Thursday, February 09, 2006

Snagged

In the rush to judgment on Pineapple Square, apparently a few minor details were overlooked.

Today's SHT reports on the problem of the State St lot being acquired through bonding sources and it may prove difficult to remove this "encumbrance".

The mayor seems to have shot the messenger when she indicated:

"Pineapple Square has been an ongoing discussion for almost a year," she said. "Why weren't these issues researched sooner? They shouldn't wait till the 11th hour of the 11th day to bring these issues before us."

Many issues were researched thoroughly, including the parking issues (this development will create more parking demand than it provides), the staff position that the deal was tipped in favor of the developer (at the expense of the city's residents) and the appraised value of the State St lot. Of course the research done here was disregarded.

Seems like if you want the information you should use it to make a judgment.

Over on the City Managers Blog we find this comment:

Ms. Servian: You were quoted in the October 2004 issue of SRQ magazine when asked actions you would like to revisit:

"I would have wanted better economic analysis of the TIF dollars given to developers, particularly regarding Whole Foods. If I'm truly honest with myself, I was probably more concerned about fulfilling the goal of the master plan in getting a grocery downtown and securing a quality project from Casto. In retrospect, I would have demanded more information. We probably still would have given Whole Foods TIF dollars, but maybe not as much.

Since then, we have hired a financial consultant to help us analyze the TIF dollar requests."

Well let's see what we have here. In retrospect it would have been better to have more information. However when expert information is given it is ignored. When unexpected information comes up the response is to chastise "them", with no recognition that it is us, it is our staff, it is people trying to do their best.

And then there is the question about using the CRA Advisory Board and analysis of TIF funding. Here the commissioners have incredulously bought the developer's pitch that no city funds are being used and no TIF dollars are being asked for.

One nagging question though, where is the $7,600,000 going to come from? Why did the commissioners strongly wish to avoid the CRAAB review? Is it because they didn't want the scrutiny and advice? Why has the TIF financial expertise not weighed in on this? Apparently the answer is "don't confuse us with the facts. We already made up our minds".

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dick,
I think you should challenge the mayor to a debate on this issue if you feel so stongely about this. I for one would love to hear her side. I think it is also only fair you disclose you are planning on running for the commission against the mayor....politics certainly do make strange bedfellows...the fact that you told the civic league you are planning on running should disqualify you from writing this so called impartial blog..fess up and then will can all understand why you are attacking the mayor when in fact she was the the last to vote and there was already 3 votes to go forward...I find it interesting this blog is focusing on her when you are planning to run against her....not fair at all...she had done a great job of speaking for neighborhoods but she also has to represent downtown...do you really think you can do as good a job as she has...let's see if you leave this post up for long...

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous: Questioning public officials for the sake of the citizens is not an attack. This isn't just "city" money at stake, it is the public's money. This Pineapple mall will change Sarasota forever and is worth all the discussion and many more questions than have been asked. We have hired the commissioners with our votes to be accountable to us, the citizens. We have no media asking hard questions. I find Dick Clapp and the SOS blog most civil and appreciate the appropriate questioning of decisions made at City Hall. Keep up the good work, for all our sakes. Can we celebrate democracy which only exists with an active and informed citizenry. Yeah to the blog!

Anonymous said...

Nobody is "attacking" the Mayor! If she has done things that deserve some accountability then who is she to be above the challenge?

I cannot help but think it is the Mayor, herself, writing those anonymous comments.

This is a very serious issue and it needs to be studied and debated thoroughly. It is not acceptable that a developer asking so much from the city gives a contract two months before it is approved. That is not the Commissioners looking our for our tax money.

It is also true that the developer "knew" he had the votes and what is the relevance of Servian being the 4th vote? She is always the last to vote, she is the Mayor. In all honesty, I thought she was going to vote against it, just for political reasons - since 3 approved it befor her but I think the power of Simon must have been stronger on this one.

She is the Mayor and she had led this campain for Simon the past several months and the other commissioners watch and hear from Simon her approval. Our tax money should never be able to be negotiated in this way without the public understanding the details better.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I do not give a crap that Dick is running against Maryanne - he deserves a pat on the back when he is right and as far as I knew, he is still a citizen!

Anonymous said...

If Dick is running for office, we,citizens, need to applaud him. Good people need to step forward to represent the citizens in opposing give away programs for developers. We need people, who have some sense of stewardship, to run to defeat those commissioners who are exercising impulsive and poor judgment.

Anonymous said...

Dick,

You have my total support- where do I send my check?

Anonymous said...

How can Maryanne Servian not apologize to the people of Sarasota for saying the quote in SRQ and then doing exactly the same thing again but this time much worse?

I say we demand more time to reconsider the amount of money given away! Can we do that, is there any recourse or is this a done deal?

What can we do at this point?

Anonymous said...

I would suspect that Mayor Servian is trying to figure the rational behind that one herself- glad somebody did their homework to expose the earlier interview.

SOS1 said...

A response to the first comment today. I attended the Civic League Candidate School, I did not say I was running for city commission. One of the Save Our Sarasota leadership group is running for office. It is not me.

This blog presents commentary on a variety of issues facing Sarasota. You may wish to review our posting of Dec 19.

You will find that one of our goals is to promote enconmically responsible urban development.

Our recent comments on the Pineapple Square development question whether this is econimically responsible. Our point of view comes from what we believe is best for all of Sarasota. Others, whose point of view is different, for example a business or land owner in downtown, obviously would have a different view on what they consider to be economically responsible.

You also seem to believe that this discussion is somehow tainted by whether or not I am "running for city commission" and suggest that our postings are somehow attacking the mayor for this reason. I did remove two comments a couple days ago that were personal attacks directed at the mayor. You obviously noted that 4 commissioners voted for the Pineapple Square "giveaway", not just the mayor. You also must be aware that much of our commentary is based on information published in various news sources. The mayor is often quoted in the news and this provides topics for discussion.

I also indicated that it would be preferable if everyone would identify themselves (as have other local blog sites). Alas, some like the first commentor above prefer hiding behind anonimity.

There is also a difference between commenting or giving a statement of belief when you actually believe something and when it is tainted by financial benefit.

As we read in today's paper, there are some in our community that have not seen fit to disclose financial gain associated with this project. That is not the case with anyone associated with Save Our Sarasota.

Dick Clapp

Joe Barbetta said...

To the Anonymous one who said that Dick Clapp told the Civic League he was running for City Commissioner, it would first of all be very nice and also respectful if you would simply identify yourself. I don't understand this "anonymous" stuff. Secondly, having attended just about all of the Civic League breakfast and luncheon meetings over the past year, I don't ever recall Dick Clapp making any statement to the effect that he is running for City Commissioner. He is a fine man, and that is certainly his prerogative, but, in any event, "anonymous" should come clean on his or her identity and state the facts as to this "alleged" statement supposedly attributable to Dick.