G.E.T. the real Picture
Serving South Florida's inspection needs.


Which Ring doorbell should I get?

South Florida Local News - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 23:02
Which Ring doorbell is best for my home?

Modern technology makes it easy to protect your home and belongings while keeping your entire household safe. Ring doorbells are convenient, easy-to-use and allow you to view and monitor anyone visiting your home. Since you can utilize Ring doorbells even when you’re away by using the handy app, you can check in on your property to ensure everything is in order no matter your location.

Ring offers a variety of doorbell options designed for the needs of different homeowners. From basic wired models to more advanced alarm systems, a Ring doorbell can work with your personal lifestyle and requirements.

Benefits of Ring Doorbells  Enhanced security 

Whether you’re looking for improved visitor security, package delivery assurance, theft or break-in protection or simply better home security in general, a Ring doorbell can provide all of the above. The high-resolution camera can record all activity in its 180-degree field of vision, so if there are ever any security issues, you’ll be provided with clear and tangible video evidence.

Ring doorbells also utilize a night-vision mode, giving you security and peace of mind throughout the night.

Motion sensors

The motion sensor feature on ring doorbells also allows you to see who is on your property before reaching your door. Some options can even offer individual identification, alerting you when specific people you know have arrived.

Convenient alerts

All Ring doorbell alerts can be sent immediately to your phone, computer or tablet, making it easy to see all of your home’s outside activity whether you’re working from home, relaxing on the couch or out of town for the week.

While many people will be satisfied with alerts and notifications popping up on their device’s screen, Ring doorbells can also create a traditional doorbell alert when paired with a Ring Chime.

Two-way voice communication

Another intriguing aspect of the Ring doorbell is the two-way communication function. This allows you to listen and respond to anyone at your door, giving you even more advanced security and screening options. It can also come in handy for delivery instructions or communicating with guests.

Best Ring doorbells Best Ring doorbells under $100

Ring Video Doorbell Wired  ]

Though it may lack some of the more advanced features, such as Audio+, Birds Eye View and automatic greetings, it still allows for uninterrupted surveillance and security when you need it most. This wired model is affordable and still utilizes advanced motion detection, two-way communication and HD video recordings. This model is ideal for those interested in a Ring doorbell but don’t want the extra bells and whistles.

Ring Video Doorbell  ]

If you’re looking for a reliable and trusted Ring doorbell at a reasonable price, this may be the perfect option. The 1080 HD video will give you the clarity you need to monitor your home, even at night. The sleek and modern satin nickel finish will blend seamlessly with most exterior decor, and you can install the mountable design easily in minutes.

Best Ring doorbells under $200

Ring Peephole Cam with Ring Chime ]

Perfect for homes or apartments that feature existing peepholes, this Ring model lets you view your entrance through the device itself or by using the app on your phone or tablet. You can also adjust the motion sensor, so it doesn’t set off any unnecessary alerts or alarms. Plus, the included Ring Chime will keep you notified of any visitors, even if you aren’t near your smart device.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro  ]

The Pro model is a good mid-range option for reliability and durability without breaking the bank. This option comes equipped with built-in Alexa greetings that can welcome guests or give detailed delivery instructions. The dual-band wifi also makes for a more consistent connection to avoid missing critical alerts.

Ring Doorbell 4  ]

This updated Ring Doorbell option may come with a slightly higher price tag than the previous model, but you’ll be able to benefit from the color pre-roll video previews. There are also important privacy settings you can configure to your liking, along with extended battery life if you prefer not to connect to your home’s wiring.

Best Ring doorbells under $300

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2  ]

As an updated version of the Ring Doorbell Pro, this newer model features all of the same desired functions while enhancing the video resolution, including a head-to-toe camera view and improving the motion detection by adding a 3D aspect. As with the previous model, you can install this option directly to your existing doorbell wiring.

Ring Alarm 8-Piece Kit  ]

This comprehensive alarm system is more than just a single doorbell camera unit. Anyone wanting to invest fully in security for their one or two-bedroom home will enjoy the easy setup process, emergency buttons on the simply designed keypad and ability to operate using voice-activated controls when using the included Echo Show 5.

Best Ring doorbells under $400

Ring Video Doorbell Elite  ]

While rechargeable batteries power some Ring Doorbell devices, this advanced model connects to its power source via an ethernet cable. Those who want to guarantee constant video access will appreciate this feature and the customizable motion sensor zones so that you can focus on specific areas of your property. The interchangeable faceplates also give you plenty of color and design options to work with all home styles.

Best Ring doorbell Accessories

Solar Charger for Ring Video Doorbell ]

If you plan on being out of town for an extended period, you may need to find a way to recharge the battery on specific Ring Doorbell models so that you aren’t stuck with a blank screen. This solar charger accessory can help keep your doorbell charged and functioning as long as it has adequate access to sunlight. The weather-resistant design fits neatly around your device, so you’ll barely even notice it’s there.

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

ASK IRA: Where is the line in the Lillard cost-benefit analysis for Heat?

South Florida Local News - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 03:05

Q: Ira, let’s cut to the chase: Do the Heat want Damian Lillard? – Greg.

