All posts by terrybar

Julio Robaina

Julio Robaina

A common occurrence for newly elected legislators is requesting help from their constituents who are homeowners in mandatory membership Homeowner associations. The stories they hear seem unreal and they have no idea where or how to start or even whether any of it is true. Several years ago one such legislator, Representative JULIO Robaina of FLORIDA set up meetings across Florida, went around the state, and met with the owners to find out what the problems were. The stories he heard repeatedly were the same stories I heard from people around the country. He would then join us On The Commons and tell us about the abuses that were going on. With first-hand information about the issues and ideas from the owners themselves, he sponsored the legislation, which some passed only to be canceled later on but, not all of it. And here we are, years later, the same stories, and abuses continue. At the request of the current legislators, Julio helped draft legislation for this year that was completely ignored by the sitting legislators. This year the focus was on the Surfside condo collapse and how to prevent it from happening again. So once again, nothing will happen.

there will be no real relief for the owners and the people who benefit from this dysfunctional housing concept continue to gain, with no oversight from the government that allows it to continue.

Julio Robaina joins us On the Commons. Please tune in to learn how He is keeping his promise to protect the homeowners.

Listen to Julio Robaina
Surfside condominium collapse photo from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue 1.jpg. This work was created by a government unit of the U.S. state of Florida. It is a public record that was not created by an agency which state law has allowed to claim copyright and is therefore in the public domain in the United States.

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Caroline Douglas

Carolyn Douglas

Elder abuse is alive and well in America, either Miss Manners didn’t do a good enough job teaching us the finer skills of manners and respect or we are ignoring them believing they are old-fashioned and therefore best forgotten. But I simply can’t forget or overlook today’s story. I was so infuriated and outraged when I got a call from a friend who lives in a retirement community. It is hard to find much that differs from a homeowners association that we typically deal with here except that they seem to be more expensive and more intrusive and as I discovered more abusive. I know, it is difficult to believe.

AS I listened to my friend, I had images of a college dorm room, not an apartment where one can enjoy the privacy of a personal home, which is what these places are supposed to be. Oh, did I mention they are NOT cheap? I got a call from my friend, very upset because she had been given about three weeks to find another home, she was being evicted. Why was she being evicted? It seems harsh to have an employee decide to strip you of your home with no oversight, no insuring that her Constitutional rights were protected, none of that. There was an incident where a member of the staff showed up and without my friend’s permission stuck a cell phone in her face and started taking pictures of her because her mask was not on her face according to the home’s standards. Considering she had a glass of water in her hand that she was drinking that is not surprising. When this woman with her cell phone appeared in her private space, taking photos and videos, my friend did what any one of us would do when someone invades our private space, we pushed them away. Not sure any reader would just stand there and smile for the camera and allow this to happen to them, at least I certainly hope not. An unintended consequence of all this was that the water in the glass gave our sneaky photographer a shower. Of course, the “bad guy” in all of this has to be my friend, and absolutely no mention is ever made of the employee who started this whole thing. I wonder why? What really, really infuriated me was when the ED told my friend to go to her room and stay there. She was not allowed to go in the common areas, or to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she had to stay in her room until she left in 3 weeks’ time. Her meals would be sent to her. That is a total violation of her Constitutional rights and is elder abuse. And this woman is in charge of a retirement home?

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons. Caroline had the same gut reaction to this story as I did when I told her. Although Caroline is a non-practicing attorney she has a law degree, she remembers the Constitutional protections very well and reaffirms my beliefs and Gut reactions. Tune in and make sure your loved ones don’t fall into the same house of horrors.

Listen to Caroline Douglas
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Nyla Ridings

Nyla Ridings

I realize that the hardest lessons to learn are the ones we have not experienced personally. I doubt that anyone will make you perceive
that better than our guest on today’s show.

Nyla Ridings joins us On The Commons this week. I Have said this before and will repeat it, I have never had a problem with my HOA, so I have no personal experience with what it is like being targeted. Having grown up overseas, where all I ever heard was how much freer people in the US were, I was horrified by the restrictions HOAs inflict on the owners of homes in the US. How can that possibly be? Never in my entire life had anyone dared to assert the right to decide what color your shades could be. The sheer gall of it! You have all heard the daily atrocities in American housing, so I won’t go into it here but urge you to tune in to On The Commons and listen to Nyla. Hers is a baptism by fire.

