Guest Commentary: Welcome Finance Director Bliss; thanks for openness

Re: Commentary “Performance Matters at City Hall,” by Finance Director Patricia Bliss.

What refreshingly emboldened, enlightened views of effective and responsive local government from Marco Island’s new Finance Director Patricia Bliss!

Proudly, we, the people, extend to our new finance director a big, warm Marco Island welcome and best wishes for success.

At long last, we concerned citizens might enthusiastically congratulate our City Council for promoting transparency and pursuing vigorous public service commitments demanding enlightened planning, full disclosure, public debate and open discourse with irrefutable data and qualified experts.

That is, if the City Council endorses Director Bliss’s compelling message focusing on her analysis of the purpose of our city’s annual Service Efforts and Accomplishments Report (SEA).

The SEA shall now emerge, according to Director Bliss, as a critical means to restore confidence in City Hall actions calling for astute planning, public approval and responsible execution. In the past six years or so, such plans and execution have been characteristically shadowy, oblique, circuitous and quite distressing. In brief, our City Council’s dedication to transparency, oversight and accountability in the past has been verifiably non-existent. Thus, as clear examples of Council’s recent neglectful remissness: (A) The current citizen’s audit review process zeroing in on the “new” Collier Boulevard extravagances and immoderations now estimated to exceed $5 million per mile; (B) The specious use of “most responsive” bid awards in place of “most qualified, least cost” bid awards; and (C) The absence of comprehensive public hearings and official Planning Board approvals along with the total absence of public approvals via the referendum process called for in our City Charter.

Considering the scope and consequences of the City Council’s playing fast and loose with budgeting procedures and contract commitments. We have incurred costs and loans since 2003 that were never reasonably justified nor declared critical for our exceptional barrier island. We taxpayers now face: (A) Mounting city debt; (B) Oppressive property tax bills for fixed- and declining-income families and an aging population; and (C) Unintelligible fees and inexplicable franchise charges harshly placed on routine municipal utility services and other public assessment payments.

In the now infamous topsy-turvy logic that has characterized Marco Island’s development via incentives to commercialize by replicating Florida’s Interstate “pit stops” for cheap day tourists, costly and largely unnecessary public works projects and, now, today’s boondoggling “shovel ready” stimulus projects, we citizens hail the appointment of Finance Director Bliss. Hopefully she’ll quickly prove the adage, “A new broom sweeps clean.”

Wouldn’t all citizens be better off if county, state and federal legislatures were to appoint the likes of Patricia Bliss to trim the course of irresponsible and uncontrolled public spending?

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