VIDEO: Saad says Naples has bigger issues than his driving record

Saad blames 'people playing gotcha'

Mum on driving with license suspended

Naples has bigger issues than his driving record, which is being pumped by "naysayers'' and political enemies' "selfishness,'' says newly elected City Council member Sam Saad III. He is this week’s guest on Comcast’s "One on One with Jeff Lytle.’’ While saying he is not above the law and public questioning, he declines to comment on driving while his license was suspended for four speeding tickets between July and December. Video highlights and partial transcripts of that and past interviews are available at naplesnews.com/oneonone. The entire 30-minute program airs Sunday, March 14, 2010, at noon on Comcast CN14. Lytle is editorial page/Perspective editor of the Daily News.

* * *

Lytle: Tell me, how’s it going for you these days?

Saad: Pretty well. We had two meetings and one workshop and there have been some interesting issues that we have dealt with. I think everybody knows that the biggest problems in the city include the budget. But, on the whole, personally I’ve enjoyed the experience and I’m looking forward to getting deeper into the issues as they come up — like budget season and the police union impasse negotiations.

* * *

Lytle: In the opinion of some of your constituents and our viewers, among those issues would be you and your driving record. There are some of your constituents and our viewers who would go so far as to say that they wish they had known when they voted what they know now about your driving record and your speeding tickets and frankly some of them would prefer that you resign. What do you have to say to them?

Saad: I’ve gotten a lot of speeding tickets and I’m sorry about that, but I’m not going to resign because of speeding tickets.

* * *

Lytle: Is there anything else you would like to say to that?

Saad: Just that I am very sorry that I got the speeding tickets, I didn’t have any ... There is no excuse for my action. There’s no rhyming or reasoning like I was in a hurry. There was no excuse for my actions.

* * *

Lytle: They understand that and they saw your apology in the newspaper last week. The next issue thought is that you chose to drive on a suspended license because of those speeding tickets. What were you thinking when you did that?

Saad: I’m actually not going to address that. There’s a bureaucratic process that I am going through and when that is over I’ll have a discussion with the people of Naples about that issue.

* * *

Lytle: What issue?

Saad: My driving record.

* * *

Lytle: OK, what is it that’s going on that you can’t discuss?

Saad: I am not going to get into it at all.

* * *

Lytle: Well, I am and I’m going to show our viewers and your constituents that I have some of the same questions that they do. If you choose to answer them, OK, but you at least want to hear the questions and you might hear one that you want to try to answer.

Saad: Sure, I will say this.....that when the process is completed, I will have a full and frank discussion.

* * *

Lytle: What process do you mean?

Saad: Well, when you get 12 tickets like I did ... when you get four tickets you get a notice in the mail and you have to go through a process, a bureaucratic process to take a class and all those things.

* * *

Lytle: To get a hardship license, you mean? Or to get your license back?

Saad: To get your license back.

* * *

Lytle: OK, but here’s the deal. The voters embraced your candidacy. You ran as a family man, you ran for safe streets to make the community a good, safe place to live and work. And your driving record and your decision to drive even on a suspended license indicates there is a double standard for those who make the laws, and you are now one of those people, and those who have to follow the laws. Can you address that for us?

Saad: Not at this time.

* * *

Lytle: Why?

Saad: Because I want to make sure that the process, the bureaucratic process, talking to the state is complete.

* * *

Lytle: Can you tell us why whenever a Daily News reporter asked you about this, you also said that you had the hardship license, but in fact, you had just applied for it, you didn’t have the hardship license.

Saad: Actually that was, I guess, a miscommunication that I tried to clarify in an email to Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster later. And you know I guess this process this media, in-your-face process is kind of new to me and so I am still getting to used how to communicate with the paper and ... I’m saying that that is a miscommunication.

* * *

Lytle: You are lucky that you weren’t charged for driving on a suspended license, right?

Saad: I think there are a lot more important things going on now in the city, but I understand that it is an issue. I understand where you are coming from and where the people of Naples are upset at the fact that I have a driving record. Now. first of all that record is online, at collierclerk.com. It’s been there forever. They didn’t just post that when you printed it in the paper. It’s not a secret.

* * *

Lytle: But you didn’t advertise it during the campaign. And frankly we didn’t ask either. We didn’t know to ask.

Saad: I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. I think the more important is I am now on City Council and responsible for the city and there are extremely important issues to be dealt with in the city — chief among them the budget and that’s what I am going to be focusing on. I don’t know if you know this, Jeff, but in the campaign everyone was running around talking about a half million-dollar budget shortfall. In reality because of the police union impasse continue declining property values a couple of other issues, we are now looking at potentially $800,000 budget shortfall. That’s what the voters really care about. That’s the feedback that I have gotten from them. The feedback that I have gotten is "do your job’’ and that’s what I am doing. I understand that you want to focus on other issues, but that’s not going to distract me from doing the best job in the city. The great thing is I ran a campaign with a simple idea that Naples is the premier place to live, work and raise a family. And that’s what I am going to work towards. If that includes me making personal strides to do things better to not make mistakes, stupid things like speeding, then that’s going to be part of it. But I was elected to do a job. Keep Naples the premier place to live, work and raise a family. And that’s what I am going to do. And I am not going to be distracted by that from naysayers and people playing gotcha or anything. I don’t have time for it.

* * *

Lytle: Am I playing gotcha right now?

Saad: A little bit. We had a phone conversation and ...

* * *

Lytle: You accepted an invitation to be on this program. You didn’t think it was going to be about bunnies and Ovaltine and how blue the sky is.

Saad: I actually really think the people are more interested in how are we going to solve the city’s problems. And I’m not whistling "Dixie’’ because that is the feedback that I have gotten. So what I am going to do for the next four years is what I promised to do in the campaign and that is to keep the premier place to live, work and raise a family. That means we have to balance the budget. That means finding ways to do it without cutting services, that means negotiating with the police unions that we get a fair package that makes them comfortable but doesn’t break the city’s budget. I’m going to work towards .... taking over Penny Taylor’s mantle in getting the pension issues under control in Tallahassee so that we are not stuck in this hole that we are stuck in right now. Where we are paying so much toward a pension and benefits. That’s what I am going to focus on for the next four years.

* * *

Lytle: You seem to be saying now that you are elected, the people should not be allowed to question you. I think voters ...

Saad: No, they should absolutely be able to question ...

* * *

Lytle: I think voters focus on trust and I think that the sooner you answer some of these questions, the sooner some of their concerns will be addressed.

You accepted the community’s votes and our accolades upon your election. And now you are saying you want to avoid our questions. That you should be above all that. I don’t agree.

Saad: Actually, that’s not what I said at all. You totally misquoted me again. I said that ...

* * *

Lytle: When did I misquote you the first time?

Saad: The paper is what I mean. What I said was that when the beauracatic process is complete I will have a full and frank discussion with the people of Naples

* * *

Lytle: About why you chose to drive on a suspended license?

Saad: About my driving record.

* * *

Lytle: Do you understand the political implications and fallout that this has caused across the city?

Saad: I understand that some people who want to derail my efforts for their own political gains want to ... don’t have the best interest of the city at heart, but have their own personal agendas in mind and will take any opportunity ...

* * *

Lytle: It’s like a conspiracy?

Saad: No, not a conspiracy, more like a selfishness. There’s no conspiracy. We all know who the players are. They are in the paper.

* * *

Lytle: They are at the paper or they are in the paper?

Saad: They are in the paper, yes. They blog, they write letters to the editor and they have their own personal agendas.

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