The Villages Crush a Grassroots Revolt

Residents of the Florida retirement community banded together to reject a property tax hike but were blocked by powerful players — including Ron DeSantis.

A decorative banner is seen along a street in Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages on Jan. 14, 2023.
A decorative banner is seen along a street in Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages on Jan. 14, 2023. Photo: Elise Swain/The Intercept

In 2019, residents of The Villages, an iconic retirement community in Florida, were suddenly hit with a 25 percent hike in their property taxes. In the master-planned community of 130,000 across the state’s Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties, many residents are on fixed incomes. The tax hikes were intended to subsidize new developments south of the community, rather than cover new amenities or upgrades for current residents. The entity known locally either as “the developer” or “the family” benefited from the tax hike and could then escape paying fees associated with the expansion of their development. This week on Deconstructed, host Ryan Grim takes us to The Villages to meet residents who banded together to rollback the tax hike but who were ultimately blocked by powerful players. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the local political machine run by The Villages fought the residents, leading to one of their champions being thrown in jail.


[Deconstructed theme song.]

Ryan Grim: Over here I see a bunch more people on golf carts. Is this the, what kind of, what area of The Villages are we in now? Is this the south? This is, this is the wealthy— 

This looks like a wealthier area — the villages. And you’ve got— 

Greg Grim: Oh, yeah. These houses are a lot bigger. 

RG: Yeah. You’ve got big screened in-porches, looking out at golf courses, obviously the palm trees.

RG: Hey, it’s Ryan Grim here. And on this episode of Deconstructed I’m taking you to the Villages, a gigantic retirement community in central Florida owned by the Morse family. They’re the descendants of the patriarch Howard Schwartz, who founded the community in the 1970s as a trailer, and they draw a lot of water in central florida today.

RG: So you can’t tell if the golf carts are golfers or current golfers are on their way to golfing or just the way that they get around here. What’s over there? Is that a giant pickleball assemblage? 

RG: I’m driving around with my brother, our dad is a snowbird in the Villages. We just passed a huge sign describing the villages as “Florida’s friendliest hometown,” with a nice little exclamation mark.

There are now 130,000 retirees and counting here in this planned community, and there are a lot of them out today on their golf carts, headed to endless pickle ball courts, free putting greens, tennis courts, golf courses and later today it’ll be happy hour, and the town squares will be popping with 2 for 1 specials. 

It’s also a Republican bastion. Mike Pence was here recently, so was KellyAnn Conway, every GOP nominee comes through here, and the family are close political allies with Florida Gov. Ron Desantis. 

I’m here because in 2019, residents of The Villages were suddenly hit with a 25 percent hike in their property taxes. For many of the people here on fixed incomes, that was a brutal hit. 

If the new taxes were intended to cover new amenities for the Villagers or to deal with the traffic here, maybe you could justify the sacrifice. But the new money was destined to subsidize further sprawl south of The Villages, for the benefit of the developer — the Morse family. 

Thousands of Villages residents expressed outrage in local meetings and on social media.  

Unknown person: How is it my responsibility, partial, albeit partial, to pay for the development of Buena Vista in another part of the county. 

Unknown person: I am totally against us paying for any roads in Southern Oaks. 

Unknown person: And I’ve been an administrator and a hospital finance person for major hospitals corporations around the United States. Had I ever presented to the board a budget that went up by 24 percent one year, I wouldn’t be living in The Villages. [Laughter and applause.]

Unknown person: You are sticking it to us, and hopefully we will return the favor at election time. [Cheers and applause.]

Unknown person: I pray to God that everyone of you are replaced. [Cheers and applause.]

RG: The tax hike went ahead anyway. So a group of fed-up Villagers decided to run for county commission to roll it back. They won those seats, but then they ended up getting smashed by Florida Gov. Ron Desantis and the local political machine run by The Villages, with one of their lead champions being thrown in jail.  

The Morse family maintains a lot of power in the area. The family owns the robust local newspaper, The Villages Daily Sun; owns the radio station, which pipes Fox News and right-leaning updates through speakers in common areas and at pools; owns the glossy magazine; and also owns local politics. But elections still need to happen. 

So three Villagers decided to step up and run: Craig Estep, Oren Miller, and Gary Search. They ran as a ticket under the clever moniker EMS, promising to rescue The Villages.

They ran in opposition to the tax increase, arguing that businesses that profit from the development should instead shoulder the burden with an impact fee. They also vowed to reverse an initiative that had made it easier for the family to keep control of local politics and thereby return some power to rural areas outside the community.

Oren Miller, one of the candidates, whose wife was a committed opponent of the local high-kill animal shelter, added a promise to bring a no-kill shelter to The Villages. This won the EMS-slate the support of the area’s animal rights backers. 

Contractors for the developer, led by the firm T&D, which almost exclusively works for The Villages Inc., swooped in to fund the incumbents who had enacted the tax increase. The contractors and other donors lavished close to $200,000 on the incumbents, but it wasn’t enough. In November 2020 the EMS slate won in a landslide, giving them a 3-2 majority on the commission. 

EMS immediately faced an onslaught from the Daily Sun, which portrayed the new commissioners as borderline communists set out to destroy The Villages’ way of life. The paper accused them of “championing a reversal of the county’s longstanding pro-business strategy.”

A top official with The Villages immediately made it clear to the new commissioners how rough a road they were about to go down. Here’s Gary Search, one of the candidates, speaking to a meeting of the Property Owners Association which had backed the EMS slate.

Gary Search: And I was here to represent the people, but from the day I was elected I had a hierarchy of The Villages put his finger in my face and say Search, just remember one thing: I’m a big person, you’re a little person. I can squash you anytime I want. I said, is that a threat? And he said no, it’s a promise.

RG: The amount of money at stake was eye-watering, well into the hundreds of millions of dollars for the developer. But the three candidates quickly moved to make their campaign promises reality. 

By a 3-2 vote in March 2021, they hit businesses with a 75 percent increase in impact fees – less than Miller and Search wanted, but a substantial amount nonetheless – to cover the cost of future development.

There was no good reason, they argued, for residents to subsidize the cost of further development for the Morse family. If the family wanted to expand The Villages, they could fund it themselves. 

It seemed like an open-and-shut case of democracy in action: Residents had banded together to make their voices heard, and changed the direction of their community, rejecting a cozy arrangement between the area’s political and business elites. 

Next up was the property tax rollback. None of that, of course, could be allowed. 

The first counterpunch came in January 2021, in Tallahassee, with a push for statewide legislation that would block local officials from significantly increasing impact fees. The Villages had an ally in the right place. 

In 2018, Brett Hage, then the president of T&D, the main contractor, had been elected to the state House. After his election, The Villages would hire Hage directly, paying him $141,000 the first year and more than double that the next.  

On January 9, 2021, Hage, still on The Village’s payroll, introduced legislation to block the proposed impact fee. In June Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law. Crucially, for The Villages, the law was retroactive. 

Hage had gotten a hefty raise. His 2021 disclosure shows his pay had jumped to $925,096. His net worth had climbed by nearly a million and a half dollars since getting elected to office. His state House pay is listed as $29,697 a year.

If the pushback from The Villages and DeSantis had ended there, it would still represent a brazen flow of cash from a developer, directly to the personal bank account of a state lawmaker who then passed legislation saving the developer hundreds of millions of dollars and instead spreading the costs to tens of thousands of Floridians. But the pushback didn’t stop there. 

In December 2021, Republican State Attorney Bill Gladson charged both commissioners, Oren Miller and Gary Search, with felony perjury, punishable by up to five years in prison. DeSantis also stepped in and issued executive orders removing them from the commission. 

GS: Two things are happening here: intimidation and humiliation.

