May 24, 2013 - When the sputtering economy chewed up their disposable income, tens of thousands of association members survived by renting out units that long served as vacation homes or retirement properties. The crippled housing market also burdened common interest communities with thousands of non-contributing units in various stages of foreclosure. To survive, near bankrupt associations were forced to lease this frozen inventory until the toxic units could be recycled into the market and sold. The thousands of unit owners and their associations drawn into the rental market overnight - often as neophyte landlords - helped pave the way for controversial House Bill 77. While a vast majority of those who rent units are "good neighbors" who comply with association rules, bill provisions that enable associations and their unit owners to dump rent deadbeats, tenant terrorists and/or recidivist rule breakers provoked opposition by consumer watchdogs. Fed up with watching a few nightmare tenants sponge off the budget or terrorize neighbors, ordinarily pro-consumer association advocates held their nose while quietly supporting this bill. Read on to see why!
Roberts: Free Tree, E 911, BCPA Cop
May 17, 2013 - In his May 2013 Newsletter, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts applauds a National Softball Association of the Deaf (NSAD) decision to hold their 2014 tournament in Mills Pond Park, promotes a program that adds trees to the City canopy by utilizing online services, extolls a new Sun Trolley service that caters to tourists on a layover, discloses the financial fruits of adding a fraud-busting Fort Lauderdale Detective to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office, portrays the Broward B-cycle Program as an environmental success story and offers a list of important upcoming events. However, Roberts’ leads off with kudos for a County decision to assume responsibility for funding a unified Emergency 911 Service, ending an extended war of nerves between Broward County and its 31 municipalities. It also relieves our City and County officials of having to explain that our tax dollars were being used by both sides to slug out the issue in court.
Association Bill Unanimously Approved
May 9, 2013 - On April 26, 2013, the Omnibus Association Bill - House Bill 73 sponsored by George Moraitis - cleared its final legislative hurdle and was ordered enrolled in preparation for a trip to the Governor’s desk. Following the unanimous approval of three Committee Substitutes in two House Subcommittees, one full Committee and the full House, the bill sailed through the Senate - also without one negative vote. As statewide association advocates for Condos, Coops and HOAs offered prospective input, Moraitis concentrated on bulking up historical deficits in association law, such as the long neglected rights of Cooperative owners. Systematically omitted from Association Bills, Cooperative homeowners lack many of the statutory rights and protections enjoyed by their condominium neighbors. Having fully recovered from last year's meltdown, the bill goes a long way to mirror those provisions for Cooperatives.
Roberts: BMPO, Beach Parking, Survey
April 25, 2013 - In his early Spring Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts applauds the City’s Public Works personnel in the Utilities Bureau for winning repeat accolades from the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA), describes how to leverage $6 into a year of free beach area parking, delivers access to a statistical snapshot of last year’s first half condo sales and residential rental activity, and links us to feedback distilled from a December 2012 online Neighborhood Survey that may add perspective to the City’s visioning objectives. An opening article looks at past and planned projects approved by the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Comprised of a local panel of business and political "Masters of the Universe", each County's MPO decides if, when and how transportation infrastructure improvement projects are implemented. They interact with neighboring MPOs to address regional projects. Roberts' insight derives from his service on the BMPO governing board.
The Citizens Circus
April 17, 2013 - After bouncing Interim Citizens President Tom Grady on June 13, 2012 – an appointee of the Governor who studied ethics under Charles Ponzi – the Citizens Board installed Barry Gilway, a 40-year insurance industry veteran from Maryland. Faced with differing rates that vary by county, Gilway observed that “Rates are not adequate within Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough counties,” and surmised “If rates were taken to full adequacy in those counties, it has the potential of completely destroying both home building and retail sales.” In the next few months, Citizens implemented a bogus reinspection program that stripped statutory mitigation discounts from 250,000 windstorm homeowners, adding $200 million to their bottom line while prompting a class action lawsuit. In October, Gilway received a rate increase from OIR of 10.8%, adding another $250 million to Citizens' coffers. Hammered through vetting committees with apocalyptic visions of disaster and admittedly false data, controversial Senate Bill 1770 would explode the 10% statutory rate cap by 30% to fund expensive private reinsurance, skyrocket rates by 60% to 70% and empower a gubernatorial finger puppet to set insurance rates. Unless...
LaMarca: Pressing the County Agenda
April 8, 2013 - His boots strapped since January, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca has been shuttling between Tallahassee and Washington D.C. armed with the Broward Commission’s 29-page legislative agenda. In his April Newsletter, LaMarca summarizes his progress in the State and National Capitols. On March 13 and 14, he joined the Broward Legislative Delegation in their annual “Broward Days” promotion of County interests in the State Capitol. As “Team Leader” of the Broward Days’ International Business and Trade Committee, LaMarca spearheads County efforts in Tallahassee to insure Port Everglades' future as an economic powerhouse by developing its competitive muscle. Having assumed the lead County role in cultivating and collecting beach renourishment resources, he chased a $20 million federally reimbursable appropriation in Tallahassee to help offset the impending $40 million Segment II project cost. In Washington D.C., he dunned our deadbeat Federal government for the $12 million it still owes the County on its $26 million obligation for the Segment III renourishment of south county beaches. To learn what else he tackled while “on the road,” read on...
What Were They Thinking?
March 28, 2013 - While closely monitoring a handful of high profile association bills during the legislative session, politically active Common Interest Communities and their advocates tend to overlook scores of bills that, although targeted to other purposes, adversely impact their interests. The following two needles in the 2013 legislative haystack will not only harm unit owners, the underlying rationale for their existence strains credibility. Fueled by political “quid pro quo” and cruising below the media radar, these thinly veiled pork piñatas stand an excellent chance of becoming law – while we sleep. One is an "in your face" patronage bill masquerading as an attempt to shield Homestead Exemptions from abuse. The other is a "pro-bank" wolf in "pro-association" clothing. See for yourself - read on...
Bad Bill: Negligence & the Rabbit Hole
March 15, 2013 - In 2010, 2011, and again this year, Palm City Senator Joe Negron filed bills that seek to legally immunize Design Professionals (architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers & surveyors) to damages resulting from their own negligence. An outraged public convinced former Governor Charlie Crist to veto this anti-consumer gremlin in 2010 and lawmakers marooned it on the calendar in 2011. With design professional trade association lobbyists greasing a smooth ride in vetting committees, Senate Bill 286 is sliding through the legislative gauntlet. No other class of professional has ever been so completely financially insulated from the legal repercussions of malpractice, wrongful acts, or misconduct. Until now - along with doctors, lawyers, and accountants - these licensed professionals have been prohibited by statute from limiting exposure due to their own negligence. Once enacted, if an engineer designs a defective roof, oversees and signs off on construction deliberately peppered with building code violations, when it collapses later that day, the association would not even be legally entitled to an apology. This bill is a prime candidate for the 2013 session's "Shaft the Public" award. Read why...
Galt Sun Trolley: Back from the Brink
March 5, 2013 - Having survived an up-close view of the Abyss, the Sun Trolley’s Galt Mile Route has come roaring back from the brink of oblivion. On October 10, 2008, after promising to save the Galt Mile route, former Sun Trolley Executive Director Les Hollingsworth surreptitiously drafted a termination notice condoning its demise! When the GMCA revealed Hollingsworth’s betrayal, a phalanx of angry residents who attended the October 21, 2008 City Commission meeting convinced Commissioners to abort the termination. After giving Hollingsworth the boot, Interim Executive Director Chris Wren met with GMCA officials to script a new survival strategy for our besieged local bus service. Since then, connectivity upgrades engineered by Wren and Managing Director Patricia Zeiler turned the Galt Mile route into a shopper's panacea; ridership has exploded and vendors have been pleading for status as a Sun Trolley destination site. Among a series of recent service upgrades, last month Imperial Point Hospital was added to the Galt Mile route. For the whole story - Read on...
Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival
February 25, 2013 - Grab your significant other, your best friend or the whole gang and spend the most spectacular Saturday a Culinary Enthusiast can imagine along the most famous beach front condo strips in Florida. Please your palate, step into your stride and mingle among the best chefs in South Florida at the Inaugural Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival on Saturday, March 2, 2013 from 4 PM to 8 PM. Each of the participating chefs specialize in signature dishes with which they have become identified. To sample these extraordinary offerings, patrons would have to visit their various restaurants over several months and lay out big bucks. At the Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival, participants can achieve this in a few hours - and for a pittance. By the way, the spotlight it brings to the Galt Mile won't exactly hurt the value of our homes.
2013 Omnibus Association Bill
February 15, 2013 - The beneficiary of wisdom filched from a legislative catharsis, on December 28, 2012, District 93 Statehouse Representative George R. Moraitis filed House Bill 73. Building on the momentum of his successful 2011 Omnibus Association Bill (HB 1195), Moraitis and former Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff teamed up last year to file House Bill 319 and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 680. The third of three consecutive bills assembled from the combined wish lists of Condominiums, Cooperatives and Homeowner Associations across the State, the bills whizzed through vetting committees in both houses en route to an anticipated soft landing on the Governor’s desk – when disaster struck. When conflicted attorneys slipped a pro-lender amendment into the legislation, it enraged association supporters. During a subsequent series of events reminiscent of episodes from the Three Stooges, the legislation self-destructed. Having learned the hard way, a regretful Moraitis refiled for the 2013 session - without the scam amendment.
LaMarca: County Wish List to Tally
February 8, 2013 - On January 8, 2013, the Broward Board of County Commissioners approved a 2013 State Legislative Program. The 29-page legislative libretto features a buffet of proposals with widely varying impacts, ranging from critical appropriations to concessions for paper-thin local special interests (regulatory requirements for competitive eating contests, standardized parasailing guidelines, etc.). Given the County’s Democrat voting plurality, eight of the County’s nine governing Commissioners are Democrats. As the sole Republican on the Broward Board, Chip LaMarca’s stock goes up every January, when tagged to carry Broward’s wish list to the State Capitol. As promised, Beach Renourishment tops the list, followed by the financial fuel to complete time-critical infrastructure improvements in Port Everglades - as well as some other issues that resonated with LaMarca. To learn what they are - Read on...
