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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, May 2, 2018 1 year ago

Accountability thing

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Mayor Spoll should ask his colleagues to set priorities. Taxpayers want to know.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

Goal setting seems to be a key ingredient in Americans’ DNA. We like to aim higher. We like to set the high-jump bar higher and work to clear it. We all like a road map that keeps us heading toward a destination we become determined to reach.

To its credit, the Longboat Key Town Commission historically has set aside one of its first meetings after the spring commission elections to discuss its “goals and objectives” for the year ahead.

It’s a healthy practice. For one, by inviting individual Longboat citizens, community organizations, the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce and homeowners associations, the commissioners hear directly what matters to these groups and what their priorities are. After all, as is often said, policy follows the culture; politicians respond to their constituents (to get re-elected).

As always, in last week’s goals and objectives session, the wishes and priorities of the participating groups was long, varied and tailored to each group’s special interests. A sampling of the requests:

  • Continue to address traffic
  • Erosion control on the north end of the island
  • Replace the old recreation center building at Bayfront Park
  • Continuing pursuing the development of a town center and a cultural, arts and education center
  • Mass transit for businesses’ employees
  • New enforcement measures to control short-term vacation rental violators
  • Enforcement of turtle protection ordinances
  • Landscaping around the public works facility on General Harris Street
  • New sea wall construction ordinances
  • Flooding on north Longboat streets
  • Roundabout at Broadway Street and Gulf of Mexico Drive
  • Beautification of Gulf of Mexico Drive
  • Left-turn lanes the length of Gulf of Mexico Drive
  • Consolidating Longboat Key under Sarasota County jurisdiction
  • Complete the revision of town’s redevelopment zoning codes
  • Maintaining the town’s canals

That’s 15 priorities, and that’s not the entire list. Let’s not forget a few priorities already underway: the installation of underground utility and fiber-optic lines; construction and remodeling of the town’s two fire stations; and rewriting the town’s zoning codes to address nonconforming properties.

But those projects aside, take the list of 15: What comes first? Second? What’s last?

At the conclusion of the goals and objectives session, Mayor George Spoll queried his fellow commissioners on whether to prioritize the list. Being the experienced commissioner from years past, Spoll noted how the commission’s previous practice was to vote and rank each of the items in an A, B, C order. 

Unfortunately, none of his fellow commissioners took the bait. To which Spoll joked that everything should be raised to the highest level. 

But we all know what happens when your list of goals and objectives becomes too long and is not prioritized. You easily become scattered and unfocused; you run hither and dither; perhaps you become paralyzed, unable to do anything. Or worse, the list ends up on a shelf and nothing is accomplished.

Spoll isn’t giving up on prioritizing. And we would urge him to push his commission colleagues to set priorities. Taxpayers would like to know what’s important, where the town is going and what to expect to be accomplished. 

It’s the accountability thing.

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