Censorship Making citizen journalism a crime

Censorship Making citizen journalism a crime.

Florida’s Ag Gag Bill Reintroduced




Florida’s Ag Gag Bill Reintroduced


Earlier this year a bill was introduced in Florida by Senator Jim Norman that would have made it a felony to take photos or video of a farm or agriculture operation.

The “Ag Gag” bill was openly supported by Big Ag and directed at both whistle-blowers who go undercover to document the cruelty that animals on farms suffer, as well as anyone who wants to just snap a shot while standing on the side of the road. Those documenting what they saw would have been left facing criminal charges, while abusers would be left unaccountable. Fortunately, the bill never came to a vote and similar measures failed in Minnesota, Iowa and New York.

Sen. Norman has reintroduced this legislation by sneaking similar language into a larger agricultural bill (), which will make it a first-degree misdemeanor to take photos, audio recordings or video of a farm or farm operation without previous written consent.

All of this was done with urging from Wilton Simpson of Simpson Farms, which “produces 21 million eggs annually for Florida’s second-largest egg seller, Tampa Farm Service,” according to the Florida Independent. Simpson reportedly fears activists will gather dirt on factory farms for campaigns that could lead to a ballot initiative similar to California’s Prop 2. Simpson’s also currently running for senate.

Undercover videos from organizations such as Mercy for Animals and the HSUS have played an important role in exposing not only egregious abuse and unsanitary living conditions that farm animals are forced to endure, but have also drawn attention to standard industry practices that don’t seem to fit into the mainstream idea of humane treatment of animals and in some cases have resulted in criminal charges and new laws.

The materials provided by such investigations have opened the doors to otherwise closed facilities and prompt thought, debate and reform regarding the treatment and use of animals in agriculture would have been swept under the rug.

Please sign the petition asking Florida’s senators not to pass this bill in any form.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/floridas-ag-gag-bill-reintroduced.html#ixzz1j4RWDnMD



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Beware Before You Use this Tactic to Trim Your HOA’s Budget

HOAleader.com – Tip of the Week – October 21, 2011




Beware Before You Use this Tactic to Trim Your HOA’s Budget




Looking to cut cost from your already-too-small HOA budget?

Isn’t everybody, these days?


In this week’s tip, we discuss the dangers of amending your HOA governing documents to make owners responsible for maintenance that your HOA’s been responsible for until now.


“Sure, I see this,” says Ben Solomon, an attorney and founder of the Association Law Group in Miami Beach, Fla., who advises more than 500 associations and represents developers through his second law firm, Solomon & Furshman LLP. “There’s painting, landscaping–all kinds of things HOAs are shifting to owners. It’s very unusual for those changes to be authorized post-turnover because the owners have to approve them. I see it much more where developers make those options. But I have some associations where the HOA maintains everything, and I have some where owners do everything.”

Forcing owners to cover costs that your HOA has covered until now has its appeal. You reduce the HOA’s budget and, therefore, owners’ assessments.


But homeowners may not be as good at maintenance as a good HOA would be. And spotty maintenance to limited common elements may cause problems for adjacent homeowners and the HOA in the long run.

The biggest risk, however, may be that your HOA will look less pristine. “You’re not only talking about damages that could result, but you’re talking about your community’s aesthetic beauty,” says Steven Daniels, coordinating partner of Arnstein & Lehr’s West Palm Beach, Fla., office, who has advised hundreds of HOAs. “Take our tile roofs here in Florida. Once you start steam-cleaning them, you have to clean them more often. If a typical roof here looks pretty good for six years and then you pressure-clean it, it won’t look good for another six years. It’ll look good for only three years. So now you have to clean them more often.

If owners weren’t keen on taking on that responsibility in the first place, they might not do it as often as they should. So the tiles will look dirty and hurt community values.”

Solomon agrees. “Although it’s attractive to minimize the monthly maintenance fees by passing fees to owners, it can be problematic because it will affect the community’s aesthetic uniformity,” he says. “People will be painting or patching their driveways at different times. So it definitely can have an effect on aesthetics.

And just like some owners won’t follow your rules or pay assessments, you’ll have owners not doing maintenance.

So you’ll have higher fees and fines against owners.”


And what happens if your owners don’t do the repairs?

Can your HOA do them and bill the owners?

Find out in our new article: The Pros and Cons of Transferring Maintenance Costs to HOA Owners:



Best regards,

Matt Humphrey





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Tired of seeing owners’ flyers on every elevator in your building or blowing around the grounds like tumbleweed? In this week’s tip, we discuss whether you can and should restrict owners from posting flyers.


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