Baitball Blogger's Journal
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Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Number of posts: 21,977
Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Number of posts: 21,977
I am interested in homeowner issues in Central Florida. What I have observed living in a Republican county is that a lot of what Republicans claim to support, is not how they live. For more information, see my website at www.keystoneworksite.com
We have a good ole boy network in Central Florida that crosses party lines. Many of the convoluted decisions that cities have made in this past that involved land development were based on questionable legal opinions from city attorneys. i.e. these were activist attorneys who were pushing the envelope on sovereignty issues. Some were even involved in pushing a "novel" approach that would have changed land development law, giving cities the power to make decisions over land zoning changes, which at that time was considered quasi-judicial, instead of legislative. These lawyers believed they had immunity, which must have emboldened them. In other words, these lawyers believed that they would not be held legally accountable for their involvement in a land development issue. They were wrong.
It all backfired when a developer who felt targeted by them hired a smart lawyer who not only challenged their immunity claim (and won), but was able to explain, in plain language (so that people assembled at a city meeting could understand) that the city was not following State law. <Footnote 1>
Unfortunately, this developer was not liked by a coterie of ordinary people who had elevated this land zoning issue into a personal fight. Not surprisingly, they assumed the developer was the bad guy and never took the time to understand land zoning laws well enough to A) negotiate better deals and B) understand and accept their legal limitations. In all fairness, the lawyers in the area were not much help. Hard to say whose side they were on, even now.
In the end, the developer prevailed and there was a Mexican stand-off between the corrupt public attorneys and the coterie of people who had turned this whole mess into a personal grudge. They were partly composed of gullible, misled individuals; Republicans/Libertarians who were mentally wired to hate government and just wanted the city to give them what they wanted; and a contingency of thirdway style democrats-neoliberals who forgot that Democrats are supposed to respect government process. <Footnote 2>
The dispute with the developer was resolved with a settlement agreement that gave him two million dollars to go away. The same agreement also contained a confidentiality clause, that I believe became a détente between the attorneys and the community leaders who were most involved in this fracas. These groups, who ordinarily did not like each other, were now bonded to one another because of the need to keep the information tapped down. (Because there were other victims that were not included in the lawsuit.)
Essentially, that confidentiality clause gave the lawyers and the community leaders a chance to start all over. It allowed them to set-up a status quo that was committed to perpetuating a cover-up. This mission has created a surreal situation that rewards people who will take up the mantle to continue a story that at its foundation, is false. You can't do this without the cooperation of several lawyers to back up that "story."
So, enter Charlie Crist. If he had succeeded in becoming our next governor, the people involved with this scandal would have felt reasonably confident that they would not have to worry about legal ramifications. Not that Crist had any role to play in the original antics, but it's the environment of our political system that would have made him rely on the people involved in the fracas because a few of them are rainmakers. To this day they manage to hold onto power because the money they are able to pour into political campaigns provides them with influence.
I am not in anyway saying that this particular local scandal had anything to do with Democrats being turned off by Crist, but I suspect that it is many such governmental collapses that finally wore everybody down.
To get the high ground, Florida Democrats not only have to redefine themselves as the party of reason and fairness, but also have to explain in very simple terms that small government is a cardboard cut-out that people shouldn't fall for. Behind the label, small government is just the same ole backroom cronyistic system that we have all come to associate with good ole boys.
Since people only tend to pay attention when they have something to fear, here is what should concern them: There are people in their communities who are intentionally spreading lies and misinformation. It is this intentional attempt to keep people from learning the truth that is creating a very hostile environment where people feel like they have to form alliances in order to create some semblance of a social life.
I hate to say it, but when I dissect these alliances to determine what binds people together around here, nobody seems to be getting it right.
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Footnote 1: Actually, it was the combination of the explanation from the city's special counselor and the developer's lawyer that painted a curious picture. For background: the city, which appealed to small government types and property rights supporters, were playing out their own sovereign rule experiment, practicing government without an established constitution. <The city never filed a Comprehensive Plan and a couple of its early ex-city attorneys became staunch property rights supporters and welded influence in the community afterwards>. For most of the early decades, the city resolved land development disputes in court and relied on settlement agreements to determine zoning changes. Such was the case with the developer who sued the city and prevailed. Their disagreement cropped out of an early settlement agreement. When the developer submitted conceptual plans for his proposed developments, there were slight adjustments that incensed the community and this opened an opportunity for a coterie of people to organize an attempt to stop his developments.
It marked a change in the city's evolution when the city joined forces with this group of residents who had, in the past, organized efforts to stop city projects. This change would be most noticeable in the way the city argued its case. They hired a special counselor, who after months of research, presented state law requirements that she felt were needed before the city could approve rezonings of the developer's property (even though these rezonings had already been approved through the settlement agreement signed a few years before.) The irony here, is that the special counselor introduced the same legal state requirements that the city had been circumventing for years due to their sovereignty efforts.
