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Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:28 PM

Are "breakfast meetings" unique to good ole boy communities?

The Orlando Sentinel recognized them in an article that was published many years ago regarding a private organization where many of the community leaders and elected officials were known to come together; and it was suspected that they were talking about topics which probably should remain in a public forum.

The concern over "breakfast meetings" can not be overstated where this practice is still part of the culture. Without public airings of the decision-making process the people who attend the private meetings may be relying on false information to reach agreement between people who generally are on opposing sides of an issue. They may also be nefarious people who agree to scratch someone's back, if they get the same treatment in return.

Once agreement is reached, the rest becomes American Kabuki. By the time the topic turns up in a HOA meeting there may be enough people on board to shout down the residents who weren't privy to the meetings. And one should never pooh-pooh the importance that HOA meetings have in the local decision-making process. If people are properly silenced at the HOA level, there will be no one who will show up at a city meeting to dispute the facts that the city staff presents to elected officials. That's how corrupt decisions fly through the system.

And all of it begins with a breakfast meeting where people come together to decide your community's fate before you even have a chance to get your kids ready for school.

I don't really know what you can do in a small community to stop them. So it becomes a pastime to watch how a third of the community drains out of the development before six on the second Tuesday of each month. Though the day and times will vary.

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Arrow 28 replies Author Time Post
Reply Are "breakfast meetings" unique to good ole boy communities? (Original post)
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 OP
JHB Sep 2014 #1
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #4
el_bryanto Sep 2014 #2
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #3
el_bryanto Sep 2014 #5
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #11
el_bryanto Sep 2014 #14
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #17
kcr Sep 2014 #8
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #18
Lydia Leftcoast Sep 2014 #6
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #12
dembotoz Sep 2014 #7
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #13
Solly Mack Sep 2014 #9
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #15
librechik Sep 2014 #10
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #16
maced666 Sep 2014 #19
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #20
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #21
daredtowork Sep 2014 #22
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #24
daredtowork Sep 2014 #25
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #26
nilesobek Sep 2014 #23
OutNow Sep 2014 #27
Baitball Blogger Sep 2014 #28

Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:33 PM

1. Even big communities have trouble fighting some of these...

Meese Helps Social Conservatives to Stay Relevant
By Janie Lorber
Roll Call Staff
July 25, 2011

Every Wednesday morning, about a dozen prominent conservatives led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese huddle over a Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast in a quest to prevent their movement from fragmenting.

The strategy sessions — held at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. — bring together some of the old guard’s familiar figures, including Meese, who ran the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan; Tony Perkins, the president of the council; and Alfred Regnery, former head of the conservative publishing house bearing his family’s name, according to sources familiar with the gatherings.

For the past two years they have served as ambassadors to the days when advocates for conservative social causes and fiscal causes were united at the hip — and the ballot box. The group is trying to reinforce the notion in conservative circles that issues such as faith, gay marriage and abortion are inherently tied to deficit reduction and limited government. “One of my abiding passions is to facilitate the rejoining together of the various strands of the conservative movement into the single most potent and effective political force,” said Colin Hanna, president of the advocacy group Let Freedom Ring. Hanna attends the weekly meeting but declined to discuss details of its proceedings. “Over the last couple years social conservatives have realized that the entire movement is stronger when all are collaborated together,” he said.

The breakfast meetings, led by Meese, began in 2009 as an outgrowth of the Council for National Policy, a group founded 30 years ago by the Rev. Tim LaHaye, an evangelical minister, with the help of Paul Weyrich, an iconic conservative political organizer, sources said.
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_12/Edwin-Meese-Helps-Social-Conservatives-Stay-Relevant-207602-1.html

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Response to JHB (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:21 PM

4. The idea is the same.

The difference is that their issues will get national attention and whatever they bring to the table will be ferreted out because of their track record.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:37 PM

2. that's partially why Florida has the Sunshine Law

The Sunshine Law prohibits members of committees and boards doing public business from speaking about public business outside of publicly accessible meeting. Here's a FAQ on it.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #2)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:19 PM

3. I am very versed in the Sunshine Law.

In order to apply it, you have to be invited to these meetings and observe two or more elected officials talking about a topic that is pending review of the city commission.

