“A moral hazard is a situation in which one party gets involved in a risky venture knowing that it is protected against risk and some other party will incur the cost … otherwise known as, privatizing the gains and socializing the losses …”
On August 13, the speculators at Visions Golf LLC will be trying for yet another bite of the apple from the bailout tree. Their first bite of this apple came from a bankruptcy court, in which these speculators petitioned a judge that they were victims of a bad economy and a waning interest in golf.
The judge rewarded them with reduced debt obligations, albeit at the expense of well meaning creditors. Rather than improve their golfing business, they began to shutter one amenity after another, including golf itself. Now these speculators will petition the City of Plant City for a zoning change, so that they may leave town with a huge windfall profit — this time, at the cost of everyone in Walden Lake and Plant City.
This has never been about golf. This is about greed and what is morally right and morally wrong.
Some people say, “It is their land to do with what they like.” To these people I ask, if Walden Lake itself was owned by speculators who wanted to drain it and build a shopping center, would you care? Or if the polo fields were owned by speculators who wanted to build a car dealership, do you suppose those living in the Polo Grounds might be concerned?
Some people say, “They will padlock it. What then?” To these people I ask, how do you padlock green space?
Some people say, “This community cannot support 36 holes of golf.” To these people I ask, can this city afford to let these golfing dollars go to other surrounding towns and cities?
Some people say, “Half a loaf is better then no loaf. Let them build at least 18 holes with their profits.” To these people I ask, what assurances do you have, and more importantly, is it morally right to covet your neighbors’ home equity so that you may golf or profit?
Some people say, “The community needs to support the golf owners.” To these people I ask, did Visions ever reach out to the community in which it lives?
Some people say, “I do not live on the golf course, so I could care less.” To these people I ask, have you considered the impact to your home value, to your sight lines, your child’s classroom size, your taxes, the noise, the crime, the density, the traffic, the drainage, the sinkholes, insurance costs?
Some people say, “No one wants to buy the course.” To these people I ask, how do you know, and did you know that your tax dollars go to the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which is chartered to run municipal golf courses in Hillsborough County?
Some people say, “Young people are not interested in golf.” To these people I ask, have they heard of The First Tee program and other municipalities that discount golf for city children?
Some past and one current WLCA Board members say, “The WLCA should take no interest. It is only those bordering the proposed development who are complaining.” To these people I ask, do you not think this community has a right to know that some of you are creditors/investors in Visions, and have been negotiating a private settlement with Visions?
I would not let anyone walk into my home, or my neighbors home, and steal. For city leaders to allow any business to steal or extort the sweat equity from this community and leave town would be a moral hazard that would haunt Plant City for years to come. We all pray for moral leadership and that those elected will do the right thing. Current and future residents and businesses will be watching and listening closely.