Power Players Shouldn't Plot Starbucks Plans

Letter from Diana Hamilton

BY DIANA HAMILTON SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY APR 7, 2017

In her recent letter to the editor, Pola Sommers, loyal friend and years -ong Tahiti Park neighbor to candidate Jen Ahearn-Koch, makes claims against “fact” on the public record concerning the ups and downs of a 2015 proposal by Starbucks to locate on an abandoned parcel quite near their Tahiti Park neighborhood. Perhaps Ms. Sommers figures being a loyal friend and neighbor allows her an unquestioned permission to disavow the truth of events and further expects that no one will take the time to go a googlin’ into the matter. Sorry Pola, as much as I admire your loyalty to your friend, my loyalty is to truth, and the truth is out there.

Fact: Jen Ahearn-Koch ran deep interference to jettison that 2015 project.

The success of whatever has come since that 2015 Starbucks proposal went sideways remains to be seen. That Koch has, much like her mentor Susan Chapman, become a go-to power player to whom homage must be made is no surprise. But is that the message we want to send new business interests? Deal with Koch or be gone! I would hope not!

Towards the end of her letter, Ms. Sommers, not satisfied with a simplistic disclaimer against fact on the public record, takes a swipe at the bono fides of Gabriel Hament, decrying his erudite contribution to our city’s ongoing debate of public policy issues, such as moving the vote, as having no merit because he is not a city resident.

Gabriel Hament was born here, attended that tiny school in McClellan Park, went 12 years to Pine View, has a degree in Political Science from UF and was a Lombardi scholar. And then there is this “The Democratic Party assures that he has not represented them in his recent forays.” Really now? Whatever forays are being referenced here by Ms. Sommers, I would submit the Party was thrilled to have him “foray” as a high-dollar fundraiser for state, county and city races, or as campaign manager for Liz Alpert, knocking on thousands of doors and defeating Koch’s STOP pal Eileen Normile. And I suspect my Party was exceedingly proud to have one of our own so young and vigorous as Mr. Hament complete the Leadership Florida’s Connect Florida challenge, where he was invited and honored to introduce Senator and Governor Bob Graham as keynote speaker.

I would make two suggestions to Ms. Sommers. One, never underestimate the determination of a curious mind to uncover “fact,” and two, she might in future want to allow the Democratic Party to speak for itself. Whatever Ms. Sommers imagines Mr. Hament’s flaws to be, speaking truth to power is not one of them. And if my Party can’t handle that, well perhaps that might be one not-so-minor clue as to what got us trumped.

Diana Hamilton, Sarasota.

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