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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018 9 months ago

The Langley dilemma

Town Commission candidate Randy Langley knew his criminal past would be resurrected. But it’s 30 years old. How relevant is it?
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

On March 18, 2010, we published an editorial titled: “Is it relevant?”

Lo and behold, here we are again, addressing the same issue: Is Randy Langley’s past relevant? Is it relevant to his candidacy for the Longboat Key Town Commission?

The “it,” as we published eight years ago, was Langley’s conviction in 1991, when he was 23, for his involvement in a car-theft ring when he was 18 and 19. 

Was that conviction relevant to his being an investor in Colony Lender, a would-be developer of a new Colony Beach & Tennis Resort?

Now, once again, it has surfaced, and it’s being used to influence voters.

This past Sunday, Town Commissioner Jim Brown sent an email to many Longboat voters and residents with links to four stories in the Orlando Sentinel about Langley’s past.

Brown wrote to the email recipients: “Here’s some interesting reading about your candidate for the Town Commission. Please read and send to all of your voting email friends.”

Brown asked the recipients to remove his name from the email and blind copy recipients “to avoid spam.” 

Brown said a woman who lives at Cedars sent him the links. 

Brown, many readers know, was the subject last week of a report in the Longboat Observer. Langley made public an affidavit alleging that when Brown was mayor in 2014, Brown told Langley “‘the guy from Orlando’ would never close (on his purchase and redevelopment of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort) because he was never going to get anything done with the town.”

Before reviewing the affidavit, Brown told our reporter: “I think this is a false allegation from a convicted felon.”

A day after that report was published, a Longboat voter called to tell us she was disappointed in the Longboat Observer for not recounting in detail Langley’s past, implying we were guilty of omission and not being transparent.

It’s a dilemma, to be sure — of fairness and transparency. From the time Langley declared his candidacy, we have wrestled with the questions of relevancy, fairness and transparency.

In the news report Dec. 6 announcing Langley’s candidacy for Town Commission, we reported his past as follows:

“… At the age of 18, Langley said he was arrested on charges of felony grand theft auto. He said he’d gotten wrapped up in a racket that snatched cars for owners who owed more than they could afford to pay. But by the time police arrested him, Langley said he had quit the operation.” 

“I admitted to everything, there was no trial,” Langley told us.

Admittedly, that was a synopsis. But that story also went on to report that in 2017 the Florida Office of Executive Clemency restored Langley’s civil rights — an indicator that Langley has remained a law-abiding citizen since his conviction.

What more needs to be said? 

Back in that March 18, 2010, edition, we detailed Langley’s past. You can read it by clicking here.

But we know people will say: That was eight years ago.

Yes, and Langley’s conviction was 30 years ago.

It’s a dilemma, to be sure. 

Forgiveness is a central tenet to Judeo-Christian values. But in political campaigns, the No. 1 rule is smear and destroy.

For us, the No. 1 rule is the truth. 

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