RG: That’s Search speaking a month later, addressing The Villages’ Property Owners’ Association

GS: The second thing is, it’s also to take other candidates, and I love that Andy is still going to run, because it’s to intimidate any other candidate from running against the local government that they’ve controlled for so long.

RG: And here’s the head of the property owner association. 

Cliff Wiener: I want to just say, he mentioned something: I had lots of people lined-up to run in 2022 for the two seats that were open. Andrew is the only one still standing at this time. And some people that were going to run in 2024 for other offices that were going to be coming up, slowly but surely they are all dropping. They don’t want to go through what Gary and Oren are going through right now. 

RG: I was in the Villages the day of Oren Miller’s sentencing. He had been locked up for more than two months. 

[Sound of car door opening.]

Angie Fox: I didn’t know if you were married or what I brought two waters. I’ll put them in the backseat. 

RG: Oh thank you. Appreciate it. 

RG: I was on my way to meet his wife, Angie Fox, who was hoping the judge would give Miller time served and allow him to come home. 

RG: How often have you, have you been able to talk to him? 

AF: I talk to him every single day. 

RG: OK. 

AF: Every morning he calls, we haven’t seen each other. We did that one by design two, we know that we’re gonna have to have money for an appeal, and while everybody thinks that we’re rich, we’re not. And so I’m trying to save as much money as I can.

RG: How is Oren doing in jail? Like what are his phone calls like?

AF: He got very sick at one point. He had 10 days that they weren’t giving him his medicine — his heart, heart and thyroid. And he had the first 10 days he wasn’t even getting that medicine. So he was in bad shape. He’s handling it with all the grace that he normally handled things, but he’s—

It’s not, this is not a piece of cake. I mean, he’s doing it and he knows he may not get out today. I mean, that I know. I mean, the judge said we didn’t think that he would remand him to jail. So that was a shock. 

RG: Angie Fox founded the group Lost Pets of the Villages, which people call when they’ve lost a pet. She quickly marshalls a team of volunteers to go find the pet before it winds up at the local high kill shelter, which kills pets at a disturbingly high pace. 

AF: I realized we didn’t have a system here to get dogs back home when they got lost. So I started Lost Pets of the Villages. And it started out with, I mean, I had a lot of friends here. I put ’em all in this, in the group. And it grew, I think it’s over—

RG: The Facebook group? 

AF: Yeah, I think it’s over 6,000 now. I don’t remember. I had to get, when Oren, we were boots on the ground when I did it, we were boots on the ground. If somebody found a dog, we’d leave whatever we were doing and we’d get the dog.

If they couldn’t foster in place, we’d get the dog and drive around the neighborhood and find the owner. Or you know, if we had to bring the dog home for a period of time or find a foster, whatever we had to do to keep the dog out of our shelters.

RG: When Oren Miller ran for commission, one of his major promises was to fund the creation of a no kill shelter. He managed to get it passed, but after Ron Desantis threw him and his colleague Gary Search off the commission and appointed replacements, the funding was repealed. 

To understand how Miller went from a newly elected commissioner to being under investigation by a Florida state attorney, a little background about Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law is required. 

The state prides itself in its government transparency laws. Among them are two relevant provisions for Miller’s saga: First, county commissioners are not permitted to discuss county business privately with other commissioners, but can only do so publicly at official meetings. And two, the commissioners may not use a “third-party conduit” for those communications, either. The commissioners were sworn in in November, 2020, and received a series of training on the Sunshine Laws over the next several months. Then on February 16, 2021, the county board met at The Villages Sumter County Service Center.

[Gavel pounding]

We’ll call the meeting to order. This is a special meeting of the board of county commissioners of Sumter County. 

RG: The main order of business was a recommendation by the county administrator, Bradley Arnold, that the commission not raise impact fees on businesses, but instead negotiate a voluntary impact fee from the developer. The idea was voted down 4-1. 