A: If only the chase was that elemental. Yes, the Heat want Damian Lillard. Yes, 29 other teams want Damian Lillard, likely including the Blazers, had Lillard not demanded out. But that is not the issue here and, truly, never has been. It’s a matter of how much a team wants a 33-year-old player with four years and more than $200 million left on his contract (let alone the luxury-tax multiplier for many potential suitors). And it’s also a matter for the non-Heat suitors of how much they are willing to risk that Lillard will accept a non-Miami relocation. Honestly, if Lillard was 25 and did not have so much ballast on his contract, I’m not sure the Heat could afford him. At that point, you would be talking about the type of All-Star in return that the Heat simply are not offering. So, to come full circle, the Heat want Lillard and are willing to perhaps even pay a premium, considering the win-now stage that Jimmy Butler has reached, having turned 34 two weeks ago. In fact, I’m not sure that any other suitor would be as willing to go above and beyond fair value as the Heat. But for anyone short of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, you draw a line. (Yes, even a line with Joel Embiid, considering his injury history.) So to cut to that chase, there is a point where the chase is abandoned, need be.

Related Articles

Q: How did we go from the only team for Damian Lillard to not really in the conversation? Are the Blazers being petty? – David, Lake Worth.

A: No, just utilizing any and all leverage they have remaining until the clock strikes the midnight of media day and the start of camp. This is no different than the approach teams take ahead of the NBA trading deadline in February. The difference is that deadline is real. This deadline remains somewhat artificial since trade talks can continue for weeks and months, should the Blazers decide.

Q: The Damian Lillard talk at least kept me entertained for the summer. And now we should have a few players with clips on their shoulders. Brilliant. – Leo, Miami.

A: Which would come down to whether those chips elevate the play of the likes of Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez Jr. or weigh them down. As for Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, they have dealt with so many trade rumors by now that it seemingly has become part of their day-to-day routine. The greater concern could be if Jimmy Butler comes to believe that the Heat are not maximizing these prime moments of his career.

Condo Wars: Boards can use defamation laws to stifle dissent | Investigation

South Florida Local News - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 03:05

This is the first in a series of articles investigating life under the rule of condominium and homeowners associations in Florida.

First, he had a whiff of suspicion.

Simon Sherman, a retired university professor, started wondering about how money was being spent by the association at his oceanfront condo in Hallandale Beach.

Now, his quest for accountability is careening toward financial ruin. He’s accused of defaming condo board members. The association says Sherman engaged in a damaging smear campaign even after his suspicions of wrongdoing were disproven.

“They have money, they have power, they have attorneys,” Sherman, a Russian immigrant, said from his Parker Plaza Estates condo. “I didn’t recognize that it could happen in the United States.”

A months-long investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found that condo and homeowner associations regularly use Florida’s defamation laws to silence critics. The laws were written to allow a victim to recover financial damages from someone who spreads lies about them and harms their reputation.

Were it City Hall, a critic’s accusations would carry some free-speech protections, allowing citizens to act as watchdogs of public spending and decision-making. But under the shadow government of a condominium or homeowner association, residents who suspect wrongdoing speak up at their own peril.

Sherman and his wife, Lyuba, are among the millions of Floridians — nearly half the state’s population — living under community association rule. One attorney called it a “sub-democratic society.” In this sub-America, the laws favor the few who sit on association boards.

Sun Sentinel reporters interviewed attorneys, legislators, association board members and activists, and examined court files, state complaint records and emails to regulators. The documents read like cries for help — yet help rarely materializes. But the lawsuits sometimes do.

(new Image()).src = 'https://capi.connatix.com/tr/si?token=40bacbdb-084a-4980-bafa-92da3b5cd8f1&cid=38d5daa3-18ac-4ee1-a905-373c67622f25'; cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ playerId: "40bacbdb-084a-4980-bafa-92da3b5cd8f1" , mediaId: "e153bd8c-f4bb-48a5-adfa-10f0dfab71e5" }).render("f6800dffc8a64994aa68ac5f56bcb0ca"); });

Even critics acting in good faith can end up bullied into silence and stuck with a large legal tab.

Before Marglli Gallego, president of the board at the sprawling Hammocks Community Association, was arrested in April 2021 in a corruption case, she and the association filed defamation claims against three unit owners, saying their accusations that she stole money from the association hurt her reputation and caused police to investigate her. The association even sued two Miami-Dade Police Department detectives on the case, for defamation, for publicly accusing Gallego of theft during their investigation.

Gallego lost one case, settled another and a third was voluntarily dismissed. The case involving the detectives continues. Gallego, who is awaiting trial, pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft and subsequent charges of money laundering, racketeering and organized fraud.

Before Ben Dvir, then-president of Blue on the Bay condo in Miami, was arrested and charged with grand theft, he sued a unit owner in his building for defamation. He called the man, who is a police officer, “an owner with too much time on his hands that represents a thorn in the side of every condo board.” Dvir also initially sued a consulting firm the officer had hired to investigate potential wrongdoing. The case against the unit owner, who Dvir said accused him of defrauding the association of money, continues.