Fast-Track Foreclosures: Round III
February 1, 2013 - Last year, Naples Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo filed House Bill 213 - the Fair Foreclosure Act. She anticipated prodding lenders into reviving stalled Florida foreclosures and lifting 368,000 properties out of hopelessly clogged dockets and into the market. The huge backlog of Florida foreclosures mired in judicial limbo burdened communities with 1.7 million deteriorating vacant structures while banks were left holding portfolios filled with bad paper. Killed by the banking lobby, Passidomo is reviving the bill in 2013. On January 3, she filed House Bill 87. In addition to providing associations with a vehicle that will finally force lenders to recycle frozen properties currently draining association budgets, the bill should shrink the 858 days that the average foreclosure case will gobble up before being finalized in one of Florida's 20 Circuit Courts. Non-judicial states with comparably astronomical foreclosure rates, like California and Nevada, complete the same ordeal in 4 months. Without legislative relief, Florida’s recovery will remain hostage to this bloated backlog of bad loans.
Roberts: Beach Fix, Parker, Lien Deal
January 24, 2013 - After opening with evidence of the City’s improving economic outlook, Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ January 2013 newsletter jumps to Beach Renourishment, summarizing progress of the City - County - State (FDOT) short term A1A recovery plan before concluding with a confirmation that resonates with every Galt Mile resident - exclaiming “that we are on schedule for the long overdue Phase II beach renourishment project.” He then describes a lien amnesty program that will incentivize the rehabilitation of homes long frozen in disrepair by upside down mortgages and enable the sale of abandoned properties currently buried in code violations. A follow-up on State-wide efforts to criminalize the ever-changing chemistry of designer drugs bespeaks Attorney General Pam Bondi’s December 11, 2012 emergency rule outlawing 22 new synthetic variants. Dwarfed by these well publicized, high profile updates is a less noteworthy item about a service to help drivers find parking spaces in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Actually, the nascent technology that enables this service could change the way cities worldwide operate in the immediate future.
The Mercenary Snitch Bill
January 17, 2013 - On June 17, 2010, as Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish closed a two-hour presentation to the Advisory Board, GMCA President Pio Ieraci expressed concern about a notice sent by Parrish to Galt Mile associations requesting that they “turn over any information about unit owners that may have improperly applied for a Homestead Exemption.” Pio said “I am disturbed by this request. Not only are we being asked to do your job, I believe that it’s wrong to violate the confidentiality of our members’ information.” Following a heated defense of her request, Parrish relented, conceding that associations are obligated to safeguard their residents’ confidentiality, while casually observing that “Nobody likes a rat.” Two and a half years later, Sarasota Senator Nancy Detert (District 28) is looking for a few good rats. On January 7, 2013, she filed SB 182, legislation drafted to deter abuse of Florida’s homestead exemption. Despite laudable objectives, the bill’s provisions range from poorly conceived to openly dangerous. By using a bounty to incentivize mercenary snitches and forcing associations to rat out their members, the bill would unproductively overwhelm the Property Appraiser’s limited verification resources while immersing associations in a maelstrom of legal jeopardy.
The Bad Blood at BSO
January 7, 2013 - The Broward Sheriff’s Office is an Oligarchy, an agency where every scrap of power resides with the elected Sheriff. As such, voters reasonably assume that the agency’s integrity depends on the Sheriff’s character. In the past decade, BSO has struggled to shed its reputation as an ethical sewer. As demonstrated by both campaign teams in the recent election, voters select a Sheriff based on the candidate's ability to dodge or shed mud. As long as the Broward Sheriff is a partisan Constitutional Officer, survival at BSO will remain focused on politics, with re-election as its Holy Grail and public safety relegated to an afterthought. The problems plaguing BSO have less to do with the Sheriff than the political culture that drives the institution. Promotions and jobs are bartered for votes and lucrative contracts go to campaign contributors while demotions and pink slips await anyone unwilling to serve as a political asset. Whether incoming Sheriff Scott Israel can overcome BSO’s pathological susceptibility to corruption remains to be seen. Here’s the playing field.
Long & Short: A1A & Beach Fix Plans
December 25, 2012 - On December 10, more than 300 local residents, their elected officials from the City, County and State, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) bureaucrats and representatives from environmental, business and civic organizations converged on the Beach Community Center. While the public officials were there to float long and short term A1A recovery proposals, residents who packed the SRO Monday night event were passionately preoccupied with the future of their beach. In FDOT's $3 million short term solution, after punching steel sheets 45 feet into the ground to isolate the 4 blocks of rebuilt roadway, the County will extend the adjacent beach by 20 to 40 feet with 50,000 cubic yards of sand. Longer term, FDOT envisions the temporary 2-lane A1A configuration abutted with a third “left turn” lane, bike lanes and a long-planned Greenway. After 47 years of frivolous renourishment delays, apprehensive residents were relieved by Eric Myers' confirmation that neither project will impact the December 2013 start date for the Segment II beach fix. Here's what happened...
Presidents Council: Sea Turtles & Sandy
December 17, 2012 - On December 3, 2012, the Galt Mile Community Association convened a 7:30 PM Presidents Council Meeting at Plaza East Condominium. After thanking Plaza East President Glenn Rollo for hosting the final meeting in 2012, Presidents Council Chair Pio Ieraci announced that the agenda was predominated by two issues that are critically important to Galt Mile residents and their associations. To address a growing community anger stemming from abusive and enigmatic Sea Turtle policies, an authoritative forum was configured to explain how these concerns will be resolved going forward. Since our future, both individually and as a community, is inextricably tied to the fate of our beach, we needed to know what remedies were being considered to restore Fort Lauderdale’s collapsed coast, 4 soggy blocks of A1A and our Galt Mile beach.
City and GMCA to Settle Turtle Woes
December 8, 2012 - On October 30, as Hurricane Sandy was stripping beaches along the eastern Seaboard, City Manager Lee Feldman convened a round table meeting to examine a State (FWC) Sea Turtle nest marking policy that has soured neighborhoods, blistered tourism and turned the City’s signature resource into a battlefield. Additionally, the City’s poorly drafted 2003 Turtle-Safe Lighting Ordinance that forces the entire beach area into darkness for 75% of the year was fatally crippling the beach neighborhood’s viability as an economic engine, endangering drivers and pedestrians along A1A and opening serious security and safety breaches in beachfront residential communities. If unable to stem the growing problems, officials would have to reshape the ordinance to promote Sea Turtle survival without crippling the City or sacrificing its residents. Weeks later, City Code Enforcement officials met with Galt Mile representatives to revive an enforcement formula that elicited compliance by balancing the needs of Sea Turtles with those of local residents and their associations.
LaMarca: Economy Needs Beach Fix
November 26, 2012 - Galt Mile residents have been living in Beach Renourishment hell for decades. In the 47 years since the Broward County Shore Protection Project was authorized by Section 301 of Public Law 89-298 (October 27, 1965), the initial $1,093,000 cost to rehabilitate the entire County coastline has exploded exponentially. If compared to the inflation-adjusted 1965 estimate of nearly $8 million, the current price tag of $90 million for Segments II and III suggests an $82 million “dawdling” penalty. In his November 2012 Newsletter, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca outlines the undermining factors that have long plagued this project and explains how they have since been mollified. Mined from upland sources and trucked to staging sites in Pompano, LBTS, the Galt Mile and Fort Lauderdale, beach fill matched in size and color will fatten skeletal north county beaches while minimizing environmental, regulatory and political obstacles.
Roberts: Explorers, Pill Mills, St. Marking
November 19, 2012 - In his November 2012 message to constituents, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts snapshots municipal and district issues heading into the holiday season. As affirmed in the September budget hearings, he laments a negligible tax rate increase to service City debt and applauds a revival of the FLPD Explorer program, which prepares young prospective police officers for life on the force. He explains technological advances in the City’s street resurfacing capabilities and reviews an ordinance that will diminish the adverse impacts of abandoned homes. Roberts updates an in-progress Galt Mile experiment that may resolve a statewide controversy over abuse of the One-Call utility marking system. He also briefly mentions a recent skirmish between the State and a local pill mill. This minor disruption to clinic operations brings focus to the tediously slow process of shutting down an industry that plants 14 Floridians each and every day.
Nest Feathering 101: Lawyers vs. CAMs
November 11, 2012 - The Florida Supreme Court has delegated to The Florida Bar the duty to investigate and prosecute allegations of unauthorized practice of law (UPL). The Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law supervises circuit committees (which investigate UPL reports and submit findings to the statewide standing committee). A formal advisory opinion is then filed with the Florida Supreme Court. On March 28, 2012, then Chairman George Meyer of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar (RPPTL Section) sent a request to the Standing UPL Committee to determine whether certain activities constitute the unauthorized practice of law if performed by Community Association Managers. On September 21, 2012, the Committee determined whether the performance of 14 specific activities by a CAM manager constitutes UPL. Amid accusations of nest feathering and despite several badly skewed rulings, each violation is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to one thousand dollars. Since UPL is a criminal offense in the State of Florida, insurance or contractual indemnification provisions are often inapplicable - for managers AND/OR board members who play lawyer.
What's That Strange Taste?
