Bob’s horse left him for the circus.
Here’s the lowdown on this current board member, who looks innocuous at first blush but upon closer scrutiny, turns out to be extremely disconcerting, and there is actual evidence of all of this:
A. Voted in secret to give bonuses to the office staff and also separately voted to give them 4% salary increases in July 2022 outside the terms of their contract, thus creating a new base price even higher at renewal time.
Gave these secret raises to FSR’s employees multiple times outside the contract and without your knowledge or opportunity for input before spending your money.
Just did it again in late January 2023, retroactive to January 1, 2023, by a secret, closed board meeting with his fellow rule-breakers, and the renewed contract’s effective date was January 1st! Staff got between 4% and 6% raises retroactive to January 1, 2023.
B. This board member, when he’s at home in Connecticut for about half the year, believes that the HOA president is the “site manager.” He literally said that. This means he has ceded his authority to another equal board member.
He has therefore breached his independent fiduciary duty to the members. This behavior also means he is not committed to representing you all year around. (P.S.: Deborah Balka, the property manager, is in fact the “site manager.”)
Ceding authority to locally based board members is a huge no-no, and the rest of the conduct described below should also disqualify him from receiving your vote.
You deserve seven equal and independent board members, not someone who follows or cedes to another board member as a dutiful soldier.
C. Bob also ceded his position as liaison to the Long-Range Planning Committee and had HOA president Jeff go to their first meeting and instruct the Chairperson as to what the focus was going to be. To heck with what the community wanted or didn’t, they were instructed to focus on reducing the community voting threshold from 75% to 66 2/3%.
D. Being on the Board just for engineering (he’s an engineer) is not a reason to be on the board. He pushed the road renovation project of $618,000 three to five years early after stating unequivocally that the streets were sound for the next 3-5 years.
All the streets needed was a $70K resealing which is about $116 per home instead of $1,030 per home. This was his pet project and totally unnecessary and completely fiscally irresponsible.
E. This is also the man who screamed expletives during a Board meeting (December 21, 2022; see synopsis entitled “Secretariat and the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”), so obviously he has anger issues and/or lack of control issues.
Having outbursts and carrying on like a toddler who didn’t get his sippy cup is not the level we all expect of a person making decisions on how to spend your money and what rules and regulations you must follow while living here.
F. Does not believe that all board votes must be in front of the community at an open board meeting.
G. Does not believe that agenda items must be noticed to the community so as to allow meaningful community input.
H. Does not believe that all board meetings require official minutes open to your inspection.
I. Partied privately with other Board members and vendors at a vendor-sponsored private shindig and against the clear statute to the contrary after being put on notice of its illegality. This party was put on by Hotwire and FSR, the latter of whom employs the office staff.
J. Erroneously believes that the president and the secretary control the agenda and that agenda items raised by one equal board member can be given to another at the whim of the majority, thus disenfranchising another equal board member.
K. Dispensed with Robert’s Rules which provide clarity and consistency at board meetings and replaced them with farcical rules crafted to stifle debate.
L. Has not indicated that he ever negotiated with a vendor on your behalf or engaged in competitive bidding for large landscaping projects (at the January 18, 2023 Board meeting, landscaping matters alone totaled $179,362! That’s $298.94 per house.). This is in addition to their base contract prices.
M. Inappropriately did not include all directors (Arthur) on all Board email correspondence and other discussions among Board members. This disenfranchised you, the members, because Arthur represents you as one equal board member.
The conduct described above shows that he, too, in my opinion and the opinion of others, should be disqualified from receiving your vote. You can still play tennis with him when he’s in town and not hibernating at his house in Connecticut; just don’t vote for him.
Bottom line: whoa and no for this guy.
7. Shelly Andreas:
Here is a reminder for those who cannot seem to, or who refuse to, separate business from friendship: this isn’t personal; this is business. Board business is business, and it involves spending other people’s money and instituting rules for living in this HOA. The criteria for being on the Board has nothing to do with personal relationships or feelings.
A. Shelly has been the Chair of the Landscaping Committee since the year of the flood. In fact, this candidate is just a recycling of the “same old same old.” This is just rotating in another of the old guard ruling class member with the same tired old policies of lack of transparency.