When the developer's lawyer's turn came up in that city meeting, he essentially explained that the settlement agreement that they had entered into with the city was, essentially a contract. And in the contract it stated that the city was required to file any necessary paperwork to permit the construction. The claim they would present in court involved estoppel. They would argue that because of this early agreement they had with the city, the city could not now erect road blocks to prevent the construction.
I would have given anything to be in City Hall that day when Republicans in the room must have suddenly understood why it was so important for local government to follow due process. The smart ones would have realized that if the city had properly followed state law there would have been properly noticed meetings for the rezonings where members of the public might have stood a chance to listen to the details in time to develop legal strategies, or attempt better negotiations. Instead, they were always going to be behind the eight ball because many of the city meetings were just set up to approve settlement agreements, where the details had already been hashed out by a select handful of people. This style of select committee groups is how the city still operates to this day.
Footnote 2: Among the people who were most opposed to the developer were individuals who the developer claimed in his complaint, were involved in a conspiracy to interfere with his business. <tortious business interference.> Indeed, there are strong indications that a few were not operating in an unselfish manner. In other words, they stood to benefit from the developer's downfall.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Fri Nov 7, 2014, 05:55 PM (1 replies)
The Orlando Sentinel recognized them in an article that was published many years ago regarding a private organization where many of the community leaders and elected officials were known to come together; and it was suspected that they were talking about topics which probably should remain in a public forum.
The concern over "breakfast meetings" can not be overstated where this practice is still part of the culture. Without public airings of the decision-making process the people who attend the private meetings may be relying on false information to reach agreement between people who generally are on opposing sides of an issue. They may also be nefarious people who agree to scratch someone's back, if they get the same treatment in return.
Once agreement is reached, the rest becomes American Kabuki. By the time the topic turns up in a HOA meeting there may be enough people on board to shout down the residents who weren't privy to the meetings. And one should never pooh-pooh the importance that HOA meetings have in the local decision-making process. If people are properly silenced at the HOA level, there will be no one who will show up at a city meeting to dispute the facts that the city staff presents to elected officials. That's how corrupt decisions fly through the system.
And all of it begins with a breakfast meeting where people come together to decide your community's fate before you even have a chance to get your kids ready for school.
I don't really know what you can do in a small community to stop them. So it becomes a pastime to watch how a third of the community drains out of the development before six on the second Tuesday of each month. Though the day and times will vary.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:28 PM (28 replies)
I'm just going to say that the negative attack ads are going to escalate in the coming days and minorities are going to hear more about positions that did not favor them when he was a Republican Governor. To offset that, he needs to come up with something more tangible than the fact that he hugged Obama. Afterall, what does a picture mean in politics these days when Obama just posed with the Bushies? People, especially minorities, are going to need more outreach. They need to feel like they are as relevant to the Democratic process as Rotary Club members or Chamber of Commerce types are to a right-wing leaning community.
Only, unlike the way Republicans do it, Democrats have to court that vote legally. So, establish a solid platform by coming up with something that breaks through the bullshit. In other words, wow, wouldn't it be wonderful if he were to come out and say what no one ever does? Why not acknowledge the racist good ole boy networks that exist in the State that interfere with the quality of life for minorities; and commit to cleaning up the obstacles that prevent investigations that would get rid of those who rely on "business as usual"?
The opportunities are endless in this backwater State. For example, why not promise to use his Governor position to apply as much pressure as possible on the Florida Bar Association to change their archaic, ineffective format? If they are still requiring a citizen to file a complaint before starting an investigation, this is a bottleneck that needs to be removed because these gang of lawyers know very well where the problems are and should truly self-police by going after the lawyers they know are corrupting the system. It's unfathomable that they still leave it to the least powerful citizen, who knows very little of the law, to venture into this territory when it's loaded with political land mines. It's not an area that minorities will even attempt, though they are often victims of corrupt shenanigans that involve corrupt attorneys. So, Crist can improve the situation by either applying pressure on the Florida Bar to remove this ineffective requirement, especially when we all know that they are aware of where the problems lay.
And if not the Florida Bar, then certainly the State Attorney Offices need to be brought into the 21st Century. Why not start specialized teams that will focus on issues of discrimination and racism? That alone could win him the Governor's office, though the ramifications would have the power elite in Florida shaking in their boots.
Or if he wants to start on a small scale, then he can begin by FORCING the State Attorney's Offices to take public records violations seriously. This agency could have stopped fraud and conspiracies occurring in local government if they had backed common citizens who had problems acquiring records from their city governments.
There are so many things that Crist can do to bring out the minority vote that I really do not feel sorry for him if he thinks he is having trouble motivating them. He needs to think outside the box.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Sep 2, 2014, 11:29 AM (0 replies)
For example, by ignoring State law and rejecting sound growth management, it's possible for local governments to create "white islands" in suburbia. It's not that difficult to do when a city government takes a sovereign rule approach. All they have to do is eliminate multi-family housing and replace the zoning with high valued single family homes. That's just the first step.
The second step involves the segregation of power. That's where the true problems of inequality grow exponentially. It starts when local government develops social relationships with community leaders for the purpose of expediting government programs. You can't do that without the stench of cronyism creeping into the process. Cronyism will undermine equality efforts, every time.
