+ Mogensen’s response does not stand scrutiny
ACLU Vice President Andrea Flynn Mogensen’s unreasoned attack on columnist Rod Thomson’s criticism of the “pro-homeless lobby” does not stand scrutiny. It is nothing less than a caricature of reason. How so?
She complains that although Mr. Thomson abhors urination in the park (and other anti-social behavior), he is a “hypocrite” in that he does not “display the same outrage when an affluent condo dweller’s pet discharges effluent in the same location.” Why does she assume that he is not equally outraged when anyone’s dog (whether owned by a condo-dweller or not) offends? Did she ask him? Did he say he was not?
Sufficient to set aside any claim that Ms. Mogensen speaks to the merits with any degree of sincerity is her outlandish analogy to Paul Revere riding through the countryside exhorting, “The British are coming.” According to Mr. Thomson, she asserts, Revere should have been arrested for trespass and disturbing the peace. Nevermind that disturbing the peace is not in issue. Nevermind that racing on the highway with an urgent message related to national security does not equate to chalking private notions (such as “Make love not war,” “Abolish the Fed,” “Support Occupy Sarasota” and other profundities) on public pathways. It does not equate, because Revere left nothing behind. Neither do protesters who remove themselves and their signs after they have expressed themselves. Not so with chalkers. They deface public property and leave their markings for others to erase.
The constitutional right of free speech is not absolute. That is why, for example, it is a crime to urge the assassination of the president or to cry “fire” in a crowded theater. Thus, it may be forcefully argued that the right does not extend to defacing public property to get your message across.
In any event, Ms. Mogensen’s diatribe makes much noise and no sense. It serves only to publicize the ACLU’s agenda.
+ Laurel Park residents want to voice opinions
Your recent story on Laurel Park needs some clarification. First and foremost, Laurel Park is asking for little:
We only want the opportunity to participate when large projects are built across the street from our neighborhood. Furthermore, we are making this request for just a narrow strip of land, and our request will only change the process of approving projects; it will not change what can be built. If our request is approved by the City Commission, developers will still be able to build everything the code allows, but Laurel Park residents will have a seat at the table to express concerns about potential impacts on the neighborhood and suggestions as to how those concerns might be addressed.
Laurel Park is a small residential neighborhood of one- and two-story homes located downtown. We are surrounded by a number of different zoning categories. Roughly 60% of that area is Downtown Edge, which allows five stories with a step down to three stories in the 100 feet next to Laurel Park. (That 100-foot measurement includes the street.) A smaller area in Burns Square allows 10 stories and has no step down at all. Depending on lot size, all these zoning categories allow for substantial projects that are likely to face the major streets of Ringling, Orange, U.S. 301 and Mound with their backs facing the neighborhood and presenting issues of lighting, generator noise, trash, access to parking garages and so on. The city’s current rules do not require a single neighborhood meeting or Planning Board hearing for even the largest of these projects.
The Laurel Park neighborhood has asked the city to modify these rules for a narrow 100-foot strip around the neighborhood where large projects would have the kind of public input that is standard for all neighborhoods outside the downtown and used to be standard for our neighborhood as well. It was only after the Argus (and other development interests) challenge to the Duany Plan that the Laurel Park neighborhood lost this basic opportunity for citizens to engage in public discussion about developments having such a potentially great impact on their homes and quality of life. Laurel Park has a long experience of positive engagement with developers and the city resulting in better and more compatible projects. We wish to continue that in the future.
President, Laurel Park
+ Banning alcohol on beach is a no-brainer
There is nothing I enjoy more than a day at the beach. A cold beer is a plus. But I can not agree with you more in your opinion, “Ban the booze on the beach” My View in the March 29 Sarasota Observer. It is a no-brainer. Thanks.