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Phillip Younger, Esquire

Phillip Younger, Esquire

PETER O’CONNOR
Guest Columnist
opinion@lbknews.com

With Commissioner Phill Younger doing better each day over in Sarasota Memorial Hospital, we at Longboat Key News thought it time to highlight his service to our key.

What follows is a profile of Phill, written by Peter O’Connor in December 2010.

We publish it again in its entirety.

Be well, Phill.

• • •

I only have to go around the block to interview Commissioner Phill Younger for this profile. We all know that LBK commissioners have no office. So I meet with him at Villa Fanita, his Bayou home midday in early December.

Phillip Younger, Longboat Key’s newest Town Commission member, occupies the at-large seat vacated a few months ago through a resignation; the remaining six commissioners appointed him to that seat. He is now unopposed in the upcoming town election for that and two other positions. Younger ran last year for the other at-large seat against Dr. Hal Lenobel. Hal was elected by a narrow margin.

Younger is from Atlanta, born and raised there. He attended local schools, graduating from Northside High School. He attended Georgia Tech, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Management in 1968. He continued in graduate school at Georgia Tech in that same field. A Veteran of the U.S. Army, Younger served on active duty from 1968 through 1970, completing a tour in Vietnam at Long Binh. We are grateful for the perspective this wartime service brings. We thank him for his service.

Younger joined Delta Airlines in Atlanta in 1970, retiring after a successful career there in 2002. He also earned a law degree from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1977. He speaks with pride of his Delta career, which started in industrial engineering, then moved into the technical operations area involving the line maintenance of aircraft. His legal work at the airline involved contract work and involvement in equal opportunity cases. Younger reads like another well educated, well experienced professional. I like that.

Phill and his wife, Fanny, came to Longboat Key in 1987 when they purchased a home in Country Club Shores. Her parents moved into that house in 1989 and are still there 21 years later. The Youngers purchased their home in The Bayou in 2005. They have a married daughter, Marston, and one at home, Rosemary. Rosemary is already a college graduate who is now starting nursing school locally. Both mother and daughter are avid tennis players. Fanny’s two brothers live in the area also. Phill’s family is in Atlanta.

I ask, as I like to do, what one thing should folks know about Phillip Younger? He answers after only a moment’s thought.

“I feel that I am analytical and that I have honesty and integrity,” he said.

I ask about Longboat Key service involvement before the Town Commission. He lists these, rather quickly; involvement with Mote Marine, service to his homeowners’ association, service with the Public Information Committee (PIC), membership on the LBK Code Enforcement Board, involvement with the town’s budget process (with Lenny Landau, he adds), membership on the LBK Planning & Zoning Board (short, he adds), Sarasota Bar Association and Sarasota Tiger Bay Club.

I try for comment on the state of the Longboat Key Club application and its legal challenges. It is in the courts, he agrees. Since the Town Commission may or may not be involved in the future, Younger says he would prefer not to comment. He says that, “during the campaign, I remained an enigma!”

I ask if he sees any greater development goals. My example is 10 floors over two floors of parking along the beachfront in Manatee County. He replies, “I have not heard of any secret goal.” He adds that he hopes for something new rising out of the ground at The Colony. He hopes that this will not be controversial.

He notes that at Whitney Beach Plaza, with a new owner, many folks around town want the town to tell the owner how to develop. Phill prefers to wait for the owner to propose. He adds that he sees no one stepping forward to change height restrictions. He volunteers that there is more land at Whitney Beach Plaza than the market will support. Maybe, he suggests, it will be necessary to shrink the commercial area to suit. These are rather complete answers.

I move on to the subject of the organizational reviews of town government. I ask, was this just fluff? No. Was it a whitewash? No, was not meant to be and was not. Was it a fresh look? Yes. Younger notes that it was a healthy thing to look at the town as a whole. He says that 70 to 75 suggestions came out of these studies; some have led to positive changes.

My next area is the current challenges for the town. Younger lists:

• Pensions (he adds that this drove his vote for a tax increase)

• Health of community, in the reality of the world

• Beach nourishment

• Sound and proper financial management

So I ask for his plan for the town, if any. He replies emphatically that we have got to do something on the North End.

I note that he brings a somewhat unique perspective to the commission, that of an attorney. I ask him how would he rate the town’s legal representation. Younger replies that he rates it very high. This includes, he adds without prompting, the labor counsel, who he says is good also.

I ask his thoughts on employee organizations, unions, noting his background with Delta — a traditionally non-union shop. He explains a bit of the history of the mergers, which formed the modern present-day Delta. He says that in each of these acquisitions, the new Delta employees voted against unions. He says that there are situations where unions are necessary, some not. Younger says that he is neither for nor against unions. He says the reality for our town is that we have two unions. We must deal appropriately with them. Likewise, Younger says, unions must deal appropriately also.

We turn to the pension issue, maybe the hot button issue of the day. I ask if these are a train wreck? He says define. I ask are we in an extreme situation? He says we are moving rapidly toward the initial stages. I ask what to do, the Phill Younger version. He agrees that the Florida State Retirement System could be a viable option.

Should we replace the actuaries? No. Should we replace the local pension boards? This would be inherent in No. 1 (the FSRS), he says.

On to more general topics, I ask what he thinks of the Longboat Key form of government (manager/commission)? Phill says that he has no issues with our form. I ask him about independence, particularly in planning and zoning. He said, “Zoning is important to continued integrity of the island.” He volunteers that the recent voters’ decision on Amendment 4 clouds this issue.

I move on, specifically, to the Town Commission. Should it be partisan? No. Should it be paid? No. Should it have staff support? Phill thinks the commission does have staff support in the town staff. Should there be term limits? Yes, he favors.

I ask what I see as a related question; should the Planning & Zoning Board be elected? Younger says it works well as it is at present.

We close our peasant discussion with several rapid-fire questions.

Join FSRS? He says it looks like an option.

Beach nourishment: accelerate bond referendum? Younger says we need to review all information. Seek beach alternatives? Younger says of course we must be realistic about alternatives. He adds the need to examine possible federal funding.

Town organization: strong mayor? Younger answered this earlier. Town manager? Younger supports completely. He thinks the manager is doing a good job.

Fire-Rescue Department? Younger supports completely, absolutely. Police Department? Younger supports completely, absolutely. Phill thinks that both public safety departments are made up of fine people. He likes both chiefs. Younger said that he wants it clear that the current Firefighters Pension Board is not the rank and file of the Fire/Rescue Department. He respects both public safety departments.

This may have been too brief a profile of our newest elected town official. It might be the first look at a guy who might just be around for a while. He strikes me as eager and well prepared.

 

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