What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

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  #31  
Old 01-24-2008, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Just tell me I'll still be able to play golf :joke:

OK - I know, be serious. I'm sure it's all very serious business.
  #32  
Old 01-24-2008, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

The problem with this settlement is that little of the specifics involved are actually known. There are references to exhibits in the letter and none are available. (letter states the funds will be used pursuant to the terms of Exhibit B, which we don't have)The settlement also includes a Confidentially Agreement so not much will ultimately be known. As a result plenty of assumptions are being made with little factual basis for many of them.

In cabo35's last post the first question raised is "Is this $300,000 award coming directly from our funding for future recreational facilities and programs here in The Villages?" Good question. But then in the next paragraph it states "It appears that the $6,700,000 in attorney fees is also coming off the top of future recreational facilities and program funds." Despite no answer to the initial question, it suddenly becomes a fact the money is coming form rec funds and programs.

It would seem to defeat the purpose of the suit if the developer could use funds set aside for rec purposes to pay damages in a suit for more money to be set aside for the same purpose? The basis of the suit appears to get the developer to set aside more money. There will be a net gain of the agreed upon figure to the total set aside. Arguably the $7 million etc in fees paid as part of the suit could go for rec fees, but the developer was forced to add the $40 million by the suit. It was not done voluntarily.

Cabo also questions the paltry sum of $3 million per year. Well if little or no money was set aside, the settlement is much better than that. But again, we don't know the specifics. "He probably pays that much in liability insurance premiums." Again, pure speculation and since there are statutory limitations on liability exposures of CDD's I "probably" doubt he pays that much and it's most likely paid by us in the amenity fees.

The suit was initiated claiming a breach of various agreements to provide appropriate levels of amenity services and facilities to the residents of the involved districts. The suit requested damages as well as attorney's fee, incentive awards and costs. So the allegations in the suit forced the developer to live up to his contractual duties, which he apparently wasn't going to do short of litigation.

The court certified the suit as a class action which certifies the plaintiffs bringing suit as appropriate representatives of the class. It's typical in class action litigation for attorneys to obtain windfalls while members of the entire class receive nominal benefits, if any. So nothing new there.

In a prior post Kahuna states that a self serving transaction would be totally out of character for the developer. Check this old article from the Ocala newspaper and draw your own conclusions regarding that statement.

http://www.ccfj.net/CDDVillclout.html

Same developer who controls the Daily Sun where the article summarizing the settlement failed to mention the attorney fees and same Daily Sun that refused to let TOTV advertise in??

Without all the specifics we can only guess at a lot of what took place. But my experience with a prior CDD indicates the developer's primary concern is driven by the profit motive (not that plaintiff attorneys aren't driven by that) and they do what they can to maximize their profits at the expense of the residents.

The Villages is still the best place to live, but just as we, as residents, have to hold up our side of the bargain, so does the developer. Look beyond the fees paid to the prevailing party and be optimistic that the settlement will "ensure that the amenity services and facilities remain at the highest level" as stated in the Daily Sun.
  #33  
Old 01-24-2008, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Bimmer, thank you for your thoughtful response and especially the Ocala Star Banner article. I did in fact qualify my remark regarding the $6,700,000 by noting, "Likewise, if true, how is this a good thing for the majority of Villagers."

I plead no contest to taking license with the insurance remark. I was being sarcastic and don't have a clue what the actual number is, but, from personal experience, it isn't pocket change.

We are in agreement about the Villages being the best place to live. I have a very real concern about not having a say in an action that profoundly affects my property rights, life style and pocketbook. I did not vote on instituting the class action, the representatives that brought it, or, the ultimate settlement, yet it has profound implications for me and many other Villagers. Regarding your reference to the Confidentiality Agreement, I believe it is a slap in the face to every Village resident stakeholder and has bred rumor and suspicion. It begs the question of, "who is trying to hide what from who."

As to the "settlement" itself, my question frankly was whether the attorneys and class representatives acted on what was best for them in the form of the personal windfall they stand to gain or what was best for Villagers. I would like to know to what extent they negotiated their personal awards into the settlement and where the actual funds are coming from. It is difficult to accept a handful of individuals personally profitting from an action that totally excluded the property owners from having any say in the process even though they are directly and profoundly affected. But....that is just my opinion.

Do you think Villagers who were not given a voice or vote in this process or settlement have an argument that has legal standing or merit on the basis of taxation without representation if the funding for the awards is in fact coming from revenues generated by Village property owners? Does the judge even know that the "group of five" has no standing as official representatives of the Villages and in fact are self appointed class representatives? They have not been duly appointed or elected by anyone I know and specifically me as a property owner. How do they get to decide for me?

Part of the problem is that this whole CDD is going through a metamorphosis in Florida law. It is dynamic in the sense that precedents are still being formed and there are many grey, undefined areas.

I was 6 over par (first time) going into the last hole at Palmer this afternoon and blew up shooting an 8 on that hole, so when I got home, instead of kicking the dog, I headed for the computer. In spite of this rant, the Villages is still the best place to be.

Hey Russ, chasing that little white ball isn't the only exercise we need.
You need mental exercises as well. Remember golf itself is 90% mental. Or....as Yogi Berra would say, "It's 90% mental and the other half is physical."
  #34  
Old 01-24-2008, 10:44 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

I stumbled on this article today. It's not exactly well written but it sheds a little more light on the suit.

It also indicates negotiations were going on for about a year. I suspected the matter was litigated to get certified as a class and receive court approval for the overall settlement and not to decide on amounts etc. So suit was filed in December 07 for court approval of the settlement. The judge will decide if it's in the best interests of the members of the class. His job is to address concerns such as those you have raised. Hopefully he knows what the heck he is doing. The mailing of the settlement notice to all members of the class is to inform them of their rights in the settlement. Heck, all these parties could have just shook hands, exchanged money and what the heck would the other 41,000 of us ever know?

http://www.ccfj.net/CDDVillageslawsuit.html


I think the biggest problem was the Developer and VCCDD cutting amenities and no doubt hoping nobody notice. Frankly, we should be glad the plaintiffs caught this and held Morse et al accountable.

Sorry about the golf game. Get a pit bull and that way you'll never kick the dog.
  #35  
Old 01-25-2008, 04:26 AM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

This topic really concerns me to no end but I would never consider moving because of it. The UNKNOWN always make people crazy.

I look at it a little differently.... Folks in the South YES YOU your time is getting close. We will be operational and you'll be going crazy!!!!! ;D
  #36  
Old 01-25-2008, 06:17 AM
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Default The Investigation Continues...With Amusement

I stopped by the CVCCD office this afternoon to see if I could get some answers regarding the new ACC committee that will be running all our rec centers, golf courses, pools and programs. I was trying to find out information like: will the ACC report to the CVCCD Supervisor; will the ACC have complete authority to manage all our recreation facilities and programs or just be "advisory"; will the ACC be elected or appointed; if it is to be appointed, who will be on the ACC (I surely hope it's not the five self-appointed "representatives" of the rest of us); and so on.

Not surprising given the fact that TV is a litigant in an as yet unadjudicated lawsuit, the employees there have all been instructed to answer with that old Three Stooges answer, "I don't know nothing". I was instructed to call the plaintiff's attorney, the Anderson & Anderson law firm to get any answers to my questions. I did call the law firm office but wasn't surprised when I had to leave my name and number on a machine. We'll see if the attorney calls back.

But I was amused by the plaintiff's attorney's statement in the Daily Commercial article (thanks Bimmer for posting it below). "The settlement represents a fair shake for both sides", said Carol Anderson, attorney for the plaintiffs. Hey, if you were going to get a $6.7 million payday as soon as the judge signs off on the deal, wouldn't you also characterize the settlement as a "fair shake"? I know I would.
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  #37  
Old 01-25-2008, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Thanks for the article Bimmer. Kahuna...why am I not surprised at the response to your efforts to gather information. Keep us posted,
  #38  
Old 01-25-2008, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

We got our letter today. One new thing that I noticed was that the new Amenity Authority Committee will replace the old Resident Advisory Counsel. I understand that the RAC was less than perfect. Will the new AAC be any different?

