Popoff: It's official, I'm not running for council re-election



— Since being elected to office almost four years ago I have learned a lot including restraint, humility and the power of misinformation in the hands of the discontent. Approximately three years ago, in the heat of the STRP debate, I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Charlie Crist who informed me that local politics are considered the most difficult, literally being the “front line” of political life. He encouraged me to pay attention to the issues at hand, to ignore the negative and to highlight the positive. With everything that was going on in Marco politics at the time, he predicted my skin would get thicker and my hair would be as gray as his before my term was up! My hair is certainly lighter in spots while my skin went from the thickness of cellophane to rhinoceros hide.

Local politics is very interesting on Marco Island where we have a true silent majority. The silent majority are the people we see out and about; they give us a pat on the back and often say things like, “I don’t know how you do it but thank you for your service and keep up the good work.” This is what keeps us going; knowing that there are people on this Island who trust us and appreciate the sacrifices made to serve our community. A recent example of this was at the September 8, 2009 council meeting, where there were approximately 100 citizens to support continued entertainment at the Esplanade. Immediately after the discussion and subsequent vote on the issue they got up and left. The irony in this is that the next item on the agenda was setting the millage rate for 2010. I was amazed that almost all left the council chambers before the bigger agenda item was discussed. I expressed my feelings with a colleague on break and the answer was simple, “Rob, they trust the decision that council will make.” That spoke volumes! There are those in the community that question and challenge every decision council makes but our service as councilors is appreciated by the silent majority…they trust us.

Unfounded rumors run rampant about councilor’s personal life. The vile and absurd accusations from a few have made this job “interesting” to say the least. I guess that is the goal of some to spread misinformation and lies to discredit those they disagree with or dislike. One such individual, who has since left Marco Island for good, told me this was being done in a calculated effort (or more correctly a threat) to control my votes, saying, “Remember Popoff, if we tell a lie enough times pretty soon people start to believe it to be the truth.” One close friend recommended I not write a guest commentary suggesting that I will just being adding, “More cannon fodder for my critics.” This is the mentality and ugly side of Marco Island politics for a very a few. It was, and is, a war to some and their battleground is the willing press, the blogs, the rumor mill and the council chambers. But where does it end? I suspect that my fellow councilors would all say their votes are based on what they feel is best for Marco. One thing is for sure, staff and council are always targets and in the line of fire. One issue can make you popular and the next can make you a victim of a volley of inappropriate and erroneous emails and blogs (like the ones you will likely read online in response to this commentary). It seems like accepted political discussion these days is rooted in ranting, wild accusations, snide comments and unsubstantiated positions. I wonder what it would take to shift the discussion to principles of civil discourse and logic-mediated debate.

Being elected and serving as a Marco Island City Councilor is truly an honor, but let’s put it all into perspective. Councilor’s families are subjected to a barrage of questions, insinuations and sometimes even insults. In reality, there is a far greater cost associated with being a councilor; it has cost current and prior councilors business, friends and even health. It takes a tremendous amount of time to study each issue, research and get the facts. Just reading something on a yellow sheet or in the newspaper doesn’t make one an expert. Decisions need to be made based on all of the facts, not just some of the facts and not just emotion. Making casual sport out of attacking council members seems acceptable in some circles; my question is “why do those that complain the most do the least?” All that being said, even in this island’s darkest hour this has been a rewarding and educational experience.

These are very difficult economic times and many people nationwide are struggling financially. In these complex times, our council has to balance trying to keep the millage rate as low as possible, keeping expenditures at an all-time low, while trying to maintain a level of city services our residents need and expect. This is a difficult balancing act which tries to take into consideration all of the various community interests including lowering the millage rate and its long term effects on creating a revenue gap with respect to the cap. While the council essentially disagreed on the millage rate it was determined, like most things, by compromise. The voting for the millage is set up so that a super majority vote means that five of the seven must agree or the motion fails. I don’t think anyone is happy about the recent millage rate of 1.65; some wanted it lower and some wanted it higher, but we did get to a final decision. I trust that citizens understand that Marco Island is still less expensive compared to other municipalities. In addition, the Marco Island tax bill is only 12% of the total tax bill as the remaining 88% are county taxes.

