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HomeIsland LifeTurmoil Continues At KB Condo As Longtime Law Firm Quits

Turmoil Continues At KB Condo As Longtime Law Firm Quits

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THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED
The Becker law firm, which represented the Key Colony Homeowners’ Association through numerous hurricanes and complex legal matters for three decades, severed its relationship with the condominium on Friday, according to association officials. The split came two days after a contentious owners meeting where several board members questioned the handling of an election for new leaders at the island’s largest residential community. 

Becker, one of the state’s leading community association law firms, was represented by attorney Rosa de la Camara, who said she was leaving because of difficult interpersonal relationships.

“I’m sad to see it,” said Tom Koch, the association’s vice president. “Under the circumstances, I don’t blame her. I’m disappointed. We can get along better than we do,” he said. 

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A Jan. 6 letter de la Camara wrote disqualifying candidate Michael Polakov — and her subsequent reversal of that legal opinion — drew rebukes from two candidates and several leaders at the Wednesday meeting. The critics said the attempt to strip Polakov from the ballot in the Emerald Bay building raised questions of election interference. The Key Colony board voted to keep Polakov on the ballot, 7-0, with one abstention.

The resignation comes less than three weeks before the Feb. 25th election. Part of the firm’s duties was to help administer the voting, which will involve online balloting for the first time in the complex’s history. Koch said de la Camara has offered to continue to oversee the election, but he added it’s not clear if that will happen. There are contests in two of the four buildings. 

The association scheduled an agenda item for Wednesday evening’s board meeting to decide next steps.

A copy of de la Camara’s email ending the relationship was provided by a source on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak for the association. 

“Interpersonal relationships have become increasingly difficult to navigate,” de La Camara wrote to the board of directors. “It is simply not tenable at this point to continue our relationship.”

Association President Louisa Conway declined to comment, and a call to the building manager’s office was not returned. 

De La Camara became the association’s attorney in 2019. She is a member of the firm’s management committee, according to the Becker website. A spokesperson for the firm declined comment. 

She replaced another Becker attorney, David Rogel, who had served as counsel for many years to the 1,179-unit complex. The association changed lawyers in April 2019, about four months after a videotape of a unit owner meeting about another HOA election controversy was posted to YouTube by Botanica owner Maria Bueno. Rogel commented about Conway and others during the video, rankling some condo leaders.

The posting of the tape prompted leaders of the Emerald Bay building to threaten Bueno with litigation. Later, the Homeowners’ Association adopted a gag rule that could subject owners to potential fines for sharing videos of meetings. Rogel and the Becker firm continue to represent the Botanica building’s association. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tony Winton is a unit owner at Key Colony. He is also the owner of a content creation company that performed some videography services under an M Network agreement with the Becker firm in 2018-2019.

This story was updated to reflect that Key Colony leaders will address the election at a Wednesday night meeting and it adds detail about the 2019 election dispute.

Author

  • Tony Winton

    Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

Tony Winton
Tony Wintonmailto:[email protected]
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.
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