November 2, 2012 - Last November, more than a dozen Galt Mile residents sent emails to the neighborhood association complaining about the odd taste of their tap water. Several of our neighbors surmised that vengeful kids, having been ejected from the beach on Halloween by the Galt Mile Security Patrol, somehow sabotaged their association's water. In fact, the City of Fort Lauderdale's Water Services temporarily altered the chemical purification process as part of a regular system maintenance program. On October 27, 2012, Galt Mile Community Association President Pio Ieraci sent a notice to member associations alerting them to a repeat performance of last year's purification effort. Entitled, "Free Chlorine" the City Newsletter message mirrored a notice posted on the City website exclaiming "Preventive Maintenance of Drinking Water System Set for October 30 to November 20, 2012". The text of the message is as follows:
A Constitutional Junkyard
October 23, 2012 - Of the five methodologies available to amend the Florida Constitution, citizen initiative petitions and legislative Joint Resolutions are the most common. This year, Republican legislators cobbled together several failed bills that withered under Committee Review or public scrutiny. Using partisan pressure to eke out the required two-thirds majority in both houses, they prepared 11 Joint Resolutions for ballot eligibility. Since the ballot process barely skirts the public radar, politicians can promote openly anathematic issues with little fear of political reprisal or constituent backlash. To inoculate their handiwork against the same fatal public scrutiny that buried the bills from which they were sourced, they were mixed in with a fistful of poorly timed tax exemptions and a few amendments so fatuous that Constitutional watchdogs on both sides of the aisle concede them as “filler”. To avoid the wallet pounding that could follow ticking off “yes” or “no” based on creatively spurious ballot titles, Read On...
Summer of Scam - 2012
October 12, 2012 - An eclectic group of sleaze bags logged in substantial overtime this summer. Each of the following scams either threatened or victimized Galt Milers during the stickiest June through August in years. Thousands of cash-strapped utility customers were stung by a low-tech nationwide fraud using a hook based on the weather, the political climate, Facebook and the “allure of the freebie”. Another scam targeted the men and women who manage our homes, threatening their license and livelihood. The last one, conceived by our clever Governor, will insure that the State of Florida maintains its squirrelly reputation as the nation’s mortgage fraud “Olympian” while the Venice of America perseveres as “Fraud Lauderdale.” Curious? Welcome to Florida's 2012 Summer of Scam!
Comcast on the Galt Mile - 2012 Edition
September 30, 2012 - About 20% of our Galt Mile Associations will negotiate bulk television contract renewals this year. Whether conducted by a committee, some board members or a building manager to whom this task was delegated, the Federal law that forced broadcasters to transition from analog to digital transmissions on June 12, 2009 will critically impact their efforts. Comcast’s competition remains paper thin, as alternative bulk television service providers DirecTV and Dish Network are still using a contractual format that requires executing an additional (second) agreement with one of several broadcaster-authorized local vendors to perform maintenance services. Unfortunately, these small companies commonly cycle in and out of business, often resurfacing as some virgin enterprise that carries no liability for agreements executed under their previous incarnation. Despite years of courting Galt Mile associations, AT&T's promise to challenge Comcast with its first viable competitor is currently limited to Uverse internet services in associations along Galt Ocean Drive. To see how a renewed 2012 Comcast contract may affect you, read on...
LaMarca: My Favorite Time of Year
September 20, 2012 - In his October 2012 newsletter, as Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca takes us on an autumn stroll through our strikingly opulent beaches and parks, he turns our attention to a local reflection of a national disgrace. It boggles the mind that one sixth of the families in the greatest country on the planet suffer from chronic hunger. When people all over the world close their eyes and dream of paradise, most of them envision South Florida. Of the nearly 49 million Americans (32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children) that struggle with hunger, 938,000 live within spitting distance. Since Galt Mile residents have participated in annual food drives for years, LaMarca’s newsletter should resonate here. Broward County’s 365 Food Drive, a perpetual food distribution collaboration with “Feeding South Florida”, collected more than 6,775 pounds of food since January. If you missed an opportunity to soften life for some Broward families by clearing your shelves this year, our voice on the County Board points out that it’s not too late.
Roberts: Next Door, Vision & Dispatch
September 6, 2012 - In his first message to constituents following the summer Commission hiatus, District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts serves up an eclectic buffet of events and initiatives. Along with a curiously sadistic methodology for encouraging the removal of illegal signs by torturing scofflaws with “robocalls” and a new venue for participating in the visioning process, he outlines an innovative Police Department tactic that utilizes Nuisance Abatement procedures to deter criminal activity. The Commissioner also describes a new technology installed along Broward thoroughfares that will expedite traffic information and a new high speed rail connection between Orlando and Miami. However... the Commissioner opens his newsletter with cryptic assurances that negotiations to implement an integrated Public Safety Dispatch System will not jeopardize our neighborhood, despite an impending litigation. If his presumption about your familiarity with “the ongoing dispute” is misplaced, here’s how a county-wide effort to comply with a decade-old voter mandate degenerated into the political equivalent of “Monday Night Slammo!”
Saving a Species: Lighting or Lawyers?
August 29, 2012 - At the May 17, 2012 GMCA Advisory Board meeting, among the issues that City Commissioner Bruce Roberts pledged to address over the summer was an inconsistent and imbalanced enforcement policy for beachfront turtle-safe lighting. At a subsequent Presidents Council meeting a few weeks later, City officials vowed to revive a previously successful compliance process that fell prey to late 2010 personnel changes in City government. When association officials were given the floor, it became evident that the enforcement issue veiled a Pandora’s Box of frustration and animosity that had grown exponentially over the sea turtle nesting season. A series of ill-conceived policies enacted by Fish and Wildlife in Tallahassee had systematically alienated beachfront homeowners whose cooperation is critical to the program's success. After mandating a tenfold expansion of the area surrounding each nest site and blocking the removal of rotting seaweed that admittedly generates toxic concentrations of bacteria and fungi, complaints that rolled in from coastal communities across the state finally snagged their attention. Read on....
GMCA, City & One-Call to Zap Graffiti
August 12, 2012 - For more than a decade, the Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) fumbled enforcement of a City promise to maintain in a “Disney-like manner” the self-funded landscape and hardscape assets included in the 1993 Galt Mile Improvement Project. In late 2008, the GMCA Advisory Board unanimously appointed José “Chepo” Vega to perform an ongoing review of these features along Galt Ocean Drive and the surrounding area. Despite Chepo's mythic success in stabilizing erratic neighborhood maintenance via his dogged pursuit of City and County officials, Chepo was flummoxed by "Utility Graffiti", the markings used to locate underground utility elements in anticipation of nearby excavation. When the GMCA met with Sunshine State One-Call (the State-sponsored agency responsible for protecting the interred utilities) last year to develop a methodology to remove markings for completed projects, the process crashed and burned. On August 6, 2012, a second bite at the apple succeeded. If it works, it will become standard practice in neighborhoods throughout Florida. Here's the plan...
FEMA to Scrap Commission Rebates
July 26, 2012 - On April 4, 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the termination of a program enacted in 2006 that allowed agents writing national flood insurance policies to rebate a portion of their commission to cash-strapped customers. The competitive edge enabled mom and pop agencies to snag grateful clients from disgruntled industry giants. Voluntary commission rebates of up to 15% play a critical role in the fiscal survival strategy of thousands of Florida associations (some local beachfront associations saved between $2000 and $10,000 annually). Why did FEMA suddenly reverse a policy that helped consumers without costing the agency (or taxpayers) a dime? Fearful of alienating prospective employers when faced with “life after government service”, when politically powerful insurance juggernauts sent lobbyists to convince FEMA that competition is “un-American”, FEMA bureaucrats jumped on the bandwagon. If enough people sign an online petition sponsored by the Community Advocacy Network (CAN), we can quash this blatantly anti-consumer policy blister! Read On...
LaMarca: The Convention Center Cure
July 17, 2012 - Any roadmap for Broward’s economic recovery must include putting people back to work. In his July Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca reminds constituents of his campaign promise to expedite the County’s recovery from the effects of the collapsed housing market. After repeatedly piling pork into the annual County spending plan, tanking property values finally prompted long overdue fiscal restraint by the same County Commissioners who fleeced Broward taxpayers for decades. However, simply forcing the spending plan through an ever-tightening fiscal shredder won’t reverse the County’s fiscal dilemma. Until recycling the backlog of toxically submerged homes revives property values, the County’s skull-blocked economy can best be awakened by stoking its economic engines. Among the infrastructure build-outs on LaMarca's plate is a desperately needed convention center hotel. The County is annually losing tens of $millions in convention business to venues with dedicated lodging facilities. If done properly, it won't cost taxpayers a dime. While his plan isn't fancy, its got teeth.
Homestead Express - 2012
July 11, 2012 - The Florida Constitution provides all legal Florida residents with a tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of their owner/occupied homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and other "permanent residences" - if they qualify. Homesteaded properties are eligible for the protective “Save Our Homes” tax cap. Also available are a host of traditional and new exemptions for seniors, veterans, widows/widowers, active military, the blind, disabled persons and properties with build-outs for Mom, Dad, Grandma and/or Grandpa. Apply for exemptions in person at an outreach event (Beach Community Center), by mail to BCPA, interactively online or by requesting “homesteads-on-wheels” (for house-bound applicants). Although the March 1 "soft" deadline is long gone, you've two months to meet the September 18 "hard" deadline. If you miss that, no "Good Cause" sob story will help. Learn about the 2012 incarnation of the Homestead Express!
Comm. Roberts’ July 2012 Newsletter
July 3, 2012 - Record-worthy for its volume of content, Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ July 2012 Newsletter offers something for everyone. Roberts updates our search for a new City Attorney, warns about Hurricane preparedness, invites participation in the visioning process (including a series of District-specific Telephone Townhall Meetings respectively hosted by each District’s Commissioner) and posts a calendar of summer events. Our Commissioner outlines Broward’s participation in the DOE's competitive Sunshot Program (specifically - Go SOLAR! the Broward Rooftop Solar Challenge). He explains how we can best highlight local neighborhood events, save money with a free Prescription Discount Card, and read two ballot-ready City Charter Amendments. Two items warrant a closer look. The Galt Mile Sun Trolley's ridership uptick and City plans to criminalize designer drugs currently sold in retail shops all over town. These are not your Grandmother’s Bath Salts!
