“Ya Got Trouble” is a song by Meredith Willson from the 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man. In its 1962 filmed version Robert Preston provided a signature performance.
ON MARCH 11, 2016, GEORGE D. F. LAMBORN, PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTH BEACH PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION (SBPOA) ISSUED A STATEMENT THAT HE HAD “TAKEN THE UNPRECEDENTED MEASURE OF FILING SUIT IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF INDIAN RIVER COUNTY (IRC) TO PREVENT THE ILLEGAL TAKEOVER OF THE SBPOA BY A GROUP OF DISSIDENT DIRECTORS, WHO ARE ACTING AT THE BEHEST AND WITH THE ACTIVE COLLABORATION OF A PUBLIC OFFICIAL.”
Further, he wrote, “This group wants to silence the SBPOA with respect to certain issues of concern to South Beach property owners, deliver the SBPOA into the hands of a re-election campaign, and turn SBPOA into a political lap-dog.”
The lawsuit, filed on March 11, names Steve Merselis, David De Wahl, Victor Cooper, Robert DeWaters, John J. Burns, Frank Spitzmiller, George Bryant, Thomas Browne and The South Beach Property Owners Association, Inc. as Defendants. All individuals referred to are residents of IRC.
Mr. Lamborn, as SBPOA president is the lone Plaintiff.
It is a complaint for Declaratory Relief and Injunction, the subject matter of which pertains to the legal status of members of the Board of Directors, as well as a breach of the fiduciary obligations of Board members to undermine the authority of Mr. Lamborn as president.
According to the lawsuit, at a March 2015 Annual Meeting Messrs. Merselis, De Wahl, Cooper and DeWaters were ineligible to be nominated and elected to the Board of Directors, even though they were, because they had not fully paid their SBPOA dues for the current year.
In accordance with SBPOA Bylaws, in order to qualify for nomination in order and to be elected to the Board of Directors “you must be a voting of non-voting member in good standing. To be a member in good standing a person must have fully paid their dues.” Subsequent payment does not cure the defect.
However, these candidates were nominated by the Nominations Committee, headed by Mr. Spitzmiller and elected despite not being properly qualified.
As a result, the lawsuit argues that since these defendants “were ineligible to act as directors” all of their actions and votes should be null and void and the Court should “award costs and such other further relief” as “it deems just and proper.”
With regard to a breach of the fiduciary obligations of Board members to undermine the authority of Mr. Lamborn as president, the lawsuit in Section 24 indicates that “On February 19, 2016 at 4:00 p.m., George Lamborn communicated Notice, pursuant to Article X, Section 6 of the Bylaws and as president of the Association, of a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors to be held at the Women’s Club of Vero Beach at 4:00 p.m., Friday February 26, 2016.”
But, according to Section 25, “In an effort to undermine the authority of Lamborn and the Board of Directors, Burns, Bryant, Spitzmiller and Browne issued a ‘Demand and Notice of Special Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Association,’ also for Friday, February 26, 2016 beginning at 4:00 p.m. but located in a private home at 1811 East Sandpointe Place, Vero Beach, Florida.”
This is the residence of Mr. Burns.
In Section 39 the lawsuit states that: “All of the individual defendants have no authority from the Board of Directors to represent the Association in planning any meetings…and no authority from the Board of Directors to issue…correspondence to membership of the Association on behalf of the Association.”
“The Plaintiff and the Association will suffer irreparable harm if the individual defendants are allowed to commit the acts described in the preceding paragraphs.” (Section 41)
“Wherefore, for the reasons set forth above, the Plaintiff, GEORGE LAMBORN respectfully request this Court to enter a permanent injunction preventing the individual defendants holding themselves out as duly elected members of the Board of Directors of the Association from taking any action on behalf of the Association without authority from the Board of Directors award costs and for such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”
So does this trouble have anything to do with the ongoing debate over IRC Short-Term rentals.
In Mr. Lamborn’s March 11, 2016 “Statement” he wrote that: “In certain matters, such as regulation of short term rentals, the interests of South Beach are can be very different than that of mainlanders, and we cannot rely on our elected representatives on the Commission to do our bidding over the interests of the other 96.7% of voters they represent.
SBPOA is not, and has never been, a political organization. I take this unprecedented measure to ensure that, under my watch, SBPOA remain true to its mission, true to its members, and not be allowed to be corrupted into a vehicle for the political ambitions, and a re-election tool of any individual person or persons.”
In August 2015 IRC Commissioners voted to establish an IRC Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee.
Representatives from the South Beach Property Owners Association have been the most vocal at committee meetings about the need for IRC short-term rental regulations, most notably by Board Member Dr. Miles Conway, who was so wound up after their February meeting that four days after the meeting Committee Chairman Glenn Powell sent an email to Deputy County Attorney Bill DeBraal saying he was “assaulted” by Dr. Conway after the meeting and was “terrified” of him.
Was this patently ridiculous because several people were in the room at the time and noted nothing unusual? In the Inside Vero link below published by Milt Thomas you can read a birds eye version of what actually transpired.
Here is an article we published on January 29, 2016 about whether the Committee is making any progress.
And here is the article, referred to above, written by Milt Thomas published in Inside Vero on February 23, 2016.