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Bob Floss, Former CAR President, Speaks Out on ‘Impeachment’

by Peter Thomas Ricci

bob-floss-chicago-association-of-realtors-president-impeached-resign-finances-ginger-downs

Bob Floss was impeached and removed from his presidency of the Chicago Association of Realtors on July 16, but until now, he has not spoken out about his removal.

It was more than a month ago that Bob Floss, then the president of the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR), was relieved of his position, and that Zeke Morris, the association’s president elect, assumed the presidency early.

But now, in an exclusive interview with Chicago Agent magazine, Floss is speaking out about why he was, in his words, “impeached,” and removed from his presidency.

Bob Floss Speaks out on Impeachment

Before we cover Floss’ allegations, we should point out that Floss’ main claims remain unsubstantiated, and though we reached out to other members of the Chicago Realtors community for additional perspectives, there are facets of his statements that we are unable to verify.

“I was impeached,” Floss said. “I got pushed out the door because I asked to see all the finances.”

Those “finances,” Floss alleges, primarily involved two areas of CAR’s budget:

  • CAR’s various entities – Floss said he was pushing for more detailed explanations for all CAR-owned entities, particularly the Northern Illinois Real Estate Information Network, or NIREIN, a for-profit referral and holding company that holds real estate licenses, and, Floss claims, that has no discernible paper trail in CAR’s records; and other for-profit entities, such as a for-profit MLS with no available information.
  • CAR’s expenses and operating costs – as part of CAR’s recent merger discussions with the North Shore – Barrington Association of Realtors (NSBAR), Floss said he began taking a deeper look at CAR’s expenses, including the lease on its current headquarters, the various expense accounts and dinner charges of directors and staff members and, most notably, the salaries of CAR leadership, including CEO Ginger Downs.

Regarding CAR’s other entities, Floss told us they first came under question during CAR’s merger discussions with NSBAR, and he alleges that because NSBAR requested more information about those financials – and because CAR did not provide them – the merger fell through.

“They weren’t getting a true, crystal clear picture of our finances,” Floss said. “If there’s nothing wrong with the finances, what difference does it make? Just show them. All of them … Now the whole membership is suspicious.”

We reached out to Judy Gibbons, the president of NSBAR, for that association’s perspective on the merger talks, but she opted not to comment for the story.

And regarding Downs’ compensation, Floss said he was also in discussions with her about the extension of her current contract with CAR. Though he supported extending Downs’ contract by four more years, Floss wanted her salary to be readjusted to reflect CAR’s current membership levels of 12,500, not the 18,000+ that it currently reflects. According to a recent INMAN News piece, Downs earned $350,772 in salary and benefits in 2008, along with a $10,287 expense account, but in 2010, she took a 6.5 percent pay cut to $327,821 in salary, incentives and benefits.

Chicago Association of Realtors Respond

CAR has disputed every detail of Floss’ account to us, and again, though Floss did share emails with us confirming that other CAR members were looking into CAR’s finances, his main claims remain unsubstantiated.

Also, though Floss’ claims insinuate that Downs spearheaded his impeachment, we should also point out that Downs does not having voting power on CAR’s board, and ultimately, it was the board of directors who voted on his expulsion. The current board of directors includes President Zeke Morris, Treasurer Ron D. Abrams, Immediate Past President Mabel Guzman and the following Directors: Rafael Alvarado; Wayne P. Caplan; Sarah Coulter; Will Crowden (commercial forum director); Juan Del Real; Matt Farrell (president-elect for 2013); Tammy Hajjar (affiliate director); Kathy Kalnes; Greg Kosin; Lauren Mitrick; Hugh Rider (government affairs director); Mike Sato; Matthew Silver; William J. Stegeman; and Dan Wagner.

CAR provided us with a statement in response to Floss’ allegations:

The Chicago Association of Realtors Board of Directors deliberated about the Association’s change in leadership in executive session and its decision remains confidential. It is not true that the Board made this change in leadership in response to anything related to the financial operations of the Association. The Chicago Association of Realtors has extensive policies and procedures in place to ensure financial oversight and transparency. We are committed to serving our members and are excited about the upcoming year.”

In addition, Chicago Agent interviewed Downs for this story, and she made several points throughout the course of our discussion:

  • Though she could not comment specifically on Floss’ expulsion from the board, Downs did say that his inquiry into the board’s finances had nothing to do with it. “Absolutely in no shape or form was Bob impeached for that,” she said.
  • NIREIN, Downs said, is the only for-profit entity owned by CAR, and information about the network is freely available on the CAR website.
  • Regarding matters of financial inquiry, Downs said that CAR has a clearly-stated policy for whistleblowers that dictates what process members should follow and who they should contact if they uncover any financial irregularities with CAR – a process, she said, that Floss did not follow.
  • Though Floss told us that the whistleblower policy was only instituted a week before his impeachment – and therefore did not cover his personal financial investigations – Downs said the policy dates back to Oct. 6, 2010, when CAR first adopted the policy. “I’m a little bit astounded that that’s something he’s brought up,” Downs said, in regards to Floss’ statements on CAR’s finances.
  • Downs also said that when the board of directors considered impeaching Floss, they consulted the association’s by-laws, which can be read in full here. Though Downs could not specifically comment on which of the by-laws the board exerted, Floss told us he was charged with “Harassment,” which is detailed on page 24 of the aforementioned document.

Floss’ statements come after an earlier interview with Chicago Agent, in which Floss expressed optimism that whatever differences he had with CAR could be resolved internally through mediation between Laurie Janick, the general counsel for NAR, and Peter Friedman, CAR’s general counsel.

Floss had provided Janick with a list of requests. They were:

  1. That he be reinstated as a member of the CAR executive board for one year.
  2. That he be reinstated as a member of both the CAR and IAR board of directors.
  3. That his photo be displayed alongside all the other past presidents of CAR.
  4. And that he be allowed to hand out awards at the upcoming CAR inaugural.

“I’m really optimistic this can be worked out within the Realtor family,” Floss had said. “I bet this will be resolved by the end of this week.”

But after Floss’ requests were denied, he contacted us with his side of the story – and we should be clear that this story is ongoing, and we will continue to report on it as more details emerge.

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Comments

  • As a member of the finance committee I was in the room at the June finance committee meeting when Bob Floss announced that the current treasurer, president-elect and himself would be “going through the books” as a result of questions that had arisen about the financials of the different non-profit and for profit entities of CAR. The expression on the faces of the CEO, Ginger Downs and the CFO, Warren Frank where those of extreme fear. I had never seen two people looking that nervous.

    At that same meeting an individual who sits on the finance committee and is a board of director as well asked for a third party audit. Mr. Floss assured the committee he would be going back four years and did not see the need to bring in a third party at that time unless he saw irregularities.

    Over the time I sat as a member of the finance committee it became clear to me that there were irregularities which when asked about would be responded to in a round about way or direct responses from the CEO such as she does not answer to the committee, only to her board of directors. It is financials. Numbers are numbers not a short story or novel long explanation.

    The whistle blower policy was created in June of 2012 as this was coming to a head. What I have discovered after reading the bylaws that the CEO has slowly tweaked over the years, is that there really are not checks and balances in place to protect the association against the CEO in cases where there are allegations.

    Having a laundry list of items, I am not sure there will be due process if I decide to go the way of the Whistle blower policy as was approved by the board of directors. That is the internal option.

    As someone who truly believes there is value to the REALTOR Association as a whole it saddens me to see what has happened in Chicago where the National Association of REALTORS started and still maintains its headquarters. The Board of Directors and executive management team seem more concerned about protecting themselves than the best interests of the members.

    After all, if nothing is out of order with the financials, then wouldn’t have been the better option to open up the books and remove the question marks?

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    I am a former director of this board. I must say something does stink here. I too was removed when I did not play ball with them. My opinion and my opinion only is that they want directors who sit on their hands, people who do not ask questions.

    As long as we continue to have members who are only concerned with making sure they have access to the mls, we are going to have issues like this. We have to be involved. When we are not, we play into the hands of people with private agendas. We all should have access to the financials of this association. We have some of the highest dues in the chicagoland area, yet no one questions anything.

    I am not a Bob Floss fan, let me state that. Impeaching him with only two months left on his term puts egg on the face of the whole association. Whatever he said or did must have been very offensive to the powers that be, for them not to have the patience of two more months. That says alot to me about who he scared.

  • J. Papaladakis says:

    Interesting that shoplifting charges don’t seem to trigger impeachment for board members….

    https://chicagoagentmagazine.com/jameson-sothebys-president-charged-with-shoplifting/

    Perhaps it’s time the Association cleans house in an attempt to repair their image.

  • Tom says:

    $325,000 a year to be CEO? Are you kidding?

  • Randy says:

    Yes. Can someone explain why Michael Sato President of Jameson retains any position with CAR. He was caught shoplifting. He said he didn’t do it but he elected not to defend himself against the charges. Isn’t moral character required????