All I can tell you is that Nyla had every reason to turn and run as fast as she could when she was shown a house in an HOA. Her father, a builder/developer had warned her to NEVER, EVER buy in an HOA. She did and now understands her father’s advice. She has spent a lot of time trying to warn people who have reached out to her for help once they got caught in their HOA nightmares. Listen to Nila and save yourselves a lot of heartaches. Nyla speaks from personal experience.

Listen to Nyla Ridings

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Bill Davis

A good idea doesn’t need a massive support system, nor does it require all sorts of strong-arming to hold it up, but for some reason, HOAs can’t seem to stand on their own. We seem to run into more ways of forcing homeowners into accepting all the intrusive rules from nonowners. Why is that? If the concept of HOAs is so fantastic, wouldn’t you expect it to b able to stand on its own without having to be propped up? I have been baffled for ages, but I am not the only one.

Bill Davis, a Texas attorney who represents homeowners who are having problems with their Texas HOAs, joins us On The Commons. Bill and I have had this conversation online for a long time. Why do we call them Associations? Good question. Words have meaning. The words used to describe associations should reflect what the association is. We also have questions relating to our favorite topic. Do we need legislation propping up restrictions on private property? What has become of the notion that a man’s home is his castle? Are we also throwing the idea of the American dream down to the gutter? Is it time to return private property to private ownership?

Listen to Bill Davis
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Carolyn Douglas

Carolyn Douglas

As I said in my opening statement, Caroline is a lady who I wish lived closer. She has a way of connecting current events with history. Today’s show is no exception. I have been asking myself, whatever happened to Miss Manners? Would life in HOAs be more tolerable if people treated each other with respect? Where and when did we go off the rails? And who is responsible? Are children being taught manners at home by their parents? That’s who taught me how to behave and corrected me every time I strayed from the straight and narrow. I was fortunate; good manners were important to my parents, But what happens when the parents are rude and don’t know how to behave in polite company? I told a story about trying to reach a friend who was staying in a local hotel but was treated rudely by the person who interfaced with the public and potential guests and who hung up on me several times. No, I was NEVER rude to the staff. And Caroline and I also talk about current court decisions. Does everything tie together? How do we return to a kinder, gentler society? Do tune in to today’s show. I would love to hear what you think. Thanks.

Listen to Carolyn Douglas
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Narayanan Doraswamy

Narayanan Doraswamy

Narayanan Doraswamy, a fellow Toastmaster and a friend joins us On The Commons

Sometimes it takes a fresh eye to focus on a story we have been working on for ages. Certainly, all the problems within HOAs have been occupying our time for years. Just what are we dealing with and where do we go from here? We all agree there are problems and issues but just how do we find an easy way to symplify the problem se we can follow the issues and get a grip on the issues. As luck would have it, my husband and I both belong to TBA Toastmasters where a friend of our and fellow Toastmaster Narayanan Doraswamy gave a terrific speech abut the 5 Whys.

My husband reminded me about it and when I asked Narayanan if he would join us On the Commons and share shis story with us. My good friend Narayanan agreed, drove many miles to join me in the studio and did wonderful job telling us the story. I had heard the story but hung on to every word. Tune in , I am sure you will agree with us that this is a terrific way of finding the answers to the HOA problems. It is high. time we dealt with it once and for all. Narayanan knows about HOAS like so many of us, he lives in one after all, but unlike so many people he hasbn’t tried to fix them as far as I know. What’s breathtakingly refreshing in his story is its simplicity. Maybe the answer lies outside the usual HOA chatter.  

Listen to Narayanan Doraswamy
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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann

Ever since I heard about the condo collapse in Florida that took the lives of 98 of its residents, I have been asking what caused it. There are so many guesses that we repeatedly hear from those who are supposed to be in the know. The first one repeated since day one is the lack of reserves. A great way to make a point! But let’s be realistic, while it is imperative that the reserves be properly funded, the fact that Surfside was not funded did NOT cause the building to collapse. So what did cause the building to collapse? As far as I can make out, we still don’t know. If we don’t understand why the building collapsed, how do we ensure that this never happens again? We have to know what steps in the construction process failed. Something did not perform as expected. Floridians and Florida housing consumers DESERVE to know why the building failed and what steps authorities are taking to ensure this NEVER happens again. Because absent that, we are no further ahead. It is such a devastating and tragic occurrence. I have covered it several times and will probably continue to cover it until we know for sure what happened and there are reasonable measures to ensure the safety of all Floridians. In addition, there need to be some serious plans in place. The lack of reserves did NOT cause the building to collapse. Saltwater did NOT cause it to collapse. I come from a part of the world where buildings are still standing after over a century or more. So if we can build houses over the big pond, why not here? I think our guest may have put his finger on part of the problem. 

Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons. Jan is the founder and president of the Florida-based Cyber Citizens for Justice. He has been heavily involved in all things related to HOAs in Florida and has been active in legislative affairs in Florida. There was some politicking going on with an attempt to enact legislation to prefer a repeat performance of this tragedy, but apparently, the special interests have managed to prevent anything meaningful from being passed. Tune in because Jan explains what happened. Stay tuned; there will be more On The Commons about this. This is too important to leave to those who are more interested in lining their own pockets than protecting their clients and the politicians who just don’t get it.

Listen to Jan Bergemann
Surfside Condominium Collapse Photo from Miami-Dade_Fire Rescue
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Caroline Douglas

Caroline Douglas

Who is responsible for ensuring our safety on the local roads? Who plans how many stop signs are used on the roads and makes sure pedestrians are safe? Who decides the speed limits and fines and collects the fines when a driver exceeds the speed limit? What happens to that money? If you have never really thought about this and, like me, just presumed everything was being handled responsibly, I believe it is time to rethink that trusting attitude. Maybe it is time for some adult supervision, or we may face a tragic situation.

We recently had an unfortunate and tragic situation in my homeowners’ association, which could and should have been avoided. My neighborhood is divided by a four-lane road with half of the homes on one side and the other half on the other side. The high school that all the kids go to is on the other side of that road, as are all the amenities like the pools and tennis courts. Several years ago, that road was widened from two to four lanes. Someone from the county board of supervisors visited one of our homeowner meetings to inform us that because the situation was too dangerous for a crossing guard, they had to take the crossing guard away, and the kids will have to cross themselves! Every suggestion to ensure the safety of the children was met with an equally stupid reason why that wouldn’t work. They all had to do with their own similarly stupid rules. Thank God we were incident-free for many years, but our lucky streak didn’t last forever. Recently a resident in his 50s was hit while he was crossing in the crosswalk and killed. The driver, a woman in her 30’s, I believe, apparently was not speeding, texting, or driving drunk, but she nonetheless hit and killed the pedestrian, and that is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life. 

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons to talk about this incident. As always, Caroline comes up with so many angles and possibilities that I hadn’t thought of or considered. I’m always grateful to her for being a willing guest and providing her knowledge and expertise to us all. Always a pleasure to have you on Caroline. 

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Bill Davis

Your home is your home, or is it?  Weren’t you planning on doing all sorts of things with your new home?  Wouldn’t it be nice if your home could provide a little income for you, instead of being a never-ending source of expenses>  Taxes, a new stove, the water heater stopped heating water, there is the taxman again.  So what do you do/?  Get a new water heater or pay the taxman?  If you do that you will be taking cold showers a lot longer. 

Bill Davis   joins us On The Commons.  Bill is a Texas attorney with his heart in the right.  He believes as passionately as I do in our property rights.  and the right as a homeowner to be able to use your home as you see fit.  But is everything that clear cut or are there other things to consider?  Please tune in, Bill and I have a lively discussion about almost everything that has to do with your right to be in complete charge of your own home. Enjoy your home, make it yours and make sure all your neighbors enjoy the same rights.

Listen to Bill Davis
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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann

The world watched in horror on on June 24, 2021 as the Surfside condominium tower collapsed as an estimated 1000 men, women and children lost their lives. The world is still trying to come to terms with exactly what happened and what led to the tragedy.  There have been many theories as the what caused the collapse.  There  is evidence that the condo neglected to perform the necessary repairs and to keep the building in good repair.  It is also alleged that the condo was underfunded.  In an effort to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy, legislators, advocates and others with an interest in ensuring that this does not happen again, Several pieces of legislation was written and presented for consideration.  Sadly, despite all the work and the obvious need for some remedies NOTHING was done by the legislators in this session.  Floridians got back with no additional protections thanks.

Jan Bergemann, founder of the very active Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice joins us On The Commons and explains exactly what happened.  I hope the world is still listening because our legislators really do need to step up and make sure their citizens are protected.  Please tune in.  We will be following this story.

Listen to Jan Bergemann

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