Author Archives: Bob Hogg

About Bob Hogg

Webmaster, Hawksnestowners.org

OK, HERE’S THE DEAL:

After several weeks of trying to figure out what to do about the screwed up election, there is finally a plan. Four days ago, on the Hawks Nest website, www.hawksnest-marathon.com, the office posted an explanation of what happened, and what is being done to correct the problem. I have included the post below:

From: Hawks Nest Board of Directors

To: Hawks Owners

Due to inadvertent errors in our election voting process, a decision was made to give owners who might have been disenfranchised by those errors, a second opportunity to vote. This decision is in compliance with our attorney’s opinion regarding the errors which included: 1) Postage on return envelopes was insufficient, causing concern that we did not receive everyone’s return ballots. 2) The Second Annual Meeting Notice stated that the ballots had to be returned by May 4, 2017 when it should have stated “by the beginning of the meeting on May 7, 2017”. 3) Canadians were directed to fax their ballots which is contrary to law and our by-laws. Based upon these errors, our attorney, and the Board are of the opinion that the election process was flawed and not in compliance with our By-Laws or Florida law.

Based upon this, our By-Laws and Florida law, our attorney advised us on how to proceed to correct these errors and to allow all owners the opportunity to vote. Under this procedure, all owners will receive a Revised Second Notice of Annual Meeting to be mailed on June 19, 2017.

All owners will receive new proxies to complete and return. Because the prior proxy contained the following statement (which is required by law to be included): “THIS PROXY IS REVOCABLE BY THE UNIT OWNER AND IS VALID ONLY FOR THE MEETING (May 7, 2017) FOR WHICH IT IS GIVEN AND ANY LAWFUL ADJOURNMENT…”, those May 7th proxies are not valid for the rescheduled Annual Meeting and new ones need to be completed. These proxies, per our By-Laws, must be completed and received by our CPA on or before July 15, 2017.

The ballots from owners that were properly received have been saved and will be counted at the rescheduled Annual Meeting. Please note that Section 61B-23.0021 of the Florida Administrative Code states “Upon receipt by the association, no ballot may be rescinded or changed.” In other words, if your ballot has been properly received, you may not alter that vote or vote again. Only owners whose ballots were not properly received are receiving new ballots to be completed as directed and to return them so that their votes will also count.

The Board apologizes for this error and delay, but toward the goal of giving all owners a voice, holding a valid election and upon advice of our legal counsel, the meeting has been rescheduled for July 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM at the Hawks Nest. If we have a quorum, the ballot counting will commence and we will proceed through the agenda as listed on the notice. If there is not a quorum, or if the counting of ballots takes longer than the stated agenda on the Notice through Item 8, we will adjourn the meeting to 3PM to announce the outcome of the vote. However, all owners will be permitted to, and are encouraged to, remain in the room to observe the counting of the ballots. Please everyone complete your proxies and those of you who have received ballots, please vote.

Some people seem to think that some incumbent members of the board voted to have a new partial vote because they were afraid that the the vote as it was wasn’t going their way. That’s absurd, since none of the votes that were received have even yet been opened.

Interestingly, of the three incumbents that are running for reelection, two abstained from voting on the matter of postponing the vote. The only one of the three that did vote was Secretary Rosemary Smith who voted no.

Jim Dobbs and Charles Lea told me that they felt that their voting on the matter could be seen as a conflict since they had a direct interest in the outcome of the vote. Once the decision to postpone was made, however, they both were involved in doing what was needed to implement the decision in a fair, equitable, and legal way, as did the rest of the board.

SO WHO WON THE ELECTION?

We’ve all been waiting for an answer to that question via an announcement from the Hawks Nest on the official Hawks Nest website. As of this morning, 11 days after the results were to have been known, still nothing.

So I guess it’s up to me to let you all know: NOBODY, that’s who!

Sound familiar? For the second time in six years, the election process has had errors serious enough that the counting of the ballots has been delayed while new ballots can be sent out.

So what happened? As you read here three weeks ago, most if not all of the return envelopes used to send your completed ballots along with your proxies had insufficient postage on them. This left the likelihood that a significant number of the ballots that owners sent were delivered either late or not at all.

