Second debate follows footsteps of first

Different sponsor, same topics help further divide the weak from the strong

Candidate Roger Hall responds to a question, flanked by fellow hopefuls on the dais regularly occupied by City Council members. Pictured, from far left, are Joe Batte, Jerry Gibson, Andrew Guidry, Hall, Butch Neylon, Frank Recker and Bill Trotter. Wayne Waldack (not pictured) was also present.

Photo by LESLIE WILLIAMS HALE // Buy this photo

Candidate Roger Hall responds to a question, flanked by fellow hopefuls on the dais regularly occupied by City Council members. Pictured, from far left, are Joe Batte, Jerry Gibson, Andrew Guidry, Hall, Butch Neylon, Frank Recker and Bill Trotter. Wayne Waldack (not pictured) was also present.

A dialogue begun at last week’s first candidate forum continued Tuesday night, in a debate sponsored by Celebrate Marco.

With several more forums to go, the issues are far from resolved, but the debate gave residents an opportunity to see yet another side of the eight candidates during the countdown to the Jan. 29 election.

Celebrate Marco’s debate also provided a balance, said some residents, to the forum sponsored Dec. 6 by political action committee Preserve Our Paradise. Celebrate Marco, an organization sired largely by supporters of the current City Council, is seen as something of the antithesis of Preserve Our Paradise, an organization that sponsored a failed petition to subject the approval of city manager to a voter referendum.

Questions in the first round of debate were generated by Celebrate Marco, with one round of candidate-generated questions and a final round of audience questions. Candidates were first asked to introduce themselves, talk about why they are running and state how long they have been registered voters on Marco.

During the portion of the debate in which audience questions were taken, one resident questioned candidate Roger Hall’s commitment to the island and his genuine interest in city affairs in the face of his relatively recent entrance onto the island political scene.

He evoked his experience in Squaw Valley, CA., where he worked with a water utility facing pressure to expand, and said that experience would lend itself to work on the City Council in Marco Island. Hall registered to vote on Marco after moving to the island full time in 2005, he said.

Joe Batte reported registering in 1999, Jerry Gibson in 1992, Andrew Guidry in 1997, Butch Neylon in 2006, Frank Recker in 1997, Bill Trotter in 2001 and Wayne Waldack in 1996.

Tuesday’s debate also further carved a divide between those candidates who work best under pressure and those who falter when pressed on stickier issues.

When Neylon was invited to call on another candidate, he queried Gibson on the need for reuse water by the city’s condominiums. Gibson had claimed earlier in the night condominiums would not have enough reuse water to serve for irrigation purposes if the sewering project was halted. The result, Gibson said, would be use of more expensive drinking water to irrigate condominium lawns.

Neylon questioned Gibson about the feasibility of using of raw water from the city’s off-island water storage site.

Gibson’s response was less than precise.

“First of all, we do have a number (of reuse lines) that are already in place, and we do not have the water right now,” he said. “Yeah, it is possible, but you are still using the drinking water.”

Gibson went on to say the city did not “have the capability to go along with that right now.”

Neylon requested the chance to “dialogue” with Gibson on the issue, but Fitzgerald stuck to the rule of one question per candidate with no opportunity for rebuttal during the candidate-generated question round.

When asked by Fitzgerald to explain the often-misunderstood Homestead Act and how potential changes will affect Marco Island, Guidry answered with measurably more confidence than in some of his responses to questions at the prior debate.

However, he misspoke on one issue in the homestead exemption changes — how portability would affect a homeowner who decides to move.

Gibson seized the opportunity to point out Guidry’s “glaring mistake,” in which Guidry failed to point out that the tax exemption on a new, more expensive home would only be equal to that of a previously homesteaded property.

Gibson also used his rebuttal to point out the further reduction in tax revenue that could result from an increase to $50,000 exemptions from $25,000 if voters approve the changes in January.

“That much less income on ad valorem taxes could put us into a death spiral as far as ad valorem taxes being decreased over and over,” Gibson said.

Money has been a favored topic in the first two debates, with all of the hopefuls preaching better fiscal responsibility, though from decidedly different angles.

