Believe it or not……I received more than one e-mail this year from people complaining that their annual meetings are being conducted in a language other than English and some people are fighting mad about it. I’ll risk being politically incorrect and say that I think it’s absurd that that a unit owner can attend the association’s annual meeting and find out when they get there that the meeting will not be conducted in English and instead will be conducted in a language that they completely don’t understand. It is wrong and should be illegal, but it isn’t.
While there is no “official language” for our country, in 1988 the voters of this state passed a Constitutional amendment that makes English the official language of the State of Florida. And, the Florida Constitution says the legislature has the power to enforce that section by appropriate legislation. So The Florida Legislature would be allowed to pass legislation requiring the meetings to take place in English.
Several years ago, I was at a meeting in Sunny Isles Beach that was conducted entirely in French. This really upset many English speaking people who had no right under the statute to do anything about it. I felt like I was in Bizzaro World, not knowing what anyone was talking about.
I understand that many of our communities, especially in South Florida, are comprised of occupants whose first language may not be English. I also understand that as a result of the composition of that community, it would be easier to conduct the meeting in a language other than English, and that the majority of those in attendance would gain a better understanding of the meeting if it were conducted in their native tongue. However, even if only one English speaking person shows up to that meeting, shouldn’t he or she have the right to know what is going on? They are property owners for heaven’s sake. The governing documents are printed in English, the statutes are printed in English. Is there no right available to that owner to have the important meetings in the community conducted in English? Should the English speaking owner be forced to hire an interpreter at their own expense? I don’t think so.
How about some simple legislation that says the following:
All meetings of the Board of Directors, any committee, or the membership , including the annual meeting and the budget meeting, may be conducted in a language other than English. If however, at or prior to the meeting, any Board member, committee member or other member of the association requests that the meeting be conducted in English, the meeting must also be conducted in English.
Anybody else want to risk being politically incorrect? Let’s hear what you think.