Broadcasted June 17, 2015
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A number of apartment owners of the Aquarius Condominium of Hollywood, Florida have invited the WPLG TV Channel 10 of Miami – F. Lauderdale, an ABC affiliated station. The visit was in April 24, 2015 and the result was broadcasted June 17 at 11:00 PM Local News Program.
Bob Norman reports. Turn your speakers volume up. Following the clip from Channel 10 the Official report by the Aquarius General Manager giving his account of the episode. At the bottom the official clip from TV Channel 10 with adds.
reported by Andrew C. Surdovel, Aquarius General Manager
On Friday, April 24, 2015 at 3:50 p.m., there was a knock on my back office door. I opened the door and Alexandra Kogan of the South Tower was accompanied by Channel 10 Local News (Bob Norman) busting into my office at Aquarius Condominiums with the TV Camera running followed by at least 8-10 yelling Aquarius Unit Owners.
They were chanting “where is the Trump money Surdovel” and “where is the contract for the valet deck”? Bob Norman started asking questions with the camera running on: “Why did we have a 3.9 million dollar disappearance without any work being done, besides another assessment of 1.6 million dollars, and another new assessment of 4 million dollars”? “Where has all this money gone since it is evident that nothing has been done to the building”?
I proceeded to show him the accounting sheet of the Trump money (6 years all accounted for on the sheet since 2009), and explained to him this is where the money went due to poor management. He held the sheet up, and the cameraman scanned the entire sheet. I offered him a copy and he took it. Then the Aquarius unit owners were screaming so loud that he asked them to leave.
It was very difficult for them to leave, and he said I will stop this unless you all leave.
He told them he would show them the video later. After a few minutes, they finally matriculated out of the office with one female unit owner refusing to leave. She kept reciting “this is my building and I have a right to be in this office”. I told her she either leaves or I will ask Channel 10 News to leave. After that unit owner left, Bob Norman started asking questions as to whether the Board had a right to have an assessment without a unit owner vote. I said, “Yes they did”.
Then the shredder in the outer office began to run, and he indicated that we were shredding documents so that he could not see them. How convenient, you are shredding documents while I am here. I said, “Bob come on this is not right. I am not shredding documents”. He agreed.
Bob Norman asked me if I felt the Board had any criminal intent. I told him, I felt that the past Board did not have any criminal intent, only mismanagement.
I told him that the present Board is moving forward on fixing up the building with the new four million dollar assessment. I also told him the air conditioning and the balconies were using up a lot of the funds. The previous Board allotted $80,000 to reconstruct 32 balcony edges with time and material instead of total project cost. We started on these balconies, and after we did four, we spent almost $50,000.
Bob Norman asked me about why we had certain items in the assessment and where were the bids to back them up? He also said these items should not be estimates. They should have bids to back them up.
I told him they were estimates and before we spend the money on the projects, we will have 3 bids to back them up. I told him on the 2 million dollars, part of the assessment on the valet deck, we had 4 bids. Also he asked, what about the roof, and I told him we had 3 bids ranging from $28,000 to $67,000. This was a requirement from the first Board.
In conclusion, I finally said: “You must leave now.” He said: “now you want me to leave? You were such a nice guy, now you want me to leave?” I told him enough is enough. I shook his hand and he left.
The only unit owners I could visually identify were:
- Ira Bell
- Boris Goldberg
- Sofia Ferenburg
- Alexandra Kogan
Signed by Andrew C. Surdovel, General Manager
The official WPLG TV Channel 10 of Miami – F. Lauderdale, an ABC affiliated station is available with better resolution and better sound, closed caption available, if you click the link bellow: It will open in a new TAB.
The dream of living on the ocean is alive and well in Hollywood Beach.
Miami Mirror link to Bob Norman report, video clip, trasncript and third party comments
Thank you, Bob for the interesting coverage of our condo complex in Hollywood – the Aquarius.
This “small” group of people is not so small after all: they comprise currently just shy of 50% of unit owners, who have been working towards recalling two Board members – the President and the VP. The Board and its entourage speak dismissively and lack any respect for others with differing opinions. Furthermore, to those who are engaging in finger-pointing, permit me to remind them that incites anger and hatred, both of which are an offense, compounding the issues by pitting “groups” against each other, an apparent specialty of the current Board. Had not Governor Rick Scott just passed into law this week that old(er) people cannot be forced to leave their homes?
