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curriculum. It is all about perpetuating their paranoid narrative that the country is on the brink of a socialist takeover and the enslave- ment of the populace. The School Board is no place for such wild- eyed fringe views. Voters should reelect Jane Goodwin to her District 5 seat, and reelect Shirley Brown to her District 4 seat. % EDITORIAL There are five elected seats on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital board that are open this year, but all five Republican incumbents — Robert Strasser, Darryl Henry, Richard Merritt, Gregory Carter and Joseph DeVirgilio — are running for reelection. Surprisingly, another Republican is oppos- ing each of them. Such unusual internecine tension was made even more sinister when one of those Republican challengers — Jack Brill — claimed that it was part of a plot by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to have SMH become a for-profit hospital so HCA could acquire it (HCA owns Doctors Hospital in Sarasota). Brill, of course, is well known for having his daughter file for a sham write-in candidacy to keep Democrats and unaffiliated voters from participating in the Jon Thaxton-Kathy Dent primary for Supervisor of Elections in 2012. Brill claims he was approached by a represen- tative of HCA to enlist his participation in the plan to assume a majority of the SMH board, and the hospital's eventual privatization, but that he refused to be part of it. His revelation sparked a vigorous denial by HCA representatives that they had any such intentions. It also led three of the other Republican challengers to claim they would REELECT INCUMBENTS TO THE SARASOTA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL BOARD sign pledges to maintain SMH as a pub- lic institution. The denial by HCA is of little consequence, given that this is the same organization once headed by Rick Scott, which paid a record $2 billion penalty to the federal government to settle all criminal and civil charges arising out of a massive fraud investigation in the 1990s. The protestations, therefore, have too much of a Nixonian "I am not a crook" mien to resolve any public apprehension about the intentions, and the HCA refutation of the rumor should not be trusted as credible. The so-called pledges made by the other chal- lengers also mean little. Anyone can make a pledge and just as easily break that pledge once given the opportunity to do so. The most important fact is that the five incumbent board members all voted in 2013 to keep SMH a public hospital. They demon- strated their commitment to the future of a public hospital by their actions, not their promises. None of the challengers can make that same claim, and voters would be wise not to give them the chance to do otherwise. We urge voters to reelect the five incum- bents — Robert Strasser, Darryl Henry, Richard Merritt, Gregory Carter and Joseph DeVirgilio — to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital board on Aug. 26. % OPINION Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 93

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