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Baitball Blogger

Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Number of posts: 26,669

About Me

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

Journal Archives

Racism and its enduring perceptions. (mini-rant)

It's bad enough when you have to deal with one person's irrational perceptions, especially when they're in a position to throw obstacles in your way. At least, in the work force, we have the opportunity to equalize or minimize the damage because we have a process we can use to counter the nuttery.

But, what do you do when you have leaders in the community who are so guilty from their own crooked deliberations that every day they have to struggle with their own guilty consciences? Unfortunately, every time they give into their irrational fears, this just creates another obstacle for many of us. What we need is an authority who can step in and show them the man in the mirror.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Wed Sep 20, 2017, 01:57 PM (0 replies)

Gardeners are the most optimistic people in the world.

I have my storm supplies ready and I need to wait for hubby so we can both start to batten down the hatches, so I decided to use my time by visiting the hardware store to pick up garden supplies for the next garden project. There is reason behind my madness. I was in this house after Charlie in 2004 and we didn't have electricity for two days. It helped to keep my mind off my discomfort by gardening. Don't ask me why, but as long as I keep moving, the heat doesn't bother me. My son and his friend had cleaned up all the hurricane debris, so I proceeded to remove ferns from a small landscaped area on my property in order to plant daylilies. It would have been very therapeutic if not for the neighbor's grandkid who was propped on the wall across the street, obviously keeping an eye on my activities. It was pretty obvious that he was following orders to protect the next-door neighbor's vacant yard, who was a crony. Certainly someone they could depend on for quid pro quos over the years. (Really, such bullshit has to be experienced in order to appreciate what's really happening in these red suburban communities.)

Anyway, I went down to the hardware store today and couldn't stop beaming when I found like-minded souls filling their carts with mulch bags, soil and plants. I think it's important to remember that one should be prepared for the worst, but the waiting is hell and, sometimes, you just have to do something normal to help yourself stay centered.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Fri Sep 8, 2017, 01:21 PM (16 replies)

To respond to the question, what organizations would be resistant to minorities or their views?

(This opinion piece is a rework from a response I made to a fellow DUer.)

I have lived in Central Florida since the late seventies, so I'm just shy of forty years of observations. The last 23 years have been inside a red county, in a community that is 90% white. You would think that Democratic strategists would want to know what goes on in red counties, in order to improve their outreach, so I hope this gives them something to work with.

If I had to pick one word to describe the social structure that influences everything in the county, including the way the criminal justice agencies decide where they focus their resources, that word would be "protectionist." Makes sense, doesn't it? Conservatives want to protect a culture where they are always dominant. So, shouldn't we examine their social structure to see how they manage to get away with some of the most outrageous maneuvers that would land most people in jail. If nothing else, my reflections reinforce the view that white, entitled communities exist and thrive.

Let's start with the private organizations that have direct access to elected officials. It isn't uncommon to find more than one elected official showing up at meetings for these private clubs because many become members of the same organizations. This is where private and public agendas can merge, and not always in the best way.

Especially for those clubs that require sponsorship prior to membership, a minority member would already be vetted before they join. However, once they get in, if they express progressive ideas, or show a low tolerance for good buddy decision-making, they can discover the incredible shrinking effect that small towns have. What may happen is that a select core of individuals will be pulled into private side meetings for further lobbying. In my town, breakfast meetings are a popular choice. These people are indoctrinated to become "ambassadors." "Ambassadors" is a popular term around here, and, at least for me, it sends up a red flag because my community was stung by this system.

Essentially, by the time the formal meetings begin, the ambassadors will push whatever meme is desired. Even if you understand that they are following an illegal, or foolhardy objective, you are going to be shouted down. Worse, you'll become that one person that gets ostracized and serve as an example for others of what happens to anyone who tries to provide another view. In this case, minorities of conscience have the unhappy choices of turning into a minority prop, or a megaphone for bad ideas.

In my community, an example of what could go wrong occurred in the nineties. The City reached into the local Rotary Club to try to appease a core group of people who were behind the resistance to the city's objectives and programs. Not that the City, didn't deserve criticism, but the merging of these two factions resulted in a new power structure that was predictable. Think "Animal Farm."

