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Vote Younger and Daly; sadly the decision is too easy

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

This election is too easy — far too easy, and that is tragic and sad.

Let’s first be very clear: Jack Daly and Phill Younger deserve your vote to govern Longboat Key. That can be said with conviction and authority.

The sad part is it is not because they have scintillating ideas or a patent on creative thought. In fact, their adversaries, Larry Grossman and Gene Jaleski exhale ideas into the universe the way a chain smoker sends smoke into the atmosphere. But their ideas end up just that, a coughing and choking mess of un-implementable convolution.

Meanwhile, Daly and Younger offer strong governance, implementation skills and the ability to think clearly and speak with brevity.

In the case of Younger, several years of dedicated work, a tough but surprisingly open mind and an ability to examine issues in ways and at a level of detail that most other Commissioners do not are top reasons he deserves to remain on the board over the challenge of Jaleski.

As for the other race, Daly vs. Grossman, in Daly we have a leader who is clear, articulate, speaks with conviction and specificity and thinks in a linear way in that he can analyze an issue and come to fair conclusions. These reasons alone make him the more compelling choice over Larry Grossman.

The above said, let’s look at what is tragic.

 

Alienation without implementation

Simply put, Gene Jaleski is a walking human centrifuge of ideation. I refer to Jaleski as a walking Google search engine with the sort for relevance feature disabled

You can take any topic — wave dynamics, global warming, peacocks, turtle lighting, nuclear fusion — and Gene will absorb the problem, research, innovate and offer solutions. The solutions are not necessarily employable or fit the specific circumstances, but they are innovative and often idealistic.

The problem with Gene is his inability to be effective when working with others. This is the core of the conundrum with Gene Jaleski.  Jaleski cannot bring his ideas to the table in an effective manner and convince others of his ideas or solutions. When it is time to sway and argue and convince, Jaleski actually alienates and pushes those around him into personal combativeness.

If you have an important issue or idea that you want to implement or see grow legs, Jaleski on your side is an impediment. It is like having Al Gore on the trail campaigning for you. And ideas without effective implementation are a wasteland of frustration.

After all, ideas are easy, implementation is everything. It is like the show Shark Tank. Anyone can waltz up with a great idea and talk in a void or vacuum. The ideas that have legs and get picked up, developed and funded are what count in our world — especially in government.

To live solely in the world of ideas, ideals and initiatives is to be a community activist, a philosopher, a red wine aficionado, a pot-smoking professor, an intellectual, a Platonic thinker — whatever title we want to confer.

But in the rubric of small town governance — in a landscape of tough retired CEOs who are all about assessment, implementation and getting things done — you need to be adept at making sure your arguments are convincing and win the day.

 

Where Excel documents go to die…

Conversely, ideas are Phill Younger’s soft spot.

I would not call Phill an ideas guy or an out-of-the-box innovator. I would call Younger a steady, ruminating thinker who has created more Excel spreadsheets to analyze and represent more topics of inquiry than all the former financial directors combined. Waste Management has a special area in Sarasota County — Younger Hill  — where years of dated, old green bar and Excel documents born from Phill Younger lay dead and buried.

Phill will question and follow his hunches and collect data and come to conclusions. And then he will support it with a spreadsheet, every time.

But unlike Jaleski, when it comes to implementation, Younger is a powerful force once he knows where he needs to go. Younger helped change the beach policy, pensions, fought cell towers effectively and supports long-range planning. This is a real strength.

I also credit Younger for showing he can listen and change his thinking.

In Younger we have someone open minded enough to pursue any policy he can to better the island. We see someone who may initially get attached to an idea, but is willing to listen and if it makes sense, change his mind.

And our support of Younger should be based on these very human traits. Phill Younger is one of the more open-minded commissioners and is not the person we should be throwing out when his steady and solid hand can be counted on for two more years.

Jaleski is very effective in the community railing in his own way as activist, writer and Town Hall watchdog. But Jaleski is not the establishment and his effectiveness is reduced the closer he gets to the crucible of policy-making and governance.

For all of the above, vote for Phill Younger.

 

Jack Daly vs. Larry Grossman

As we watch these two candidates over the weeks, this race has grown clearer and clearer.

Our sense of Daly is he has had a long and distinguished career. He put himself through law school while employed as an engineer. He rose to CEO and chairman of a natural gas company and has sat on numerous boards in the business world. Daly has also served on Longboat Key’s Planning and Zoning Board.

In many ways, Daly epitomizes the analytical and leadership qualities one looks for in a candidate.

Daly will be cautious with the budget. Daly will not want to regulate too much – perhaps too little. Remember, the energy industry is not overly enthusiastic of government regulation.

To his credit and as an important effort that reveals character, Daly shepherded a collection of waterfront cottages through several decades of development pressure in Mystic Connecticut. He helped design and pass condo board and homeowner regulations to limit any redevelopment of the 75 units on 25 acres to maintain the height, view corridors and limit expansion to keep the special character, scale and integrity of a treasured piece of waterfront. That effort is exactly the kind of skill we need on Longboat Key.

The art of governing when it comes to land-use policy is balancing the redevelopment of properties while ensuring scale and intensity is not allowed to diminish the character and beauty of Longboat Key. We can look to Daly’s Connecticut experience as one that will serve us well here.

After all, we are in an era of development pressure and commensurate traffic, which threatens the in-season experience residents want to enjoy.

Daly also is clear and articulate and takes a sensible and reasoned approach to every issue discussed. He is not arrogant and always seems to have done his homework.

 

A mantra of unenlightenment

Let’s speak of challenger Larry Grossman for a moment.

Grossman is a former city planner and land-use expert who speaks the language of municipal and town planning. In fact, Grossman has a strong grasp of how to properly plan, what is fair and how to accomplish what you want in codes.

And while Grossman’s long-range planning skills are incisive and valuable, they are not enough to bridge what can best be called a leadership gap.

Grossman, to his credit, is steadfastly involved and immersed in most every issue that comes through Town Hall. He has City Planning in his veins and thinks and talks about the correct process the Town should take when it comes to redevelopment, changing Comprehensive Plans, redeveloping properties and building parks.

Unfortunately, the opinionated and “You guys are screwing this up and it should be done this way” mantra exudes from Grossman at every meeting and at every public speaking opportunity.

This rhetoric from Grossman was meaningful when the Town lost its way in the Key Club debacle a few years ago. Now, Grossman’s admonitions are more of a swan song of negativity mixed with arrogance. And the song remains the same meeting after meeting.

And Grossman’s criticism and subsequent suggestions are always lost in a flurry of rhetoric wherein no clear point emerges and the listener always finds himself asking to himself, “What did he just say?” It is like finding a melody in a jazz-fusion guitar solo.

To its credit, the current Commission is getting some serious and important work done. It is moving ahead with undergrounding power lines. It is building out the Bayfront Park. It is dealing as best it can with the Key Club proposal that is pending, and it is looking at building a Town Center. Soon the Town will have to decide police and fire dispatch.

I see Daly as a leader and one who can help forge clear policy.

 

We will have to keep watch…

Will we agree with Daly, Younger and the Commission on all moves and all of its policies? No.

Daly, Younger and the rest of the Commission will have to be pressured in this paper and by residents to not overdevelop and not relax codes to the point of diminishing our unique qualities. And although that is significant, we need Daly’s and Younger’s leadership qualities over the alternatives. Far too many initiatives are underway to vote the other way.

Vote Daly and Younger.

 

 

 

 

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