Dvir was arrested Sept. 13, accused of embezzling $32,905. His arraignment, where he will enter a plea, is scheduled for Oct. 13.

A successful defamation suit in Florida must prove that the person negligently communicated false statements that hurt the victim’s reputation and caused damage. Slander is spoken defamation; libel is written. If it concerns a public official, the standard for winning a lawsuit is higher — the official has to prove the speaker had actual malice, either by knowingly spreading falsehoods, or showing reckless disregard for the truth. Association board members are not considered public officials, in the eyes of the law.

Although winning a defamation lawsuit is difficult, said University of Florida constitutional law Professor Lyrissa Lidsky, filing one is easy. That enables association boards to use the law as a weapon, she said.

“You can cause a lot of pain with a lawsuit,” Lidsky said, “and defamation law lends itself to inflicting that kind of pain.”

In South Florida, the heart of Florida’s condominium society, residents have been sued for comments that legal experts said are specifically protected in Florida law — allegations contained in litigation, or statements of opinion, or communications to local government and the police, for example.

“Very often [associations] get away with doing whatever the hell they want,” said attorney Richard Lubliner, who has been involved with numerous association legal battles, including Sherman’s case. “Because nobody has the money to stand up to them.”

The lesson many activists take away is that condos and homeowner associations, or HOAs, are not a place for dissenters.

“It’s an uphill battle if you’re an individual taking it on,” said Shawn Brown, a Tampa-based attorney specializing in condominium law. “Conformity is more or less mandated in an association.”

Charles Moerdler, a unit owner in the Parker Plaza Estates building where Simon Sherman is battling the board, has vast experience in defamation law, including as past general counsel for the New York Post. Moerdler said heated community association quarrels are endemic to Florida because retirement can breed boredom and a yearning for continued relevance.

“When you’ve got nothing else to do, it’s something to do,” Moerdler said.

Association wars have escalated since the Covid-19 pandemic, he believes, because the forced isolation sent retirees to their computers.

At 88, Moerderl is still working. He said he’s advised Sherman — unsuccessfully — to stop the quarreling.

“There is one truth I’ve learned,” Moerdler said. “Any relationship involving home ownership… is the second most difficult relationship that man has, close on the heels of matrimony.”

Behind the facade Condominium buildings line the coast from Hollywood and Hallandale Beach down to Miami. South Florida has the state’s largest condo population. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

The high drama of condo-living that was famously parodied on the television sitcom Seinfeld is a reality in South Florida, where the show’s creator, Larry David, got his inspiration. David’s father was the president of his condo association in Sunrise.

The cases reviewed by the Sun Sentinel carry similar themes: allegations that board members gave lucrative contracts to family members, took kickbacks from vendors, rigged board elections to defeat enemies and more. Wafting from the South Florida court files is widespread anger, passion, fear and disgust.

And behind those cases are people risking financial devastation.

One defamation lawsuit begins colorfully, with the sexy allure of Florida condo life: “Nestled within a Iuscious seascape and nuzzled gently by soothing sea breeze, Sea Air Towers must have been named in a moment of reverent exhale.”

Then it exposes a meltdown within the Hollywood condo, which is undergoing renovations: The new board sued four unit owners for allegations they made to the media, city inspectors and state officials. The board says the owners have “feigned, forged, and fraudulently flung baseless allegations, rumors, innuendo, and lies.” The unit owners argued that the lawsuit is an “unlawful, frivolous” attempt to shut them up in order to cover up mismanagement. The case is still pending.

What trivialities condo boards of yesteryear faced — complaints about splashing in the swimming pool, or the color of paint — have yielded to much more serious and costly priorities: preventing another disaster like the 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.

The tragedy, which killed 98 people, prompted more rigorous inspections and maintenance standards. The requirements led to dramatic and often unaffordable increases in fees and assessments that have inflamed confusion and distrust. Thousands of condos and HOA neighborhoods in South Florida are 50 years old or older.

At the Pointe South Condominium in Boca Raton, a former board member was sued for comments she made to the Sun Sentinel shortly after the Surfside collapse. She cast doubt on the structural integrity of her condo building, but the association’s leadership said she was wrong. The case was settled in April.

In Broward County, there were 23 community association-related defamation lawsuits filed from 2020 to mid-2023, the Sun Sentinel found — about 13 percent of the 179 defamation cases filed in that time period. Two of the most recurrent provocations were negative online reviews and community association infighting, reporters found.

In one Miami-Dade County case that spanned three years, three residents of El Dorado Condominium in Aventura and the Diario Las Americas newspaper were sued by the condo association for libel after the residents participated in a news report about suspected mismanagement of funds. The attorney said the accusations were false and that the negative publicity caused property values to decline.

One ruling in that case underscores the difference between speaking out in a community association versus a City Hall.

Diario Las Americas claimed that the association’s defamation suit was an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit. Florida has anti-SLAPP laws specifically intended to protect people who are speaking out on public issues. Florida law prohibits condo or HOA boards from spending association funds to engage in a SLAPP suit.

