Today’s news:

Ombudsmen are needed to protect residents from shareholder boards

One would have to ask why anyone would mind having to answer to a government agency as opposed to a lengthy civil court legal battle.

Creating an ombudsman with subpoena power would expedite under a friendlier and less expensive atmosphere the many challenges that can arise among shareholders and their board and managing agents.

Call any one of your local politicians and ask how many complaints a week they get from shareholders. These complaints often end up in Small Claims, Supreme, Appellate and even federal courts. Ask the court clerks how many complaints from shareholders are heard each year.

Once the process leans pro-shareholder, many of these complaints would probably stop. Transparency and the thought of an external audit can have a strong effect.

Ever ask how much it costs to try a case in Small Claims Court? Factor in all the salaries and use of the government building and I am sure it is a lot more than the $3,000 which is the top award you can get. Next, figure the Supreme Court and add to the mix the judges’ time taken away from trying terrorists and serious criminals.

I understand the politicians who oppose the bill because of a $6 fee per unit, as it could create a conflict of interest. It is also unfair to charge one group and not another. If you remove the cost of a trial from the courts and allocate that money to an ombudsman, the state would probably save money.

When they created the city Department of Consumer Affairs, I am sure there were companies saying the same thing the board of presidents association is saying and, as far as lawyers go, clients would turn to the ombudsman instead of them.

I find the word “malcontents” used by board presidents distasteful. When referring to anyone who disagrees with them, they label you and turn your friends and neighbors against you. Is it not hypocrisy? What are these presidents called when they disrupt meetings to the point where they are ended prematurely or when they have to be removed from meetings?

Board presidents have a forum and usually a microphone in their communities that is often denied to residents. Elected officials are connected to the presidents when, in fact, they should be connected to the shareholder/owner. No doubt the perspective will be considerably different.

This is important. All bills can use fine-tuning. Both sides should come together and try to work this one out for the hundreds of thousands of shareholders and condo owners who need it.

Barbara Leonardi

North Shore Towers

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