The winner that didn’t run
“If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.
—William Tecumseh Sherman

Nothing written up to now can match this case from Florida where the board keeps an owner from getting on the board by declaring a woman elected who never ran for the board and had no intentions of serving as a director.

However, by means of this fake election, the board gained time to find a "suitable" director after which they announced that the "fake candidate-director" resigned and they appointed their man to the "vacant" position.

Presidential politics have nothing on Kings Point
condo board race

The Palm Beach Post
By Frank Cerabino—Staff Writer
10 March 2013

If you think the shenanigans with Florida elections are bad at the state or county level, you’ll really be impressed with the major-league artistry of a shady condo election.

Take the case of Kings Point, the sprawling 7,200-unit condo complex in suburban Delray Beach.

Kings Point has been under siege since Martin Koitz, an enterprising, tenacious and relatively young real estate agent, moved there from New Jersey two years ago. Koitz, 58, wrote a column called “I Love Kings Point” in the community newspaper, The Kings Point News, and began singing the praises about the untapped potential of his new community.

But the praises eventually turned to gripes about no-bid contracts, a governing board too compliant with property managers, and a lack of transparency over how money was being spent. That got his column yanked from the newspaper, which also stopped accepting his real estate ads.

So Koitz started writing “email bombs” to inform his fellow condo residents of his complaints, while asking the Florida Attorney General to investigate. He called it “Arab Spring” at Kings Point.

The condo’s board of governors filed 22 individual libel suits against Koitz, which were quickly dropped after Koitz spent $35,000 to hire an attorney and announce that the lawsuits would help him get the financial records he needed.

“They were picking on the wrong guy,” he said.

This fall, Koitz decided to wage his fight from the inside. He put his name up for a condo directors slot in the annual election for the Flanders N building where he owns a unit.

The 48-unit building would elect three directors. Koitz and three others were listed as candidates.

“I smelled a rat right from the start”


The election ballots were opened Nov. 11 and tallied. Koitz came in fourth of the four candidates, meaning he was the sole loser in the election.

“I smelled a rat right from the start,” Koitz said.

He knew two of the candidates who had been elected, but the third one, Mary Schlesinger, wasn’t somebody he had ever seen at Kings Point. It turned out Schlesinger was an absentee unit owner who lived in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Koitz contacted her there, and she was surprised to discover she was elected in a condo board race she never entered.

“I declare that I never put in my name to run for director, nor do I have any interest in being a director, as I do live full time in New York,” Schlesinger wrote in a notarized affidavit a month after the election.

Bingo. Election fraud wrapped in a neat bow, Koitz thought. He contacted the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s condo compliance division in Fort Lauderdale.

Meanwhile, the condominium association got its Tallahassee law firm, Sachs Sax Caplan, engaged in a spirited defense of the election, relying on a mailed form purportedly signed by Schlesinger and received by the association’s manager in September.

“She is presumed to have knowledge of the effect of signing the nomination and certification forms, and the Association is entitled to rely on this,” condo attorney Karl M. Scheuerman wrote.

The lawyer suggested Koitz just confused or cajoled Schlesinger, 72, into claiming she wasn’t really a candidate.

“Certainly, the greater weight of the evidence shows that she fully intended to nominate herself, a conclusion that she did not affirmatively deny in telephone conversations with the board,” Scheuerman wrote.

This was enough of a defense to cause the state not to pursue the elections fraud complaint.

The bureau of compliance “lacks the jurisdictional authority to hear testimony and weigh the credibility of conflicting evidence or conflicting factual statements,” wrote Steve Antonoff, an investigation specialist.

I spoke with Schlesinger last week. She was emphatic that she never filed that candidate form that purports to have her signature, and she never sought to be a candidate for the condo board.

“It’s not me,” she said. “I haven’t been there in three years.”

Three months after the election, the board announced that Schlesinger had resigned her position on the board.

“She said she does not wish to be a board member, does not have a computer, and she said she would sign a resignation letter if I would send her one,” wrote Scheuerman, the condo attorney.

“How could I resign? I never ran in the first place.”

Schlesinger told me she found it baffling that she was being asked to resign.
“How could I resign?” she said. “I never ran in the first place.”

Schlesinger’s name on the ballot kept Koitz from being automatically elected, and her resignation after the election allowed the board to appoint her replacement. Somebody other than Koitz.

The final indignity, Koitz said, was a little joke aimed to rub it in even more: After the election, he inspected the ballots of those in the building who voted. One of the absentee ballots was purportedly sent by Schlesinger, the mystery candidate.

Schlesinger’s ballot indicates that she didn’t vote for herself. She voted for Koitz.

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