Who influences Longboat Key?

Guest Columnist

During a recent conversation with a friend, a most interesting question came up. My friend asked, “Who do you think is the most influential person on Longboat Key?”

I am quite sure two answers would not be alike. Much would depend on the responder’s station in life; whether he was in politics, business, a tennis player, a golfer and many more possibilities. Hence, I feel safe in providing an answer to the question.  In fact I am going to answer the question with naming the five, in order, who I believe to be the most influential people on Longboat.  Here goes…

1 & 2-  I think these two go together with each serving the community in their own way.  The two are the editor and CEO of the Longboat Observer, Matt Walsh, while the second is Steve Reid, owner and publisher of the Longboat Key News. Fortunately they are as opposite as two people can be.  They also serve so well because of their totally divergent opinions.

The Observer can’t be any more conservative than it is and the Longboat Key News can’t be any more liberal.  This is good for the readers on the Key.  The editorials in each publication give the public points of view, totally dissimilar and each tries to drive home its case.  The reader has to adhere to either a conservative point of view or a liberal point of view. At least the reader, of which there are many on Longboat, comes away with either agreement or disagreement with the editorial.  As a result the two newspapers serve the public by helping to mould opinion.  The Observer and the News reach so many that their influence cannot be denied.

3-  The Mayor of Longboat Key is basically a celebratory job.  Nevertheless, Jim Brown does such a wonderful job as the Mayor of Longboat Key that he is able to pull strings in a good way, exert clout in a positive manner and his leadership is undeniable.  He is quite adept at running a commission meeting in a fair and totally even-handed style, which results in fairness and clout at the same time.  His methods of persuasion are obviously based on experience. The results of Mayor Brown’s dominance results in his influence over so many items, both on and off the agenda.

4-  If we were to go back a few years, my 4th most influential person on Longboat, most assuredly would not have been 4th, but would have been first, and that is Hal Lenobel.  His three years as mayor and 12 years as commissioner are numbers hard to beat considering the existence of term limits. His tenure on the commission was a model of courtesy, resolution and action.  Whatever problems arose, the commissioners would always look to Hal for guidance and an answer to the problem.  The guidance and answers were always forthcoming.  His power and control should set the standards for all succeeding legislators.  He knew what to say and when to say it.  I choose him as the 4th most influential person on Longboat because he is still regarded with outstanding intelligence, information, authority and the ability to command respect.

5-  Finally, my 5th choice demands a great deal of negativity as well as weight. I choose George Spoll as 5th most influential, despite the negativity.  His single year as mayor was very efficient and impressive.  However, after that year, his dominance was totally misplaced, although it still had the ring of influence.  His influence is gradually waning because the public looks askance on his constant involving his temperament and disposition where it no longer belongs.  As a result he has failed miserably on some of his concepts and notions, such as his fighting roundabouts in Sarasota, his proposed beach plan, his Key Club approval strategies, his cell tower advocacy, his views on plant buffers instead of fences and even his desire to affect the Publix plan were all iignored. I think he has long over-played his hand.

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3 Responses for “Who influences Longboat Key?”

  1. Ghostrider says:

    Ms. Arsenautl

    The world has changed on your “watch.” There are no more civil servants. Everyone now has an agenda and “money” prevails.

    Didn’t Betty Davis tell you to : “Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy r….”

  2. Anne Arsenautl says:

    The newspapers certainly are influential because they are read by most people. But it is impossible to get an opinion in the form of a letter to either newspaper unless you are in the “in” crowd. The mayor of Longboat Key should be an influential person and we hope he has some wisdom also. What about the Town Manager? Isn’t he influential? Or the Chief of Police? The workers in this town are also leaders,
    but are probably not considered in this class conscious town. I wish I had more hope in the governance
    of this town. Perhaps an election will turn up a new leader, but I don’t have much hope.

  3. Gene Jaleski says:

    Mr. Dowd’s ranking of influential people on Longboat is laughable.

    Name one single accomplishment of George Spoll’s, aside from intermittent explosive tirades that are really embarrassing for those unfortunate enough to have to witness them. George huffs and he puffs and at the end of many years has nothing to show for his bullying tactics.

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