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Grossman demands answers in Longboat Key election sign-theft saga

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

The stolen sign saga continued this week at the Wednesday commission workshop as former commission candidate Larry Grossman demanded Vice Mayor David Brenner explain how he came into possession of two of his and Gene Jaleski’s campaign signs.

Grossman and Jaleski for the second time this month both asked the commission to help look into the matter and find a resolution. Grossman has been more pointed in both letters to town hall and at the commission meetings by asking Brenner directly to explain how he came in possession of the signs that Grossman maintains are stolen property.

“I’m here to ask only one question of the Vice Mayor, and that is how he came into possession of our political signs on Feb. 13 and were given to us at the debate at the recreation center,” said Grossman.

Commissioner Lynn Larson asked that the entire inquiry stop, citing her stolen signs during her campaign, and called the whole thing a waste of time.

“The election is over. To use this time for some purpose other than town business is improper,” said Larson.

Mayor Jim Brown agreed with Larson, “I agree. I don’t think we’re going to resolve this today. Your signs were returned to you for reasons that you know,” said Brown.

At that point, Jaleski approached the podium and told the commission that it doesn’t matter if someone returns stolen property, once the crime is committed. He cited the example that it doesn’t make it okay to return a stolen car the next day, it’s still a crime.

“We really need to have this resolved,” said Jaleski.

 

Sign removal timeline

The events of this week are part of an ongoing process of Jaleski and Grossman trying to solicit help in resolving the stolen campaign signs.

In an email dated March 14 to Brown and Town Manager David Bullock, Grossman wrote imploring to resolve the issue of the stolen political signs. Grossman says that at a debate that occurred on Feb. 13, Vice Mayor David Brenner handed Grossman two of his political signs and did not say how he came into their possession.

At the March 4 commission meeting, the issue was first publicly brought up to commissioners by Grossman and Jaleski during the ‘Public to be Heard’ portion of the meeting.

After hearing Jaleski’s comments, Commisioner Terry Gans objected and stated that Grossman and Jaleski were making a political statement and the sign theft happened in the City of Sarasota, “if it happened at all.” 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 added 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 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.

Grossman’s email to Brown and Bullock remarked on the dissatisfaction left from the March 4 meeting, “Commissioner Brenner chose not to reply directly to our testimony about his actions regarding our political signs and made no indication to the public that he intended to address the issue at some time during the March 4th Commission meeting.”

“Commissioner Brenner came into possession of Jaleski and Grossman political signs that were placed along John Ringling abutting the Lido Shores subdivision in the City of Sarasota next to and aligned with two Gans signs. These signs were given to Gene Jaleski on Feb. 13 just before the PIC/Observer debate,” wrote Grossman.

“Being a Commissioner, an official elected by and representing the citizens of Longboat Key, carries the burden of being responsible for actions done while in service to the people. As a resident, I resent the fact that Commissioner Brenner continues to evade explanation of his actions and continues to sit on the dais as a Commissioner and as the Vice Mayor. He should provide an explanation of his actions in conjunction with this incident of sign stealing and should resign from his office. He is not above the law and is answerable to the people of Longboat Key,” concluded Grossman.

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.

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, Feb. 17, but were noticed missing on Monday, Feb. 18. 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. He advised that on Tuesday night, Feb. 26, 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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1 Response for “Grossman demands answers in Longboat Key election sign-theft saga”

  1. William Kary says:

    Let’s waste some more time, money and effort on 4 signs. In my opinion and campaign costs should be barred and instead donated to the Humane Society so that we can hold “Adopt a Pet” events on the Beach.

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