Thirdway is particularly susceptible to cronyism because it's all about developing social relationships with members of a different political strife. Let's just take a closer look at what is happening in communities where Republican policies, like small government, are part of the way of life.
In these communities, there is already a structure in place which is undermining the constitutional rights of many. That is something about small government that few people talk about. They use a process that undercuts Fourteenth Amendment requirements. When Thirdway Democrats concede to Republicans, this what they are participating in. Which is why we need to take a closer look at how small government operates.
What these local governments are doing to curry support for their government programs (which usually involves a program that was hatched in the Economic Development Department) is send emissaries (like a city manager) to private organizations to develop social networks with people they know can cause the city trouble. That's it in a nutshell. The city tries to co-opt the community activists and squeaky wheels. These people will get the kid glove treatment as the city milks these private conversations to determine what is most important to these people. "It might be something you wouldn't even think about." They do this to look for inducements they can use to win these people over.
In Republican areas, we are not talking about private citizens who are altruistic people. We are talking about ruthless business people who believe that there should be something in it for them, regardless of the private organization they belong to. The most obvious shell organization in a local community, from my observation, is the Rotary Club. For all the good things that are produced from that organization, it isn't uncommon to find members who are less than selfless in their private communities. In fact, in my city, in the decade when the city was actively seeking support from members of this organization, there was a strong a correlation between government contracts or job offers with their members. And in the city minutes and tapes it was apparent that Rotary Club members were given details of the city's plans a whole two years before details were made available in a public meeting.
Why should this be problematic? For two reasons. First, because in these organizations you will find members of the community that belong to both parties. And second, the special relationships can and do interfere with the proper execution of the due diligence process. It's criminal, but based on their social relationships, a local government will set aside its constitutional due diligence requirements and accept facts directly from word of mouth. It has happened and it has led to fraud, which has undermined the integrity of an entire community.
When the ruse is discovered, things will only get worse. It is an incredible thing to observe how their social bonds only become stronger once the fraud is exposed. What else can they do but cover each other's back? They were involved in fraud so they resort to the four D's. Deny, Delay, Denigrate and finally, Dummy-up.
That is why Thirdway is so damaging to our communities. Because governments are relying on word of mouth in their fact-finding missions, instead of using sound legal practices. Eventually something will go wrong and suddenly they become a formidable circle of friends and associates which rely on "Systemic Corruption for the sake of self-preservation." ( I didn't come up with that term, but wish I had.) But the point is, that there is no political solution because it involves members from both parties. Voting one party over the other isn't going to make a difference when you have political titans who have discovered that public programs can be pushed forward with the use of graft as inducements. You just have to pick the "right" people.
Inequality is just a by-product of the system. Because many of the private organizations that the local governments are reaching out to are not diverse, it is obvious who is benefiting from these outreach programs. Not to say that I'm looking forward to the day when they do become less homogeneous.
The entire corrupt network needs to be challenged by special prosecutors who will ferret out violations of due process of law that undermines the rights of individuals who are not part of these social networks.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 07:47 PM (2 replies)
The attorney who is the topic of this article is a right-wing rainmaker. He has a history of developing strong connections with Republican governors--and also has a pattern of forming strong alliances with Democratic politicos who have their own admirable connections. Currently, he works in John Morgan's law firm.
John Morgan is a huge supporter of left-wing causes, though his wife is a registered Republican. President Obama always stops in at the Morgan household when he drops into Central Florida. One of the causes Morgan is currently involved with involves medical marijuana. He recently had a major falling out with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, because Schultz did not support Morgan's medical marijuana bill. But not because she's not in favor of medical marijuana. Instead, she supports a bill that would favor federal regulation.
Now, read this article to at least the fourth paragraph and get a whiff of the convoluted political legal reasoning that is a constant in Central Florida. It takes strong resolve to find a way to remove the baby from the bathwater. Most people stop trying, which is why we are caught in a perpetual political vortex. I would describe our government structure as a plutocratic Thirdway system, which has existed long before the term even became fashionable.
The article below provides clues to how it works.
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Kruppenbacher not part of pot company seeking growing license
Republican fundraiser Frank Kruppenbacher and lobbyist Bill Rubin are not part of a new Orlando company seeking a cannabis-growing license, contrary to what some nurserymen say they are being told.
Area nurserymen and Cerise Naylor, executive director of the Florida Medical Cannabis Association, said Tuesday that they have heard from officials of Medical Cannabis Cultivations LLC, telling them they have hired Kruppenbacher, an Orlando attorney with close ties to Gov. Rick Scott, and Rubin, a top South Florida lobbyist.
Naylor and at least two area nurserymen said the company was dropping those two names to persuade them and investors to sign partnerships, Naylor said. But both Kruppenbacher and Rubin denied any involvement in the company, and the company's manager, Ryan Scotson of Orlando, confirmed that Tuesday.
Kruppenbacher and Rubin each said that they had offered Scotson only free advice, not participation.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Wed Jul 2, 2014, 09:11 AM (6 replies)
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