The attack season has arrived in Sarasota in full force. First it was the Tramm and Vern show - each with volleys and responses - spending big bucks just to cut each other to shreds, while saying they need to defend themselves. No longer do we have the "near normal" political season with only the political signs appearing and disappearing.
The latest is an attack, apparently fronted by two teachers, on Joe Barbetta. This attack would have you believe that Barbetta is pro-development. Of course anyone that has watched Barbetta on the County Planning Board for the last 17 years knows that his record is solidly in favor of managed growth. His concept of managed growth emphasizes keeping the current urban service boundary where it is, concentrating on urban in-fill and redevelopment and putting a good public transportation in place to reduce reliance on the automobile.
There is a real question about who is paying for these ads. At least with Hudson and Buchanon we all know who is paying. But how and why would two teachers part with upwards of $48,000 for attack ads in a county commission election? We hope the investigative reporters for the local newspapers will smoke this out.
Part of the answer may lie in the newspaper stories about developers that are pushing for rapid consideration of their projects with the current county commission in place. Apparently they fear that Barbetta will be elected and the vote on their particular proposals will swing unfavorably.
One also wonders if this is prelude to what would happen in city elections if we changed to an elected mayor. Special interest groups would have a field day attacking candidates they deemed not favorable to their interests - especially those special interests that deal in high dollar deals.
We have moved a long way from "A city of urban amenities with a small town living and feeling". We now have county politics that keeps up with the big cities. City politics cannot be far behind. The stakes are as high as the skyscrapers that keep popping up here.