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Ahead of the curve

By Staff | Jan 28, 2009

To the editor,

My wife and I have enjoyed this beautiful sanctuary island for 15 years either as a full season visitor or owner/resident. The first local couple to welcome us to Sanibel was David and Gillian Bath at a benefit reception for the Shell Museum. Since then, David and Gillian have introduced us to several of the island’s worthy causes and endeavors that they pour their hearts and energy into with complete generosity, a history well known by the many members of those organizations.

By training I am a CPA ,and by experience a Certified Fraud Examiner, likely better known as a forensic accountant. I’m the one called in by management to figure out what went wrong and how did it destroy an expected wonderful outcome. Most often, I begin by asking about due diligence – were the right questions asked and the answers examined before a commitment was made to proceed on a project? Questions that often are ignored or the questioner labeled as the party spoiler in the enthusiasm of the moment. Given our nation’s current economic dilemma, similar questions were avoided or answers ignored as everyone assumed that some other interest or agency was doing the heavy lifting of examining the details of the sub-prime mortgage market.

From many long conversations with David, I have taken his measure as one of the heavy lifters, the individual who thinks ahead of the curve by thoughtfully considering the possible ramifications of each idea and then working to resolve any issues before a commitment is made. One of the local papers recently identified David as the first individual to bring to the attention of the City Council the significant future obligations (now underfunded) of Sanibel for its employee pension obligations.

There are many worthwhile ideas proposed to improve Sanibel, ideas that deserve to be considered and approved. The real challenge is to get it right the first time. One should not confuse this interest in examining the potential outcomes of any idea or proposal as negativism, rather it is what is expected of adults and certainly elected officials. Questions need to be asked, such as should the City of Sanibel be involved and to what extent, as we try to minimize government’s cost and intervention in our lives, does a decision jeopardize our fragile small businesses environment, what will be the impact on Sanibel’s delicate environment, have we considered both initial and subsequent continuing costs for a worthwhile project? And, perhaps the most important and encompassing question, is the decision in keeping with our overall objective of “keeping Sanibel, Sanibel?”

Perhaps our new President said it best, that it is a false choice to be forced between action now and protecting our ideals. If you share the ideal of keeping Sanibel as the Sanibel we all know and love, there should always be time for legitimate questions and a diligent review of the topics the Council is called upon to consider. Having a Council member skilled and interested in posing those questions and evaluating the answers is important to all of us.

You have three votes for council members on March 3. We have several honorable men running for office and I suggest that you reserve one of those votes for David Bath, so he can be your representative to ask the necessary questions before Sanibel and you make a commitment for the future. And, if you really like the idea of someone representing you who will ask the right questions before decisions are made, add a bold (?!!) on the memo line of your check supporting David Bath’s candidacy. He needs your vote, financial support, written and vocal endorsement, and we all need his due diligence talents!

Robert D. Peterson

Sanibel and Algonquin, Ill.