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Baitball Blogger

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Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Number of posts: 39,538

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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)

"Compromise" is a euphemism for fraud and corruption.

All you have to do is live in a community that relies on small government types that work quietly, behind the scenes with neo-liberals. We see it on a local level all the time. They conveniently game the rules to work in their favor. Their political shenanigans reach into our HOAs. In fact, our HOAs in Florida are a beautiful example of the crooked behavior I am talking about. If you can't see how it will affect you at a national level, you'll certainly see it at the HOA level.

Decisions are made at the board level, which are gaming the system. I, personally, can attest that HOA boards have been known to jump the process defined in their own documents, in order to protect their status quo. For example, our HOA documents state that annual meetings to elect officers is required. Florida Statute reinforces that this rule shall be adhered to because our documents mandate it. It's not every two years, it's every year. The only way to change the process is through a vote of the full membership with the required percentage approval. But it cannot be changed by a board decision. Yet, to my knowledge, based on the mailer we received last year, they didn't announce elections last year, and I haven't heard about one for this year.

I can only imagine that they are using a method of announcing their meetings that they know is not reaching every member in the community. It's a gamed process, which only gets encouraged by the crooked process that we keep witnessing at the federal level.

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Mon May 9, 2016, 06:33 PM (0 replies)

Sovereigntist have been doing this for decades.

Even in local areas across Central Florida they have rooted into the community, pushing their anti-government memes in small bite-size portions that generates public support for them. I mean, how stupid do you have to be to believe that any good can come from downsizing government regulations? Is the tax bonus you receive really worth the destruction of your own community as these people infiltrate government and community leadership positions to profit from the weakened regulations?

Apparently, very stupid because too many can't see through the ruse. And you can bet that their children will grow up not knowing any better.

Yes, the Feds created their own problem. Many of us have been trying to tell them that something was wrong in our communities, and they just took the easy route and looked the other way. If we have a problem with white Americans thinking they are above the law, who can blame them from reaching this conclusion because no one has shown them anything different.

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sat Jan 9, 2016, 12:36 PM (1 replies)

Why don't we just say the truth.

The bank's recklessness at protecting our investments has proven to be a national security problem. When ordinary people can't sock away enough for retirement or their kid's college education, bad things happen. Many of them move to the dark side to try to make up for the loss. In this age of small government, we have an incredible problem with corrupt community leaders who have learned how to profit from their positions in the community. Their greed and selfishness is destroying the rest of the American dream for the people they are supposed to represent. Trust in the private-public alliances are gone forever. And, when you have a lack of unity among Americans, we end up with the fragmentation problem that we're dealing with today.

THAT's the trickle down effect of having a deregulated banking industry.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Wed Dec 30, 2015, 11:06 AM (2 replies)

How are you going to change the Police Department's antagonistic process,

if you don't first eliminate the public perceptions that drive it? It's easier to see how all the moving pieces work together when you study a small town culture.

In small towns you get the full picture. Length and width. Specifically, you can see how the white elite game the system, skirting the laws to enrich friends, family and business associates. No one will stop them. Not the FBI, the state attorneys office and especially not the police department. That's because their mission is generally defined by the status quo in the community. In other words, their salary is paid by the very same people who will wilt like a flower when they see a PoC walk down their streets.

So, in order to redefine the mission, you have to redefine the status quo.

Personally, I think "shadow government" is more appropriate. The fact that this backwater construct still exists today defies common sense because our American identity is founded on the concept of equality. In contrast, the status quo's purpose is to retain power, and resist change.

I can use a small town culture to demonstrate how they resist change. Keep in mind that the status quo is a socially constructed monster. It grows whenever its turf is threatened. It can pull in new members for the most inane of reasons. For example, if there is someone in the community who presents a challenge to their power, they will respond by pulling all the stops to watch that individual. That can mean increased police surveillance or it can mean contacting neighbors to ask for their assistance. Sometimes it might even involve asking for permission to use a driveway to station a car. (As a side note, when they are asking the gullible neighbor for this favor, they are not just asking for a favor, they are also forcing him to take a side.)

