May 192017

by Walter Lagraves…….

Dear Editor,

Term limits are on the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Authority board meeting next Tuesday. The meeting will be at 10:30 AM in their Stock Island offices/boardroom. The Bug Board is considering term limiting themselves. It’s hard to think of a more courageous or worthwhile endeavor on the part of any elected public officials.

The effort is being lead by Board Chair, Phil Goodman. Mr. Goodman attempted to put term limits in place a number of years ago, but long term incumbents shot it down. This new board seems very receptive to the idea. Chairperson Goodman is proposing two four year terms.

But….(isn’t there always a “BUT”)…. some of the Board Members, while apparently in favor of term limits, say that they favor placing the limit at the unwise level of four consecutive four year terms.

That is twice as long as our Governor, our State legislators, the President of the United States, and the members of Florida’s cabinet. Each of those are all term limited to two four year terms.

Some will argue that it “takes time” to learn the ropes. They will claim that two four year terms is inadequate time to become conversant with their duties. But our Governor, our President, Florida’s Cabinet, and our State legislators are term limited to 8 years. Each of those posts are far more complex and demanding than is the part time post of Board Member, Florida Keys Mosquito Control Authority.

Our Florida Keys Mosquito Control Authority is a vital part of our local governance. Without first rate policy setting and oversight by it’s elected board, our community will suffer. Our public health might be at risk. Our tourism industry can suffer. The Authority can raise your taxes for infrastructure projects. Those who have been paying attention can see what havoc and waste can be wreaked by those who have been in office for too long.

Elected officials must be free agents, responsible only to the public that they serve. They must be insulated from the influence of partisan politics and the influence of commercial interests.

It is inevitable that the longer an elected official serves, that the official will form relationships with staff, vendors, and special interests. As the years go by, it becomes more and more difficult for elected officials to keep these relationships at arms length. It often becomes comfortable or convenient to accede to those relationships rather than to the public good.

Four four year terms is far too long to even be considered as being a term limit. It is a career.

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 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #219, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

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