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would give him a salary of "at least $100,000" and, for sure, a nice car and generous expense account would be provided. Our new mayor would be on the move! The mayor would appoint all advisory boards and would certainly appoint like-minded asso- ciates who support his ideas. Got the picture? Slowly but surely, maybe without even real- izing it, he would be corrupted by special interests without a care about our quality of life. Our city has been governed by many citi- zen advisory boards and assisted by citizens developing regulations, building visions and creating overlay districts; and thousands have participated in public hearings, always with elected commissioners representing constituents. I believe the strong mayor could twist and turn our comprehensive plan and Downtown Master Plan to fulfill requests of friends. Is that not an example of a quality of life issue being destroyed? Because the proposed charter would create five single-member districts, we would see a major dilution of strength of the elected com- mission members. Under our current charter, we each vote for three commissioners — one in a district and two at-large; a majority of the commission. The change is recommended under the guise of providing diversity. Baloney. It has been made to weaken the commission and strengthen the mayor. Cronyism and corruption could and probably would happen with even the most benevolent mayor under this proposal. He might call his son (someone with a Master of Business Administration with management experience) and move him and his family to Sarasota so he could serve as deputy mayor, with a budget and instructions to run the city. That would be nepotism! Within a few months, a friend and supporter could approach our new strong mayor with an idea and financing for a big project that needs special consideration. The newly elected mayor, somewhat beholden to that developer (who was a major contributor to the mayor's campaign) would set up the plan to proceed — a real "make it happen moment." Some unfortunate occurrence might cause the daughter of a close friend of the mayor to lose her job. That friend could make an appeal to the mayor, who would feel obli- gated to find an appropriate spot for her in City Hall. Cronyism? Next, let us suppose the police chief, Planning Department director or public information officer retires/resigns or is fired within a short time after the election. That would provide another possibility for the powerful mayor to appoint "his guys" to work for his agenda. Wow, then he would definitely be the mayor in charge! Nothing illegal is reflected in the above sce- narios, but some relatives and cronies would be given free rein to run our city. Most likely, our new mayor would be busy entertain- ing developers and traveling to other cities on the lookout for economic development ideas. Recall that the proposed new charter OPINION Sarasota News Leader April 4, 2014 Page 81

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