HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Race & Ethnicity » African American (Group) » Equal Economic Impact is ...

Sun Jul 19, 2015, 07:17 PM

Equal Economic Impact is the Remedy to Crony Government

Hey everyone, full disclosure: I posted this in other forums and it pretty much went flat on its face. But I thought it might interest this forum because it was inspired by an article that described how black residents approached their City Hall to ask for a fair share of the public works projects that were being planned for their city. They managed to get a vote of agreement from the commission, but it's not binding.

I thought about writing this screed because a similar project was planned in my city fifteen years ago and we're still dealing with the repercussions from the back room deals that undermined those who tried to appeal their situations in an open meeting.

I see it as a relevant topic for the reasons I point out below.

Equal Economic Impact is the Remedy to Crony Government

When we talk about improving the economic conditions for minorities, the first step is to recognize when an opportunity presents itself. The most obvious example occurs whenever a local government decides to sponsor a large public works project.

If the plan is to ensure that these projects don't get hijacked by the crony groups, it's important to keep an eye on the local government officials and their advisors. Specifically, are they conversing with members of private organizations in order to curry support for the public project? Is so, who are they pulling in at the ground floor?

It is important to identify these entitled groups because people who are pulled in through outreach programs will bring in their own agendas. As the government body cultivates the social relationship in order to find issues that will help induce support for their public cause, they can entangle themselves in private matters that will leave a permanent stink in a community.

So, it's imperative for someone to keep track of those private conversations, especially if equal access and equal representation is a concern.

An Example: Apopka, Florida

Right now, Apopka, Florida is gearing up for a large town center project. There isn't enough information in the newspaper to determine if there are private groups that are getting sneak previews, but it is an issue that someone should look into.

In the late nineties, my city, Winter Springs, had a similar town center concept and they did target "key people" and "key organizations" in order to gather support. The ultimate result from pulling in people into these inside circles, was to create a dichotomous society that still stands today.

People who were pulled in during the early stages, learned that the city and its attorneys would circumvent the rules under the right conditions. It was insight that would influence how they viewed government and leadership roles.

That conclusion is prima facie because people who experience this kind of indoctrination will never have respect for the government process. Once they see how rules are ignored to facilitate the decision-making process, they will never look at a rule as an obstacle, again.

And, if they don't respect the due process and due diligence requirements of government, don't expect them to respect it in their community leadership roles either.

So, in sum, let's agree that dichotomous societies are not something we should be striving for these days. If Apopka is using the same closed-society mentality that my city used in the nineties, I can guarantee that equal economic impact will not be a direct result of the process.

Equal Representation as a Remedy to Cronyism

There is a factor in Apopka that was missing from my city in the nineties. Apopka's demographics are half white, a quarter black and a quarter Hispanic/latino. With those high numbers in minority groups it is no surprise to discover that black leaders stood up in an Apopka meeting to pitch their cause. In a public meeting in March, they made their case and the commission agreed with their position, at least, ceremonially.

Black leaders seek more diversity, opportunity in Apopka

It started as a simple statement about equal opportunity..

A resolution proposed by black ministers called on city leaders to ensure that "no person or community is left behind" during the expected surge in Apopka's economy.

Known as "One Apopka for Progress," the measure proposed that Orange County's second-largest city should strive for "justice, jobs, and a joyful and safe quality of life for all people within the city limits," where, according to census figures, whites make up half the 46,000 residents, Hispanics account for 25 percent and blacks about 21 percent.


The resolution was eventually approved 3-2 by the Apopka City Council, after a rancorous debate during which one citizen stood to remind the mayor that "slavery is over" and another referred to a 1937 city ordinance that segregated Apopka, restricting black businesses and homes to the city's south side.

However, it was just a ceremonial vote, for, as the city attorney pointed out:

City Attorney Cliff Shepard said the resolution was full of "platitudes" but lacked binding language to commit the city to any action or programs.


Final Word:

For my two cents, At the local level I have seen very little commitment from small government proponents to engage residents who are not part of the inside circles. If you're not a member of one of the favored organizations, chances are that your interests will be undermined. So, the answer is to tie any federal dollars to programs that will result in equal impact for minority communities. This step is necessary to avoid the business as usual oversight from the crony networks.

In addition, someone should watch who receives the subcontracts once the Master Developer is selected. Because, it's not unheard of that job assignments, like landscaping architecture, ends up in the hands of local insiders.

- - - - -

Here are clips from a current paid subscription article that has an update on the plans:

Apopka eyes major transformation, new city center

"We've been waiting on a downtown forever," said Richard Anderson, who served 31 years with the city fire department and nearly a decade as Apopka's chief administrative officer.


The targeted area includes another 108 privately owned acres that could be pulled into the development, a University of Central Florida business incubator and Martin's Pond, a 14-acre body of water. Private property owners could negotiate their own deals with developers if they chose.

The city wants a developer with a "proven track record" of building large-scale urban projects, which it defined as having a value more than $50 million, and not many developers can clear that hurdle.

Also, the intersection of "441 and 436 for years has been a mess," Anderson reminded City Council. "We've argued with and state officials a long time about that."


4 replies, 1665 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Equal Economic Impact is the Remedy to Crony Government (Original post)
Baitball Blogger Jul 2015 OP
JustAnotherGen Jul 2015 #1
Baitball Blogger Jul 2015 #2
JustAnotherGen Jul 2015 #3
Baitball Blogger Jul 2015 #4

Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Mon Jul 20, 2015, 08:54 AM

1. I need to kick this

It shows what happens when we go to government with a plan - and core requirements.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 20, 2015, 09:14 AM

2. Exactly. And the lesson here is that if there are private conversations

being held outside that chamber with private parties, it can ultimately undermine all the hard work that someone puts together to properly present before the commission. What I've learned is that if you're lobbying your own cause, you don't get ahead by following legal process in local government. Around here, they connect directly with the key players privately in the community and it's not uncommon for the city to take the word directly from "the old guys," instead of conducting a proper due diligence finding.

The swing vote is the newspapers. If they are on your side, you stand a chance. But, if they have already been turned by the insider group, they will squelch information that they feel is detrimental to the cause.

And, if I learned anything, it is to listen carefully to the city attorney. If he says the commission vote was not binding, to me it means that any talks that are going on in private conversations with "key players" are still viable.

In fact, it's always a good, preemptive move to ask for a public records request for the city attorney's timesheets. It's a way of knowing if there is any direct contact with other attorneys who represent the landowners, for example. And it's a way to determine if there is any legal research going on for subject matter that may have come up through private conversations with the commissioners.

It's been known to happen.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 20, 2015, 09:38 AM

3. Welcome to my town . . .


But Mayor Phil Greiner said this week, "When we went to (borough redevelopment attorney) Rob Beckelman and he pulled up the redevelopment agreement for precision, we learned that they in fact have 60 days to let us know. So that pushes us to, I believe it's Aug. 12."

As of Wednesday, no response had been heard from Matt McPherson and Liam Burns, the principals of Flemington Union Hotel LLC, according to the mayor.

If council proceeds to de-designate McPherson and Burns, it will be the second time council has lost patience with its designated redeveloper. It pulled the plug on Joe LoPiccolo's Cirquell LLC in July of 2012 after more than a year had passed and he still had not acquired the property. Burns and McPherson, named redevelopers in November of 2012, acquired the property and a liquor license to go with it early in 2013, but have made no visible progress since then.

If the borough withdraws their redeveloper status, they could still redevelop their property, but it would not be eligible for some of the financial and regulatory advantages that it would have from partnering with the borough.


Around here, they connect directly with the key players privately in the community and it's not uncommon for the city to take the word directly from "the old guys," instead of conducting a proper due diligence finding.

And when this happens - it's only a matter of time before bricks fall on a little kid walking down the sidewalk to get an ice cream at Cocco's.

I truly believe that each of us can engage in direct community activism - and all politics is local. If everyone got involved and asked for a second, third, fourth, etc. etc. look at what is going on in their town, borough, city, village - and let the leadership know they are being watched and scrutinized or run against . . . considering how many local leaders move into state and national positions - it will eventually roll up to Federal Government.

In the meantime - you and me both? Have some sort of eyesore or eyesore SITUATION in our back yards.

Too much is going on in private meetings and back room deals. Enough!

ETA- wanted to add. . . we are going to try to move towards a 'sanctuary town' for all in 2016 - and key that our little band of disruptors are driving - let's take over the hotel - get the liquor license and hire people 'in the shadows' at fair wages to rebuild and work there. Let's make it our COMMUNITY property since private enterprise has not been able to get it done.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 20, 2015, 10:03 AM

4. It would be an exciting thing to see a community development project

actually put together by the community.

Such a thing would not be possible where I live. Too many landowners and developers have had a taste of rogue government and they won't give up the advantages they cultivated through their personal relationships. And the people...well. It's 90% white and mostly Republican. Guvmint can't tell them what to do, which is why everything around here is the result of one manipulation after another. The shrewd ones expect to be "induced", and if they aren't, they get insulted. Everyone else is fed misinformation to achieve the objective. Sometimes that means demonizing people who stand in their way. And that kind of thing never disappears.

No one provides the facts accurately. It's all about motivating people through hate and fear.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread