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Stolen election signs fuel frustrations

Politics sure have heated up on the past couple weeks on Longboat Key with commission candidates saying their opponents or unknown individuals have stolen dozens of campaign signs upsetting what they say should be a fair election environment.

The issue came to a head at last Monday’s Commission Meeting as well as in police reports filed over the past two weeks.

On Monday night, two candidates running for Town Commission, Gene Jaleski and Larry Grossman, complained to the Town Commission and asked that something be done to reign in the rampant sign removals.

In a letter to Vice Mayor Dave Brenner dated Feb. 27, Jaleski alleged that Brenner had illegally placed signs on the state right-of-way on Lido Shore for incumbent Terry Gans and that those signs had been removed by Florida Department of Transportation personnel.

In a letter to Sarasota City employees dated Feb. 12 Jaleski reported to Alma Lavender that Commissioner Gans signs were located in the State right-of-way in Lido Shores as well as reporting the removal of his signs.

During a Town Commission meeting’s public comment section on March 4, Grossman and Jaleski voiced their concerns about missing campaign signs.

Jaleski stated that he felt, “We have to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

After hearing Jaleski’s comments Gans objected and stated that it is a political statement and it happened in the city of Sarasota, “if it happened at all”. Furthering that it had nothing to do with the Town of Longboat Key. Gans objected to his name being brought into the matter as he stated he had nothing to do with it.

Both Jaleski and Gans accused one another of being “Out of line.”

Mayor Brown mentioned that at least 10 of his signs were missing.

Both candidates left the Town meeting after making public comments.

Their departure was followed by comments from Vice Mayor Brenner stating that he was in contact with the Florida Department of Transportation and a Sarasota City code officer to receive clarification on the matter.

On Feb. 19 Longboat Key Police Officer John Thomas reported that he met with commercial property owner Bill Saba at the intersection of Broadway Street and Gulf of Mexico Drive. Saba advised Thomas that someone had stolen six political signs from the private lots located alongside the east side of Gulf of Mexico Drive, between Broadway Street and the bridge.

He said that the signs were in place Sunday night, 02-17-13, but were noticed missing on Monday, 02-18-13. The complainant said that three of the signs were for Mayor Brown’s re-election and three were for Candidate Gans’ election.

Thomas advised the Saba that he would check to make sure that Code Enforcement did not pick up the signs. Writer issued the complainant a case card with case number on it and advised him that he would let him know if Code Enforcement picked up the signs. Thomas also advised Saba that the Police Department would monitor the signs more closely if time permitted.

Thomas made phone contact with Longboat Key Code Enforcement Officer Nemoytin. he advised her of the missing signs and she advised that she did not pick up any signs. She further advised that political signs do not require the usual Town permit for signage.

Thomas made contact with the complainant (Saba) and updated him on the findings.

Then on Feb. 28 at 6:21 p.m. Officer Thomas again met with building owner Bill Saba at his building in the 7000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive. He advised that on Tuesday night, 02-26-13, it was noticed that ten political signs were missing from the 7000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive and also from the area of North Shore Road. He said that the signs advertised the election/re-election of candidates Brown, Gans, and Younger. He did not have any information as to who may have taken the signs. Officer Thomas advised him that the area would be close patrolled in an effort to prevent any further thefts.

 

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2 Responses for “Stolen election signs fuel frustrations”

  1. William Kary says:

    Really 2 signs? Disappear, your being played… “This may be tantamount to obstructing justice…” , “… blemish on the town’s reputation.” Might I suggest reading a newspaper once a week and finding another cause…

  2. gene jaleski says:

    Mr. Grossman and I have now appeared twice before the town commission to raise the issue of 2 stolen campaign signs. What distinguishes these 2 signs, from all the other supposed sign thefts, is that a sitting commissioner has intimate knowledge pertaining to the theft and publicly chooses to remain quiet. This may be tantamount to obstructing justice, since removing campaign signs is a Florida state criminal action and the town commissioner is purposely withholding information.

    That the commission allows a fellow elected official to not come forward with his knowledge of the sign theft says volumes about the integrity of the town government.

    Shame on the town commission to, in essence, condone this behavior and the resulting blemish on the town’s reputation.

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