COLLIER COUNTY — It looks like the retraction Collier County Commissioner Georgia Hiller was hoping for is not coming.
Tuesday evening, Hiller had asked Arthrex founder and president Reinhold Schmieding, Collier County Economic Development Council Chairman Bob Mulhere and EDC Executive Director Tammie Nemecek for a retraction of statements she said painted her in “false light” and “maliciously libeling and slandering” her after she cast the dissenting vote to give Arthrex more than $2 million in economic incentives.
The incentives are for the proposed 160,000-square-foot plant at Oil Well Road and for a renovation or new construction at its North Naples' Creekside location, which is in Hiller’s district, that would create another 350 new jobs. All told, Arthrex plans to spend $50 million in capital improvements, according to its application for the economic incentives.
Hiller said her arguments against Arthrex receiving the incentives were misrepresented in an attempt to impugn her integrity.
In a statement Wednesday, Schmieding said Hiller’s statements, which he referred to in an open letter that was published in the Naples Daily News earlier this month were “witnessed and documented either by (Economic Development Council) management, Arthrex management, community activists and/or county staff are irrefutable.”
“The voluminous false statements she made as documented by Bob Mulhere and Tammie Nemecek in their Naples Daily News article and emails speak for themselves and can be verified through the public record. Further, she did in fact make the statements before multiple witnesses as attributed to her that Arthrex should not expand in Ave Maria because it would benefit her political opponents (multiple times in January 2011) and that we should expand in Lee County instead of Collier County (January 28, 2011 ),” Schmieding wrote in a statement. “We invite anyone to investigate these facts for themselves.”
Ave Maria is in Commissioner Jim Coletta’s district.
“Given this, Commissioner Hiller has not professionally represented the best interests and employment needs of the citizens of Collier County in a constructive manner,” Schmieding wrote. “Arthrex accordingly rejects Commissioner Hiller as a credible representative of ours in District 2 and our Collier County community in general. Arthrex is looking for a positive change of direction from her and is confident she has the capability to do so if she chooses to.”
Hiller said Tuesday evening that Schmieding’s tactics were part of a plan to get her to resign. In his letter, Schmieding called on Hiller to begin representing the best interest and employment needs of residents or resign.
“They did a lot of things to try to get me to change my vote,” she said. “They tried to get me to step aside... I will not govern by intimidation, but on the basis of my judgement. These are serious issues that go to the heart of our political system.”
On Thursday, Hiller said she did not have more to say after learning of Schmieding’s response to her comments on Tuesday. “I continue to ask for retractions,” Hiller said. “Nothing has changed.”
Staff writer Eric Staats contributed to this story.