Letters to the Editors
Deed restrictions work if you read before you buy
© St. Petersburg Times,
Barbara Fredricksen wrote a great article. It should not have been missed by anyone living in a deed-restricted neighborhood or thinking of moving into one.
I came from an area seven years ago where it was mandatory prior to signing a contract for a home, whether new or resale, that an addendum had to be presented with the contract that the purchaser was aware that he was buying into a deed-restricted community and had read the covenants and by-laws of the association. Those who were familiar with deed-restricted communities knew what to expect, and those who were not familiar with them were made aware of what was expected in that particular development.
Pity the poor purchaser who buys into a development not knowing at contract time that he cannot park his commercial vehicle in his driveway and doesn't find out until after settlement. Also pity the poor neighbor who doesn't want a commercial truck parked across the street and expected that his deed restrictions would be enforced.
Knowledge is a great thing and maintains harmony in a neighborhood if everyone knows before purchasing a home what is expected of the residents in that chosen area. It could be grand!.
No exceptions allowed
Kudos to Barbara L. Fredricksen on her well-written and right-on article about homeowner associations. For all those who think there should be "exception(s) to the rule(s)," I say they should be "volunteered" to serve on the board of their homeowner associations for a year or two. They would soon see how difficult a job it is, how thankless it is, how there can be absolutely no exceptions, otherwise a board meeting can easily become an association's version of the Jerry Springer Show.
A valuable article
The article was excellent and to the point. It should be required reading by all homeowner association members, particularly board members. One point not addressed is that boards can and have been taken to court, which is why they are covered by insurance or should be so covered.
As a board member, I am having copies made of the article, and they will be given to every new owner or renter. Thanks for a very informative and helpful article.
A pleasantly different point of view
For years the Times has printed stories about some poor, misunderstood, downtrodden property owner who had run afoul of a mean-spirited, autocratic homeowner association. Those stories all had a dull sameness about them. It was always non-payment of fees or misuse of the property. The property owners reactions were also terribly similar. "Gee, I didn't know those fees were mandatory." Or "It's my property, and I can do anything with it I want to."
More than 20 years ago I was involved in a homeowner association meeting where a resident questioned an issue that was very clearly spelled out in the Declaration. He confessed that he hadn't read the Declaration. I suggested that before one paid $125,000 for a condominium it would be wise to read it. All I got for that was a neighbor's enmity.
I was shocked, and pleasantly surprised, to see Barbara Fredricksen's column, and in a prominent position at that. I hope all those letter writers who condemn homeowner associations will read her well-written explanation of an association's responsibilities.
Reminiscent of an old refrain
After reading Barbara Fredricksen's article on homeowner associations, the last line reminded me of something that was heard just after World War II. I believe it was, "We were just following orders."
Governor supports Boys and Girls Clubs
Gov. Jeb Bush was recently featured in a story that portrayed him as swinging the veto ax in the direction of the Boys and Girls Clubs. And in fact, some state budget items intended by well-meaning state legislators for clubs and other non-profit community service groups in several counties, including Pinellas, Citrus, Pasco and Hernando, did fall to the governor's line-item veto.
Although the story was accurate and well-written, when taken with the headlines, it may have created a mistaken impression that the governor, in some unspoken way, disapproves of Boys and Girls Clubs. That impression would be unfortunate and, frankly, the opposite is true.
It was Gov. Bush who included $2-million in his budget recommendation for Project Learn at Boys and Girls Clubs across the state. The Department of Education awards grants to local school districts. They partner with the clubs to mentor children ages 6 to 18. Trained volunteers and staff professionals assist with homework and core academic skills at the clubs after school. Through Project Learn and other similar programs at the clubs, more than 26,000 children, some of Florida's most at-risk youth, are getting special help. Studies have shown that grades, behavior and attendance improve for participants. This is the first year the program was ever included in any governor's recommended budget. More important, the governor and his staff worked with legislators for final passage.
