Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creepy Ave Maria Town

Check out this story from the Naples Daily News about the town of Ave Maria, Florida. Apparently, absolute oligarchy still exists.

Ave Maria’s governing board, now selected entirely by Monaghan and Barron Collier Cos., already has authorized the sale of $820 million in municipal bonds to pay for construction of roads and services.

Since its first meeting four years ago, the government has acted as the developer’s rubber stamp. The five-member board has approved 49 resolutions at the developer’s behest, such as issuing bonds and purchasing land, without a single “no” vote.

On the board are three current or former Monaghan or Barron Collier Cos. employees, a retired partner from the engineering firm that designed Ave Maria and another large landowner in eastern Collier County.

Before establishing the government, Monaghan and Barron Collier Cos. formed a 50-50 private partnership called Ave Maria Development to own and develop Ave Maria’s land. An executive committee with representatives from both sides runs the partnership. Authority over all matters, including the selection of government board members, rests with that committee.

The law allows the executive committee, controlling the votes of the largest landowner, to choose at least three out of the five seats on the board forever.

Based on the progress of development, the other two seats will transition from control by landowners to control by the town’s registered voters through elections. That means residents could always lose to Ave Maria Development’s three-member majority on the board.

And it looks like those faithful souls who moved to Ave Maria from across the country were not told that they would have no real power to govern themselves.

The public, Ave Maria residents and otherwise, is unaware of this arrangement. When they bought their homes, Ave Maria residents received written notice of the government’s existence and its ability to tax them. But the developer didn’t disclose how, when or if townspeople would make the government’s decisions.

When they moved from Massachusetts to Ave Maria, David Shnaider and his wife, Patricia Sette, understood that Ave Maria Development would control the town’s government for a time. Like Delaney, they didn’t think the partnership’s control could last forever.

“I would have the expectation that it’s going to be like every other town in America,” Sette said.

The series goes on to describe other oddities of the government of Ave Maria, like the unelected board's ability to tax the residents without any citizen representation or approval and such.

What exactly is the purpose of such a draconian method of governance? Why deceive those who move into Ave Maria about this oligarchy?

I fear that this is yet another example of the effectiveness of brainwashing. "You don't need to govern yourself, nor do I need your permission to tax you and profit exclusively from your tax dollars - don't worry, I'm orthodox!"

Mason Slidell


Bobadilla said...

Savonarola meets corporate America.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Indeed! Waiting for the next Bonfire of the Vanities.

Mason Slidell