In a post on the Hawks Nest website, Secretary Rosemary Smith, who is responsible for conducting the election, stated that she weighed the envelopes and used the same postage as last year, but did not realize that the use of oversize envelopes required more postage.

So what’s going on?

What I do know is that there was no quorum for the annual meeting, so it was not held. I have been told that new ballots will be sent out to all those whose return mail was late or did not arrive at all.

I spoke with Kate in the office today, and at this point that is the plan. They are just waiting on the board for the materials that they need to send out. When everything is set, and the date for the mailing and new meeting is set, an email will go out to the entire ownership with the details. I should note that none of the return envelopes that have been received were opened, so none of the completed ballots were revealed.

If you receive a new ballot, please vote!

Comments From Former Board Member, Laura Nettleton:

Several years ago I ran for the Board at the Hawk’s Nest because I saw the building falling apart and wanted to protect my favorite vacation spot. I was elected to serve on the board and I believe I won that position because I am an architect and own a real-estate management company. I knew that we had violations of Florida State law, the building code, an inadequate reserve, and other very serious problems. At one point one of the parties running this year was the president and ignored professional direction from a structural engineer that advised several units not be occupied because the building structure in those units was so compromised. Those units continued to be occupied despite the warnings from a structural engineer to the contrary…this is madness!

I was totally frustrated as a board member. The existing board was extremely resistant to change or suggestions, the board was run very poorly, there were no rules for meetings and decision-making, and many decisions were made in an arbitrary manner. The Board was extremely wasteful of people’s time. The president acted as if he was the lone decider and all decisions ran through him. It was highly political and frankly ridiculous.

My expertise was not utilized and every time there was a technical issue regarding construction the president acted as if could solve every problem at the Hawk’s Nest without professional advice. While I think that he acted believing that he was doing what was in the best interest of the Hawk’s Nest, he hesitated to consult professionals or accept the professional advice he did get, and it has cost the condominium time and money. This was true of waterproofing, structural issues, windows and painting. The Board collected bids for painting and the president chose the low bid that did not adequately include waterproofing and we still have waterproofing issues that we are in the process of correcting. The board spends money but not wisely and work needs to frequently be redone. The board didn’t seem to understand that concrete buildings in a marine climate do not represent the same challenges that projects from northern climates do. I left the Board in frustration as have several other qualified members with building experience. I spoke with another architect who had served on the board prior to my time who had experienced the same thing and left as well.

In the past year there has been great improvement at the Hawk’s Nest. The laws governing meetings and decision-making have been put in place and there is an attempt to get a sufficient reserve in place, and many of the foreclosed units have been sold. This has been a direct result of Jim Dobbs and Charles Lea. I support them and feel it is the only way we are going to see our investment properly maintained and cared for. I will be voting for Charles Lea, Jim Dobbs, Lowell Ladd and Mike Oostmeyer. We need a change at the Hawk’s Nest- we need a professional board who will work together and utilize the skills each person brings to the table.

Respectfully submitted,

Laura Nettleton

IT’S GETTING NASTY, FOLKS

Here is a copy of an email that I sent out to the membership today. Most of you have probably already seen it, but for those whose emails have changed since the time that you joined the group, here it is:

Dear Fellow Hawks Nest Owner:
 
I have just found out that many of you have received a postal mailing from former Hawks Nest President, Marty Shapiro. Contained within this mailing was a letter from Marty, a letter from owner Keith Gilliver, and a short statement from former President, Gary Tucker.
 
These letters contain outlandish allegations of increases in the maintenance fees of $300 or more, and unsubstantiated reports of the boards “desire” to spend $350,000 or more on the seawall. I have attended, either in person or telephonically, many of the board meetings for many years and this is certainly not what I have heard. If you wonder as I do, and as do several owners I have spoken to, where Mr. Shapiro got his mailing list, email him at gateway26@sisna.com or bigmarty1233@gmail.com and ask him. I have good evidence that it came from an official Hawks Nest source, and I don’t mean anybody in the office.
 
Five of the current seven members of the board have written a rebuttal to these allegations and have asked me to pass it along to you.
 
