Saturday, August 20, 2016

Updates for Sarasota, Manatee, and Three-Card Monte at work

In case you've been away or given up on media, a few recent stories:

In Sarasota County:

UPDATE: Whole Foods lawsuit dismissed

(One has to read the comment thread to understand what actually took place):

Tom Ochsner: To me this doesn't sound like anyone got paid off. What it does sound like is the developers basically threatened to countersue the entire Manasota 88 group for costs and, likely, "damages". My guess is those representing the 1,000 members had to decide if it was worth exposing financially each individual member. I can't blame them, though it is very disappointing and does show that big $ runs the show.

Dark Money Part Z: Eric Robinson finances Holder's Attack on Steube.

Look, we think Steube's gun politics is criminal. But Robinson is Mr. Dark Money. And now he's on the School Board. 

DiCicco: Antidote to Sarasota’s Toxic Commission
"Bottom line: an entrenched political machine has been effective in undermining Sarasota’s quality of life for the last decade, with greater success in recent years. Those who fund and direct this “growth machine” effort are Pat Neal, Carlos Beruff, Rex Jensen and Randy Benderson. A review of local PACs and campaign ledgers reveal their investments in their growth machine candidates."

Sarasota County Commission candidates trade jabs

Again, the comments provide the insight:

Ray Porter: The same Republicans who cry and moan about influence peddling and corruption at the federal level are so quick to deny that anybody is influenced by developer cash at the local level. Why the double standard? Government closest to the people is the MOST vulnerable to political influence and favoritism. We should move toward district-only voting for county commissioners - level the playing field; encourage more candidates to come forward; and make the elections winnable through grassroots campaigning in limited geographic areas. Someone could win with good ideas and $20,000 in contributions, as opposed to buying a seat with $150,000 in developer money.

Eric "Dark Money" Robinson

Dark Money Sarasota Manatee II: Who is Trying to Buy Your Vote?

"By the way, remember that $50,000 donated by Robinson Hanks Accounting to Manatee Against Taxation on June 5, 2013? On July 3, 2013, Manatee Against Taxation turned around and paid Robinson Hanks $50,000 for accounting services. It’s interesting that a political committee required accounting services valued at 43% of its total 115K in assets, and remarkable when a company can make a 50K political committee donation and then one month later charge the same political committee an exorbitant 50K accounting fee, recouping its original donation. Even more remarkable how the PACs treasurer, chair and registered agent are one and the same – Mr. Robinson. Now Sarasota has Mr. Robinson’s accounting prowess at the helm on the Sarasota School Board."

In Manatee County:

Mosaic Phosphate Mining Operation allowed to go forward despite concerns about water contamination.
BRADENTON — At Thursday's Special Planning Commission meeting, Mosaic Fertilizer LLC requested the commission recommend an ordinance to rezone 3,596 acres from General Agriculture (A) to Extraction Zoning District (EX) and extend their mining permit through 2037.

Phosphate mining creates “moonscape” in Florida - 

A WMNF podcast presentation by Andy Mele of Sierra Club on gypsum stacks.

See also this excellent reporting by the Herald Tribune:

Florida Mental Hospitals 

Florida’s state-funded mental hospitals are supposed to be safe places to care for people who are a danger to themselves or others. But years of neglect and deep budget cuts transformed them into treacherous warehouses where violent patients roam the halls with no supervision and workers are left on their own to oversee dozens of people. Now, no one is safe inside.

The only uncertainty is whether the piece concerns actual mental hospitals, or Rick Scott's funny farm. 

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