Incumbent Bill Trotter proved to be a strong voice on that count at Tuesday’s debate, raising his hand to offer rebuttal to several issues relating to city spending. He countered both Hall and Batte on issues of city spending for the $100 million Septic Tank Replacement Program. That project is funded entirely through the utility budget, mostly with money from state loans to be paid off as residents pay to hook up to the sewer system.

Hall alleged that funding for the program violates the city spending cap, which limits expenditures in the general fund from exceeding the previous year’s budget by more than 3 percent, plus a cost of living increase, calculated at 3.3 percent for 2008.

“I don’t see how we could have done it without violating the cap,” Hall said. “I do know that this unbelievable spending spree that the island is on has to stop.”

Trotter, the only candidate currently on City Council, rebutted that the sewering project is not subject to the cap, and said that Hall’s comments about the troubled financial state of the city are untrue, according to the city’s financial director.

As with the first debate, conversation hovered around the sewer question, with Neylon coming out as the point-man on wastewater issues for the anti-sewer group. He used many of the same numbers as in the last debate, invoking miles of roads still to receive sewers versus how many have received them in the last two years. Those numbers are 44 and 16, respectively, he said.

But the big topic of debate is what would be at stake in stopping the program. A sharp divide exists between the pro- and anti-sewer candidates who argue about the better business decision for the island -— completing the project as planned or halting it.

Tenor of the debate has taken on the language of a business decision — would the island as a whole be better off for stopping or continuing the Septic Tank Replacement Program?

“It’s a bad business decision to cancel this system,” said Gibson. “The city is telling us $35 million (would be lost). That’s a bad business decision. I would rather pay for something I get than pay for something I don’t get.”

Neylon’s rebuttal focused on the remaining disruption to be expected if the project continues.

“The miles of road is what’s significant,” he said.

His response strikes a chord with the crowd that attests that it is tired of construction and disruption on the island.

Neylon later expounded upon a point made at the earlier debate, that the city will not owe as much as his opponents say.

However, the numbers quoted by Gibson, Recker, Waldack and Trotter come from a city fact sheet that states that $32 million will be lost if contracts are cancelled and the project stopped after the current construction. Rate increases could ensue, the city has warned, and residents might see an additional 17 percent rate increase added to the 16 percent increase already in place.

Neylon has contended the figure to be owed would be more on the order of $26 million, with ability to pay off that debt at about $1.7 million a year with impact fees from those residents that choose to hook up.

That figure assumes that most contracts for future construction could be cancelled without penalty and engineering costs recouped.

Hall echoed, “The only thing we’re going to be putting on hold are a couple of lift stations and that’s it.”

He paused, adding, “And some engineering.

It is the debate that has clutched the island with an iron grip for the last two years, creating the sort of divide that can only be found in local politics: a party system in a non-partisan election. Here, it is sewer versus non-sewer.

And it has led to the sort of infighting that some questions pointed to Tuesday night.

Recker posed a question to Batte asking about his comments that council does not listen to the people of the island.

“Are you really saying, ‘Council does not do what I want, and therefore they’re not a good council’?” Recker asked.

“They’re not attentive at all to what the people want,” Batte countered. “Council wanted to move the election day back to November and allow sitting councilors another eight months on the council.”

In the end, council actually agreed to move elections to January, from the usual March voting date, to correspond with the Presidential Preference Primary.

Batte referenced another issue on which he said the council failed to listen to residents on a “serious public health problem.” He referred to the hydrogen sulfide concerns that plagued construction projects in previous months, leading some residents to say they had experienced respiratory and other problems because of the noxious gas released from groundwater during sewer construction.

On that count, the city was somewhat slower to act, but eventually hired an environmental consulting firm that confirmed the presence of a threat. The city has since purchased equipment appraised by the specialists for treatment of the gas.

Batte defended his frequent remarks against council actions at meetings, stating that he is passionate about the irresponsibility of the current city government.

Batte fired back at Recker with his own question, referencing an e-mail Recker sent to a council member earlier in the year asking if that councilor felt that the residents had all of the information necessary to render an informed opinion about continuing the sewer program.

“Do you really feel the people of this island are not intelligent enough to make those decisions?” Batte asked.

Recker responded that he is simply a proponent of giving people all of the facts necessary to make an informed decision.

“We can’t fix everything for everybody,” Recker said. “There are times when we have to make tough decisions. It’s misleading to tell people, ‘We’re going to bring everybody together and it’s going to be one big, happy family dancing down the street.’ ”

A resident-generated question put the focus back on Batte, asking him about the “people” he says he represents.

“I am a ‘people,’ ” Ken Pagach said. “Hypothetically, if you get elected and no one but me voices an opinion about the sewers, how are you voting and why?”

Batte had this to say: “The STRP must stop. The people should have had an opportunity to stop this a long time ago. We don’t have pollution in Marco Island, only from our current sewer system.”

On a whole, residents coming away from Tuesday’s debate seemed pleased. Most said they learned new information, but did not necessarily experience a change of heart in some already solid opinions.

“It was informative. The candidates have now declared whether they’re for or against sewers,” said resident Steve Zoccoli. However, he added, “I don’t think (tonight) influences my vote.”

He, like others, was sold long ago one a particular slate of candidates, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for candidates to win over voters still.

“I started with four candidates I was going to vote for, but I’m having my opinions changed by listening to some of the candidates,” resident Donna Kay said. “This was put on by a different faction, and it got different people asking different questions.”

Kay declined to say in which direction her vote had shifted, but said she had previously been influenced by friends who encouraged her to vote for one group of candidates over another. Now, she said, she is leaning toward the benefits of a council split in the same way as the community.

“I would just like to see a balanced council, so I think I’m going to have a mixed bag of votes,” Kay said.

John Arceri, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s debate, said that pleases him, regardless of the direction voters might shift.

“I’m glad to see that, because I’ve been concerned about this camp mentality,” he said. “So seeing people move either way is refreshing.”

The next debate takes place Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Marco Island Hilton. It will be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors. Parking is free.

Check the Dec. 21 edition of the Eagle for coverage of that debate, or go to

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 29

Hawke1 writes:

I never thought I would ever read such a biased account of an event in my home town newspaper. Was the writer's original story rewritten by John Arceri? There are so many misquotes contained in this story that I hardly know where to begin. Neylon never said that ANYONE would be COMPELLED to hook up to the sewer until and IF their septic failed. The author gives credit to a fact sheet the city prepared with holes in it are so large it cannot be used to line a bird cage. Why does this writer keep taking gues from pro-sewer proponents but never attempts to verify anything she writes from anti-sewer proponents? Why doesn't this paper simply say that it endorses the sewer and the actions of the city, just do it. Be honest and open about your agenda.

bbyrone46 writes:

One area in which this debate did not follow the first. This one lacked the integrity and fairness of the first. The reporter obviously didn't notice Trotter, Gibson and Waldack reading prepared responses to questions asked by the moderator. She also didn't notice that the moderator would not permit more than two members of the anti-sewer group to ask audience questions, yet he permitted five (5) Celebrate Marco members to read 5 prepared questions addressed only to anti-sewer candidates. However, the most newsworthy item was that Celebrate Marco prepared the majority of their questions based on survey responses to questions posed previously to all the candidates by MICA. MICA claims to be an unbiased civic organization that is non-political. None of these questions and responses were provided to Neylon, Hall, Guidry or Batte prior to the debate. Nor were they published in any media or read by the general membership. Why is that? Did MICA intend to give Celebrate Marco an advantage to it's candidates and not to the others? Looks like it to me. I think it's time to take a hard look at MICA's tax status and it's board of governors. This selective and early release of information for political purposes shows their obvious political bias. Or did Bev Trotter, the wife of Candidate Trotter and an employee of MICA give the responses without appropriate authority to Celebrate Marco? It matters not to me. I will reconsider my membership in MICA next year and I as a full member will vote accordingly to replace the current political stewards serving that organization.

Montel writes:

The truth hurts. Remember your lap dog Bania? This is an accurate account of the debate, your candidates were not prepared and their misinformation about the STRP was debunked! How many facts do you need before you accept the enevitable, Marco Island will be sewered! Happy Holidays!

ejburger writes:

bbyrone46, do you actually have a life?? What would you do if you didn't have a conspiracy to uncover? Now you want to investigate MICA! The MICA survey was made public over a week ago; if you and your candidates knew anything about this island you would have requested them. When will you face the facts? Your candidates are new to this island; they have done nothing for this community except cause havoc. There are so many wonderful things in this community to do other than find fault with EVERYTHING!! What a miserable life you and your friends must live always looking for the second shooter. Relax and enjoy your environment and all this paradise has to offer or move. On a good positive note, Happy Holidays to all of you. Peace and Goodwill towards Men!

bbyrone46 writes:

What are you saying Montel? That Williams is the lap dog of CM? Are you trying to say that what goes around comes around? If so you are simply validating my analysis of CM' debate and the bias of this paper. Welcome abord.

Montel writes:

Bania was a disgrace to journalism and you and your kind are a disgrace to Marco Island. ejburger makes a good point..."GET A LIFE!"

bbyrone46 writes:

I just want MICA to be honest about their purpose. If they have decided to be a political agent then they should register as one, for that matter so should Celebrate Marco. I am a full member of MICA. I have never seen the responses to these questions posed by MICA to the candidates. I asked the other candidates and they had not seen them either. The media has not published them. My neighbors who are also full-time voting members of MICA have not seen them. You guys will do anything to win won't you? Cheating, lies and misrepresentations will gain you few votes and change even fewer minds.

jchamberland writes:

46, you seem to be under some magical spell or ether. Can't you see what you're saying? The CAVE Dwellers have been throwing stones for over two years now. Attacking our city and it's leaders with vile outbursts at council meeting, with unnecessary and failed recall attempts, with frivolous lawsuits and attempts to smear the names of public servants. My guess is that people like you and your fellow CAVE Dwellers wouldn't last one day in the hot seat as a city employee or council member. People like you just couldn't hack it. You are no different than a terrorist; you throw as many bombs as possible just hoping to hit someone. Shame on you!

Lolala writes:

These guys justifying dirt sound pretty vile to me. Hopefully their candidates do not support these tactics. Celebrate Marco. Huh?

exposed writes:

Monte you seem to be alone in your desperate defense of a slate thats on the wrong side of the citizens anger. Monte its over. end game. Deal with it like a man.

15yearsmarco writes:

I don't know what your smoking but if you think the majority of voters on this Island are going to vote to continue digging this place up for another 5 years it must be pretty good stuff.
You need to win 3 of the 4 seats up for grabs and I don't see that happening.
Merry Christmas to you.

tptcolumbusway writes:

Montel and the author of this article have their head's in the toilet. It would not surprise me if the celebrate Marco crowd distributed the questions to their slate of candidates prior to the debate. I hope this did not happen. I don't want to believe they are that dishonest.

exposed writes:

tpt: I believe they did. They questions were so one sided its not even funny. The 'bartender' actually seemed like he knew what he was talking about.

MarcoAvenger writes:

You guys actually amaze me. Do you really think everyone is out to get you? Just think about this for a minute. I believe that if someone was reading off a script it would be very obvious. Do you really think that the organizers of this debate would take that kind of chance? Perhaps you are the one who is smoking something. I would hate to be your wife. Could you imagine coming home 10 minutes late from the grocery store? You would accuse her of cheating on you. Wake up and enjoy life.

tptcolumbusway writes:

Yes avenger i do think that this is a possibility. I trust my wife, I don't trust the people that run celebrate marco or the current council. They have earned our lack of trust.

MarcoFacts writes:

The vile behavior comes from the anti sewer crowd, just watch a meeting or go to one if you have the nerve. These people are truly vile and are only thinking of themselves and today. They are not thinking about the future of this island and the need for sewers. Nor could they possibly believe that their candidates are best for the long term future of Marco Island. You wanted a referendum and you openly spoke out against it; check the link below. You all lie and spin like there's no tomorrow.

(E) January 3, 2006 Minutes

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City Council Meeting – January 3, 2006 – 6:00 p.m.
Chairwoman Kelber called the meeting to order and presided.

DISCUSSION – A Resolution to Provide for a Referendum on the Septic Tank Replacement Program.

