6-Apr-18 With less than two weeks before the new law takes effect, a lawsuit will challenge the constitutionality of an ordinance aimed at protecting the privacy of condominium unit owners.
Shorge Sato has filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, asking a judge to void the ordinance, passed on March 28, that makes names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and weighted vote of each owner exempt from records a condo association must make available to an owner within ten business days of a written request.
Sato is a lawyer, unit owner, and secretary on his buildings condo board. He says the ordinance restricts owners from learning who is voting in condo board elections and what the actual results are, beyond what the condo board shares with owners.
He says the ordinance would prevent owners from knowing if they are being misled about a board election. Incumbent directors, he says, could freely discard ballots, manufacture proxies, stuff ballot boxes, manipulate election results, and declare victors and losers without any meaningful ability to contest or challenge.
Without knowing weighted votes of each owner, indicating relative influence on board elections, owners, says the lawsuit, would be unable to determine if elections are honest. The ordinance would then make it difficult for owners to organize opposition to their condo board.
||In the name of privacy, the [ordinance] would restrict the ability of condominium owners to hear any dissenting voices to the party line of the condo board, says Sato (left) in his lawsuit, filed on March 30.
Condominiums creatures of state law
Sato argues there is a conflict between a city ordinance that reverses state law and condominiums that cannot exist apart from state law.
Condominiums are creatures of state law, says the lawsuit. The City of Chicago has no right to tamper with the very definition of what a condominium is, and how it is to be governed, especially on issues of fundamental importance such as the rights of condo board outsiders to disseminate information, to associate with fellow unit owners, to campaign for election and/or to vote in free and equal elections.
He says the ordinance puts him, as a condo board secretary, in a legal bind because if a unit owner requests a unit owner list, election ballots, or proxies, I have conflicting legal obligations and duties under state law disclose and Chicago ordinance do not disclose.
The ordinance, says the lawsuit, infringes on the constitutional right of unit owners to due process of law specifically, that the city cannot enact an ordinance that disenfranchises condo unit owners and denies them the right to campaign and vote in free and equal elections.