Over the last year I feel that the council meetings have become a friendlier place. There seems to me to be a new appreciation for honor, dignity, respect and decorum and I am very appreciative of this positive change. We are all weathering this financial storm and can accomplish great things when we work cooperatively. I like to keep in mind that while the future is uncertain, we will all survive; there hasn’t been a drought that didn't end, a storm that didn't clear, lightning that didn't retreat, an earthquake that didn't still and a flood that didn't recede nor has there ever been a plague that didn’t end with the strong and the healthy prevailing. We will persevere. I wish our current council, those seeking re-election and those running for office all the best. I respect them for their strength, courage and dedication to make such a commitment. At this time, I will not be seeking re-election to the Marco Island City Council. I want to thank those Islanders who understand, have offered dialog, support, differing views and productive input to our community. After almost four years on council and a sometimes agonizing learning curve, I can tell you hindsight is 20/20…if I only knew then what I know now.

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Comments » 23

Fossil writes:

Mr Popoff, you spend much time denouncing people who lie. Why didn't you spend some time refelecting on why you lied to us when you ran for office?

lauralbi1 writes:

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!! Fossill could write a book on the subject.
Rob always voted for what he felt was in the best interest of Marco Island, not any special interest group or group of discontent citizens.
Ed Issler

Smeg writes:

In My Opinion:

Smart move. He wouldn't get re-elected anyway.

Those Islanders who, for some weird reason, continue to pay their way and meet their obligations, will be none too pleased to pay for misdeeds of this deadbeat while the conservatives might say, "Good riddance!"

One less loser to flush our dollars down the financial (STRP) toilet along with his own.

Research your island council members and directors on the Clerk of Courts public records website and be informed of the type of financial wizards that spend your tax dollars.

Who's next, Walduck or Byron?

Dan_OHagen writes:

Rob was smart enough to even preempt your shallow insults yet smeg and fossil weren't bright enough to catch on. Popoff would get reelected by a landslide if he ran again, he is more popular now than ever before. Read the commentary again, in its entirety; he's talking about people like smeg and fossil, the handful of malcontents. The truth hurts doesn’t it, that’s why you blog anonymously.

KSmyth writes:

Wow Rob!!! Well done! Imagine how pathetically boring their lives are that they have nothing better to do than bash others!! So sad!

ChuckKiester writes:

Rob, as much as it pains me to agree with Ed Issler, having served with you for nearly 4 years I know that your votes were not for sale to any faction as payback for the election or otherwise. As I have stated publicly and privately many times, it was my fault for not explaining better the purpose of my first motion to put the STRP back on the table for discussion which you thought was a motion to end it before it began. As I have stated publicly, you in my opinion are the best chairman of the council during my nearly 4 years. I am personally sorry that you have decided not to run for re-election. You will be missed. Chuck Kiester

marco97 writes:

Dan, if there were only a handful of malcontents then why were we never allowed to vote on the STRP?
I have no respect for the councilors who refused to let the people of Marco vote on that issue.

Semper_Fidelis writes:

marco97, you had your chance to vote for the sewers and you lost. Even when all proof and facts are presented to some people they still don't get it! 62% of the voters voted to continue the STRP. Your candidates lost the election which vindicated the four brave councilors that voted for sewers. As Rob states in the commentary above, there is a real silent majority on this island and they trust our elected officials. Trotter voted for sewers, weathered an attempted recall and was still reelected by a huge margin. Saying that Popoff wouldn't get reelected is absurd; his support base is much larger than Trotters.

In addition, as Councilor Kiester states, Rob has done a great job as a councilor and council chairman. Mr. Kiester, as I've said before on these blogs, you have my vote! You are a genuine man and have proven it once again. Good luck to Rob in his future endeavors and best of luck to you Mr. Kiester.

marcoorig writes:

Rob, thank you for all you have done. It is not easy to be a public figure, especially it seems, here. It also seems that the same people write the negative comments on every thing. It must really stink being so miserable in life, especially in paradise.

RightWing writes:

What a great article Rob, sorry you are not running again. You have so much courage to have done what you did for so long! I give you a lot of credit. Thank you for your service. Kim

bigdog1970 writes:

Rob, it is an absolute shame that you are not running again. I cannot belive that you let these sicophants dictate your decision.
The sad part is people got involved in your personal life and it was none of their business, but that is what these mental midgits seem to do so well. These cowards cannot say these things to your face.
Ten years ago this Island was a great place to live, work, and play, but now due to all of this childish behavior and constant bickering it is not the same. Oh and don't say if I don't like it here anymore, that I should move, because that's not going to happen. I'll just wait for you old farts to just die off. And then it will be nice here again.
Good Luck Rob,and I'll let you be my wing man on a bike run for charity, anytime!!!!!

