Sun May 26, 2013, 11:08 PM
Baitball Blogger (18,838 posts)
So they finally admit it. City meetings are opened with God and prayer. (A Personal Experience)
Last edited Sat Jun 1, 2013, 03:59 PM - Edit history (11)
The article is listed below my rant. It refers to a case that is going before the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the practice of opening city meetings with a prayer violates the Constitution. I might write them a Friend of the Court Brief to describe my experience with opening prayer. There is quite a bit of background to cover, so please bear with me. I seriously would consider mailing this to the Court.
I am putting together a historical document that will expose a city's corrupt past. It involves a Mayor and a veteran Commissioner who used their clout to sneak in a developer into City Hall on a Sunday where Commissioners and the Mayor were able to sit in on a sneak preview of development plans for a residential community that was still pending review of the Commission. This is a big no, no, in Florida. They would have all been kicked out of office if anyone had turned them in. But no one ever did, even though what they did was egregious.
Both the Mayor and the Commissioner had been around long enough to know better. What they did was an intentional attempt to commit the city into a promise of approval. If the City reneged in any way to approve the development after that meeting, the developer would have had a strong case for estoppel and could have filed a request with the court, requesting a specific performance to allow him to proceed with the development. To further commit the city, the Mayor and Commissioner EVEN posed at a groundbreaking that same day in November 1997. That groundbreaking took place two and a half months before the first public meeting took place.
This became a personal matter because the project was the final phase of my development. We weren't called in by our community leaders to discuss the developer's plans until a week and a half before the city meetings began in February 1998. I didn't have any previous experience with the city review process but it was impossible to remove the suspicion that something was terribly wrong. The process was a hot sloppy mess and afterwards, the more I looked into matters, the more I was convinced that the City was involved in malfeasance. I just didn't have all the paperwork or the legal references to prove it.
In late 2000, when I began to dig up information that put me on the trail that would have uncovered the deception, I hit a major snag in a Homeowner's Association meeting when the Mayor's Rotary Club buddies defamed and ridiculed me in an effort to head me off. One of them would send word that the Mayor claimed he had never even met with the developer outside of a Commission meeting when the project was up for a review. A photograph of the groundbreaking would surface years later proving that he lied. It was too late to make a difference in my life, because I was already marked as a dissenter and an outcast.
Despite being humiliated, I must have reached some people because the Mayor did something very odd a few months after that late 2000 Homeowner's meeting. In March 2001, he brought in a Catholic priest to a city meeting to provide a benediction for the covert project, which was finally brought to light as a Proclamation! So, using my example, this is why you don't allow priests to provide benedictions. People will see it as legitimizing a project, making it that much harder to point out that fraud and conspiracy were behind the way the city was handling the project behind closed doors.
Based on my conclusions, the background of the covert project is as follows: There was political pressure within the city for this development to sail through the city review process. It wasn't so much to favor the developer, as much as it was an attempt to keep the development out of reach from a previous developer who had fallen out of favor with the power elite of the community.
But the city leaders had a dilemma because they were dealing with a private development. So, in order to put it under the city's purview, they dressed it up as an economic development incentive called a sister city program. These sister city programs try to improve business relationships with foreign entities by taking on the name of the city the local government is trying to bond with. In this case, the entity was a city in Ireland. By naming the new development after the Irish city, the city co-opted the private development, bringing it under its wing for a public purpose.
Their big mistake was the method they used to officially adopt this program.
The timeline shows the highly irregular treatment: The private groundbreaking took place in November 1997; the public meetings took place in 1998 (In these meetings the city never publicly disclosed their intentions to make the development part of their sister city program, so many of us were unaware of the city's conflict of interest). The formal, public reveal of the sister city program wouldn't occur until March 2001. That's when it was officially introduced as a Proclamation with the benediction from the priest. In other words, before that date, there was no formal Agenda Item to show it had come up before the city where the Commissioners had a chance to formally vote for the measure.
That's why it was so hard to uncover. If you didn't already know what you were looking for, you would never have known to find it in the impromptu discussions that come up at the end of meetings where each Commissioner and the Mayor was allowed to bring up topics from "under their seat." It doesn't help when the minutes are sparse on details.
