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Shame, shame on Sarasota City Commissioners

Read my column in today’s Sarasota Herald Tribune Op/Ed Section (page 9A) or read it online by clicking this link: Shame, shame on Sarasota City Commissioners

Here’s an excerpt:

Even if our commissioners didn’t have the intellectual breadth to deal with this problem in a less knee-jerk fashion, I’m surprised they didn’t have the necessary selfishness to consider that it’s a very thin line that separates the haves from the have-nots and that one day, they too, might one day find themselves sitting on a park bench.

You also might want to check out Eric Ernst’s excellent column on the same subject — front page of the B section or here: Childish to Remove Benches

Posted on May 23rd, 2011Comments RSS Feed
21 Responses to Shame, shame on Sarasota City Commissioners
  1. MC, I truly want to take this time to thank you with all my heartfelt support, for writing such an excllent piece.

    As always Mary, no matter how down sometimes you may be, you seem to muster the energy to always come through for us, by continuing to show your support to the causes which are so important.

    When I heard about the e-mail sent to the City Commissioners which resulted in the removal of the park benches at Five-Points, I simply could not believe it. Then, the comment from Vice Mayor Terry Turner “The Plaza at Five Points has the highest property-tax value in the County”, “We need to be mindful in harming the property value”. Then, the comment by Mayor Suzanne Atwell; “We have to pay attention to that neighborhood”.

    Mary, the message this sends all the City residents is certainly not encouraging to what’s in store for the entire community as a whole. I truly would be ashamed to have these Commissioners represent me if I were a City resident. I would be totaly embarassed to tell anyone I reside in the City.

    Mary, while I know there are a couple homeless that frequent this park, who chose this lifestyle, there are many who simply do not have a choice.

    Mary, some of these homeless may be war veterans, who have come back to programs that no longer have the monies available to offer support, some may have lost jobs, been through terrible divorces, have no family and no one to turn to for help. Mary, these homeless persons could be you or I.

    I have always believed in the adage; “Don’t judge a person, unless you’ve walked a day in their shoes”. Mary, I would never, ever want to be in a homeless persons shoes for a single day.

    Then, to have the benches pulled out from under neath them, quite possibly, the only comfort they will receive all day.

    Here’s a solution Mary, have the City Commissioners who voted for the removal of the benches, take a 10% pay-cut, and use the 10% to provide food and shelter to the homeless. But then again Mary, that would be like telling the Commissioners to put their money where there mouths are, right?!

    In honor of the service men & women who’ve fought and died to protect our Country’s freedom this coming Monday, I say we set a positive example by re-placing the benches, to show we care for our brothers and sisters and not just the rich, as the City’s Mayor and Vice Mayor have expressed interests for.

  2. Thanks for such a thoughtful email, Hawkeye; I appreciate you taking the time to read and then share your thoughts. I hope they reverse this crazy decision.

  3. Most compassionate distillation of this story I have yet to see.Corporate media “reporting” on this bench wars “crisis” have interviewed the rich condo owners who make up out of imagination hypodermic needles everywhere,”dirty” alcohol bottles,and other vile hot button images to demonize anyone in the park that does not look ,dress and live like them.No fact checking is ever done on these false statements.This is poor reporting.Watching these “news” reports is like watching a parody.They just don’t get it.The rich don’t want anyone near them that are different.They live in a conspicuous consumption bubble.And that, sadly, is their motivation and skewed focus.The larger elephant in the room is the failing economy,with attending loss of jobs,defunding of social services,and all the pathology that attends economic decline.Civil rights and the bill of rights have become an anachronism.Looking around, the present world revolutions in thinking among the “hard working” people have brought change on a par never seen in history.A peaceful revolution is better that a violent one.But,the physics of life dictate that a rubber band stretched too far can snap back with great force…………or snap altogether.These critical times call for factual,listening conversations of REALITY.Before revolt becomes automatic and a 1st responce.

  4. Thanks for reading Coolbreeze, and for sharing your comments in return. I noticed yesterday there were public protests down at Five Points. Appreciate you visiting my blog!

  5. Your readers might like to participate in an online petition to the Sarasota City Commissioners asking them to reinstall the park benches at Five Points Park. They can find the petition on Facebook by searching SARASOTA HOMELESS. It is also available on my website.

