Help protect freedom of speech and property rights of Florida residents!
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Many Florida residents do not have freedom of speech and are subject to taxation (dues) without representation! There are many communities throughout Florida and other states across America that require you belong to a club if you purchase a residence in that community. On the surface that doesn't seem so horrible. Let me explain why it is a nightmare for so many Florida residents and how we can easily fix the problem with a very simple law. While I describe the problem for Florida residents, this petition is asking for both a Florida law and a Federal law to be passed to protect Americans first Amendment rights.
Years ago the state of Florida recognized homeowners were having serious trouble with overreaching homeowners associations. The state, quite reasonably, passed many laws to protect homeowners from some of the unfair and often outrageous behavior inflicted upon homeowners by these associations.
Unfortunately, some people found a way around these protective laws by making membership with the club in the community mandatory and then satisfying all of their desires which had been thwarted by the above mentioned laws. Private clubs are not subject to those protective laws and to make matters even worse, the Florida courts do not want to get involved in private club disputes-even if that club takes away your first amendment right to freedom of speech. See a case from my club: Shumrak v. Broken Sound Club, Inc., 898 So.2d 1018 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App. 2005) (You can just Google "Shumrak v. Broken Sound Club") Because these clubs answer to no one, here is an example from my club that I believe will astound you. Some members have five votes while other members may have one, two or three. You won't be surprised to hear that the group with five votes has control of the board, makes all the rules, decides how all the money is spent and refuses to give an adequate accounting. This board decided their membership class deserved a brand new clubhouse that the rest of the members could not use. Of course the majority of the members were against this! But the general membership was not allowed to vote on the matter! We were told that their membership class would be responsible for paying for their private club within a club so we didn't have a say in what they did. They built their 9 Million Dollar play house and then transferred the debt to the rest of us! These board members passed this bylaw, "Any member or family member or guest of such member whose conduct shall be deemed by the appropriate committee to be improper, or likely to endanger the welfare, safety, harmony, or good reputation of the Club or its members, may be reprimanded, fined,or suspended from the Club by action of the Board of Governors.The Board of Governors shall be the sole judge of what constitutes improper conduct or conduct likely to endanger the welfare, safety, harmony or good reputation of the Club or its members." So basically the Board of Governors can do anything they like and if you speak out against it, or try to organize your community to fight an injustice, the people you are fighting against, the ones you think have behaved unethically can retaliate against you with impunity. They are the masters, judge, jury and administrators of punishments.
This is a state wide problem and by no means limited to my community. The proof of how bad things have gotten can be found by comparing property values of homes with mandatory unregulated club membership to either homes without clubs or homes where club membership is voluntary. Mandatory membership club home prices are substantially lower and take quite a bit longer to sell. In fact, many homes have gone into foreclosure. When membership became mandatory dues went up tremendously. Some could not afford to stay, but could no longer sell their home for enough money to pay the mortgage.
All of this madness can easily be stopped! The same rationale that caused the Florida legislature to pass all of the rules regulating homeowner associations applies to clubs that home owners are forced to join! Ask our state legislators to protect our first amendment rights, to preserve our property values and restore our peace of mind.
Ask our Federal representatives to pass a law simply stating if mandatory membership in a club runs with real property, the club is prohibited from infringing on Federal rights.
Please sign the petition and pass it along via email and social media.
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