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Tue Mar 20, 2012, 01:04 AM

How to Turn a Red County Purple. (Long)

This is something I wrote which is political, so I hope it works for this forum. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who can get through it.

Just about everyone has something to say about the differences between Republican and Democratic principles. We hear it so often that we shut down when an opinion begins to diverge from our own. Democrats will do it when someone goes off on a rant about wanting less government in their lives, and Republicans shut down when someone suggests raising
taxes as a solution to the problems we face in society. Me, I wish life were that simple again.

Where I live I’ve seen so many inconsistencies that absolutes are meaningless. I live in a community which consistently votes Republican, and though some things might run true to form, others require an entirely new perspective to understand.

To see things from my point of view, a politician would have to go beyond the rainmakers and campaign donors to come eye to eye with people who are living with the consequences of bad policies. This is difficult to do for many because the problems of ordinary people lack sparkle.

Try these words out to see what I mean: Homeowner’s Association meeting, (“HOA”), Architectural Review Board, Declaration of Covenants & Restrictions. This is the language of ordinary people who live in the growing number of community associations which are springing up across Florida. What local government can’t force upon a homeowner is possible to do through the HOA boards. So, if you want to see how policies are trickling down to the people who are most regulated, you wouldn’t do better than talk to someone who lives within the boundaries of a Florida HOA.

The needs of these homeowners have been so overlooked that they are in a prime position to be the next soccer moms or grizzly bears, or whatever trendy word you want to call a motivated voting demographic. One thing that will move things along faster is finding a candidate who can prove he or she understands their issues. They would have to be well-versed on the subject because not even homeowners fully understand where to pin the blame. The overall feeling, however, is that they’re at the bottom of the food chain, serving as one huge baitball that feeds the real estate industry. How this is allowed to stand unchanged is a lesson in local politics.

Because I live in a Republican community, my observations are best suited for Democrats who want to understand the inner workings of a red voting district. What I research and post on my website is based on an experience which began in 1998. Back then my city was operating under the philosophy of minimalist government so I had a sneak preview of the future which we now are all faced with. What the last fourteen years of research offers is a track record that helps to point out the kind of community that this form of government inspires.

In the end, the data will lead to the conclusion that a government that ignores its regulatory responsibilities leaves a vacuum which is filled by self-interested networks that exist to game the system. These societies are like Russian stacking dolls, where a government exists within a government.

It may take new homeowners years to understand that they moved into a community where decisions are influenced by a trip-wire society. And if that isn’t bad enough, the effect gets amplified when they realize that City Hall promotes programs which go head-to-head with their rights.

Having lived through one of these city supported operations I can tell you that the overall impression you’re left with is that nobody has your back.

The irony is that most Republicans would agree with me. No one wants to see their rights abused by a government supported program. So it’s hard to understand why Republicans work so hard to hamstring procedures which are meant to protect everyone’s rights; or why they don’t recognize that private interest groups are rushing in to fill the void they helped create. As a bystander, it’s like watching people strangle themselves in their sleep.

Today, the favored way to introduce these programs is through public-private partnerships or 3Ps as some people call them. On the surface, these projects have sparkle. Who wouldn’t support a plan which promises to create jobs or lower taxes because the private sector agrees to take the financial burden? I would support them too, if I didn’t have the awareness of what goes into making these programs appear successful.

Perhaps in a Democratically controlled precinct government agencies which promote 3Ps know how to keep everything transparent and how to follow a uniform process which ensures that everyone’s rights are protected. But such a process would be slow and laborious which is precisely why, in a Republican community, all of that becomes secondary. Instead, the priority is to minimize delays and remove road blocks for the business sector.

The impression one is left with is that the city takes shortcuts which are rarely beneficial to the homeowner’s interest. For example, with the community development issue I write about, city staffers failed to perform the due diligence to determine ownership of residential property so homeowners were left to feel like spectators when they actually had legal standing in the proceedings. Instead of conducting a legal review which would have cleared up the confusion, the city relied on word of mouth for their information.

