Naples Vice Mayor John Sorey mets with Gov. Scott on variety of topics

TALLAHASSEE -- Naples Vice Mayor John Sorey made an appearance at the state Capitol on Friday morning for a brief, but wide-ranging meeting with Gov. Rick Scott.

The two Neapolitans met for about 10 minutes to talk environmental policy, pension reform, home rule, and the Naples mayoral race, in which Sorey is the lone candidate – so far.

“The governor wished me well, and wanted to know if I had any competition,” Sorey said. “At this point in time I’m unopposed, and his recommendation was to work every day like you had the best opponent running against you.”

Sorey and Gary McAlpin, Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management director, also met with DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard to discuss coastal permitting and a proposal to construct habitat islands in Naples Bay.

The city’s pet project has been caught up in a state-ordered moratorium since 2009, but city leaders say they’re seeing encouraging signs it may be lifted.

The habitat islands would help the city’s efforts to improve the bay’s water quality, seagrasses and oysters reefs, officials say.

“We’re supportive of the governor’s process, as far as DEP, to develop a more efficient, effective model while we improve the environment … for beach renourishment, for Wiggins Pass, for Naples Bay, for water quality,” Sorey said. “We’ve got limited resources, and we’ve got unlimited issues. So, how do we provide the maximum improvement to the environment with these limited resources?

“Coming from the private sector, the way I do it is through process improvement.”

Sorey said he and Scott also talked about pension reform for police and firefighters. The Naples City Council has requested the Florida Legislature remove minimum benefits standards for police and firefighter pensions, allowing the city to bargain for increased employee contributions.

Sorey said the city wants to move toward a defined contribution, 401(k)-style plan and away from defined benefit pension plan. Scott has proposed a similar plan for state and county workers.

“We’re excited about what (Gov. Scott is) doing in trying to change the culture as far as Tallahassee is concerned,” Sorey said, “and we’re supporting him to make that happen.”

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