'Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle' ... Mayor Barnett, Naples politics; Lee Sheriff Scott, ban on texting while driving; Chuch Marshall, what's brewing with the tea party?

Naples city politics, a ban on texting while driving and what’s brewing with the local tea party are all topics on this week’s “Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle” program airing Sunday morning at 10 on ABC7.

Phil Lewis, editor of the Naples Daily News and filling in for Lytle, interviews Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Naples Tea Party spokesman Chuck Marshall.

Text and video highlights are available at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.

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NewsMakers: Naples Mayor Bill Barnett

Mayor talks about Naples City Council.

Mayor Bill Barnett

Lewis: Welcome, Bill.

Barnett: Thank you, Phil.

Lewis: Your term for mayor is going to end soon, but it’s not the end of your term on Naples City Council.

Barnett: Correct. I guess I’m going back to where I started — or going to try to, anyway. I’m termed out. It’ll be 12 years next February, and I don’t think that they’ve exactly picked the election date yet.

It will be 12 years, and I can’t run for mayor anymore, and I would just like to finish my political career as a councilperson.

Lewis: So, it would be running for a four-year term as a regular councilman.

Barnett: Yes, yes, and I’m looking forward to it.

Lewis: We don’t know when the election is?

Barnett: Well, you know, it’s usually the first Tuesday in February. This years, I guess because it’s state politics in Legislature and everything, it will be around that time. But our City Clerk Tara Norman hasn’t given us an exact date yet.

Lewis: You still have things you want to get done on City Council?

Barnett: Well, you know we have so many projects that we’re working on, all one has to do is watch one or two of our council meetings. And you know, we’re never ... there’s never a boring time where you’re sitting around thinking, ho hum, what are we going to do with… and especially this year… with budget issues.

You know, I mean there’s a lot of long-term projects that I think I can be a valuable member to our City Council.

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NewsMakers: Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott

Sheriff talks ban on texting while driving.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott

Lewis: Sheriff, I have another question for you. It’s kind of related to what’s going on in Tallahassee, and that’s talking about cell phone legislation, or should it be a law in Florida to prevent you from driving and also texting?

Scott: Well, I believe it should. Absolutely, I support that a hundred percent. Although I like to mention to people that cell phones, while they’re a huge distraction, are not the only distraction. You have to be careful throwing laws at things.

For example, the No. 3 combo meal, let’s say, at any one of your fast food restaurants. That’s a big distraction — breakfast, lunch and dinner. People are juggling food as they’re driving down the road.

Lewis: There’s already laws on the books for reckless driving.

Scott: Correct.

Lewis: So why do we need one for texting while you’re driving?

Scott: Careless and reckless driving would cover that. And you’re correct in that. Texting specifically though is something we can prove and backtrack, that the person while texting couldn’t have possibly been watching the road.

It could be argued that while they’re eating their sandwich they were watching the road, etc.

So texting is a documented piece of evidence post crash, let’s say, that we can go and look at and examine the telephone and say, yes, at the time of the impact, based on the black box in the car and/or witness’ statement, etc.

Lewis: Sheriff, thank you.

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NewsMakers: Naples Tea Party's Chuck Marshall

How tea party operates locally.

Naples Tea Party spokesman Chuck Marshall

Lewis: Chuck, welcome. I think I mentioned earlier, or at least introduced you as president of the tea party. The tea party doesn’t have a president, so explain to us your position and how the tea party operates locally in general.

Marshall: Barry Willoughby started the tea party two years ago. I joined his group and since then the tea party has evolved. Barry has taken a break right now, and this is a good time because we just had our major rally this past weekend.

Barry asked me to be the spokesman, and we, in the future, will develop a council of advisors. They’re basically leaders of the other patriotic groups in Naples. That council of advisors will give Barry and I and other volunteers that want to be leaders, that want to help lead the tea party.

So that council will meet once every three months.

Lewis: How do you become a member of the tea party?

Marshall: You just show up. You show up. We’ve had tea parties that have grown over time, and members have various issues that they’re interested in. Some are social issues. Some are fiscal issues.

One of the things we’ve learned is one issue bubbles to the top, and that’s the debt ... our national debt, that’s our spending and we’re very concerned.

I’ve seen many people talk about the tea party members are an older set, like myself, and I think that has to do with because through life we’ve gained some wisdom just from living life, and we see our grandchildren are going to be saddled with this national debt, and so we’ve very concerned about that.

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