Smeg writes:

Rob always voted for what he felt was in the best interest of Marco Island, not any special interest group or group of discontent citizens.
Ed Issler
'What he felt' That's the problem!

He ignored financial responsibilty and would run us all into debt.
He could only fool most of you some of the time - others eventually do catch on.
Facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored. He couldn't get re-elected.

CollierVoice writes:

Great job Rob! Marco Island’s dreadful politics are notorious not just throughout Collier County but also in Tallahassee. Your reputation as an honest, hardworking and tempered leader is turning heads. Just know that many of us hope your political career doesn't end here! I expect to see you at the county level or even state legislature someday soon. Wishing you and your family a Blessed Thanksgiving.

liberator100 writes:

Smeg: You truly live up to your blog name. You are smeg!Get a life!

kosherdeli writes:

Rob: You should pat yourself on the back, Job Well Done! You did what know others Islanders were able to accomplish you finally brought some Youth to our City Council for the first time. In doing so, I hope other Younger Island Residents will step up and run for City Council in the very near future. God knows it’s about time we move on with a Younger Perspective and Direction for our Islands future. It’s time our Marco Island elderly residents that were former CEO’s, Executives, Business Owners, Businessmen, Numbers Crunchers, etc. From the 40’s 50’s and 60’s finally put there Adding Machines Away and Stop Running for City Council. If they still feel the need to be in Politics, they could become Mentors for the new Younger Councilor’s our City desperately needs. Our City whose population is getting younger every year would greatly benefit from there mentoring, after all someone helped them along and gave them a start.
Rob Good Luck and God Bless, you will surely be missed!
Charles McKenna

bigdog1970 writes:

in response to liberator100:

Smeg: You truly live up to your blog name. You are smeg!Get a life!

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Smeg writes:

In Our Opinion

Liberal island supporters such as BigDong70 have followed him into the septic tank of financial misery and would vote for him to flush again.
The tank is their choice but it's not ours.
We won't allow him to stay; he knows it and he won't run again.

When you see financial failure being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you know your city is in trouble.

Although RobPop might be a great guy and wins 'hands down' on this blog's popularity contest, he will not hold another public position that requires clear thought processes of financial importance.

The financial Flim Flam is done. D O N E.
As with Obama - we will not allow him a second chance to flush us down into the tank with him.

MarcoFacts writes:

smeg, since I am a Rob Popoff supporter and proud supporter of Marco Island in general I took the time to read your recent blogs dating back to July. What they tell me is you are a woman and most probably do not even live on Marco Island. You have two dogs, Sara and Megan, and love our Marco Island dog park but have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

You keep referring to "Byron" and where can I donate milk for the dogs. You are very confused; the Marco Island Parks and Recreation Director’s name is "Brian Milk." And Rob Popoff, who you so inappropriately and anonymously attack, was integral in getting us a dog park. Why in God's beautiful green earth would someone who isn't even a Marco resident feel so inclined to put themselves in a position they know nothing about and insult our city leaders in the process. Before anyone reads anymore of your nonsense I suggest they click on your name "smeg" (which is a combination of her two small dogs names), and read her gibberish. Not sure she is all there.

Flowerpower writes:

Rob won’t run again because his family comes first and these are difficult times for many young families. If he did run I assure you he would win and win effortlessly! His children are his life and why would anyone want such a thankless job with bloggers like smeg running their crazy mouths off. He was President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School board and too many other volunteer organizations to even mention. What have you done for Marco smeg besides use our dog park? Are you even a resident of Marco Island? MarcoFacts is right, read her previous blogs…she’s coo coo.

kristall writes:

Thank you for your dedicated service to our city. You have provided leadership during your four years. As Chair, you have opened our council meetings to the folks more than ever before. Best of luck in the future!

Joe Batte

happy6 writes:

so he shouldn't have run in the first place if he couldn't stand the heat...i admire rob for running and serving...but don't cast the blame on the heat in the kitchen.....that heat comes with the territory.

Dan_OHagen writes:

Rob has served for the last four years and has gracefully put up with a lot of heat, more than most could take. I think his not running has to do with his health. Why would anyone put up with so much BS for so little?

jchamberland writes:

You spend too much time in the shadows shadow. Rob has been the best chairman we have ever had, even Councilor Kiester says that in one of the blogs above. You do give him credit for running for office and thats where your blog should have ended. Politics is a tough job and anyone that knows Rob knows how tough he is.

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