Also, if we want to opt out of the class, we can do so (again cumbersome.) If we do nothing, we remain in the class and forfeit our right to bring suit again at another time. If we opt out, we retain the right to sue in the future but can not share in the settlement. Now what does that mean? If we opt out we can't use the facilities? If we remain in we share in the $300,000? Not at all clear.
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  #39  
Old 01-26-2008, 08:33 AM
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Default Answers To My Initial Questions

I spoke with the plaintiff's attorney at some length this afternoon. She was very open and answered all my questions at length and with no attempt to parse words or be evasive in any way. She and the plaintiffs have entered into a confidentiality agreement with the developer, but that did not interfere with my gathering of what I thought was important information. Here's a summary of the major points of our conversation.[br]
  • The five plaintiffs, all associated with the Property Owner's Association (POA), have been in discussions regarding various issues in The Villages for some time, apparently more than a year.
[br]
  • A couple of the major issues they were attempting to get action on from the developer were the absence of any sort of sinking fund to pay for future rehabilitation or replacement of facilities which the developer had sold to the CVCCD as well as the widening of the golf cart paths north of CR 466. While some progress was made, the discussions finally reached a point where the developer's representative, former CVCCD Supervisor Pete Wahl, advised the group that nothing was going to be done to address certain of their concerns and they'd have to hire a lawyer to proceed any further on discussion of those issues. Apparently, the five principal "resident's representatives" from the POA decided that they would do just that.
[br]
  • Once the five plaintiffs engaged counsel, their list of issues expanded somewhat and the discussions with the developer's representatives and lawyers became more regular and serious. While a lawsuit was certainly threatened by the plaintiffs, discussions continued for many months with no formal legal action actually being initiated. With the assistance of the five plaintiffs, all of whom were residents of The Villages and knowledgeable about the issues, plaintiff's counsel was able to organize a body of evidence that would almost certainly prevail should a lawsuit actually be filed and go to trial. The discussions then began to take the form of negotiating a settlement of the many issues identified by the plaintiffs.
[br]
  • In the midst of these discussions the "straw vote" regarding the ongoing management of recreational facilities and programs was placed on the ballot of the 2006 local and county elections. Villages residents expressed a desire to have residents manage recreation programs and facilities rather than the developer although the plurality of the vote was very thin and inconsistent across the several districts in the Villages. But after some discussion and further negotiation, the Resident's Advisory Committee (RAC) was formally organized by an ordinance passed by the CVCDD board. That committee has been active in advising the CVCCD management and the Recreation Department for several months now.
[br]
  • Plaintiff's counsel advised the five plaintiffs that proceeding with a lawsuit on their issues would require a major personal commitment of time and could result in considerable financial risk to them personally. They were advised regarding the amount of work and time which would be required to assemble sufficient evidence to prevail in a negotiation or lawsuit against the developer. They were also advised of some fairly significant financial risks they would be exposed to should they decide to proceed. They agreed to continue.
[br]
  • Both the developer and the plaintiffs continued their negotiations without any transparency to the public thru press releases, articles, letters or any other form of explanation of what was happening. This was done with considerable forethought and purposefully on the part of both counterparties to the discussions. The motivation of the developer not to have the issues publicly discussed is obvious. The plaintiffs decided to continue their negotiations/discussions in almost complete confidentiality and anonymity for the purpose of maintaining a non-confrontational negotiating relationship with the developer. They were making progress and believed that taking their arguments "public" would make their relationship with the developer more confrontational and materially reduce his willingness to continue negotiations towards a settlement.
[br]
  • As the body of evidence assembled by the plaintiffs became obvious to the developer, the discussions morphed into the negotiation of both the form and amount of a settlement. The plaintiffs continued to be firm in their demands and the developer was responsive both because of the body of evidence that had been assembled to support the plaintiff's claims and demands, but also because the developer was consistent in his stated intention to continue to play a major role in the operation of The Villages even after the final residential build-out was completed. The developer and his family consistently said that The Villages was such an integral part of their family history that they would never leave the management of the lifestyle that they had created to someone else.
[br]
  • The negotiations regarding the plaintiff's issues were substantially completed sometime last fall. The major issues where agreements were reached were: the amount and timing of the formation of a sinking fund for use in funding any necessary future rehabilitation or replacement of facilities which had been sold to the CVCCD in the future; an agreement and schedule for widening the golf cart paths north of CR 466; how recreation facilities and programs would be managed with resident input; and a few other less significant issues such as golf tee times used by the developer for marketing, etc. Once an agreement was reached, it became apparent that to properly implement it, a "class" of plaintiffs would have to be formed to in essence be the recipient of the benefits negotiated by the five plaintiffs. That became the basis of both the class action lawsuit and proposed settlement, all of which was rolled up into one legal proceeding. That lawsuit was filed in December, 2007. The settlement currently being adjudicated affects only residents north of CR 466. But both parties have agreed that a similar settlement will be negotiated for residents south of CR 466 in the future. The plaintiffs are hopeful that the scheduled meeting with the judge in March will result in final adjudication of the formation of the class and the settlement.
[br]
  • The RAC will be replaced by the AAC once the case is adjudicated. The intent of both parties to the litigation is that the membership of the RAC be elected by the residents. Accomplishing that objective won't be easy given the fact that The Villages is spread over three separate counties. But the litigants have at least two plans for accomplishing that objective. The AAC will operate essentially the same way as has the RAC, advising the CVCCD board and Recreation Department on the desires and needs of residents. It's not clear whether the authority of the new AAC will be supported by the force of law, but the developer has agreed to accept and implement duely authorized RAC recommendations with few exceptions. So it is now clear that the existing management of Villages recreation facilities and programs will continue on an essentially unchanged basis.
[br]
  • On the issue of the fees prescribed by the proposed settlement, the plaintiff's attorney made the following observations: Neither legal fees or fees paid to the plaintiffs for their work in assembling rhe necessary evidence, negotiating the settlement and forming the class were discussed until after the negotiations regarding additional financial payments by the developer were completed. Only then were legal fees and plaintiff's fees negotiated. Plaintiff's counsel stressed that none of the fees being paid the attorneys or the plaintiffs reduces the amount of financial settlement by the developer in any way. The legal fees are well within the range of normal fees paid to counsel in class action litigations. As far as the $300,000 proposed payment to the five plaintiffs, their attorney observed that without their willingness to expend significant amounts of time and effort to assemble the necessary body of evidence and negotiate a settlement as well as assume not insignificant financial risks, there would be no settlement that benefits all residents of The Villages.
[br]