Presidents Council Season Finale
June 23, 2012 - Tackling an overstuffed agenda in the final Galt Mile Presidents Council meeting before the summer hiatus, officials from almost every Galt Mile association heard from a panoply of public officials and local bureaucrats. Along with updates by State and County representatives, reports from member associations about shared operational stumbling blocks and a spot review of the failed 2012 omnibus association bill, a delegation of municipal officials helped defuse community enmity over enigmatic threats mailed by the City to unit owners and their associations. After apologizing for the ill-conceived correspondences and discussing contradictions that belabor municipal policies for Utility Graffiti, open permits and turtle-safe lighting, officials from building services, code compliance and the City Manager’s office expressed their intention to cooperatively develop non-contentious resolutions with Commissioner Roberts and neighborhood association officials. Surprisingly, the process is already underway. In a July 24th forum being staged by Roberts, the first agenda item will be the recent explosion of Utility Graffiti. Curing open permits dating back to the Renaissance and a balanced turtle-safe lighting process will follow later this summer.
Red Light Cash Cameras - Round Two
June 10, 2012 - Despite the budgetary enticements of red light camera enforcement, the City of Fort Lauderdale postponed consideration of an automated citation system until two years ago for good reason. Before 2010, no Florida Statute provided for the prosecution of violations based on red light camera evidence. More importantly, the City Commission was leery of entanglement in a litigious constitutional controversy. Choking on a $31 million budget deficit, the City Commission opted to risk tap dancing across a legal mine field. Program vendor American Traffic Systems (ATS) promised that the program would deter traffic violations, free up police officers, and dump $millions into city coffers. After a year and a half of tolerating what Broward Mayor John Rodstrom described as "a total disaster," and that "anything that could go wrong went wrong," Fort Lauderdale is planning to quadruple the number of camera-baited intersections. By the way, one third of the 15 new cash-camera corners are within spitting distance of the Galt Ocean Mile.
Panhandling: A Line in the Sand
May 31, 2012 - Whether registered by people heading into work, students cutting through Stranahan Park to the Library or tourists returning to their hotels, the unprecedented number of panhandling complaints clogging City Hall finally reached a critical mass. When the cost of tolerance suddenly included sacrificing the neighborhood’s public park and rendered streets increasingly unsafe for families, disaffected residents ramped up pressure on City officials to “contain” the problem. With some 1,600 guests of the city fluffing the bushes each night before nodding off in public parks (incremental to the 7,000 squirreled away in shelters), the City Commission decided that a strategy to reclaim these resources for the general public should be integrated into the City’s Homeless policy. To buttonhole soliciting without triggering First Amendment land mines, retiring City Attorney Harry Stewart stitched together a Chinese menu of court-tested prohibitions that should bar the downtown business district to panhandling. City officials will either sustain the new policy or pull the plug based on how it impacts the City's image. Gee... what a surprise!
LaMarca: Seasonal Storms & New Blood
May 24, 2012 - In the June - July, 2012 edition of his constituent Newsletter, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca confines his focus to two issues - a new hire and the panoply of Hurricane resources available to Broward residents. Heeding LaMarca’s recommendation that disabled and elderly persons participate in the Broward County Vulnerable Resident Registry could save the lives of pro-active registrants. The Commissioner recently rebalanced his staff, installing John David Newstreet as his District Director. Since his responsibilities include interfacing with LaMarca’s County constituents, some background is in order. Read on...
Roberts: Atlantech, Mix it-Curb it, B-cycle
May 17, 2012 - District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts peppered his May 2012 newsletter with a blend of event alerts and interesting informational tidbits. The listed resources are both useful and easily accessed although some of the issues could benefit from context. For instance, the heartwarming morality play about the New Boston Atlantech Tower will leave his constituents (with the exception of those who participated in the agreement) scratching their heads. Other issues Roberts touches on are Homestead Exemption Fraud, Sea Turtle Nesting Season, accessing Fort Lauderdale's Customer Service Center, FPL’s On-line Calculator, the Great American Beach Party scheduled for Memorial Day, Gene’s Green Scene - City Forester Gene Dempsey’s new blog on the City’s website, the new "Mix It. Curb It." Single-Stream Recycling Cart Program that's is the works and information about B-cycle - a new European style bike-sharing system recently installed in 26 locations throughout Broward County - including 3 in the Galt Mile neighborhood. Check it out...
FDOT to Squelch Galt A1A Speedway
May 10, 2012 - On May 3, 2012, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) convened a meeting at the Beach Community Center to inform neighborhood residents about a $2.1 million FDOT plan to rehabilitate State Road A1A (SR A1A) from Flamingo Avenue to Oakland Park Boulevard. Among the 35 “interested parties” who attended the 6 PM meeting were curious local residents, apprehensive neighborhood vendors and relieved association officials. After banging around on the back shelf since 2007 and 6 years of tweaking, the long-rumored project was reanimated and fitted with a May 7, 2012 start date. Hopefully the first of two stages anticipated to elevate the dilapidated, dreary, dangerous speedway filled with patched and unpatched potholes, extensive spiderweb cracks and catch-as-catch-can landscaping into a thoroughfare worthy of its recent designation as a "Scenic Highway", the plan is expected to yield a long sought after incremental benefit - especially for our neighbors in Coral Ridge Towers South and East. It should deter the weekly deployment of A1A as a drag strip!
Myers Breaks New Beach Plan
April 22, 2012 - It’s no revelation that our beach has been rapidly dwindling from the effects of tidal erosion. Given the shrinking beach’s critical importance to the neighborhood’s economy and its residents’ quality of life, Galt Milers and their associations have been passionately vested in its rescue for more than a decade. Annually since before the Millennium, Galt Mile residents had been repeatedly assured by Broward officials that their severely eroded beach would be renourished “next year”. Enthusiasm was slowly replaced by a numbing cynicism as frustrated residents increasingly reacted to empty county promises like rats on a shock plate. Having redesigned the Broward Beach Project with input from participating governmental agencies and every jurisdiction with standing, Myers plans to widen beaches in Pompano, the Galt Mile and Fort Lauderdale by placing 750,000 cubic yards of sand mined from an upland sand source along two separate portions of the Segment II shoreline. On April 2, 2012, Myers addressed the Galt Mile Presidents Council, detailing the revised project’s scope, sand source, cost and the Segment II timetable. Want in? Read on...
Critical Beach Meeting!
On May 2, 2012, Broward County Natural Resources Administrator Eric Myers is convening a 6 PM “Beach Nourishment Project Environmental Assessment Scoping Meeting” at the Beach Community Center. How the audience reacts to the presentation will determine whether or not our Galt Mile Beach is extended about 100 feet into the ocean or left to disappear completely. After more than a decade of fighting to repair our eroded beach, our time has come - the decision is in our hands. However, unless we show up in strength, outside political interests who oppose the project will insist that they are speaking on your behalf. Please be there - ITS YOUR BEACH!!! Click Here to learn about the beach plan. Click Here to learn about Scoping Meeting.
LaMarca: The Price of a Promise
April 12, 2012 - After decades of mutely watching legislators design election districts blemished by incumbent and party advantages, Florida voters in 2010 finally took back a process that lawmakers had long ago turned on its head. When the electorate approved Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6, lawmakers newly deprived of the right to rig elections began swapping constituencies, changing chambers or jumping the aisle to exploit any remaining legal election advantages. Galt Mile residents recently witnessed this new phenomenon in their own back yard. When retired Lieutenant Colonel Allen West abandoned a constituency that launched his Congressional career, his departure triggered a round of political musical chairs that ultimately forced Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca to decide between political ascendancy and keeping his promises. To his credit, he decided to stick around and fulfill pre- and post campaign commitments. LaMarca's message to constituents headlines an early April Newsletter that reviews the projects on his plate and snapshots clear evidence of the County’s economic headway. For details, read on...
Florida Fair Foreclosure Act D.O.A.
April 4, 2012 - Although Florida’s foreclosure filing spree has cooled, the knee-deep case load it created is choking Florida courts. The huge backlog of Florida foreclosures mired in judicial limbo clouds surrounding communities with eroding structures while banks are left holding portfolios filled with bad paper. Since major lenders like Citibank and Bank of America often lack legitimate documentation, they have little incentive to pursue a speedy judgment after they clear the mortgage from their books as a loss. As a result, foreclosures in Florida take almost two years (676 days) to perfect, more than twice the national average. By deterring Florida lenders from playing hide and seek with the presiding Judge, Naples Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo’s House Bill 213 might have prodded lenders into reviving stalled cases and lifted 368,000 Florida foreclosures out of hopelessly clogged dockets and back into the market. One of the association bills left at the alter as the session closed, you will probably see this bill reincarnated in about seven or eight months.
Roberts: Turtle Lights, Air Show, SusDev
March 23, 2012 - On March 13, 2012, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts was up for re-election. When GMCA Secretary Fern McBride returned from voting at the Galt Ocean Mile Library polling site shortly after Noon, she announced that only 34 people had cast votes all morning. The site's electoral output doubled at 2 PM, when some 40 attendees of a Book Review hosted by Library maven Herman Gardner opted to fulfill their civic duty while Gloria Kline interpreted Alice LaPlante’s “Turn of Mind”. Perceiving Roberts' victory as a forgone conclusion and the election as a formality, most Galt Mile residents realized that they forgot to vote while watching results on the evening news. After locking up another three well-deserved and hard-earned years of public service, Roberts rolled up his sleeves and cranked out his March, 2012 post-election update. Roberts kicks off his second term with comments about the planned turtle-safe lighting along A1A, the City's new Department of Sustainable Development, the Full Sails in Fort Lauderdale outdoor public art exhibit, the upcoming Air Show and some neat tricks on the City's redesigned Geographic Information System (GIS) website.
