update that reviews this matter and explains in my opinion how deceptive these board members who are pushing this are.
In a nutshell, they are grossly misleading you when they tell you that voting yes will give the community more say in changing or upgrading amenities. In fact, it will give a smaller minority of community members the power to do so, to your great displeasure.
It literally allows a smaller minority of people to control your purse strings. That’s less community input, not more.
Quick example: let’s say 301 homes vote, which is the minimum to count any issue being voted on (a majority of the 600 homes). Currently, they need 75%, or 226 homes to change an amenity and then hit you with an assessment to pay for what they want. That’s 37.6667% of the community using this example (226/301).
If you vote yes to lower this to 66 and 2/3%, then they only need 201 votes to shove their agendas down your bank account. That’s only about 1/3 (33.3333%) (201/301) of the entire community. That’s literally less people controlling your pocketbook, not more as they are claiming.
The math doesn’t lie. That’s less community input, not more. How is that in your best financial interest?
I will explain it in more detail in my upcoming report specifically devoted to this important issue and I will more fully and methodically lay out the reasons why this is such a dangerous proposal for your pocketbooks.
And by the way, if the community as a whole wants a new or altered amenity, they will vote for it overwhelmingly as I understand was done with the past clubhouse refresh where the vote was 90% to do it. Now that’s a mandate.
By contrast, one-third of the community, which is what a yes vote would do, is most decidedly not a mandate. It’s the opposite of a mandate, and yet one-third of the people could force the other two-thirds to pay for the one-third’s amenity wish list if you vote yes.
You then better hope and pray that you’re in the one-third in favor of a specific item as opposed to being in the two-thirds who don’t want it.
Do you like those odds? Would you be willing to set aside and risk a portion of your bank account to roll the dice based on these miserable odds, and are you willing to cede authority to others to decide how to spend the funds in your bank account? Why would you want less people deciding how to spend your money?
The rest of this part of the ballot is really secondary and should not be lumped together with this issue because they are separate and unrelated. Lumping issues together is another reason this is a hard NO on this question. It is also in my opinion an inappropriate attempt to manipulate the membership and I will briefly explain why.
This includes the question of reducing the board’s spending ability to a lower percentage of the budget but more importantly asks you to agree that there can be no elimination of amenities without your vote.
That sounds fair, right? Well, guess what: it’s already in the Covenants, Article VII, Section E. It says that the common areas may not be “altered, modified or improved…” without your vote except for those items under the Board’s spending threshold.
Some people are saying that it doesn’t say they can’t “eliminate” an amenity and that’s why they want you to vote for this and they’ve included it to sweeten the pot on what they really want. Nonsense. Eliminating an amenity would obviously alter it. It would alter it into nonexistence.
So to further fool, deceive, and manipulate you, they’re including something you like but already have. So adding it to “sweeten” the deal on the 75-66 2/3 issue is really dishonest in my opinion. Don’t be fooled by this blatant manipulation. This is the sinister opposite of transparency in my opinion.
Therefore, this should be a no vote as it is a non-starter, but please make sure to vote your displeasure and mark, sign, and return your ballot. Make sure the correct person designated to vote for your home signs it. Otherwise, you’re allowing others to decide for you, and that’s never good.
They also are putting on the ballot a question as to whether the HOA should take ownership of your mailboxes, which actually is your property, so the premise itself is illegal in my opinion and it also forces you to pay for your neighbor’s neglect as I previously reported (see my dedicated Mailboxes page, hyperlinked below at the end of this report).
Since when is any of your property subject to a community vote for the taking? In my opinion, this is illegal. Kick this one to the curb, too.
As an aside, even in eminent domain proceedings by the state, the state must give the owner “fair compensation” for the property being seized (clearly subject to dispute, as the state generally offers you less than you think your seized property is worth).
What are you getting here for the seizing of your mailbox? You’re getting a special assessment because once they get “ownership” of your property they will then assess you hundred of dollars to replace that property with what they want, not necessarily with what you want.
So not only are you not getting fair compensation; in fact, you aren’t getting any compensation and to add insult to injury, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. They do this kind of “taking procedure” in third world countries where corruption is king.
In my upcoming CL-Update, I will also explain the folly and expense of this maneuver which if you vote for, will put the power into the hands of a few board members to control your mailbox and the hefty assessment you will pay for what they want. Don’t be fooled.