As a final order of business, Miller turned to a simmering war between local animal rights advocates – of which he and his wife were two – and supporters of the local kill shelter.

Oren Miller: I’d like to see an animal advocacy group put together. We’ve got way too much animosity between animal services and the animal advocates in Sumter County. Too many things have been done in the past that do not help. Both groups have a reason to be in existence. 

RG: He proposed that some type of reconciliation group be formed, and suggested Gary Search be the mediator, based on Search’s background in psychology. Here is Miller during that meeting:

OM: I would like to ask for Commissioner Search to mediate that group if he’s willing. This is news to him, I’m blindsiding him with this. 

GS: Yes, yes, you are. 

OM: But, with your background— well, if you don’t want to do it, I’m OK.

GS: No, no, no. 

OM: I’m saying he’s got a background in mediation and negotiating and there’s some strong personalities in that group. So that he can keep peace in the meeting, I would like him to mediate that group. 

RG: Miller was referring to a group that included his wife, Angie Fox. 

After some discussion among the board members, the county administrator, Bradley Arnold, interjected.

Bradley Arnold: The advocacy group component and the names that Commissioner Miller has raised, there’s a conflict that’s associated with that. There’s a conflict associated with sunshine law issues that we’ve already run into. The problem that we had was, I had a meeting with Commissioner Search and he relayed his conversation with Angie Fox that was advocating for this very solution to be presented to the board.

RG: Arnold, in other words, was accusing Miller of having communicated with Search about the proposal through his wife, in alleged violation of Florida Sunshine Laws — despite the fact that Search appeared not to have known he would be nominated to mediate. Here’s Arnold again speaking at the meeting. 

BA: I then had a directive email from Commissioner Miller that said, go and do this and use commissioner search for that specific purpose. That indicates clearly that Angie Fox is a conduit of communication between two commissioners, which is a violation of open meetings. 

RG: Arnold said the committee idea should be put on hold awaiting a potential investigation. And he all but encouraged somebody in the audience to file a complaint, and two of them did.

BA: So my concern is that where you have something that unfortunately I became a witness to a violation that becomes an ethics related issue. If that is filed by someone and the investigation occurs, my concern is: is that you may want to wait until that activity has happened and the investigation has been concluded before you involve anything to do with Angie Fox, who’s currently acting as a conduit.

RG: That, at least, was Arnold’s version of events. 

AF: Now Gary told us that Gary had taken it to Bradley and I don’t know if, if you talked to Gary or what Gary said, but Gary had taken it to Bradley. And Bradley told him not to bring it up and he had told him, he told Oren not to bring it up, but that’s not what the email says.

RG: That’s Angie Fox again. 

Behind the scenes, not only was Arnold already aware that Miller would bring the idea to the board, Arnold himself – according to an email he sent to the county attorney that was obtained by The Intercept – had directly encouraged Miller to do so. 

On February 11, 2021, Miller had indeed written to Arnold about his idea, according to emails obtained through an open records request by Fox. Miller wrote, “I was out golfing today and Angie talked to Commissioner Search.”  He went on to say, “I don’t know what the conversation was, and I don’t want to know. I just know his background would come in handy to act as a mediator. I don’t know if he would be willing to do this or not, but I think he would.”

Arnold replied that it was a good thought, but that he needed Board direction. Arnold then forwarded the email to the County Attorney, telling her that he had asked Miller to bring the issue to the board.

When I interviewed Arnold, he said his intervention in the meeting kicked off the resulting investigation.

BA: That’s what ultimately led to the complaint with the State Attorney’s Office from at least one individual. I think that they had more complaints.  

RG: Arnold had a back-up plan if Miller didn’t bring it up.

BA: If that had not been raised by him at the meeting, it was the plan of the county attorney to share how dangerously close the commissioners are coming to a potential open meetings violation. But before she could provide that support, he had already proceeded. And then that basically met all of the conditions from my concern that I had raised with the county attorney.