(Editorial History: A Resolution was provided for City Council’s consideration to provide for a referendum election on March 14, 2006 to determine citizen support for a continuation of the Septic Tank Replacement Program.)

Public Comment

Citizens speaking against holding a referendum on this matter:

Mr. Ken Honecker, 632 Dorando Court
Dr. Fay Biles, 1588 Heights Court
Mr. John Morgan, 256 Grapewood Court
Ms. Cassandra Miller, 1948 San Marco Road

MOTION by Councilor Tucker to NOT HOLD A REFERENDUM. Second by Councilor Minozzi. Motion carried 3-2. (Councilor DiSciullo and Chairwoman Kelber opposed.)

Public Comment
Dr. Fay Biles, 1588 Heights Court, reminded Council that the Mackle Brothers’ vision for Marco Island was that the entire Island would be sewered. She commented further that the associated cost of sewer is confusing.

MarcoAvenger writes:

What is truly amazing to me is that we have known that sewers were coming since the early 90’s. I have spoke with real-estate agents that told me they have informed potential customers that if they buy a house with a septic tank that more than likely they will have to go to sewers soon. They even had a map that they would show these people. This was not a surprise. It was not voted on in the dark of night. It has been a reality for a long time.

27_Year_Resident writes:

I was appalled at the candidate forum at the out right lies that came out of Hall and Neylons mouths. When they didn't know the answers they just lied! The Neylon, Hall & Batte supporters who have attended these two forums know deep in their hearts that these guys are not being honest with the citizens of Marco Island. They are being irresponsible and if elected will cost us all millions of dollars. Do your own homework and don't listen to the garbage these guys are feeding you. It's almost like you’re under their spell and drunk with hatred and lies! I can't believe what I saw at the forums and further can't believe what I've read on these websites. Guidry didn't have a clue but at least he was honest.

tptcolumbusway writes:

27_year.../Marcofacts, Joeywalnuts, Why is it that you guys talk about vile behavior and then you display it? Joey, you are a fool to write such insulting things. If any of you were really concerned about the island you would realize that sewers are far more of a threat to this island than septic systems. I don't need anyone to tell me that, I have lived on septic systems in CT for 20 years and well water on the same property. Septic systems work more safely in coastal areas than sewers. That is a fact and it is irrefutable.

The additional reality is that sewers will allow for greater density and larger homes on a standard building lot. I don't why you folks are so wed to the idea of sewers unless you gain financially from sewer installation. Do you hate mongers have investments on the island that will benefit from sewers?

I don't recall any of the pro septic system candidates lying on any issue. What lies did they tell? I can remember a current city council member lying. Can you?

27_Year_Resident writes:

tpt, all politicians lie whether they mean too or not, it comes with the territory. The only goal of politicians is to get into office. They get into office and find out the real facts and consequences of keeping their campaign promises. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that many have noble intentions but reality settles in once they take office and realize that they can’t possibly keep all of their promises. Remember “No new taxes? Politician lie, it’s a fact of life.

From reading your text above my guess is that you weren’t at the forums, I was and saw first hand the misinformation and lies that several candidates made. This was a disappointment because they knew they were lying. Frankly their words and actions swayed my votes. On candidate stated that he was never involved in filing any lawsuits against the city, this is a blatant lie and everyone in the room knew it, even his supporters!

While you may think my last blog was off color, I am only stating a fact as I see it. Because we may disagree with each other regarding these individuals doesn’t make my statements ‘vile.” Vile is the behavior of much of the audience at council meetings. Vile is threats against council members and their families. Vile are some of the blogs on this website. Stating facts is not being vile. I have lived on this island for a long time and never remember such negative “vile” behavior. I am from the northeast and was involved in politics and in my entire career have never seen anything like the childish behavior at our city council meetings.

Should the candidates that want to cancel the STRP get into office and follow through with their promises you and I will pay dearly. First we will pay to cancel the project and then we will pay when the legislature of Florida "eventually" (it's inevitable) mandates Marco Island to finish the STRP.

Remember this blog post if the STRP gets canceled. Remember these statements when you, me and our neighbors have to pay unnecessary costs to cancel this necessary project.

