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Baitball Blogger

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Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 09:16 PM
Number of posts: 40,016

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Breakfast meetings in Florida - Easily abused.

When Acosta made the case that breakfast meetings were common in Florida, it set off alarm bells. I see them as something that is insidious.

In the 90s our area in Central Florida was a point of interest for the State and Feds. There were roads to be built, including a nature Trailway that I suspect one day will turn into a metro rail when the population requires better transportation. That meant federal and state money was coming into the area. The feds and the state were therefore, interested in finding local support for their plans.

Then, there was the local interests. At the time, there was a huge fight going on between the former owner of the Country Club and its members. It might seem like the local interests and the state and federal interests had nothing to do with each other, except for one glaring problem. Based on the way the locals would set up the game board, you had to deal with many of those members in order to find support for government projects. The board would be heavily influenced by the Country Club issue when Country Club members ran and were elected for office in late 1996.

Once in office, they anointed the local Rotary Club as the nearest thing to a local professional organization and ordered the City Manager to become a member because it was their desire for the City and the Community leaders to communicate better.

It was a foolish arrangement because anyone would know what would happen. The City Manager was looking for support and used these meetings to establish relationships. Whether it was a dinner that followed at a local restaurant, or in the meeting itself, his job was to find out what people wanted in return for City support. It was a pattern that probably continues to this day. City officials joined these private organizations and had direct access to the most self-interested people in the community. Community leaders - elected officials.

In short, the feds and the state got their road and my community turned into a cautionary tale to show the folly of Central Florida's shadow government, which uses far too many secretive meetings to push their causes. Those people who live in our communities that are given far too much access, get far too much influence. Even enough to undermine our own Association documents.

It certainly destroyed my trust in government when the good ole boys in my community were able to over-run our community documents for their own benefit. Instead, they gave the Mayor's friend, who lived in my community, freehand to frame the issues. It was a big miss when the City would fail to conduct proper due diligence when our community's final stage of development was up for review in 1998. The City would, wittingly or unwittingly, turn into a co-conspirator with these people, allowing incompetence and lack of oversight to advance their causes in City Hall. And it all hinged on relationships, in particular with one resident who had influence with the mayor and country club members -- probably because he was known to buy and sell golfcourses.

I call him Resident Roil. Every good ole boy community has one. He or she is a civilian who has entirely too much influence with community leaders and elected officials. The City would accept his word and never looked too deeply beyond what he said, probably because they needed his support for other city projects. I see this as an intentional strategy: Find the loudest critics of the City, and turn them. From what I observed, once they're turned they stop attacking the city, and start spreading misinformation in order to support the city's projects. And, they also defame those who start asking too many questions.

What I got was an eye awakening. So much to say about those days, but the one thing that I became the most wary about was how this backwater network would communicate outside of the normal, legal process. And it was those damn breakfast meetings at the Rotary Club that stand out the most.

In the 1998 HOA meetings, we were told that we had no legal rights to stop the new developer from developing the community next door. It was a lie. Our own Resident Roil had signed the documents that turned the Association over to us in 1989. It was a glaring failure to inform us of critical information. It was going to be a victim of a con. But, we relied on information from those who had the most interest in misleading us. They said we had one way out of our situation. We had Resident Roil's relationship with the mayor. Not only do they play golf together, but he'll see him at the Rotary Club breakfast meetings. Lots more information was communicated that I could show how we were being manipulated into a huge con-job. But let's stay on the topic of these breakfast meetings.

By the time I understood what was going on, I began to realize that Resident Roil was part of a shadow government that used the Rotary Club as a front. It's a civic organization that promotes the selfless nature of its members. I know quite a few Rotary Club members from that time, and selfless is not a word I would use to describe them. Several Rotary Club members would move into the community as the project went through the City process in 1998. And it became apparent that they were part of a group in our HOA that were in favor of supporting the new developer of the sister side of our community, BECAUSE THEY HOPED THAT THIS NEW DEVELOPER WOULD HAND OVER THE DEEDS TO OUR COMMON GROUNDS THAT WERE ALONG THEIR HOUSES. No surprise that they moved into homes along those common grounds. No surprise that Resident Roil had a choice piece of common ground behind his house.

Right there and then, I realized that the Rotary Club was a front. If my story gets traction I hope I put pressure on these private organizations to divorce themselves from these bad actors. In Florida, people wear many hats. If the Rotary Club wants to retain its selfless nomenclature, it needs to pay attention to the laws of Florida and ensure that its organization is not being used by people who are greedy as hell everywhere else. And if the case is that they want to support the backwater ways, let's just put that on the table so we can all be forewarned.

Those breakfast meetings. It always galled me to think how my fate was wrapped up before I even had time to get the kids off to school. So, in sum, Acosta made a big mistake defending them.

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Thu Jul 11, 2019, 09:54 AM (8 replies)
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