Letter: Special Interests Are The Problem

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to Frank Morelli’s letter “Political Party By Any Other Names Spells Power,” published last week.

I find that it’s not as though the special interests of the past were different than the special interests we face today, or is there any evidence that they will change anytime soon or in the future.

It is not unheard of for a county commissioner, in an attempt to “break with the past” and change the current policy of unequal and unfair practices of entrenched special interests, to encounter resistance.

I think most people realize now that while one commissioner can make a difference, he cannot prevail alone over fellow commissioners bent on maintaining the status quo of suspected liaisons between special interests.

What happened to Jess Santamaria was political isolation resulting in a vote bypassing him in a normal progression to “mayor” of the Palm Beach County Commission and his own term limitation.

No one in politics is unaffected by special interests, but its progression and its effect on public policy and the interests of the taxpayers should not be tolerated, especially when they benefit others and the taxpayer pays for that benefit. It matters little whether that special interest is developers, builders, land speculators or equestrians.

While many office holders, like councilmen or mayors, are not required to declare their party affiliation, they do place special interests commonly as their primary consideration in the decisions they make, some of which hardly have public interests in mind.

For the record, Mr. [Andy] Schaller didn’t just “besmirch” the name of Jess Santamaria, but he was guilty of not doing his homework, which resulted in injury to his reputation and creating doubt among Jess Santamaria’s constituency. Besmirch is such a light “tap on the wrist,” it is hardly appropriate or even adequate in describing what Mr. Schaller caused in the memories of voters. Judge Morelli, depending on the kinds of cases that came before you, I find the representation of your judicial behavior to be beyond reproach and entirely believable, but having said that, I cannot extend that to all judges whose rulings came into question when millions and billions of dollars, not unaffected by special interests, led to judicial decisions made by judges I fear were not so pure of heart.

Finally, from where I sit and as far as local politics are concerned, liaisons and examples of quid pro quo abound and lines between political parties become blurred as politicians proclaiming either party join together in their own self interest, which will dictate their behavior.

Richard Nielsen, Royal Palm Beach