HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Baitball Blogger » Journal
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next »

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: 31,078

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

I don't know. I think the things I've seen here are strictly backwater Florida. Like the lawyers...

In my personal journal, I intend to dedicate a chapter on why I wouldn't hire a local lawyer, and it goes down to the fact that they're so interconnected that they will only stick around long enough to learn what you know. In other words, it's up to you to uncover their conflicts of interest because they won't tell you. So when they leave, they leave you weaker than you were before you contacted them.

I am going to tell you an anecdote, but keep in mind, that this is only one of the experiences I will write about, concerning the lawyers.

Here's the necessary background: On one HOA meeting in late 1998, we managed to clean the board of the two members who were putting their interests ahead of the interests of the Association. In a nutshell, their houses abutted against the Association's common grounds and it was their hope that the new developer for the sister community would just hand over the titles of those properties over to them, in return for their support for his plans. Let that sink in. It was a huge breach of fiduciary responsibility, but fiduciary responsibility is the first casualty in a good ole boy community.

In another part of town, about the same time that we were cleaning out our Association board, the City and its co-defendants were seeing the final stage in a lawsuit filed by the old developer, who tried to develop our sister community. Part of his lawsuit claimed that he had been denied the opportunity to develop the property because of business interference and/or conspiracy. One of the City's co-defendants was the Master HOA, A HOA that empowered itself to represent all the Associations within our PUD borders, including mine.

Keep that information on the back burner.

The old developer's lawsuit against the city and the Master HOA would end with a settlement agreement that included a confidentiality clause. Years back, with the help of a public records request, I was able to go into City Hall to examine boxes of documents that were pertinent to that lawsuit. I spent a pretty penny on copies, and it would take me years to sift through the information, and even more years to finally understand what had happened.

One of the documents that I read was particularly shocking. That one I understood, almost immediately. It was a letter from a local attorney who expressed his commitment to insure that the points that were agreed on in the settlement agreement, would be observed. Remember, that one of those points involved a confidentiality clause, which would have extended to the Master HOA.

In the document, the lawyer would identify himself as the "Insurer". In one line, like a subject line, it was stated that the topic involved "Auto Casualty". To this day, this statement is still jarring to me, because his involvement had nothing to do with auto insurance. And it's that attempted misdirection that stands tall, adding to my opinion of lawyers. But it doesn't stop there.

Remember, that at the same time that the City and the Master HOA was entering into this settlement agreement in late 1998, my Association was cleaning the board of two people who allowed our Association to walk into this debacle. There was a third board member that may have also been partially involved, or at least knew more than s/he led on. In sum, there was no one I could trust, 100%.

Skip to a few months later when our HOA now had a new president who was a homeowner who had never taken part in any of the early events. He seemed to be of the right mindset, imploring us to refer to our HOA documents for guidance. Keep in mind, that we were only beginning to suspect that we had more legal rights than we were led to believe. We needed the opinion of a lawyer to confirm it. And the new president suggested the personal lawyer he had just retained to represent him as a homeowner.

Oh, God. It would be months before I would connect that we were being led down a rabbit hole. The new president of our Association had been referred to the lawyer by someone in our community. And the lawyer was the same one who had insured that the confidentiality clause would be followed. This lawyer had a conflict of interest you could drive a train through and he wouldn't tell us. Months later I confronted him and he acted like he didn't know.

But we didn't know that in early 1999. Needless to say, we went to him for clarification and he read over our documents. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. He poured over those pages and didn't even appear to stop to breathe because he came up gasping for air, almost gleeful when he crossed over a statement that he claimed vindicated the HOA president who represented our HOA when the sister community was under city review in early 1998. In layman's terms, it was a line that claimed that the president had the power to sell property. i don't know how that stacks up against primary and secondary law, since there are plenty of cases and even state laws that supersede HOA documents, but I don't believe we were sitting before an attorney who was giving us the benefit of loyalty. He concluded that a lawsuit against the city would be a "horse race," which put doubt in our minds. In other words, he averted a lawsuit that would have protected his clients in the lawsuit against the old developer.