  • Sara Benson says:

    Bravo, Andrea, for speaking out! All I can say is that this is NOT a new problem.

  • Mike says:

    Does the membership get access to the financial information? Are the board meetings open to the membership? When is the next board meeting?

  • Robert Nowak says:

    It appears the few individuals that control and manipulate for personal gain must be removed. Going from a $350,772 salary to $327,821 is not a pay cut. I’m sure there are plenty of qualified members who would take the job for half that amount or less. Glad to know where my dues are going.

  • Michael Ponce says:

    Well, now that this is on a public forum, how about we as Realtors push for a complete opening of financials and see exactly where everything is. If CAR pushes for transparency, opening the books shouldn’t be an issue in the slightest. I urge each and every one of you, my fellow Brokers/Realtors to ask questions and don’t settle for simplified answers that don’t give detailed information to us, the membership.

    -Michael

  • Opaque says:

    An innocent party responds differently. A plea deal, excuses, refusal to openly address allegations and submit to a third-party audit (by a foreign entity)….CAR and Mike Sato’s actions proclaim guilty as charged. These are disgusting facts which not only disgrace membership but the City whose name CAR bears.

  • Lyn Sims says:

    A whistleblower that is not protected by the policy? That’s just ridiculous. Anyone should be protected for bringing any allegations of fraud or misuse of funds to any board member. Obviously that was not the case for Floss.

    Asking questions & wanting to have the books thoroughly audited does not sound out of the question. What’s to hide? Seems like there is something there that they (CAR) don’t want us to look at.

    Hey, how did that $1 million building that they bought get paid for? Someone paid cash. Where did that come from? Membership wasn’t asked about that little transaction – like a million dollar transaction is something small!

    I am flabergasted that Downs makes $327,000 a year! What is this wall street? She’s probably got a golden parachute too!

    The best thing that you can do is spread this throught the membership so everyone is aware this is going on.

  • Roger Lautt says:

    This is our organization and as due paying members I think we have the right to see a complete transparent look at the books, all current liabilities and assets.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    All this and they closed the North and South side Satellite offices. The Cicero office is open only 2 days, and that is going to be adequete to service 11,000+ members. They want to close the Cicero office also, don’t let them fool you. What really should be done is that white elephant downtown location should be moved to the west loop where all the membership would be served better. I know that downtown location is convenient for leadership but not convenient for the members.

    I was removed from chairman of the WSG for letting the membership know that these satillite offices were closed by an announcement that was made on December 23, 2011. I guess leadership felt that most agents would be working on that day and that was the best day to make sure they all knew what was happening.LOL The next meeting I was removed as chairman of that comittee. However the WSG knew my heart was in the rite place and asked me to stay on as a director, which I did.

    My point is that this is our board. They work for us. We do not work for them. They are very powerful. They make rules and regs without much input from the membership because most members are not active.

    I want everyone to watch how they deal with Andrea for telling the truth. I thank you Andrea, because your post gave me courage to give you mine.

    It will be fun to watch how they spin this, believe me they will.

  • Liane LUCKETT says:

    I don’t know why sato is being scrutinized in this issue. I know mike and I he wouldn’t steal a stupid tie and risk his reputation over $75 or whatever the cost was when he can clearly afford to go buy whatever. Ive personally used my purse as a shopping bag when ive run to cvs thinking i didnt need a cart , and unload at check out, mistakes happen. I’ve paid tickets I feel I didn’t deserve because it’s simply not worth my time or the hassle, stick to the issues, focus on the financials. If the executive team and board have done nothing wrong, then an audit would be in order by a third party, to be selected by membership vote, to clear the issue so everybody can get on doing what they do best, selling houses.

  • Linda says:

    I left CAR for many reasons. Without being on the board it was still obvious something was wrong. Our fees were significantly too high and many of us had been aware of that. In 2010 we were told we had to pay our dues in one lump sum instead of every quarter as it had been for years. When we called to find out why it had to be paid all at once we were told that we agents voted for that. NOT TRUE. They knew there would be less money in the coffers as agents began leaving due to the lack of business.

    Down’s salary is ridiculous – she shouldn’t be getting over $100,000 for her position. There are people on the board who should not be there – start with Caplan. Clean it all up – start from scratch.

    Not showing the books tells the story.
    Having run several projects at the same time all I had to do was look at the books I was provided – had asked for them multiple times – I knew right away there were two sets of books for each project. Too many people hide the truth and eventually get caught.

  • Fred Johns says:

    Wow I am shocked. As most CAR members, I had no idea that all this drama was taking place. Agreed with all comments and especially agree with Anthony when he said that it must have been something big to need to get Floss out the door only two months early. Did they not think that would not raise a red flag.

    As far as the very common point mentioned that most members don’t care much about CAR other than getting on MLS. I’d say you’re absolutely correct and that includes me.

    From the C.A.R. website, this is why in 1883 the entity known as the Chicago Real Estate Board (CRBE) was formed –

    The organization was formed “to secure more system and uniformity in the renting, care, and management of real estate in the city of Chicago; to better protect and promote the interests of those entrusting property to their care; to protect themselves and their clients against dishonest and immoral tenants; and to generally correct existing abuses and to prevent their future occurrence.”

    — and what they say about their role today –

    The Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR), the “Voice for Real Estate” in Chicago since 1883, represents 12,000 members from all real estate specialties including commercial sales, development, property management, appraisal, auctions, and residential sales.

    Which I’ve always been surprised doesn’t seem to come up more. For instance, I thought that when the parking meter fiasco happend, that there would have been more outrage from C.A.R. as it effects or livelihood. Then when Rahm came in I thought maybe we’d see C.A.R. lobby for some type of monthly buisness pass. This is the type of representation I would like and expect from my Association. Even if there was no chance of getting it done, it would have showed me that they actually thought about how ‘real world’ situations effect us. And this one is a big one. Don’t know about you but I’m at over $500 paid into parking meters this year. Where my 2007 total amount was roughly $60. And I had much more parking meter area sales that year than this.

    But instead all I get is emails about what classes are being held at 200 S. Michigan. (totally agree with the suggestion to move to West Loop!) And award banquet pics of the 1%. Or my favorite, constant updates on who’s not paid their 2nd, 3rd or 4th installment yet! Heck it was a Realtor who pushed her powerful connected Alderman husband that got the transfer tax to stay at $7.50/$1000 for buyers. Not C.A.R.

    So we discount them as a necessary evil and leave it that. Which probably would have stayed that way if they kept it clean. I mean over $300k for a job where your main responsiblity is keeping the status quo. No real targeted production goals? And to not have the common sense to require that a Director step down when they get in trouble with the law and are in the media. Really? That alone should be cause for a complete cleaning house of the management.

  • J- says:

    I agree that the multiple accusations warrant a full and prompt audit of finances. There are far too many voices alleging violations, many of which could expose the association to legal action and are downright embarassing whether true or not.

    Unfortunately, thievery is the subject of some of these allegations. As to why people steal, for some it is a matter of survival. For others, there is a sick gratification involved. I expect the latter applies here. They all need help however none should be licensed by IDFPR. How many times does a crook steal before getting caught?

    Chicago is a great city in spite of the criminals who choose to live here and regularly harm and embarass us. As a REALTOR, I will do my part to keep it as such. Thank you to those who feel the same and have taken a stance against crime.

  • Sam Sam says:

    This is what happens when companies exist that only care for themselves. Members don’t matter and from my understanding neither do the employees. Too many consistent stories are being told which obviously means they are true. All of you realtors that are a part of this orginization this is your time to stand up and have a voice. Don’t let them get away with this. Someone above me quoted the history of CAR. The founders have to be flipping in their graves right now.

  • Reading through the comments as well as the many offline messages I have received since I posted my comments yesterday, it is clear to me that many more members than I thought are aware that something is just not right at the Chicago Association of Realtors.

    That leaves me with this question: How do all the issues that are not getting vetted get fairly addressed? It just seems that we are beyond handling this internally.

    The way the bylaws and policies have been tweaked there really are no checks and balances in place that truly give us a fair way as members to address the issues. How do we know that if we can get a third party forensic audit that there are no pre-existing relationships such as with the CEO, CFO, or board members?

    It has always amazed me that there are no background checks done on the executive officers(President, President-Elect, Treasurer) who sign the checks at CAR. When I asked about it, I was told the board voted the motion down recently. I cannot even be a part of a relocation program to sell a home without one. These people have access to millions of dollars.

    Since the local association is a just a charter and we pay dues to the Illinois and National Association, is it their duty to us to step in and facilitate resolving the issues?

    This is not good for the association as a whole.

  • Carmen Rodriguez says:

    First, I think we all owe Chicago Agent Magazine some thanks for putting into words what many of us have murmured for years at cocktail parties and on front stoops at showings.

