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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 5 years ago

Letters to the Editor


+ Compare the records
Dear Editor:
I have always respected The Observer as a bastion of conservative thought whose views on financial matters I often agree with.

That’s why I cannot help but believe The Observer did not know the full story of this school board race when it chose last week to reverse its earlier dual endorsement of both my opponent and me.

On the measure of financial responsibility alone, The Observer as the area’s fiscal watchdog should be endorsing candidates based on their proven ability to save taxpayer dollars — not on whether they might “challenge the status quo,” which is really my opponent’s only valid claim to run for office.

My career includes 20 years of successful grant-writing and saving taxpayer dollars. I’ve helped our schools save hundreds of thousands of dollars, in many areas of operations. I, and many voters, would have assumed this fact alone would be The Observer’s top priority — let alone my 40 years of experience working hand-in-hand with both parents and teachers to serve students of all kinds and ages.

Which leads to the next curiosity about The Observer’s endorsement: Why would such a distinguished publication, with such a history of guarding the public interest, endorse my opponent, a candidate whose campaign is setting a record for the greatest invasion of “dark money” in our school board’s history?

Tens of thousands of dollars are being poured into my opponent’s campaign anonymously through PACs and limited liability corporations. This is exactly the kind of shady influence that has been decried nationwide as harmful to our political system.

Every single donor to my campaign is public record. Any voter can learn every detail about who is funding my campaign and how that money is being used. The same cannot be said of my opponent and her campaign. Some of those advocating the strongest for her election will never be known to voters. That is wrong — and in my book, reason enough alone to vote for me Nov. 4.

These are our children, after all.

Even if experience and the invasion of “dark money” into our schools don’t raise enough eyebrows at The Observer’s surprise endorsement reversal last week, there is that oft-repeated question of whether I am receiving undue support from the teachers union, or from my supporters’ overzealous use of the taxpayer-funded school district email system.

I am among the most avid supporters of ethical practices among school district employees, as my co-workers over the past 20 years can and do attest. While I welcome everyone’s avid support, I share taxpayers’ concerns that school district employees keep politics out of their workday.

But why is The Observer not equally concerned — if not more so — about questions now raised regarding possible abuse of district email by my opponent herself? My opponent is alleged to have sent fundraising emails to school district employees during the workday. Given the power she wields over these very employees’ jobs, my opponent’s overzealous use of district email is far more egregious than what has been alleged against my supporters.

I am also not ashamed of receiving $2,000 in total donations from our local teachers’ union — especially when compared to the tens of thousands of secret special-interest dollars being spent on behalf of my opponent.

Nor am I ashamed that some sitting school board members — many of whom I’ve frequently disagreed with during my two-decade Sarasota County Schools career — recognize I am by far the more experienced, qualified and trustworthy candidate on the School Board ballot Nov. 4.

In closing, I simply encourage voters: Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to The Observer. Compare me with my opponent on any and all measures relevant to the education of our students and their futures.
I am confident you will arrive at the best possible decision. If you have any further questions, reach out to me at Ken Marsh Direct: 941-586-9526. I sincerely ask for your vote Nov. 4.

Ken Marsh
Sarasota County School Board

Editor’s note: Regarding alleged email violations by candidate Bridget Ziegler, state law permits candidates to send emails to public employees’ email addresses but prohibits public employees from sending political emails on public email systems during work hours.

+ Amendment 2 is wrong
Dear Editor:
The use of medical marijuana deserves a chance. It has not been evaluated according to FDA standards, likely because of cultural and legal concerns, but there is enough anecdotal evidence that it relieves debilitating conditions to give it a try. The challenge, of course, is to ensure its use is controlled by appropriate safeguards.

As a starting point, nothing that is smoked can be considered safe. It isn’t the THC in cannabis or the nicotine in tobacco that is the worst problem. It’s the carbon monoxide and partially burned carbon compounds that are dangerous. The risk of these particles, usually referred to as tars, isn’t a recent finding. The occupation most exposed to tars exposed its toxicity in England during the 1600s. They were chimney sweeps.

Smoking marijuana for whatever purpose does not pass the medical test of “first do no harm.” To be at all safe, it must be delivered as a pill or liquid. I don’t think that is what its proponents of Amendment 2 have in mind.