The ambassadors spread misinformation that spread into the various HOAs. To this day, they were able to use the chaos they created to their advantage. Which is my my community is still deep in the rabbit hole. Today, the HOA board doesn't even properly notice board meetings anymore. Complete shut-down.

Now, if you do manage to be a particular thorn at their side, it's an easy matter in small towns to defame and box out the particularly bothersome person, where it really is hard to go anywhere, including local restaurants without getting a dirty look.

No problem, though, I just go to the franchises located in the next town over. But, I still can't figure out how the local business community can maintain the mutually exclusive objectives of keeping their insular clientele happy AND grow new business. It mystifies me. I sometimes wonder if they keep track of the money lost to the community when children grow up and settle down in other states. If an average wedding costs $45,000, I wonder how much money is lost to the community when brides prefer to set roots in more agreeable climates?

The other problem that minorities have is that we get targeted when we walk into businesses as customers. This happened to me when I tried to sell old gold jewelry to a jewelry store. The jewelry person made a racial assumption about me that undercut me as a customer. I never had sold jewelry before, so I was totally unprepared for what happened. I had a hunch that something had gone wrong and that I didn't get a fair value for the necklaces and bracelets I had brought in, but I couldn't prove it. Just had a feeling. As I left wondering what just happened, the girl followed me to the parking lot and asked, "Is this what you and your friends do?" I'm guessing she thought I was a cleaning lady and that I could get her more gold for her. I was stunned. Most of the jewelry was collected over a lifetime, and other pieces where inherited from recent family losses. I blubbered something about being a graduate from a local college, as if that would somehow serve to remedy her racist views. But I walked away feeling dead inside.

I called her on it the next day and told her that she had racially profiled me and I questioned how she weighed the jewelry and whether it was a fair trade. She offered more money to smooth things over. It wasn't much, but I had very little options. I kept her card and documented it, but never turned it in. Where would I go? If Orlando had an active department that tracked down acts of racism, they would advertise. But I've seen nothing but protectionism from the authorities since I began to look.

And that's the problem. I don't think that red counties are going to be racially sensitive. And if they're not racially sensitive, they won't set up departments within criminal justice agencies that can help minorities clear the way for a fair and equal society.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Aug 20, 2017, 12:22 PM (4 replies)

I can understand why you would remain a skeptic.

First of all, I don't accuse that particular policeman of anything. He looked very intent on getting to wherever he had to go.

I asked a question because I live in a good ole boy community where some pretty heinous things occurred in the nineties because the city networked too closely with good buddies in the community. It resulted in a lawsuit, so there is a legal foundation for these claims. Because their misdeeds were cleverly buried in a confidentiality clause, nothing was publicly aired and discussed. Ever. No one was held accountable. After all these years, it's pretty damn apparent to me that nothing will change until we have an opportunity to truly examine what happened. And it has to be done. No surprise that over the years, these networks have not only persisted, but they have grown.

No one that supports the status quo is going to be happy with this. But I do see the urgency. In fact, everything that I have seen and experienced connects with what is going on today. I sit here in full facepalm when I read that people are bewildered that racism has persisted. Really? How is it possible that no one can see how entitled white societies have been allowed to dig into red counties without scrutiny? How is it that there has been too much tolerance for these peripheral societies that are allowed to reinforce their culture by excluding individuals, even from meetings that they have a legal right to observe. Why is our side still trapped into thinking that the only fight against racism is in the work place or in the military or in the actions of an excessive police force ? How about where we live? Or, more to the point, where we are not encouraged to live?

After everything that has happened over the last few days I can't believe that there is any social structure in our society that doesn't deserve heighten scrutiny. If I wrote a thesis on this subject the conclusion would be: The source of enduring racism is locked in society mores and beliefs that make the status quo resistant to change or scrutiny.

I hope to open eyes because it is clear to me that if you want change, you can't be afraid to ask critical questions. Any interference is nothing but gaslighting. And then there is the example of Heather Heyer. I can take the criticism. I hope Heather's mom knows, that I heard her.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Thu Aug 17, 2017, 10:41 AM (0 replies)

I think we have a story of two American militarys to run parallel with the Two Americas.