In my last email I listed the candidates that I support in this election and why. I also spoke about our dysfunctional board. These mailings just go to reinforce that appearance, and confirm my support for Jim Dobbs, Lowell Ladd, Charles Lea and Mike Oostmeyer. It is time for the dirty politics and backstabbing to stop.
————————————————————–
 
Statement in rebuttal of the letter from Mr. Keith Gilliver
Recently many of you received a letter from Mr. Keith Gilliver making certain assertions about our current Board on which all five of us serve. We would like to straighten the record out of what this Board has and has not done>

Assertion – Maintenance fees going to $1,000 per week in another two years.

Fact – This Board has not and would not endorse increasing maintenance fees by any such amount. We strive to keep fees as low as possible and this assertion is totally false.

Assertion – Prior leadership has checked with the State of FL about laws and rules governing timeshares.

Fact – This Board has determined that our most recent budgets and reserve schedules as well as proxies used in previous years were NOT in compliance with FL law and have been corrected and the validity confirmed by the Hawks Nest outside attorneys, who are licensed to practice law in FL and who are well versed in timeshare and condominium law.

Assertion – Mr. Dobbs, being an attorney, was not willing to make any legal suggestion and wanted to involve expensive attorneys to do what Gary had already been doing.

Fact – Mr. Dobbs announced to the Board early on in his first term that he could not and would not be giving legal advice to the Board because he was licensed in Ohio, not in Florida, he was not a condominium attorney and it would be inappropriate and unlawful to do so. He agreed to be the liaison to our legal counsel to communicate with them and make sure that they did what they were supposed to do. Mr. Dobbs felt that some of our procedures were in fact in violation of FL law as noted above. Mr. Dobbs confirmed this with our retained legal counsel and has ushered through the changes to bring us in compliance with FL law validated by our attorneys.

Assertion – Mr. Lea was nominated for Treasurer, which he refused. This action does not show best interest in the Hawks Nest.

Fact – As Mr. Lea noted in the Hawks Nest forum on April 13, that he had, in fact, been Treasurer for the prior year and had noted non-compliance with FL law in our budget. Mr. Lea, Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Weidner supported coming into compliance but lost that vote 3 to 4. Since he felt he could get no support he declined to serve for a second year.

Assertion – It seems they are not opposed to a substantial raise in maintenance.

Fact – As previously noted above, each and every current Board member strives to keep maintenance fees at as low a level as possible to keep the Hawks Nest in a stable financial condition. The real fact is that over the past five years our operating expense funds have been depleted to near zero and our maintenance reserves have not been adequately funded as noted in the enclosed President’s letter.

Assertion – At the present, their desire is to spend $350,000 and maybe more on the seawall.

Fact – Again, simply not true. A recent survey done by Coastal Systems International, Inc. has shown that our seawall has serous problems. This structure is a critical component of the Hawks Nest and efforts must be made to keep it sound at the lowest costs possible.

Assertion – Lew and Garry have had an engineer inspect the seawall. This engineer gave the BOD a report stating that he found no reason to be concerned at this time. He suggested leaving it alone.

Fact – What the engineer said was, and we quote, “This is obviously an older seawall that may be near the end of its structural life as far as retaining the soil on the landward side of it.” His conclusion, and we quote, “There is nothing in engineering methodology that can accurately predict the lifespan of this seawall. If a major concrete spalling area appears or a section of the wall fails or settles significantly, it is probably time to do the replacement.”

A more recent study, by Coastal Systems, International, Inc. recommended that the pile supported platform, the boat dock, is in Critical (its poorest rating) condition as it has very advanced deterioration, overstressing or breakage having resulted in localized failure(s) of primary structural components. Unlike the prior engineer referred to above this is a firm that specializes in seawalls and their recommendations state that the boat-dock AND the seawall should both be repaired/rehabilitated. The Board has just received this report and evaluating how to best address these problems while expending the least amount of funds.
In summary, there are many unfounded and untrue assertions in this “endorsement” letter. We, the undersigned Board members, ask you to review the facts. Those of us that are not up for re-election, endorse James Dobbs and Charles Lea for re-election based upon their performance and over the last two years.

Signed,

Directors – Alden Corley, Charles Lea, Charles Weidner, James Dobbs, Richard Holmes

Candidate Profiles

Here the profiles of the candidates as submitted with their intent to run information that I have received from the individual candidates so far. As always, I encourage all candidates to submit their information to me and I will publish them here.

