Tempers flare as official calls out ‘dictatorship’ in Villages government

Tempers flared Monday morning when a Villages official called for a special meeting to try to wrest control of Villages government from commercial property owners in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

Jerry Vicenti
Jerry Vicenti

Community Development District 7 Supervisor Jerry Vicenti issued the call at the Project Wide Advisory Committee meeting.

“This is really a hot-button and nobody wants to go near it,” Vicenti said as he rolled out a statement he had written the previous night.

Last month, Vicenti and fellow CDD 7 Supervisor Bill Vondohlen voted against an interlocal agreement that would lock in PWAC’s “advisory” status, ceding ultimate power for 20 years to the Sumter Landing Community Development District Board.

Vicenti on Monday called on fellow PWAC members to revisit the resolution which ensures the committee’s subservient status.

“In my opinion we have two forms of government in The Villages. We have the SLCDD board, which consists of owners of commercial properties, a very small minority of The Villages that CONTROLS The Villages government and they don’t have to answer to no one but themselves, are elected within themselves by themselves. To add insult to injury some of them DON’T live in The Villages which controls millions of dollars of the residents funds,” Vicenti said in the statement read aloud to PWAC members.

The SLCDD board is made up of supervisors whose livelihoods are tied to the Developer.

“In my opinion the SLCDD is not a democratic democracy form of government, it’s the definition of a dictatorship,” Vicenti said.

He pointed to the Amenity Authority Committee, which manages amenities north of County Road 466, as an elected body accountable to residents. He said the AAC could serve as a model for what PWAC could become.

Despite his impassioned plea, Vicenti did not receive a second in support of his motion for a special meeting. Instead, his statement drew a harsh response from his fellow board members.

Ken Stoff

Brownwood Community Development District PWAC representative Ken Stoff questioned whether Vicenti’s behavior violated a recently adopted code of conduct. Stoff, a resident of Fruitland Park, is the treasurer for the Holding Company of The Villages Inc.

Soon the word “disrespectful” began to fly.

PWAC Chairman Peter Moeller took issue with Vicenti’s decision to speak out against the committee’s vote earlier this year to remove the cap on amenity fees paid by residents.

“I thought it was disrespectful to go back to your CDD and not support this committee,” Moeller said.

PWAC member Dennis Hayes was unhappy with Vicenti’s decision to speak out against PWAC’s decision on the amenity cap when the CDD 7 supervisor took to the podium at May’s SLCDD board meeting. Hayes said if Vicenti didn’t like PWAC’s decision, he had another option.

“Don’t sit on this committee,” Hayes said.

Steve Brown, CDD 9’s representative on PWAC, also took a swing at Vicenti’s appeal to the SLCDD Board over the removal of the amenity cap.

“We should all own that decision,” Brown said.

You can read Vicenti’s entire statement at this link: Jerry Vicenti statement July 8, 2019