That's a tall order to fill when it's nearly impossible to be invited to these meetings. Or worse, if these meetings are layered. In other words, it starts from a small inner circle and works outward into the community.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #3)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:25 PM

5. When you say invited you mean invited to a private meeting?

Between elected officials? Because if they are discussing issues related to the public good - they are supposed to notice the meeting and make it available to the public. If they aren't doing that than they are breaking the law.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #5)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:48 PM

11. Lots of things in your statement that don't match up to reality.

At one time, most of our elected officials were Rotary Club members. Should they notice every meeting held by this private organization? I mean, what could go wrong in a Rotary Club meeting which is known for selfless acts in the community?

Well, unfortunately, quite a bit. In my city the City Manager became a Rotary Club member in early 1996. In this organization were residents who were known to present vicious opposition to the city's plans. A few months after the City Manager became a member he reported back to the Commission to tell them that the members were happy about the brand new day. So, I think it's safe to say that city business was being discussed in the organization. The City Manager may have been breaching the Sunshine Law by being a conduit. But the elected officials may have also breached the Law.

A year later, when a major land development issue was consuming the city's agenda, someone stood up to report that there were Sunshine Breaches in these private meetings. It was hard to dispute the claim because the city attorney took a hit in that city meeting as a result of what was "leaked" to the community. What did the City Manager do to resolve this volatile issue that was being recorded on city tape? He suggested to the elected officials that they should subject themselves to a voluntary gag order.

From that point on the wagons tightened in this small community. Whoever was outside that inner circle was at disadvantage, and whoever was inside that circle, was at a great advantage. This inner/outer circle division would solidify when the legal land development issue was resolved with a confidentiality clause in a settlement agreement. What that confidentiality clause did, was provide legitimacy to a secret society. IMHO.

So, the Sunshine Law is not enough to cut through these inner circles. Most of the people who get recruited into them are not sophisticated enough to understand the law; and are unaware how illegal these conversations may be because this is part of an established social order.

But I think it's a great issue to debate.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #11)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:52 PM

14. In a small community all sorts of corruption is possible, I admit

I mean if they decide not to enforce the law than that's that. But that's corruption - that's not the fault of the law itself.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #14)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:59 PM

17. "But that's corruption - that's not the fault of the law itself. "

It's someone's fault if there's a loophole here that needs to be plugged up. i.e., why isn't the State Attorney's Office playing a bigger role in these events?

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #2)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:36 PM

8. I learned about that law living in an area where it was mentioned on the regular

if you paid attention to local politics because that law got a workout. It's an important law.

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Response to kcr (Reply #8)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 02:00 PM

18. It's great if you always have a tape recorder handy, and have the stomach

to play whatever game is necessary to be included in their circle. I lost my appetite for that kind of proximity a long time ago.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:28 PM

6. I once taught at a college where the president was a good ole boy

He headed up a "faculty discussion group" that met in people's homes. Funny thing, only men were invited. I once overheard my department chair invite a newly hired man from another department. I had never been asked, and when I talked to other women on the faculty, none of them had ever been asked either, not even those who had been at the college for decades.

This lasted until some of the women faculty started their own group to deal with issues such as the lack of women on the counseling staff. We all felt that women students were coming to us with problems that were more properly the concern of professional counselors. The men on the faculty reacted defensively: weren't the men on the counseling staff competent?

One of the women shut them up by asking them to imagine being an 18-year-old male with intimate problems who goes to the counseling center and finds that all the counselors are middle-aged women.

A woman was added to the counseling staff the following year.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #6)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:50 PM

12. Good work.

Sad to hear that this thing goes on in the academic circles. But, at least it sounds like it was easy to reason with them. I think logic and reason are just the kind of things that turns a person into an outsider in small communities.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:34 PM

7. watch those prayer meetings....

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Response to dembotoz (Reply #7)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:50 PM

13. Yep.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:36 PM

9. I've seen them in North Georgia.

Local politicians and money/influence men coming together on a daily basis over breakfast. Not everyone showed up everyday but they were there 2-3 times a week.

Different interests would meet at different locals - but all stopped by the main breakfast during the week.

It was like an open secret everyone pretended wasn't happening.

I found it chilling.

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Response to Solly Mack (Reply #9)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:55 PM

15. "It was like an open secret everyone pretended wasn't happening."