Months later, I came across that lawyer's name in that memo I described earlier and realized his incredible conflict of interest. I hate him for it. He pushed us off the path that would have revealed just how politically intertwined this community is and, thus, denied us self-determination and justice.

There's more I could write about the tumbling consequences that are directly tied to that lawyer. I'll just mention the following: The new president developed a close relationship with him, and over time, the new president would change. He grew in the belief that he didn't need the rest of the board to make decisions. He felt he had the power to represent our Association, like a CEO.

There is no question in my mind that the lawyer led him to believe that. And it would become the beginning of the end when the new president made a rule that we would hold the board meeting first, followed immediately by a HOA meeting. Do you see how that would work out? The lawyer would have an opportunity to influence the president's direction. We only would learn what he decided at the board meeting, and wouldn't have time to investigate and research the issue to question him. I saw the flaw immediately. The lawyer was turning us into a rubber stamp.

Needless to say, I ended my participation on the board when my term was up. I don't know how anyone can agree to be part of these boards because there is liability, even if you're just a rubber stamp. But I know that part of their boldness comes from lawyers whispering in their ear, "We've got your back."

Of course, over the years this community has been able to hone their strategies to accomplish the same objective -- tamp down on information that would eventually be turned around into a lawsuit against the city and the Master HOA. And the strategy that amazes me the most, is allowing one of their cronies to serve on BOTH boards: Our Association board, as well as the Master HOA Board, which is obligated to follow the confidentiality clause. And this person is Not just anyone, mind you. But someone with military service AND ties to Tallahassee.

Imagine what it has taken to change my perspective in order to find justice. It has not only involved breaking through American sacred cows, but also required dealing with the fear of retaliation from powerful people. Needless to say all the improper board procedures that I have observed and documented over the years, makes for one hell of a curiosity.

In sum, I really do believe I got a front row seat to see how the backwater powerbase of Central Florida operates. And to say that all these machinations have interfered with the enjoyment of my property is an understatement.


Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Jan 29, 2019, 12:00 PM (1 replies)

What is it about Florida that we can foster such nasty, crude people who have such influence over

our lives? I don't think it's an accident that such a rotten soul as Roger Stone has a home in this state. It seems that the more connections they have to powerful people, the more arrogant they get. So back to my question, "What is it about Florida that we can foster such nasty, crude people who have such influence over our lives?

It's a rhetorical question, because I know the answer.

In a nutshell, there is a bond that exists between our local government, the state and a combination of private cronies and the agencies that usually restore order and fairness. We're lucky on a national level to have the FBI and the media doing their jobs as the Constitution meant it to be, but it's not like that in Florida. Things wouldn't be this bad, otherwise.

I've already written how my city was compromised back in the nineties. You can find that rant in my Journal. Today it's impossible to break the path that began twenty years ago because people who make it into our community boards are either loyal to the cause, or do not seem to have the resolve or accurate information to break with the backwater methods that rule this community. It's my objective to bring that information to light, eventually. Even then, I think my success will be limited to exposing an entitled, privileged white-flight community in suburban Florida. I don't expect anything will change, because this is a way of life that works too well for them.

What I will share tonight, is how their need for secrecy creates strange behavior from those who are invested in protecting secrets which have long run their course. That's what happens when you have two societies running parallel to each other, and one is determined to retain power in order to keep information from the other.

For background, our community is being sued by our sister community over payments for infrastructure problems. The solution is very simple. The problems were a direct cause from the city's interference with our legal rights back when the sister community was going through the city review process. With the assistance of backwater cronies who lived in my community, the elected officials of that time co-opted the sister development. Their reason: they favored a new developer over the first one that tried to develop the property. Their subterfuge involved withholding critical information from the rest of us who lived here, which would have apprised us of our rights. But keeping us informed would have slowed the approval process. To this day, they go through great lengths to keep information away from us that pertains to our welfare. Except for their cabal.

You would think that good people would distance themselves from a cause that included fraud and conspiracy, but that's not what I have observed. This is more like a virus that spreads. There is never a shortage of people who are willing to join them, if the opportunity is offered. And when they do, it isn't too hard to spot the benefits they receive for their service. It's just the same as you see on a national level.

