The Islander News article “Former resident of The Towers sues for ‘retaliatory’ discrimination” dated Sep 28, 2021, intentionally misleads readers starting with the Islander’s twisted truth in the article’s title. The lawsuit against the Towers of Key Biscayne was brought by the Attorney General, in the name of the state of Florida, and on behalf of a complainant (myself), not as your muck-raking title claims “a former resident sues.”
It’s important that readers, especially condo dwellers, understand the process of filing a housing discrimination complaint under the “Fair Housing Act,” which is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in housing and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Once a complaint is filed, HUD investigates and determines if fair housing discrimination has occurred and renders a decision to enforce the law.
HUD, after reviewing the evidence in my complaint, found instances of discrimination and reasonable cause to believe a discriminatory housing practice occurred in violation of Florida Statute. To prevail in these types of cases, the complainant must have compelling evidence to meet HUD’s criteria for reasonable cause. These cases are taken very seriously by the agency and the Office of the Attorney General.
The Attorney General is not a pawn easily manipulated and subjected to the frivolous whims of complaints. Complainants cannot influence the Attorney General’s decision bringing a court action against an Association. If HUD determines a reasonable cause, the complainant, in accordance with Florida Statutes, may elect to have the Attorney General consider bringing a court action to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act. The Attorney General is not required to initiate court action and the complainant’s request may be rejected.
Islander News should have conducted extensive research before publishing such an absurd title, and minimize the allegations, because the importance of this issue is not about me. It is about a “Bully boards” so prevalent in the world of condominiums, which is the reason HUD and the DBPR exist to protect and safeguard the fair housing rights of association residents.
About 85% of Key Biscayne’s 14,000 residents live in condos, and acts of housing discrimination can occur, and residents may be unaware of their rights. The article you published is laser-focused on maintenance payments and liens pertaining to my family’s former condo unit and distracts from the important fact that HUD determined the act of withholding maintenance bills is an act of coercion, intimidation, or interference in a person’s protected housing activity, and is unlawful. HUD determined that the conduct of the Towers of Key Biscayne was discriminatory and unlawful. Your article fails to convey that important message.
Mr. Rey, you have continuously used your publication to disparage my intentions to avail myself of laws that are in place to protect citizens to hold condo associations and/or elected officials accountable. Recently, the Islander News intentionally minimized the election law violations made by some 2020 Village candidates.
The fact is FEC determined that they violated election laws. Again, the Islander distracts readers and distorts the facts with salacious headlines versus presenting an objective, fair interpretation of an issue. The Islander News is neither judge nor jury. D the community a favor: report facts that provide a service to the readers, and let them form their own opinion.
The public is entitled to a balanced and reliable reporting by the Islander, and failure to present the significance of this case, especially when 85% of Key Biscayne’s residents reside in condo associations, is a disservice to the island. If the Attorney General prevails in court, it will be a victory for the principle of holding condo Boards and Management accountable for unlawful acts and gives a voice to all those condo residents who were unaware of their protected rights under the Fair Housing Act.