But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Abby Cynamon disagreed with the newspaper’s argument, explaining in an August 2019 ruling that Florida’s anti-SLAPP law does not apply, because in this condo case, “no public issues are involved.”

Judge Cynamon also noted that condo critics don’t have the protections a person would have when criticizing a mayor or some other public figure. There is no case law in Florida that holds “a condo board member can be considered a public or semi-public figure,” the judge wrote.

The case is now closed. The newspaper agreed to a confidential settlement after mediation; one of the three residents was voluntarily dismissed, and then the case went inactive.

Tampa attorney Brown said defamation filings are an emerging trend used by both sides of disputes. Typically, they’re borne of a personal conflict between a board member and a resident. And sometimes it’s the resident — rather than the board — who files the defamation claim.

In one Broward case, a unit owner sued the board president for calling him a “fat crybaby” and rendering him “persona non grata” among his neighbors. One of the president’s defenses: “The plaintiff’s reputation is so dismal that any purported statements … could not have harmed it or made it worse.”

In multiple cases reviewed by the Sun Sentinel, residents who were sued for speaking out agreed to be quiet, and issued public apologies or retractions. In a Boca Raton case surrounding a concrete restoration project, the residents promised to “never do anything like this ever again.” A Davie woman who was sued by her association apologized for speaking out about “illegal and unethical activities,” then was sued a second time when she sent neighbors another letter warning she was being retaliated against by the board.

In a Boca Raton case last year, unit owner Alison Landes was threatened by the Boca Lakes Condominium Association’s attorney with costly mediation and a potential lawsuit if she didn’t apologize to all the neighbors and “cease from emailing anyone now or in the future,” according to court files.

She had emailed neighbors suggesting that gatehouse work at the association was improper. Attorney Guy Shir told her she’d violated the condo documents by committing a nuisance. Her association ultimately did sue her for defamation. Landes’ attorney argued she was being hit with an illegal SLAPP suit.

“Under the demand in the letter,” her attorney wrote in a court motion, “she can never email another member about anything forever.”

In mid-August, Landes filed a handwritten letter to the judge, saying she’s 74, has health issues, is a caregiver for her sister, and was preparing to settle the case.

Shir also filed defamation lawsuits against four residents on behalf of the Boca Grand Condominium Association.

Among other things, the residents had questioned an association contract with the brother of one of the board members, alleging corruption, the lawsuit said. One of the statements that was described as defamatory was a resident’s claim that “the board is not being transparent regarding Association general business.” The lawsuits were voluntarily withdrawn months later. Shir said a new board decided to drop them.

Shir said he demands an apology, or evidence that the allegations are true, before moving ahead towards a lawsuit. He said lies are powerful, and cause harm.

“You can ask any questions you want about anything a board does that’s an agenda item, and nobody is doubting that,” Shir said. “When you start referring to actions as illegal, improper, questionable … to allege wrongdoing, that’s when it becomes defamation.”

Conspiracy theories spread

When Michael Perkins was president of Southwind Lakes Homeowner Association in Boca Raton, he initiated a libel lawsuit against a resident who’d set up a website to criticize the board.

Perkins said his plan to build reserves and improve the community — which meant increasing its $35 monthly association fees — sparked revolt from the resident, O. Michael Gray.

Some neighbors latched on, he said, taking it all for truth.

“The website was basically him tearing these guys apart and saying how inept they are and they were wasting everyone’s money,” his son, Michael Gray, recalled.

Gray had the community’s best interests at heart, his son said.

In some cases, though, residents can indeed go too far.

“You do have the owners out there who consistently disregard or confuse the truth with what they would like the truth to be,” said Plantation attorney Joel McTague, who often represents associations.  “I think sometimes the board is justified [in suing].”

Gray accused Perkins of committing crimes, including taking illegal kickbacks.

“He crossed the line,” Perkins said, “and when he crossed the line, that’s when we decided we’ve got to put a stop to this.”

Gray’s lawyer argued it was a SLAPP suit. But Gray lost the suit when he failed to show up in court. The association was still pursuing him for damages when he died.

Freedom of speech?

For Simon Sherman, a retired biomedical informatics professor at the University of Nebraska, silence at Parker Plaza Estates would have been a betrayal of his values.

Simon Sherman, a retired university professor and Russian immigrant, said he’s too far into a legal fight with his condo association at Parker Plaza Estates in Hallandale Beach to turn back now. He stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, his former attorney said. He sold another unit he owned, for $415,000, to help pay his legal bills. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

He and his family left Belarus in the former Soviet Union more than three decades ago, carrying two suitcases and $1,000 in cash.

They idealized America’s freedoms, especially the Constitution’s protection of free speech from government interference. But a condo or homeowner association isn’t the government — a limitation the Shermans were not expecting.

Though community association board members have similar responsibilities to govern and spend other people’s dollars, they rule over a private, non-profit organization, and can restrict speech.

The law is complex and evolving, lawyers said, but courts have ruled that a resident voluntarily agrees to abide by private restrictions in condos or HOA neighborhoods. The rules are laid out in the association master document — known as a declaration — and in the bylaws.

