If you doubt that anyone is even thinking about politics and elections right now, just look at who’s visiting Iowa these days. It seems that every Republican politician who’s ever fantasized about living in the White House is in that state, which has the first candidate caucuses for the election in 2012.
Here on Marco, two of the three incumbent City Council members who, if they want to remain in office must run again next January, already have made up their minds. They are councilmen Chuck Keister and Ted Forcht. The third, Council Chairman Rob Popoff, has not yet decided.
“I truly haven’t given it much thought yet,” he tells us, “and I probably won’t decide for sure until near the end of the year.”
Popoff notes that the first two years of his term were “extremely stressful,” with the sewer-septic controversy and other contentious issues swirling in and around town.
“I’m very happy I ran and am serving; it’s a great learning experience and I think things are less stressful now. We all (council members) are more experienced now and the council has come together more. The podium is not used for attack so much any more.”
So Popoff sincerely has yet to decide whether to seek re-election. By contrast, Forcht, just as sincerely, is raring to go.
“I definitely will run, but have not announced it officially yet,” he tells us. Why run again?
“We’ve had many major issues before us and I’ve kept my campaign promises. I opposed the sewer project as promised but that’s moved on now. I’ve spoken out against allowing any more high rises along Collier and will continue to do so.
“We’ve been fairly successful on better beach access and I championed the dog park, but we’ll have new issues to face ahead, for sure.”
And there will be new issues coming up for sure.”
Forcht is following the rental housing issue closely but says he honestly has not made up his mind on it.
“It just seems that regulations on short-term single-family home rentals would be incredibly difficult to enforce. And very expensive as well.
“How would we know if a landlord rented a house out for a month, but it was really a weekly rental and after that some other renter came along? Would we have a city person to keep track of each rental house activity?
Aside from Councilman Forcht’s concerns, word around city hall is that some insiders also are questioning the cost of a strict rental program.
They’re weighing the cost of regulation, databases, more code enforcement and police time, administration costs and more. Money is tight, obviously, and the question is sometimes asked, “Do we really need stringent new rental regulations and the extra expense they would impose on the taxpayers?
The issue is alive and percolating but any previous rush to regulations seems to be abating. Stay tuned.
Energy conservation — A rooftop solution?
City officials are looking into the possibility of allowing residents to convert now redundant septic tanks to cisterns. Water conservation is important of course; ask anybody who has installed and now regrets doing so, a low-flow shower or a low-flush toilet.
The cistern idea has potential for longterm savings, obviously. But there are other, perhaps less-expensive ways that individual homeowners and condo associations might explore.
Simple rainwater harvesting tanks are available, underground or above the ground that work with gravity and a pump. Even simpler water collection tanks can be found as well, so homeowners can water their lawns and plants without tapping their city water taps.
Our favorite system elsewhere involves eye-catching water towers on rooftops, collecting rainwater for use in cooling and household consumption.
The photo accompanying this column shows the rooftops of Tel Aviv, Israel, where rooftop water towers have been used for decades.
Israel is a world leader in recycling and conserving water because it has to be. Irrigation is key to Israeli agriculture, of course, and by some accounts, 80 percent of irrigation water evaporates into the ground before it is used by plants.
Americans became accustomed to water towers after they were used extensively during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
So how about putting up water collection towers on condos and hotel roofs on Marco? Sound crazy? Crazier than the new U.S. Secretary of Energy saying we should “make” Americans paint our roofs white and drive white cars. Key word — “make.” Yikes!
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