Meanwhile, I get to observe how they compound their problems by creating a hostile environment. People here are just downright dishonest and mean spirited, and the best advice I could give a newcomer who wants to hold on to their integrity, it is this: if they are eager to reach out to you, look for a disingenuous purpose. You probably won't be wrong.

There are other things that are unique to a compromised community. Like tonight, when I went out to walk the dogs, I could feel the difference. It wasn't an ordinary night. The old guy on a bicycle without lights that drove too close to us as we walked on the sidewalk wasn't the first thing that tipped me off. It was the houselights on the neighbor next door. That only happens on my street when someone is jumpy. So, looking at my security cameras, I could distinctly spot the lone dark shadow of a person walking on the golfpath behind the house. I kept my eye on that camera and the mystery was solved shortly afterward. The other neighbor is a HOA board member and the camera captured the moment he returned from the HOA president's house.

So, tonight it was another illegal HOA board meeting. That would make two in about ten days time. Something is moving quickly.

You know, it's times like this that I think about that lawsuit filed by the developer back in the nineties. I wonder if the federal district court for the middle district of Florida that ruled over that lawsuit and ultimately allowed this community to bury its secrets, did so knowing that it ultimately was allowing a community to function in a manner that was the opposite of what the Constitution had intended.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Jan 29, 2019, 12:41 AM (24 replies)

I know about the fight you're talking about because a lot has been written

about cattle ranchers who have a manifest destiny idea about property. That is definitely a huge problem, and I think the laws should have already been on your side to make it easier to protect your property.

On a smaller scale, I experienced something similar that involved property rights. Something that should never have happened if the laws were meant to protect a homesteader. It was something that revealed the true nature of Central Florida. Except, no one wants to talk about it, so new people continue to walk in without understanding what they're being subjected to. I will make an effort to explain it, because it sounds like you have been through a harrowing experience and can understand it on a personal level.

The problem with my neighbors disrespecting property lines has a history that goes back to the nineties. At least, that's my opinion. It's not just the activity of one bad neighbor. It's a collective mindset of a group that has or had back channel access to the political powers during that decade. It was a crazy time and everything came off the rails, which is what you would expect in a Republican leaning community that had very little respect for government regulation. In their favor, it didn't seem like local government had much respect for government regulation either. By the time they found a purpose for it, it was too late. This story is about what happens when the private sector takes the reigns of our local government. Spoiler: the rest of us end up with the worst of both.

We purchased our home in 1994. The neighbor next door, who was the president of our Association during this footloose era, had already put up a rail fence twenty feet into the golfcourse property. "To keep the golfers off his property," he claimed. They were nice neighbors for the first two years, and then an insanity set into this community that began in 1996.

During that time, one of our neighbors was part of a resistance group that was playing an active role in the fight against the then owner of the golfcourse and Country Club. This resistance group was opposed to the owner's plans to build two properties on the golfcourse. The plans were for single family, upscale homes, which was a huge improvement over the high density vested rights that he had when he first purchased the property. The Country Club owner received approval to build single family homes based on compromises he obtained through prior lawsuits. In other words, Zoning by Litigation.

He also wanted to finish the last phase of the community I live in. This would have been a third property that he wanted to work on at the same time, though he didn't own the property.

You have to pay attention to all the moving parts, and back in the 1996-1998 time frame, there were two major moving pieces to pay attention to. The first: the development of the two properties near the country club had heavy opposition, mostly by its members. It became a hostile situation and strategies ranged from efforts to buy his property, to taking over City Hall through the election process. That's my interpretation of what I witnessed or read from researching public records of that time.

And, we will start by saying that it appears that they intended to use the power of the city to stall or interfere with the developer's right to develop his property. This is what I concluded based on my reading of ample briefs that were part of the developers' latest lawsuit against the City. The evidence of foulplay would have been confirmed if the developer exercised his right to modify the lawsuit and proceed with a jury trial. If he had followed that process, he would have deposed the City Attorney, and it would have been all she wrote.