“There is no freedom of speech within condos or HOAs per se,” said attorney McTague. If someone’s looking for their rights, they should first examine the rules they agreed to live under, he said.

“There is a Bill of Rights,” he said. “It’s called the condo declaration or homeowner association declaration.”

Sherman and more than a dozen allies in the 520-unit, oceanfront Hallandale Beach tower were suspicious about association money spent inside the units of some board members — part of a vast mold removal project. That part was true, everyone agreed in court filings. The board spent nearly $1 million removing mold from 192 condos after a contractor’s mistake.

Simon Sherman in the lobby of the Parker Plaza Estates condo in July. The tower is one of many high-rises in South Florida working to meet state 50-year maintenance requirements. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Sherman alleged there were improprieties in the mold project — one of many accusations Sherman lobbed at board members and then-board President Michael Fagan. He claimed extra work was done in one of Fagan’s condo units. He called the city to report work being done on a community room without permits. He raised red flags about a $27 million loan the association took out for work to meet the state’s required 50-year maintenance certification.

His emailed accusations went to residents, realtors and more, the association’s court filings recounted.

The association’s attorneys said there was nothing improper about any of it and claimed Sherman was simply disgruntled after losing his reelection to the condo board.

‘Abusive attacks’

Eventually, Fagan and the board decided they’d had enough of his accusations.

An August 2020 letter to Sherman from association attorney Matthew Maranges was painfully blunt.

“Perhaps you — little more than a recalcitrant, gadfly ‘condo commando’ — seek to restore some semblance of credibility after the Condominium community overwhelmingly rejected your bid to continue serving on the Association’s Board,” it read. “But neither the Association’s current hard-working, diligent Board of Directors, nor the Condominium’s residents, should be embroiled in such delusions of grandeur.”

Maranges footnoted William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, accusing Sherman of weaving “a tale … full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The board carried through with its threat, suing Sherman in federal court for defamation, slander, trade libel, behaving as a private nuisance and interfering in business relationships. They accused him of infringing on an “unregistered trademark” because they claimed the email address he used, PPLoudSpeaker@gmail.com, made his emails appear to come from Parker Plaza.

They said he made “frivolous requests” for information that were “cumbersome and a nuisance.”

The association’s current attorney on the case, Luis Konski, called Sherman’s actions “harassment” that caused delays to building repairs.

Sherman said in a court affidavit that he had “engaged in protected speech to educate the members of the Association of what I believe, and have evidence to support, is substantial misconduct on the part of the Board.”

The association also pursued Sherman in state court, saying he defamed Fagan in social media posts, mass emails and a lawsuit against the board.

Fagan, who owns four condos in Parker Plaza but lives in Plantation, declined to comment to the Sun Sentinel because of the ongoing litigation, but argued in one of the lawsuits that he “did absolutely nothing wrong.” He expressed pride in the tower where he grew up, designed by the late Morris Lapidus, the architect famous for designing glitzy Miami hotels, including the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. He volunteered his time on the board, the lawsuit says, and was subjected to Sherman’s “unhinged and abusive attacks.”

‘If I go quiet’

Sherman and his allies were motivated by a prior controversy at Parker Plaza Estates, when a small group of owners brought down a corrupt administration.

In 2005, three retired professionals at the condo sifted through documents to ferret out a vast corruption scheme. Their probing led to the arrest of the condo president, building manager, a plumbing contractor and a maintenance supervisor on charges of engaging in a kickback plot. The condo president and plumbing contractor pled no contest, paid restitution and served probation. The building manager pled guilty and went to prison and the maintenance supervisor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died without facing trial.

In Sherman’s case, he said he met with local police but nothing came of it. He used GoFundMe donations to hire an investigative firm, and it found no criminal wrongdoing, according to court filings. And two committees empaneled by the condo board investigated and found no impropriety.

Sherman said he has a following in the building and garnered 199 signatures in a failed attempt to recall board members. But most of the financial risk is his. Sherman sold a second unit he owned in the building for $415,000 to pay his legal bills. He hasn’t tallied his expenses, he said, in part because he doesn’t want to have to tell his wife, Lyuba, if she asks.

Plus, their oldest son gave him advice.

“My son told me, he said, ‘Father, you must not think about money, or you’ll lose all your cases,” Sherman recalled. “ … ‘You are right, and you will win.’ ”

But Sherman isn’t winning.

The two defamation cases against him are ongoing. And Sherman and 13 neighbors recently lost a lawsuit they filed against the condo association about alleged financial and election improprieties.

The lawsuit is a so-called derivative action, filed on behalf of the entire association. But Florida law allows the courts to dismiss such a lawsuit if an independent committee acting in good faith and conducting a reasonable investigation determines that the lawsuit is not in the condo association’s best interests. The accused condo board is allowed under Florida law to choose its own independent committee, a setup Sherman says is unfair.

The committee empaneled by Parker Plaza Estates consisted of two people, including one of the accused board members. It concluded that the lawsuit should be dismissed and, in July, Broward Chief Judge Jack Tuter agreed. The case was not appealed.

