Candidates: either walk a tightrope or go home and play with a Yo-Yo

Editor & Publisher

We all believe the scripts in our head. We all have a voice that is interpreting the world, forming so-called fact-based assessments and then we foist these upon everyone around.

Watch any married couple bicker as they drive down the road — especially if they are married to each other. Or better yet, talk to two people on peaceful, pastoral Longboat Key — one who was pro Key Club expansion plan and then one adamantly opposed. You might as well straddle the Barrier Wall in Israel and look for signs of love.

“We need revitalization and what the Key Club proposed would usher in an era of redevelopment and economic stimulation this island needs unless it wants to continue to deteriorate. Those against the plan acted selfishly.”

Then the opponent says,

“That plan and the actions the Town took in passing the plan and amending the codes undermined the very foundations of Longboat Key that keep our island pristine, not overdeveloped and able to attract the tasteful elite who do not want to hobnob with tourists and conference-goers. The plan was far too massive and the Town government put the interest of the developer ahead of residents.”


Ask a monotheistic question, get a monotheistic answer

The problem arises when we believe any one thing is true. And the irony — and this can be seen most acutely in families — is no two people see anything exactly the same. Yet each side can make a completely valid and fact-based argument. Marriage counselors have made a cottage industry in teaching couples to make “I” statements when they gripe about their lives so as not to allow a session to turn into a couple arguing over perceived realities.


Why is that and can we do better?

I believe we can do better. First, the one-dimensional thinkers need to be removed from any process of consideration or approval of any plan for Longboat Key. If you are adamantly against redevelopment and any changes in uses or actions necessary to keep the island and its businesses thriving — you are not grasping a major part of the picture that Longboat Key, unlike its residents, cannot age and gracefully disappear into the vast beyond.

We must act as the community stewards and attempt to leave this island in better condition than when we arrived.

And those who are simply pro commercial and discredit the concerns and legal arguments made by IPOC and those opposed to the former Key Club application are not the kind of folks who will successfully create a solution that bridges opposing points of view.

If Longboat Key is going to successfully redevelop and create land-use policy that enhances property values and the island’s status, then we need to look toward community leaders and commissioners who have the ability and the conviction not to be swayed into any camp or position, but are strong enough to walk that Nietzschean tightrope between opposites.


It is a priority

This all matters greatly as we careen into 2013 because the Colony, the Key Club, The Hilton and many other matters will come to a head in some not-too-distant future.

Our exuberance for redevelopment and money being spent on the ground cannot be allowed to take sides against residents and advocate against the resident’s interests. And as redevelopment and expansion proposals are vetted, the unintended consequences, the precedents, the impact on the residential nature of our Key must be a paramount.

The legacy of the now invalid Key Club approval is a wasteland of poor decisions compounded by poor decisions.

But these poor decisions were not with bad intent. In fact that sounds trite. These decisions in my mind represented the very best intentions of the Commission at the time.

The Commission saw the need for redevelopment and believed the Key Club plan, while flawed and perhaps larger than IPOC wanted, was needed and would go away if compromised to death. The problem is in taking their desire for redevelopment, they closed an eye to the concerns and worries of IPOC and took risky legal positions that cost everyone involved. They should have forced the compromises and negotiation that is now occurring after the court did what our Town was supposed to do given our regulations and resident’s concerns — reject the plan.

That being said, I hope the Key Club redevelopment does not become a litmus test for voters. It is less interesting to see who was for or against the plan than who has the intellectual capacity, the independence and the ability to walk a mental tightrope. That tightrope connects the two perceived opposites: a need for redevelopment and the need for tough controls to preserve and protect what we are today.

If you want to run a town and cannot appreciate and respect these opposite impulses — than your presence is a disservice.

And the cynic in us knows it is an election season and like children with company everyone is on best behavior. But the historical record, the statements of candidates, interviews and debates will tell us if a candidate is capable of traversing a tightrope, or more suited to playing at home with a yo-yo on a string.

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