    Next, I’d like to offer personal thanks to Andrea Geller, who adds legitimacy to this concern through her long experience with the association but, more importantly, her boots-on-the-ground experience in the business. Her perspective is invaluable.

    And then I’d like to suggest that while this story is an important one to read and discuss, there’s no specific impropriety outlined. There’s implication and push-back, but no meat. What we need is some forthrightness.

    Bob Floss has a long and storied history within the business and I think everyone can agree he does not mince words. I kind of like that about him, even though I, myself, have winced a few times when they’ve handed him a mic. I wasn’t always (meaning, really, not ever) sure that his was the face and voice of the association’s current membership. I was told under breaths a few times that he’d just done his time and gotten the position that way. Wink wink. That’s sad. I bet Bob believes he earned his spot and, given how much he has donated in time and money to the association, the case could certainly be made.

    But that’s the problem, isn’t it? None of us knows what’s going on over there. Do you know how the Board gets selected? Do you know how the slate of leadership candidates is nominated? As a member have you ever voted for anyone? Me neither.

    I conducted an experiment a couple of years ago. I had grown tired of complaining about a lack of advocacy and representation from my association and I decided to participate so I could see for myself what work was being done. Guess what. We’re right. There are a few really great people in the association – some who work for – some who are members working on committees. But the ‘looks like a duck, quack likes a duck’ theory on what it is is correct. There’s too much self-importance, gala preparation and strategic in-breeding. Worse, there’s a real disconnect from the original, valuable and relevant mission of the association.

    I applied for a board position once. My original application was received the day it was forwarded, but when the nominees were published, I wasn’t on the list. After I inquired, I was put on the list again and then invited for an informal meeting with the board to review my application. Little did I know I was walking into a huge board room with all the board members present (facing ipads that I believe were association gifts to each board member?) around a u-shape of conference tables for a candidate forum. Everyone smiled at me like I was a cute puppy, knowing full well I had no shot at being selected.

    Later, when I was on a nominating committee I was flabbergasted to find that the rules themselves preclude people who are not part of the inner circle from even being considered. The general membership does not qualify for its own leadership. That’s just nuts, don’t you think?

    And then there’s all the title-dropping. There’s a president, an immediate past president and a president-elect at all times and all of them have roles in decision-making? The not-yet-president gets announced like royalty at even the smallest committee meetings where he/she may be present. Why? Zeke Morris just took the job and they’re already giving Matt Farrell the title for the job for next year. Huh?

    Committee meetings are wrought with jargon and acronyms no one understands but everyone’s too shy to say so, so the meetings take on an Alice in Wonderland-esque sensibility where only three of fifteen people are really having the conversation. The one room where this happens the least is the government affairs committee meeting – where the real work of the association happens to take place – and those are the folks who get the least press and have the least glamour associated with their tasks. It’s all backwards!

    I’d be afraid to tell you this in a public forum except I think I’ve made it plain in any other forum where I’ve had the opportunity to speak, so it should be no surprise.

    I care about my business. I want us to be successful. I hope this episode serves to bring more members forward to participate in our association. I’m confident if that happens the good work many folks do will be noticed and rewarded and the changes that need to be made will be effected. If we do not come forward and participate you can simply expect business as usual. Are you happy with where that’s gotten us?

  • Toni P. says:

    First, let me say that I like Bob Floss. I have taken continuing education classes with him at CAR and, even though he can be a bit “in your face” I believe him to be a fair and honest man. He continually told us in classes about being good, fair realtors and that we should properly service our clients. He also told us about the many realtors leaving the business due to their unethical practices.

    Shouldn’t the same apply to CAR leadership? I am currently inactive with CAR but never really knew what went on with CAR when I was an active member. There does not seem to be regular reporting to members about finances or much else and all they seem to be about is money, Money, MONEY. They make us pay through the nose for everything and what exactly do we get in return?

    I say that it is time for them to be ACCOUNTABLE. You go Bob Floss for doing what you did and my best to you!

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    Carmen, well said. Little did I know that all those meetings you and I sat through, that we were both thinking the same thing but were too intimidated to say anything. I thank you for speaking up.

    I am pretty much a lame duck at CAR. It was told to me by a executive member after I was outraged about the closings of the branch offices. It is ok with me. They can give me their fake smiles and fake gratitude. I know what they are about. I said my piece and will be there when my time comes. Thanks again Andrea and Carmen.

  • Monique Washington says:

    Thanks to everyone who left a comment. They were very enlightening. I agree with Carmen R. about the government affairs meetings. I began attending the meetings this year and believe the information given to us is invaluable. All members need to participate in the system we pay to keep in existence.

  • G. Perez says:

    I’m truly disappointed and sadden to hear how our Association is behaving; and I agree with many of my colleagues in this forum, we need to get more involved! I’ll bet my bottom dollar most of these shananigans will stop!

    I also thank all who had the courage to stand up for what’s right; many changes need to be made to serve our members.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    I really do not believe money was stolen. But the whole integrity thing comes into play. We ask for statistics on how many members we have……we get no answer. We ask how many agents are using facilities, we get an answer that helps their agenda. They are holding the answers to our future, only problem is they want their agenda pushed infront of what is the best interest of the membership. Tough to proove. Probably no laws were broken, but the integrity of the association has definitely been breeched.

    When they make a monumental change as to close branch offices because of what they say is lack of use, you now have to question that. When they knew in the fall of last year that this is what they were going to do and they do not announce it until December 23, you have to ask why are they being so deceptive. Now this deception when asked for a simple request to review books. That did it for me. When I saw that, I knew what I was dealing with. THEY CONTROL THE INFORMATION, THEY CONTROL US. THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ABOUT.

  • It has been over a day since this story was posted and comments have been made here and on other platforms.

    “Barbara Matthopoulos, the senior director of communications and media relations for CAR, the board opted for a “change in direction” and put Morris in charge early” Chicago Agent reported in it’s first story about Bob Floss’s impeachment.

    https://chicagoagentmagazine.com/zeke-morris-begins-car-presidency-ahead-of-schedule/

    If the Chicago Association of Realtors board of directos decided to put Zeke Morris as President to lead them, why haven’t we heard from him yet?

    Where are you in all this Mr. President?

  • Sam Sam says:

    Andrea and Anthony very well said. I hope the members won’t let this go away.

  • Kudos for this article! If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck , etc. How sad if this is fact; we trust in our Associations to guide and support us.

  • Dave Hanna says:

    Some pointed questions have been asked here, and I also want to see what the association and Zeke Morris have to say.
    I certainly hope there will be answers, data,and more insight into how CAR operates day to day, with volunteer leadership, and finances.
    Now that the discussion has become public, let’s see what CAR offers members in terms of financial information, auditor reports and perhaps some more color on the shortened term of Mr. Floss as President.
    Then we can move the conversation to the next level and there can be a real debate.
    If CAR is the organization it should be, we will get answers and multiple points of view of what it does every day for membership.
    I do think in light of the seriousness of the recent allegations and comments made here, the leadership and staff should be given a chance to present their version of events directly to membership and not through the filter of a reporter. The most active posters here have had that chance to give details and share personal experiences. Andrea has called out the current president of CAR, a personal friend of Bob Floss, to make his own statement.
    It is time for CAR to talk, let’s see if they will.
    Dave Hanna
    Past President, The Chicago Association of Realtors

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    The silence is defening

  • Nancy K says:

    Of all the comments here I feel the comments left by Andrea Geller, Tony LaMonica and Dave Hanna are most important. Bob is stating that he was penalized when asked to see the financials and Andrea’s claim that the looks on the faces of the association’s CEO and CFO speak volumes for me. A better response by them would have been what information exactly would satisfy your inquiry. It is a fact, they work for us.

    I think what each realtor who’s a member (I am as well) need to ask themselves is whether they indivually feel the association is producing products and services to justify the dues. For me, I do not feel that I am advocated for or provided useful tools to run my business (CAR mission). CAR is not the only show in town and I have made a decision to transfer to MORE.

    In addition to the financial inquiry I think it would be a good idea to really know who’s running the organization. What I mean by this is what are their credentials and what makes them qualified to run the associaiton. I heard that the CEO’s husband also teaches at the association, isnt that a conflict of interest in some way. Isn’t my dues paying enough into that household?

    Dave is right, the association needs to respond in a big way. But we as realtors need to take a stand and require more for the money that some of us are working extremely hard to pay.

    I’m so upset and embarrassed by all of this. I have a friend who is a member of another board and she tells me the other boards are laughing at chicago right now. This news has spread across the country, how embarrassing. On another note, I called IDFPR today to make an inquiry about my license and was told that CAR has an aweful reputation there too. Does anyone have anything good to say about this company? Not one post has come to its defense, all the comments are either slamming them or nuetral.

  • Carmen Rodriguez says:

    With thanks to all who have taken some time to respond to this I’ll add one last remark. I hope that Dave’s suggestion is taken and that the Association finds its voice on the issues raised here – greater financial transparency, accessibility and relevance of leadership, and integrity in management.

