Status in Wellington
This is an announcement by Wellington Equestrian Partners, owners of the equestrian venues and Equestrian Sport Productions that produces WEF and other event. It helps eplain the situation in Wellington and addresses the outstanding litigation.
There will likely be corruption charges filed against Village Mayor Bob Margolis and Councilman John Greene.
Wellington Equestrian Partners (“WEP”) announced today that the WEP Partnership operating committee voted to withdraw from all settlement discussions with the Village of Wellington regarding ongoing litigation. WEP is in the process of filing a series of lawsuits against The Village of Wellington. WEP cited two primary reasons for these actions
First, after full consideration, a Palm Beach County Appellate Court denied the two Jacobs appeals on the equestrian portion of the Equestrian Village project. These denials affirmed both the compatibility and the development approval process for the project.
WEP, over the past months, has provided the Village with a very clear and simple path to resolve the issues amicably and inexpensively. The proposal was simple. - reverse the revocations, let us operate the equestrian projects that have been built and WEP will drop all current and forego any future lawsuits related to the revocation issues.
This path allowed the newly-elected Village Council members (Margolis, Greene and Wilhite) (the “Jacobs’ Slate”) to satisfy their stated campaign commitments to support the equestrian elements of the project. WEP believed a settlement would provide great benefits to the Village.
First, it would diffuse an increasingly costly and divisive situation that is growing worse within the Village.
Second, it would insure the continued success of the equestrian community, which benefits all Wellington residents.
Third, it would have significantly reduced legal expenses to the taxpayers of Wellington - all with little or no impact on the Jacobs’ rights to pursue their personal agenda and their litigation. Inexplicably, instead of making a decision, the Jacobs’ Slate repeatedly rejected WEP’s settlement overtures and chose to continue their stalling tactics which would have the effect of putting the Equestrian Village at risk of once again losing next year’s summer and fall seasons.
Given the recent front page Palm Beach Post exposé (http://tinyurl.com/aawljy6) which discusses potentially unethical activity by Mayor, Bob Margolis, it is now more apparent to WEP why he backed off from settlement discussions.
Ultimately, the Jacobs’ Slate chose to protect a few wealthy landowners and political supporter’s interests over the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Wellington. In our opinion, the Jacobs’ interests, who spent over $500,000 getting their slate elected during the recent election (typical Village campaigns spend approximately $20,000 per candidate), are continuing to pursue a “scorched earth” approach to the Wellington equestrian community.
This approach is alienating residents, both equestrian and non-equestrians, as well as the world’s top riders within all disciplines that have been flocking to Wellington. Unfortunately, the Wellington taxpayers will ultimately pick up the tab for the actions of these particular Village Councilmembers.
WEP does not believe the Jacobs’ Slate, which comprises the majority of the Village Council, will change their position.
Therefore, WEP will not waste further time pursing a settlement while the Village is preoccupied with stalling the settlement process, postponing the inevitable, and in our view, protecting a few political supporter’s (Neil Hirsch, Victoria McCullough and certain members of the Jacob’s family). This community should be asking the fundamental question. “Why would certain members of the Village Council refuse such a beneficial and simple offer that would end extensive Village expenditures on lawyers and Village staff time to support the litigation?.”
Which leads us to the second reason.
WEP believes that the revocations of the lawfully approved development rights were illegal and are part of a concerted effort by the Jacobs’ Slate to take away WEP’s property rights as landowners,-which WEP believes are core constitutional rights.
Recently uncovered information leads WEP to believe that the circumstances, payments, and what appears to WEP to be inducements made days prior to key votes to certain Council members participating in the vote to revoke WEP’s property rights were inappropriate and unlawful. WEP believes that the Jacobs Slate within the Village Council are pursuing anti-business and unlawful tactics and WEP will not let it stand.
So we are clear, we believe that Council members Howard Coates and Ann Gerwig have continued to look out for the best interests of Wellington. Unfortunately it is WEP’s opinion that the Jacobs’ Slate will continue to put the best interests of the certain Jacobs family members, Neil Hirsch, and Victoria McCullough ahead of Village and County residents and taxpayers.
The Village has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and staff time fighting on behalf of these interests, and WEP believes those numbers will balloon to well over $1,000,000 during the next twelve months. Of course, all of this is money that could be spent on Village improvements and meaningful investments in our community. WEP believes in Wellington’s future and has invested more than $200 million dollars in support of our vision.
WEP will do what it takes to protect this very significant investment and will exhaust all remedies to make sure that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions. It is our goal to continue to invest in the Wellington, bring together the equestrian and non-equestrian worlds, expand Wellington’s economy and create much needed jobs. We are confident that justice will prevail.
