Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monday's Times and the Rest of the Story

Monday's St. Petersburg Times will carry an editorial critical of a Campaign Piece mailed to absentee voters in Pinellas County.

Here is a preview.

Specifically, the editorial takes issue with a comparison made between me and my opponent.

The part of the mail piece referenced is reproduced above. It is a simple comparison with no conclusions; merely statements of fact. Frank Gregoire has been a licensed real estate broker for over 30 years and a Certified Appraiser since 1989.

Here is "The Rest of the Story"

The author of the editorial questioned me about this on Friday, July 25, 2008. In response, the following email was sent, explaining the reasoning.

I believe you called me earlier today with questions about the mail piece sent to absentee voters.

Here is some information to illustrate the difference between appraiser State-Certification and a Designation awarded by a state agency or professional association. The Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board, within the Department of Business and
Professional Regulation, licenses and certifies appraisers. The standards for certification are outlined in Florida Law and Rules of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board (FREAB).

Florida law and rules of the FREAB must, as a minimum, meet the criteria established by the Appraiser Qualifications Board of the Appraisal Foundation. The Appraisal Foundation is the organization authorized by the US Congress as the source of Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Qualifications.

Unlike a designation, state-certification requires completion of an approved national examination or equivalent. Also required is a period of training under the supervision of a State-Certified Appraiser. Both state-certification and designations require a course of instruction. Another important difference is required compliance with statutes and appraisal standards; the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Violation of the law, rules of the FREAB or of the USPAP Standards may result in significant penalties. No comparable penalties are imposed on a designee by the designating organization.

It should be noted that the professional association for mass appraisers, the International Association of Assessing Officers, is a sponsoring organization of the Appraisal Foundation.

Additionally, there are specific standards in the USPAP for mass appraisal development and reporting; Standard 6.

This comparison was made, in part, due to an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times and my letter to the editor sent in response.

State-Certification imposes ethical and legal requirements upon the individual to promote public trust. That is part of the distinction I attempted to illustrate.

----- A Times Editorial

No more Jim Smith episodes, please
In print: Saturday, April 12, 2008
My Letter: April 12, 2008
RE: No More Jim Smith episodes, please

April 12, 2008

St. Petersburg Times Editor:

The conflict of interest described in the editorial and the need for a legislative solution made obvious by the bills introduced by Rep. Hooper (CS/HB 127) and Sen.
Fasano (SB 512), shines a light on the problem of non-certified appraisers being elected as County Property Appraisers.

Citizens easily recognize the conflict of interest inherent in a county property appraiser valuing their own property. It's probably not widely known that Certified appraisers (licensed by Florida) are held to a higher legal, ethical and professional standard. The Appraisal License Law and rules of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board require certified appraisers to follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). This volume of appraisal standards was developed by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation. The Appraisal Foundation is authorized by Congress as the source of Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Qualifications. USPAP controls the actions of certified appraisers, when the potential for conflict arises.

USPAP was developed to promote and preserve the public trust inherent in professional appraisal practice. There are at least three applicable Rules and
Standards Rules in the USPAP to prevent the situation Pinellas County citizens endured over the past year:

• The Conduct Section of the Ethics Rule – prohibits the communication of a misleading report

• Standards Rule 6-8 – requires a mass appraisal report to not be misleading

• Standards Rule 6-9 – requires the appraiser to disclose interest in properties appraised

Although the Florida Department of Revenue has not adopted USPAP, the citizens of Pinellas County expect and deserve their elected officials to go beyond the minimum required by law and avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Without a requirement for the county appraiser to be certified and follow USPAP, the legislation proposed by Rep. Hooper and Sen. Fasano is a start toward ensuring citizens' expectations of the elected county appraiser are met.


Hopefully, this answers your questions more completely. If not, please feel free to call me at 727-410-7065 anytime for clarification.

Thank you for your interest in protection of the public.

Although I was thanked for the additional information, it looks like I have a lot to learn about how additional information is considered. In the future, we will be working to make sure the idea we intend to convey is done so with clarity.

As always, you must draw your own conclusions. Thank you for your support.