Monday, April 13, 2015

To the Editor: "Novel Transparency"

To the Editor:

At a time when income inequality is warping public policy across America, Sarasota County stands in the vanguard of those who coddle elitism and call it democracy.

In “Affluence and Influence, Economic Inequality and Political Power in America,” Martin Gilens tracks a subversive national trend:

". . . American citizens are vastly unequal in their influence over policy making, and that inequality is growing. In most circumstances, affluent Americans exert substantial influence over the policies adopted by the federal government, and less well off Americans exert virtually none.”

For 30 years The Argus Foundation pitched itself as a savvy insiders’ group that knew what was best for Sarasota. Its former executive director Kerry Kirschner spearheaded many lobbying campaigns to change policies for the sake of builders, developers and allied interests.

With the replacement of Kirschner by County Commissioner Christine Robinson, Argus has boldly gone where few sane Americans have dared to go before: It now retains on salary a sitting public official charged with protecting the public interest on issues such as traffic, impact fees, land use, and more.

Argus is a game changer. Why lobby for your private interests via old fashioned democratic processes when you can just hire the officials whose votes you need? A novel form of transparency indeed!

Thomas Matrullo
Sarasota, FL

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