Ciao! Daytime television in Collier County

BILL KLAUBER

Traditionally, weekday television has been dominated by soap operas and talk shows. And on a recent Tuesday morning we saw a pretty good combination of both on the Collier County Government channel.

With soap opera described as “that form of television that works with a continuous open narrative where each episode ends with a promise that the storyline is to be continued in another episode,” we are now assured of such drama here in Collier County.

To such soaps as “The Days of Our Lives “ and “General Hospital” we could add Collier County’s original soap opera “The Jackson Lab.”

After all, what story could be more compelling than the one taking place here concerning the do we or don’t we of spending $130 million of taxpayer money to attract the facility here as a first step to becoming a bio-med center.

Talk about “The Bold and The Beautiful” or “The Young and The Restless,” what we really need is “The Guiding Light” to help our board of commissioners in making the very tough long range decision facing them. In fact, “To Be or Not To Be a Player” (taken from William Shakespeare’s long running soap “Hamlet,”) remains the question.

At that Tuesday meeting we certainly got our fill of drama and suspense, two main ingredients of the “soaps.” And it didn’t take very long for that to happen.

When Commission Chairman Fred Coyle gaveled the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m., there was a standing-room only crowd gathered in the Collier County Commission Chambers. Many in attendance were adorned in colorful T-shirts emblazoned with a “Say Yes to Jax.” Others sported stickers saying “No Taxes For Jackson.”

In a day set aside for the public to have their voices heard, 87 individuals had signed up to speak. A long, long day loomed.

As it turned out there was a great deal of attrition as the majority of this group either withdrew or ceded their allotted three minutes to another speaker.

The meeting began with a bang. The very first speaker tried to build a case of a violation of Florida’s very tough Sunshine Law. He came armed with flight records and photos purportedly showing Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Lab’s Bar Harbor, Maine, headquarters with a woman in the background whom he mistakenly identified as Commissioner Donna Fiala.

The Mystery of the Lady in the White Blouse became a subject for discussion and prompted Coyle to call a sudden adjournment.

When the meeting was resumed a few minutes later, the speaker continued without interruption. This confrontation was certainly the only acrimonious moment in the hearing and the brief “break in the action” was fitting for any soap opera worth its suds.

When all of the speakers, perhaps a fourth of those who had originally requested time, finished their presentations, most of which seemed to favor the project, the commissioners, who could well have been called the Jackson Five — or Jackson four plus one opposed, otherwise known as the Jackson Five Minus One — deliberated and finally voted to fund the project’s first year requirement of $28 million by borrowing funds created for other programs.

So this soap opera will continue, apparently for many more episodes.

Future programs may have subtitles like the following with an appropriate synopsis of the plot.

The Maine Chance. Should Collier County commissioners annex Bar Harbor and bring the already functioning Jackson Lab facility down here and save construction costs?

Location: Should Bar Harbor be shrunk (don’t you remember “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”?) and placed strategically in the center of Ave Maria unless no bars are allowed there.

Annexation: Should Naples annex the whole community of Bar Harbor.

If I were mayor of Naples, I would say yes to annexation quicker than I could say Pelican Bay. Think of the benefits of holding summer Commission meetings in Maine with no worries about Sunshine Law violations. (Does Maine have a Sunshine Law? Does Maine have sunshine in the winter?)

Well, in the tradition of a good soap opera, it is time to end this episode and leave you wanting more next time. Besides, I have to go watch the latest chapter of “Desperate Housewives.”

Ciao!

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