In spite of all I have said above, I do believe that there is good in everyone. Councilor Kiester asked for civility on this website and I concur. We are all guilty to some degree with negativity but such is politics. In all sincerity, I wish all Marco Islanders a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season.

Lolala writes:

27year: Here is some truth for you to chew on. If you vote for Batte, Guidry, Hall and Neylon expansion of the sewer WILL STOP! Our citizens will NOT be BURDENED with a further 100 million dollar debt. Utility rates WILL NOT increase and the productionof reuse water will INCREASE. Don't gag, swallow. Stop listening to the salesman that bought the broken down utility and developed the STRP to help pay to fix it. The STRP is John Arceri's only hope and he doesn't care how much of our money he spends to save his reputation. He is a crook and should be believed no more than the sweet talking fellow that is waiting to sell you a used car on Airport Road. Vote for the good guys, the guys intereseted in making our government accoutable to the people. Vote for Batte, Guidry, Hall and Neylon.

tptcolumbusway writes:

27, thanks for the detailed response and I will remember it. I don't agree that FL will mandate sewers. I don't agree that sewers are necessary. I do agree that all politicians lie. However, what I am referring to is the claim that Tucker made about photographic evidence about asbestos being placed on the Glon property.

I don't know if Mr. Neylon was involved in any lawsuits other than he may have believed in the cause. He would be foolish if he was involved and said he had not been. That is easily refutable. It is not about the money for me. I can afford the sewer connection; it is about the quality of sea water around us and the quality of life here. I lived in CT for 20 years with septic systems and well water. We had sixteen miles of coastline on the Long Island Sound, Madison CT. The town had a sewer avoidance policy. It worked and the beaches in the 20 years I lived there were never closed. Down the road in a town called West Haven, look it up if you like, constant beach closures due to sewer over flow.

I believe Butch Neylon when he says sewers are not necessary and dangerous. He is correct. I have had septic systems for the past 20 years on 4 different homes and never had a problem. What is a fact is when and if sewers are installed, we will see an increase in density, a constant state of construction for redevelopment and beach closures due to red tide and bacteria. Remember this blog 27.

By the way, I was referring to Joey and Marcofacts when I used the word vile. People speaking out in protest and in frustration is not vile. It may be emotional and immature at times, but protest is not vile. Ignoring the desires of the people to have a referendum on this issue is vile. The only reason that this and the past council would not let this be decided by referendum is because it would have been voted down.

Montel writes:

Lolala, you show me your facts and I'll show you mine. Facts, not conjecture speak volumes. My facts are from every state organization in the state of Florida. Perhaps the opinion of the FDEP is not enough proof for you. Maybe the SWFWMD giving the city $5m is not enough for you. The state MANDATE to complete the sewers in Monroe County in Key West must have been just a fluke.

The state of Florida and the federal government will do ANYTHING to protect the Everglades. (In case you didn’t know, we don’t live in Squaw Valley, we live in the 10,000 Islands in the middle of the Everglades National Park).

Please do remember what 27_Years posted; I believe that he makes good sense! But I am sure Lolala will keep on believing what he wants to hear.

Maybe Lolala could support his far-fetched assumptions and half-truths with facts. I'll anxiously await his reply.

There is no getting around what it will cost the citizens of Marco Island to cancel this project both environmentally and financially.

tptcolumbusway, Lolala’s comments sound pretty vile to me.

Sailor writes:

I was at the MITA meeting tonight and have come to the conclusion that Roger Hall is the most arrogant individual I have ever had to suffer listening to. I saw at least one or two people get up and leave when he was spouting attacks and uttering lies. I wonder if he was as obnoxious in the other six groups as he was in mine. Talk about vile, this man is vile!

jwputnam writes:

Roger Hall is not at all arrogant. He is well informed, sincere and direct. Roger suffers from an eye disease that makes him look down with his eyes partially closed on occassion and perhaps some people think that he is looking "arrogantly" at them. He isn't.

I know Roger to be a wonderful gentleman who sincerely cares about this island and who is willing to sacrafice a great deal of his personal time to help us all out of a terrible mess. Whether you agree with him or not, he at least shows up to debate his peers and meet the people of Marco, unlike Mr. Trotter who seems to be continuing on with the Tucker tradition of ignoring the people completely.