It would be a wise choice to inquire as to the actual obtaining of permits; what the previous situation without any new permits for the new projects would result in: both for damage insurance reasons, personal injury as well as legal consequences set forth by the city of Hollywood. In hand had only been yet another “Change Order”. On the topic of Change Order # 20, the Vice President, singularly, poorly negotiated and signed an agreement with CSI to waive previous paving and flood claims our building has on them, leaving unit owners with the full cost of mold remediation, drywall installation, furniture damage – much of which had been due to negligence on CSIs part, and to which they had initially taken full responsibility and promised to cover the repair costs.
Regarding the “Trump” (Related Group) money: much of those funds had been misdirected over previous years (since 2009). However, the approximate sum of 1.5 million dollars remaining balance had been used in addition to the first assessment beginning January 1st, 2014 – approximately 1.7 million dollars – for the West pool project plus other items. But even that amount of 3.2 million has been insufficient, and the West pool remains unfinished and inoperable. On the same note, it is usual in Southern Florida for condominiums to offer a two, three, or even five-year amortization for special assessment payments. This is done to alleviate sudden financial burdens on unit owners, instead of forcing liens and subsequent foreclosure proceedings, where in this instance, it is estimated that well over 30 unit owners will lose their homes due to an aggressive payment schedule. The statement of the three members on the Board resoundingly commented, “If they can’t afford to pay the assessment, they should sell their homes and move.”
Compared to some lovely, tasteful, minimalist low-key oceanfront buildings in Bal Harbour, Surfside and Miami Beach, with their tamer lobby decor, the extravagant amount of money designated for this lobby’s design and furnishings is something that is being thrust upon all; including that “small” group referred to. And may I add – without a vote on design, or budget. I do recall from a previous letter writer (J. Ort – who bought their unit in December, 2012), disclosing to me personally that she wants to see a “gorgeous” lobby and entrance. When I asked her, “how gorgeous”, she made attempts to direct my line of vision to the Trump Hollywood to the north of the Aquarius, and also to the Residences, to the south of the Aquarius. What is a glaringly obvious question begs for a response. Why then, had Ms Ort not bought any number of units in either or both of those buildings she holds in such high esteem, rather than oblige unit owners to accommodate her aspirations to a falsely elevated station in life? The Aquarius of the new century has its own personality – neither extravagant nor bling-gaudy; neither that of the Trump Hollywood nor the Residences. Our goal for our buildings are clear and simple: Safety, budgetary concerns, functionality, attractiveness.
Times change, as do tastes, not to mention demographics. The population owning in the Aquarius in the 70s and 80s is far different from today; both in current age as well as taste and cultural background. The possible demographic homogeneity of 40 years ago is no more. Yet the ruling junta has decided to plow forward with no regard to voices from nearly half the current condo population.
There is no mistaking that repairs of a serious nature have been warranted, and will be for some time to come. It does seem that with so much repair work that does need to be done, then those are the things that should be attended to first. Prioritization. Yet it is the opposite that is taking place. The demolition of the entire driveway, for example is just such an example. The Board President had told me in March of this year that he does not want to have to revisit the front entrance area again several years down the road, so he’s decided to have it all done now (driveway only = 1 million dollars). This was one week after he had announced at a meeting – “No new projects this year!”
The Board has been in place for six months, which is well enough time to assume responsibility for closely managing and supervising both currently contracted projects as well as projects begun on someone else’s watch. Those complaints you here about “… it was the previous Board”, is just passing the buck. Tis true, the previous Board was not a panacea, yet they are gone. The new Board, while excluding two members of the five-person Board, have behaved unscrupulously in addition to aggressively, shutting people down, adjourning meetings so as not to engage in discussions with owners, because they do not intend to engage any unit owner who disagrees, or has other opinions. The Aquarius website only prints those letters written by a select few who sing the Board’s praises. This type of propaganda has no place in our society. Manipulation springs to mind.
On a closing note, and a point to consider: What is becoming increasingly obvious is that construction companies in Southern Florida are what we call: “A practiced hand”. Condo Boards seem to be on board.
Something to think about.
Thank you for your time, and again for the exposé coverage of your recent news item.
Yvonne Sandor MA.Ed