There is a perception by some that reckless statements and material misstatements have been made during the campaign about the cost to taxpayers because of the unsuccessful Longboat Key Club and Resort application; the reasons for the judicial denial of the application; and the availability of affordable technology to solve the wireless communications problem on the north end of the island.
Do you agree or disagree such misstatements have been made? If you disagree, explain your reasoning.
That was the question at Monday night’s Longboat Key Town Commission candidate forum that lighted fuses — among some of the six candidates and a few audience members.
When candidate Irwin Pastor invoked Judge Charles Roberts’ phrase — that the Town Commission’s Key Club vote was a “miscarriage of justice,” the fuse on Mayor Jim Brown sizzled. Brown responded forcefully, for himself and his fellow commissioners. To the point that candidate Gene Jaleski, seated between Pastor and Brown, barked at Brown: “Out of order.”
The miscarriage of justice phrase, of course, was in reference to Roberts’ ruling Dec. 30 that the Town Commission had departed from “the essential requirements of law” when it approved the Key Club’s application. Roberts quashed the approval.
Clearly, that exchange demonstrated again that the Key Club issue remains raw and enflares emotions, particularly among those who were on the front lines during the process — including Mayor Brown and Commissioner Phill Younger, each running for re-election; and on the other side, with candidates Jaleski and Pastor, vice president of Islandside Property Owners Coalition.
They say politics isn’t personal. But it gets that way when you end up on opposite sides in a courtroom. It’s difficult to exorcise the emotions, especially when a few want to use an old issue for political gain or as political ammunition.
You can empathize with both sides.
IPOC: You can understand any anger or animosity its members may have toward Town Commission incumbents. You get the impression they are convinced town commissioners blatantly and with intent ignored the town’s codes to give the Key Club what it wanted and ignored the desires and concerns of IPOC residents as if they had no standing, no rights.
Commission incumbents: You can understand that they feel under attack and sometimes viewed as scoundrels, especially when those who disagreed with them call them “law-breaking” or say they engaged in “a miscarriage of justice.” No one ever likes to be told: “You were wrong.”
Everyone — voters, incumbents and challengers — would all be better off if he remembers the context, particularly from the position of the sitting commissioners.
By law, they were seated in a “quasi-judicial” capacity. They were to serve as judge and jury on the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s application to expand and renovate its Islandside property.
As such, the commissioners’ job was to follow the town’s development-code procedures; listen to testimony for and against; and determine whether the club’s application complied with town codes. And if you remember, throughout this process, the commissioners repeatedly queried and relied on the town’s attorneys on what was proper, correct and legal.
Virtually all of the commissioners’ decisions were based on their judgment and interpretation of what an attorney recommended to them. Their decision making had nothing to do with whether they liked or disliked the project or whether liked or disliked the club or members of IPOC.
Did the process and the application comply with the town’s law? That was it.
Six of the commissioners made the interpretation they did. One commissioner and two judges made the determination they did not.
This much is true: Due process occurred for everyone — from start to finish.
Sure, it would have been preferable to avoid litigation, a costly proposition for those who felt wronged (IPOC). In hindsight, of course, the legal route could have been avoided, if, before the process began, the club and IPOC had been able to agree on what would have been acceptable.
The commissioners, however, should not be viewed as the cause of the litigation. They acted in good faith, believing their votes — based on recommendations from their attorneys — complied with the law.
Jaleski said Monday night the commission’s action on the Key Club cost the town three lost years. It didn’t; no one in his right mind would have built anything anyway, given economic conditions.
There is no benefit to dwell on this. To what end? Everyone involved did what he believed to be right. We know now not everyone was right.
But it’s over now. Move on. Learn from it, and focus on who is best for the future.
EXCERPT: DR. BEN CARSON AT PRAYER BREAKFAST
Dr. Benjamin Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last week garnered a lot of attention. Carson is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His life story is remarkable — another of the thousands in this country who fought his way out of desperate poverty to the top of his field.
Carson speaks his mind. Find his talk on the Internet (see web site address below). You’ll find the content of his entire speech powerful.
Three aspects stood out:
• The Bible verses he cited to begin his speech. Read them carefully, and think about the message Carson was delivering to his audience, which included the president.
• What Carson said about taxes, which we’ve excerpted below;
• And the look on Barack Obama’s face throughout the speech. Watch it; a picture is worth 1,000 words.
DR. CARSON’S BIBLE VERSES:
Proverbs 11.9: “With his mouth, the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”
Proverbs 11.12: “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.”
Proverbs 11.12: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Chronicles 2, 7.14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
DR. CARSON ON OUR TAX SYSTEM:
“What we need to do is come up with something simple.
“And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe.
“We don’t necessarily have to do 10% but it’s the principle.
“He didn’t say if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithe or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe.
“So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one.
“Of course you’ve got to get rid of the loopholes.
“Some people say, ‘Well that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10.’
“Where does it say you’ve got to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him.
“It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here building our infrastructure and creating jobs.”
VIDEO OF DR. CARSON
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March 10: The great debate
The Observer will hold a debate for Longboat Key Town Commission candidates at 7 p.m. March 10, at Bayfront Park Recreation Center, 4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Greg Hoffman SCOREs award
Longboat Key resident Greg Hoffman received Manasota SCORE’s Platinum Leadership Award at the organization’s 50th anniversary awards luncheon Feb. 24.
Spring forward for Daylight Saving
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, so turn your clocks forward by an hour before bedtime Saturday night.