Other actions also show the strength of the governor's support for the clubs. He has been a champion of PowerUP, a public-private partnership that is making computers, technology and the Internet available to the disadvantaged children we serve. The governor has awarded grants to and visited Boys and Girls Clubs to support the PowerUP computer centers.
So while some special allocations fell outside of the governor's guidelines for state funds, he has consistently supported the Boys and Girls Clubs of our state. Even so, the clubs are first and foremost local organizations that need the support of their communities to thrive. And when the need among these children, mostly from low-income, single-parent homes, is so great, can anyone blame Legislators for trying to secure some state dollars?
Put vetoes in larger budget context
Reasonable people can disagree about individual projects I vetoed this year, but your June 26 editorial, Turkey hunt turns drive-by, ratchets up the rhetoric unnecessarily. It is unfair and misleading to criticize vetoes without putting them in the context of the overall funding increases we have championed in community-based social services and juvenile justice programs over the past three years.
Take the Boys and Girls Clubs, for example. While I did veto one program because it did not specifically target at-risk youth as defined by Department of Juvenile Justice guidelines, I also signed into law a $2-million appropriation for the Boys and Girls Clubs in the education portion of the budget. Yet this was conveniently overlooked.
Floridians have long understood the importance of selected vetoes in maintaining fiscal discipline. That discipline is even more critical this year -- as the Times cannot be unaware -- due to tax revenue shortfalls from the weakening of the economy; loss of federal estate tax revenue next year due to the welcome elimination of the death tax; and more than $600-million worth of programs dependent on non-recurring funds that may or may not be available next year.
It is the Times editorial board, not my office, that has addressed these complex budget issues by shooting first and asking questions later.
Piling on too much guilt
Re: A taste of slavery, June 24.
Come on, you guys. The list of things I am suppose to feel guilty about is just getting too long. On top of all of my guilt feelings about blacks, Mexicans, the poor, China's underpaid, the environment, global warming, Florida's water shortage, the disenfranchised, my SUV, the shrinkage of the Amazon jungle, the pollution of Alaska, oil spills, my successful corporate employer, drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, depletion of the ozone layer, my intolerance of homosexuals, residual smoke, my oversized paycheck, my refusal to feel sorry for illegal aliens, the spotted owl, glacial melting and my support of the mean right-wing conservatives -- you now want me to add, black child slavery in the cocoa fields of Western Africa.
Don't you feel that you are pilling it on just a little thick? What am I suppose to do, eliminate myself? Will that satisfy you? Probably not.
Keeping Amtrak travel safe
Re: Amtrak snitches on riders for profits, by Robyn Blumner, June 24.
Thank you for your article on Amtrak. I travel on Amtrak and I am happy to know that Amtrak and the Drug Enforcement Administration are doing a good job making train travel safe by keeping the drug dealers and other criminals off the rails.
Auto racing belongs on the track
With the debut of the movie The Fast and the Furious, I have a feeling there will be a good bit of coverage regarding street racing. I have already seen several stories on cable television describing the danger and sheet metal carnage that can accompany this illegal activity. One of the more disturbing aspects of this racing is the harm that can come to vehicles and occupants that are not participating in the races.
As a member of the National Hot Rod Association, I can't ignore the potential danger and loss of life that can result in street racing. The NHRA was formed 50 years ago to get the racers off the street and onto the track. If racing enthusiasts are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a car and many more thousands to tweak it for racing, I suggest they take the car to a track where they will be far safer than on the street. Drag racing is fun. Please keep the racing on the track and off the streets.
Reduced to cheerleading
Re: Plenty of cheer and modicum of substance, June 25.
I so much enjoyed the humorous but nonetheless accurate appraisal of University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft by Howard Troxler.
Here was someone whose primary interest was job preservation and self-promotion. We may rightfully expect never to hear the most minuscule criticism of those at whose pleasure she serves. To cheerlead is to retain employment.
Students are now merely a commodity, to be developed for and at the behest of the Republican dominated business community.
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