Contract approval was fiscally prudent; Hotel plans put property values at risk; Muhammad Ali, remembered
+Contract approval was fiscally prudent
I accept responsibility for my vote on ratifying the contract with our firefighters and EMT personnel. What I do not accept is the editorial position tying the unfunded liability issue with the three-year expense issue addressed in the current contract. One has nothing to do with the other. The new contract does not impact or add to the unfunded liability in our frozen past pension plans. To imply or state that it does is a false linkage.
I cannot speak for any other commissioner, but judging the decision on an operating budget basis — stripping away the emotion surrounding the desire to hold some line other than the bottom line — this contract is fiscally responsible, with the cap removal offset by the fire union forgoing wage increases.
I am confident that in any future contract negotiations, the commission will continue to be fiscally responsible and consider all options regarding delivering fire and EMT services to Longboat Key residents and visitors at a responsible cost.
And, if my name is remembered, let it be for making principled decisions based on facts. I can live with that.
+Hotel plans put property values at risk
If you own Longboat Key real estate — a house, a condo, even a timeshare anywhere (yes, anywhere) on the island – an upcoming referendum raises important and possibly costly questions that you should ponder. The value of your property will be at stake.
Even if you vote elsewhere and, therefore, cannot participate in the referendum, you should let your voice be heard somehow. Your property values will still be at stake.
The issue is the construction of a new hotel. Many longtime property owners and residents firmly believe that the proposed project would create the wrong thing in the wrong place by putting too big a thing into too small a space. They are not convinced that their community would benefit in any way but might suffer in many ways instead.
So please let me suggest a few questions to ponder:
- Would a large new hotel require more town police officers, firefighters, emergency workers, ambulances and town maintenance staff? As good as those currently employed are (and they are outstanding), would there be enough of them to handle the extra workload? Would a new hotel be taxed enough to pay the bill — or would you have to pay some, too?
- Who would be billed for higher highway maintenance and repair costs if traffic increases so much more? With over 100 rooms occupied by guests who would probably drive automobiles to and all around the Key, and with hotel vehicles, vendor delivery trucks and employee cars added to the traffic, can our roads – and especially our only highway from north to south and in the middle — survive that extra load? Can we?
- Of course, a new hotel would increase employment on Longboat Key. But would you and your retired neighbors want to make the beds there for a few nickels and dimes, or sweep the floors?
- If approximately 200 or more guests of the beachless hotel sought a beach to enjoy on a sunny day or holiday, where would they go? Would they crowd the limited public beach space now available to your family and you? Would they trespass on private beaches all over? And how would they get there without increasing the highway traffic on busy GMD? You think you have seen traffic jams before? Just wait!
- And speaking of waiting and waiters, would you be pleased to wait in line at your favorite restaurants — assuming that the hundreds of new tourists would not prefer to get burgers in Bradenton or Sarasota? Would they actually support our local businesses at all?
- Indeed, if the new hotel does make money, where would that money go — to owners living elsewhere or employees not living here? Whose economy would benefit at whose expense?
- Would your property values go up or down as the new hotel changes the ambience of Longboat Key?
- More important, if tropical weather requires mandatory evacuation or simply inspires some to flee, where would they — and perhaps your family — run to, and how would so many more people manage to leave the island in haste? Come to think of it, even when there is no emergency, how would you get through all the routine daily traffic just to buy a cup of coffee on a sunny day?
Please consider and, if you can, please vote no. If those questions seem important to you but you are not on the Longboat Key voter rolls, you can still discuss such matters with your neighbors and urge them to speak out, too. Their taxes and property values and peaceful enjoyment of their property are as much at risk as yours are now.
+Muhammad Ali, remembered
Muhammad Ali was a man of peace. He practiced this daily.
In fact, he would pray to God for this. I've seen him on his knees, facing Mecca, praying.
Muhammad Ali loved all people. He loved his family most of all.
Ali wrote this note to me of thanks after I tried to raise funds so he could build youth facilities for his community. As everyone knows he accomplished this.
From Muhammad Ali.
Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish."