25 November 2009

Villagers Can't Get Enough of Sarah Palin

Palin stops in Fla. town that feted her in 2008

Tue Nov 24, 5:45 pm ET

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Sarah Palin, who says the 2012 presidential election isn't on her radar, took her "Going Rogue" book tour to the biggest of the battleground states Tuesday, including a stop in the retirement community where tens of thousands of people gave her star treatment in the 2008 presidential election.

The crowd was far smaller than when she made a September 2008 campaign stop as Republican John McCain's running mate, but no less passionate for the former Alaska governor. About 700 people, some who arrived a full 24 hours before the signing, waited for Palin as country music blared. Several signs encouraged her to run for president in 2012.

When she arrived, the crowd chanted "Sarah! Sarah!" She made brief remarks — including a gleeful "You can read my story thus far — unfiltered by the media!" She sat down to a Fox News interview, during which there were shouts of "We love you Sarah! We love you and we want you to be president!" and, "Take back the Constitution! And the Bill of Rights!"

The Villages is a massive, heavily Republican retirement community about 60 miles northwest of Orlando that draws huge crowds for political events. About a month after McCain picked her as his running mate, a crowd that would make some college football teams envious sweated for hours in 92-degree heat to hear her speak for 23 minutes. Some waited 90 minutes for a parking space.

Palin remembered the day.

"Oh my goodness this is a blast," she said. "We had such a great time here on the campaign trail. We said, 'If we ever come back to Florida we have to make sure that we're stopping here.' There's something very special about this place. You just are all so energetic and so inspiring and encouraging."

The feeling was mutual for those waiting for a signature.

"I haven't been eating properly, I couldn't sleep last night at all. I was too excited," said Victoria Dye, 81, of Richfield Springs, N.Y., who is wintering in The Villages. Dye arrived at Barnes & Noble at 6:45 p.m. Monday planning to buy the book and return the next day, but then she saw people already lined up. "I said, 'Well, I guess I better get a chair."

Her friend went home to get the chair while Dye stayed on the sidewalk.

"She's the ultimate woman. She is an amazing human being. I like everything she says and she speaks with sincerity," said Dye, a Republican. "I know good politicians and I know bad ones. She happens to be a good one."

Linda Garrison, 59, splits her years between a house in The Villages and a home in Anchorage, Alaska. She has bumped into Palin at a used clothing store and other events back home, but still slept on the concrete to be one of the first people in line to get her book signed.

"You'd see her in there shopping just like anybody else. You see, Alaska is a different type of a state. You can pick up the phone and personally talk to the governor without too much hassle," Garrison said.

So why sleep on a sidewalk to get her signature? "It's a matter of respect," she said.

Unlike most people at the event, Garrison, a Republican, wasn't sure she wanted Palin to run for president in 2012. She thinks it might be better if she waits until 2016.

"It's very hard to defeat an incumbent, no matter what the economy is doing," she said. "It might not be her time in 2012. That might just be a little premature. She is still a young woman. I hope at some point she runs."

University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus walked through the crowd talking to people to get a sense of why they loved Palin.

"They're just angry at government and Sarah Palin to them is someone who can speak her mind and she's not part of the establishment," MacManus said. "She represents in their minds their viewpoint about what's wrong with government."

Palin also had stops in Jacksonville and Orlando.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

22 November 2009

Ave Maria Newspaper -- all the news that's fit to print....

[[Imagine -- a developer is excited about his own development and optimistic about its success!]]

Pulte Homes "Really Positive" About Future of Ave Maria
Friday, 20 November 2009 15:37

Pulte Homes is making significant new commitments to marketing areas of Ave Maria, the company's president for Southwest Florida, Ryan Marshall, told The Ave Herald.

The first new initiative, Mr. Marshall said, is introducing 10 new models for the town's Del Webb section. Model homes will be built in an area where Pulte has broken ground next to the golf course, behind the cafe (right, in photo by Jo Ellen Monahan)

"We are really positive about the future of the community and see it as a long-term investment," Mr. Marshall said. Del Webb is the company's immediate priority for Ave Maria, Mr. Marshall said, because the "active adult" market has proven to be more resilient to the decline in the housing market overall....

-- For the rest of the article, please visit this link:

09 November 2009

Lawsuit alleges discrimination at Idaho Active Adult development

Idaho Business Review
Lawsuit claims federal fair housing law violations
Posted: Monday, November 9, 2009

The Intermountain Fair Housing Council is suing The Orchards at Fairview Condominium Association, claiming the company and its real estate firm violated federal housing discrimination laws two years after the council explicitly warned the developer about the marketing of the condo project.

The council, a Boise-based nonprofit, filed a lawsuit in federal court Oct. 15 against the association and real estate firm Windermere Real Estate/ Capital Group Inc.

The suit alleges that the companies violated the Fair Housing Act by pitching the development as an “active adult community” and discouraging families with children from living there. It also says the development maintained an unlawful restriction on group homes that would serve the mentally and physically disabled.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on familial status or handicap in the sale and rental of homes.

“There’s no such thing as an ‘active adult community’ to be advertised,” said Richard Mabbutt, the council’s executive director, in an interview. “We discussed that quite frankly.”

Court papers say Mabbutt contacted and met with Orchards developer Mike Dixon after an Oct. 5, 2005 article in the Idaho Statesman described the property as “a 42-unit ‘empty nester’ subdivision.”

Dixon told Mabbutt the term “empty nester” was “the reporter’s choice of words” and that the development was open to families with minor children and not age-restricted, court papers say. He also said the property would include a playground even though the site plans didn’t include one.

Mabbutt warned against use of the word “adult” in advertising and other materials.

A March 7, 2005 article in the Idaho Business Review also included a comment from Dixon that described the condos as “suited for the empty-nester market.”

On May 14, 2007, Mabbutt saw a sign on the property that described it as an “active adult condominium community.” That prompted him to send several testers to the property to investigate if there was a pattern of discrimination.

On May 16, 2007, a tester met with Mary Liese, a Windermere agent who was handling the sale of units at the time. The suit claims that Liese made discriminatory statements, such as “we prefer people 55 and over,” and noted that the complex does not have a playground. She also provided a list of rules that included a prohibition on swing sets, unaccompanied minor children using the pool and teenage parties at the community center.

Another tester returned a week later and picked up a document listing the complex’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, which included a prohibition on “group homes … or any similar type of lodging, care or treatment facility.”

The council filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Sept. 7, 2007. It withdrew the complaint on Jan. 24, 2008 so it could later file the lawsuit.

The suit is seeking $56,000 in actual and punitive damages and $34,500 in other expenses. It also asks for the establishment of a $273,500 victims’ compensation fund to repay unidentified victims.

Steve Osburn, Windermere broker and owner, said in a statement that his company represented the Orchards complex for a two-year period starting in about January 2007. He said Windermere successfully sold homes to people of all ages and familial status and that a pattern of discrimination never existed.

He said the lawsuit’s claims about Liese are “simply false” and that she denies making discriminatory statements.

“Furthermore, we only get paid when we successfully close a sale,” he said. “What motivation would Ms. Liese have to limit potential buyers as they suggest?”

The Orchards at Fairview was built on the site of a former BMC West warehouse and includes single-story condos ranging from 1,271 to 1,935 square feet, a clubhouse and pool. Dixon sold the Fairview complex and a similar development, The Orchards at Cloverdale, to partners Mike Keller and Ev Davis in 2008.

A message left with the Orchards was not returned.

Ken Nagy, the lawyer representing the council, said there is a way for communities to be set up as age-restricted under the Fair Housing Act.

“They have to do that consistently, and they have to be set up that way,” he said. “This community didn’t do it that way. It has consistently marketed itself as a community that is attractive to an older group of residents, and they were warned early on about that.”
© 2009 Idaho Business Review

04 November 2009

Trend: No Trick or Treating at many 55+ Adult Communities


Halloween how-to: Try these tricks so you can enjoy treats
Linda Shrieves
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 31, 2009

Halloween may be a kid's favorite holiday (after Christmas, of course). Kids know what to do, but what about adults? Here's the skinny on the hottest neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, the best treats and what time it's OK to turn out the lights.