We need to see the chronology of the lawsuits to see how that would have transpired: I think it was July 1998 when the Federal Court ruled on the developer's lawsuit against the City. The decision would weaken the city's hand because the judge ruled that the city had provided assurances to the developer, therefore it ruled in favor of the developer based on estoppel. Therefore, the developer had his vested right to develop the two properties along the golfcourse in what they called, developable property.

If the developer had followed the next legal option to him, and modified his lawsuit and obtain his jury trial, he would have had the opportunity to also prove another claim he made in his lawsuit. Business Interference. Maybe even conspiracy, but I haven't read the lawsuit in several years, so I am not sure about that last part. But Business Interference I do remember because I can see how that would have related to the development of the final phase of our development.

To prove business interference, and possibly conspiracy, all the developer would have to do was depose the City Attorney, because in October 1998, four months after the judge had made the estoppel ruling, the City Attorney had a strategic talk with the City's trial attorneys. This they did to determine the monetary offer they were going to make to the developer. And in that talk the City Attorney provided details that would have confirmed what we may know today, loosely, as conspiracy.

But, the developer never took that option, because, in December 1998, he settled out of court with the City for two million dollars.

The second moving piece in 1997, (at exactly the same time that the backwater boys and gals were launching their tactical assault to stop those two developments), involved the final phase of our development. The country club developer could prove he had a business relationship with the representative of the private owner of final phase of our development because both the developer and representative showed up in 1995 when the conceptual plans were approved by the Planning and Zoning board. But that property became in jeopardy when the resistance group managed to stall the development of the other two properties. The stall occurred when questions were raised in November 1997 that required a legal opinion. This requirement created a lull, a stall. And it was in this time period that a new, competing developer showed up to develop the final phase of our property.

I went to every "public" City meeting that involved our community and the way things were handled will point to a rush job. I could write chapters on what I saw that smelled, but in short, the development for the new developer was rushed through city hall. Probably the biggest smoking gun of malfeasance was a ground breaking photo taken with two high level City elected officials that took place two and a half months before the first public meeting was held in City Hall.

In addition, we were held back by the member in our community that was part of the resistance group. He asserted and reinforced the idea that our Association was not turned over to us yet, so we believed we had no rights, except for what was negotiated privately.

It was all a lie. Not only was the Association turned over ten years prior, but the legal papers was signed by the guy who was involved with the resistance group.

Like following a plume to a chemical spill, this guy's name kept coming up. One of the few people that befriended me told me that this fellow was the one that made the pitch to buy the Country Clup. I realize this is hearsay, but I can affirm that Resistance Guy told me that "we made an offer for the Country Club, but the offer was rejected." He just never confirmed that he was the one that did the sales pitch, so of that, I cannot be sure.

But I think about it a lot. Can you imagine how much money he would have pulled in as commission? It would probably require a need for a financial consultant. With his political connections, he would also have the power to draw up small sections of the golfcourse, and it makes me wonder when I see people stolid to this day about taking over common grounds or golfcourse property, if someone made promises to them, that were impossible to keep.

All I can say is, back in 1997-1998, some of my neighbors behaved in very strange ways with reference to that new developer. They bent over backwards to facilitate construction and were also very nasty about keeping the rest of us at bay. Even to the point of making rules to keep the rest of us from talking to him. It was an eerie time. Think about it. We had a group of neighbors that worked together to try to get our common grounds deeded over to them, which should sound strange, unprecedented and unheard of, but they acted like it was no big deal and they were hostile to the rest of us who wanted to slow down the process long enough to understand what was going on.

In sum, I believe when the federal court allowed the city and developer to settle the lawsuit that it also stopped the rest of us from discovering just how much our neighbors worked together to compromise our community. And, without a clear line drawn, a lot of what we see today when it comes to encroachments, started back in that time. That's what I sincerely believe.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Fri Jan 4, 2019, 02:58 PM (1 replies)

I saw the church in a very different light a few years back.

Different from the way I understood it when I lived in a third world country where good deeds and obligations were simple to understand.