    The purpose of my insertion into this discourse was to suggest that if more members participated in the process, became aware and involved, some of the distance we feel from our association could be closed. It’s not something any of you who know me would be surprised to hear. If more of us asked questions, showed up to meetings, became informed it would be less of a cloister and more what it is intended to be – a unified organization of professionals moving forward an aggressive, intentional and positive agenda. I certainly will be doing that in my role as a committee vice-chair and in every other way I can.

    There is essential, good work being done and we do benefit from it. We need that to remain the focus and where we have diverted from that we need to regain our footing. We have incredible strength in our numbers, we have powerful resources at our disposal and we can make good things happen for ourselves and our constituents. I hope we take the opportunity this conversation has effected to make that happen.

    The voice for real estate in Chicago is ours.

  • This is a troubling development. We need to have verifiable facts from both sides. There is no reason why our association cannot promptly disclose all relevant financial information & agree to an inndpendent audit. Membership deserves no less. Removal of an acting President in such precipitous manner deserves an explanation. Zeke Morris & Ginger Downs need to issue statements to explain in detail why this situation exists.
    As an active member of CAR for many years, currently serving on the Professional Standards Committee, I believe in the Assoication. However, judging from the many comments, it appears that the perception in the Realtor community is that the Association is not responding to the needs of Realtors. This inspite of many outreach efforts by CAR. This calls for a re-evaluation of the goals & objectives of the Association. Change must come & come quickly if the Association is to remain an advocate for memmembers.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    It is hard for me to believe they did not see this coming. It is hard to believe that they could be so short sighted as not to see the backlash that was going to happen after they or whoever set this impeachment into motion. They could not wait 2 months. Instead the whole association looks foolish. Don’t let anyone fool you. The CEO and the CFO carry alot of weight in this association. Way too much weight in my opinion for two people who never took a listing in Chicago, or had to walk a buyer through the bigest purchase of their life.

  • Dennis Dooley says:

    I want to thank Andrea Geller for her very detailed and specific account of her experiences. I have been aware of her enthusiastic involvement with CAR over the years, and this must be terribly painful for her.

    Thanks as well to Tony LaMonica, and David Hanna for their input as well.

    After 36 years in real estate, I have grown quite cynical about Realtor Associations, having been involved in many of them all across the country. But there seems to be lots of evidence that an outside in depth investigation of CAR’s books and activities is in order. Not an outside audit, but a real investigation.

    $320,000 for an Association CEO?? Only the CEO of the California Association appears to earn more.

    Initiating this investigation should be Zeke Morris’s first order of business. His actions (or lack thereof) will either elevate him as an forthright concerned leader or indict him as a participant.

    So, CAR membership, what should happen next?

  • George Schultz says:

    AMEN. Every member should have gotten this but since this is the selected forum for those that have had so much to say, please read the following from our new President:

    I am proud to be president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.). I am a lifelong resident of the Chicago area and serve as managing broker of Keller Williams Realty C.C.G. in Hyde Park. I have more than 23 years of experience in real estate. Today, my particular passion is working to improve the vibrancy of underserved Chicago neighborhoods via Neighborhood Stabilization and other similar programs.

    I had intended to take office on October 1, 2012. However, the C.A.R. Board of Directors was compelled to make a leadership change at its meeting on July 16, 2012. Since that time there has been a lot of online chatter about the Board’s decision. Much of that discourse has deeply troubled me — not because the Board’s decision was the subject of discussion (I and the Board welcome that), but because so much of what has been said is completely (and often times knowingly, and perhaps actionably) false. Now, it is time for me to set the record straight.
    • The notion that the change in leadership was made in response to Mr. Floss’s requests for financial information is ludicrous and has absolutely no basis in fact — and Mr. Floss knows that.
    • Mr. Floss was not “impeached.” That word does not appear anywhere in the Association’s bylaws. Our bylaws do, however, contain specific prohibitions against harassment and the Association has strict policies mandating appropriate conduct with regard to the interactions that members of our leadership have with both members and staff. It was the undisputed, and in many instances, acknowledged lack of compliance with these standards of conduct, that lead to the Board’s decision.
    • The Board’s deliberations on this decision involved highly sensitive personnel matters and the Board accordingly and appropriately conducted itself in a confidential, sensitive, and respectful manner to all parties involved. It would be entirely inappropriate for the Board or I to publicly disclose the specifics of these sensitive personnel matters. That’s just common sense and we are confident that our members appreciate our respectful handling of this decision.
    • The bylaws provide a specific procedure for the Board to make a leadership change when the Board determines through two separate votes that such a change is in the best interests of the Association. It is on that basis, and on that basis alone, that the Board decided that I should serve out the balance of the current term before commencing my full year as President.
    • The change in leadership at the Association was, of course, a difficult decision. Never before in its 129 year history has such an action been necessary or made. However, it was precisely because of the Board’s fiduciary obligations to its members and to the best interests of the Association, that the Board decided a change was required. The Board determined that the violations of its policies and bylaws and the related liability risks caused by Mr. Floss’s conduct outweighed the natural desire to see Mr. Floss finish his term. Quite frankly, the cause of the leadership change was entirely Mr. Floss. In making this change, the Board was simply adhering to its fiduciary obligations. The Board concluded that it had no other choice.
    • It was not lost on anybody that there were just two more months left on the current term. It was hoped that Mr. Floss would conduct himself in a manner that would allow him to serve out that term. Unfortunately, he did not.
    • In making its leadership change, the Board followed its by-laws. The Board provided notice far in excess of what the By-laws otherwise required. The Board provided an opportunity for a full and fair discussion among all of the Directors and Officers. The Board is confident in its decision and the process that was used to reach that decision.
    It’s the Association’s policy to provide accurate and relevant financial information to its members. The Association’s bylaws are approved by the Board and ratified by the members on an annual basis.

    Tomorrow, you will receive an e-mail with a link to our Members-Only section of ChicagoREALTOR.com, offering you the opportunity to review an unprecedented amount of financial information for the past five years including audited financials with notes, 990 statements and tax returns. Our Association’s financial information will be available for you to review, and we are more than interested in any questions or concerns you may have. Member engagement has always been key to our success. Today is no different. That is my commitment to you.

  • I want to take a moment to thank all the members who posted to this article regarding the change in leadership at C.A.R.

    By now, C.A.R. members have received a personal message from President Zeke Morris with more information about the decision to make the change in leadership. I also encourage those members who would like to review C.A.R.’s financials to go to the Members-Only section of our website tomorrow, where we have posted 5 years of information, including our audited financials with notes, 990 statements and tax returns. We welcome your questions on any aspect of our finances.

    My firm belief is that there are lessons learned and opportunities for forward movement in every event that occurs in our lives. When challenges occur, I always stop and ask myself, how can I contribute in a positive way? How will a change in my own behavior or attitude bring about positive change? On the day the article was released I had to deal with the death of a family member and the placement of another family member with cancer into hospice care. Quite honestly, I turned my attention to those matters – for that was where I need to direct my energy – to being a positive support for my family. It didn’t leave me much time to focus on addressing the issues raised on this forum in a positive way. I also needed some space to gather my thoughts and put aside my emotional upset with what are false allegations related to the finances and operations of our organization.

    I want to acknowledge the many outstandinag volunteers at C.A.R. Every year, 250 – 300 members volunteer their precious time and energy to making this organization one that I am proud to be a part of. The group of committed volunteers changes from year-to-year, but one thing they have in common is a desire to better their industry and their communities. If they didn’t feel that way, they wouldn’t participate. They would be spending time with their families, their place of worship, their other volunteer endeavors and their businesses. I give great credit to volunteers like Carmen Rodriguez, Tony La Monica and Andrea Geller for being involved and making a difference. Things may not always move in the direction these volunteers like, but at least they are engaged. For those C.A.R. members who posted and are not involved, there are many opportunities to do so. We have over 25 committees and work groups that need your expertise. I hope the member that referenced the parking issue joins our government affairs forum. Ms. Sims – Your comments are related to the merger of RANWC and MORe, not C.A.R. You may wish to address your concerns with them.

    There were several posts about my compensation. C.A.R. sets compensation for all staff utilizing an annual benchmark survey report produced by the Association Forum of Chicagoland. This is the primary benchmark tool for non-profit, professional and trade associations in Chicago. All staff, including me, are compensated at rates for associations of comparable budget and staff size within Chicago (combined $10 million dollars and 30 staff).

    I want to acknowledge the staff at C.A.R. My goal is to have the best and brightest staff working on your behalf; professionals who are committed to serving you. For example, did you know that during the last two months of the license law transition, our staff took over 60,000 member phone calls? And that over 9,000 registrants transitioned through C.A.R.’s school? Our staff goal was to help 100% of our members transition and it appears only 375, or so, of C.A.R.’s 11,000+ members didn’t. We are proud of the 97% success rate that was achieved.