Best trick-or-treating areas

Live in a neighborhood where there aren't many trick-or-treaters — or people handing out candy? You can head to malls or community events — or follow the lead of candy-hungry trick-or-treaters and head for well-heeled communities with reputations for giving out more chocolate and less candy corn. Not that we'd do that (because frankly, it's a pain to drive around with kids on a sugar high) but some choice neighborhoods include Celebration, Hunter's Creek or Waterford Lakes (where there are more kids per capita than any other place in Central Florida). Translation: They're used to kids there.

One of the best

Dommerich Hills in Maitland, where the streets are teeming with kids. For years, the neighbors in this subdivision have put on what appears to be one heck of a street party. Said resident John Deroo: "It's the biggest neighborhood party I've ever seen. One guy has a popcorn machine; another guy makes snow cones. They all try to outdo each other."

Trick-or-treating deluxe

In Isleworth, the ritzy subdivision that's home to Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neal, the mansions are so far apart that kiddies in costume go trick-or-treating in golf carts. Not only do they dress up the kids, but some families also decorate their carts — as the Flintstones' mobile or a circus train, replete with clowns.

Trick-or-treating to the oldies

Thinking about trick-or-treating in a 55-plus community? Fuhgeddaboutit. Even The Villages, the huge retirement community in Lake and Sumter counties, stopped having its annual trick-or-treating event for kids several years ago. "I don't see too many kids around here," said one employee. "Except when the grandkids are visiting."

Are you ever too old to trick or treat?

Apparently not. In an informal e-mail survey of moms, we found none would turn away teens or college students — as long as they are dressed in costume. Even those who show up at her doorstep without a costume get some candy, said Orlando mom Barbara Jones, though it "may be something my daughter got and does not like."

Candy or healthy goodies?

Are you handing out raisins or apples or little bags of peanuts? Good for you, but you're in the minority. Eighty-two percent of Americans hand out bite-size candy bars and 45 percent hand out multiple types of candy treats, such as miniature candy bars, lollipops, gummy candy and non-chocolate candies, according to marketing firm NPD Group. Breaking from that tradition is Gail Hill Smith, an Orlando mom and health counselor, who hands out boxes of raisins, peanuts in shells and individually wrapped toothbrushes. (Don't egg her house, please.)

Be prepared, people

Most Americans say they buy enough candy to prepare for Halloween. But 25 percent admit they often run out of treats. When the supply of candy runs out, they either turn off the porch lights and refuse to answer the door, or they run out to buy more, or scavenge around for other food or coins to hand out. And, yes, some hand out the candy their kids have just collected. (Shame on you, parents!)

Lights out!

What's an acceptable time to turn off the porch light and douse the jack-o'-lantern? Local moms turn off the lights around 9 p.m., sometimes a little later if Halloween falls on a weekend (as it does this year).

Linda Shrieves can be reached at 407-420-5433 or lshrieves@orlandosentinel.com.
Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel

02 November 2009

Awakening the inner "frisky" -- from a NJ newspaper...

November 1, 2009

Being frisky at 70 isn't a problem

Dear Dr. Marcia: My husband of 45 years and I are pushing 70. When we retired a few years ago, we moved to an active-adult community, and we've never felt better. We're in great shape and exercise every day.

This has made my husband quite frisky, and even when we are out with friends, he jokes about how "active" we are and is always grabbing me and joking around. I get embarrassed, but he doesn't care. Even our adult kids tell him they don't want to know.

What can I do?

-- Sincerely, Blushing

Dear Blushing: Please tell me you wrote this to brag, because if you didn't, you must be kidding! Tell your kids to deal with it. Any of your friends who think it's disgusting are just jealous.


