Letter to the Editor: Smoke and mirrors

If cities were compared to theaters, Marco Island would likely be one of the smaller, one-screen versions. While that is certainly a quaint scenario, in fact the smaller the theater, the more reaction someone seeking attention can achieve by recklessly shouting ‘fire.’ So if you hear that our local government is ablaze, don’t run for the bridge, at least not yet.

Since Election Day quickly approaches, we have recently heard several cries of civic distress from certain candidates for City Council. I would suggest that before we ask our voters to respond to this purported emergency, we look for any sign of the fire, which they claim exists.

Indeed, instead of flames, I think what you’ll find is that Marco Island is simply one of the most beautiful, safe, peaceful and efficiently operated municipalities in the State of Florida. We have excellent City services, multiple parks, good roads, esthetically pleasing lighting, bike paths, and unexcelled Fire/Rescue and Police Departments under the leadership of Chiefs Mike Murphy and Don Hunter, respectively.

And in spite of the voices shouting ‘hidden’ government, Marco Island is a model of transparency. Everything is either accessible online, or by actually viewing every current or past meeting of the City Council, Code Board, and Planning Board. The only things lacking transparency on Marco are the agendas of those doing the shouting.

Our city employees work hard, work with less, and are extremely dedicated to the City for which they work. We have seen that on many occasions, in many different scenarios. They are neither too many, nor are they overpaid.

For example, during the course of the past 4-plus years on council, I have personally observed city utility workers repairing or upgrading our utility plant operations, walked with them on the transoms over our waste disposal tanks, observed our plant operators carefully monitoring a multitude of gauges and fittings, and watched other utility workers responding to broken water lines or service issues. They do their jobs very well.

I have accompanied public works employees while they picked up ‘road kill’ or errant palm fronds and other debris from streets and sidewalks. I have watched them clean out our drains, clear swales and repair streetlights. They also monitor the condition of our bridges and effectuate repairs when feasible. Eventually, they return to a very worn out rented trailer, which serves as their ‘office.’ The only thing I haven’t seen or heard from them is a complaint.

I have accompanied our fire/rescue department in both fire trucks and EMS vehicles as they quickly and intensely respond to medical calls to both private residences and condominiums. I have watched them administer to the elderly suffering cardiac emergencies, babies whose mother’s believed they were deathly ill, or attempting to stabilize obviously broken limbs on accident victims lying in the street. I have seen them responding to fire alarms on multiple occasions, preparing for each as though it could be a major conflagration.

I have watched as our IT personnel attempted to solve ‘glitches’ in a server, or improve the functioning of the City telephone equipment. Notably, I saw them struggle to meet Council’s expectations in televising our local governmental meetings. And notwithstanding our demands and their long hours, they achieved what we sought, including implementing a sophisticated GPS system and a very user friendly City website.

I have spent countless hours riding with our police, spending days and nights with officers who patrol our streets, who routinely check every alley behind our businesses, stopping only to respond to a multitude of home alarms on a stormy night. They investigate all accidents, and routinely stop vehicles for a variety of infractions. More often than not, they give friendly ‘warnings’ to vacationers who are not familiar with our speed limits. I have also observed them administering to accident victims when they are first on scene, calling ‘back up’ to control the resultant traffic, after which they might go on to execute an arrest warrant when they were lucky enough to have an additional officer available. Many hours were spent on stakeouts, obtaining important evidence that would result in arrests or prevent a crime. As gangs and drugs migrate to our area, their increased vigilance and presence are essential.

In City Hall, due to the remodeling achieved by Dr. Riviere, our City Manager, access to our friendly and hardworking city staff, and multiple departments, is easier and more open than it has been since cityhood in 1997. Just watching citizens and contractors flow in and out of city hall tells us much. Our business is being conducted in a professional, efficient and effective manner.

Our taxpayer cost for what we enjoy is approximately 17% of the total we see on our property tax bills. When you consider that we have attained budget surpluses for the past several years, and our millage rate for city operations is 1.96 (2012 and 2013) despite the decrease in property values, it is hardly a portrait of ‘fiscal irresponsibility.’ In fact, we are currently over 2 million dollars under the spending cap. The utility system is costly and we carry a debt burden, but we control our own utility destiny, and significant debt reduction options are being explored. Nonetheless, our utility bond ratings were recently upgraded to AAA-¬, verifying the stability of our operations.

Of course, everything in life can be improved, and our City is no exception. But the improvement will take us from excellent to ‘more excellent,’ and in a fiscally prudent manner.

We can all be proud of what we have accomplished in a relatively short 15 years as a City. No matter where my travels as an attorney take me, the conversation eventually gets to Marco Island, what a paradise we have, and how much others would love to live here.

So when the aspiring politicos shout ‘fire’ in our local government, no need to dial 911.

Frank R. Recker

Marco Island

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 10

ajm3s writes:

Hey, I originally read this on the city website in direct violation to use City government (taxpayer) resources for political purposes.

Imagine, individual citizens as members from such civic groups as the MI Property Owners, MI Taxpayers Association and MI Civic Association had to advise Mr. Recker, professional lawyer and Dr. Riviere, city manager about the violation.

And I cannot make this up, but Mr. Recker is running on a platform of "positive" and professionalism. Seriously folks, I could not have written the screenplay; this is reality for professional legal behavior on Marco Island.

Folks Pay attention. I for one would never cry "fire" in a small theater on Marco Island unless I saw a fire. But I am screaming as loud as I can, to anyone in earshot: Voter Beware!