Any argument from certain Board members telling you that this will not result in a special assessment when they go to buy new mailboxes is, in my opinion, completely dishonest. It most certainly will result in a special assessment and that amount was about $330 back in 2019 as that Board then stated. Factor in the inflation and general rise in the cost of goods, and you better break into your piggybanks for this one.
One final point: the motion which passed 6-1 with Arthur as the lone dissenter was to bring to the Association legal counsel two items which will be brought to the community for a vote. Legal counsel will prepare the ballot.
Now with all of that as background, here are some comments made by board members on this agenda item:
Bob: “…mailboxes…not for new ones, just to clean up the paperwork.”
This is completely dishonest. This is not “just to clean up the paperwork” because there’s no paperwork to clean up (the HOA’s governing documents are clear) and because once the Board gets control of your mailboxes, it will have the authority to issue a special assessment without your input to purchase new mailboxes at their pleasure. Don’t be fooled by this demagoguery.
Arthur: “on the first portion of the ballot, each individual item should be separate; they’re stand-alone points and it looks like we’re bunching them together to sweeten the deal for #1 [the 75% to 66% reduction item]. The mailboxes, I don’t see how you can vote to take somebody’s personal property away. It’s not like eminent domain.”
Sue claimed that it’s all tied together. No, it’s actually not. They’re literally separate issues. If the members want to keep the 75% but lower the board’s spending power, they should have a right to decide those two separate issues independently of each other.
What are you afraid of? That they’ll disapprove the 75 to 66 but approve lowering the Board’s spending threshold before having to get a community vote? So what? Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe they don’t trust the Board.
And this Board threshold issue specifically only has to do with “alterations, improvements or modifications,” and not for wear and tear over which there is no such limit. So the contention that the issues are inextricably intertwined falls flat.
Harvey: “it makes it easier for a vote to pass but harder for the board to spend money. It’s a win-win situation here.”
Actually, it’s a lose-lose situation and a lot of members are acutely aware of the discrepancy of what some of these board members are saying and the real-world consequences.
Jeff: we’re trying to reverse what happened 15 or 18 years ago. It was 66, it was raised to 75%... mailboxes, we’d had this discussion. I know what the Postal Register says - that the owner owns the mailboxes.”
Ok, so if you admit what the Federal Postal Regulations say, then why are you defying Federal law? And don’t tell me the lawyer said it was ok; are you saying that he advised you to violate Federal law? I’m just asking based on the next statements:
Jeff: Every mailbox is on common property. In our attorney’s estimation… [that makes it common property]. It’s like a community tree [say what? Those trees were always common trees; mailboxes by your own admission above are owned by the homeowners]. End of discussion.”
Arthur: excuse me, it’s called an easement to get to your mailbox. So what you’re saying doesn’t make sense.”
Recall that at a prior board meeting, the Association’s attorney, Steven Rappaport, when asked specifically about the mailbox ownership issue, shockingly admitted that he was not familiar with our governing documents (despite this firm being this HOA’s law firm since 2009) and then he opined that because the mailboxes were on the common swale, they were therefore community property.
He provided no legal authority and in fact there is none to support such a ludicrous position in my opinion.
Richard: “everything we discussed with our HOA attorney. He’s an HOA attorney.”
Actually, he’s not “an HOA attorney.” “An HOA attorney” presumably is one certified in HOA law in the state of Florida. According to the Florida Bar’s website, Mr. Rappaport has no such certification. He’s just a regular lawyer.
All certifications are listed on the Florida Bar website, so if you go to other lawyers who are certified, you will see those certifications clearly listed. Here’s a link to Mr. Rappaport’s Bar profile:
He’s the same attorney that has shown up to other board meetings, including the virtual guard discussion where he once again opined on matters for which it was clear to me that he had not studied the HOA statutes, as a clear reading of them would have resulted in different conclusions. They are in plain English.
It gave me the clear impression that his mission was more geared toward appeasing the few board members to which he reports, which itself is wrong, as his obligation is to report to all board members equally. Recall that President Jeff suggested to equal Director Sue to get her own lawyer if she had any questions of the HOA attorney, thus shutting down her inquiries to this non-certified lawyer.