  6. Thanks Ward, for the info. Wasn’t aware of the petitions on FB. For anyone iwho doesn’t use FB — here’s Ward’s website where you can find the petition as well:

  7. Thanks for your column in this morning’s H-T. I thought it was the perfect blend of logic and outrage.

  8. Gary, thank you for reading and for taking the time to post your comment. I’m glad to see so many in the community are concerned about the handling of this situation. All best, MC

  9. Thank you for the editorial in today’s Sarasota Herald Tribune. I am so frustrated that we continue to elect as our City Commissioners individuals who have NO understanding of what we used to call Civics. They all seem to be confused and seem to think that they represent only the wealthy. They do not deserve to be called public servants. I share your outrage with our local elected officials. — JKL

  10. Thanks for reading, Jean, and sharing your thoughts. I’ve heard from quite a lot of people today in response to the column (outside of this blog) and many feel similarly — just confused about how/why the commissioners react and who they truly represent. Thanks for visiting the blog!

  11. Thanks to you and Eric Ernst, we finally have things in perspective. Human decency out weighs property values any day. And let us not forget , with today’s economy, -“there for the grace of God go I”. We are so fortunate that you verbalize for all us Sarasotans a reasonable and compassionate voice.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you….

  12. Thanks Janice — for reading and for dropping a note about the issue. I linked Eric’s column in my blog above — his piece was excellent. Your kind words are much appreciated!

  13. Kim Cartlidge
    May 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I appreciated your eloquent voice in the Herald-Tribune today, and I’m going to sign the petition. Thank you for speaking up for Sarasota’s homeless.

  14. Thanks Kim — appreciate your kind words; and glad you felt moved to sign the petition. MC

  15. Mary, I can’t thank you enough for your excellent article in the Herald Trib yesterday. My favorite line …. “But at what point do I allow my fear or discomfort to overcome my humanity? “. I found myself going back to that line numerous times. Why? Because there are times that I find myself “fearful” and of what?? Of people who are down and out on their luck? Of people who, by the grace of God, I am not one of?? We are fearful most times out of pure ignorance. I will not allow my ignorance / fear to overcome my humanity. I plan on going to CVS and buying beach chairs to hand out at the park. No place to sit? Not any more. Also, the petition is also available at …

  16. Doreen — thanks so much for reading the column and for taking a time to drop a note here on the blog. It means a lot to hear you say the column, in particular, one line, resonated with you. And thanks so much for the additional information on how to sign a petition. It seems like a lot of folks are rallying behind the return of the benches! MC

  17. Your column on May 23 – “Shame, Shame on Sarasota City Commissioners” – is a jewel, indeed. When I read the rationale for the city’s decision, I was appalled. Due to your column, and other public comments/petitions, perhaps the benches at Five Point Park will be returned for the sake of ANYONE who wishes to use them. Thank you for a passionate, well written article in support of the homeless, and for reminding folks that this is a public park for which we ALL pay taxes.

  18. Thank you, Barbara, for reading the column, visiting my blog, and sharing your thoughts here. It will be interesting to see what comes of all this. All best, MC

  19. I’m a hard working poor person, and I found my luxury time to spend at Five Points Park precious if not rare, it could be a prestigous park. I could invision taking a blanket or chairs. But , everytime i went there i thought I walking onto a production set for a Capital One commercial. You know, where the Vikings keep asking “what’s in your wallet?”

    and forget about stopping to smell the flowers, not when you are down wind from someone who flat out ignores the free showers by the entrance to the park.

    I do not accept the pity parties thrown buy people with an over flowing passion bucket. The, they just need a place to rest argument is wimpy. I would rest at the unemployment office, or wash cars. or with a fishing pole in my hands. But if all you can do is sit on a bench and poop in your pants, then you need to find somewhere else to do it, not in Sarasota’s finest park.

    No benches, bring your own chair or blanket.

  20. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Scott.

  21. Mary, just wanted to thank you for such a great story, but would like to express my sincere congratulations on all the positive responses you received in today’s edition of the Herald-Tribune!
    Way to go Mary and thank you again.
    Respectfully, Hawkeye

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