B. I say lack of transparency because she threw a hissy fit on the HOA Message Board after last year’s organizational meeting when Arthur questioned why Director Jeff should be president given all of his malfeasance and poor behavior (see my report of the Board’s organizational meeting on March 24, 2022, entitled, “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”).
Arthur was trying to be transparent as to why Director Sue was a much better choice for president than Director Jeff. Shelly put out a hit piece on the HOA message board against Arthur (see same report, under “Post-Board Meeting Chatter”) and she got away with it. The old guard ruling class loved it and left it up there. It was shameful all around.
She called out Arthur for objecting to Jeff as president and Arthur’s having set forth the factual reasons why. Here’s a news flash about what Arthur did, Shelly: it’s called healthy, robust debate. What part of healthy, robust debate don’t you like, Shelly?
It seems to me that Shelly is perfectly fine with all of the corruption both Arthur and I have pointed out now for the last several years; she’s never objected to it, and she laid into Arthur when he did object, and she did it publicly on the HOA message board for which the “powers that be” gave her complete and total immunity.
This circling of the wagons by this group of elitists is not what Cascade Lakes needs to lift itself up from the mire it finds itself in as it swirls around in corrupt mud.
C. In fact, Shelly is repeatedly rewarded with choice Chairperson positions for towing the line: she appears to have a lock on landscaping and the ARB (Architectural Review Board) Chairmanships. She’s the co-Chair of the Landscaping Committee.
D. Shelly, as Chair of the Landscaping Committee, supported the Board members’ (minus the objecting Arthur) giving a 5% raise to vendor Palm Beach Broward Landscaping in 2022 midway through the term of their contract and outside of the terms of their contract.
Arthur opposed that motion; it passed because Shelly’s cronies on the board were not being fiscally responsible in my opinion and that of others. Shelly fully and publicly supported this outrageous extracontractual raise midway through the contract with this vendor who rakes in (no pun intended) more than a million dollars a year from our HOA.
The excuse was that PBB Landscaping “deserved it.” Since when do you give more money to a vendor outside the contract price during the term because they “deserve it” and just because they say their prices for labor have increased? They knew that when they first presented their renewal terms. And why weren’t those terms negotiated at the time of the renewal?
Also, the contract itself already has built in inflationary increases, and we don’t believe PBB ever gave back to the HOA any money for years where there were no appreciable inflation factors, for example during the first year or two of Covid.
PBB asked for 2% above the 3% already in the contract and what did these Board members do with Shelly’s support and approval? They bent over and took it with Shelly’s full blessing, concurrence, and support.
The ridiculous excuse made by Director Richard was that if we didn’t pay it, PBB would walk. Nonsense. They’re not walking away from a million-dollar contract and opening up the door to their competitors here or anywhere. This was completely fiscally irresponsible on top of the total lack of negotiation to begin with.
Now, at the time of the next renewal in 2023, the starting price before the annual increase will be at this higher (new base) amount, not the amount stated in the actual contract. How is this being fiscally responsible? It’s not, plain and simple. It’s dumb. It makes all of them look like a bunch of saps and pushovers.
E. Furthermore, upon information and belief, as Co-Chair of the Landscaping Committee for umpteen years, Shelly has not once suggested a negotiation of prices with them for the seemingly monthly add-ons that appear on almost every agenda. Why not? How is that being fiscally responsible? That is one of your main jobs as Chairperson in my opinion.
How about suggesting other landscaping companies for competitive bidding? Upon information and belief she never did that once either. Why not? How is that being fiscally responsible? That is one of your main jobs as Chairperson in my opinion.
Candidate Tony D’Agrosa above, who was previously on the Board of a condo association in Palm Beach County, reports that they had six different landscaping companies bidding for their contract. If they can do it, why haven’t you?
As Co-Chair of the Landscaping Committee, one of your main jobs is to advise the board after doing your research on these matters. I have never heard of one time that any such research was done and/or any such advice was given.
Certainly, at Board meetings when Chairperson reports are routinely been given, in the four years I am here there has been zero reports that have ever mentioned any efforts to encourage negotiations with the landscaping company or to bring to the table competitive bidders for the board to consider. Why not?
And now this individual wants your vote to be on the Board with a zero track record of suggesting negotiation or bringing other companies in for competitive bidding. No way. That’s not fiscal responsibility at all. It’s the opposite.