On the same project, elected officials did not follow the Sunshine Law and met with the developer before the issue came before the board in a public forum. But because process was not followed, it took years before it was understood that the development received favoritism because of an economic development objective.

It’s a paradox that these things occurred in a community which is populated by people who claim to be in favor of law and order. But it does occur, which is why this minimalist form of government is failing homeowners.

These kind of governmental “slips” are documented on my website which can be accessed by pointing your browsers to www.keystoneworksite.com. It’s just a coincidence that the website carries the same name as the Keystone Pipeline. Though the two do not share a common origin, they do share this one similarity: They both offer lessons to what can happen to individual property owners when private interest is allowed to take on the power of government. In the case of the Keystone Pipeline, a foreign corporation attempted to eminent domain a homeowner’s property. As of the 9th of March, the owner prevailed. The Texas legislature, however, is considering an exemption that will make it easier for the corporation to succeed the next time it tries.

Something similar is happening in Florida. The state legislature continues to pass laws which causes hardships on homeowners. The trend is to delegate more power to local government even though the evidence indicates that local government has failed to be honest brokers where the interests of homeowners are concerned.

No one seems to take notice or care that homeowners are left to fend for themselves and don’t have the resources to match what they’re up against. Or maybe, that’s the point.

This should signal an opportunity for the party that can find a better way to achieve economic development objectives without encroaching on or usurping the rights of homeowners.

At a minimum, an effort should be made to show how the methods used in these Republican municipalities erode trust in government. When people see how their rights are being usurped by those who have a fiduciary responsibility to protect them, it will be easier to get their attention. It’s my hope that the website, and the issues I bring up in my blog, will be used by candidates who believe in putting fairness back into the government process, and that it will give them the edge they need to connect with voters they thought were beyond their reach.

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Reply How to Turn a Red County Purple. (Long) (Original post)
Baitball Blogger Mar 2012 OP
JNelson6563 Mar 2012 #1
Baitball Blogger Mar 2012 #2
JNelson6563 Mar 2012 #3
Baitball Blogger Mar 2012 #4

Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Mar 21, 2012, 09:44 AM

1. This must be done on a local level.

People from the region need to rise up, organize and fight this, locally. It's the only way to truly affect the change you are talking about.

Julie

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Response to JNelson6563 (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 21, 2012, 10:56 AM

2. It would be impossible to do locally.

Too many neat fiefdoms have been created throughout Florida. It involves attorneys who have helped to keep people in their place by dispensing strategy interpretations of the law. You would need a central person to stand up and show Floridians that, yes, you are still on American soil and protected by the laws of the United States.

It would require a Federal presence to take down all these provincial kingdoms.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:15 AM

3. I disagree.

Someone coming in from the outside is bound to be resented and you may be surprised how local mortal enemies band together against an "outsider". No, such leadership/change must come from within the area. I've seen it done, helped make it happen. It was HARD but DAMN you should see the success these folks are having now, a few years down the road!

Would be glad to discuss particulars if you're ever interested. You have my sympathies. Strangleholds on power are nearly impossible to break.

Julie

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Response to JNelson6563 (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 12:19 PM

4. I appreciate your input,

but when my website will eventually show how collusion occurred between elected officials, community leaders and the lawyers who protected them against homeowners who were not part of their schemes, there really is no where to go.

Lawyers did a very frightening legal move, forcing a confidentiality clause on a large segment of a local population, even though only a small core were involved in the conspiracy. Because they hold power, and the useless State Attorney's Office, including Norm Wolfinger, did nothing to clear up the confusion, a small power elite were able to intimidate anyone who was honest enough to try and fight the system. Instead, a small, loyal core gets to call the shots. Voting in new board members is pointless because a Republican government that does as little as it can for the public, does even less for those in private communities. They do, however, come alive for their loyalist minions, even to the point of passing on thousands of dollars in a beautification committee to that private community.

See how that works? If you allow the city to saddle your homeowners with the maintenance of poor infra-structure which the city approved, you can get city jobs or other preferential treatment.

The only way to fight that is to expose it.

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