Jeff Lytle: Curb your enthusiasm: Collier’s heard the baseball pitch before


I have a manila envelope full of news clippings for David Moulton.

He is the crackerjack Daily News sports columnist and radio talk-show host who is drumming up interest in attracting the Chicago Cubs to Collier County for spring training.

He reports getting a lot of support from readers.

I have no doubt. Baseball is fun. Spring-training baseball is the best, and the Cubs would be the very best of all of that.

I admire his passionate and pointy writing style.

But I do see a lack of a sense of history.

That is were that envelope comes in.

Moulton and others seem unaware of what has already happened in Collier regarding spring-training baseball — and would likely happen again.

If it could get that far.

If Moulton or anyone else goes to Google or our Daily News electronic library, there is a black hole. As if nothing happened.

Suffice it to say that in 1990 Collier had a referendum to bring in the Baltimore Orioles. The dazzling campaign included cameo appearances by Joe DiMaggio, Brooks Robinson and George Will.

A 3 percent tax on short-term lodging — aka tourist tax — passed.


Then the big hotels sued, because, they said, they did not have enough official input on making their case to county commissioners that springtime is busy enough around here; taxes would be wasted on baseball. The lawsuit prevailed and the tax went back to voters in 1992, with 2 cents earmarked for beaches, etc., and a penny for baseball.

One headline of the times made this classic understatement: “Baseball stadium proving divisive.’’

Other teams were bandied about as substitutes for the Orioles if they lost patience. The parade included Kansas City, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland — and even Boston and the Yankees.

Sites came and went.

County officials enamored with their brush with greatness came and went.

The circus took on a pathetic tone, with one headline pleading: “Baseball site could double as a shelter.”

At referendum time, the beach pennies were renourished; the baseball penny was ruled out.

Spring training then or now takes money, and that would come from the tourist tax, and all of that would happen again.

The people getting all breathless about the Cubs here have to understand that. They can make all the stadium drawings and have all the little meetings they want.

Dave, you know what they say about folks who fail to learn from history. You know what they are bound to do.

The envelope full of clips is available for you to pick up any weekday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in our lobby at 1075 Central Ave. in Naples.

When you drop by, please ask to see if I’m there. I’d like to say hello. I’m a fan.


While local government panels continue to grope with how much public sunshine to let in, there is good news from members of a newly appointed Collier County Public Schools citizens oversight board.

Most of them say they favor having their meetings televised as they review handling of proceeds from last year’s tax flexibility referendum.

These members, more so than some School Board members and the superintendent, recall and take to heart that ongoing public oversight was part of the deal.

You can see all of the advisory members’ e-mailed views — even those that are coy — on my blog.

The most heartening one is from Peter Cade:

“The general impression of the school district’s relationship with the community revolves around the premise that there is a distinctive disconnect. Televising any and all forums that keep the community informed and in touch with the district’s developments is a good way to extend an olive branch towards collaboration and necessary transparency.

“Incidentally, as a member of an oversight committee charged with ‘monitoring’ the expenditures of specific dollars, it is important to set the tone by helping to ensure that the district is utilizing its state-of-the-art technology and communications capabilities to their fullest. Waste not, want not.”


What to do about underage drinking?

The question is always important and timely, and never goes away.

Collier’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools program’s quest for the answer finds that last year there were more than 100 minors arrested for possessing alcohol and nearly half of them did not have to spend the night in jail.

You wonder ... whether a night in jail might be instructive.


Jeff Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is Call him at 263-4773. Check his blog at

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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