A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sarasota USB Monday: The will of people -- who are they and how is it determined?

At 1:30 p.m. this Monday the Sarasota County Commission will wade into water that, apparently, no other County Commission in the state of Florida has ever waded in before. They will explore whether, and under what circumstances, a referendum with enough valid signatures may be withdrawn from a ballot. 

Some have argued that pulling the measure from the ballot, if it is even legal, is a form of disenfranchisement or even 'betrayal' of the 12,500 signatories. This suggests that, once approved, the ballot measure belongs either to the citizenry as a whole or, somehow, to the signatories, but not the initiators who conceived, and nurtured the measure -- the people responsible for its existence . 

Others, the initiators and the broad spectrum consortium supporting an alternative "consensus", believe that there is both a compelling will and a legal way to retire the original ballot measure and replace it with one more agreeable to all sides. 

Here are just a few of the submerged logs and gator holes the commission and its legal staff will have to negotiate during their wade:

Who has standing to challenge withdrawal?  Any citizen? Any registered voter? Anyone who signed the petition to get the measure on the ballot? This is second cousin to the efforts of some opposing the Florida Hometown Democracy asking petition signers to rescind their signatures -- an innovative and ominous development, in my opinion. 

And what if one signer, or ten, or even five hundred petition signers show up demanding that the original measure be sent as originally drafted for a vote? Would that suggest that 12,499 signers or 12,490 or even 12,000 signers were comfortable with the alternative consensus measure?

 If so, how are their competing interests to be weighed? Simple majority? Super majority? Unanimity? 
Either way, it promises to be a milestone in local government that may set precedent for the entire state as well as either derailing or affirming an intriguing convergence of interests. 

I don't have the responsibility of deciding such matters. If I did I would be interested in two things: 1) Is their any compelling legal precedent in such matters that constrains Board action, and 2, if not; how to honor and respect both the intentions of the majority of the signatories and the historic broad spectrum consensus that has emerged. As I stated in an earlier blog, "it will be unfortunate if this historic agreement is derailed by legal hurdles that confound and contradict the wishes of the people who started the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stop the Presses ! Republican Supports Democrat!

The Sarasota Herald Tribune is reporting that a local elected Republican official is endorsing and contributing money to the candidacy of Democrat Charles McKenzie who is in a three way race for the Fla. House District 55 seat.

Bold move? Probably not, more likely part of a growing trend in Sarasota, a trend building on a tradition of local Republicans supporting (and voting for) solid Democratic candidates. 

We see it in state wide races with Bill Nelson and Alex Sink and locally with the success of Keith Fitzgerald  and in the ostensibly non-partisan races in Venice and Sarasota. And we'll no doubt see it again in the District 1 County Commission race in November.

P.S. I too have contributed to the McKenzie campaign and support his candidacy. I've believed in Charles since I first heard him speak over five years ago. Earlier this year I marched next to Charles McKenzie holding the Democratic Party Banner with him from City Hall to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park. His headline-making Republican supporter was nowhere to be seen at that time, but sometimes it just takes awhile to figure out what makes sense. Let's get out the local vote and see if we can put Charles over the top.