Does Trotter's behavior bother any of you pro STRP fellows? Maybe you are calling the wrong candidate "arrogant"? Hmmmmm

bbyrone46 writes:

Montel, slow down and read the posts that Lolala submitted and you will see that only opinions were related. I believe you were referring to my posts. So I will give you some facts. Facts that you are sure to ignore. Comparing the Keys with Marco Island is comparing apples and oranges. The Federal government, not the State forced the Keys to convert to sewers. Why? Because the on sight waste treatment systems they used were polluting the waterways. Why? Because they were using cesspools that were built without bottems. Yes, the cesspools were built directly on the limestone bedrock because at the time it was believed the limestone could hold the waste until it was time to pump it out. Yes, the thinking was old, old as an outhouse, but so are the Florida Keys. People have been living there continusly for thousands of years. It wasn't until density increased that they had a problem. They discovered that limestone is not a good filter and permits contaminents to flow directly into the aquafier and the sea. Now lets look at Marco Island. Marco Island does not sit on limestone. Marco Island is not part of the Continetal shelf of Florida. Marco Island is a sand bar that was enhanced by a developer. Marco Island has 12 to 18 feet of sand and mangrove decaying material lying under the surface. Marco Island's modern septic tanks are not polluting our waterways. Why? Because a septic tank is designed to hold it's contents in a vault and only releases effluent. Effluent requires only three feet of sand to filter through before it is clean. Now why won't the Feds force us to convert to sewers? Because there is no pollution. Facts actually mean something.

tptcolumbusway writes:

Montel, I think he was a bit strong in making his point, but he was short of vile.

Here is what you are leaving out when you quote the FL authorities regarding sewers. In absence of a monitoring programs for septic systems, then sewers are preferred. Key West is a limestone island, no sand. Septic systems are designed to leach through sand to cleanse the waste water. The solid waste stays in the tank and decomposes through a bacterial process and is then pumped out. I am missing something when you and the others prefer sewers. The island has had 2 septic issues in 2 yeas, no pollution in the canals. Each home has a tank that will contain the solid waste on the individual property. That tank should be required to be pumped every 2 years at the minimum. I have mine pumped every year. The tank is made of concrete and is not at risk from tidal flow and high water.

Sewers will transport hundred of millions of gallons annually of solid and liquid waste through 100's of miles of plastic pipes that are sitting in a mix of sand and water pumped by over 100 lift stations that are subject to power failure to a treatment facility. This process is far more risky than self contained tanks on each property.

The only people that were permitted back on Sanibel early after Charlie were the people on septic. What am I missing here folks? This project is unnecessary as far as I can see. So please Montel and all of the others, let’s have the debate based on fact why you prefer sewers. I see no facts from any of you.

ChuckKiester writes:

Dear fellow bloggers: As I said before, reading the comments re various issues facing the Island provides another source of input for me (in addition to forums, etc.). The blogs enable residents to express their thoughts about one or more particular issue without having to identify themselves---personally, I have no problem with that option as some may be owners of businesses or have other reasons for not identifying themselves. Nonetheless, I do skip over messages containing derogatory comments re other bloggers. There is no message in there for me.

As to the recently released city council authorized(?) study re costs should the city cancel the STRP program, you need to carefully review the assumptions which are obviously are included but not clearly spelled out in the three Scenarios. In my opinion, the report is clearly biased (prepared by the Bond Consulting firm under contract with the city to either prepare applications (at a cool $1 million each) to the State revolving loan fund or prepares the necessary paperwork and sells bonds to enable the STRP to move forward (as I understand, this vocation is one of the most lucrative existing in today's world.

Chuck Kiester

SmokeyJoe writes:

ATTA BOY CHUCK !!! I read these blogs also to understand the honest feelings of the residents of MARCO . I dismiss those personal attack blogs as coming from people with personal agendas . I checked the financial facts submitted by Butch Neylon and found them to be correct. Stopping the STRP will enable the new Council to lower utility rates and we will not have to spend over one hundred million dollars more tearing up our roads for the forseeable future.

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