The purpose behind watching the house is not just an intimidation tactic, but also serves to observe who this person is socializing with to stop any political challenges before they begin.

Given this hostile environment I am asking you, how are you going to find allies, how are you going to grow a political movement when the entire system is set up to frustrate you before you even start?

So, do you see how we are all being stymied on both ends of this social experiment? In sum, the key to change is to change the demographics of the status quo. That's the only way to make our criminal justice system more egalitarian in their mission statements. We will get their faster together, with a strategy supported by the BLM and a push for economic equality.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Aug 23, 2015, 01:38 PM (1 replies)

Systemic racism and income inequality do reinforce each other

This is a battle that will be fought on two fronts.

On one side, we're working with the ever hidden hand of the status quo. The status quo consists of the most economically and politically-connected individuals. Currently, that means rules for the police, school programs and job opportunities are gamed to improve the lot for a white demographic, because that is the composition of our status quo in America.

This is a no brainer. Even Sandra Bland mentioned it in her video that to be successful, you have to learn to work alongside of the white culture. That means learning how to fit into their culture, at least, if you want to earn an income. And that's how it will be until minorities can make it in great numbers into the status quo equation, where they can make the rules more equal, so they can retain more of their self without being penalized for it.

And that's where the second front comes in. The one where organizations like BLM will make a huge difference. BLM is creating an urgency and building a groundswell that will put minority issues where they need to be for any change to even be considered by the current status quo.

That's the only way that this country has ever made concessions to minorities. And let me tell you, the first Civil Rights movement did a magnificent job, but it was only the beginning. Affirmative Action did a great job to help minorities overcome obstacles that once kept them from gathering the kind of training and experiences that would help them climb the ladder. But I can tell you that once you get up that ladder and take two steps away from any Federally mandated occupation or environment, you'll find yourself in the same backwater hole, where the old style status quo has been allowed to thrive, undeterred by any effort to diversify.

No question that some of those Federal programs need to be updated. Introducing minorities into any small town environment where the system is gamed in favor of white residents is fool-hardy. It's insanity to think that we can offset the existing political networks in these established communities by building multi-family communities on the outskirts of town. The reasoning behind these programs is that multi-family homes are more affordable, hence, minorities will be able to move in and change the political demographics. But that isn't what happens. We are essentially recreating the very segregated style of communities that the Civil Rights movement tried to put an end to.

The only right way to break through, is to raise the economic well being for minorities, so they can afford to move into the high priced gated communities where the power is pooled. But we have to do it in numbers because these communities have further pitfalls to consider.

You can see the edges of social engineering wherever covenant restricted communities are selectively enforcing their documents. Business Associates and cronies are allowed to do whatever they want to do on their property, infringing on the rights of neighbors. To someone who is victimized by the process, it does look like a concerted effort to push you out of the community, because the HOA is reinforcing a hostile atmosphere.

To add to the tumultuous environment, the HOA board members can pile it on by increasing the Association fees. This will not have a negative impact on residents who are connected to one another through the poli-economic networks that small towns are known for. These residents won't even bat an eyelash when those fees keep climbing because the cost can be mitigated through business opportunities that will spring up through their business associations. Everyone else is on their own.

This will be particularly daunting for minorities, wherever racism is an issue.

Those fees become a challenge because they must be paid, or you lose your house. It's simple mathematics. It is a major pitfall to home ownership, especially for minorities who finally make it to the top to discover a society where the rules are unlike any other that they have experienced before. You pay for a dream home, just to discover that you're on the outside of an entitled, insular society. And if you look around, it is not much different any where else.

So you will continue to pay those fees, and unwittingly feed the system, because your house can be sold right from under you if you don't. This will not change until the demographics of a community change, to make it harder for insular societies to set in.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Mon Jul 27, 2015, 11:31 AM (0 replies)

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."