Lou Caplan of the firm was certified only in 2019 and Ed Hammel was certified in 2018 and their Bar profiles so indicate, but neither of them was at our Board meeting pontificating about such matters and this law firm has been the “HOA lawyers” since 2009.
So this lawyer, Mr. Rappaport, admits to the community to being unfamiliar with our HOA documents, has no HOA certification, and yet he’s the go-to guy for legal advice on HOA-specific issues.
And he was invited to a recent Board meeting without the knowledge of all Board members at the specific request of President Jeff and perhaps other like-minded board members and the property manager.
At that Board meeting, he stated without foundation that the mailboxes were community property because they were on the swale, he stated the Board could create sealed Minutes not open to member inspection, and that the Board could engage in a secret vote at a closed Board meeting. All of that in my opinion is flat out contrary to law and statutes as the clear language of the statutes and laws state.
Jeff: “it’s not a vote to change the mailboxes, just to show we’re gonna take over the mailboxes.”
This is a very misleading and deceptive statement. Once they “take over the mailboxes” the Board will have the power to issue a special assessment, with no community input, to purchase new mailboxes. Please prove to these deceivers and tricksters that you’re not stupid and vote this dishonest ballot measure down.
Harvey: “we’re trying to get the Covenants to agree.” False: the HOA’s Covenants are not in disagreement with themselves; they are entirely consistent with each other and with Federal law.
Pat: “…we want to change that to 66 2/3% to make it easier.” We? Speak for yourself, and if the results of the recent survey are any indication, you are well below the minimum votes required to effectuate this farce.
The vote was 6-1 to send the ballot to the attorney and then to the community (Arthur dissented).
Harvey: “it only takes 66 2/3% to change the Covenants.” That’s true.
2. Spin to Win Game / Game Shows Alive – Richard Greene
This is for an upcoming April 2023 event; flyers to follow. It passed unanimously.
3. Webmaster & CIT committee updates – Harvey Ginsberg
Longtime webmaster Mike Blackman passed away. Apparently well before any board vote or community input and participation, disgraced HOA president Marion Weil was assigned as “senior webmaster” based on, in Harvey’s words, her “seniority” (as opposed to talent) and resident CJ Kern was also added as a webmaster as he had a career in information technology.
Harvey stated that the webmasters met and chose her, but it is the Board that makes the actual decision. CJ and Alan Silver were also appointed as members of the CIT Committee (Computer Information Technology). CJ was also appointed as Chair of the CIT Committee based on his experience.
Arthur: “I have one comment. I’m good with the appointment of CJ and Alan Silver. I do question raising Marion to the senior webmaster position. In the past, she’s made decisions I’ve questioned.”
Harvey: “I would be happy to do it but I have a conflict because I’m on the Board.
Jeff: “… no decision is made by one webmaster alone. The senior webmaster is just the go-to contact person. All in favor?”
The vote was 6-0-1 with Arthur abstaining, at which point Jeff oddly muttered:
Jeff: “I don’t have a conflict of interest. Never mind, I don’t care anymore.”
Ok, fair enough; if you don’t care anymore, then don’t run for re-election. No one wants someone at the helm of the ship who doesn’t care anymore.
Now, with regard to these open positions, did any of you residents have an opportunity to put your name in as a potential replacement? Of course not. Why would these elitists open this up to the community? That would be inconsistent with their past behavior, which is generally a good indicator of their present and future behavior, so expect more of the same.
None of you was able to put your names in for consideration as you did earlier this year during committee and group sign-up time. Does that sound fair to you?
Director Arthur reports that he learned of this via email and his board packet after the fact. This was, once again, very disrespectful to fellow board members and to the membership at large, but the board members up for re-election in March (Jeff, Harvey, and Bob) don’t seem to care. How does that make you residents feel? Are you ok with that?
Please note that this has nothing to do with CJ or Alan. It has everything to do with the process by which this was done, in secret by a few board members, to the exclusion of the rest of the community and behind the backs of their fellow board member and you, the members. This was never discussed among all board members prior to the meeting at all.
As for the appointment of the disgraced Marion, this is an individual who actually abused her power as a webmaster, for which she is apparently being predictably rewarded.
And recall that you all sent a clear message back in 2021 when she ran for re-election and came in dead last out of a field of seven candidates and lost by a very wide margin. Your clear message was that you wanted her nowhere near positions of power.
Instead of respecting you, the members, they rewarded her. Rewarding bad behavior that you clearly called out is extremely disrespectful to you.
Send another clear message as to how you feel about it (and regarding other deplorable behavior these board members have engaged in) this coming March at election time when you cast your vote.
4. News and Views Update - Richard Greene
Richard (board liaison to News & Views, the HOA magazine) did not share his intended comments with all Board members prior to the board meeting. This is consistent with his tendency toward secrecy and refusal to provide information notwithstanding repeated requests from either a fellow colleague on the Board or a resident.
Richard reported that News & Views will reduce the number of issues from 8 to 6 annually to reduce costs. Of course, advertisers are lost for those removed issues, but my take is that the printing costs are what is driving up the deficit. Richard didn’t explain it at all.
I have a better idea: the deficit is only a little more than $4,000 a year, which is about $7 per household, so it’s negligible. How about stop running to the lawyers and racking up over $25,000 in mostly useless legal fees and taking some of that money to offset News & Views, which is a worthy endeavor, as the community should have a monthly magazine.
What have you all gotten for the legal fee expenditures? Close to nothing. I’ve seen some of the legal invoices (Deborah provided them to me upon my request). I know they’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to stifle free speech, and all of those endeavors failed.
Any law firm worth its salt would have advised the board members who were driving that expense (then HOA president Marion and current HOA president Jeff) that the First Amendment reigns supreme and would have refused to engage in their outrageous letter-writing campaign to try and shut down free speech, efforts which were obviously doomed to begin with.
But no, they gladly took on the repeatedly failed endeavor and you all paid the multiple invoices. You have former president Marion and current president Jeff to thank for that. Now you have less issues of your HOA magazine. How is that helpful or beneficial to you?
5. Yoga Room Floor $5,687.34 & Guardhouse Floor $2,726.61 – Jeff Green
Per Jeff, the flooring in the yoga room was damaged due to a water leak from the air conditioning unit that is on the other side of the wall and they couldn’t match the flooring. The guardhouse floor is 20 years old and is coming up in places, and the new floor is going to go right on top of it. This passed unanimously.
Second Residents’ Input Session:
1. Resident #1: This resident complained about the landscapers (PBB) regarding the care of his lawn, or lack thereof. He stated he has sent in work orders. Deborah stated she visited the location with the PBB supervisor and saw no problems.
My suggestion to homeowners going forward is to take photos of what the issues purportedly are so that you have evidence of what is unacceptable to you.
2. Resident #2: This resident stated she has been here for 22 years, that the community’s mailboxes look disgusting, that she replaced hers for not a lot of money, and that a letter needs to go out warning people that if they don’t upkeep their mailbox they will get a violation.
She’s right about the violation matter. The governing documents clearly spell out the progression of violations. The lack of enforcement is really the issue here.
All the mechanisms of enforcement are there. The way to deal with unkempt or otherwise compromised mailboxes is to follow the procedures on pages 4-16 and 4-17 of the governing documents, entitled “E. VIOLATION GUIDELINES.” They’re there. Use them.
Round Table Discussion and Adjournment:
Arthur wished everyone happy holidays and happy new year and the other Board members followed suit.
Pat: “your Board is trying our best and to give you more say in how things are done.”
This is patently misleading and manipulative. Giving the Board control over your mailboxes gives you less say in how things are done:
1. They’ll be no community vote when they hit you with a special assessment for new mailboxes you neither want nor like.
2. Giving less people control over your money for capital improvements has the same effect: the majority of you will be held hostage to fewer community members’ whims and desires for their pet projects which they will then force you to pay for, all the while harassing some of you in and around the common areas that you just paid to upgrade.
Jeff: “be very careful; Covid is still around.” Yes, and you’re sitting next to it.
Bob moved to adjourn the meeting, Harvey seconded it, and Arthur raised his hand to approve but Jeff once again failed to take the vote. The meeting was adjourned at 10:19am.
Thanks for reading, and to all of our wonderful neighbors and readers, thank you again for your unwavering support! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Your faithful scribe,Vicki Roberts
Hyperlinks To Happiness:
2. Sun-Sentinel October 11, 2022 article, “Boca condo board loses bid to withhold financial records from ‘troublemakers’”
3. “Explosive: Lies Exposed, A Smoking Gun, and Vindication:” June 15, 2022 Board meeting