Longboat: A Town that can afford many Mayors
Editor & Publisher
The best part about becoming Mayor on Longboat Key is it confers the right to the Mayoral wardrobe. To visitors it is quite confusing, but on the whole it is a wardrobe decision that benefits all of Longboat Key.
Several men and a woman — Mayors past and present — now don blue Longboat Key Mayor shirts at public events. And that is good for the image of the Key because it appears Longboat can afford several Mayors, instead of like Palmetto, where one is enough and the shirts are collected at the end of a term. Or take the City of Sarasota, which suffers Mayoral deficits on occasion. Perhaps we could loan Mayors past to other communities as stand-ins.
I was at Town employee Susan Phillips’ wedding and Lee Rothenberg had his Mayor shirt on and the current Mayor, Jim Brown, was busy officiating the wedding in a swanky white linen outfit and glasses John Lennon would have died to own.
It was as if while Jim was doing a quite lovely job of marrying, Rothenberg was back at the helm ready to talk politics beachside.
In fact, after a few drinks I called Rothenberg Mayor and felt as if I slighted Brown. I turned, but Jim was hugging a beautiful woman — his wife — and he took no offense. He smiled and I am not sure if that was the drinks, the hugging or the Mayoral comment. And Brown had just performed his first-ever wedding service and to be frank, his linen shirt was fashion forward and hip, not Mayoral. It was as if he took the night off.
At a recent Tiger Bay Club meeting in Sarasota I saw three former Longboat Key Mayors — two with shirts declaring Mayor on them. These were different former Mayors. This too added to our standing of wealth and significance. Very few communities can afford a single standing Mayor and we offer two at many events.
Some classy former Mayors have carefully stitched the word Emeritus after the title. I like that because it lets people know with whom they are dealing when in conversation.
Etymologically derived from Latin, the Emeritus moniker means “earned” or “with merit.” The touch of Latin adds a fitting distinguished air and can help in strong or heated conversations or debates I am told.
A bust of honor
And while speaking of honoring our Mayors past and present and perhaps future, it brings to mind the promised sculpture that Publix officials said it would install when it completes the new store.
I think acknowledgement ought be made to the many Mayoral figures — many who have toiled hours on this Key furthering their agenda.
I see a Mount Rushmore type of edifice. Not nearly so high as the CVS roofline, but perhaps the height of the landscaped berm.
I recall former Mayor Emeritus George Spoll argued that the new Publix should have added more landscaping to better buffer Bay Isles Road from the passing cars. Could not a berm with a small hill and a chiseled rendering of our leaders be created?
I would hate to think a car or a cart would dent one of the Mayors, but a protective barrier could be erected, or at least some bougainvilleas might be planted.
I see Spoll, Rothenberg, Joan Webster and many other Mayors quietly looking down from upon high. I wonder if they would be willing to model for such an occasion?
The marble should come from Vermont or Verona — the best and strongest and whitest available. I think cement would be too cheap and send the wrong message — despite the economy.
If, as stated in the Vision Plan, Longboat wants to remain a premier community — a public display honoring some of the giants of the Key is a fine start.
Let’s further the vision. Under their gaze and direction might be a walking path and table where people could eat Publix subs and grandchildren frolic. I could even see weddings performed in the vicinity.
Current Mayor Brown would not want such homage; he said he does not even go out in public with his Mayoral shirt. But perhaps he would wed a few fine folks in the shadows of his elders looking down.
And it does not matter that some of the Mayors carved are still alive. It would be a twist of performance art to hear Spoll and Webster and Rothenberg talking and jousting ideas all the while in front of the monument. Revitalization Task Force meetings could be held at a picnic table in front, or better yet, the idea of a live Mayor Emeritus tinkling the bell at Christmas for the Salvation Army and its echoing off the sculpture against an early December moon is nothing short of sublime.
That is a vision worth pushing Publix to build. Let’s think big.