To the editor:
I applaud Gasparilla Gazette Editor Terry O'Connor's attempt to provide a semblance of clarity to the ongoing GIBA mismanagement controversy, comments of which are still so unfortunately prevalent on our wonderful island.
The story levies accolades to Jim Cooper, Jerry Lusk, and Ginger Watkins but does little to explain how this mess evolved and who should be held accountable.
I respect Cooper's right to assert that he had nothing to do with the abuses that so embarrassingly entered the bid process. But, if he, as CEO of GIBA operations had no involvement in any part of the bidding process, who did?
Surely someone from the fine GIBA organization must have been intimately involved in the process of soliciting bidders, evaluating their credentials, establishing quality and financial parameters for bids and establishing and disseminating clear standards and disclosures for personal conflicts of interest.
Knowing full well the controversy that would ensue, why was the agenda altered at the meeting during which the performance bonus was awarded? Why wasn't it considered that such agenda change might appear as deliberate deception, which would needlessly contribute to questions of administrative intent?
There remains an unfortunate lack of open clarity about the entire process and the related accountabilities. For reputational protections of the GIBA administration as well as that of its individual board members involved, wouldn't it have been appropriate for Cooper and the Board to have demanded that the new compensation reward package be held in abeyance pending a full and open review of the entire process, which could be presented to the bridge-using public?
I salute the open attempts of Board members David Hayes and Lee Major to bring such clarity to this unfortunate affair. Such would have served not only for protection of Cooper, Lusk, and Watkins, but to the entire GIBA authority.
Each board member has given to all of us on the island so generously of his or her time and expertise. Isn't it in all of our best interests to ensure that full transparency keeps their good reputations intact?
Closure has yet to be brought to this controversy. Clouds still hang over those involved.
Unfortunate dissent remains; disturbing our island community. I applaud the Gasparilla Gazette's intentions, however, its coverage has failed to bring closure and restore open credibility to GIBA's processes.
Emerson M. Wickwire