Monthly Archives: August 2016

3 Ballots – Clueless

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.

Brenda and Pam attack the Huttons

* Continuation from the last post with the “videos” taken by the Board who installed cameras all over our pool and clubhouse and watch us from their smart phones, laptops without any owner approval, vote for a MAJOR MATERIAL ALTERATION – In the name of IMPROVEMENTS!…. This is not an opinion, it is an accounting that can and will be sworn to and backed up by my husband, son, daughter in law and other owners who were present.

After Brenda and Pam dropped what appeared to be a prop, a “reason” to show up at 9:30, they went directly to what used to be a storage closet, just beyond the pool table. They went inside, fiddling with some monitor, presumably for the security cameras.  Our son Rob who is an IT guy, Veteran, super all around intelligent – offered the “ladies”, “Can I help you with anything”.  They told him no, that the cameras weren’t working.  What cameras?  All of them?

After wiggling a mouse around or something, Brenda Hallihan walked to the table where my husband Jim and I were sitting, and the other owners and my daughter in law and said “Funny that you are here Cathy and the cameras aren’t working. If we have to pay to have them fixed, you will be charged for it”.  And there it went.  It got ugly really fast as I asked how the cameras were even paid for over the past 5-6 months when there was zero budget for them and no vote on them? Brenda said “Your friend Jon spent $12,000 on them before”.  1st, she’s wrong, and 2nd, that has nothing to do with it and it WAS THE BOARD IN 2012 THEN TOO, NOT the property manager.

And the Property Manager, Jon, had the knowledge, decency and ethics to NOT have BOD members accessing the LIVE FEEDS, literally spying on owners without their knowledge or consent.  Keeping Van Loon nice?  Safe?  (Rhetorical)

Pam then hollered from the closet, “Cathy, get a life and get off the Internet”.  Haha.. Now THAT is funny, since I do work full time, and Jim and I have 7 adult kids and 3 grandkids under 2 and a half, plus his 2 String-bands, the veteran’s club, his Dad, etc, etc… We will never be signing up for the activity of the day with the same people at any condo, or neighborhood, and no offense to you if you like that, but I would HATE it.  I will NEVER retire, God Willing because of what I see it turns people, mostly women in to. Or maybe only people with that tendency before to gossip or be nosy – I prefer intellectuals, not busybodies.

As it progressed, one Board member was told they looked like a red-faced alcoholic, one they looked like a man and you must have stopped buying your Clairol since you have to pay your own water. Yes, it got ugly and we wish it weren’t like this.  BUT, these two are OUT OF CONTROL with their DESIRE TO CONTROL.

Pam told me she hoped I liked my 15 votes.  WHAT?? I didn’t run in the election, Jim did. We all questioned the results though and we were not provided them.  The CAM responded that we could send a certified letter request and review it at the Associa office (and we will at our convenience before the 1 year is up)    Some who were present that day questioned the election process due to the CAM Debby Keil counting the ballots in the kitchen of the Clubhouse; a closed off area with zero cameras!  It was reported that the attorney, Richard Deboest was present and did not object nor comment. Ballots are to be counted in the presence of the owners but violations of the election laws are like everything else at Van Loon lately.

After enough insults were thrown and names called, Pam and Brenda ran out of the Clubhouse. This was Monday, March 14th and the Board Meeting was the next morning.  When we looked at our online account to pay our 2nd quarter dues for April to June, we noticed a charge posted on March 22nd for $90.10 as “Camera Adjustment”.  We emailed the CAM, Debby Keil, asking about this charge, was a notice mailed to our condo which was never our mailing address? (Happened before with Associa).  2016 APRIL – VLC ACCOUNT INQUIRY_HUTTON

We received by email,  a copy of an Invoice and a letter signed by Ms. Keil.  We asked when wasa this sent to us?  On April 15th, we received a copy of the letter with the envelope postmarked April 11th.  (Yes, we scanned and saved).  Read the Letter dated March 18th first (it’s crap) and then the “Job Sheet”.  Then, I’ll explain why they are idiotic.  (Not name calling – using as an adjective!)

2016 APR 15 – From BOD to Huttons 2016 MAR 17 – Job Sheet to DeCraene Pic – Jim Cathy Rob Brittany and Brad in PEI    The Photo of Jim, me, our son Rob, his wife Brittany and another son Brad, is for illustrative purposes.  See what a rough crowd we appear?  Were Pam Decraene and Brenda Hallihan watching us because they were protecting Van Loon or because they were bored? Who cares why? It’s sick, disgusting and wrong.

The “Letter” signed by CAM Debby Keil – there is NO DATE of the alleged incident and when was it written?  Who knows since it was never mailed to us.  We asked Associa WHO “witnessed” this so we could confront them.  What bathroom was water left on in?  Men’s or Women’s?  Is there a camera in the bathroom now too?

We “physically moved cameras”? That would infer that we pulled cameras off the ceilings, where they are mounted? For edification, most of the cameras are like Track Lighting – adjustable by turning the direction of them.  They can be redirected to the left, right, front back.  Rob installed them for us in our condo and has them all over his home in New Jersey and they are accessible anywhere at anytime.  Ours cost $72 only each and free installation.   As a side note – the March 15th agenda included a BOD vote regarding cameras – after they were already purchased and installed over several months.  Pam and Brenda and have done this before.

Empty Pizza “Boxes”  were left in a trash can and leftover pizza was taken to our condos. As for scratches on the pool table cover – that is a total lie too. The only players with us that night were experts and they don’t “scratch”.  We tried to figure out what was the Letter saying? What is this charge for?  Was it sent to anyone else who was with us that evening? Was anyone in the Clubhouse after we left?  The only thing that was proven that night was that the BOD members are violating our enjoyment of our condo and our privacy. We questioned whether they may even have the audio feature activated as it is part of our $72 camera.

We have not paid this bogus charge and have not been provided substantiation that it was even pai AND we question the legality of the installation of the cameras and intend to formally challenge them.  Having cameras to record and playback in the event of an incident would still be considered a Material Alteration, requiring owner approval (though surely our Legal Team – who didn’t know you can’t charge $150 Transfer Fee?? – must have approved) would be one issue – spying on owners is downright outrageous.  It is bad enough having busybodies asking about legally registered vehicles – “is that a stolen car”?  How about read the license plate – temp tag.  Sigh… And MYOB sometimes.

This BOD is OUT OF CONTROL. The mass calls and emails we receive are pathetic, but somewhat entertaining.  Remember to lock your vehicle?  A theft?  I called to ask what theft occurred after  checking the Cape Coral Police Blotter.  No Police Calls to Van Loon in that period.  I was told by Associa  it was “loose change taken from an open vehicle with open windows”.

Remember to be careful on wet sidewalks?  They’ve got to go… Enjoy their retirements…….