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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 7, 2013
  • Sarasota
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Watching the city of Sarasota negotiate real estate deals always reminds us of a prime-time TV, jungle-survival reality show. The participants never know what to expect as they traverse the city’s political and bureaucratic forests. But one thing is for sure: At the end, the process has thoroughly exhausted them.

And rarely, if ever, do any of the participants win.

This comes to mind as the city and City Commission — let’s call them City of Sarasota Realty Inc. — negotiate to develop another parking garage, this time on the city’s State Street lot just east of Lemon Avenue.

It’s adventure, all right.

As soon as that show is over, however, the series will continue with a new set of contestants and bigger stakes. This adventure will be for anyone who has the persistence and patience to bid on what to do with one of the city’s choicest Sarasota Bay properties: the site of the now-shuttered GWIZ science museum.

Two weeks ago, the City Commission instructed city staffers to create an invitation for proposals on what to do with the property. Commissioner Susan Chapman said she is interested in a project that would fit in with the city’s local identity, perhaps an art, maritime or children’s museum.

Please, no; none of the above.

We know it’s difficult for city officials to see through their forests and jungles sometimes. But the fact is the city is really lousy when it comes to developing and managing real estate. The best plan: Sell it to the highest private bidder, who will turn it into a signature development that generates increasing value and tax revenues for the city.

+ Scott-Crist: Freedom-State
Charlie Crist just can’t hold a job.

Morgan & Morgan? It was the perfect place for him. It’s “for the people.”

But it’s work. It’s not the thrill of being the center of attention in a crowd and rambling off the populist platitudes of the day to cheering throngs.

No, Charlie Crist is born to run.

Unfortunately, we are all going to suffer.

For the next 12 months, Floridians will be inundated with incessant TV and radio commercials of Democrats slamming incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans slamming Crist. By the time the two parties have spent their hundreds of millions, we’ll all be defeated — beaten to a political pulp, sick to death of the character assassinations.

Would that it would be thus: That voters would measure the candidates on their records, judging them on the basis of which one most pursued the policies that fought to preserve and expand your freedom (individual and economic) versus the policies that fought to contract your freedom and expand the role of the State.

In that contest, it’s no contest.

+ Democrat dilemma
We have to believe Florida’s Democratic Party graybeards and wise owls are pining for the good, old days.

Charlie Crist’s announcement to run for governor as a Democrat brings to mind 1989 and 1990.

The Democrats didn’t have a strong front-runner to oppose then-Republican Gov. Bob Martinez. In stepped Congressman Bill Nelson, another career politician who had served in the Legislature and Congress from 1972 to 1990.

But Nelson was so widely viewed in his own party as an empty suit — devoid of substance and full of populism (sound familiar?) — that newly retired U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles came out of retirement and ran for the Democratic nomination to save the party.

Chiles crushed Martinez, by 13 percentage points.

It makes you wonder: Is candidate Crist — Republican turned Independent turned Democrat — enough to spur the party loyalists that try to bring such Democratic icons as retired U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (turning 77 on Nov. 9) or former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth (now 71) out of retirement?

+ Extreme? Extremely wrong
Once again, the Tea Party is maligned as being extreme.

In Associated Press political reporter Brendan Farrington’s story this week on the gubernatorial contest between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, near the end of the story Farrington states (without attribution, mind you):

“He (Crist) will cast Scott as an extremist with a Tea Party mentality.”

Help us understand. What is extreme about this? If you’ve paid attention to Scott’s governorship, you would know he has focused on four things: making Florida’s business climate more attractive to employers; using that better climate to help spur job creation; reducing regulations and the cost of state government; and making public education more affordable and with more choices.


Now look at the missions of two highly visible “Tea Party” organizations — FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots.

Here’s for what FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe says it stands:

“Our members all share two common traits: A desire for less government, lower taxes and more economic freedom. A personal commitment to get involved and active in changing public policy.”

Tea Party Patriots, meanwhile, an organization that formed in 2009 in response to the federal government’s “stimulus spending, bailouts and takeovers of private industry,” describes its mission as supporting “the millions of Americans seeking to improve our great nation through renewed support for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free-market economic policies.”

To the contrary, those organizations and Gov. Scott stand for what used to be, and we hope still are, bedrock, mainstream American values.

If anyone is extreme, it’s the mainstream media. Its unabashed and incorrect narrative that standing for freedom is somehow extreme and radical is extremely and radically wrong.

A timeline of the political careers of two politicians.

1970 — Elected California secretary of state
1974 — Elected governor of California
1978 — Re-elected governor of California
1989 — Became chairman of the California Democratic Party
1992 — Ran for presidential nomination, Democratic party
1998 — Elected mayor of Oakland
2002 — Re-elected mayor of Oakland
2006 — Elected California attorney general
2010 — Elected governor of California

1986 — Ran for Florida Senate (not elected)
1992 — Elected to Florida Senate
1998 — Ran for U.S. Senate against Sen. Bob Graham
2000 — Elected commissioner of education
2002 — Elected attorney general of Florida
2006 — Elected governor of Florida
2010 — Ran for U.S. Senate (dropped out of race)
2013 — Declares candidacy for Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination



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