    Lessons learned? For me, it is about finding more and better ways to reach out and engage the members in meaningful ways, and to continue to encourage constructive discourse to help our association grow. Possible lessons learned for you? I hope that you get involved with your association, (whichever one you choose to belong to), so that you can affect a positive change. Your input is appreciated and is needed now and in the future. You may contact me directly at: gdowns@chicagorealtor.com

    With deepest respect,

    Ginger Downs, Proud CEO of the Chicago Association of REALTORS

  • After reading the message from Zeke Morris, these are my thoughts:

    The time has come for members to call for a forensic audit.

    I have seen many documents including the the tax returns and annual audit. Being that Ginger Downs is a former auditor, she knows how to make sure everything is in the correct columns. That is only what the annual audit tells us.

    The real truth goes deeper which would include so much more than the annual audit. At his point in time the only way to remove suspicion would be to conduct a forensic audit of all entities of CAR including NIREN which is a for profit corporation. It is time to dig deep.

    To get the real answers what needs to be gone through by a third party is documentation including bank statements and disbursements from all entities. The selection of the auditor should be facilitated by a special committee comprised of members who have not served in any leadership capacity during the time of our current CEO. Maybe outsourcing to another association such IAR would be the answer.

    Over the past days I have received phone calls and messages from members, many of whom I was not familiar with, telling me information about things that even I was not aware of after serving as a board member for several years and on the finance committee for the past two years.

    Regarding Bob Floss’s impeachment: How was due process carried out? Was he given the opportunity to have counsel present? Was he given the opportunity to face and question his accusers? This still is America after all, isn’t it?

    Regarding Ginger Down’s comments: It has been hard to trust her since she misrepresented the truth to me about the fact Mabel Guzman was not licensed during a period of time during her term as President which meant she was not a Realtor. Ms Guzman conducted member meetings where votes where taken. As CEO, it should have staff’s duty to make the officers who where active Realtor members aware of the situation and action should have been taken. I came to realize over the years a pattern with the current CEO. She only seems to want to follow the bylaws when it appears to work to her advantage. Why were they not followed here.

    Regarding the top salaries which the members will see disclosed on the tax forms: Can the most current salary guidelines be provided so the members can see the justification for an association of CAR’s size. It would be that of the CEO and CFO.

    At some point it all needs to come out.

  • Raffaella says:

    As a member I came to this site after receiving the email announcement from the current President. My first response was disbelief. As realtors we are held at certain ethical standards and I assumed that that was true for ALL members. The disbelief was replaced by “why should CAR be different from any other business”? Yet these are the people that are supposed to act in our best interest. The salary of the CEO is ridiculous. Not in these times and I cannot imagine justifying it to the members. No matter the “equation” used to come up with that number. I applaud those that have come forward but as Andrea said, we will not know the “real” truth unless a forensic audit is performed. What will it take to make that happen? That’s the only way to remove any doubt from this situation. I’m sure there’s a considerable cost, however, small price to pay to regain the confidence and TRUST of the members. But I know what the response will be … “we cannot give in to such requests simply to satisfy a few”. Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one to have googled the topic this afternoon. A few will (or has already) become many. Again – small price to pay for our confidence and trust. Do the right thing.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    Andrea I could not agree more. Me looking at the financials, or even Bob Floss looking at the financials, is like me comparing my notes on physics with Einstein. I really do not have a clue what I am looking at. I will bet most members are in the same boat. We need an outside party doing a forensic audit. If this was really a sincere gesture, that is what should have been said.

    This in no way is anything against Zeke. Zeke is a true professional who just happened to be sitting where he was sitting when this thing blew up.

    My condolances to Ginger for what her family is going through.

    Again I really do not believe any laws were broken, but deception runs wild at CAR in my opinion. US NOT KNOWING WHERE MONEY IS GOING AND VITAL SERVICES ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM MEMBERSHIP IS THE REAL ISSUE HERE. Membership is going to also take a hit here because of this.

    Bottom line is we are not getting the best for our money. We have 1/2 million dollars per year going to two salaries, in this day and time is ridiculous. Is everyone’s salary tied to the same formula?

    It looks to me like those riduculous salaries are being protected no matter what services we will be deprived of.

  • Word Games says:

    A rose by any other name is still a rose.

    The word “impeached” doesn’t appear in the bylaws? If you elect a President and later in the term hold an election to forcibly remove him, isn’t that by definition an impeachment?

    I don’t get the need to play word games.

    I don’t know much about politics, but I know the real world. In the real world, when you get into a fight and can’t give a straight answer about what happened, it’s because you know you’re wrong. We got a political, round about response from the association.

    I don’t need to see your bylaws. I know right and wrong. The association is supposed to be for us. I work hard, I pay my dues, I open my email and see pictures of cocktail parties, cubs games, sox games, golf outings, wasn’t there a trip to Germany or Poland? I’m sure that was totally necessary.

    Do yourselves a favor and don’t insult my intelligence tomorrow. Do we get a line item for the yearly martini quota? How about all the steak dinners when you go to the conventions that the rest of us are too busy working to attend?

    Is there a section of your bylaws that deals with the impeachment of the board of directors and CEO so the association can elect new leaders they can trust? Oh wait, there isn’t a section for impeachment.

  • G.Perez says:

    “Word Games”, you literally took the “words” out of my mouth, can we clear the air, get an independent forensic audit done hired directly by members, inquiring minds want to know where our money we work so hard is going to. I recently was shocked and appalled I need to pay $500 “filing fee” to take my former Broker to arbitration; $500 to make this unethical individual pay me my well deserved compensation, $500 big ones, who does that..oh yeah, CAR does!!

    And quite frankly I’m shocked about learning our former Broker, Mabel Guzman, wasn’t licensed during CAR meetings while on the board; ironic since my ex Broker doesn’t want to pay me for one day my license expired!! ONE DAY!!

    I just pray all works out for all members; we need to take charge, we’re large in numbers, we have the right to elected our own trusted colleagues!

  • The real issue here is this – is there fraud being committed at CAR?

    The rest is of less importance.

    Why is it that the former President of CAR’s term was cut short because of a harrassment claim, and management of CAR is now releasing general financials to membership after he gives an interview?

    How do we ensure that there is a full forensic audit of the books?

    I am willing to contribute money to fund this if necessary, as I am sure others would be as well.

    Eric Renkens
    Proud CEO of Generation Rent LLC
    Proud Paying Member of CAR

  • Raffaella says:

    It’s up to us to make sure this doesn’t get swept under the rug. It’s up to us to make sure that it’s not just today’s topic.

    Madam CEO what will it take for you to authorize a forensic audit?

  • I am sure there is a lot going on behind the scenes and at this point all we can do is piece together various stories and make assumptions. Therefore, I agree with the forensic audit idea – at least then we can lay out the FACTS, and as Eric said, I would also be happy to contribute to this somehow. If CAR has nothing to hide, there’s no reason for them to fight having an third party auditor hired by a selection committee that is not a current member of CAR leadership.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    We have 1/2 million to pay two salaries. We have enough for a forensic audit without making members did into their pockets.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    I mean dig

  • Eileen Romito says:

    Anthony- I think that’s exactly the problem. The half a million is paying two salaries. Not being spent where it’s needed.

  • Dave Hanna says:

    I, for one, am not supportive of $30,000 to $50,000 of member dues spent on a forensic audit, for each year of CAR’s financials. CAR already pays a sizable sum every year to an independent third party CPA firm to audit the books of all entities, all checks, all payments, all collection, processing and expenditure of dues dollars.
    The staff, CEO, CFO or anyone else in the employ of CAR does not have the authority to approve or oppose a forensic audit, I think only the Board of Directors can make this happen.

    It is going to take more than a few random posts on article in Chicago Agent to move them. There are 10,000 members of CAR, and I’d expect they will want a bit more of a consensus on members asking for another layer of auditing before they spend what could be plus six figures of funds.

    Andrea and Bob were on both the finance and audit committees at CAR in the past few years. So were some 20 plus other members. No one, including Bob and Andrea ever, to my knowledge, publicly said anything about problems with CAR financials they discovered.
    Bob was treasurer for a year, and along with those before and after him had full access to the people and the process. I have a hard time understanding why years have gone by and only now do they go public with their concerns. It would be easier to understand and support some of this if the issue was not clouded by what seems to be other personal conflicts.
    I also ask, what can be the value in rehashing the end of Bob Floss’ presidency? The statement by Zeke Morris makes it clear there was little choice for the board, and I for one would rather see this happen, as unfortunate as it was, than see membership dollars go out the door by the millions to settle employment harassment suits. If Bob was wrongly dismissed, he has many avenues of personal recourse, and we should all respect the privacy issues involved here and let him make his own choices about how to handle this.
    Downs’ salary has been public knowledge in every annual 990 form filed by CAR for public view. In my time of being active on the board, she declined five figure payments contractually due to her in three consecutive years so the employees could have cost of living raises and jobs could be preserved. Let me repeat that: she gave up salary and bonus dollars due per her contract and performance reviews so people could keep their jobs and all could get cost of living adjustments to their pay. She is recognized nationally as one of the best Association Executives in the country, and some of the comments here, however well intended for making a point, are over the line with the aspersions they cast on her personal character. CAR members are very fortunate to have had her in charge over the last few years.
    Her job description does not include a caveat that everyone like her, or agree with her. Her post speaks volume about who she is and what she brings to CAR.

    There were calls for all CARs financial information, transparency about process and explanations for decisions. CAR has delivered this.
    Lets see if we can stick to facts and stay away from personal attacks if there is going to be any more discussion coming out of these events.

    You cannot first cry out there is only secrecy, and then complain you are unqualified to understand the information you just demanded be made public if you want to be seen as credible. Otherwise, you are saying you can’t really discuss those issues you said are tied to the lack of information, because how do you know it is erroneous?

    You can continue to be displeased about the outcome of an action by CAR staff and your Board of Directors, but you cannot blame a process that was meticulously followed and reviewed by the legal counsel your dues dollars paid for every step of the way. The by-laws, the policies about interaction between staff and volunteer leadership and the consequences of failing to follow those were always there for everyone to see.

    The door is open at CAR for members who want to make a difference, but you have to engage to change things, and just complaining over differences of opinion is not engaging. People who are as passionate about things as many of the posters here are certainly have to know not every decision, policy or outcome is going to be to their liking.

    I commend Zeke Morris for defending the organization he represents and lending his own character to the decision of the board. Bob Floss was, and I hope still is, his friend. It could not have been easy to write the words he did, but anyone who knows him also knows Zeke is about truth and fairness and he will put those above all else.

  • Jessie Hinton says:

    I don’t generally read every Chicago Agent Magazine e-mail but tonight I decided to do so and am I glad. Would you believe just today I called for the South office to go and pick up leases and was told it closed about 2 months ago. I heard rumors over 6- 9 months ago that it was going to close but I thought something would be done to keep it open. I have met Andrea and Bob Floss like and admire both of them. I also know Zeke. Knowing how politics work, Zeke is between a rock and a hard place (my personal opinion). However, I am having a hard time (if this information is correct) digesting the salaries for just two individuals as a half million dollars. This information is disheartening to say the least as I completed the requirements to become a Managing Broker and will have to (before April 2013 I believe) take more classes as well. I find this time frame and cost totally unnecessary and highway robbery. These classes will easily add up to approximately $400.00. Why are our dues/membership fees/classes “so” high. Zeke, I understand your statement when you say you want to continue with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program(NSP)and others. But, have you investigated or stopped to think there may be a better way? Hopefully, you will recall I was very vocal about this program in one of the Government Affairs meetings or perhaps it was in one of the Property Management meeting. I still believe there are better ways to put houses back in service other than the NSP. Just like the President and Congress, things have been done the same way for so long, there is no room for “a new way of thinking”. If nothing else is the result of this “embarrassing mess” I hope the results are lower dues/fees and classes.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    Dave, you are a well respected member of this board and your words are always enlightening. 30,000 to 60,000k is a bargain in my opinion for peace of mind in knowing everything is on the up and up. More than one person close to the finance commitee has raised questions on the day to day financials. To be paying 1/2 million to two people is just way out of line. This is not a personal attack on Ginger Downs, or Warren Frank. There is no doubt in my mind that if they were in our shoes, they would be demanding the same thing.

    Way too many red flags are popping up. I will give you another one. Every single board in our area knows exactly how many members they have, and how much their dues will be for 2013. I suppose they are going to wait until December 23 to let us know what our dues will be, just like they did when they closed the North, South and Cicero offices. Dave, you want to talk about credibility. This kind of stuff takes all credibility off the table. I for one have no trust in Ginger and Warren.

    Talking about this on this site is probably not the best way to get opinions, but they are neutral. I personally have been stifled when I wanted opinion from the membership. We ask our members about everything from how clean are our bathrooms. How did our staff treat you. Were the classrooms clean. How did you like the ceremony at the Hilton. But the real opinions that should be discussed like how much should we be paying our staff. That never comes up. Or should we close our branch offices…..that never is asked either. I guess they feel they are more qualified to make those decisions. All those questions fall in the catagory of too confidential for the general membership to know.

  • Chris says:

    Zeke Morris, C.A.R. President wrote, – quote: [Now, it is time for me to set the record straight. Mr. Floss was not “impeached.” That word does not appear anywhere in the Association’s bylaws. However, the C.A.R. Board of Directors was compelled to make a leadership change at its meeting on July 16, 2012. It would be entirely inappropriate for the Board or I to publicly disclose the specifics of these sensitive personnel matters.]

  • I have been engaged in the association for over a decade. There always seemed to be somebody getting “kicked to the curb” with one justification or another. It was not until I sat on the finance committee I realized where most of the issues stem from. It’s all in the money.

    I truly believe that the only solution for CAR and its members at this point is to have a third party come and get the broom out.

    If the questions would have been completely and truthfully answered within the finance committee we would not be here now. I realized a few months back that was never going to happen. The system at CAR is broken. The board is never going to vote for a forensic audit because the first concern for some, but not all, is to protect themselves.

    Based on what I am aware of as well as additional information that has been coming to me over the last days, there must be a way for the members to call for a forensic audit which would include all the years under the current CEO including those that Dave Hanna served as treasurer and president.

  • Raffaella says:

    The annual audit – of any company – is only as good as the information that’s entered.

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    We may never know how many members we lose because of this. We may never know how many people were thinking of coming here, and did not because of this event.

  • Bob Floss II says:

    Mr. Hanna, since your not currently on the Board of Directors, I’m wondering how you have knowledge of alleged employment harassment suits? I have made half a dozen requests from Ginger Downs and the Boards legal counsel to review these reports, and I have been told every time that it is confidential and only the Board may review it.

    How exactly do you have knowledge of this “disclosed” information?

  • Dave Hanna says:

    Hi Bob II-

    Zeke’s Morris’ statement is my source. He says harassment, members and staff in the same sentence. Anyone who has navigated the Business world in the USA with more than a few employees knows an alleged case or pattern of harassment can be a quick path to the EEOC and potential lawsuits with the US government lined up on the plaintiff’s side of the table
    I don’t know particulars and I have never asked anyone to share the confidential details of that meeting.
    I can’t speak to the lack of communication between you and CAR legal counsel, but I personally think Bob’s formal legal representation should and can have access to this if appropriate steps are taken.
    As an attorney, you know this is a sensitive matter and CAR has to act to protect it both itself and your Dad.
    You also know you can certainly get information if you want to pursue this on the legal front, and I would expect any company to be responding the way CAR has.

    if there are real, substantial and provable abuses of your father’s rights as a member, or any financial irregularities, let’s get that out in the open and have the board of directors start the process to remedy them.
    Right now all we have are good intentions leading to whispers, innuendo and no facts. I think the vast majority of the membership needs to see and hear more than that to warrant the kind of extreme and expensive actions being discussed here. That is what the Board of Directors needs to look at, not me.
    I have already spent more time listening and commenting on all of this than I ever expected I would, and will be moving on until there is something concrete to engage in with this discussion.
    CAR has excellent leadership, great staff and they have had to make tough decisions that could not leave everyone pleased with the results.
    I am off to sell a house.

  • Bob Floss II says:

    Mr. Hanna,

    You stated in your previous post the Board should avoid millions of dollars of settlements for employment harassment suits. That was a strong conclusion to make for someone with no personal knowledge other than Zeke’s statement. Your gross exaggeration was meant to seriously defame the character of my father and draw a conclusion that he had done something horrible that would merit that type of settlement.

    In your second post you reference the EEOC and US Government. For someone that doesn’t want to be involved in the discussion and says he has no knowledge of the facts, your drawing some pretty big conclusions.

  • Dave Hanna says:

    Bob, yes, it was a strong statement and while I was trying to make a point, I agree I should have used different language. My past experience I the world of big business has left me jaded about these kinds of suits, and as a wise lawyer once told me, it can be very expensive to be right in court.
    My comment has more to do with the threat of a suit, and the costs related to defending it. I have no opinion on the culpability of your Dad since I never saw or heard any of the documentation behind the decision or conversations with your Dad referred to by Zeke.
    Neither of us knows what the extent or validity of the issues behind your faher’s departure from the board are, for as you note, you have never been given this confidential information. But, the members of the board of directors heard and saw what was alleged, and acted with the benefit of legal counsel in a way they felt was in the best interest of membership.
    I am comfortable with knowing they did what they thought was the right thing to do, and I am certain they were aware there could and would be discussion about their actions, but that did not deter them from ending Bob’s term early, something never done before at CAR in over 125 years of existence.
    I assure I am not alone in wishing things had happened differently, but I also trust every effort was made to ensure it was a fair process and Bob can pursue legal recourse if he wants it re-visited.

