By Joe Gruters
One thing is now perfectly clear for all to see: Partisan politics are alive and kicking in Sarasota government.
Within a few days, the Sarasota City Commission voted to raise taxes in a weak economy and then to urge the Florida Legislature to repeal the Stand Your Ground law. Those were both 3-2 votes and they were along party lines.
But wait, you say, you thought city elections were nonpartisan? Think again. That’s a ruse by the minority party in our county to try to win elections. You simply cannot get rid of partisanship simply by obfuscating party affiliation with a different label.
Worldviews matter. And the parties roughly represent those world views.
But Democrats want to obscure those worldviews by making county elections “nonpartisan” for one reason: There are 122,000 registered Republicans in Sarasota County and only 89,000 registered Democrats.
So first, the city commission voted 3-2 to increase taxes by 8.5% even though property values are shooting up and putting more money in the city’s coffers without the tax rate increase. The combination will mean a much higher tax bill for city residents.
The three Democrats on the commission said the city was so cash-strapped that it had no choice but to raise taxes on struggling families in the Obama economy, even while increasing property values were already going to raise tax bills.
And yet they found $500,000 for their homeless program — more than one-third of the money the tax rate increase is expected to raise.
And people say there is not a left-right divide on city issues? That’s just not honest.
And then, the same three Democrats were the majority vote to urge the Legislature to repeal Stand Your Ground.
Of course, this comes after George Zimmerman was unanimously acquitted by a jury in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin — a trial in which Stand Your Ground played no role. The trial verdict was merely a whipped-up ruse with which to further erode the rights of law-abiding citizens and tip the scales to the criminals and thugs.
Democrat Commissioner Suzanne Atwell tried to back-peddle after the vote and the public outcry, saying her vote was to have a “conversation about a highly charged issue.” She told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “I just want to start a conversation.”
Right, because no one had been talking about Stand Your Ground until the city commission brought it up. How disingenuous, and weak.
Newly-elected Democrat Commissioner Susan Chapman also walked it back a bit, saying her vote was to “revisit” the issue.
But here’s the language: “The City Commission requests that the State Legislature repeal the Stand Your Ground statute and establish a more civil approach to governance than afforded under the current statute.”
They voted to have the Legislature repeal the law, not revisit a conversation.
So for the record, the Democrats who voted to raise your taxes and deny your self-defense rights were:
• Vice Mayor Willie Shaw, Willie.Shaw@sarasotagov.com
• Commissioner Suzanne Atwell, Suzanne.Atwell@sarasotagov.com
• Commissioner Susan Chapman, Susan.Chapman@sarasotagov.com
The Republicans who supported lower taxes on hard-working Sarasotans and to maintain self-defense rights were:
• Mayor Shannon Snyder, Shannon.Snyder@sarasotagov.com
• Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, Paul.Caragiulo@sarasotagov.com
Let them know how you feel about their votes. And never forget that our core principles are represented in the Republican Party, and attempts eliminate that is an attempt to eliminate our core principles from triumphing.
Thanks for being informed and engaged.