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Schizophrenic commissioners and their 12 angry peacocks

Do our foreign visitors, the homeowners whom are not here, and the residents who stand idly by realize the Town Commission authorized and underwrote the eradication of the peacocks?

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

I wonder why Police Chief Al Hogle, when not busy restraining employees gone wrong, has not found cause to Baker Act a few of our residents as well as commissioners to prevent harm to our key.

Take this latest act: “We are not in the animal control business, but we will pay to eradicate the peacocks” policy.

That kind of behavior is affectionately referred to as group schizophrenia. And by schizophrenia I mean the classical definition: a mental disorder characterized by disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness.

Over the past few months, I watched this disintegration. The commission grappled with rats, mice, raccoons and peacocks and the demands of a very small handful of residents.

The residents spoke of feces, rabies, garbage and danger to bichons and other small dog breeds as well as visiting grandchildren. But the commission stood strong: “We are not in the animal control business,” they said over and over.

But as soon as they said that, two weeks later, they authorized not controlling the peacock population, but the stated goal of total elimination.

To that end, the Longboat commission authorized spending $2,400 of general tax funds to eliminate all of the Longboat Key peacocks save 12 males with the goal of complete eradication. The idea is that by leaving only males, it will only be a matter of time until Billy the peacock realizes that no matter how often and how vigorously he tries, he cannot impregnate Tommy the peacock, and without females, the flock will die off.

And the Village’s new Minister of Peacock Propaganda, James Braha, said it best when he coyly explained that if the 12 birds left are all male, “the problem will go away.”

So that is all the commission needed to make a decision. A vague historical peacock policy, a few angry residents and money in the budget. If that is a trend in decision-making, we are in trouble.

How one transitory commission, after hearing the bizarre emotionalism of three or four residents, could agree to use Longboat Key tax dollars to remove the free roaming birds that have been on the key for decades is wrong.

Especially the way the policy was backed into without proper discussion and without any true authority. All the experts — the police, the wildlife managers for Manatee County and the town staff — will tell you their have been no substantiated dangers, no biological threat posed by the feces and in fact, little more than a cacophony of whining. In fact, the Manatee County animal services staff evaluator said the peacocks posed no health risk and the feces in the Village was at a very low to insignificant level.

So instead of facts, our commission based its decision on, “We are tired of hearing of this problem, so let’s hope this will now make it go away and never come back.”

But that is not policy-making. What we really are witnessing is the continuing anesthetizing and sanitizing of what is and was the most neighborly and delightful part of the key.

The Village always was home to the delightful mavericks. The Villagers bicycle and stroll; they kayak; they have raucous events and parties and until recently did pottery at the Art Center. Residents and tourists alike love this older, historical part of the key. And yes, the legendary peacocks are all part of that mix.

I do not understand why people move to an area with peacocks with all their incredible splendor and then proceed to try and change the Village into Stoneybrook or some other soulless planned community.

It is a series of what appears to be tiny decisions that erode the soul of a town.

It is like trading a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel for the intellectual landscape of Kierkegaard. If you want to live a life with no outside intrusion, no chance of errant wildlife and no chance of an encounter with nature, the options are abundant. That is what condominium complexes and Sarasota Bay Club offer.

Does this town not see the irony of three men, Michael Drake, Gene Jaleski and Jim Braha, urging us to remove all the Village peacocks except the males? And while all three residents are solid members of the community, they, like the peacocks, are another noisy component of the landscape. They are part of the crazy mix we call the Village. And their battle against the peacocks should be just that: ranting residents upset that their sleep got disturbed. These are the same people who want Malathion pumped across the coastline to eliminate love bugs, these folks want to ban Salsa music and next lower the speed limit on GMD.

The Village on Longboat Key is like the Village in New York City. Do not try and create Islandside North. And in Greenwich Village the male and female peacocks, the Wall Streeters, the Upper East Siders and the sprawling residents of Chinatown all can cross paths and are part of what makes the place great.

Do our foreign visitors, the homeowners whom are not here, and the residents who stand idly by realize the Town Commission authorized and underwrote the eradication of the peacocks?  If you disagree with the destruction and elimination of the peacock flock, call Town Hall at 316-1999, or e-mail us a letter at opinion@lbknews.com.

I can guarantee one thing: if the residents complaining about peacocks sat through the budget hearings this summer in Town Hall, things would be different. After that exercise, the peacocks would seem demure, polite and barely audible. And those peacock eradicators would do the real work of culling Town Hall policies and a budget that will leave far more sizable droppings on the entire community for years to come.

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7 Responses for “Schizophrenic commissioners and their 12 angry peacocks”

  1. Gene Jaleski says:

    Perhaps the editor is willing to transport our noisome birds to his community where they will find the love and acceptance he feels they deserve. Otherwise he is sticking his nose into someone else’s business.

    Florida statutes designate peacocks as domestic fowl and leaves their regulation entirely to local government. It seems the editor would feel equally protective about lots of “protected” chickens at Islandside?

    There are so many more encompassing topics that challenge the town. One wonders why the editor shies away from possibly invoking the wrath of the commission and the town lawyer by talking about pea-brained topics instead of talking about the real problems that he alludes to at the end of his insensitive tirade.

  2. Jeff says:

    “Stomping on the roof”. ???? It seems that it is usually the super sensitive vocal minority who embellish reality usually get their way. But, to sacrifice their credibility as honorable citizens over eradication of peacocks defies logic.

    Thanks for this article and please keep us informed of what really goes on at city hall.

  3. William Kary says:

    One constructive word comes to mind. MOVE

  4. Georgie McFarland says:

    When you are deep in DEWDEW it’s time to act.

  5. William Kary says:

    It’s amazing that the “tribe” has sat back and allowed this to happen. What’s next for the “Village”, 55 and older?

  6. james braha says:

    I understand the views of peacock lovers because the peacocks are beautiful and make our village a very special place. I loved them for many years…. until they started living on my property and my roof.
    Try a bit of the golden rule – do you really have no compassion for people who are forced to wake up at the crack of dawn with peacocks stomping on the roof? It gets old after a few months – not to mention YEARS.

  7. Vashti Braha says:

    You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. You’ve used this as an opportunity to go off in some bizarre direction with nothing constructive in it. This just makes me sad.

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