  • Bob Floss II says:

    Did I miss the email that was supposed to contain a link to all the financial information today?

  • Raffaella says:

    the email was not sent but the info is on the website.

  • I just looked at all the financial documents listed on the Chicago Association of REALTORS website. It is all material I have already gone through. The only thing that the documentation is showing is that everything is in the correct columns.

    The only way to get to the bottom of this is for a forensic audit. I just saw the message from the chair of audit. Although I have respect for Sarah Coulter as a REALTOR, she is not an accountant or auditor. The audit committee has good intentions but they don’t have the qualifications of forensic auditors.

    I have gone through the whistle blower policy and have others read it as well. It does not provide for checks and balances needed in this situation. It runs too deep. There is no way this can any longer be handled internally with trust.

  • I was with CAR over 20 years and after 2 years on the Board of Directors and 4 years prior on several committees and Professional Standards, I was very disappointed to hear this very sad story. It all stinks of a bad situation. Bob Floss has always been a straight shooter, and he tells it like it is, and right now we have 2 sides giving their stories. I agree Andrea and lets not forget there has to be alot more oversight into all finances especially due to the recent way that the CAR Board has handled this complete debacle. Is anyone looking further into how the Board was able to impeach Bob Floss so quickly and are there any checks and balances there to make sure they did it properly and with due Process and cause? Stories of back room deals and Shadow Companies on financial statements seem to really call for an outside entity to do a Financial Audit. Can the membership demand such an audit? Here are questions to ponder? What is the Financial State of CAR? Is there any oversight into all financial issues? what are the salaries of all employees, especially Executives, and has the Board done everything in its power to oversee and monitor everything that is and has happened at CAR. The Members all need to know whats really happening? CAR would serve its Members well and the Public by getting to the Truth.

  • G. Veal says:

    I have taken many classes with Bob Floss over the years and have always thought he is definitely a fair and honest person. Despite what is going on at our association, my initial thoughts remain. Bob Floss II just know that your Dad made a great impact on my life as well as many others I am sure. It is unfortunate that his term had to end this way. Remember, we can not control what others may do to us, or how they treat us but at all times we must remember our response is our responsibility. My prayers are with your family for healing and restoration in this situation.

  • George Schultz says:

    I have read all these posts with great sadness and disappointment. I hear Bob’s side of this in his defending his reputation for being told to step down as president.
    I hear Andrea claiming that there are thieves cooking the books.
    I am hearing a CAR say that Bob was dismissed for other reasons.
    As a former Board member and future Board member, I am left with many questions.
    If Bob’s questioning the finances was why he got dismissed, then what were the questions? Please be specific.
    If Andrea knows specifically what she is accusing people of, please say what it is specifically.
    If Bob was told why he was asked to step down, what was it specifically?
    I am tired of people complaining by throwing accusations out there without proof or any specificity.
    The CAR staff is paid what they are worth. Try to get someone as qualified and the salary would not differ.
    Someone mentioned that the California CEO was the only one they saw who was paid more. Well how many associations across the country are larger than ours?
    Throwing accusations around in the forum is easy but substantiating them seems to be non existent.
    I am hearing a lot of emotional people that are not happy. I am sure the board will discuss an expensive audit that does not seem to make sense but if membership wants it discussed, then It should be. If it ends up being something that happens, membership should also weigh the cost. And if it does happen, and nothing is found, should those in question receive a raise as an apology?
    If you are not happy, get involved. Join a committee. Run for leadership. I am just in awe of the way people are talking here in such hurtful ways. I feel bad for Bob. I have no idea other than what has been said in the forum but I am surprised by the offense being used in his defense. If there is more to it, then tell us.
    Some of the people here served on the board and gave a lot of time. They were given access to the finances and actually instructed how to understand them. If they did not understand them, more should have been said years ago. Why is now the time?
    I could make something up here or throw some accusation but that is what I am asking you all to stop doing.
    Look at the documents that have been posted. Then have an opinion. Don’t just pile on.
    We can’t just believe someone who says you should have seen their faces. Maybe they had spicy food for lunch. We were not there. Everybody take a breath. I know a lot these people posting personally and professionally and you are all nice people. Please remember that and voice your concerns in the appropriate manner. And, yes, I am saying that in my opinion many of these comments are not appropriate or fair.

  • Chris says:

    “If you are not happy, get involved. Join a committee. Run for leadership.”

    Really? That’s what Bob Floss tried to do and we know what happened.

  • John Vranas says:

    The Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the organization to uphold the Bylaws and Policies of that organization. It is a rare and unprecedented step for the Board to remove an officer they previously elected.

    The Directors of our Board represent the best and the brightest members of CAR and it would be foolish to suggest that they took this step without an adequate opportunity for Mr Floss to respond to the allegations against him. Mr Floss is a bright and articulate individual and can properly defend himself. There is no credible basis to suggest that this action was instigated or supported by the CEO or staff of CAR.

    The claim that the Bylaws have been quietly manipulated over the years by the CEO is simply untrue. Every change passed the scrutiny of the Bylaws Committee, the Board of Directors and is voted by the members.

    As to the claim that the members have no say as to the election of the members of the Board; it is simply untrue. Yes, there is a slate of Directors that is advanced by the Nominating Committee; whose members are appointed by the President. However, if a member does not agree with that selection, the Bylaws provide for the ability to contest the election and promote alternative candidates.

    There have been a number of inferences and accusations of financial mismanagement by our CEO. The fact is that Ginger Downs was the one that reintroduced the Finance Committee that had been previously disbanded.

    It was Ginger Downs that supported the recommendation of CAR’s auditors to set up an independent Audit Committee in 2006 composed of CAR members appointed by the CAR President. That Committee made an in-depth development of the Financial Policies as well as the Conflict of Interest and Whistle-blower Policies. Andrea Geller was an effective member of that committee. The Audit Committee (not staff) annually hires the auditor, does a face to face review of the audit and the Form 990 with the auditing team. That information is available for every member of this association to view and scrutinize. The audit is conducted by a licensed independent firm consistent with accepted standards. There is no indication that a forensic audit is called for.

    For Mr Floss to stand up and state that “I got pushed out the door because I asked to see all the finances.” is laughable at best. He had access to all the financial data of the Association over a number of years as a member of the Board, as the Treasurer of the Board and as a member and Chairman of the Finance Committee. If he saw something that was out of order then he had a responsibility to raise the issue with the Finance and Audit Committees. He did not. The Board exercised its right to elect him to the office of President. The Board simply exercised its right to remove him from that office.

    There are some decisions that the Board has taken over the years that I did not agree with. However, the Directors have been placed in the position of responsibility to make those decisions in the interest of the entire organization.

    I urge each and every member of this association that does not agree with the decisions of the Board to become involved. Stop sitting on the sidelines rattling your sabers and wagging your tongues.

    John Vranas
    CAR Past President

  • I met John Vranas in 2000 when I joined the Government Affairs Committee at the Chicago Association of Realtors. Public policy is a passion for both of us. I have come to learn so much from John over the years and have the upmost respect for him. He has served our industry tirelessly at the state, local and national levels of the association and has been a model for me of how to participate in the communities we live in and serve as Realtors.

    With more recent service to the board as both a director and member of the finance committee than John , I fail to see a board acting with integrity and fiduciary responsibility to the organization. I am not insinuating all the board members are acting in bad faith. There are some very good people who volunteer their time and probably did not think they were signing up for this mess. They signed up as I did to work on behalf of our members and the clients we serve.

    The problem with many volunteer leaders is they are in and out depend on the information by paid staff. This is where the issues are.

    Third party options are the only answer which could be third party forensic audit or the results of an investigation by the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

  • For the record, the Inman News story cited in this article was published June 30, 2011. The original story (see link below) is behind a firewall for Inman News subscribers.

    http://www.inman.com/news/2011/06/30/chicago-association-realtors-cuts-dues

    The link Chicago Agent Magazine provides to the story above is to a newsletter that Inman News produces for Lowe’s. The date on the newsletter auto populates and is incorrect.

    Also, all references to “Realtors” in the Lowe’s newsletter are automatically changed to “REALTORS®.” So the links to the Chicago Association of Realtors’ non-profit tax filings cited in the article are broken.

    The correct links are below:

    http://cache.inman.com/files/stories/Chicago_Association_of_Realtors_2010_990.pdf

    http://cache.inman.com/files/stories/Chicago_Association_of_Realtors_2009_990.pdf

    http://cache.inman.com/files/stories/Chicago_Association_of_Realtors_2008_990.pdf

    Matt Carter
    Managing editor
    Inman News

  • G.Perez says:

    Good morning all,

    First and foremost, I would like to apologize for my unprofessional outburst of my previous post. I was lashing out taking into account my own personal current situation,without fully understanding the facts and true process of an arbitration.