That's why I'm talking about it now.

I was stung in a HOA meeting once when I came up against this formidable force. Once I realized how a large number of our residents were connected at the roots it became impossible to attend those HOA meetings. I knew that I alone could not change the course of whatever nefarious purpose they were pushing.

But it has become a personal project to expose how they operate, because someone has to.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:39 PM

10. I was invited to an open meeting about "Colorado's future energy use and job production"

until i was asked if I was in favor of energy development which would produce many jobs for Colorado. This of course is dog whistle speech for fracking. So I said no. They then said thanks and hung up on me.

I guess they only want the profracking folks there!

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Response to librechik (Reply #10)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 01:56 PM

16. Yup.

Sometimes I think the bigger meetings are meant to ferret out like-minded people for potential recruitment.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 02:05 PM

19. My Mon. morning breakfast meeting this week had 7 women present.

 

Only 3 men.
Good 'ol girl community?

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Response to maced666 (Reply #19)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 02:08 PM

20. What is the purpose of the meetings?

Was it strictly social? Or is there political intent?

And BTW, yes, I do know the damage that good ole gals can do. It is disheartening to see so many local women make it to the top only to watch them imitate what they think is normal behavior that is usually attributed to the ole boys.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:28 PM

21. kick for the early evening crowd.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:49 PM

22. Definitely not

Even in urban liberal communities (where they are backed up by private email lists and other technical filters) there are exclusive breakfast meetings that "run things". However, I don't think the groups that decide which political candidates to run, etc., are exclusively good old BOYS, though. We do have professional and tech "breakfast clubs" that are male-exclusive, though: and they successfully keep women out of the loop on important professional opportunities.

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Response to daredtowork (Reply #22)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 05:02 PM

24. We should keep talking about these exclusive meetings, because something is interfering

with the constitutional process at the local level. When fraud and conspiracy is acceptable to the law enforcement agencies, you know something is way off.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #24)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 05:24 PM

25. It's corrupt but hard to avoid

People have influence and connections that affect political processes - and they also have social circles. And of course everyone has ideals and opinions, and they seek ways to make their vision prevail. So people are going to have breakfast with their friends, they are going to talk, and their influence is going to carry.

I think the only time you can do anything about it is if they formalize meetings, start issuing schedules, and get access to public political representatives on public time.

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Response to daredtowork (Reply #25)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 05:28 PM

26. Access to political representatives?

Geez. Around here they PHOTOGRAPH their breaches of the Sunshine Law without any fear of retribution. That's because they make sure that all the "right" people are in on the schemes.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:52 PM

23. Star Chambers.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 08:18 PM

27. This goes on in corporations too

In the 1970s I worked for a small (500 employees) engineering consulting company in rural Pennsylvania. The original founders were retired and their sons, along with other long time employees, ran the company. It was involved in major electric utility power generation construction projects and had a state of the art IT infrastructure and staff (including me). It took me about a year to figure out that hirings, promotions and salary increases, and any issue that required a decision was never resolved in a timely manner. There was always a logjam until the first week of the next month when, suddenly, all the issues were resolved, promotions announced, etc.

I was bitching about some IT issue with a 3rd party software vendor one day when one of the senior managers said he would discuss it at the prayer breakfast next week. He immediately realized he'd made a mistake, but with that clue I found out that the first Monday of every month the original founders, their sons, and most other senior managers held a "prayer breakfast". During this breakfast each attendee brought their list of outstanding management decisions and received direction from the retired founders and other attendees. It turned out that they all belonged to the same church and had been running the company this way since its inception 40 years ago.

No women or minority employees were invited to the prayer breakfast, regardless of the their formal position on the org chart.

I really don't think the folks that ran the company had evil intentions, but also had no clue about equal opportunity issues or any modern management practices.

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Response to OutNow (Reply #27)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 08:28 PM

28. Very eye-opening.

Thank you for sharing that. Unfortunately, unless private companies are bidding on federal contracts, they don't have to abide by EEO.

But this is exactly the kind of model of government process that I'm talking about. It is problematic because the idea of inclusive meetings means that the rights of individuals are intentionally being violated. Bringing the issue up in a public meeting is just a formality when the people who are being infringed upon aren't given the proper information in a timely manner.

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