On Wednesday, more than 100 people from all walks of life rallied and took their protest into the Sarasota County Commission chambers. Many of them addressed the board and asked Christine Robinson to resign from either her commission seat, or from her job as executive director of the influential lobbying organization, The Argus Foundation.
They argued compellingly why Robinson's holding both positions simultaneously is unacceptable. More than one speaker emphasized that a true understanding of "conflict of interest" includes even the appearance of a situation involving compromised or conflicted loyalties.
We learn about the substantial local political and policy influence of the Argus Foundation in the frequent coverage it receives in this newspaper and other media outlets. It is simply not credible to argue that Commissioner Robinson's employment by the Argus Foundation does not convey the appearance of a conflict of interest!
Robinson is an attorney, and she knows better. Her failure to acknowledge the validity of this serious "perception" problem demonstrates contempt for her employers, the county taxpayers. County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh, whose overly narrow legal opinion saying this arrangement is OK is cited by Robinson as her primary defense, apparently holds the same contempt.
That Argus would jeopardize its "good name" by establishing this brazen arrangement demonstrates shocking arrogance or extremely poor judgment.