Lawmakers OK Construction Defects
March 13, 2012 - When the Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association sued Pittsburgh-based Maronda Homes in 2007 for severely pitted streets and a defective drainage system, the trial court ruled against the homeowners. On October 29, 2010, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the lower court, ruling that home buyers and homeowners’ associations are entitled to recover damages for Breach of Common Law Implied Warranties from the builder or developer who saddles them with substandard construction. Despite its pendency before the Supreme Court of Florida, the construction industry lobby called on Bradenton Senator Michael Bennett, an electrical contractor, and Miami Statehouse Representative Frank Artiles, a State of Florida licensed general contractor, real estate agent and public adjuster, to file legislation prohibiting common law implied warranties of fitness, merchantability and habitability from applying to residential construction, thereby engineering an end run around the Court. If House Bill 1013 is approved by Governor Scott, when buyers in new condos, co-ops and HOAs face defective construction, they are... well... screwed. Period.
Safe Harbor Scam
March 3, 2012 - After decades of mounting futile challenges to the lending industry’s air-tight control over Florida’s banking laws, association attorneys in the early nineties exploited a chaotic economic environment and created what’s known today as the lenders’ Safe Harbor provision. It refers to the miserable pittance due to associations when foreclosing lenders take title to a defaulted unit. Over the past decade, association attorneys have been pushing the legal envelope to thwart lender delays responsible for destroying hundreds of client associations. An eerie controversy unfolded recently when Representative George Moraitis decided to place a provision in his Omnibus Association Bill that will protect lenders from the devastating financial consequences of their delays. Certain association law firms supporting the bill have been trying to convince their client base that this will somehow speed things along. Evidentally, one firm is currently representing banks in actions against associations and the other has decided that verging on bankruptcy is preferable to irritating lenders.
Allen West: Final Galt Mile Message?
February 16, 2012 - Amid a whirlwind tour of town hall meetings, Congressman Allen West made a pit stop at the Beach Community Center from 5 to 7 pm on January 11th before heading to the Jupiter Community Center on January 13. Addressing a healthy local turnout of roughly 150 Galt Mile constituents; West blended patriotic dramaturgy with a dark picture of our future. After marching a perimeter around the Beach Community Center auditorium, a police honor guard preceded a strained rendition of America the Beautiful. A Powerpoint presentation used to rally the weekday dinnertime audience was punctuated by the theme from “Patton”. Since the event was hosted by the neighborhood association to broaden local access to the District 22 Congressman, GMCA President Pio Ieraci moderated an hour-long question and answer period. Rather than rehashing the evening’s animated discourse, West provided a policy brief for release to his Galt Mile constituents. It may be his last as our voice in congress. To survive the effects of redistricting, three weeks later he bailed out of the District 22 race in favor of the newly configured District 18. Adios Colonel!
LaMarca: Feb 2012 Galt Mile Update
February 9, 2012 - On February 6, 2012, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca addressed the Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council at the Fountainhead. LaMarca has kept his campaign promises. He saved the Galt Library. As the County Commission gadfly, he questioned irresponsible spending and exposed the pet projects of fellow commissioners on one of the most corrupt County boards in the State. After confirming that his priorities are still public safety and jobs, he brought focus to beach renourishment. Suddenly, all hell broke loose. Having experienced unprecedented levels of frustration, angry association leaders grilled the Broward Commissioner about why they were still waiting for the decade-old beach plan to be realized. Ironically, LaMarca is one of two Broward officials that revived the project after it was nearly buried by State and local bureaucrats. When the emotional tsunami abated, LaMarca ran down his recent efforts to forward the County agenda in Republican Tallahassee, a job for which he is drafted by his Democrat peers each January.
Roberts: Pension Reform & the Economy
January 28, 2012 - In his February 2012 newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts courageously flouted a long observed political taboo when he addressed municipal pension benefits. For politicians with a functional survival instinct, exploring the netherworld of public employee pensions is ordinarily a recipe for disaster. Nearby municipalities like Miami, Pembroke Pines, St. Petersburg and Hollywood, where employee retirement plans account for more than half of the total payroll, are struggling to avoid the pension-driven fiscal black hole that sucked the life out of Vallejo, California in 2008, Prichard, Alabama in 2009 and Central Falls, Rhode Island last month. A few years ago, Fort Lauderdale began taking steps to rein in the growth of annual pension obligations that skyrocketed from $10.6 million a decade ago to $52.2 million last year. Roberts also celebrates the city's economic turnaround as substantiated by the latest data from Realtor.Com and the Global Business Travel Association.
Citizens to Dump Beachfront Assns
January 20, 2012 - In December, Florida Insurance Agents launched a campaign to inform some beachfront condo and cooperative clients that their rates are about to explode (quadruple). The Agents were compelled to warn their customers about the unavoidable impact of an item on the December 14, 2011 meeting agenda of the Citizens board. It addressed capping coverage at $1 million for buildings where more than 25 percent of units are rentals. Currently little more than an informal guideline that has been arbitrarily applied for the past few months, its official enactment would force a difficult choice on beachfront associations peppered with short-term rentals. They can harden their building shells and pray that it passes muster with some sympathetic admitted carrier, retool their Governing documents to limit rentals or get mugged in the seedy world of surplus lines. However, since the disastrous plan is actively supported by our Governor, there’s still a good chance that it will implode.
Dammit... Where’s the Water?
January 7, 2012 - By 8 PM on Christmas Eve, board members in Galt Mile associations began fielding complaints from neighbors asking why their water was off. Along with the understandable blend of panic and anger were recriminations by the usual suspects - every building’s small but vocal group of goofballs who blamed their downstairs neighbor, the building manager, global warming, NAFTA or the United Nations. Since the City switchboard was seemingly on a prolonged lunch break, local residents without water spent Christmas Eve in the dark about their predicament. While City Manager Lee Feldman plans to cure the worrisome communications lapse, the City recommends that residents take advantage of a service that reliably provides emergency notifications. Also, if your curiosity was piqued by the City's near-magical two-hour recovery from a 42-inch water main rupture, read on...
A Tale of Two Bad Bills
December 30, 2011 - Association bills that abound at the outset of the legislative session are soon identified as productive for or damaging to Condos, Co-ops and their members. Anti-association bills are generally propelled by one of three motivations; money, political capital or ignorance. In 2012, Bradenton Senator Michael Bennett filed a bill on behalf of some extremely generous construction industry trade organizations. Senate Bill 1196 seeks to protect developers who sell properties afflicted with critical common element construction defects by squelching their common law exposure to implied warranties. In short, the bill would severely limit homeowner rights and remedies for substandard construction or outright negligence. In contrast, another bill that was not motivated by greed threatens to cripple associations plagued with foreclosures. The bill is one of dozens filed annually by misguided lawmakers who wreak havoc when trying to address problems they don't understand.
Roberts: Neighborhoods, E-911, Budget
December 22, 2011 - In his last newsletter of 2011, District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts reviews the many neighborhood initiatives brought to fruition in 2011, highlights the City’s budgetary achievements, offers a defense against a recent crime trend, describes a city ordinance enacted to clamp down on Pill Mills that fuel the street drug trade, welcomes residents to share their concerns at his twice monthly pre-agenda meetings and thanks constituents for their input and his opportunity to serve the District - and the city. Roberts also brings focus to a long-awaited breakthrough in Emergency 911 dispatch service. Finally complying with a 2002 voter mandate to consolidate a dozen disjointed call centers into a unified system will shave precious minutes from emergency response times. The county-wide initiative will enable many more of our family, friends and neighbors to survive heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest, deadly force assaults, fires, and a wide range of other time-critical emergencies. It's about time...
The 2012 Omnibus Association Bill
December 13, 2011 - The 2012 Omnibus Association bill is House Bill 319 (HB 319) – filed by District 91 Statehouse Representative George R. Moraitis. Building on the legislative momentum initiated by then Representative (now Senator) Ellyn Bogdanoff in 2010 (SB 1196) and Representative Moraitis last year (HB 1195), this year’s incarnation impacts Condominiums, Cooperatives and Homeowner Associations. Its sister bill in the Senate was filed by our District 25 Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff. Although their work product delivers relief to associations across the state, members of Galt Mile associations vote in the districts that sent them to the Statehouse and Senate in Tallahassee. After meeting with the GMCA Advisory Board to solicit their legislative wish list, Moraitis incorporated into his bill a list of statutory glitch repairs, the retrofit deadline for elevators, foreclosure fixes, and an amendment conforming laws governing cooperative associations more closely to those governing condominiums. See next year's law today ...
Marcy Kravit: Association Fiscal Options
December 1, 2011 - Welcome to Budget Season on the Galt Mile! In November, most Galt Mile Associations offer budget presentations to their membership. While some boards vote to enact the newly crafted budget immediately after its revelation, most reconvene in December for an approval vote. Because the economic downturn pummeled associations with unprecedented financial pitfalls, this year’s budgets are permeated with new or rare line items, unfamiliar legal and/or fiscal terminology and planning choices that are clear as mud to many association members. To help her Galt Mile neighbors better understand how the evolving legal and legislative landscape affects their association's projected 2012 spending plan, Galleon Manager Marcy Kravit collaborated with association attorney Lisa Magill in drafting a Q & A roadmap through the new legal and fiscal paradigms. Read on...
Major Diaz: Spare Change Sours Galt Mile
November 23, 2011 - In 1993, the City of Fort Lauderdale passed an law prohibiting panhandling (soliciting) in the public beach area. A recently proposed ordinance will soon close the downtown business area to the quest for spare change. At the November 17, 2011 Galt Mile Advisory Board meeting, District 1 Police Commander Major Raul Diaz explained how the Galt Mile could be the third municipal community free of beggars, squatters and panhandlers. It will cost nothing and we won't have to wait for our public officials to pass any law. Major Diaz just returned from Iraq, where he served three tours as a Captain in the United States Air Force. Having won enough medals to fill a truck, he is a serious man. While not novel, his solution is elegant. Interested? Read on...
New Flood Maps Could Soak Associations
November 14, 2011 - For the first time in 14 years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is preparing a comprehensive review of Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) flood zones throughout Broward County. To enable consistent comparisons of land and water elevations across the nation, the agency is using a more accurate mathematical constant, or “vertical datum” to calculate floodplain elevations. Federally regulated mortgage lenders require homeowners who live in high risk FEMA-designated flood areas to carry expensive flood insurance, which is erratically provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Depending on the zone that FEMA assigns to an association property, its members could see their insurance costs skyrocket and a fat new assessment in next December's budget.
Annual Condo Crunch by Housing Feds
November 8, 2011 - Our Federal Housing agencies are experiencing their annual break with reality. Every year, the FHA, HUD or congressional stepchildren Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac pass seemingly well-intentioned rules that wreak havoc on the housing market. It’s no accident that their favorite fiscal piñatas are community associations, preferably in South Florida. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently revised eligibility standards for Associations in which buyers and sellers hope to qualify for favorable FHA-insured financing. Enigmatically, thousands of associations that meet the tightened fiscal requirements for condo budgets, insurance levels, occupancy ratios, reserve funds, etc. are being systematically rejected for "technical" reasons or because volunteer board members are hesitant to risk 30 years imprisonment for incorrectly guessing future delinquency rates. Simultaneously, HUD is prosecuting discrimination cases against "no-pet" associations that inadequately accommodate requests for companion animals... or service animals... or assistance animals... or therapeutic pets... or emotional support animals, etc. Associations that capriciously neglect to consult with their attorneys about this hot-button issue could be inviting a 600-pound gorilla to dinner.
The Monster in the Elevator
October 30, 2011 - After sweating out an eight-year assessment threat from a statutory fire sprinkler retrofit requirement, Ellyn Bogdanoff's 2010 Omnibus Association bill gifted relief to unit owners in thousands of Florida associations. One of the lesser known provisions in Senator Bogdanoff’s landmark bill delayed the need to comply with a law requiring associations to upgrade their existing elevators by adding “Phase II Firefighters’ Service”, a questionable safety measure with no historical justification and an Olympic-size price tag. The “upgrade” was considered so fiscally egregious that similar provisions in three different 2010 bills - postponing its implementation until 2015 - were simultaneously enacted into law. At the October 3, 2011 GMCA Presidents Council meeting, District 91 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis and association attorney Donna Berger discussed the funding burden that the measure would place on unit owners. When Berger announced, “estimates run from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions,” you could hear a pin drop.
Roberts: Projects, Pilot Law & Prop. Code
October 20, 2011 - Along with the issue updates in his October 2011 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts reviews a number of key local projects in various stages of comprehensive, often contentious, long-term negotiations. If successfully concluded, several promise to ply the local economy with tax dollars and jobs while providing quality of life dividends to both visitors and residents. How the city finalizes plans for Bahia Mar, Lockhart Stadium, the Aquatic Center and the Sun Trolley could either alleviate - or inflame - the regional economic instability. In addition to commenting on the City Budget, assorted venues for expanding the Visioning Process, a plan to regulate street people who dodge traffic while adorned in sandwich boards and a home-grown source of money-saving coupons, our City Commissioner describes a proposed ordinance that will force lenders to maintain properties frozen in foreclosure while dumping dollars into city coffers.
The National Delegate Dump
October 5, 2011 - In 2008, Florida lawmakers sought to heighten their state’s influence over the Presidential election. To grab the national spotlight, they enacted a statute moving Florida's Presidential Primary from March to late January. Having violated National Party rules against presidential primaries held before February, unless its January 31, 2012 primary is rescheduled, Florida will lose half of its 99 delegates - a prospect that has enraged grass-roots Republican and Democrat activists. Infuriated by Florida's attempt to usurp their historical status, the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina leapfrogged Florida, moving their primaries from February to January. Ironically, while state and local party leaders struggle to heal the rift between their national counterparts and Florida's intransigent lawmakers, the events set in motion by Florida could reduce the state's nominating contest to little more than a predictive ripple.
Roadmap to a Port Everglades Windfall
September 20, 2011 - In his September 2011 Newsletter, District 91 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis brings focus to a critically important financial opportunity that, if managed properly, will inject $billions into the local economy, funnel truckloads of tax revenue into state and regional coffers, and pluck thousands of local residents from the unemployment rolls. When the Panama Canal is reconfigured to accommodate supersized transports, tankers and cruise ships in less than three years, plummeting shipping costs will significantly pump up international patterns of commerce. If Port Everglades successfully competes with other East Coast and Gulf ports for an impending trade windfall, it could deliver a steroidal jerk to the State and local economic recovery. Moraitis intends to bag the financing required for implementing a County “Master Plan” to prepare the Port for this bonanza.
Galt Mile Winn-Dixie Ups its Game
September 11, 2011 - Notwithstanding divergent opinions about the neighborhood Winn-Dixie’s service and product lines, raw convenience prompts almost every Galt Mile resident to cruise the aisles on a regular basis. When Winn-Dixie corporate sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection 5 years ago, the Galt Ocean Mile store appeared as if it was conducting a garage sale. Products were left in boxes strewn about the premises. Shelves were half empty and employees behaved as if they were nervously awaiting severance checks. Although unlikely to soon breach any supermarket "A" list, they have made a remarkable transformation. This year, corporate invested in a cart containment system that will insure availability while clearing the carts from our sidewalks, new high speed IBM checkout technology and a system for sanitizing equipment handled by shoppers. If they overcome the supernatural force responsible for their being out of whatever anyone needs at the time that they need it, we may soon be able to forego those bi-monthly "fill in" trips to Publix.
Roberts: New Blood, Pill Mills, New Tech
August 20, 2011 - To enhance their tenures, effective municipal administrators will build management teams by blending their predecessors’ residual talent with new blood. Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ kicks off his August 2011 newsletter with mini-bios of City Manager Lee Feldman's new right and left management arms, Assistant City Managers Stanley Hawthorne from Lakeland and Susanne Torriente from Miami-Dade. The two additions to his management team collectively bring 45 years of experience to Feldman's table. Roberts updates progress by Feldman and the City Commission with the toughest budget since the 2002 municipal fiscal implosion. Drawing on a perspective shaped by his years in law enforcement, Roberts revels in Governor Scott's decision to finally allow local governments to clamp down on pain clinics that supply the $billion street trade and kill an average 7 Floridians each day. The District 1 Commissioner also reviews a newly implemented technology called Lauderserv that facilitates access to city services from your android cell phone. Actually, its very cool and user-friendly. Check it out!
Next Stop: Port Everglades Sand Bypass
August 9, 2011 - When the Broward Shore Preservation Project was threatened by vested political interests in 2002, public officials from Hollywood, Hallandale and Dania Beach pleaded with neighboring beach communities for help convincing Tallahassee of the beach plan's critical importance. Grateful for substantial support received from the Galt Mile Community Association, south county officials pledged to return the favor when the north county beaches were scheduled for renourishment. When south county officials and business leaders instead tried to hijack the sand meant for the Segment II beaches (from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano) in 2008, enraged north county municipalities refused to authorize any project element that would benefit the south county beaches. The beach project subsequently slipped into limbo. By hammering home that the project's survival depends on cooperation by all of the municipal stakeholders, new Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers has since revived the embattled beach plan. His strategy - convince participants that the timetable for each of the various project elements should be based on science, not politics.
Senator Bogdanoff on Redistricting
July 26, 2011 - In keeping with her longstanding policy of notifying constituents about projects and decisions that directly impact their lives, Florida Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff launched a campaign to engage her District 25 residents in a redistricting process that will heavily influence how political power is distributed both locally and across the state. Redistricting is the process by which district boundaries of congressional and state legislative electoral districts are redrawn to adjust for evolving demographics in different parts of the state. The process of determining which voters participate in the election of representatives to the U.S. House, State Senate, and State House has historically been the sole province of politicians who most stand to benefit from manipulating electoral results. Bogdanoff celebrates new technology that enables every Florida citizen to move from the nosebleed seats to the playing field. By using "District Builder", a free online version of the redistricting software used by legislators, any Galt Mile resident can author a redistricting plan that’s eligible for legislative approval!
Air Show About to Take Off
July 18, 2011 - “Look… up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No it’s... Bryan Lilley and Ramola Motwani!” The Fort Lauderdale City Commission intends to breathe life into a 2012 variation of the devolved Air & Sea Show. Until a few years ago, the annual mega-event drew record breaking crowds to the Fort Lauderdale beach, delighted a nationwide television audience and tickled millions of viewers in 144 countries around the planet. The talented whack job that ran the show for 13 years self-destructed in 2008. Since then, would be impressarios have over-promised and under-delivered on commitments to restore the long-missed extravaganza. Finally, a group has stepped up that's competent, experienced and adequately flush with cash to revive the City's signature event. You might want to dig out those old ear plugs. On July 12th, the City Commission gave promoter Bryan Lilley and real estate magnate Ramola Motwani the green light for the 2012 Lauderdale Air Show!
Homestead Express - 2011
July 4, 2011 - The Florida Constitution provides all legal Florida residents with a tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of their owner/occupied homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and certain mobile home lots if they qualify. The exemption is contingent on the property being a permanent residence of the owner or a dependent (legal or natural) as of January 1st. Homesteaded properties are eligible for the protective “Save Our Homes” tax cap. Also available are host of traditional and new exemptions for seniors, veterans, widows/widowers, active military, the blind, disabled persons and properties with build-outs for Mom, Dad, Grandma and/or Grandpa. BCPA sponsors an outreach program (Beach Community Center), online applications, re-assessment requests and even a “homesteads-on-wheels” for house-bound applicants. Learn about the 2011 incarnation of the Homestead Express!
CAN Convenes Legislative Round Table
June 24, 2011 - On June 16, 2011, the three name partners of association law firm Katzman Garfinkel & Berger cleared their schedules and arrived early at their sprawling Fort Lauderdale campus in Margate. The firm's Community Advocacy Network (CAN) just helped rookie District 91 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis successfully shepherd his Omnibus Association bill (HB 1195) to fruition, duplicating last year's achievement with then Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff's landmark legislation. To celebrate Moraitis' unique first-year accomplishment, CAN convened a discussion forum for roughly 200 South Florida association activists that supported the bill and their lawmakers. Prior to the forum's hour long Q & A, several lawmakers assured audience members that they "had nothing to lose by giving non-partisan answers to political questions" - since they would soon lose their jobs to term limits.