Parker Plaza Estates has been working to rebuild balconies for six years, to meet state requirements. Some residents had no access to their balconies for years. During the project, mold intruded into 192 units. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

In an email to residents, the condo board vowed to recoup more than $150,000 in legal fees from Sherman’s side.

On a recent afternoon, Sherman sat in his marble-floored condo on the 14th floor, holding a stack of legal bills, condo documents and more, that are his daily homework. His balcony was sealed up for construction and loud machinery squealed and screeched.

Lyuba Sherman brought out a fresh raisin cake, and said she’d seen a therapist to work through her emotions about their legal entanglement. She got a toy poodle, Teddy, to cheer her up.

Simon Sherman’s wife, Lyuba, got a toy poodle, Teddy, to provide emotional support as she struggles with the couple’s legal predicament. Simon Sherman has been sued for defamation by their condo association at Parker Plaza Estates in Hallandale Beach over accusations he made about the board’s management and spending. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Sherman’s attorney, who recently withdrew from the cases, said Sherman stands to lose more than $200,000 — perhaps much more — if he’s forced to pay legal fees in all three cases.

It’s too late to turn back now, Sherman said. He’s in too deep financially to stop.

Sherman’s hands twisted as he described his predicament, like he was wringing the last drops of moisture from a rag.

“They put me in a situation in which I cannot go quiet, because if I go quiet,” he said, glancing toward the kitchen, where his wife was just out of hearing distance, “I will lose everything.”

Reporters David Fleshler, Ron Hurtibise and Danica Jefferies contributed to this report.

Next in the investigation
  • Part 2: A South Florida homeowners association board ran its community like a racketeering enterprise, prosecutors say, threatening homeowners and embezzling millions. Is a new state law enough to stop this from happening again
  • Part 3: Living under a homeowner or condo association can drive some people to behavior that they would never otherwise contemplate — from corruption and fraud to assault and, even, murder
  • Part 4: The state agency charged with keeping condos honest is an overwhelmed, underfunded bureaucracy that regulates barbers, electrical contractors, hotels and veterinarians. Condo owners who suspect wrongdoing report long delays and frustrating encounters with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Governor puts Iowa farmers before Floridians | Letters to the editor

South Florida Local News - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 03:00

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill (SB 284) that passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support for state and local governments to buy and use electric vehicles instead of gas-powered cars and trucks, leaving taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars more in fuel and maintenance costs.

Why? Because he’s running for President, and he doesn’t want to risk losing votes of Iowa farmers who grow corn that produces ethanol for internal combustion vehicles. So we get stuck paying millions to help DeSantis’s flagging presidential campaign.

He also rejected $346 million in Inflation Reduction Act money for Floridians.

So if I buy a heat pump to replace my tired 17-year-old AC unit, I can’t get the rebate of up to $3,200 advertised on TV by air conditioning companies.

That could have come to me via the feds, but DeSantis blocked it. Just like Trump, everything DeSantis does is about him, not us. Remember this when you vote. And when Republicans claim to want low taxes, they mean low taxes for the wealthiest — not the average Joe or Jane.

Frederick Mitchel, Fort Lauderdale

A clear difference

I have read that some young people can’t decide which political party to join. I’m puzzled.

The differences used to be straightforward. Republicans believed in less government and letting markets prevail, and Democrats believed government should play a bigger role.

Republicans now believe that the 2020 election was stolen, in spite of their own experts and officials. Some of them believe that climate change, our biggest crisis, is a hoax. They believe abortion should be illegal but assault rifles are fine. They believe that safe vaccines are evil. They blindly follow a narcissistic, compulsive liar with no morals or concept of decency.

Now more than ever, there’s a clear difference.

David Kulick, Delray Beach

Stop GL Homes now

Environmentalists and many citizens question the rationale of a majority of the Palm Beach County Commission giving its initial approval for a housing development in the protected Agricultural Reserve.

In a 5-2 vote on May 3, the board voted to accept a privately initiated zoning amendment to allow GL Homes to build housing in the reserve, including about 1,000 homes worth over $1 million each and 277 workforce homes west of Boca Raton.

Opponents fear that if final approval is granted on Oct. 24, the project would contribute to sprawl and open the door to destruction of the Ag Reserve, which preserves our land and filters our water.

The proposal involves an unprecedented swap of preserving more land at a site outside the reserve to allow GL Homes to get more development rights inside the reserve. A planning official calls it a fundamental upheaval of the comprehensive plan and environmentalists and citizens fear it will set a precedent for other developers to do the same.

The planning commission recommended rejection. Two reasons cited by staff are that the proposal lacked adequate justification and is not consistent with county growth plans.

To win approval for the deal, GL Homes plans a number of projects that opponents see as sweeteners. One is a water reservoir opposed by environmental groups and residents who claim it’s unnecessary and too costly.

Sondra Levin, Boca Raton

V.P.’s new assignment

I’m sure the NRA is pleased with President Joe Biden putting Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the new federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

She will probably do as good a job reducing gun violence as she did securing the southern border.

