Sarasota News Leader


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 63 of 96

Sarasota News Leader June 7, 2013 OPINION commissioners — Cheryl Cook and Rhonda DiFranco — were elected in the general election last November. Their mien throughout the campaign could not have given an impartial observer any expectation of their behavior after they took office in December. Page 64 million, provided that the city de-annexed the property so the county could proceed with planning without interference from the city. The city rejected that offer out of hand, and it declined to even make a counteroffer. The North Port Commission also rebuffed efforts by the county to move forward with negotiating a new contract for an operator for the springs; the contract with the current operator, Cypress Lending, expires at the end of June. Joined by North Port Mayor Linda Yates, who was elected in November 2010, the three women have turned their city's government on end. No act better illustrates this fundamental shift in rational governance than the new majority's handling of North Port's joint ownership of Warm Mineral Springs with Sarasota County. Finally, the city and county came to the negotiating table, in compliance with state law The county and North Port decided in 2010 that spells out the steps needed to be taken to jointly purchase Warm Mineral Springs for in conflict resolution. In an all-day session $5.5 million, and in July 2010, the two commis- on April 17, guided by a facilitator, the two sions agreed unanimously to pursue efforts to local government bodies at last agreed that secure permanent management of the springs they needed to proceed with negotiations for and proceed with its development. The sale of a new operator of the springs. This decision the springs to the county and city was final- was reached because DiFranco finally sided ized in December 2010, around the time that with Vice Mayor Jim Blucher and CommisYates joined the North Port Commission. sioner Tom Jones, leaving Yates and Cook in Fast-forward two years, and Yates, now joined the minority. The county was tasked with the by Cook and DiFranco, put the brakes on any responsibility of drafting an interlocal agreeeffort to secure permanent management or to ment that would memorialize the agreements develop the springs as a tourism destination. between the two commissions. In December 2012, the three voted instead to Unfortunately, about 5:30 the next morning, sell the city's share of the springs, effectively DiFranco sent an email to the North Port city ending the partnership with Sarasota County. manager announcing her decision to reverse The county responded by making a good-faith her vote. That email was never brought up in offer to purchase North Port's share for $2 the next meeting of the North Port Commis-

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sarasota News Leader - 06/07/2013