The January 18, 2023 board meeting alone had $137,032 of add-ons for the landscaping vendor with no notice to the community (in addition to the $42,330 noticed on the agenda, for a total of $179,362), no negotiation, and no competitive bidding, and this was perfectly fine with Shelly, the Co-Chairperson of the Landscaping Committee.
If you vote for her, you’ll get more of the same, which is a board with no business sense whatsoever which continually eats away at your pocketbook.
I have a simple question for Shelly: did you ever research and suggest other potential landscapers for competitive bidding for the umpteen years you’ve headed the Landscaping Committee? Yes, or no?
Answer: to my knowledge, not since I’ve been here 4 years, and upon information and belief, never. Why the heck not?!? That’s an integral part of your obligation in my opinion.
Instead, you supported raises for PBB (the landscaping vendor) outside the terms of the contract already in effect. And my understanding is that that wasn’t negotiated either. Where is the fiscal responsibility?!?
All these years Shelly’s picking out flowers; why did she never pick out some landscaping companies to submit bids for landscaping which is our largest expense of over a million dollars a year?
Cast your vote elsewhere if you care about fiscal responsibility. This isn’t personal against Shelly; this is business. You have great choices in people with a lot of business sense and experience. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and vote intelligently for them instead. Vote smart.
8. Jay Bleiman:
Jay is a snowbird who is on the Board at his other home in Skokie, Illinois. That’s a lot of responsibility (and time commitment).
If elected here, it would therefore involve being on two different boards at the very same time with two different states’ statutes to follow, two different association documents to adhere to, keeping them separate, and juggling all of this while living half the time at the other place, not here. It’s doable, but is it wise?
I interviewed Jay in person on February 21, 2023 at 3:00pm. He stated to me, in the presence of another person, “I don’t expect to win. I’m running so people can get to know me and then maybe next year I’ll get more recognition and run and maybe win.”
That seems rather selfish, don’t you think? Getting recognition is not a valid reason to run for the board. Is he going to run every year from now on in the hopes of getting elected? Respectfully, that’s not a platform to run on.
At no time during the conversation did he mention what his goals were for the community or his vision for Cascade Lakes moving forward. He did mention that he was not happy with the current leadership who are up for re-election this cycle. On that we can agree.
He told me that he was going to Skokie, Illinois on March 14, 2023 and he will not be back here until April 7, 2023, so he will miss the March 23, 2023 Members Annual Meeting and the Election and also the first meeting of the Board, which is the all-important Organizational Meeting.
This is not a serious candidate and he is not fully committed to this community. He just proved it through this interview.
If you truly want change and you don’t want the current Board members up for re-election (and their cronies) to continue destroying this community and its good will, the slate of three, Tony, Alice, and George, are full time owners who are here and ready to work. Take advantage of their collective talent and let’s get it right this time.
Each candidate in this slate is 100% fully committed to Cascade Lakes and collectively, Tony, Alice, and George are a true dream team.
There’s no real jockeying for position here because the three thoroughbred challengers, Tony, Alice, and George, across the board are a trifecta of talent. It shouldn’t be close. The community is incredibly fortunate that full time owners Tony, Alice, and George have agreed to take their places at the starting post.
As we come into the backstretch of the race, you have a very clear choice here. You have a unique and golden opportunity to rid this place of corruption and instead, bring kindness, honesty, openness, transparency, and integrity to the community’s leadership, or you can continue to feed the corrupt beast that currently occupies the hallowed hallways of the clubhouse.
This community is either going to move forward in a more open, honest, and fair way, or it’s going to stagnate or further degenerate with so-called leadership led by personal egos and special interests and those who regularly violate the law and those who support that abhorrent behavior.
It’s time for those individuals and their entourage to start understanding the following inalienable principles:
1. That each Board member has an independent duty to the membership, not to the other board members,
2. That this is a business relationship, not a dictatorship, and not one based on friendships, and
3. That everyone has the right to express their opinions freely without being harassed and maligned.
The community’s reputation and your pocketbooks are at stake.
It’s time to bust up the stranglehold these rule-breaking elitists and this ruling class have had over this community for too long. Your Editor strongly endorses the following candidates:
In my opinion and that of many others, the rest of the candidates should not be anywhere near the halls of power controlling your lives and your pocketbooks.
This is no time to horse around. This is serious. Please give this your due consideration, and please vote well. Thanks for reading.