Because of the treatment I received in the Homeowner's Meeting of Fall 2000, I enrolled in a nearby university and began taking Legal Studies courses. By the time I completed the classes I had enough of a legal background to go back through the Homeowner's documents and confirmed what I only suspected before. In those meetings of 1998 we were told by the city and our community leaders that the Association was in control of the developer, so the city would not get involved with our concerns, nor did they treat us as if we had legal standing. Instead, we were encouraged to settle our differences privately with the developer. But after I read the documents again, this time armed with some paralegal-style training, I found a clause that stated that the control of our Association had actually been transferred to the homeowners in 1988. That was ten years before we were herded like cattle through the meetings of 1998.
During those 1998 meetings we relied on a neighbor who was introduced to us as a previous President of our Association and a golf buddy of the Mayor and fellow Rotarian. Everyone considered him an authority on our Association, which made it easier to gain our confidence. I would reach a different opinion of this situation when I found his signature on the 1988 document that turned our Association over to the homeowners. Another document signed the same date identified him as the Treasurer, Vice-President and Registered Agent, simultaneously. Yet, he not only failed to tell us that we had legal standing during those 1998 meetings, he did quite the opposite. For example, he encouraged us to forgo a demand for a replat. He said that if we did not push the issue with the city, it would save the developer time and money. We were led to believe that the developer would be more agreeable to meeting our concerns if we could show him that we were willing to cooperate with him.
In retrospect, the city should have demanded a replat to protect everyone's interest, including their own. If they had conducted proper due diligence, as required by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, they would have had to recognize our legal standing. A replat would have determined everyone's legal rights based on the title search. But the city didn't need to do even that much to recognized our vested interest.
1989 Timesheets that belonged to the primary city attorney revealed that he had reviewed the 1988 Association document that had turned over our Association to us. There was no good reason why this information was not passed on to the city attorney who was sitting in on those 1998 meetings, because both attorneys practiced from the same law firm.
You put all the intrigue of this community situation together and you can begin to see how it would diminish the life of someone who was raised to respect the government process. Because of the way the issue was handled it would become a mission to research the city's history to understand how things could have deviated down the wrong path. What I would learn gave me insight into the inadequacy of the "small government" process. Those observations will be shared in a future article titled, "Small Government, Big Cons."
Anyway, here's the article talking about prayer in general:
High court case may affect prayer at government meetings
In Deltona, as in most towns, cities and counties across Florida and across the country, City Commission meetings start with God, flag and country.
There is prayer — sometimes silent reflection, sometimes words from a commissioner or local clergyman. That's followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and, in Deltona, the singing of the national anthem.
But a change in the long-standing practice of opening a public meeting with prayer could be on the way in Deltona and across the country. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the practice violates the Constitution. Depending on how the court rules, it could end or neuter the tradition, or enshrine it so government bodies need not worry about lawsuits.
Mayor John Masiarczyk says the system shouldn't be changed
6 replies, 1398 views
So they finally admit it. City meetings are opened with God and prayer. (A Personal Experience) (Original post)
|Baitball Blogger||May 2013||OP|
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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)
Sun May 26, 2013, 11:55 PM
Gregorian (20,012 posts)
1. This sounds very similar to a commissioner in a county in Washington where a friend of mine lives.
Cronyism, prayers, doing the bidding for oil companies.
I got a call from a friend who was disgusted with what he had discovered going on in his town.
So this could affect a number of these putrid little conservative places in America, one could only hope.
Response to Gregorian (Reply #1)
Mon May 27, 2013, 12:45 AM
Baitball Blogger (18,838 posts)
2. You got it.
The title of my exposé is "Small Government, Big Con."
It is in conservative areas where these cons can easily occur because they have no understanding of government process; because the deregulation is affecting due diligence; and then you add the God factor in city meetings, which means they are taking way too much on faith.
Response to Incitatus (Reply #5)
Mon May 27, 2013, 10:51 AM
Baitball Blogger (18,838 posts)
6. Point, set and match.
I was in Miami this weekend and the only thing anyone could talk about was how incredibly corrupt their Commissioners had become. They kept saying that the problem was that ordinary people didn't know how they were getting away with it. Well, my expose will follow the decisions that allowed them to get away with it.