Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White is making an island-wide pitch for Longboat Key Town Commission challengers Gene Jaleski, Larry Grossman and Irwin Pastor.
On Jan. 16, White sent an email to a contact list he dubbed “Longboat Residents,” voicing support for the challengers and disdain for incumbents Jim Brown, Phill Younger and Terry Gans.
“This Town Commission, which the courts have unanimously ruled violated the town’s laws and the state constitution, should not be allowed to return to their jobs this March, and it’s up to us to make sure they don’t,” White wrote. “It’s time to stand up and tell these law-breaking commissioners that we’re taking our government back and then give them an appropriate ride out of town!”
A black-and-white sketch of two men carrying a tied-up man on a pole, while a mob cheers and taunts the man, accompanied the statement.
“All of the candidates opposing these malefactors share a common belief that the town’s zoning laws should be upheld, not undone and rendered meaningless to give the commission the power to approve anything they want,” White wrote.
White also said in his email that the commission, in his opinion:
• “Wasted $4 million of taxpayer money on an ill-advised attempt to deal with beach erosion on the north end of the Key.”
• “Allowed the town’s pensions plans to become grossly underfunded, resulting in a $27 million shortfall for which the taxpayers are now responsible.”
• “Attempted to change the town’s zoning code to give the commission unfettered authority to grant code departures for any commercial development they wanted.”
“You can vote now to throw the rascals out!” White wrote. The provided links for residents on how to vote by mail. “Vote for the right vision for our community, one that is based on the law, the interests of its residents and the future of our island as a premier residential- and second-home community. Vote for Irwin Pastor, Larry Grossman and Gene Jaleski.”
The email was followed with an invitation to meet Grossman at a campaign fundraiser that was held Jan. 17, at Bayou Sound. On Friday, Jan. 25, White also hosted a “Get to Know the Candidates” reception for the three challengers at L’Ambiance.
"I understand they aren’t going to agree with some of my comments, but I certainly don’t agree with many of their actions," White said Tuesday.
The email was circulated among the commission candidates, and all three incumbents had already read the email when asked about it Monday.
“There’s nothing I can do to change Bob White,” said Mayor Jim Brown. “He won with the Key Club, but some things, I guess, never change.”
Brown said he supports any Key resident who likes to get involved and support candidates.
“But the way he’s going about this is just plain sad,” Brown said. “Being vicious and hostile is not the way things work on Longboat Key, and I believe this is going to backfire on him.”
Younger called the letter “very interesting.”
“Bob White has a right to his opinion,” Younger said.
Gans, meanwhile, said he met with White in the fall to discuss Key issues.
“One of my aims was not to get his support, but to look for the things that unite us and don’t divide us,” Gans said. “I guess my meeting wasn’t very effective. The email says more about those who would send something like that out than those who are being attacked.”