DISCLAIMER: This web blog is the ORIGINAL SOURCE FOR INFORMATION REGARDING VAN LOON COMMONS and the result of extensive research and analysis conducted by the domain owner and writer, AND is not sanctioned by the appointed (not elected for 2015 and extended as you will read) Board of Directors for Van Loon Commons Condos (nor would be of any value if they sanctioned it) The author is an original pre-construction owner, along with her husband and is invested for the long term, or until the condo is worth at least what they paid for it (not likely to occur during natural lives) She has a significant interest in seeing honest and qualified persons serving on the board so she can discontinue having to research and write.
Seeing a pattern here with the movie titles? So many come to mind when I think of all that goes on at our own Peyton Place, Van Loon Commons. It was more like Shangri-La before some less than knowledgeable or less than scrupulous persons decided they wanted to “volunteer” to serve as Directors on the Board. Now? We keep reading how we are “healing emotionally as a community”. What is that? Did we have a mass tragedy?
This year, the annual meeting and election were scheduled for January 27th, 2016, at least 6 months in advance. Interested candidates needed to submit their information by December 18th, 2015 and Jim (my husband) submitted his Letter of Intent with Candidate Statement. On December 26th, we received our package which included Ballot 1, 7 Candidate Statements, a Proxy form advising owners to vote Yes to move 2015 “income” to reserves to avoid taxation (??? – we have assessments, minor interest that is offset by costs, what taxable income???) and Outer envelopes. The Proxy did not provide owners any estimated amount of the “taxable income” nor offer them the other option – to reduce 2016 assessments by the amount.
We immediately noted that Jim was not listed on the ballot and also that the instructions referred to Inner and Outer ballot envelopes; the Inner not being included.
I sent an email to the Board, asking the estimated year end amount, and followed up later with a suggestion that owners should be provided the other option.
2016 Ballot 1 AND Ballot 2… CAN ANYONE SEE WHAT IS WRONG WITH BALLOT #1 and BALLOT #2?
We quickly notified Associa Gulf Coast, copying any remaining personnel we could of the omission of Jim and they addressed the problem immediately on Monday, December 28th, promising to send out a new ballot. I also addressed the issue of the missing Inner ballot envelope and received a response that our association did not require a Secret Ballot election.
I didn’t bother to review our condo docs to find this because it is a simple requirement found on Page 4 of the Florida election guide, along with the requirement TO NOT HAVE A SIGNATURE LINE ON THE ACTUAL BALLOT. A 2nd ballot was received (as above) about 10 days later with the same signature line and again, no Inner envelope. Florida Election Guide – Condos Pgs 4 and 5
Did any of the Board members notice this? The President has been a BOD member since October 2013, the Secretary since January 2014. They are all required to take a class or self-certify within 60 days, I think of their knowledge. It is an ELEMENTARY issue.
On January 12th, 2016 an Autodial, mass voicemail and mass email went out, advising owners to disregard Ballots 1 and 2, Ballot 3 would be prepared and the annual meeting rescheduled for February 24th. Wow.
Our package with a correctly prepared ballot arrived January 30th with the wording “It has been deemed necessary by the Board and with the direction of the Association’s attorney to reschedule….”. Attorney?? Funny wording. The “Board” deemed – the Board clearly did not recognize any problems with Ballot 1 or Ballot 2. See the Pages 4 and 5?
Jim called Associa to ask a few questions about the debacle and who would be responsible for the cost of the 1st two mailings. The Associa employee indicated that Associa would take responsibility for the postage. When Jim inquired about who was responsible for the cost of the attorney, the response was that we did not incur any legal fees because THE MEETING HAD BEEN CANCELED. Oh, so the attorney was scheduled to conduct the annual meeting? In 2014, former president Kisner and current President Decraene met with the attorneys in the 1st week of January and had two of them attend the meeting to “sell” Van Loon owners on the “illegal water amendment” of 2010. The cost for that was in the thousands…2 attorneys at a combined $675 per hour plus the pre-meeting conferences with Pam Decrane and Kisner. 2014 was the 1st time Van Loon ever had attorneys present for the election and 2016 is the 1st time, Van Loon needed them to prepare directions on ballots and envelopes! 2014_Legal_Bill_Election Ridiculous? Just read the Election Guide. It is free from the State!
For those who were told that “Cathy Hutton is costing VLC legal fees” and believed it, shame on you. Ignorance and lack of following statutes, laws, etc, causes legal fees. At the Nov 2015 Budget Meeting, Pam Decraene indicated that huge increase for 2016 Legal Fees was a “buffer”. If the attorneys are being scheduled to attend the annual meeting, the buffer will be buffed.
There can be serious financial consequences for all owners in a condo community from mismanagement by unqualified, unscrupulous and/or dishonest people “volunteering” on the Board. It isn’t a social club – it is a business function.
As for the Proxy question to the Board, no response! Go figure. As Pam Decraene stated to me by telephone in May 2015, “Cathy, we are just going to ignore you”. Pam, as a person that is fine; as a Board President of our Association, you can’t. Seeing what has been done to our property insurance, the fairytales, 3 ballots for 1 election, the lies about the city issuing a mandate to remove the swale grasses, the lie by Jack Canzano in front of at least 50 owners at the Nov 2015 meeting about ” only Pam and I have access to the pool peep cameras on our computers, smartphones”… When I ask to see an insurance policy – it is our right under the law.
If we ask to review the actual finances, or any contract , it is our right. If you wish to waste our dues on the attorney and enlist an army of coffee club or cocktail party friends, to go door to door and blame the HUTTON’s for causing legal fees, that is your right under the gossip policy. We won’t stop you.
To stop the legal fees and for other serious reasons, we hope to see Jim Hutton, Doyle Haglund and Walt Erickson elected for their backgrounds, and Marge Cohan and Bob Barnett as we believe Marge and Bob are not the controlling influences on the Board and should be given a chance to grow.