The WEP Partnership who are Wellington residents and/or homeowners.
It is amazing and dismaying to see what is going on in Wellington.
A selfish billionaire family wants things to be restrictive.
Oh geez, won't you please keep your pi$$ing match in Wellington.
I know how vehemently each side feels, that it has the high ground in these matters, I have read about them ad nauseum.
At this point in time, both sides look like 2 year old children throwing toys out of the sandbox. I do truly hope that this mess is settled and that the residents' and landowners', (and equestrians who enjoy the winter season in Wellington) interests can all be accomodated without further idiocy.
Sorry ,I'm a grouch, but you won't find many here who won't tell you just to pull yourselves together and realize how asinine the tactics of both sides appear to the average COTHer.
Hey, nothing entertains us po' folk more than a good tacky tasteless p*ssing contest between the one-percenters. Carry on, I say. It adds a little spark to our dull, hopeless little lives.
Tempest in a teapot. It wouldn't be WellyWorld if there weren't somebody hacked off at/suing VOW. Business as usual. :rolleyes:
Well, really, what the hell are we supposed to do about it?
Coming on to a national BB to put out your (already well publicised) position against your adversary in a LOCAL dispute is pointless.
Most everyone who cares, is aware of this debacle.( I am aware and could not care less).
The legal and political processes will take their respective courses and, if everyone REALLY wants to be an idiot that could be years from now.
The Wellington "winter season" horse showing public, may put the heat on a bit and I believe THAT hope is the reason this thread has been started ?
No doubt the two sides will continue to make life as miserable as possible for one another, for as long as possible, if their current behavior is any prediction.
Many of us in Wellington are not wealthy and we have jobs that depend on the equestrian industry. The uncertainty is not a pleasant thing for us and our families.
My gosh if you don't want to read about Wellington then don't! But our livelihoods depend on the equestrian industry. It is not a recreational sport or hobby.
Do you read an article in a newspaper about a topic in which you have no interest and then complain that it was published?
Here's a recommendation. Do not read beyond this point.
Below is an article from today's Post that describes how our Mayor is under investigation.
Editorial: In Wellington, it’s all horses, all the time
By Rhonda Swan
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics will decide whether Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis wrongly accepted $6,500 in contributions from opponents of Mark Bellissimo’s proposed $100 million equestrian village. There is no doubt, though, that the project has overshadowed everything else in the village.
Yes, Wellington is renowned as an equestrian community but the horses have all but taken over. The focus of last year’s municipal election was the equestrian village and its shops and hotel, which many, including this newspaper, believed was too high as proposed. The village council approved the project after Mr. Bellissimo and his team scaled it back.
Still, the billionaire Jacobs family, which owns an estate near the project, filed lawsuits and financed the Wellington Equestrian Preservation Alliance. It backed candidates opposed to the project, including Mayor Margolis. The Jacobses got what they wanted: a council beholden to their interests.
Since the election, the council has taken several votes that have killed the project. That, however, hasn’t stopped it from being the focus of attention.
Mayor Margolis faces an ethics complaint. More lawsuits have been filed. The ethics commission won’t confirm or deny that it is investigating Mayor Margolis, but the mayor told The Post Editorial Board that he’s been advised not to comment until after he meets with commissioners this week.
It is suspect that Mayor Margolis accepted contributions to a legal fund set up to defend his win in the March election after he had been confirmed the winner. He took a $4,000 check from Victoria McCullough and a $2,500 check from Neil Hirsch. Both opposed Mr. Bellissimo’s project. Mayor Margolis voted to revoke the Equestrian Village’s master plan the day after he deposited the check from Mr. Hirsch.
State law prohibits public officials from accepting gifts of more than $100 from lobbyists and companies or people employing lobbyists. As The Post’s Mitra Malek reported, neither Ms. McCullough nor Mr. Hirsch is registered as a lobbyist, but lobbyist restrictions apply.
Mr. Bellissimo is using those donations as the basis for a lawsuit against Wellington filed last week. It claims that the village unjustifiably rejected his project. In another suit, he alleges that staff has failed to provide his group public records.
Surely, voters didn’t intend to elect a council whose only agenda is the horse industry.
for The Post Editorial Board
No different than middle class nimbyism.
Originally Posted by Chuck Alnut
You don't seem to understand. I HAVE read all about it. The mayor is under investigation . It, it is everywhere in the equestrian media.
Originally Posted by Sponsor
I do realize how important a local issue this is to both sides (and I said nothing about your financial circumstances).
Just wish you all would stop the PR campaign and let the process work.
ETA This is a BB not a newspaper. There is a difference.