Lots of Southwest Floridians watched the Masters pro golf tournament last weekend.
David L. Smith of East Naples was among them.
The name he will most remember from the final round on Sunday will not be that of Charl Schwartzel, the unlikely and almost unknown winner.
The name he will most remember will be that of Barbara Berry.
Not a Masters participant at all.
A member of the Collier County School Board.
She chose last Sunday afternoon to call Smith, of the Riveria Colony neighborhood, to complain about a letter to the editor he had written questioning the expense of sending two local high school football teams to play games in New Orleans and North Carolina.
Smith’s letter was published March 31, well over a week before Berry’s Sunday afternoon call.
He was shocked.
But not speechless.
“This is wrong that she’s doing this to me,” Smith says.
“I was in amazement,” he says, that Berry would ask for a retraction at all, and especially before she had documentation that both schools would fully fund all expenses privately.
“I told Ms. Berry, and perhaps unfairly, that I don’t trust today’s politicians and I would wait to write my retraction until the trips were over and all the costs accounted for,” Smith says.
Yet, in hindsight, Smith says, he was wrong. He says a real politician would never have made a call as she did.
The part of Smith’s March 31 letter that got Berry’s attention:
“Wow! I need to scream! (I thought it would make me feel better, but it didn’t.)
“Let’s see. We have no money. Everything is cut, cut, cut, not spend, spend, spend.
“Do we have the funds to send Collier County football teams to New Orleans and North Carolina?
“Not if we are told that teachers can’t have a raise. Not if science and art programs are cut.
“In normal times I would applaud. It will bring more scholarship dollars and more community recognition.
“These are not normal times and everyone is looking to cut budgets.
“Common sense should be a requirement for all School Board members and for all administrators.”
Smith made his point, and you know what he was saying — objectionable only to Berry, on a Sunday afternoon.
Interesting: The point that Barron Collier High School locked in the North Carolina game before coming to the board, as required, is incidental to Berry, who gets some editing tips into her email explanation requested by me, reported here as written:
“It has been my policy to respond to my constituents as directly as possible. Since Mr. Smith expressed concerns about the cost of the Gulf Coast High football trip which is to be taken over Labor Day, I wanted to see that he had the facts: the district is NOT paying for the trip and the matter regarding Barron Collier High School has not yet come before the board.
“Unfortunately, responding through the Naples Daily News would have meant a significant time delay had my responses been published. And that would mean that more incorrect information might have been disseminated. It is too bad that letters are published without fact-checking as the matter could have been cleared up more quickly. Perhaps in the future you might consider publishing a response with the letter when appropriate.
“The ‘retraction’ that he apparently mentioned was not personal and was only meant as a correction of misstated information.”
So there you have it. That is what was so important for an elected official to tell a constituent on a Sunday afternoon.
And FYI, Barron Collier’s trip to Southern Pines, N.C. — to “enhance team spirit and importance of team effort,” the principal says — will include taking in a college game on the way home, cost $9,000 and be covered completely by the school’s Gridiron Club, according to backup data in the School Board’s Tuesday agenda packet.
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The Naples Rotary Club’s nearly four-year mission to produce 10.5 million meals of beans, macaroni and rice aims for a record — 1 million meals packaged in a single day.
The Meals of Hope crusade plans assembly lines at three venues — Naples High School, Fort Myers’ Harborside Convention Center and Sarasota’s Riverview High School — on May 14.
There will be two shifts — 8:30 to
10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Project chief Steve Popper of Naples says about 1,000 volunteers will be needed to pull this off.
To register, contact him at (239) 537-7775, email@example.com or Jane Goble at (239) 980-4731, firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to the aptly named website massiverotaryaction.com.
Popper says the bags of just-add-water meals will help get poor families through the summer, when needs are greatest as children do not get meals at school.
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Headline in our paper’s sports section this week:
Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His email address is email@example.com. Call him at 263-4773. Check his blog at naplesnews.com/blogs/jefflytle.