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The Villages
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Villages’ Developer’s propaganda machine strikes again

To the Editor:

The Daily Sun’s Front-Page Propaganda.  Last Thursday, the Villages Developer (aka “the Developer”)-owned Daily Sun was at it again.  In a front-page political advertisement thinly disguised as a news article, it lashed out against the Residents-First Candidates for the Sumter County Commission (Reed Panos, Andy Bilardello, Jeff Bogue, and Dan Myslakowski) and against the pro-resident’s political action committee called Fair Government for Sumter, Inc. (chaired by myself).  The “article”, written by the Developer’s propagandists Dave Corder and Keith Pearlman, claimed to be making a “bombshell revelation.” That “bombshell revelation” was that Fair Government for Sumter and the Residents-First candidates had accepted political contributions from Ron Brown, a builder, who is responsible for bringing BJ’s wholesale Club to The Villages.

No Pulitzer Prize for the Developer’s Propagandists Corder and Pearlman.  Dave and Keith, give us a break.  Your “bombshell revelation” was neither a bombshell nor a revelation.  The contributions your article described were perfectly legal, were properly reported, and are visible to anybody who wants to click on the Sumter County website.  In other words, Dave and Keith, your “bombshell revelation” is not going to win you a Pulitzer Prize, but maybe you will get a nice bonus from The Developer. BTW, you forgot to mention in your “article” that the Residents-First candidates have been vetted and are endorsed by the Villages Property Owners’ Association, a voice for the residents.

The Facts. In fact, multiple businesses have approached our campaign. These businesses were impressed by the commitment by the Residents-First candidates to level the playing field for all — after years of control of the Sumter County Commission by the Developer.  Fair Government for Sumter, Inc. has always supported businesses in Sumter County.  We even support the business activities of the Developer.

What we vehemently oppose, however, is the Developer’s using his control of the County Commission to funnel tax dollars into his pockets. The most glaring example is the 25% property tax increase enacted, in 2019, by the Developer’s puppet commissioners (including Gilpin, now up for re-election). As you will recall, that increase was enacted to protect the Developer’s sweetheart impact fee. Every time we pay our county tax, we are, in reality, writing a check to the Developer for the amount of that tax increase.

A current example of abuse by the Developer is the way that his forces are working to push through an independent fire district.  The proposal to implement that district was written by the Developer-controlled district management. It caps the market value of commercial property at $10,000. This would allow the commercial properties owned by the Developer, like the Brownwood hotel, to only pay fire and safety taxes on the first $10,000 of a multi-million-dollar property. Thus, the difference would be paid by every resident because our homes will be taxed at a full market value, minus the land value.  I estimate my taxes will go up about $600 per year.  This is wrong!

Several businesses would like to build in Sumter County, but are actively opposed by the Developer.  They are good businesses, such as BJ’s Wholesale Club which, whose move here (as noted above) was negotiated by Ron Brown— a target of the Daily Sun “article”.  These businesses just want a level playing field.  Whether or not they are contributors to our campaign, these businesses will get no special favors from the Residents-First candidates.  They will, however, get a level playing field.

Fact Check and Vote.  Please fact check everything above, and then vote for the Residents-First Candidate: Panos, Bilardello, Bogue, and Myslakowski.

Reed G Panos, MD
Chair and CEO, Fair Government for Sumter, Inc

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