I grew up in the Canal Zone on a military base, in a small community that was heavily populated by civilians. To be more specific, we lived in a segregated part of the Canal Zone, where they housed Americans who married non-American spouses. Obviously, in those times, we are talking about Latino or White males married to mostly Panamanians.

Despite this, I grew up in the sixties thinking that racism was something that occurred in the U.S. between white and black Americans. I didn't see our community as segregated primarily because I was the same color of the majority of inhabitants in the country of Panama. I didn't even know that our little town was viewed as a segregated community until later, when someone told me that one of our classmate's mother wrote a book about the Canal Zone and described our community as a place where you couldn't tell the difference between the mothers and the maids.

I haven't read that passage, myself, but it's certainly on my to do list to hunt down one of those books. It was such tripe. The mothers were beautiful by anyone's standards.

Anyway, I lived in a shoebox of a house. It was a concrete block duplex, maybe 1750 sq. ft. My dad added a room to take care of the space for five kids, a grandmother and two dogs. The point is, that even when he became a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve we didn't change housing as a commemoration to his accomplishment. There was no complaints. I loved my community. I loved my house that backed up to the baseball and softball fields. I loved playing in the tall sawgrass that grew along the airport strip. It was a heavenly childhood.

In sum, my expectations for officers in the military is very different than what I found once I moved to the States. And I think that my humble view of life at an early stage set me on a far different path than many of my friends who moved to the States and followed a very different trajectory.

At the Reunions, when I hear many of the Canal Zone ex-residents talk about any number of subjects, I realize how different we really are. We are all an extinct species, but our lives have followed the separate parallels that exist in the U.S.

Go figure.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Aug 15, 2017, 03:01 PM (0 replies)

Thank you for your service, gentlemen.

Now that's what I call a true blue military retiree. One that understands what he was protecting us against.

I think we just went through a phase where the Republican objectives took over the military mindset. The way military men and women repeated their missives, it felt like they redefined what it means to "fight for our freedoms." It felt like what they really meant was that they fought to define the boundaries of our freedoms.

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:21 AM (0 replies)

History is repeating itself, isn't it?

We're back to hard right conservative leadership and the neo-nazis are coming out in force. We're seeing riots that remind many of us of the era that led to the Civil Rights Movement.

My two cents. I am a child of that era and I have no doubt that I benefited from the sacrifices that were made by others. In the seventies I was accepted into a college, that at that time, only had 2% minority enrollment. Affirmative Action may or may not have had a play in that acceptance, but I know there was no public money involved because my father paid my full tuition. When it was time to get a job I was described as a twofer. Essentially, a woman and a minority member. In that first job, I saw the sunrise for many Civil Rights programs. Though management was heavily male, you could see the beginning of sexual harassment policies and racial sensitivity.

The biggest changes were with companies that expected federal money. People who worked for those companies know what I mean. Policies were required to provide equal and fair treatment to members of all races. So, in a nutshell, if you really wanted opportunities to bridge differences with members of other races, you had them. So, what happened? How did enduring racist views manage to survive through the decades and surface now with the appearance of Trump?

It seems that every experience I have had in my life was tailored to answer that question. We made mistakes in believing that racism was something that belonged to an older generation. We didn't see how those ideas could endure in one family, moving from one generation to the next. We failed to really pay attention and read the signs.

For example, we didn't see that racist perceptions would find a nurturing environment in the White Flight communities that grew in the suburbs. (Don't look in the locked room in the basement!) We didn't see how the older generation could pass on their prejudices through their financial hold on their family members -- especially in areas where jobs are largely determined by who you know; and where we give far too much leeway for crooked business to older members in the community, simply because they're the "old guys."

