This week, the local citizenry marched “Through the Looking Glass” and joined Alice in Longboat Land. Not once, not twice, but a full three times we were treated to acts by our Town Commission that can only be described as “curiouser and curiouser.”
The first Alice prize went to the Mad Spoller, who led his mötley crew in a cacophony of creative chaos at another of their endless special meetings called to approve the Longboat Key Club redevelopment plan.
Having entered Longboat Land, each member joined in a do-it-yourself architectural design program carried out in front of a hundred bewildered burgers. Certainly the most Alice-like thought was the extortion program put forth by the leader who demanded a payment of $4 million for the club to use its own property.
“We’re all mad here.”
After four hours of confusion, they proceeded to vote 4-3 to approve a program which the club promised not to build. Surely, that was an Alice step backward in the wrong direction. As an example of on-the-job training, new Commissioner Lynn Larson, who voted to approve a project that will never be built, announced after the meeting, “It was not clear to me we were adjourning and ending the discussion on the project.” As Alice said, “I can’t explain myself. I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself you see.”
All of these most memorable proceedings came just a week after this same group voted to spend more than $40 million in a Washington-esque program to once again “replenish our beach” in 2011. This works out to about $6,000 for each resident and manatee. Never mind that we have dumped tens of millions into the Gulf in the past 15 years and the average life of a “replenishment” is about five years. The only thing that our guardians failed to do is set a date for the follow-up in 2015, when inflation will increase the cost again. “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
Lastly, it was “fully disclosed” that the mini palm forests placed at each end of our fair isle did not cost the outrageous sum of $500,000, but only a trifling $330,000. The other $170,000 went for a few signs — yes, signs — signs that will welcome visitors at each end and provide badly needed information on directions to such places of ill-repute as Town Hall, which is now struggling with the difficult task of deciding exactly what to put on them.
Even the Mad Hatter understands that this large amount of tainted funds is sufficient to build a small house — and signs don’t even have indoor plumbing. Noting that this money was borrowed by the Feds from the grandchildren of local citizens, Alice asks if anyone would have paid that amount for signs if it were his own money. Alice also would like to know what happened to the competitive-bidding process and “transparency” promised to us. “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat. “We’re all mad here.”
If it were not so pitiful, it would be laughable.
Stuart Scheyer is a Longboat Key resident and writes The Longboat Observer’s Energetic Traveler column with his wife, Lois.
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