It was just one sermon in a new church that woke me up. A neighbor invited me to her church, where her husband was the pastor. We had some serious problems in our Association where neighbors had committed fraud and conspiracy. We were just beginning to see how it was tied to other misbehavior in the larger community. At the service, the pastor talked about an accident where a man killed a two year old child. DUI, I believe. I thought the sermon was going to be about the pain of losing a child, and how you come back from such a tragedy. But it was all about how that pastor reached out to that man and how the man "turned" his life around by speaking about his experience to others. The pastor stated that the speeches were redeeming to the man.

I'm thinking to myself, this pastor seems to be way too interested in reaching out to someone who was responsible for destroying a family's life, than I feel comfortable with. There is just no balance in this sermon. I didn't even remember hearing the pastor state that the speeches might prevent someone else from committing the same mistake. It was all about making the sinner whole again from his perspective.

That's when my radar was activated. I had all these thoughts in my head that morning, trying to make sense to why it was that it never seemed that we could dig out from all the intrigue and deceit that was habitual in our community. It was one moving piece of a puzzle that connected with another when I heard that sermon. Because I began to realize that churches in America may have a different outlook and purpose than the churches where I grew up.

If you think about it, a church must operate as a business. There are bills to be paid. What could be more profitable to a church than to pull in people with deep pockets, who are seeking redemption? Think about the role that church would play in a community. People who have made transgressions against other community members can seek out the pastors, show them that they are remorseful and want absolution. They probably provide a huge donation to the church.

The pastor in turn, who may know the wronged individual, turns into a calculated broker. It's not like he's going to reach out to the victim and share information which is "blessed" by confidentiality. Instead, he does what churches in right-wing communities have done for the better part of two centuries. He teaches the victim to accept and forgive. He tells the victim that we can't know everything, but we need to forgive in order to free ourselves.

Which is the biggest crock of shit ever told in a community where there are two societies running parallel of each other, and one society just habitually shits on the other.

Can you ever imagine a worse misuse of authority? If my guess is right, churches just add to the dysfunctional societies we have to deal with in red communities.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Dec 23, 2018, 12:24 PM (1 replies)

It's a pathetic strategy to use your child to dilute the consequences for your misdeeds.

I've seen it before at the HOA level. People who brutalized you in the past start appearing on the street, when it's obvious that something is going on in the community that will uncover their treachery. They know that I witnessed their misbehavior and now, in a ploy for sympathy, they suddenly appear when you're out gardening. I call it the gimp walk because they look dejected, limp, walk with a cane or hold their back in pain. And all I can think about is that this is just another ploy, like all the others.

The same kind of bad judgment they used to get themselves into that mess, is the same bad judgment that they use when they bring their children in to try to control your resolve. For example, we had a couple who was trying to steal the common grounds of our Association and they came to a meeting that was going to hold a vote on the issue. It wasn't just them. There was a large group that had been colluding in the background to make a move at a time when the Association wasn't quite on its feet. They were taking advantage of the ignorance of new neighbors, that had not been apprised of the location of those common grounds, nor that they had easement rights to use them. Of course, it was the older homeowners that kept this information from them.

Anyway, I, and others, managed to prevail in pushing the vote back to inform these people and it looked like it was going to be a nastier meeting than most. So they bring their children to the meeting, as if that was going to soften hearts. But by then, people were beginning to understand the extent of what the collusion between these insiders were going to cost us in the long run and no one was happy. It ended badly with the husband, who was president of the Association, resigning his seat. His wife left taking her pound cake with her.

It's one of those experiences that builds callouses around your sympathetic heart strings.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Wed Dec 12, 2018, 12:11 PM (0 replies)

Republicans: Addicted to their own misery.

Listening to MSNBC tonight and they're talking about how Republicans are still bitter, even after winning. I do have many Republican friends, but the ones that seem to be the biggest Trumpers have this personality trait: They are addicted to their own misery. No matter how much you compliment them, they find some ways to perceive things in bleak terms. i.e. "No body has ever said I was beautiful," even after you spent the day telling them they look prettier than Scarlett Johansson.

And, no matter how much you go out on a limb to help them, it's never enough. They're always crying poor mouth, which is why they desperately want that $300 tax return which is tangible, even though they'll pay more for everything else that gets worse because of deregulation. They simply can't conceptualize how the safety nets improve their own lives. They're too busy seeing that those programs will help people they can't relate to.