Poignant reader email -- one of my favorites

Dear Mr. Blechman,

I just finished reading “Leisureville” and I’d like to thank you for writing such an intelligent and entertaining book. Your work reminds me of Joel Garreau’s “Edge City” insofar as it strains to describe a phenomenon in a balanced way while still making your own concerns quite clear. As much as I enjoy James Howard Kunstler’s rants, he’s never been accused of moderation, but that’s what makes him so endearing. There were also hints of Jane Jacobs' later works, "Systems of Survival" and "Dark Age Ahead". “Leisureville” closely resembles a geriatric version of Setha Low’s “Behind the Gates” (although I admit your writing style is a bit better). Ms. Low was primarily concerned with the social and political fragmentation and mistrust that inevitably results from the self-segregation of gated suburban enclaves.

As a young man I fled the suburbs of the Jersey shore and ultimately settled in San Francisco. A few weeks ago I returned to Toms River, New Jersey to visit my mother who now lives in Holiday City. I talked to her about how she likes her new living arrangement. She said it was a mixed bag. Safe. Clean. Affordable. Lonely. Dull. Restrictive. She confirmed all the stereotypes about sex-crazed neighbors and rule obsessed committees. I had lobbied very hard for her to come and live with me in California citing the cultural offerings and free accommodations, but she ultimately wanted to stay near my sisters and brother and all the grandkids in Jersey. She also wanted to live independently. Fair enough.

As an adolescent I had plenty of contact with the elderly residents of these ever-expanding adult communities. I did housekeeping and gardening chores for many retirees as a way to earn money for college (Rutgers ’96). I enjoy the company of old people so it was a good fit. And to be honest, the generation I was dealing with back then was more likable than the new crop of boomers. They were savers and planners. They had survived the Depression and war. They told stories of how they were smuggled out of Poland “just in time”, or described burning their dining room furniture one piece at a time to keep their Brooklyn tenement warm through the winter. These people didn’t need plastic surgery or granite counter tops. They appreciated the fact that they had good food, a tidy home in the country, and money in the bank at a time in life when their own parents had been destitute. Boomers? Not so much…

I have very few fond memories of my early years in the suburbs. My family was working class and just barely managed to stay afloat. The suburbs are predicated on the concept that if you can't afford your own detached home and private vehicle, you don't belong. Public transport is considered a form of communism. Suburbia is a pay-per-view environment: private country clubs, summer camp, dance lessons, music lessons. Even the beaches in New Jersey are privately owned and charge admission. We couldn't afford any of that. To save money for college I rode a bicycle everywhere and I can't tell you how many times as a young man I was pulled over by the police and questioned. I would ask what I had done wrong, and they would always say that riding a bicycle along the highway, especially after dark or in bad weather, was suspicious. The unspoken message was that only the poor and undesirables do that sort of thing, so they needed to see what was in my backpack. Books usually. They always seemed so befuddled and sent me on my way with a warning. Nerd. Guilty as charged...

I hadn’t been back to Toms River for fifteen years. (I preferred to pay for airline tickets so my mom could visit me in California instead). I was reminded why I left. When I was a kid, the small historic downtown of Toms River still had a working movie theater, a shoe store, restaurants, and a dress shop. All that fell away by the time I graduated high school as strip malls and chain stores chewed up the landscape outside of town. The only things that remained were the government buildings since Toms River was the county seat. Now, most of the old buildings aren’t even there anymore. Little by little they were removed as the roads were widened and parking lots were installed. Downtown is just another kind of mall now, this one devoted to municipal services. Two hundred years of history were paved over so commuters could get through town and make a right hand turn forty five seconds faster.

When I express my concerns about sprawl people often suggest that San Francisco is an anomaly and out of step with how most Americans want to live. After all, nothing like a compact mixed use city has been built anywhere in the country for a hundred years now. I respond by saying that a hundred years from now San Francisco will still be well populated and vibrant. I don’t think the same will be true of most cul de sacs and strip malls. Most of the suburbs will have become mulch by then.

Again, many thanks for your good work.

- John S.