Roberts: Feldman, Recycling, Hurricanes
June 15, 2011 - In his early Summer Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts blends data tidbits with event reminders. After backgrounding the new City Manager, Roberts outlines preparations for a new budget-friendly process for collecting recyclables, issues a warning he annually repeats at the onset of Hurricane Season and runs down City events planned for the summer, concluding with the Commission's seasonal recess. After summarizing new City Manager Lee Feldman's sterling resume, Roberts depicts progress in the City's move to a single stream collection process for recyclables. Why commingle trashed recyclables that must be separated later in processing - and how will it help the budget? In a nutshell, processing recyclables in preparation for commodity recapture or landfill is less expensive than rounding them up. The ongoing savings far exceeds the initial transitional capital outlay, including the small bump in processing costs. The real question is, will the benefits accrue to customers or the hungry budget?
Richter Rocks Rates
June 7, 2011 - Senator Garrett Richter, a Naples banker elected in 2008, was the Florida Insurance Council’s Legislator of the Year in 2009 and snagged their Special Leadership Award in 2010. That same year, he successfully steered Senate Bill 2044 through the Florida Legislature before former Governor Charlie Crist signed its death warrant. With Rick Scott in the Governor’s mansion, the insurance industry’s personal lawmaker cloned and refiled last year’s vetoed legislation as Senate Bill 408. This year would be different. No longer threatened by a prospective gubernatorial veto, dozens of lobbyists retained by property insurance trade associations shared nearly $800,000 to actualize Senator Richter’s insurance piñata. As Sine Die approached, pro-consumer amendments softened the bill's impact as constituent input convinced lawmakers to better balance the needs of policyholders with those of their carriers. To see how the final product affects you... Read on...
Lee Feldman Wins City Manager Lotto
May 30, 2011 - And then there was one. On May 17, 2011, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission identified Lee Feldman as the winner of Fort Lauderdale’s City Manager lotto. The 48-year-old former Palm Bay City Manager was the last man standing in a field of 90 prospective applicants. Affirmed by Commissioners Bobby Dubose, Romney Rogers and Bruce Roberts, nixed by Mayor Jack Seiler and hammered by Commissioner Charlotte "NO" Rodstrom, the Florida League of Cities 2006 “City Manager of the Year” will oversee 3 times the staff and 6 times the operational budget he managed in his former municipality. Commissioners were encouraged when Feldman announced that he dislikes using reserves to balance the budget. If he can streamline City Hall by comprehensively restructuring the existing table of organization, Feldman may stave off the impending pain. First - they will have to trust Feldman with unfettered operational control.
2011 Omnibus Association Bill
May 21, 2011 - While nursing last year's landmark Omnibus Association Bill through the House and Senate, then Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff was forced to navigate an intimidating array of political land mines. When some of it's more controversial provisions threatened to weaken support for the bill, by leaving them open to broad interpretation instead of removing them, Bogdanoff insured the bill's survival while providing the impetus for their future clarification. To that end, two association advocacy organizations, each parented by a powerful association law firm, supported respective "glitch" bills this year. Since neither could survive alone, their sponsors were forced to merge the bills. The differing objectives sought by the two law firms resulted in the hybrid legislation assuming a decidedly schizophrenic tone. Although a double edged sword, Representative George Moraitis' House Bill 1195 - this year's Omnibus Association Bill - fixed more problems than it created. Curious? Read on...
Lessons from a Galt Mile Tragedy
May 13, 2011 - Last year, veteran Building Manager Jim Beard of the Ocean Riviera called Private Investigator Jim Rigney, a retired New York City Detective who lives in The Regency Tower. Rigney’s agency, Pelican Group International, does background checks of prospective buyers or tenants for several Galt Mile associations. Rigney headed south to Beard’s building and picked up a file containing a screening application for the Ocean Riviera Condominium Association. Making the most of the $100 maximum mandated by the State for background checks, the bad news uncovered by Rigney was off the charts. Since it also confirmed the savvy manager’s instincts, the association rejected the prospective tenant - and a boatload of trouble. Undeterred, a highly medicated Brian Krebs moved into an alternative building on Galt Ocean Drive and wrecked the unit during a tantrum. Days later, he was arrested for murdering a musician and stabbing four people in a bar across the street. Stunned Galt Mile association boards and managers scrambled to firm up historically lax tenant screening procedures; their best opportunity to keep wolves out of the henhouse.
Chip LaMarca’s Galt Library Rescue Plan
May 6, 2011 - On April 28th, residents from every Galt Mile association ignored the mid-afternoon soup-like humidity and streamed to the Galt Mile Reading Center. They ostensibly went to celebrate a successful campaign to bolster membership for Herman Gardner's "Friends of the Galt Ocean Mile Library" support group. In fact, it was a strategy meeting called to prevent the county from closing the popular mini-Library. Following brief addresses by Plaza South's Terry Claire and Commodore's Leann Barber, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca stepped to an apprehensive audience. When LaMarca informed attendees that he planned to forego collecting thousands of petition signatures, eliciting dozens of association and civic resolutions and/or flooding the commission Chamber with Galt Mile residents at the final budget meeting, the audience was stunned. In contrast with former Commissioner Ken Keechl's convulsive strategy, LaMarca said he would implement a political solution. Herman Gardner commented "I'm delighted - do you think it will work?"
Roberts: Bus Hop, Website, Jog with Jack
April 28, 2011 - In Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ May 2011 Newsletter, he updates the rapidly narrowing field of City Manager candidates, summarizes a new Sun Trolley “Hop On Hop Off” excursion service, announces the City’s new website, invites District 1 residents to trot along with Mayor Seiler and seeks to fill vacancies in four undermanned Advisory Boards/Committees. Among the three remaining City Manager candidates is Michael Levinson, the award-winning former Coral Springs City Manager who mysteriously left a post where he was both successful and popular, a rare dual achievement for a City Manager. Talk in Coral Springs City Hall suggests that Levinson left to avoid retaliation by two mudslinging Coral Springs Commissioners who blamed him when they were caught and prosecuted for violating the Government in the Sunshine Law. If so, Fort Lauderdale may have lucked out!
2011 Galt Mile Food Drive Final Results
April 20, 2011 - The food drive was over. In celebration of another successful effort, Executive Director Scott Woodburn of the Cooperative Feeding Program sponsored an April 12th awards event at the St Lawrence Gallery on A1A. Earlier in the day, he sent email reminders to team captains, Association volunteers and other local program supporters that were instrumental in delivering the most impressive result in the Galt Mile Food Drive's 5-year history. Through the Food Drive's final week, donations were lagging behind last year's record collections. In the last few days, competing associations pulled out all the stops, blazing to a statistically unprecedented finish. Curious about your Association's competitive standing? The final statistics are chock full of surprises!
Utility Graffiti Removal: Step 1
April 11, 2011 - For more than a decade, the Galt Mile Community Association struggled to enforce a City promise to maintain in a “Disney-like manner” the self-funded landscape and hardscape features included in the 1993 Galt Mile Improvement Project. Enter: Chepo! Since late 2008, the Commodore resident has successfully overseen a series of mini-improvement projects - until he encountered "Utility Graffiti". The cryptic multicolored ciphers aren’t random insults to the neighborhood’s aesthetic integrity. They are the functional by-product of a company parented by the State Legislature, Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc. Since they protect underground utilities from excavation damage, the markings prevent inadvertent loss of our telephone, water, cable, gas and electrical services. Until now, angry residents in jurisdictions across the state were forced to tolerate the failure of these utilities to remove the offensive markings once the related construction was completed. If a novel solution negotiated by the GMCA last month is successful, it will likely be duplicated in neighborhoods across Florida.
Overmedicated or Certifiable?
April 3, 2011 - Last February, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts informed the GMCA Advisory Board that the number of local pain clinics exploded from 4 to a staggering 176. Since Roberts knew that the vast majority of drugs dispensed at these clinics wind up on the street, he submerged himself in Fort Lauderdale’s effort to curb the weed-like growth of these pill mills - until Tallahassee pulled the plug. Governor Rick Scott refused to approve Department of Health drug enforcement rules that he previously requested from the State Medical Board. Ignoring pleas to reconsider by the DEA, top State and local law enforcement officials, scores of legislators and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (since drugs from Florida annually kill thousands of his constituents), our Governor decided that tracking the drug pipeline would invade the privacy of drug mules and the new pill mill rules would discourage the industry’s budding entrepreneurs. On the bright side, since the State is likely to continue generating an average of seven daily overdosed corpses, he won’t have to deregulate funeral parlors.
Roberts: Vision, Beach Fix, Fund Balance
March 27, 2011 - In Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ mid-March 2011 Newsletter, he updates the enigmatic Visioning Committee’s progress, the status of the City Manager search, beachside construction, bids for curbside recycling collection services and a Finance Department estimate supporting a currently healthy reserve. Notwithstanding whether or not they met their somewhat convoluted mandate to implement "a citywide vision that reflects the hopes and viewpoints of all residents in the City of Fort Lauderdale," the Visioning Committee took a strong step forward by hiring award-winning city planners Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC. Renovation of the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park parking lot is underway and the City Commission plans to narrow the field of City Manager candidates in April. Roberts reports that the Curbside Recycling Collection Services bid winner will continue gathering separated materials for one year before converting to single stream cart service. Read on for more municipal tidbits...
Association Bills at the Opening Bell
March 20, 2011 - The 2011 Legislative Session kicked off on March 8th. Screaming “It’s the economy, stupid,” voters closed their eyes last November and clicked their heels three times before replacing public officials with anyone who promised a brighter future. Among the opening day legislation impacting associations are bills drafted by lobbyists that promise a fairy tale recovery as soon as we repeal consumer protections, glitch bills designed to fix the unintended consequences of earlier legislation and bills that target specific constituencies. Mixed in with the initial bills was a 281-page monstrosity filed by the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee. It seeks to deregulate dozens of businesses and industries to ostensibly revitalize the State's snake-bit economy. Among the laws slated for repeal are the provisions that established the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes and the law that set competence standards for Community Association Managers. Unit owners could soon return to an era when condos, cooperatives and HOAs were run like Dodge City.
