We frequently hear claims of incivility attached to the assertions made by the “usual suspects” when attacking those that would disagree with them. A civil discourse requires an honest representation of the facts, presented in a non-personal manner.
We saw a glaring example of this abuse by the two closely linked columns entitled “Getting the facts straight on electric issues” by John Arceri, and “Do we really need another Don Quixote” by Wayne Waldack. The attacks on myself and the disinformation and lack of integrity contained therein add nothing to a civil discourse. Some of the gross misrepresentations contained are:
Waldack claim: I (McMullan) have spent years fighting the city in lawsuit after lawsuit without a win.
Fact: Absolutely false. I have never filed a lawsuit against the city or anyone else. I did not support the CARES, POP or RECALL campaigns. I did speak out at the council meetings against spending $130-150 million dollars on any project without a referendum by the people. (It was a 4-3 vote of council, led by Arceri to go ahead with the STRP project.) I remind residents, it was only two years earlier that council unanimously agreed it was critical to get voter approval to spend $10 million dollars for the Glon property (Veterans Park).
Arceri claim: “He (McMullan) and his supporters resigned (from the electric committee) without attending one meeting.”
Fact: Absolutely false. Of the nine meetings held, I attended the first two and the last three meetings. I also asked for and received, via Public Records Requests, CD audio copies of all the meetings. I resigned on the record, at a City Council meeting, after I reviewed dozens of e-mails Mr. Arceri wrote to councilors and staff urging them to establish an electric study committee to force LCEC to make concessions. The e-mails also verified that he wrote the draft study presentation that was presented to City Council on June 16 which established the committee. Mr. Arceri forgot to tell you that he resigned from the committee on July 25, a week before the first original meeting was scheduled. I was told by city staff that he did not want to be hampered in his efforts by the Sunshine Laws. Mr. Arceri or Mr. Waldack did not attend any of the meetings.
Arceri claim: I (Arceri) believe that, if there are significant savings, the city should try and negotiate rate reductions or other concessions. McMullan calls this “threatening LCEC.” I call it “trying to get the best deal for Marco ratepayers.”
Fact: Absolutely false. Repeated in many of Mr. Arceri’s e-mails and I quote “possibilities that could be achieved by negotiations with LCEC, if and only if, they feel that ownership is always a possibility, a real threat.” These are his words not mine. I have never called it anything but what it is — a poor way to deal or treat a vendor, (LCEC) that has been outstanding, very competitive and a tremendous asset to this Island.
Arceri claim: LCEC knows very well that the city has a legal right to take over the system — it’s no threat. I am disappointed that LCEC has recently informed the city that they would not provide any information on this issue, even at a fee. This, alone, raises concerns.
Fact: If you use Mr. Arceri’s logic, the city has a right to take over the Marriott Hotel in a “hostile takeover,” and the Marriott should open their books on all the revenues and expenses to facilitate the sale — good luck with that! If Mr. Arceri is truly concerned with “donor contributions,” (that’s when we pay more than our fair share) I suggest he expend his efforts to reduce the $40,000 per child\per year Marco Island pays the school district for education while the majority of the district pays $9,100 per child\per year.
Arceri claim: The Florida Municipal Electric Association charts showed municipal rates lower than other utilities and that, built into this rate, was an average of 8 percent of the electric revenue being used to lower property taxes.
Fact: Mr. Arceri actually got this one statement correct, However, what he did not tell you is that many of these cities formed their electric company when they formed their city, say 1905, and as they compiled their budgets over the years they allocated some revenue collection to taxes and some to the electric bill. What a novel idea which shows real transparency, versus adding surcharges, franchise fees, utility paving fees, etc.
Arceri claim: The reason for fact finding was based on the possibility that Marco Island, a highly profitable customer, could be subsidizing the less profitable and more rural areas of LCEC’s massive service territory.
Fact: Guess who carried Marco during our first 30 years of development and guess where the disproportion amount of LCEC resources were\are spent after Hurricane Andrew, Wilma, and ???
Arceri claim: Putting lines underground, favorably viewed by most Islanders, is a separate issue. I am also disappointed that LCEC has not cooperated in the city’s efforts to reduce these costs.
Fact: Islanders never said they wanted underground utilities “at any cost.” Every single knowledgeable person that came before the committee said that it is a very expensive proposition. The latest consultant which the committee did not want to hire for an additional $18,000, said he thought LCEC’s latest estimate of $400,000 was a good deal. Additionally, a study completed by Quanta Technology, in May 2008, at the direction of the Florida Public Service Commission for Florida Electric Utilities, states: “It is well-known that the conversion of overhead electric distribution systems to underground is costly, and these costs almost always exceed quantifiable benefits. This conclusion is reached consistently in many reports that range from state-wide studies to very small projects.”
Arceri claim: The committee disbanded without finding any facts.
Fact: Absolutely false. This is an insult to the 16 members of the committee that put in countless hours of their time over seven months of meetings. The consultants A. Interviewed in Sept.\Oct.; B. The executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association in January 2009 and C. The consultant, Mr. Herrington last week, all indicated that any revenue streams to the city would be marginal at best and would take years (one said 20-plus years) just to pay off the debt service on the bonds needed to purchase the system. I believe the committee was very frustrated with the consultant last week that received $4,700 (for two days) and did not complete the work they understood he was hired to do, in part because he spent much of his time “lost in the Everglades.” The only result was that he now wanted an additional $18,500 to continue. Once this request was soundly defeated by a vote of 10-6, even Gary Elliot, one of the major proponents was forced to admit “I agree with Bill McMullan, this whole thing is a sham.” In all honesty, I don’t think he meant it. By a 14-2 vote the committee members voted to disband. I did not participate in the vote as I was not a member of the committee. It is now apparent that the committee should have filed a final report and put this idea behind us, because it looks like the City Council is going to re-visit the subject next month!
Arceri claim: McMullan’s out to “get me” and we need to understand McMullan’s motivation.
Fact: First, John, you really fancy yourself too much with these conspiracy plots and secondly, make no mistake, I do have a motive! My aim is to be as passionate as I can for all shareholders of our Island Paradise. We are experiencing many of our neighbors, friends and colleagues being forced off the Island due to runaway spending by the “drunken sailors” that seem to be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic — in the worst economic times of our lives. Marco is the only government agency in Florida that I could find that has not laid off any employees. However, we did open the $80,000, “second set of clay courts“ at the 300 member Racquet Ball Center last Friday. I’m sure the 400 families\homes in foreclosure are going to get a lot of use out of those courts! Not!
Final observation: You really have to wonder why the establishment fears input from the owners of our Paradise. A wise person once said, “Evil thrives when good people remain silent.” Let’s keep speaking out! Don Q.
You can reach Bill McMullan at email@example.com.