James Dobbs – Candidate Profile

JAMES B. DOBBS

My wife Debbie and I purchased our first unit week at the Hawks Nest in November 1975. We now own weeks 11 and 12 in March.

In 2015, I retired, after 45 years, from my law practice in Columbus, Ohio. I have extensive experience working on boards of directors and trustees, including currently serving as president of the Board of Managers of the condominium association where we live and as chair of the Trustees of our church. I have been directly involved in constitution and bylaw creation and revision in each of those capacities. I have served on the board of trustees of three theological seminaries as well as being the managing general partner of a 35 unit apartment complex.

I have been on the Hawks Nest Board for two years. The Board assigned me as to be a liaison with our attorneys. We have become more diligent in dealing with delinquent owners and our collection procedures. This past year we have foreclosed on several units and they have either caught up with their delinquencies or we received ownership of those units pursuant to the foreclosures. They are now out for bids to our owners. I worked along with Charles Lea in the creation of our new website. I have also kept my commitment to push for the remodeling our bathrooms and kitchens. The Board asked Richard Holmes and me to negotiate the contract details for the bathroom remodeling that will start this coming September. The vanity cabinets and cultured marble counter tops with integrated sinks and back splashes are being custom made and installed for us at a reasonable price. I also worked with Charles Lea in implementing his idea of a committee structure on our Board that has helped us do our work more efficiently by utilizing the skill sets of each of our Board members. I also took the lead in revising our Rules & Regulations and worked with our attorneys to include penalty and fining procedures that had not been included in the prior version.

I would very much appreciate your vote to allow me the privilege of continuing to serve you on our Board. There is a lot of work yet to do and I would like to continue to be part of the process.

Lowell Ladd – Candidate Profile

My name is Lowell Ladd. I began visiting the Hawks Nest in the 1970s with my grandparents, Merion and Julius Ritter. They were original owners of 11 winter weeks for 25 years. Now an owner myself for a decade, I treasure bringing my children there each winter. I expect that the tradition will continue with the next generation. The Hawks Nest is a place that has been special to me and my family for four decades and I am running for the board of directors to ensure good ongoing operations of this treasure of the Florida Keys.

I earned my Bachelors degree from Dickinson College and my Masters degree from Shippensburg University. Following an All-American college running career, I started my own business providing personal coaching to runners and also served as head cross country coach at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. A few years later, I started a second company that provides event management and race timing services. As President of both 2L Coaching Services, LLC and 2L Race Services, LLC, I am in charge of all aspects of the companies, including budgeting, vendor selection, employee recruitment and training, and advertising. I have worked hard to ensure my events and companies are run efficiently and profitably. I believe these traits are important to the management of the Hawks Nest.

If elected to the board of directors, I have three main areas of focus: 1 – Communication. I believe that the board needs to not only share the information and decisions with the membership, but solicit input throughout the year from members as to their desires and needs for the units, building, and grounds. 2 – Stable Management. The rate of turnover in front office management is not acceptable. This association needs and deserves a manager with a longer term commitment to the property. 3 – Financial Responsibility. The Hawks Nest has been well run financially for years and I want to ensure that continues with good short term cost effective decisions and sound long term planning and budgeting.

