Over the past couple weeks there has been renewed interest in the case of 2800 North Lakeshore versus Gary Palm, often referred to as the “Palm” case. To be brief, as it goes, 2800 violated their Declaration and Bylaws as interpreted by the court, and allegedly ignored professional consultants, such as their legal counsel and auditor, when making decisions.
It would be naïve to deny the renewed interest has nothing to do with the 2015 PT Board Election around the corner. But as the owners I have talked to about this know, I prefer to stay out of the politics, and your Board of Directors prefers management keep an arms length from election matters as well.
However, misinformation has been distributed and posted for the whole world to see on the internet. And in some cases presented in an arguably deceptive way. (For example, quoting one section of the Bylaws regarding a particular issue, while completely ignoring sections actually governing such matters.) Since I have received a number of inquiries from owners very concerned about what they are reading and hearing, it saves me time to provide owners with some direct counterpoints:
MISINFORMATION: The Board does not follow the proper budgeting process required by our Bylaws, and the Lobby Ceiling Plumbing Project was not properly budgeted – It has been alleged the Association has never followed the proper annual budgeting process as required by the PTCA Bylaws, and this project in particular – recently approved by the Board – was not budgeted at all.
FACTS: In the 8 years I have served the Association, we have always issued a proposed budget and held a Special Meeting of the Owners to review the budget before the Board considers whether to adopt it. This year, the same procedure was followed. And listed on that budget is an $860,000 line item for this plumbing project. Any information or suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.
The Board authorized this project unanimously. And having been on the front lines for 8 years, and having overseen spending tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of the staffs time addressing leaking from the plumbing embedded in the lobby ceiling, it seems pretty odd anyone would challenge the need to accomplish this task for the health and well being of the building. And whether there is a specific line item on the adopted budget or not, the Board of Directors has a duty to contemplate and execute projects of this nature when they deem them necessary.
This project also reduces the cost and inconvenience of future riser replacement projects, tentatively planned to continue next year. It reduces the need to open the lobby ceiling – over and over again in the future – to access and replace valves we need to reach when we replace a riser.
MISINFORMATION: The Association in the “Palm” Ruling was sued over similar issues occurring At Park Tower? – It is unclear what those ‘issues’ are so that’s all I can say about that.
FACTS: After learning about the Palm Ruling, the Board asked PTCA’s legal counsel and auditor to provide us with some opinions and guidance. Meetings with our attorney, Dave Bendoff, and the auditor Ralph Picker were held. The point was to analyze the findings in Palm and determine what if any modifications in procedure might be needed in response to the courts findings. Many other Association’s needed to do the same thing – the “Palm” ruling provided valuable insight and guidance into how future courts might interpret a Condominiums governing documents. The PTCA Board wanted our professionals to determine whether there were considerations for us to make.
However, we were also advised a KEY part of the ruling was Associations need to follow the guidance of professionals (attorneys, auditors, management, etc.). For example, if a plumbing engineer (as a professional) advises you not to use PVC pipe in your boiler room because its a fire hazard, wouldn’t you think about not using PVC? Hypothetically speaking, the Association in the ‘Palm’ case went on ahead and used PVC despite guidance from the professional.
MISINFORMATION: The Association’s attorney is wrong, and misguiding our Board. – The context is, since certain people disagree with our professionals, we should not follow their advice. We should instead be questioning them, discredit their advice and in some cases completely ignore it.
FACTS: This is in part what got 2800 in trouble, as some would say. I would first ask if the person telling you this is an attorney, and if so what field of law do they specialize in. PTCA’s attorney specializes in condo law and is one of the most respected in the City of Chicago. As a Community Association Manager, I am obligated to advise your Board to follow the guidance Dave Bendoff and his Associates provide us. If someone consults an attorney who has given advice that is counter to what the Board is being told, by all means PLEASE have that attorney put a letter in writing to the Board and we will get to the bottom of the issue. It would be a far more credible and productive means to addresses any problems or possible grievances.
MISINFORMATION: Proper notice and agendas of Board Meetings are not being issued. – Artcile III of the Bylaws “Meetings of Members” is sited. And the context is that the notice sent with the past years meeting dates was insufficient because it exceeded a 30 day maximum for giving notice. Also, it is alleged that insufficient notice is given because it does not contain the business to be transacted.
FACTS: Article IV of the Bylaws “Board” refers to requirements for meetings of the Board, which establishes a minimum limit of 48 hours for notice, and no maximum limit. It does state the purpose of the meeting should be specified. (Interesting side note – it states a notice shall be considered delivered once it is deposited in the mail. So, some might say ‘good luck’ to owners out of state if you want to plan to attend any Board Meetings without spending a fortune on airline tickets!)
Article III is for meetings of members, also called “Special Unit Owner Meetings”. These are meetings where a special topic may be covered, such as proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations and the annual operating Budget.
The Board did consult legal counsel regarding the notice needed for Board Meetings, and management issued a notice consistent with the attorney’s instructions. Specifically, we issued a calendar for the year’s anticipated meetings, and specified that the purpose would be to “conduct Association business and address any other matters that properly come before the Board.” So to say we did not issue proper notice, is simply not true.
Unfortunately, I could go on. I have just tried to cover a few of the most egregious rumors owners shared with me. I am at owner’s disposal to discuss any rumors or questionable information you hear, at any time. We are a resource for this purpose, and we are committed to protecting owners investments including addressing misinformation when it circulates.
Refer to ptcondo.com when you want regular, accurate information about the matters being addressed and considered by the Board, and up to date information about the activities and business we are carrying out.
Write me anytime with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.