And to be clear, to reiterate your observation:

"The only things lacking transparency on Marco are the agendas of those doing the shouting"

Does Mr. Magel meet that criteria, for transparency and doing the shouting, although only to a select group, as well as shouting the equivalent of "fire" to condo owners and country club membership. And interestingly, he endorsed you!!!!!!!!!!!

Confused Again?

marcofriend writes:

I too saw this on the City Website. How nice the city spends our money by using staff, hardware, and software to support certain candidates. Of course Larry Magel must have given the City Manager his OK for this type of slap at the rest of Marco's residents. And this is the type of candidate Magel supports and wants you to re-elect. Check www.collierclerk.com, read up on the incumbents, and then decide if they should be making financial decisions for you.

JohninMarco writes:

I can not believe the spinning in this letter. You lead the charge at Island Drug which now we find is in Federal court with a law suit against the city. Gangs coming to Marco? Your own staff, a Supervisor at the police openly laugh at this. You have changed your position so many times that one gets dizzy listening to you speak. You lead the oster of the public works head, giving him a golden parachute, only to see him appointed to the code board. You supported the fees for re-usable water while knowing that the largest user is the country club where a fellow councilman is the president.

ajm3s writes:

Every citizen, should perform due diligence. Considering, your platform of offering a "positive" view, I thought it appropriate to offer a realistic view, and the devastating impact of spending to a level that cannot be sustained leading to bankruptcy proceedings.

It has been brought to my attention through county public records you have financial burdens. These burdens may have been brought about from circumstances outside your control... but real estate bankruptcy proceedings are a direct result of not paying ones financial obligations relative to property ownership.

Given your situation, I ask, why are you so against MI Property Owners? I would have thought you would be a champion and sensitive to fiscal concerns given your own situation?

Yet, you proudly proclaim:

"Our taxpayer cost for what we enjoy is approximately 17% of the total we see on our property tax bills"

Well, in 2000, that was only 10% and at that time I too thought the employees and city services were excellent, just as you proclaim today!!!!!! So why am I paying a greater portion of my bill to Marco Island?

Common sense says:

This increase is the direct result of policies and spending programs that burden taxpayers/property owners which lead to bankruptcies or diverting monies that would be best spent maintaining or improving our own property and businesses.

Why are citizens that wish to spend their own monies on their own homes and businesses considered a pariah? Why do we need to have more public stuff while lot vacancies rose during the span of city hood?...while public facilities and programs grew in size and scope.

I understand the need to update and repair,i.e. the water/sewer utilities, but allow us to update and repair our properties, at a commensurate level, as well.

I cannot vote for you given your "positive" view of the city and your negative view of property owners!

I need to make positive choices, which include not burdening my neighbors. There are better choices and its time our monies would be better served at home towards improvements and expansion of our own privately held properties NOT public property, to make this island a better community.

20_Days writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

marco826 writes:

"and in a fiscally prudent manner"
Really Mr. Recker? Is council buying PowerBall Tickets?

20_Days writes:

Mr. Recker,

Please do not insult the intelligence of the population of Marco with your attempt to convince those who do not know the facts.

Did you, in fact, pay your delinquent taxes on property in the Collier Tax Rolls: Sec 16 TWP 52 RGE 26 which was due in the amount of $4,315.04? If you did not pay these taxes, why not? When did you pay them?

It is difficult to support someone who fails to pay his taxes, when due, and expect that person to be prudent with the taxes we, the Citizens of Marco, pay on time.

20_Days writes:

KlausKlabsMHerzili, was that in English?

marcofriend writes:

in response to 20_Days:

Mr. Recker,

Please do not insult the intelligence of the population of Marco with your attempt to convince those who do not know the facts.

Did you, in fact, pay your delinquent taxes on property in the Collier Tax Rolls: Sec 16 TWP 52 RGE 26 which was due in the amount of $4,315.04? If you did not pay these taxes, why not? When did you pay them?

It is difficult to support someone who fails to pay his taxes, when due, and expect that person to be prudent with the taxes we, the Citizens of Marco, pay on time.

Come on now. He knows the election is only a couple of weeks away. He paid $4,537.04 last Wednesday 10-10-2012. They were just very late. He doesn't want the voters to think he's a deadbeat taxing the rest of us on Marco, while not able to pay his in a timely fashion.

tnjessen writes:

Mr. Recker - What I was trying to say at Council last night was this. Your words about the great employees of the city was very kind on your part, however questionable timing. I also attempted to say that of all the departments you spent so much of your time with you failed to mention the Building Dept. You know... the one that has been getting complaints, where inspectors were not licensed properly and was proven to be true by the DBPR. There are now questions into other licenses among this same group.I have been in front of council on several occasions telling you that much of the same that has happened in the past continues to this very day. This isn't something I've just announced I have lots to prove this yet not one member has made any attempt to contact me. Hmmmm! As for the ability to get everything off the city website is a joke. I personally can say that the new building permit system does not provide a lot of the information from the old system and because of that I must make public records request. While on that subject it should be no surprise to you that people have complained, there have been lawsuits in the past and present where the public records are not being given etc.

I see many people going through what I have which is when a citizen is attempting to inform you (council) of something they have been unsuccesful with when dealing with the city and go before you as a last resort. I se nothing but blank faces and virtually no response.

We need a new council with new ideas and open minds. This council appears to have its own agenda which is exactly what you accuse the new candidates of having.

Your wonderful write up of the city would have been a truly nice thing to do coming from a councilor, BUT your first few sentences took all that away when you tried to paint your opponents as the bad guys. The nice gesture then became a way to attack them while using employees at the same time.

Toni Jessen

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