CAI Picks the Lock
March 14, 2011 - On August 13, 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) proposed a regulation to ban the use of deed-based or covenant-based transfer fees. The real target of the FHFA’s new rule was an investment vehicle devised by Freehold Capital Partners of New York. After participating developers record long-term covenants for their properties, a 1% fee is paid by the seller at every closing over a 99-year period, violating FHFA regulations by artificially raising the cost of homeownership. Unfortunately, many condos and HOAs use deed based transfer fees to fund screening and document handling costs for prospective members when they close on an association unit. Unless associations were exempted from the FHFA action, they would lose Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage eligibility, rendering their units marginally marketable. The Community Association Institute (CAI) conducted a massive survey that forced FHFA to distinguish between between legitimate association transfer fees and those that serve as ethically dubious income streams for developers or undisclosed third parties. Thanks to CAI, it appears that we dodged a mortgage lockout!
Eric Myers to the Rescue
March 6, 2011 - Since 2002, Galt Mile residents have staunchly supported Broward County's plan to renourish its shrinking shoreline. Whether participating in a multi-bus caravan to a public hearing in Hollywood or jetting up to Tallahassee and testifying before the Florida Cabinet, local condo and co-op owners insured the project's continued survival. Last year, Broward Beach officials dropped the ball and allowed the project's Federal and State Permits to lapse. To revive the County’s coastal rescue plan, Deputy Director Eric Myers of Broward's Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department took the reins from retiring Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins. At the February 7th Presidents Council meeting at Coral Ridge Towers, Myers detailed plans to rebuild the Agency's credibility with straight talk and trackable progress. Unfortunately, the update concluded with the aggravating supposition that repairs to the Galt Mile Beach will take place in late 2013!
West & Bogdanoff: Big Oil & Insurance?
February 26, 2011 - When the November elections triggered wholesale changes to the Galt Mile's political voice box, the neighborhood association organized a February 3rd Town Hall style meeting to introduce the neighborhood’s newly elected representatives in the Florida Senate and the U.S. Congress. While District 25 Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff is no stranger to the Galt Mile Community, Congressman Allen West’s credentials as a largely unknown “war hero” fueled an abiding curiosity in both supporters and opponents of his successful campaign. After penetrating a squad of sign-wielding demonstrators from a local Democratic Club, West and Bogdanoff revealed an admittedly painful political roadmap to attending Galt Mile residents. As the initially friendly audience envisioned their beach covered in oil-soaked seabird carcasses and their insurance burden intensify, curiosity was soon replaced by concern.
Galt Mile Preps for 5th Annual Food Drive
February 14, 2011 - On February 4th, Cooperative Feeding Program (CFP) Executive Director Scott Woodburn notified the Galt Mile Community Association about plans for the annual Galt Mile Food Drive. While the message could be timely posted on the Galt Mile web site, it missed the February edition of the Galt Mile News by 4 days. Woodburn represents Broward County’s lead agency for the provision of services to the hungry and homeless. For 25 years, the Cooperative Feeding Program has provided counseling and support to help economically besieged families out of the throes of difficult times. This is the 5th annual Galt Mile Food Drive since Woodburn teamed with Fort Lauderdale Real Estate proprietor Domenic Faro (a past president of the Cooperative Feeding Program) and Marc Hamelsky in 2007 and convinced the neighborhood association to sponsor a friendly contribution competition among its member associations. This year's goal - exceed last year's collection totals of 20,000 points - or ten tons of food!
Berger Bashes Bad Bills
February 7, 2011 - Last year, powerful special interests racked up significant financial losses when lawmakers passed long-awaited relief bills. Highly paid lobbyists, hoping to rehabilitate their credibility, promised angry clients a measure of recovery. Most association members know that the Sprinkler Associations lost $billions when Senate Bill 1196 made sprinkler installations optional. Fewer know that the Fire Services Industry, the Banking Industry, the Insurance Industry and the Elevator Industry collectively lost 100's of $millions as well. Community Advocacy Network (CAN) Executive Director Donna Berger is concerned about the upcoming session in Tallahassee regressing into a forum for payback. She also fears that several exploitive bills vetoed by Governor Crist could pass this year unless associations pull together and use newly available communication networks to avoid losing their hard-earned gains and suffer the sizable maintenance increase that would follow.
Roberts: Countdown, Clinics & Centennial
January 30, 2011 - In his opening newsletter for 2011, Commissioner Bruce Roberts reviews the annual Downtown Countdown New Year kickoff event, summarizes some 2010 achievements by the current municipal administration, updates the ongoing City Manager search and laments the stalled effort to close local pill mills. The newsletter also offers a comprehensive schedule of impending Centennial Celebration events. In closing, Roberts appeals to District 1 residents for dated photos of local landmarks, people and events for use in the Centennial Celebration’s signature slideshow. Commentary prompted by some of the issues covered in Roberts' newsletter includes the City's pension dilemma and Governor Rick Scott's enigmatic assistance to local Pain Clinics that fuel the black market drug trade. Check it out...
Yellow Bulb Season on the Galt Mile
January 22, 2011 - For decades, Galt Mile residents nurtured a love affair with the Sea Turtles that share their beach. When the City implemented a 2003 turtle-safe lighting ordinance in 2007, ill-conceived initial enforcement attempts precipitated a near melt-down in the City Manager's office and, by proxy, the Building Department. To defuse neighborhood concerns, Code Enforcement personnel met with GMCA officials to formulate an implementation roadmap that protected both turtles and residents. Despite destabilizing efforts by radical elements on opposite sides of this issue, they successfully balanced hatchling survival with resident safety and enacted a compliance plan that wouldn't cripple strained association budgets. Many associations have since replaced the screens and shields initially jury-rigged to achieve compliance with professional lighting plans that brighten their seaward decks without illuminating the beach. Unfortunately, some irate beachfront residents still ply local blogs with ghoulish recipes for hatchling sandwiches and turtle soup!
A Grand Jury’s Dream World
January 14, 2011 - In October 2009, Hollywood ophthalmologist Alan Mendelsohn was indicted for operating a $2 million influence-peddling operation. He also served on Governor Crist’s transition team. The former Governor panicked; being painted as a cohort of this suddenly unsavory character would further destabilize his deteriorating Senatorial campaign. To distance himself from Florida’s seedy political underbelly, he asked the Supreme Court to empanel a statewide Grand Jury on Corruption. When they declined, Crist lucked out - the Feds bagged Attorney Scott Rothstein for operating a $1.2 billion ponzi scheme, focusing nationwide attention on the State’s runaway corruption. The Supreme Court relented and gave Crist his Grand Jury. After suffering through eleven months of taking testimony from thieves, fraudsters and sleazeballs (the people that run our government), they released an "Interim Report" on December 30th. Underscoring that Florida is the Nation’s ethics cesspool, by blending depressing data with a hopeless outlook, the report borders on humor. Actually, it would make a great Woody Allen script!
A Supreme Court Bearing Gifts
January 3, 2011 - The lending industry has refined foreclosure foot-dragging into an art. Early on, foreclosing banks realized that they could sidestep any statutory obligations to associations by not taking title to defaulted properties. Threatening Florida’s legislative leadership with sharp cuts to available mortgage financing successfully thwarted lawmaker attempts to plug this elephantine loophole. When associations turned to the courts for relief, lenders traded on their superior recorded mortgage liens to control scheduling for every stage of the foreclosure process, further enabling strategic delays. With no legislative or judicial relief in sight, desperate associations joined with abused borrowers and appealed to the Florida Supreme Court for a Hail Mary. To everyone’s amazement, rather than squeezing out some convoluted treatise on judicial regulatory impotence, the Supreme Court delivered!
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by Pio Ieraci
A New Day
As defined in our by-laws, the Galt Mile Community Association is dedicated to improving the operation of our buildings by cooperative efforts and study, improving and protecting the area and the environment within the Galt Mile community and to securing the cooperation of City, County, and State authorities in the furtherance of these objectives. It serves to promote amicable relations among neighboring associations (and their residents) and an environment that lends itself to mutual assistance and cooperation.
In essence, GMCA is a forum to identify and address concerns of its member associations, their residents and common neighborhood objectives. It also provides a resource for members to analyze and educate themselves about mutual issues and interests, including legislation relevant to the operation of its member associations, maintenance of safety and living standards, the rights of their owner-members and the value of their homes.
Every member association is a fully autonomous entity whose resident-members have the right to decide for themselves who should represent them and the rules under which they choose to live - free of outside interference. As such, we do not participate in the internal governance of any member association sought and legally propagated by its member-owners. Every Association in good standing enjoys equal access and full participation notwithstanding the ideology of its current administration.
While individual associations are capable of resolving their internal issues, there are many shared problems that can only be resolved through cooperation. Eliciting the political assistance necessary to effect local neighborhood improvements or protect our rights in Tallahassee and Washington requires the cooperative unity afforded by a strong neighborhood association. For decades, the Galt Mile Community Association has also been a platform for individual associations with similar needs and problems to take advantage of our collective experience by directly sharing information.
I believe that the key to our continued success will hinge on full participation. Every Association should have a reliable voice in the creation of policies that affect us all and a designee responsible for bringing critical data back to their membership.
We’ve never faced more extraordinary challenges. Although our legislators took their best shot at alleviating our insurance dilemma, it appears that their efforts will not prevent enormous hardship for thousands of our residents. Despite our internal security, neighborhood crime is taking an increasing toll on hapless victims - our friends and neighbors! Fortunately, close cooperation among our 26 member associations is producing effective responses to many of these issues. By inviting broader input, we hope to continue developing answers to upcoming challenges.
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