This is another ploy by Biden to make people think that he’s doing something about gun violence. It’s another waste of taxpayer money.

Peter Eckert, Plantation

How to make the most out of your product warranty

South Florida Local News - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 23:21

A warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment in the long term, but it can also be tough to take advantage of. It can even be difficult to parse exactly what kind of damage or defects each warranty covers. There are some important tips to keep in mind when deciding just how much value an advertised warranty adds.

What a warranty is and is not for It’s not exactly an insurance plan

Warranties exist to provide the consumer with the peace of mind that the product will last for a certain length of time without failing due to manufacturing defects. A warranty rarely covers accidental damage such as physically breaking a device or dropping it in water. For the most part, any damage or malfunction caused by the user won’t be covered under warranty.

It may take a while to process

In most cases, processing a warranty takes from days to weeks (or more in the case of hard-to-find electronics such as graphics cards). Keep the practicality of the process in mind when deciding whether a manufacturer’s warranty is worth it.

How to make sure your purchase will be covered Read the terms and conditions closely

Ultimately, you’re looking for the warranty’s exclusions — the things the warranty doesn’t cover. As the saying goes, this is where they get you. You might spend two years at ease that your laptop’s three-year warranty covers anything that could go wrong, but discover after a rainstorm that water damage isn’t eligible for repair.

Since all warranties are different, the only way to stay on top of exclusions is to do your homework. Research what’s most likely to go wrong with the device in question. Then, make absolutely certain of what the warranty does and doesn’t cover before you decide to invest. Companies usually have different warranty conditions for separate types of products, so make sure you’re looking at the right documents.

Follow all warranty rules and restrictions

The most common example is an automotive manufacturer’s warranty that requires you to have the oil changed exclusively by licensed technicians at one of that manufacturer’s dealerships. If you change it yourself or take it to a third-party mechanic, you can void part or all of your warranty.

Pay attention to the warranty period

While you’ll see the term “lifetime warranty” on plenty of marketing materials, this doesn’t usually mean for the owner’s lifetime but rather the product’s lifetime. Different types of products and their manufacturers have varying definitions of a product’s lifespan.

Is it transferable?

Some high-value items such as gaming graphics cards have impressive multiyear warranties, and a few manufacturers let you take advantage even if you bought the card used. Some luxury car companies also offer transferable warranties. In those cases, make sure to get all the documentation from the original owner.

Keep all your documentation

Archive every piece of evidence that you bought the item. This includes the order confirmation, all receipts, and any communications with the company. If you buy a lot of expensive products, it’s advisable to keep all your purchasing and warranty information in one place.

Avoid most extended warranties

There are some situations where a third-party extended warranty makes sense, but they’re extremely rare. Third-party warranty providers such as SquareTrade have shockingly restrictive terms and are notorious for refusing reasonable repair and replacement requests. It’s not just limited to small electronics, either.

Manufacturers’ warranties and professional repair service contracts are always a better option. AppleCare+ is one such example. While you still have to do your due diligence, manufacturer’s warranties and even third-party service contracts tend to be more up-front and accepting of repair claims. For many service contracts, expect to pay a monthly fee for as long as you want coverage.

Some notes on car warranties: Car warranties typically last for three years or 36,000 miles, and most drivers reach the mileage limit first. Many automakers also offer extended warranty options. If you’re hoping to keep a new car in perfect condition for a decade or more, an extended warranty can make sense.

In all cases, however, general wear and tear to many parts won’t be covered. The definition of wear and tear changes for each manufacturer. All manufacturers will do whatever they can to avoid paying for repairs during an extended warranty period. Rarely is it hassle-free to fix a part during a seven-year extended warranty, even if that part shouldn’t need repair yet.

With that said, they’re not all bad. Mercedes, for example, has a reasonable list of exclusions plus an explicit set of warranty-covered inclusions, giving them one of the best extended warranty packages in the automotive market. In fact, Mercedes lets you transfer an extended warranty to the next owner.

What you should always avoid at any cost is a third-party car warranty. There’s so little chance that important issues and commonly broken parts will be fixed that you’re basically burning money.

Extended warranties on smartphones: Smartphone warranties are exploding in popularity as the devices themselves reach higher prices. Most phone carriers such as Verizon and AT&T offer in-house extended warranties through a company called Asurion.

It’s crucial to closely review the plan details to ensure the most common issues are covered. Asurion tailors their warranty services to each carrier’s request, and plans differ greatly between companies. If a warranty covers common problems like water damage and cracked screens, it may be worth it to protect a $1,000 phone.

Check your credit card’s warranty extension program

Many popular credit cards offer integrated manufacturer’s warranty extension programs. Some offer as much as a doubling or tripling of the original warranty’s length. In fact, some include post-purchase service contracts such as AppleCare+. This is the most effective way to make sure your premium laptop is protected for years to come.