I could expand on these thoughts, but, I think that it really isn't so hard to see what I mean. I have many Republicans that I called friends, mostly because we never talked politics. Many of them were co-workers in those companies that had policies that were influenced by federal law. I am sure many of them are denouncing the Breibart influenced right-wing youths in Charlotte, but the truth is, in decades of knowing them, race was not a subject we discussed much. When we did, their position was always that racism did not exist. I think they really believed it.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sat Aug 12, 2017, 12:45 PM (0 replies)

New backhanded comment from a neighbor, who is probably pro-trickle down economics.

I do my best not to engage in conversation with my neighbors because our differences are so great that I think it's only fair game to keep them at a distance. It's for their sake, you see, because everything I hear and see is grist for the mill. And believe me, what I don't see, my security cameras do.

However, this becomes particularly difficult to avoid when I'm working in the front yard. Since I have lived here, people have approached me whenever I gardened in the front yard and all too often what they say just reminds me that I'm living in an alter reality.

For example, in the nineties, I was new in the neighborhood and was planting aztec grass in the front yard when the president of the HOA walked by and said that a new developer was showing interest in developing the undeveloped phase of our community. He said that he had already spoken to the older neighbors and there was agreement that there wouldn't be an annual meeting that year because it was best to just continue with the same board since all the main issues were already known and it would facilitate negotiations with the developer--and, anyway, we had a late meeting the year before.

I didn't know it then, but that was my introduction to being marginalized in a community that was run by the good ole boy system. For several years, I let my hubby hack the bushes in the front yard just to avoid similar curt and incomplete conversations.

But, I did decide to take the job back when the bushes began to look like the Blob. By that time, I had a garden concept that I wanted to try. I imagine it looked like massive work as I began to pull out some of the unnecessary bushes. It was enough to attract the attention of a neighbor who never approached us in the years that she lived across the street. But on that day, she finally approached. I saw her walk towards me, all giddy and happy just to ask, "Are you moving?"

Really? Two, three years as neighbors and that's the best she could do? I wanted to say, no, I love to garden. It's the best way to purge the excess salts my old body tends to accumulate. Comes from growing up in the tropics, where the heat opens the pores like thousands of loose spigots. I wanted to say it, but I was polite and just smiled and said, no.

I wish I could say she was the only one, but another neighbor kept driving back and forth until she finally caught me on the edge of the property. She asked the same thing. "Are you moving?", sounding a little bit too hopeful.

Geez, what do normal people in normal neighborhoods usually say to each other? I've forgotten.

Then, today, I heard a new one. Hubby and I were working on a project, edging the property, which was only difficult because of the heat. Some guy walks by and thinks we want to know that "we're cheating our landscaper out of a couple hundred dollars." He said it twice, which means he could have compensated for the flat voice that told me he wasn't kidding. I just know that if we had said that we don't have a landscaper, he would have had a few names on the tip of his tongue.

So there you have it. That was a new one, but a perfect "tell" of a Republican community. People only see you in terms of what you can provide to them or their friends in the business community.

So, my father was wrong. People, mostly Republicans, do not respect you if you do things for yourself. Nope. If you work your own yard, paint your own house, clean your own pool...you're cheating trickle down economics and are a blight on their landscape.

PS: Then there are the very pleasant surprises. Like the neighbor who was kind enough to let us know that there was a rabbit family on our property. That's how I remembered it back in the apolitical neighborhoods where people were kind just because it made them feel good.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Jul 9, 2017, 09:10 PM (19 replies)

I think we should do a major investigation of University police chiefs.

Even the retired ones. I suspect you'll find a number of racists who have been able to hide in those jobs. What turns them into a big challenge for everyone is the police/sheriff network that they can rely on. When one of them takes on a community position and does a wink, wink, nudge, nudge to a crony telling him, "let me know if you need my help", I think it means that anyone that gets in their way can expect heighten scrutiny from the police and sheriff department.

So, yes, let's send a message that the police will be held accountable for any signs of prejudice.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Fri Nov 4, 2016, 06:41 PM (1 replies)

There aren't just two Americas. There are Three.

What I Learned Living in a Homeowner's Association in Central Florida

By Baitball Blogger

Sometimes things fall in place to give you a way to see something that before, was once too complicated to explain. That is what happened this week when I received a letter from our Homeownerís Association to announce an annual meeting for the purpose of electing officers, as well as other business.

