Four-Letter Words

On Government

SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY MAY 4, 2019

WARNING, The following content contains satire. If you have been experiencing sense of humor failures please remain in your safe zone and move to the next item in the Daily.

Not all four-letter words are bad. Here are three words you should be aware of.

MOTE

Okay MOTE, now it’s your turn to be the public policy piñata. It’s time to beat you with a stick so hard it makes a hole and then we can see what comes out.  Well, blessed be the folks with the big visions, they provide hope for the world. Wow MOTE, what an amazing opportunity, not just for our community but for the 3.16 Million who live within one hour’s drive of the proposed aquarium site. There are many benefits on this project but I want to focus on a real simple one.  When you were a kid in elementary school two of the most beautiful words were FIELD and TRIP. I was spoiled rotten with field trips growing up right outside NYC. The best museums, planetariums, gardens; the best field trips. The day that field trip permission slip went out if you saw me you might have thought that I had one of the golden tickets. By 3:05pm I was in front of my mom, permission slip in one hand and pen in the other.  Yes, kids love field trips, how do we know; no kid is ever sick on a field trip day. MOTE will be an amazing place for school field trips. Who knows, could be a great new way to test the usefulness of a public private project; how many field trips can be generated. Certainly a better use of time then talking for hours about how many of the other kind of “trips” it will generate. Just saying.

STOP

From their website: “STOP! is a civic group formed to safeguard the growth and development of the City of Sarasota. Our focus concerns the city’s zoning regulations. Currently, these codes prevent formal citizen input and feedback on pro posed development in our downtown while creating hulking buildings on narrow sidewalks, unrealistic traffic planning and walkability/ pedestrian hazards. The new Form-Based Code, currently under consideration, would reduce public input in all outlying areas of the City.” Okay, this is confusing to me because last time I checked, STOP sounds a bit like a plan for inaction. However, it’s not just really transparent, it’s really simple.  YES… STOP… the only truly universal injunction; perfect for political bumper stickers for issues that are not burdened with nuance, you know, like urban planning.  As I said, I appreciate STOP’s transparency since I’ve heard just about every red herring and straw man concern whether it’s on growth policy or on site specific issues.  So although I disagree with STOP and in fact would like them to STOP, I really do appreciate their clarity.

STOP has their sights set on the June 3rd city commission meeting where “the approval process for large new buildings” will be discussed. So let me guess, you want to STOP the current process? May I ask just how large “large” is? It’s true some projects are large, that is a fair point but some projects are not. So STOP… Yes, that seems like a reasonable course of inaction. Come to think of it, let’s not bother with bumper stickers, let’s get special license plates. You might want to watch that meeting on June 3rd or better yet, STOP by. Pardon me but this is a city, not a country club at it’s maximum membership level.

BEST

BEST: Boosting Effectiveness and Supporting Transparency. That’s complicated, that’s significantly more complicated than STOP. BEST is a new non-partisan group formed by Joel Schleicher and Jonathan Mitchell, two city residents and philanthropists who would like to see city governmen t operate more effectively. And by this they potentially mean, no city government; just county government. All of it; pensions, parks, drainage, roads, police, planning, building, water etc. Hmm, well there are two types of issues in local government, complicated and very, very complicated. This item falls in the latter category. However, these are two extremely credible gentlemen and no matter the outcome, there is much we can learn from this inquiry. I will say this, if this discussion gets traction then it will likely be the only thing we will be discussing in one form or another. That might not be a bad thing. BEST is having an introductory event on May 8 at 5:30pm at the Bird Key Yacht Club.

Paul Caragiulo is a former Sarasota city and county commissioner.

Photo Illustration by Paul Caragiulo.

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