They run in tight tribal circles, which as far as I can tell, are shrinking.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sat Nov 3, 2018, 09:27 PM (16 replies)

Since I am faced with similar issues, I can tell you this:

The key to breaking these red counties is to make them more diverse. Reverse the white flight patterns that created them. They have an entire subculture that they want to protect because they game the system to stay on top and in control. And that should scare everyone if it's true that all politics are local. They need these footholds to launch much bigger campaigns.

They are going to try to do everything they can to push out all minorities that don't bend their way. So, we could use a little support.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Mon Oct 29, 2018, 06:36 AM (0 replies)

She's a Marshmallow.

A white person who loses her shit and browns out when faced with an ordinary situation that involves minorities.

Don't underestimate how much damage they can do, especially when a community is invested in removing minorities from their neighborhoods.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Mon Oct 29, 2018, 06:23 AM (1 replies)

The inbetween of a racist-enabling society.

One thing that Kavanaugh has brought to light is that there was a whole lot wrong in the frat culture of the seventies-eighties. It probably didn't stop during that time, but I can only attest to that era.

In relation to racial issues, in the private college I attended the racial mix in frat houses didn't even reflect the meager 2% minorities that attended the college at that time. I remember that race was a non-issue during the eighties, probably because everyone believed it was handled by federal law and because, well, there were no racial clashes on campus because, well there were so few minorities that there were no social issues to consider. Out of sight, out of mind. There was a frat house that was known to be patronized by Southern rednecks, but I never associated with them so I don't know to what degree they could be called racist.

What is important to know, is that the general appearance was that most people knew to be racially sensitive, from what I remember. A few times a frat bro might have slipped and said something in poor taste within ear shot of the one black member in the house, but everyone took it good naturally. At least that was the impression.

This, however, did not pass the test of time.

Jump forty years ahead and what I see is that all those thoughtless comments did have an impact in the long term. Each year, the few minorities found less and less reason to return to reunions. On the other hand, white frat brothers have found less reason to withhold what can only be termed as racist comments. Especially in this permissive climate, those who did not have personal restraints, just got worse. The problem is, they are in a nether region because they don't see themselves as racists because they haven't really suffered any social consequences for the things they say. And the people, their friends, who should stand up and say something to them, well, they're the real subject of this rant.

Let me just say that denial is not the same thing as being racially sensitive. I find that people, when faced with an individual who is too free with racist comments, would rather be non-confrontational and would rather smile nervously and look away, rather than stand up and tell someone that they're coming across racist. They tolerate their frat brothers because that's what the band of brothers that they joined decades ago, taught them to do. They are non-judgmental, non-confrontational and mostly useless in helping to turn the tide. In fact, they might even get surly at someone who would make their racist frat brother feel uncomfortable. They would rather ignore the behavior, and by ignoring it they send the message to their more racist frat brothers that there are no social consequences to their misbehavior. They are enablers.

I don't know what it would take to bring these people to action. But I am certain that they're the ones who hold the key to turning this whole thing around. Maybe the fraternal order could send out a policy statement regarding this issue, because I find it odd that men feel compelled to support behavior in a frat brother, that they would not accept in themselves.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Wed Oct 3, 2018, 09:30 PM (2 replies)

Time for traveling Dem political doctors to work their way around the country.

How many insider Democrats were surprised by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's win? The after game analysis seems to be that she was able to connect with the Democratic base that never votes. And we all know why. They feel disconnected from the process.

I'm just wondering, especially now that Obama is trying to rally the base, maybe it's time for a Democratic team to reach out and visit important purple localities to understand the ground game better. I know, when I worked for a large company, that home office would periodically visit us and pulled us in randomly to ask us questions about our supervisors. Granted, it was an informal interview that never seemed to work because our branch was tight. Blemishes and all, we got along. And we were a very diverse work group, employed by a very traditional company.

If it did happen, who has the resources to launch such a team and who has the courage to put the information to best use?

Forget about phone polling. Most people who feel disconnected won't answer the phone, so that would be a waste of time.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sat Aug 4, 2018, 09:22 PM (0 replies)
Go to Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next »