Monday, July 16, 2018

Traces of corruption in Sarasota County?

Two excellent letters to the editor:
The recent text messages between Sarasota County School Board member Eric Robinson and Sheriff Tom Knight provide an unpleasant yet much needed glimpse of local politics.
Mr. Robinson should theoretically favor a balanced budget, with more money spent on education. Instead he is caught trying to undermine the institution he should protect.
Clearly the public life of Sarasota County is run by political “elites” in conjunction with the real estate developers who fund them. The methods are chilling.
Public support? No problem. Sheriff Knight can start a “letter writing campaign” to deceive residents into thinking the public agrees with him.
More pressure? Evidently the county commissioners are in the bag for Robinson. He makes a few calls and the puppets move as directed.
Need county staff? Another Robinson phone call assures their support. Manipulate the press? Covered.
If this is only one public document request, what have we missed?
We are entitled to elected officials who actually support the institutions and boards they are elected to serve and whose first concern is the public good.
If Mr. Robinson controls county commissioners and staff, we deserve to know it. We are also entitled to believe that public input actually reflects people’s opinions, instead of a manufactured “letter writing campaign” meant to deceive.
I urge voters to carefully research political candidates, including their campaign finance reports on the supervisor of elections website, sarasotavotes.com.
Let’s hope more comes out of this than officials talking on the phone to avoid a public-records request.
Deborah Anderson, Venice

I want to draw attention to the latest attempt by developers to gain influence in Sarasota County civil institutions, in their never-ending scramble for profits. Their latest target is the one institution that should be above politics and special interest — our court system.
Judge Judy Goldman submitted her “surprise” resignation letter shortly before the qualifying date for potential candidates, to become effective four days before her term ends. The timing precluded a November election, allowing our governor to pick the next judge instead of the voters.
Who suggests judicial nominees to our governor? A committee that includes developer Pat Neal and several attorneys who list real estate and construction as their specialties. Why bother to sue a developer when they help pick the judges?
So what do we have here? A judge who times her resignation to prevent voters from exercising their right to vote, a governor with a demonstrated affinity for developers based on his previous appointments, and a judicial nominating committee dominated by development interests.
The losers in this situation? The residents whose right to vote has been stolen and who will predictably end up with another judge who owes his or her job to development interests.
The rule of law is the foundation of our country. We are entitled to a fair, unbiased judiciary that is above politics and special interests. I urge residents to educate themselves about the wholly inappropriate influence that developers have in our community and vote accordingly.
Deborah Anderson, Venice

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