RG: In other words, Arnold was planning to bring up an allegation of open meetings violation whether Miller brought up his proposal or not. 

RG: On that particular meeting, did you suggest that he bring that particular issue to the board?

BA: Actually, what I stated was— No, absolutely not to that degree.

RG: When I showed him the emails later, he said in an email, “That communication preceded my discovery of the open meetings issue which is covered in the meeting minutes.” 

Although, of course, Miller’s own email included the fact that his wife had already spoken with Search. 

Three official complaints were indeed filed. But instead of going to the ethics commission in Tallahassee as you might expect, they were sent as criminal complaints directly to the local state attorney. An official investigation was launched. Miller and Search were eventually arrested and charged with absurd felony perjury charges for allegedly lying about the nature of their phone calls with each other.

Miller said he didn’t remember what most of the calls were about, that prosecutors didn’t show him a calendar or give him any heads up that might have let him cross-check his schedule. But some of the calls, Miller recalled, were about a golf outing. Some were to arrange who was going to bring apple fritters from Dough J’s for the staff at meetings. (The apple fritters took up an inordinate amount of time in Miller’s interrogation. Dough J’s was way out of the way, so the pickups had to be coordinated.) Some of the calls, he said, were about church functions or Covid relief. But none, after their training, were about active commission business, he said.

Throughout the whole episode, the Daily Sun routinely published Search’s and Miller’s mugshots. And the opposition to The Villages’ political machine was quickly eroding.

Soon, Search and Miller were drowning in legal bills. Search also had surgery scheduled, plus his medication schedule made a prison term less than ideal. He cut a deal with prosecutors to testify at Miller’s trial in exchange for avoiding prison and ending the legal battle. The deal barred him from running for office for six months, blocking him from the next election.

But Search’s testimony was not, in the end, damning to Miller. Search confirmed that the two of them had spoken by phone after January or February, but they weren’t discussing commission business. They would, for instance, coordinate on who would bring which Dough J’s to a meeting. That entire process was a rollercoaster. And for more of those details, check out my article in The Intercept.

Now, not a single prosecution witness presented evidence that Search and Miller had talked about commission business on the phone after the time they said the calls stopped. But the existence of the calls themselves — perhaps coupled with relentless Daily Sun coverage — was apparently sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict, the jury of six found Miller guilty. He was given no bond until sentencing, and marched off to jail.  Two and a half months later we’re back at the courthouse, waiting for Miller’s sentencing


Marshal: Let me see your flashlight before you go in.

RG: That’s a microphone.

Marshal: Microphone, OK. 

RG: On January 30, 2023 a gaunt, 72-year-old Miller – now a former commissioner, ousted from his seat by a DeSantis decree – was brought handcuffed into the Marion County Courthouse. He had lost 20-plus pounds in the 74 days behind bars. He was wearing an orange and white jumpsuit, and had a full beard.

AF: [Crying] I miss him so much. 

Unknown person: And you know what? He said you wouldn’t recognize him, I did. 

AF: I did. 

Unknown person: Of course you did. 

Unknown: I liked the beard. [Crosstalk]

AF: I actually did kind of like the beard. 

RG: Dozens of Millers’ supporters packed the courtroom. And three of them testified as character witnesses.

Bryant Fulgham: My name is Bryant Fulgham… 

Dock Blanchard: How long have you known Mr. Miller? 

BF: Since I was 14 years old. 

I know Oren Miller to be the most truthful person I’ve ever met, and I want to share this with the court with his honor that Oren Miller and Angie Fox on September 7th, 2020 brought me and my mother down to see my dying grandfather at the VA hospital in Tampa. A man who was district chief of the Bushnell Fire Department and worked with the state of Florida for the prison system for 30 years. He was dying and Oren and Angie were at my house in Bushnell from the villages in a matter of moments. They brought us down there, they fed us, they sat down there the entire time that my grandfather was on life support. Oren Miller is the greatest man I’ve ever met. I think what’s happening is a travesty. 

