Now, more than ever, is the time for We the People to step up and speak up for our beloved Marco Island. We deserve better: (1) After attending the so-called “Public Workshops” farces most recently hosted by our City Council; (2) After reading former City Councilor John Arceri’s latest belligerent “Dear Editor” letter that has become all-too-frequently his signature rant, since CY 2002, against We the People’s supposed dullness and ineptitude; and (3) After reviewing our new City Council Chair Larry Magel’s cheerless public commentary to We the People about the goals he has for his tenure as our City Council’s Chairman.
Each in its own way tends to insult and disparage all citizens while promising a “back to the future” journey that has been filled to overflowing with an abundance of official disdain, contempt, mediocrity and just plain incompetence by our elected representatives since our 1997 city-hood referendum.
Thusly, the March Public Workshops were to facilitate fair, just and equitable resolutions to our growing utilities’ problems of disparity, subterfuge, intrigue, delusions and polarization. Rather, they evolved into community comedic productions where our “seven Lords a-lounging” hid behind a giant projection screen (viewed only by the Council) while we 56 attending citizen peons were scrunched into a 144 square foot peanut gallery with computer point projections totally blurred and unreadable. Of course, we citizens could neither see, read nor understand the expensive consultants precious computerized report slides (paid for by us peons). Since when do public presenters sit down with their backs to the public while incoherently making small talk about their “ingenious” findings which no one present, including City Council members, could understand and discuss intelligently? Neither could we peons see nor hear our employed staff bureaucrats located as far away from us as possible in their roles as living stage props to reinforce the murkiness of the consultants’ rambling presentations.
As teachable moments, these horrendous Workshops did not encourage any public questions nor comments from attendant citizens. How come we allow such nonsense to become standard operating procedures for our public meetings and conclaves? Any teacher at our Tommy Barfield Elementary or MI Academy or Lely High Schools has a better sense of and training in stage craft, democratic participation, group presentations and the use of power-point demonstrations than has been evidenced at any City Council presentation I have attended. Why aren’t such educational professionals used as advisors to produce and stage our City Hall presentations?
As to John Arceri’s periodic newspaper letters which, in truth, are lectures aimed at the cluelessness of We the People. Since CY 2002, the former City Councilor has accused We the People of gross possession and use of “misinformation” and “disinformation” respecting the $400 million public works projects including: the purchase of an obsolete water system; the STRP without due process; distribution and storage of potable and non-potable water in haphazard ways and means resulting in a polarized community; inequities and injustices in utility costs, rates, and metering processes; destruction and paving of swales to speedup the flow of unfiltered runoffs into direct street gutters; redundant street paving projects; a $5 million per mile “reconstruction” of Collier Boulevard now deemed unsafe at any speed for bikers, pedestrians and vehicles; excessive street lighting; etc., etc., etc. without a single public referendum.
Question: Who besides the City Council since 2002 possessed the “true” and “correct” information about public expenditures, contract bidding, finders’ and attorney fees, late schedule and over-budget penalties, the rationale against any public referendums for more than a decade, etc., etc. etc.? Aren’t Arceri’s laments against We the People the height of disingenuousness since he, and only he, in concert with his City Council colleagues, knew of, dealt with, controlled and released any and all information regarding our $400 million public works projects? Only our City Council and former members like John Arceri since 2002, indeed, were and are the sole sources and generators of the “disinformation” and “misinformation” that we are now accused of possessing. In municipal truth or consequences, We the People know only what we are told by our City Council.
Finally, political timidity, dab choices and worse karma seem to surround the goals of newly appointed City Council Chair Larry Magel as reveled in his newspaper commentary last week. He, too, just like Arceri, laments ... “too much misinformation that is bandied about by people.” Positively, Magel wants to make sure ... “citizens understand the facts so they can make more informed decisions going forward; People can draw their own conclusions once they have the facts.” Consequently, he has invited “ … our community and civic associations [to] know that I want to appear before them to present the facts and answer questions from our citizens.”
Here We the People go again … around and around and around as we destroy unity and majority rule to champion polarization, elitism and distinctive class envy, treatment and behaviors. Why special meetings with groups and civic associations when Chair Megal can call a Workshop, Public Forum or Town Hall Meeting any time and invite all We the People to attend and participate as equals and as true participative partners in a venture called government? Why should any City Councilor, let alone the Chairman, meet with vested interests, lobbies, imperial cronies, and other selfish antidemocratic automatons?
As Chair Magel assumes a real democratic leadership role at City Council after witnessing a decade of careless, less than coherent, extravagant spending and uncontrolled debt coupled with a tragic referendum moratorium, We the People want destroyed for all times Marco Island’s overall governance fog: “Fire, Ready, Aim.”
To do less is tyranny.