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Jul 19, 2015, 08:17 PM (4 replies)

Economic justice will result in more minorities moving into

white suburban communities, where large pools of hate and entitlement spread unfettered across generational lines. There is no one here to challenge them. And it is from this white suburban nuttery nursery that racist feelings are spread around easier than stock tips on a golfcourse.

You think it's only black men they fear? Imagine driving by neighbors who are out walking on the street. The husband waves a friendly smile, and the wife ropes her children in her arms in a protective stance. What are we supposed to make about that?

I know exactly what's going on because I have seen it before. Some people were raised in racist families where they were indoctrinated to fear people who are different than they are. Some of them know that these fears are unfounded, but that's not enough to stop the ones in the family who are perpetually damaged.

The irony is, that they only add to their anxiety because they think it's their manifest destiny to collude against the interests of the weakest members of society. So we who are fighting these battles on our own are in a bad situation because we not only have to learn how to defend our rights (which takes money) at the same time that we don't add fuel to the fire because we are dealing with the impressionable perceptions of the next generation.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Fri Jun 5, 2015, 10:08 AM (1 replies)

Actually, racist leaning communities tend to commit civil torts

on a regular basis. They also tend to flock together in many of these covenant-restricted communities, where they take over the boards and control the decision making to benefit their boys and gals, and undermine the rights of everyone else. They are pretty brazen in their efforts to push undesirable residents out of their insular societies.

I really don't understand why Civil Rights organizations have been so slow to recognize the correlation between these micro-cultures and economic opportunities. In small communities, job opportunities are directly derived from private-public partnerships programs that are government sponsored. Unfortunately, from what I can see, these jobs do not come without a hitch. City government not only can use jobs to dangle carrots to induce support for their programs, but they also can use these private organizations as a backdoor into the private communities. This can prove costly to homeowners who are not part of the inner circle, because it always feels like they are being sold out.

So it makes sense that if racists can push out minority homeowners out of these neighborhoods, they can also keep them from joining the very private organizations that could help them find jobs.

Of course, there's another reason to give minorities in these neighborhoods a hard time. Once they understand how the game is really being played, they would cry foul.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Jun 2, 2015, 05:41 PM (0 replies)

Just wanted to add, that if you want to find a racist agenda you'll probably find it

in a "suburb with restricted covenants". So the current times aren't a cup of tea either. If you manage to buy a house in their communities you will pay dearly for it and we could use some enlightened help from our progressive candidates to fix the problems.

The symptoms of racism are alive and well in the suburbs. Here are some of the signs to look for:

1) Is there a strong clique or two forming in the neighborhood?

2) Is there already a history that shows how the people in these cliques will work together to pass on misinformation that will support their improper agendas, at the same time that they discredit the minority homeowner's position?

3) Does the HOA turn a blind eye when cronies breach covenants that specifically encroach on the rights of the minority resident in the community?

4) When the minority resident appeals to the HOA, do they hold a meeting without inviting you to discuss the issue? Afterwards, do they invite the minority resident to the board meeting to hear their final decision when you know that on the board is one of the members that encroached on your rights and the decision has already been squared with the other residents?

5) Despite that it's evidence of selective enforcement: When you're out working in the yard do people come back to watch what you're doing to make sure you aren't building anything that will encroach on their buddy's property rights, even though they passed on a chance to stop the neighbor from encroaching on your rights?

6) And the most beautiful example of racism: Given the comprehensive list of indifference or hostility they have subjected you to over the years, do they suddenly find their sweet face and approach you just to ask you if you're ready to sell your house? It's like they're checking to see if you've had enough.

Yeah, they absolutely know that they're giving you a hard time, and they don't have a sincere friendship to offer you because they know the end game is to push the undesirable out of their insular societies.

I think it's time to expand our knowledge of racism, since making it to the suburbs isn't the reward that everyone has led us to believe.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Mon Jun 1, 2015, 06:20 PM (0 replies)
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