JEFF LYTLE: Sept. 18, 2011 ... Politicking in Bonita; attack ads; news from Sabal Bay

JEFF LYTLE
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There is an unusual amount of jockeying for political positions, as candidates seek to catch the wave of public interest in elections a year off.

Peter Simmons sets himself apart.

He dares to move the bar for 2012 Bonita Springs City Council candidates and perhaps start a regional trend for connecting with young families.

Among his platform planks of lower taxes, less government, greater personal responsibility and a better business climate, comes this item: “Quality education with accountability.”

But City Council doesn’t run the schools.

Simmons says he knows that.

He just wanted to send a message that he is a family man — with two youngsters at the Bonita Springs Charter School — and education “hits very close to home.”

“It’s a very important issue to many people,” he says, “and it’s important for the people to know where I’m coming from.”

When asked, he says he would welcome the role as a liaison from the city to the school system much like the mayor sees himself as the liaison between the city and Lee County government.

Funny thing. When I called Simmons to ask about all this, he was relaxed and eager to talk.

But when asked if any others had spotted that part of his platform and wondered why, Simmons said no; I was the first.

• • •

When we think of attack ads, we think of those murky TV commercials that portray the target as worse than Satan. Like them or loathe them, those ads are effective.

Then there is the ad attacking U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, that appeared in the Daily News on Monday morning.

The ad consumed about half the page to try to tell leaders what a bad guy Mack is for failing to get behind funding for climate issues such as drought and famine in Africa, at the risk of “terrorists” capitalizing on the weakness and misery.

The ad included quite a list of religious and defense organizations that see things the right way, as opposed to Mack, who was pictured all by himself on the other side of the ad.

Truly, this outfit, the American Values Network, does not understand Southwest Florida politics and picked the wrong congressman to single out in an attempt to put fear into other members of Congress.

That is the kind of federal spending cuts that will win support from our voters — if, that is, they can understand what the hard-to-follow ad is all about.

That may explain why a Mack spokesman chose this way to comment: “I’m surprised that paid attack ads from special-interest groups are making the news coverage decisions for the Daily News.”

I don’t now about the news decisions, but I am still trying to get an essay from the American Values Network to finish what the ad started.

• • •

An ad of a different kind in the Daily News advises the public that the long-suffering Sabal Bay project is back in the pipeline in East Naples, and some changes are in the works.

The sprawling, 2,400-plus-acre community extending from U.S. 41 East to Naples Bay seeks to have less golf, more lakes, two more big access points for traffic, options for a post office and car wash in a town center and an assisted-living center of 80 feet rather than three stories.

That height attracts attention against the background of past conflicts with Port Royal neighbors over how much of a marina, clubhouse and boat-storage warehouse would spoil the pristine view from west to east across Naples Bay.

Will height be an issue again for the project that marks its 25th anniversary of being on the drawing board, with obstacles from lawsuits, environmental rules and the economy? Or will that economy turn into an ally, with everyone getting behind anything that looks like progress?

Bruce Anderson, the attorney for the developer, Collier Enterprises, says the exact location for the assisted-living project has not been chosen. How it looks from the west will be a factor, he says.

Then Anderson goes on to say there are even taller buildings planned — condominiums up to nearly twice that height, 150 feet — for south of Naples Botanical Garden, for which the developer donated some land.

But those, he says, will be more than a mile from the west side of the bay and the line of sight will be buffered by pine trees 80 feet tall.

Stay tuned.

• • •

Has there ever been a better corporate branding transition than the one in banking from Wachovia to Wells Fargo?

Beautifully and swiftly executed.

Now we won’t wonder any longer whether Wachovia meant “Walk Ova Ya” or “Watch Ova Ya.”

Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His email address is jlytle@naplesnews.com. Call him at 263-4773. Check his blog at naplesnews.com/blogs/jefflytle.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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