As far as the current state of play of the formation of a residents class and the proposed settlement, personally I feel quite bit better about the situation. I certainly can't opine on the adequacy of the financial settlement. I can only assume that the five plaintiffs were knowledgeable and complete in their analysis of the situation and negotiated an amount that will be adequate for the purposes identified by the settlement. I also feel somewhat better that the developer and his management team, who in my opinion have done a magnificent job in creating the community that we have all chosen to live in, intends to remain in that role indefinitely. There are no guarantees of that for sure, but just that type of statement provides some comfort, to me a least.

Of further importance, learning of the process that was followed has eliminated the enmity I initially felt for the five residents who chose to proceed on this odyssey when they could have otherwise simply enjoyed golf and swimming.

I hope this final posting resolves the questions that I posed in starting this thread in the first place.

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  #40  
Old 01-26-2008, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Thank you Kahuna for persuing this topic as throughly as you have. As a new resident closing and moving in next week I feel much more comfortable. One of the obvious attractions of the villages was how it was managed and maintained, the vision of the Morse family is what created our paradise and it looks like it will continue. It sounds like the POA did a good job and should be comlimented ,even thou the lawyers made a lot of money [ they always do ]. Thanks Steve ;D ;D
  #41  
Old 01-26-2008, 02:39 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

Kahuna, thank you!
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  #42  
Old 01-26-2008, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Managem

Kahuna, outstanding work!!

Should be interesting, as the settlement unfolds, to see if the Daily Sun ever provides as much information as you have in this post.

It's great to see the plaintiffs were not only well informed of the developers continuing duties under the contract with the residents but also paid great attention to changes that were being made unilaterally without any notice to the residents. They than called the developers bluff of "well if you don't like it sue us" and prevailed.

Looks like we will all benefit from their diligence and hard work!
  #43  
Old 01-26-2008, 09:47 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Did you really think you were going to get anything but positive comments from the Plantiffs Attorney? If so I have some Ocean front property in Arizona I would like to sell you.
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  #44  
Old 01-27-2008, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Kahuna....thanks for your follow-up and transmitting an articulate representation of your conversation with the attorney. It fills in some of the blanks. Residents who live south of 466 need to be attentive to what is transpiring with this process and settlement so that they may benefit from what their neighbors and friends north of the border are going through.

  #45  
Old 01-27-2008, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: What Does The "Settlement" Mean With Regard To Recreation Facilities Management?

Hey Kahuna, good follow-up. With that kind of effort, I think you too deserve an extra $50K or so. :bigthumbsup: Some the the answers you rec'd do ameliorate some of my concerns and like you I am willing to wait and watch. Maybe Chicken Little was wrong this time, but I still don't consider the POA an ally.
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