Here's a tip: If you want to say something about the Governor's selection, the time to do so is before he makes it. Carping after the fact seems both pointless and petty.
The Governor did what he needed to do. It is the Sarasota community that dropped the ball.
The Republicans held a y'all come, "Republicans Got Talent" cattle call in North Port that was supposed to result in a Republican recommendation. No such individual emerged.
The Democrats, who boldly fielded several candidates, also declined to advance a favorite.
The Sarasota County Civic League boasts of a Candidate Evaluation Program that evaluates candidates through written information submitted by the candidate and a panel interview and then bestows a rating designed to indicate the degree to which the candidate possesses the qualifications needed to serve in the position sought. They did nothing.
The two Tiger Bay organizations, which can usually be relied upon to sniff out a juicy contest, failed to take the bait.
The Sierra Club and other local organizations that can lobby and endorse because they are tax exempt, endorsed no one.
Local newspapers provided superficial coverage that reduced each contender to a postage stamp portrait and a thumbnail sketch.
And editorial boards, entities that traditionally make recommendations, not only failed to name any names, they by and large failed to address the basic public policy questions raised by such an appointment:
• Should the replacement be a Republican, like Shannon, and every other Commissioner for the last forty years, or would it be appropriate for the majority of voters (non-Republicans) to have some representation?
• Should the replacement have to have lived in District 3? If so, for how long? What does residency mean and what should it mean? Is proposing to move into the District acceptable?
• What is the appropriate mix of County experience and knowledge compared with District 3 experience and knowledge?
• Should candidates embrace "instant incumbency" and use a lame duck Governor's parting act as a springboard for re-election or should those seeking Shannon's seat agree not to run in 2012?
These questions were never publicly debated, no consensus was reached, and no local direction provided the Governor.
Perhaps no one bothered to assess qualifications and consider a recommendation because it was a foregone conclusion that Christine would secure the spot on the Board. She had the inside track from the starting bell. But if so, no one should act shocked, surprised, or indignant at the outcome.
For whatever reason, all of Sarasota County took a pass on an opportunity not only to comment on the gubernatorial appointment process, but also to seriously evaluate more than two dozen residents that felt they might make a good commissioner. I guess there's always 2012.
Everything I've heard about Christine Robinson has been extremely positive and there is no reason to believe she will be anything other than a competent, contributing member of the Commission. Republicans should stop holding her loyalty to a friend against her and be thankful that Crist didn't get creative as he did with his candidacy.
And the next time a Governor has to make an appointment, Sarasota County should not be a slack-jawed, passive spectator, but remember to engage both the issues and the Governor.