+ ULI can provide answers
To weakly paraphrase William Shakespeare, nothing presented itself as well in your “100 can’t speak for all” editorial as its closing four paragraphs.
In the opening paragraphs, you relate philosophies regarding the importance of the individual in every manner of life. But, you seem to have trouble reconciling the concept that long ago, individuals (presumably working together), formed structures to exercise what could be regarded as their collective will, in their interests both as society and as individuals. To use your metaphor, that is the train that left the station even before there were trains.
Longboat Key has both a Comprehensive Plan and its zoning codes. Both need a reconsideration and revision, and you understand as well as anyone the judicial decisions that necessitate a good deal of this work. The town’s Planning and Zoning Board and the Town Commission have grappled with how to proceed with this process for the past year. After some false starts, we voted to secure the services of an organization that for more than 75 years has helped other localities develop an informed and coherent underpinning for next steps. Some of the communities for which the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has conducted panels include Manatee County, Hillsborough County, Tampa, Amelia Island, Osceola County and Pasco County; Galveston, Texas; Eagle-Vail, Colo.; and scores more. This process does not appear to have been a step toward the erosion of individual liberties in the past, nor is there any reason to expect the same in our town. There is every reason to expect the process to be helpful.
Ultimately, under our system of governance, the commission has the obligation to prepare for the future. Part of that process is gathering information. No one would imagine that the in-depth interviews of 100 participants would form a consensus or mandate for a particular action. The intent is to provide focus for the next set of important and deliberate considerations by the planning board and commission, with full public hearings. That is where the consensus is formed.
You mention the March election in which my race was extremely close and draw the conclusion that this shows a cleanly split island. That, of course, is one possibility. Another possible scenario is that there were other dynamics at play in that specific race, and that perhaps the large winning margins in the other two contests are more reflective of a population looking to move forward responsibly into the future.
As stated in the opening, the final paragraphs seem to be in harmony with the spirit of what we are undertaking. We would be arrogant to believe we had all the answers, or couldn’t be assisted by an organization that has helped many, many other communities that have gone through the same effort. If we can refine our choices and opportunities, we can approach the positive direction for the future that you, too, hope for.
At-large Longboat Key commissioner
+ New cameras questioned
Police say their camera system will trigger a notification of a stolen vehicle, or if a driver has a warrant or has a suspended license or tag violation. But the police have added, at their discretion, an additional criteria which is profiling, pure and simple: the flagging of a sexual predator today and maybe others tomorrow who have a legal right to come and go as they please.
So the police, on their own, can determine who is welcome and whom they deem as undesirable and therefore subject to an unwarranted traffic stop, questioning, a vehicle search and even detaining or ordering one off the Key.
Who gives the police this power? Nothing in the Florida Statutes, just a Big Brother and his camera. People, when any number of legal or illegal criteria are put in place by rogue police with these cameras, your lawful privacy rights are eroded.
Your right to come onto the Key without being unlawfully challenged in any way is at stake here.
R. James Beam
+ IRS does not want reform
If you expect the leftist mainstream media to give you the real story behind the Internal Revenue Service’s scandals, then do not hold your breath.
The far left New York Times buried the first reports on the back pages hoping it would go away but were forced to move it to the front page when the IRS director was fired and the IRS apologized for targeting conservative causes.
FDR, a friend of labor who supported the National Labor Relations Act, blessed labor unions in private sector industry but said that he would never allow government workers to have unions.
The main reason given was that government employees work for the taxpayers, and if they are unionized, then who is going to represent the interests of taxpayers?
Though FDR was a politician, he was also a visionary.
JFK was a politician who placed politics above vision in supporting the unionization of government workers.
What a great idea: Allow them to unionize, give them lots of taxpayer money and their union will be sure to make campaign contributions and urge members to vote for you.
To hell with the consequences.
Well, the consequences have been enormous.
Government workers at federal, state and local levels have pay rates comparable to private-sector workers along with health plans and pension plans that are far superior to private-sector workers.
Most private workers have 401(k) plans that are inferior to the defined benefit plans enjoyed by government workers, and, to add insult to injury, they are paying taxes to provide cushy plans to government workers that they themselves do not have.
No private-sector workers could match the deal of a local police chief who worked 20 years and retired at age 45 at a lifetime pension of $89,355 annually.
If he draws his pension for 40 years, which is likely, he will receive $3.58 million from taxpayers, far in excess of what he earned as an active employee.
There are hundreds of plans like this nationally, and they were all created by a system, in which politicians give away the store to public unions in return for campaign contributions and votes.
So, when you wonder why IRS employees would put another chip in the block of democracy, then just consider the following.
Large numbers of IRS employees are members of and pay dues to labor unions, which make campaign contributions exclusively to Democrats who oppose conservatives.
Most conservative organizations, which the IRS attacks and harasses, support smaller government and tax reform. The IRS does not want tax reform or smaller government, just like the schoolteachers union does not want to reform our dysfunctional, disgraceful educational system.
Our tax system is a national disgrace and the blame is on our dysfunctional U.S. Congress, which gets about a 15% approval rating, which must come from government workers who like the status quo.
William B. Allen