This will be the first election they have held in two years. They must have come to realize that as a Florida Corporation they were obligated to follow the rules of the State. Since they didnít hold a meeting last year for this purpose, technically, they have been running the organization with an illegally constituted board.
Unfortunately for them, there is ample evidence that they have been holding illegal meetings. Itís a small community of 28 homes so it isnít difficult to follow the traffic patterns or see the evidence that the board members are converging at the presidentís home.

Sometimes I think there is divine intervention involved the way these things fall in my lap. For example, my dog died on September 22nd and, because I wanted to hold onto the last memory I had of her, I digitally recorded the entire day from my security camera. I wanted to see how I could have missed the signs. But you know what I found instead? While she was getting hit with one convulsion after the other, outside on the street, the board members were on their way for an evening gathering. And while they were on their way to the meeting, another neighbor (who has in the past shown very little respect for boundaries when she walked her dogs), unnecessarily trespassed into my yard. Whether she was there to scout and see if I had noticed the rendezvous, or had come to try to warn me of what was about to happen, I guess Iíll never know.

There is no doubt that this board illegally converged to make monetary decisions because they clearly announced such a decision in their letter. The letter stated that tree maintenance would be performed for the common areas in front of the town-homes that are part of our mixed home community.

Hereís the sticking point. There are no common grounds infront of the town-homes. We have easement rights and common ground on the side of these homes that give us egress to a considerable patch of common grounds behind the town-homes. But nothing infront, as stated in their notice.


In fact, twenty years ago, when we first moved in, these town-homes, which consist of two duplexes and a quadruplex, were required to pay an exorbitant annual fee compared to the fee that was paid by those of us who lived in single family homes. I believe they paid something like $660.00 a year, compared to our $183.

Those of you who live in multi-family homes or condominiums might understand the reason for this better than I do. I believe that the way our documents were originally written, the Association was expected to take this money from these owners to contract workers to maintain their front yards, which also included atriums; as well as a small swatch of land that the town-house owners own behind their houses, which butt up against our common grounds. They also have party-walls that the Association may have had to collect money for.

But this is where I first witnessed the appearance of the Third America. I saw the transformation occur as strong-willed owners, who were very well connected into the city politics, lobbied to take control of their own maintenance. It may have made sense, at first. But then, our Association went into a state of chaos as they also tried to adversely possess the common areas behind their homes!

This was only one of many efforts. Their resolve was tireless, which only raised the acrimony and distrust in this community.

The common grounds have always been treated like a resource that was up for the taking. But, we see the same pattern over and over again across this country. Itís a sense of entitlement that drives them.

Unfortunately, these kind of resources always get dangled like a carrot to induce more people into this Third America, so it becomes impossible for a person of conscience to stop them by appealing to their sense of fairness and legal requirements.

In fact, when I was raising my small children in this community, I was very much aware that the children they played with on this street were getting an education into a way of life that was very foreign than the one that I was exposed to as a child; or the one I was teaching my children. It became clear to me that the children who grow up in households that see how the social networks can subvert the legal process, are children who will never grow up respecting government. They will always know that there is a way around the process and you can get away with subverting peopleís rights, as long as you form strong, political alliances.

So now, I am not only pondering the fact that, if Iím right, the Association will misappropriate the funds, but Iím also shaking my head because they are also announcing a Mulch-fest, asking for volunteers to spread mulch on the common grounds that they do recognize as part of the Association. I mean really? Are they really paying for maintenance of private property at the same time that they are asking us to volunteer our services?

Yes, I will write a letter to the Association, just to be sure, but this has to be the busiest week I have had all year and where they have had two years to work out agreements and understandings, I have just days to send something off in the mail before I hear the sound of chain-saws and tree grinders. I donít think Iíll make it in time.

One of the things that I would have told them if this community had followed protocol, was that our Association documents include a list of legal definitions. If you look up the term ďcommon groundsĒ it will describe them and I believe you will see ďlandscape easementĒ included. You can always check with a real estate lawyer to see if I am right.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Thu Jun 23, 2016, 12:59 AM (16 replies)
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