Gene McRedmond: Gene McRedmond. 

DB: Do you know Mr. Miller? 

GM: Yeah, I’ve known Oren for eleven years. 

When I reflect back on things that Oren has done, what comes to mind mostly is [Hurricane] Irma back several years ago. And I think at that time Oren was number one or number two in charge of CERT— community emergency response team. He set up a center where people were bringing food, and water, and drinks.

And then I remember even before the storm stopped, Oren asked me to go with him. And we went through the whole old section — the orange blossom section of the Villages — which has a lot of old people, elderly people. And we knocked on door after door after door looking for people that needed help. And it was sad, you know, there are a lot of widows, widowers.

We met one lady who was without power for about two days and her insulin needed to be replaced. And we helped so many people and it was Oren who did that. And it was Oren who worked 24 hours a day for about two days trying to make sure that everybody was taken care of. He didn’t have to do that, but he did it. And that’s Oren. He doesn’t have to do anything, but he does it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. 

RG: There was no victim, no violence, and Miller had no record. The judge still went over the sentencing recommendation and gave him time served plus 36 months of supervised probation and also 200 hours of community service to be performed at the local landfill. 

Outside the courtroom, I asked the prosecutor a couple questions:

RG: What’s your sense of whether justice was served in this case?

Prosecutor: I think the jury listened to the evidence that was presented and returned to verdict based on that, and it was up to them and they made their decision. 

RG: After the sentencing, Angie and her friends went to a local McDonald’s for lunch and to wait for the call from Miller from the jail. 

Recorded voice: Thank you for using Securus. You may start the conversation now. 

AF: Hi Honey. Are you ready to come home? 

OM: I’m ready.

AF: I’m on my way. I’ll be, I’ll be home. I’ll be there in a minute. I love you. Bye. 

RG: I spoke with Oren Miller after his release. 

RG: How are you feeling?

OM: Physically I’m probably back to about 90 percent. I’m not sure they were giving me the right doses of medicine and they were obviously giving them to me at the wrong time. And there was a couple days I slept through the first medication call, so they refused to gimme my medication in the afternoon. So I didn’t get my medications on some days. 

RG: And Angie said you went 10 days in the beginning without any of it. Is that right? 

OM: Eight, eight days without my heart medicine and 13 days without my thyroid medicine. 

RG: What did that do to you physically? 

OM: Dizziness and light-headed nonstop. 

RG: How, how many people were in there with you? 

OM: 80. 

RG: And what, what was the population like? 

OM: The total population was 1,800 people. 

RG: Oh. 

OM: In my particular pod it was 80 people. 

RG: And were you all together in a day room? 

OM: Yes. Night room, day room. The whole, the whole thing. The day room had seating for 56 people, but yet we had 80 people in the pod. So when breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served, only 56 people could actually sit down at a picnic table type thing with metal and eat. The rest of them had to stand up at their beds and or sit on the floor and eat on their beds.  

RG: Now because of your seniority, did you get a seat or because you were brand new, you had to sit on your bed? What was your situation? 

OM: Luckily, a guy adopted me when I came through the door and he got me a seat in the seating area. So I was able to sit. 

RG: What, what was, what was his story? How’d that work out? 

OM: He’s a lifetime member of the jails and prisons of Florida. He goes out, he comes back, he goes out, he comes back. He just, he can’t stay off of drugs.

RG: Miller said violence broke out regularly. 

OM: Every two or three days there was a major fight. In my time there, I saw two people I thought were almost killed.

One of them was choked into complete unconsciousness. Finally, the guards did come in on that one because it was in the frontal cell where they could see it. And they casually walked over to the guy and put their taser lights on him, and he saw the taser lights and he stopped choking the guy.

The other one, five guys beat the crap out of a guy. He was in bad shape, but he came to, and they drug him into the shower 15 minutes later, 20 minutes later, so he could get himself cleaned up. He literally got the shit beat out of him. 