    Secondly I would like to thank CAR’s Amanda Withrow, Director of Member Care and Professional Standards,who took her time to call and fully explain the arbitration process I currently filed for, this goes to show how ignorance can twist the actual facts. Unfortunately I based my opinions from someone else’s intrepretation without taking the time to fully understand the processing fee.

    I just hope and pray our CAR committee board, staff and active members can all come to an agreement and truce on our unfortunate chain of events. I’ve never had a problem with CAR, the staff has always been there for me in regards to classes, dues etc. I will become more involved from now on; I refuse to be ignorant of all the facts and at the end of all this, the truth will come out. We’re all here to help each other, not harm, yes we’re all colleagues but also as proud members of CAR and “familia.”

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    John and Dave, your opinions are well respected.

    Dave your defense of Ginger is admirable. In my opinion Ginger is totally qualified for this position. I have never questioned her experience or ability. As our membership goes down, the battle to balance our income to expenses is going to be more and more difficult to achieve.

    The spending habits of this association needs to be adjusted. It starts at the top. Is it possible that the CEO position is overqualified for the job, and that we could have someone in that position for 1/2 of what we are spending. Dave, you mentioned cost of living increases in salary for staff. I hope you mispoke when you said that. I really have not heard of a cost of living increase from an association such as ours.

    Truth is that most of our agents have no idea of how much careless spending is going on at their expense. As just a casual observer over the last couple of years, I have noticed this and it sickens me to see. This is why I have been so upset at the closing of the branch offices. Having board meetings at the Union League Club, and at private clubs in Sears Tower and so on, is rediculous. This is just what I have noticed without even looking for irregularities. Having board members companies doing construction work for the board without other bids is another thing I have seen without really looking for it. This is how things are done by our politicians in this state. I guess it is contagious. I would be reluctant to have a forensic audit also if all these friends of the program names started coming out as benifiting from CAR’s general fund.

    Everything that is done is very calculating to their benefit. Everything was all peachy, peachy until we started loosing membership and the over the top salaries downtown are threatened. This is the real issue. They are going to try to send this into a different direction, and I must say Dave and John are really smooth in their defense of their salaries.

    I will probably get spanked again by leadership, but this has to be known. And yes it is a shame we have to do this over the internet, but they leave us very few options to air our issues. I think if you look at history you will see that before the merger with the Northwest board, this board was hurting financially. These spending habits are going to put us in bad shape if something is not done.

    I basically sent emails to board members last year expressing some of these very same issues. That resulted in Ginger and Bob coming to Westtowns and removing me from being chairman without care or reguard for my opinions. I got removed for expressing my displeasure with them, and they spun that. After that, absolutely nothng surprises me when it comes to their actions.

  • David J Piche says:

    Why is not complete financial disclosure required to members? This our association, not theirs!

  • Andrea Geller says:

    After attending my last finance committee meeting as a member last week, I realize that is going to be business as usual as the Chicago Association of Realtors. The staff and leadership involved will continue to cover up for each other and have the lead the rest of the board of directors to go along with it. Unless there are changes at the top it will be business as usual as they hide behind the bylaws.

    The financials posted for the members only prove that the know how to get everything in the correct columns. It will take a forensic audit to uncover the truth of inappropriate spending of our dues money by a few staff members and leadership. A third party auditor needs to go through every bank statement, disbursement and receipt throughout every entity of CAR. Everything needs to be looked at which includes but not limited to every cent gone through the petty cash, events, travel and membership invoicing. Exactly how many members do we have?

    The association continues to reward bad behavior. I could not believe it when I saw they are awarding a past president who represented her self as a REALTOR and President of the association when she wasn’t even licensed with Realtor of the year. How can you reward someone who does not even abide by the Code of Ethics, the cornerstone of being a Realtor, or the license law. When Bob Floss wanted to open up the full financials she was vehemently against it. When I was asking the questions, she was trying to get me to stop. What is she worried about that will be discovered?

    https://chicagoagentmagazine.com/event/chicago-association-of-realtors-inaugural-gala-the-night-for-real-estate-in-chicago/

    So you give the association’s top award to someone with questionable actions, but impeach a president who is just looking out for the best interest of the members? What is up with the board of directors?

    Just a few more observations after being involved in the association for over a decade:
    – I noticed that the inaugural was “sold out”. EIther controversy has a way of filling up the room or the size of the room has been cut.
    – The head of communications no longer seems to be communicating.
    – There is no mention of a Past President on the ballot of officers for 2013. Will our board just have one less member or are they filling that seat in another way?

    http://chicagorealtor.com/associations/6001/files/2012%20-%202013%20BOD%20Ballot.pdf

    The Chicago Association of Realtors is going to need a higher power to come in and clean this mess up. Being a local charter I only hope that NAR is somehow working in the background on behalf of its members.

  • DON says:

    Refer this matter to Lisa Madigan’s office

  • Anthony LaMonica says:

    I would be suprised if any laws were broken, but accountability as to where and how our dollars are being spent is the issue. Way too much is being spent on executive staff, and downtown facilities. Our needs as members is the last thing they think of.

    WHEN MEMBERS REALIZE THEY CAN GET THE SAME SERVICE CHEAPER ELSEWHERE. OUR MEMBERSHIP WILL GO DOWN AND DUES WILL GO UP. THIS IS WHEN PEOPLE WILL GET MORE INVOLVED.

  • Allegra says:

    I just read that the Board is suing Andrea Geller for $50,000. That’s the “smoking gun” indictment against themselves showing that they are consistent in their pattern of behavior of shutting down dissenters. There is no confidence in a leader that supports that.
    I hope that Coldwell Banker’s leadership will see that standing behind Andrea will be standing behind their hundreds of realtors and all of Chicago’s realtor community. We need powerful office owners to step up to the plate and take care of this mess fast to provide stability in the eyes of the public. The Board is incapable of doing anything except suing a dissenter. Just pathetic.

  • joe says:

    What exactly is the qualifications for being the CEO of an association.
    what experience could Ginger Downs possibly have that would be worth $327,000 per year. What is she doing that a $100,000 salary couldnt accomplish.

    This whole thing is absolutely ridiculous the entire leadership needs to go and now. All the realtors need to get a spine and start a petition to remove the leadership. Otherwise the best way to defeat them is to simply start a new association.

    Certainly there is some top notch talent out there who could get this organized. Then simply let CAR bleed to death…

    End of problem.

  • “C.A.R. Sues Andrea Geller for Defamation, Seeks Thousands Worth of Damages” – WOW was I shocked when I saw this email in my inbox today!!

    I can’t believe CAR would sue Andrea for expressing legitimate concerns about the financial situation of OUR association. Unbelievable.

    Reading back through her comments it seems like she generally cited concerns for how things are being handled and then pressed for further investigation, but didn’t specifically accuse anyone of anything. I would be very interested to see the language of this lawsuit; it seems to be more of a “threat” from C.A.R. to the rest of us than anything.

  • I think CAR has an interesting legal strategy: sue Ms. Geller for stating her opinion that certain individuals stonewalled her recommendation that there should be a forensic audit. Now, through the discovery process, she can get all the documents that CAR wouldn’t turn over, such as a copy of every check written. If CAR was hiding something, it’s going to come out now.

  • Cid Young says:

    I am unfortunately NOT appalled at this behavior of the EO at the Chicago Association of REALTORS.

    I am in California and we have a similar bad Executive Officer here too, who seem to have control over the lackeys that sit on the SAMCAR board. They also suddenly stated that Board meetings were no longer open to members, and then they tweaked the By-laws to be able to remove Directors mid-term. One Employee, the excellent G.A.D. was put on paid leave, allowed to return to work then terminated, and has two combined lawsuits in the court now. One suit is for hostile work environment and the other for wrongful termination.

    I hope they get their butts kicked for treating her that way. They no longer respect the members, but many have choices and can join nearby boards such as the Silicon Valley Association or the revered San Francisco Association.

    Chicago Agents should consider voting with your wallets and your feet!

  • Another AE says:

    Ginger Downs is one of the best AE’s in the country and I’m sure the members she has served in other areas will attest to that fact. The fact that the posts that relect that this is her fault shows how unsubstantiated rumors can multiply and cause harm.

    Ginger can only comply with what the Board of Directors directs her to do. She cares about her staff AND her members. Unfortunately, there are members who could care less about the harm they cause by the rumor mill. Financial Statements are always available to the members, if they care to look for them. Take the time to find out both sides before you judge!

  • Chiotwn REALTOR says:

    Wow, another AE speaking up and defending an AE…
    I heard a past president say yrs ago…
    “When I come back after I die, I am going to come back as an AE, because they are accountable to no one!!!”

  • Richard Holland says:

    I had the pleasure to taking my managing broker class with Bob Floss and have worked with his son. I know of his work and how he does business and applaud him for asking the tough questions. He does not suffer fools and is a great example of someone with the smarts and drive to lead. CAR and the business need more like him.

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