Off Islands

| March 1, 2016

By Rodger Skidmore

Target Practice

     Early last month a pedestrian, William Chamberland, was crossing at one of Longboat Keys’ crosswalks – one of the new ones with flashing lights. He pressed the button, the lights flashed, he started crossing and was then thrown 38 feet from the crosswalk by a 71 year-old driver. There might have been a number of contributing factors to this accident – age, speed, sun in the eyes, looking out while crossing, tunnel vision, etc., but one factor stands out. A bit over a week before the accident, a number of Longboat Key officials told the Florida Department of Transportation that the flashing white lights were not sufficient to slow down the Gulf of Mexico Drive traffic. The FDOT’s response was that the amount of foot traffic did not warrant flashing red lights. I am not sure what the cost differential is between red and white lights but I think the FDOT will be installing red ones pretty soon.

Want to donate $675,000 to your favorite charity?

     Every so often the State of Florida (FDOT) takes a heap of money (our state taxes) and throws it up in the air to see where it lands. No, not throw it up in the air; that would be wasteful. Instead they count cars. Yes, this year they propose to spend about $540,000 of Florida taxpayer funds to do a seasonal “Counting of the Cars.” And they would really appreciate it if David Hutchinson of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization would kick-in another $135,000 (of our local taxes) to fully fund the study. After all, we have to know where the cars are so we will know where to put in the parking meters.

     All joking aside, knowing where cars are, where they go, and when they go there, is useful for tourist oriented cities and counties. But this type of study has been done many, many times before. Can’t we just copy what they’ve done and have some Shriners or off-duty firemen count cars when they shake their boots while asking for money at various intersections? They would probably do the study for a lot less money and would feel a sense of civic pride at the same time. This way the money would stay local instead of being paid to some out-of-county/state consulting company. The FDOT would probably want the recipient of all these tax dollars to be a real corporation so why not create a company called Off-Duty Firemen Not Wasting Your Tax Dollars, Inc. and have them bid for the job and see what happens?

George Orwell lives

     In the novel 1984 George Orwell had the dictators twist the meanings of words to get what they wanted. They wanted war, so said they were waging peace, etc. Turns out that is not just the standard language in Washington, D.C. but for the legal system in Florida (Statute 75) as well.

     The Longboat Key town commission is going to be issuing over $25 million in bonds later this year to pay for the burying (undergrounding, in Orwell speak) of telephone and other utility lines which currently block anyone on Longboat Key from having an unobstructed view of the sky. The Town Attorney, Maggie Mooney-Portale, has notified the town commission that a Validation Complaint hearing will take place on March 24 about the issuance of the bonds.

     One would think that the town would not want any complaints about the issuance of the bonds, and here they are asking that any complaints that are made, be validated.  Actually the town of LBK does not want any complaints about the bond issue so, before the bonds are issued and people complain about them, they have a hearing to see if there are any valid complaints. If not, they know they can issue the bonds. If there had been a valid complaint voiced after the bonds were issued, it would be very costly to rescind those bonds. Now, if there is a valid complaint after the issuance (when people are actually paying attention) lawyers can say Sorry – you should have brought that point up during the Validation Complaint hearing. The upshot is that if no one complains now, they won’t be able to complain later and the bonds will be issued.

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Category: Columns

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