Beware of warranty scams

You’ve probably heard of them before, and you may have gotten a phone call like this yourself. Whatever you do, don’t fall for unsolicited calls, text messages, or emails offering to renew or set up an extended warranty for a product you may or may not own. These kinds of communication are always scams and could lead to fraud and identity theft.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

7 best noise-canceling headphones for people who live in loud cities

South Florida Local News - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 23:21

 Noise-canceling headphones are often the best way to get the highest quality out of your favorite songs. Audiophiles enjoy this style of headphones for their ability to eliminate background noise, allowing you to hear songs the way they’re meant to be heard. If you live in a loud city, noise-canceling headphones may be necessary to listen to your music without interruption.

Types of noise-canceling headphones Passive noise cancellation vs. active noise cancellation

Passive noise-canceling headphones are less expensive than active noise-canceling models. Most passive models feature thick foam and other materials that block outside noise. Over-ear headphones with passive noise cancellation usually rely on dense materials and are often the most effective passive noise-canceling headphones. Still, in-ear models molded to the size and shape of your ear do a great job. Many in-ear models include multiple tips so you can choose the one that fits your ear best.

Active noise-canceling headphones are more expensive and more effective than passive models. These headphones use microphones that identify the outside sounds around you. Then, the headphones produce a sound that ensures you can’t hear anything but your music. Unlike passive models, active models require an additional power source, such as batteries.

Wired vs. wireless headphones

Wired headphones are usually less expensive than wireless models, but, in many cases, they produce a higher-quality sound. Still, wired models can be annoying if the wire gets tangled and many smartphones don’t have headphone jacks.

Wireless headphones are relatively expensive but significantly more convenient than wired models. Many higher-end wireless headphones produce sound on par with wired options but you will likely pay more for these models. Many wireless headphones can last two to three hours on a single charge. Still, you’ll have to ensure you regularly charge your battery to get the most out of your device.

Noise-canceling headphones with microphones

If you use your headphones for taking calls, you’ll want a model with a built-in microphone. In many cases, these models also feature noise-cancellation technology in their microphones. Additionally, most noise-canceling headphones allow you to listen to music at a low volume while taking a call.

Features worth considering Voice controls

Many high-end models feature Amazon Alexa and Google Voice Assistant capabilities. Voice assistant capabilities are ideal for users who want hands-free control and added features such as navigation, weather and reminders.


Devices featuring speak-to-chat functionality automatically pause your music when you begin a conversation. This feature is ideal for users who wear their headphones in cafes, restaurants and stores.

Ambient sound control

Noise-canceling headphones are great for loud cities, but you’ll still need to hear vehicles and other potential hazards. Headphones with ambient sound control block out most noise while still allowing you to hear sounds essential to safety.

Pair with multiple devices

Many headphones give you the ability to pair with multiple devices simultaneously. This feature allows you to listen to music on one device while taking a call on another. With multiple-device pairing, you can effortlessly switch from one device to another at the push of a button.


Buying headphones with included accessories is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck. Many wireless headphones have auxiliary cables that you can use when their battery dies. Choosing foldable over-ear headphones with included carrying cases makes the bulky devices easier to take on the go. Many in-ear headphones include carrying cases that charge the earbuds, extending their battery life when you’re away from home.

Best noise-canceling headphones for people who live in loud cities

Bose Noise-canceling Headphones 700 ]

These wireless headphones feature high-end active noise cancellation, Amazon Alexa voice control and a quality noise-canceling microphone for calls. Many users praise these headphones for their sleek, comfortable design.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-canceling Overhead Headphones ]

Most users loved that they were able to switch between multiple devices seamlessly. This model features ambient sound control, speak-to-chat and high-quality noise cancellation. These comfortable headphones come in three different colors.

Beats Studio Buds True Wireless Noise-canceling Earbuds ]

These stylish earbuds feature active noise cancellation and a built-in microphone for phone calls. This option includes three sets of silicone tips in various sizes. Although many users felt these headphones weren’t as good as over-ear models, they’re superior to most in-ear headphones.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ]

These popular earbuds feature active noise cancellation and a transparency mode that allows you to hear outside sounds. This model includes a wireless charging case that allows you to charge your AirPods on the go. These earbuds last up to 6 hours with active noise cancellation enabled and over 30 hours when stored in the included case.

Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Wireless Noise-canceling Headphones ]

These headphones fold, allowing you to store and carry them easily. Many users felt this option didn’t have excellent bass quality, but they’re ideal for acoustic and classical music. This model lasts roughly 24 hours on a single charge.

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise-canceling Headphones ]

These budget headphones feature active noise cancellation and up to 40 hours of battery life on a single charge. This model includes a travel pouch and an auxiliary cable you can use when your battery dies. Many users loved these headphones for their loud bass tones.

Apple AirPods Max ]

These capable headphones come in five different colors. Apple’s active noise cancellation does an excellent job at blocking outside noise and the transparency mode allows you to use the device safely in busy areas. Many users praise these headphones for their sound quality, comfort and ease of use.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

$10,000 Honor Guarantee, Backed by InterNACHI

Inspected once, inspected right. ® 

Thanks LogoUp.com for the best embroidered apparel!

G.E.T. Home Inspections, LLC is a top Coral Springs, FL home inspector on Inspectopia.com!

Admin Login