By Larry Baytos
Collier County Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock seems to imply that John Barlow misappropriated a substantial amount of affordable housing funds.
I know John slightly through our overlap (200507) as members of the County Government Productivity Committee. Rather than rush to judgment about John’s culpability, these questions are worthy of study.
1. Some of the expenditures questioned go all the way back to 2008. Why wasn’t an audit performed back then, rather than waiting until a year after Barlow challenged Brock in the 2012 elections?
2. The clerk says Barlow has not supplied records demanded. Is that because records of transactions made eight years ago have been destroyed through a routine file purge? Is Barlow’s only crime sloppy record-keeping?
3. Why did the clerk seek a commissioners’ vote on whether to pursue Barlow? If there is evidence sufficient for indictment, shouldn’t the clerk have already tendered it to the appropriate prosecutors? Shouldn’t political and legal realms be kept separate, so prosecution is not based on who your friends are?
4. If Barlow is a multi-millionaire as described, he seems an unlikely villain in this piece. Why should a savvy and successful businessman risk his reputation and freedom for the sake of relatively small amounts of money?
5. There are hints of possible self-dealing by business people who served on Barlow’s affordable housing board. Will this public shaming affect the willingness of future volunteers to serve in positions of trust?
My impression has been that Brock is an effective and dedicated public servant. Rather than create any unfair impression of a politically motivated payback, shouldn’t all evidence (regarding accusations against Barlow) now be in the hands of the appropriate prosecutorial body?