Boston Magazine has published a sprawling article about the development of a Florida village called Wellington, home to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, where Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and his family have owned land and participated in the horse sport since 1979. Over the last decade, Boston entrepreneur Mark Bellissimo has given the town's equestrian facilities a serious makeover, improving both revenue and reputation for the International Equestrian Center.
Well, international reputation, that is. The established dressage elite don't take kindly to Bellissimo marketing equestrian to the riffraff or holding concerts there. And now, let's go to the block quotes for a classic edition of Rich People Being Awful.
"With the circus atmosphere that’s being promoted, I think we’ve lost a certain amount of high-class dignity," said Michael Whitlow, a board member of the Wellington Equestrian Preservation Alliance, a group set up by the Jacobs family to support their interests. "I would like to see Wellington be the elite of the elites. The absolutely crème de la crème, the top of the top, as opposed to something for everybody."
"Look at all these commoners, running around, laughing freely. It cheapens the experience of watching horses dance."
Here is something a real person said after the grounds were contracted out to host a hip-hop concert:
"That didn’t go over too well," said Mason Phelps, a former equestrian who today serves as a Jacobs family spokesman in Wellington. "Nor did we want to attract the kind of people the Akon concert would attract to this community…. The people that go and listen to and like Akon are not Wellingtonites. It’s just a different crowd of people. I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but this is a fairly upscale community, and we don’t need to bring the low- and middle-income hooligans into town and have them all of a sudden say, Wow, good pickins’ out here."
I've re-read that paragraph a couple times now, and I savor it like a fine wine: a powerful nose of racism that transitions to a body of less abrasive classism. The finish: people with less money are forever casing the joints of rich people, even when served the distraction rap music, which is inevitably about drugs and sex, and offers none of the dignified enjoyment of a night at the symphony.
As with most pissing contests between rich white people, the story from here devolves into building permits, lawsuits, and buying elections, with Jacobs leading "the charge on more than $625,000 in political donations in a small Florida village" to elect a mayor and councilmen more sympathetic to his plight.
But hey, at least it's not harming the community?
The village, still cash-strapped in the wake of the recession, has had to set aside an extra $600,000 for the coming fiscal year to deal with legal fees related to the feud. "That’s just what we pay the lawyers," Schofield, the village manager, told me. "That doesn’t include the staff time." Margolis has estimated that village staffers spend more than half their hours working on equestrian issues. It’s frustrating, he said, because those outside the equestrian district are much more concerned with schools, policing, and finances.
Ugh, rich people are the worst.
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