Interpret the Longboat Key Town Commission election results however you wish.
Yes, it was close. The closest race in five years.
One thing you might easily say is Longboat Key voters apparently are almost evenly split on their vision for the Key.
The winner, Vice Mayor David Brenner, presented a vision of wanting to move forward and rekindle the visitor-tourism on the Key to the levels it was 10 to 20 years ago — the historical levels.
His opponent, Ray Rajewski, presented a more moderate vision, one that emphasized Longboat Key being primarily a residential retirement community.
The majority — however narrow it was — preferred Brenner’s vision.
In truth, there was not a great distance between the two candidates’ visions. But the way Rajewski and his supporters cast Brenner, a newcomer to Longboat Key probably would have concluded Brenner favored a dramatic change and increase in commercial enterprises here.
Brenner himself said it many times that is not his position. But that didn’t matter. We all know the American political tradition and script: You have to go negative. You have to demonize your opponent. Whatever it takes — even if it meant suggesting that because he was a director of a small gaming company based in Atlantic City, voters should be wary that Brenner would try to bring casino gambling to Longboat Key! It was a preposterous stretch.
(BTW, just for the record, if you haven’t caught on, that story about the Calusa Indian Tribe wanting to anchor a casino boat to the Islander Club’s groins is one of our April Fool’s spoofs.)
To be sure, Brenner and his fellow commissioners are most likely to take this spring’s election results quite seriously. They will be mindful of the balance that voters, taxpayers and property owners want on Longboat Key. If we had to paint that vision, it would be this:
Longboaters desperately want to see a redeveloped and revitalized Colony Beach & Tennis Resort — one that serves as it did before, as the gateway and launch pad for future Longboaters. They will be happy to have a new Publix and a reconfigured town center shopping district. They would like to see a miracle at Whitney Beach Plaza, one that fits in with the flavor of the Key. They would embrace an expanded Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort, so long as it, too, fits the flavor of the town. They would be happy to see an expanded and updated Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub. They would like a new recreation/community center at Bayfront Park — one that’s modest, not too elaborate.
And last, but certainly not least, the majority of Key residents and taxpayers — as indicated by Brenner’s victory — would embrace a renovated and expanded Longboat Key Club and Resort, albeit with some trepidation. Forty-eight percent of those who voted in last week’s election probably still want some reassurance that when the Key Club’s project is completed, the place they now love will be a place they still love. That it fits.
That’s the message voters expressed in last week’s election. We’re confident the commissioners get it and got it.
+ Laffer curve: 10-year recovery
One of our favorite annual visitors to this area every winter is Arthur Laffer, the Arthur Laffer of “Laffer Curve” and supply-side economics fame. A longtime friend of Roland and Kelly Caldwell, the father-son team that owns Caldwell Trust in Sarasota and Venice, Laffer, 71, generously offers an hour of his time to visit with the media when he is here. He’s a hoot — in large part because he tells it like it is and doesn’t care what the ramifications might be. A sampling:
• On energy independence: “How stupid is that?” Laffer says. “We should buy (Mideast) oil and use it. Saying we should have energy independence is like saying Minnesota should have banana independence.”
• On whether stimulus spending helps the economy: ““Good economics works just as well in a two-person world as it does in a 300 million-person world,” Laffer says. “Say you have Farmer A and Farmer B. If Farmer A is given a benefit by the government, who do you think is going to pay for it? You can’t bail someone out of trouble without getting someone else into trouble.”
• On Obamacare: Laffer says he likes the way former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas explains Obamacare. Invoking slow, Texas drawl, Laffer says: “If I could buy my groceries the way buy my health-care with Obamacare — five cents on the $1, I’d eat real well and so would my dog.”
In other words, it doesn’t add up.
• On the future for the U.S. economy: Laffer expects Barack Obama to lose. “All elections are a referendum on the incumbent,” he says. “There is nothing personally wrong with Obama. It’s just that he has been wrong on every single thing he has done (with the economy).” Laffer sees a shift back to lower taxes, lower regulation, more free trade. But fiscal and economic recovery for the U.S. is going to take a decade.
MARGINS OF VICTORY
THE WORDS HEARD ’ROUND THE WORLD
Pictures are indeed worth 1,000 words.
This photo followed the moment Monday in Seoul, South Korea, when, while seated and with their microphones still audible, Barack Obama leaned into Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a brief exchange that went like this:
BO: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space.”
DM: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you … ”
BO: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
DM: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir and I stand with you.”
Americans — except for the 40%-ers who will vote Democratic no matter what — need no other convincing than the words above that Barack Obama has not earned, nor deserves, the right to serve as president another four years.
With those whispered words, he has demonstrated — once again — his duplicitousness with the American people.
There is no other translation of Obama’s words than his saying to Medvedev, in effect: “Give me time. I have to make false promises to the American people until the election. After that, I can give Vladimir Putin more of what he and Russia want.”
If you are not shaken enough by Obama’s words to be outraged, perhaps it might be helpful to remember:
Russia remains our adversary. On nearly every issue, it is working against our position in the world and what we stand for. Perhaps all anyone needs to know about Vladimir Putin and Russia is this: Russia is arming Iran.
Americans should be sickened by the four years we have endured of backing down, retreating, appeasing and acquiescing in the world. Do not forget this picture of these two conspirators of deceit.