RG: Did you ever get roughed up? 

OM: No. 

RG: Or, how’d you, or how did you avoid the scuffles? 

OM: I was called aside by one of the leaders of one of the gangs. By day two, he says, Oren Miller, you are protected in here because you’re a senior citizen. He says, but understand, don’t cross any lines. Don’t speak out of turn. Don’t do anything to ruffle anybody’s feathers. And he says, we’ll protect you if we can. So I minded my Ps and Qs. 

RG: So when, when you went into court for sentencing how did you mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the uncertainty of what the sentence would be?

OM: I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this judge had it in for me. He told us at the first motion to suppress that we were guilty. He announced us guilty right then and there. So my fear was it was a class three felony. I could have gone to prison for five years, could have faced a $5,000 fine. Now my lawyer kept saying and some of the jailhouse lawyers — the guys in jail — well the guidelines say you can only get up to one year so you won’t go to prison. But that’s a guideline. That wouldn’t have stopped him from giving me a maximum sentence of five years. So I was scared to death until they told me I was going to be released of what my outcome was going to be. 

RG: Were you able to even concentrate on what you were hearing from the character witnesses and from the judge or were you so zeroed in on just hearing what the sentence was going to be? 

OM: I was so zeroed on the sentencing, I was not hearing much of anything. 

[Starts crying] I broke down when I saw my wife because I hadn’t seen her in 74 days. I was trying not to break down, but I couldn’t help myself. We’ve been married for 35 years. I, you know, she’s my right arm.

RG: And I saw you tell her I love you as you walked out the door going back to be processed. What was that feeling like, knowing that at some point soon you were gonna be reunited?

OM: Probably the best day of my life since we did, since the day we got married because I was gonna get to be with her again.

RG: On Monday, February 20, Oren Miller will report to the landfill for his first day of community service. Meanwhile, a Gofundme his wife created has raised enough money that he’ll be appealing his conviction. 

[Credits begin.]

And that’s it for this episode of Deconstructed. Thanks to my brother Greg for the ride to Angie’s house, and to my dad George, a Villages resident, for his hospitality while I was there, to Angie for a lift to the sentencing, and to Oren for the recommendation on Dough J’s. 

The apple fritters are indeed completely out of this world. If you ever find yourself in Webster Florida, definitely stop in, and tell them you know Oren. 

RG: Alright, we’re in Webster, Florida. Deep down south in Sumter County and there is Dough J’s. Huge yellow, what is that barnhouse looking? Looks like they make good donuts. Dough J’s Chicken and Doughnuts. A hole lot of soul with hole spelled h-o-l-e. 

Clerk: Good morning. 

RG: Morning. 

Clerk: How are you? 

RG: Wonderful. How about you? 

Clerk: I’m good. No complaints, hun. 

RG: We’re definitely going to get the donut with the chicken. 

Clerk: Ok so you want either the J’s Glazed Donut Sandwich, which consists of egg and cheese [and] your choice of meat, whether it’s bacon, sausage, or chicken. [Laughs.] Or you can do the Glazer that has… 

RG: I think we want that one, right? 

GG: Wow. 

Clerk: [Laughs.]

GG: I’ll eat another one of those. 

Clerk: So one has egg and cheese and the other one doesn’t. 

RG: We’ll get that second one. 

Clerk: You want the Glazer? 

RG: Yeah, and then I got to get the kids something too. 

Clerk: Am I grabbing a box for six or more or six or less? 

RG: I’m going to get some apple fritters too. 

Clerk: OK. 

RG: So, a big box. 

[Paper crinkling sound.]

RG: Apple fritter.  Yum, yeah. More apple flavor than you get in a typical apple fritter.  

[Deconstructed credit’s music plays.]

Deconstructed is a production of The Intercept. Our producer is José Olivares. Laura Flynn is our supervising producer. The show was mixed by William Stanton. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Roger Hodge is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

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