+ City officials favor St. Armands
The powers that be make downtown operate at an extreme economic disadvantage to St. Armands Circle.
Parking on St. Armands is free for three hours, downtown two hours. St. Armands has two free parking lots operated by the city — one behind the Crab & Fin and the other behind Cafe L’Europe and Columbia.
Downtown has a new parking garage that was built more to cater to the new retail stores in the garage than to the old businesses on Main and Palm.
They are making a big deal about the garage being free right now. It is only free because it isn’t finished and they have not put in the toll booths yet. As soon as they can, parking meters will be installed within a quarter-mile of each garage. It is almost as if the city has a grudge against the downtown merchants. For sure, they are favoring St. Armands.
+ Police deserve what they’ve earned
I have been a Sarasota Police Officer for 30 years and at this time next year will be retiring. So why after a long, proud career with many accomplishments do I feel like I did something wrong?
In November 1981, before our mayor was born and two commissioners knew Sarasota existed, I made Sarasota my home and law enforcement my career. As a benefit for dedicating my life to protecting its citizens and putting myself in harm’s way to establish a better way of life, I would be provided a pension and health care. Now, don’t get me wrong, my pension is still guaranteed and my health care, although no longer free of charge, is still intact. But in recent years and even more so in current times, our city leaders have lashed out, condemned and made plans to abolish the security my fellow officers not yet ready to retire would also earn. Yes, I said earn!
We’ve been made the scapegoat for poor financial stability when, in fact, none of this is our fault. Our governor says it on a state level and will most likely cause thousands of police officers and sheriff deputies to also lose their retirement security. It’s always been the benefit of working for your government, a pension after a lifetime of service. Why would people do the job we do if it weren’t understood that your pension is your thanks from a grateful people?
In Sarasota, many young qualified officers, who some day would rise to the top and lead our department, are already making plans to move on if this pension change goes through. Several have already departed. According to our elected leaders, Sarasota will be the first to adopt this new philosophy. What we will become is a destination of police officer recruits who would be willing to forego any pension benefit just to work as a cop, because they can’t get hired anywhere else!
Our level of expertise, dedication and ability will drop, and Sarasota, which was known to have an elite professional department, will be a training ground for other cities or a dumping ground for their rejects. A government’s primary reason for existence is to provide for the health and safety of its citizens. In Sarasota, our leaders disagree, and, as they cut away at your safety and security, they tell you it’s good and will provide for a more stable future for you and your children. Yet, I’m the one who feels guilty.