This Is our Village

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vitriol trumps all in Century Village election

Vitriol trumps all in Century Village election
Frank Cerabino
   Things have taken a nasty turn in this election season.
   No, I’m not talking about the national presidential election. I’m talking about the upcoming election at Century Village in suburban West Palm Beach.
   That national stuff is child’s play. You don’t get to the real no-holds-barred political fights until you have a group of retirees clawing at each other over that last hurrah.
   For the past six years, Century Village has been led by David Israel, who is either an accomplished visionary leader, or the worst thing to hit the condo community since the doughnut hole in prescription insurance.
   It depends who’s narrating. But one thing’s certain: Israel’s up for reelection on March 4 and the knives are out.
   “David Israel brings shame to Century Village” was the front page headline on last month’s CV Messenger, which purports to “Shine a light on the news” in the Village, and is one of the sharp-tongued rogue outlets of information in this sprawling condo community.
   The story excoriated the village president for calling Palm Beach County code enforcement officers to remove a rival candidate’s campaign sign hanging on the fence of a temple beyond the condo’s Haverhill Road gate. As it turned out, the code enforcers not only got the sign removed.
   “The Aitz Chaim Temple is the real victim in all this,” the story said. “They received six separate citations from code enforcement for minor non-compliance issues that were never a problem until David Israel decided to complain.
   “Israel has gone to great lengths to stifle opposition in the upcoming election, banning the distribution of literature and any thought of speaking to residents … about CV political issues, but this latest action reached new depths of underhanded depravity.”
   Underhanded depravity? Seriously? Yes, they’re heavy on the mustard here.
   For a daily dose of political vitriol, Villagers can go online to My Village Blogger, which bills itself “The Voice of the Malcontents.”
   On Tuesday, the blog referred to Israel as both a dictator and The Wizard of Oz, and the man who single-handedly “rested control of the Clubhouse and Pools and decreed no more electioneering.”
   A dictator who has rested control of the pool and clubhouse? It’s like reading dispatches from Aleppo, not Okeechobee Boulevard .
   There was even a protest rally scheduled to complain about the ban on campaigning at the clubhouse and community swimming pools.
   Israel does have his supporters, who refer to his detractors as “the mals,” which is short for malcontents.
   “Dave Israel hasn’t had any rallies at the pools …” one of his supporters wrote on another community blog. “So it’s not as though he HAS been allowed pool rallies during this campaign and the mals have not. So what’s the big beef ?”
   Israel was elected as vice president of the governing board at Century Village, known as UCO, in 2009, and then as president in 2010, a position he has held since. In a recent post in anotherVillage blog, “Our Village,” Israel detailed the accomplishments that he and his leadership team, which he calls “Team Dave,” brought to the condo complex.
   Century Village was “being run like it was 1960” when he came into office, he said. He brought the village into the computer age with a village-wide email system and digital record keeping that eliminated “file drawers, rotting boxes and file cabinets,” he wrote.
   He installed a Team Dave member to run Channel 63, the village’s closed-circuit TV station, and the village’s official newspaper, The UCO Reporter. And he brought in help with expertise in the insurance world to save the Village millions of dollars in insurance premiums, he wrote.
   His detractors, though, aren’t impressed. They’ve posted “Dump Dave” signs around the village, and wish that the Village had term limits for its elected leaders.
   “The President acts as if he is the God-given savior of this Village,” wrote a poster on the My Village blog. “He has established a system of emails, which are privately owned by him. He has established a Village blog, which is privately owned by him. He has a voice in the UCO Reporter; his opponents do not.”
   As next month’s touchscreen voting (thanks to Team Dave) approaches, the political climate in this gradually more computerized Century Village continues to heat up through its online blogs.Although, I’m not sure how much hotter it can get.
   “It took Hitler many, many years to gain control of everything in Germany and elsewhere in Europe,” a village blogger wrote this week. “It wasn’t just overnight that he did this. And then, he could do ANYTHING he wanted because he controlled everything that existed. Everyone was scared to death — literally.
   “Fast forward to Century Village,” the post continues. “Israel controls everything and everybody.”
   Yes, that’s right. Political discourse has reached the Hitler level in Century Village.
   Not even Donald Trump has gone that far yet. 

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