When medical marijuana requires a physician’s script and it is dispensed as a medication by CVS, then I will be on board. Until then, I will take a pass. I hope the Legislature can act promptly on a comprehensive medical-marijuana bill that will give relief to people as intended.

Andrew Aitken
Longboat Key

+Vote for Ken Marsh for Sarasota County School Board
Dear Editor:
The students of the Sarasota County public schools are doing very well in all facets of their education. The school system ranks in the top three of all 67 public school districts in Florida. An independent study and report by a major national organization confirmed that the instructional and daily operational practices of the school system are among the best in the country. In a recent community referendum to support the continuation of a local tax effort in support of the schools, 77% of the voters voted YES.

Clearly, the administration, teachers and support staff, working together for the benefit of ALL students, have made a huge and significant difference in the lives of these children.

There is an election contest for the Sarasota School Board. I am voting for Ken Marsh, an experienced and knowledgeable, retired school district administrator. He is a good listener, creative and works very well with others. His leadership and involvement with the leaders of cities, towns and villages of Sarasota County, make him a superb candidate. He is a problem solver with good common sense. Please join me and many others, who support our schools, our children and Ken Marsh, for the Sarasota County School Board.

H. Murray Blueglass
Longboat Key

+Marsh is qualified candidate for school board
Dear Editor:
As a former community newspaper publisher and editorial writer, I know a bit about editorial writing and newspaper publishing. Let me say that the Observer Newspapers are wonderful community newspapers. The articles are excellent and clearly cover the local news well. The design and layout are interesting, and the advertising is effective.

As a community newspaper publisher, Mr. Walsh is not required to offer a variety of views or a political balance in his editorials. He is entitled to espouse the conservative ideological approach that he does on all issues and candidate endorsements. However, he discredits and damages his personal creditability as a conservative spokesperson and the newspapers’ community credibility when he endorses a candidate like Bridget Ziegler for the Sarasota County School Board. The very basic problem with Ziegler is that she has absolutely no qualifications that would justify her membership on a school board with only five members.

The endorsement of Ziegler brings to mind the famous endorsement of President Nixon’s candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge G. Harrold Carswell, of Tallahassee. Responding to liberals’ attacks that Carswell was a mediocrity, Sen. Roman Hruska, of Nebraska, rose to his defense, stating: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?”

With Ziegler’s endorsement you have picked up Hruska’s mantle and endorsed mediocrity.

While Ziegler is undoubtedly a fine young woman and has some business experience, she is not running for a position on the Chamber of Commerce, for which she would be qualified.

While we don’t need rocket scientists on the School Board, we do need individuals who have a broad understanding of and experience with preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school education. We also need individuals who can bring through either life experience or their education an understanding of the difficult issues that the School Board has to deal with in order for the Sarasota County School District to maintain its position as one of the leading school systems in Florida.

Let us be clear: Ziegler’s only qualification is that she is the wife of a prominent conservative Republican. Republicans should be outraged at Gov. Scott’s cavalier appointment of her, which has politicized what should be a non-partisan election. Sarasota indisputably has conservatives with a broad understanding of the complex issues facing our schools whom Scott could have been appointed to the School Board. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice between two qualified candidates. If you want quality education to be continued in Sarasota, your only choice in this election and the only qualified candidate is Ken Marsh.

F. Lowell Curtis
Longboat Key

+Dirty politics in Manatee County
Dear Editor:
As a Voter in Manatee County and a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, I am angry at the low attacks on Terri Wonder about her voting record and her work in Iraq. Shame on Carol Whitmore to go so low...It is my understanding Dr. Terri Wonder VOTED in 2000, 2012 and 2014 in Manatee County, and VOTED in Escambia County, in Virginia, while working for the federal government, plus she requested absentee ballots while serving in Iraq.

Now the SMEAR tactic on her two military deployments. She was serving as a social scientist in Iraq, she was imbedded with the Army, was under weapons fire, risking her life for us. She went into the prisons, worked with the worst, wearing military fatigues as this type of uniform helped cut down the risk of more enemy fire. Dr. Wonder was working for the federal government while Whitmore enjoyed the safety and peace at home. Dr. Wonder's husband and family prayed a lot.


Richard Marten






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