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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 4 years ago

Our View: It's 'code blue' in Manatee


When a patient goes into cardiac arrest or suffers extensive trauma, teams of cardiac or trauma doctors and nurses converge in a Code Blue rush. There is an extraordinary sense of urgency and intensity as all available resources are brought to bear to save or stabilize the patient.

This is how it should be with the financially teetering, leader-starved Manatee County School District.

But alas, it’s not. Or certainly doesn’t appear to be the school board’s approach. That’s the obvious conclusion you can reach when you look at the lineup of the six finalists for the district’s vacant superintendent position. The six include:
• The Minneapolis public schools chief executive officer;
• Duval County (Jacksonville) public schools director;
• Former superintendent for the Marion County School District (Ocala);
• Chief academic officer, Lee County School District;
• K-12 chancellor of public schools for the Florida Department of Education;
• An elementary school principal who was a former school board member in St. Lucie County.

With all due respect to these candidates, who, no doubt, are qualified to lead a public school district, they are emblematic of what typically occurs in Florida’s public schools: Replace one long-time administrator with another — even though the circumstances call for much more dramatic action.

Put another way, this is the insanity adage: doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

First of all, Longboat Key taxpayers who reside in Manatee County should care about Manatee’s school board and schools. After all, Longboat taxpayers send $10 million a year to the Manatee public schools. And even though there are few children on Longboat Key attending Manatee’s public schools, the quality of the schools and reputation of the school district filter down to Longboat Key and affect property values. So naturally, Longboaters, should want, as should all Manatee residents, the best their school-tax money can buy.

In that vein, we would urge the Manatee County School Board members to go out of their safe zone and take the trauma-center approach — bring extreme urgency and overwhelming resources to the scene.

The district’s finances and operations are in such disrepair and bleeding that the circumstances call for an expert at hard and fast turnarounds. Bring in a CEO/turnaround specialist to lead the rescue efforts, and give him or her a deputy — perhaps one of the six candidates — who can act as the turnaround specialist’s No. 2.

Find a turnaround expert who is willing to work hard and fast for two years to right the district and then be gone.

If the board goes down the path it’s pursuing now, here’s what it likely will get: an administrator who wants to please all of his constituents to keep his job.

Desperate times call for dramatic, urgent measures. Manatee County taxpayers have suffered far too long with an embarrassingly underperforming school district. If the board is serious about creating a new culture and higher achievement, it must be far bolder than its list of six.

+ No need to throw dirt
C’mon, Bob. Pardon us, but do you really have to sling churlish turdballs into this year’s Town Commission election?

We’re referring, of course, to the letter Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White sent last month, referring to Longboat’s incumbent commissioners as “law-breaking commissioners.” And his urging “to throw the rascals out!”

Longboat Key voters are smart. They don’t need, or want, the hyperbolic negativity they get from the national mudballers.

“Law-breaking commissioners”? Technically, yes; but when they voted it was with the belief they had the legal authority to do what they did. There was no malicious intent. Cool it. Keep it dignified.

+ Editor’s Note: New policy
As Longboat Key’s Town Commission election campaigns gain momentum and attention, it’s an appropriate time to introduce the Longboat Observer’s new policy regarding candidate-endorsement letters to the editor.
Effective with this edition, the Longboat Observer will now require a small payment is instituting paid letters of endorsement or opposition to candidates in all elections.

Letter writers who wish to endorse or oppose a candidate will be required to pay $25 for up to 100 words, plus an additional 50 cents a word beyond 100 words in advance of the letter being published and posted on

The letters will be published under the heading: Paid Election Letters.

Paid Election Letters are to be paid for by the letter writer or the sponsor of the letter. Paid Election Letters must include the writer’s name, city of residency and contact information.

Paid Election Letters will be edited for grammar. The Longboat Observer will reserve the right to reject letters containing personal attacks.

Why are we doing this?

While we encourage debate, there are occasions when candidates’ campaign teams engage in letter-writing campaigns. If all of those letters are published, they become the equivalent of free advertising for the candidate. If the letters are not published, the newspaper is likely accused of being biased, or of only allowing its own endorsement to be published, another form of bias.

Paid letters will discourage obvious letter campaigns and defuse accusations of bias.

To submit a Paid Election Letter, send it to Randi Donahue, assistant managing editor, [email protected]. Please include your contact information to be reached for payment. In a few weeks, will accept credit-card payments for Paid Election Letters. — MW

STAN THE MAN, continued
To no surprise, our recollections of the late Stan “The Man” Musial triggered memories in readers.
Our favorite came from part-time Longboater, George “Butch” Welsch. He wrote:

My wife and I are native St. Louisians who get to spend two three-week sessions in Longboat Key each year. In addition, my wife has your paper sent to us here at home.
It was a very overwhelming situation here in St. Louis regarding the entire funeral process and especially the eulogy provided by Bob Costas — also a St. Louisian.
We are heating and air-conditioning contractors here in St. Louis, and Stan was a customer of ours. I had two special stories, which I posted on our Facebook page last week that I thought you might be interested in reading. Keep up the good work with your paper. We enjoy keeping up with the goings-on at “heaven on earth.”
George “Butch” Welsch
Welsch Heating & Cooling Co.
St. Louis

Facebook 1/21/13
It’s time to celebrate the life of the greatest St. Louis Cardinal ever, Stan Musial. A wonderful baseball player and an even more wonderful person.
I’m proud to say that for many years Stan was a customer of ours. Two instances, I believe, really tell a lot about the wonderful, really simple person he was.
The first occurred after Stan had retired, when our service technician was at his home and needed a part. I was dispatched to deliver the part.
When I arrived at 7:45 a.m. with the part, Stan himself was out in the flower garden next to the house pulling weeds, looking like the next-door gardener. We talked for a few moments, and he couldn’t have been nicer.
The second instance occurred a couple of years later. Stan spoke with our service department about needing a new humidifier pad. It offered to deliver it, but he insisted on picking it up.
So within an hour, here was my childhood hero standing in our lobby to pick up a humidifier pad. If only we had had telephones with cameras back then, I would have a photo memory.
Our condolences go out to the Musial family, as well as the entire Cardinal Community.
— MW


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