Sarasota News Leader

11/15/2013

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Sarasota News Leader November 15, 2013 OPINION Page 85 it was worth it to get "an economist who can Never mind that Reid earlier had been excoriated by Barbetta for having the temerity make predictions." to propose a serious academic review of However, one did not need to be the Amazing the 2050 Plan, to be conducted by people Kreskin to predict how Arduin, a hired gun with real qualifications. And never mind for right-wing politicians, and her associate, that it was Barbetta who proposed Arduin Arthur Laffer — for the job, extolling famous for being the her "development project experience" "father" of what the Perhaps most disappointing is and ability to "make 41st president of the Barbetta's apparent intention to lay predictions." United States called "voodoo economics" the blame for this misguided waste To imagine that Reid, — would view the of taxpayers' money at the feet of who wanted academRandall Reid. county's 2050 Plan. ics to preserve the integrity of the 2050 Their draft report was Plan, would then craft predominantly an a contract with these indictment of the entire concept of "smart hacks to propose the butchering of that plan growth," citing studies conducted by right- — something that Barbetta has publicly pined wing organizations, several supported by the for on more than one occasion — beggars infamous Koch brothers. It recommended belief. that smart growth be abandoned in favor of It appears to be only the latest example of "actual growth," presumably a euphemism local public officials, when confronted by the for unchecked plundering of pristine lands by consequences of their wrong-headed actions, developers. casting about for a scapegoat to shoulder the The reaction to the draft report also has been predictable. It has been roundly criticized by almost all who have read it, including Barbetta. Despite his insistence that the county retain these charlatans to evaluate the 2050 Plan, he now expresses consternation at the result. blame for their mistakes. At this point, the most gratifying action for county taxpayers — and the flora and fauna of eastern Sarasota County — would be for Barbetta to admit he was wrong in denying the need for an impartial academic review and that he was wrong to balk at the cost of such a review. He then should formally repudiate the dangerously flawed Laffer report and ask the rest of the commissioners to join him in inviting an FSU team to conduct a proper, meaningful review of the 2050 Plan. Perhaps most disappointing is his apparent intention to lay the blame for this misguided waste of taxpayers' money at the feet of Reid. Barbetta has implied by his communications with staff that Reid somehow subverted the will of the commission in finalizing the con- Better late than never, even if it does cost us tract with Laffer Associates. an extra $90,000. %

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