Charles Lea – Candidate Profile

Charles Lea, Candidate for the Hawks Nest Board of Directors
I am pleased to submit my letter of intent for reelection to the Board of Directors. I am finishing my first term and it has been a MAJOR challenge. My wife Faye and I have been owners for many years and LOVE the Hawks Nest as all of you do.
Our space is limited so let me tell you my guiding principal as your elected director – I will continue to work to enhance your economic value in the Hawks Nest and the enjoyment you receive from that investment by keeping assessments as low as possible with a high quality of service.
What have I done for you since being elected to the Board in 2015: I have developed and implemented an accounts payable procedure whereby three members of the Board approve each disbursement and the Treasurer confirms that each check written was approved by that committee. Hard to believe, but no such procedure was ever used before. I developed a committee structure for the Hawks Nest so that ALL Board members are involved in the decision making process, utilizing their various skill sets. Since taking over the collection of late maintenance fees in November of 2015, I have, along with staff, taken actions to recoup over $50,000 of delinquent assessments, several involving foreclosure. One of these had not paid maintenance fees in a decade, yet was never submitted to an attorney for collection. I worked on concrete restoration issues last fall. We completed interior work on 19 of the 28 units, some units where the ceilings were literally falling in and which had windows which water poured thru. I developed the framework for a five-year plan based off of the GAB Robbins Reserve Survey that was completed under my guidance. Along with Jim Dobbs, led the effort and work for development of the new Hawks Nest website. Plus much more…
What do I want to do during the coming two years – implement a five year plan so that all owners know where their money is going, continue to improve our financial controls, continue the needed work on concrete restoration, replace our failing fire pump ASAP, evaluate our seawall for needed repairs, resurface the pool, improve parking lot drainage, replace our buckling tile, update bath vanities and kitchen cabinets. I want the Board to be good stewards of your money and pledge to do so on your behalf. I would appreciate your support and vote for another term. Thank you.

Mike Oostmeyer – Candidate Profile

Mike Oostmeyer, 231-745-7870, past Board Member/Treasurer 2010-14—Retired Corporate Director Information Systems for a multi-national Auto Parts Manufacturer.

While Treasurer I eliminated years of deficit spending, replaced the $178,000 shortage in our operating fund, cut $75,000/year from operating expenses, published monthly financial reports on line, developed a 5 year Cash Management Plan for projects, and left with over $200,000 excess operating funds in the bank.

I am running again because I see many of the old issues resurfacing with members of the present Board. In the last two years we were $50,000 over our Operating Budget and as of December Financials are over budget this year. The Projects we had scheduled are not being completed, but we are spending $8,200 we don’t have on a third seawall study we don’t need. A Board member justifies that over expenditure because “we will have had operating losses for six of the last eight years that averaged over $60,000 to $70,000/year” (it was actually only two years for a total of $51,628). Some on the Board are also proposing a change from our Straight Line Reserve (project) Funding structure to a “Pooling” system that would allow more “flexibility” in spending those funds. Under that system if replacement schedules are not correctly predicted there can be substantial underfunding and cash flow deviations from projections. That would result in the need for special assessments. Straight Line Funding is the more conservative method, more suited to the Hawk’s Nest current situation.

I think you, as owners, know my reputation well enough to form your own opinions of my qualifications and integrity, and hope those opinions lead you to vote for me in the upcoming election.

Gary Tucker – Candidate Profile

I’m back and need your support. I didn’t run last year but during that year I kept a close eye on our financials and projects which were ongoing when my term ended. Unfortunately, I am seeing not only unnecessary spending ($10,000 in cost and a over a year to get our new website up and running which should of cost under $1000 and taken a few weeks) but also serious consideration of new projects which are not needed (a potential $395,000 for repairs to our seawall). Could be more and we have an engineer’s report which finds no problems with our existing seawall.
These are two examples of why I am back. In my pre-retirement job as a Contract Services Supervisor for the county I prepared and worked with a 2 million dollar budget, wrote bid specks, worked with engineers, put out bid packets and oversaw the contractors to ensure they were on time, within budget and the work was done correctly. This experience was invaluable in the four years I served on The Hawks Nest Board, one year as VP and the next 3 as your President. In that time I helped save over $250,000, got new (to speck hurricane type) windows installed, made major spalling repairs, painted the building, hooked up to city sewer and removed treatment plant and much more and I did this with no special assessments and only a $25.00 maintenance fee raise. If re-elected I will keep working to keep maintenance fees low and also to continue those projects which were budgeted before I left, such as much needed interior upgrades.
Last year I got my Florida CAM license so as to better understand the laws and requirements that govern time share condominiums such as the Hawks Nest. I feel this will be a valuable contribution to the expertise already on hand in Gary Rumberger and Kate Chaffin. In addition I feel that Mike Oostmeyer, Rosemary Smith, Marty Shapiro and I would be a strong Board which could work for you, stay under budget and give you, the owners, transparency into what we are doing and the reasons for it. I ask for your vote. Gary Tucker, please call with any questions/ 859-638-3871.