Guest Commentary: The making of a good candidate

A major characteristic of a good City Council candidate is that person's desire, before making major statements on an issue, to carefully review the facts of that issue and, if not having been personally involved in that issue, to get input from those that were; namely do their due diligence.

In a recent MICA survey all nine candidates for City Council were asked what they thought was the one change in past decisions they would have made, the one thing that had a negative impact on our Island community. The answers by some of the candidates clearly demonstrate a complete lack of due diligence.

For Larry Sacher and Duane Thomas it was the purchase of the water and sewer company. Mr. Sacher stated that the purchase was done with a "lack of planning and foresight", that plagued our community with unnecessary debt. Mr. Thomas simply stated that the purchase of the water company was "over-priced, not vetted or proper due diligence taken to insure the right price was paid."

Since neither of these candidates were involved, in any way, in the 2003 purchase of the water utility nor have they received input from any of those directly involved with the purchase, they are demonstrating the type of misinformation that has resulted in divisiveness in the past. Since I am sure this issue of the purchase of the water company will be a common theme of these candidates throughout the campaign, I felt it worthwhile to summarize the facts associated with that purchase. Since I lived through the entire purchase process I knew that the real facts would reveal a much different picture.

First, Florida Water Services (FWS), a Minnesota based company that owned our water and sewer systems, decided in late 2001 to sell off all of their Florida assets. It wasn't the City of Marco Island that initiated any purchase action. FWS wanted out.

In 2002, FWS announced they were selling our water systems to the towns of Gulf Breeze and Milton, located 600 miles away in the panhandle of Florida. These towns also announced to their residents that this purchase of Marco Island's system would result in significant profits that could be used to pave their roads and build their buildings. They also announced that the purchase price, around $120 million, would require an immediate and significant increase in water rates for Marco Island and that there would be no plans to upgrade or improve our water and sewer systems.

Marco Island's water systems were about to be purchased by other municipalities leaving our community with absolutely no regulatory or political power or influence. These municipalities would have total control of rates and programs. Of even greater concern was the fact that they had no intentions of spending any money to improve our system. Failed systems leading to flooding, water shortages and beach closures on Marco Island were of no interest to their residents.

To avoid these horrendous problems, the city had no choice but to block that sale and take over ownership itself. The sale to Gulf Breeze and Milton involved dozens of other municipalities in Florida that had FWS assets. Marco Island, having the largest stake in this issue, had to take the lead in trying to block the sale and then try and reduce Marco Island's price.

The city's first action prior to purchase was to complete an intensive and thorough review of the condition of the system and the need for repairs and upgrades. We knew that the Marco Island's water systems had not been adequately maintained or upgraded for several years. The City hired one of the world's leading companies on water and sewer systems to inspect the system and identify needed actions. After months of review, they submitted a 200 page report (available at City Hall) outlining all of the needed actions and the estimated costs. The City was able to use this report to demand a lower purchase price than the original allocation of around $120 million. The end result was an agreed upon price of $85 million. Professional and complete due diligence work by the City saved $35 million in the purchase price.

Prior to purchase the city also had to assure that they could buy the system and complete urgently needed repairs and upgrades without raising rates (other than cost of living adjustments) for five years. It was estimated that some $20 million in immediate work would be required. The city hired a well known rate analyst that did a twenty year financial pro forma and concluded that the five year commitment to hold off rate increases could be met even with the addition of the $20 million repair and upgrade plan. This commitment was met.

To assure that there was public support for the purchase, City Council held numerous public hearings on the matter and it was clear that the community was solidly behind taking control of the systems. Not one organization opposed the purchase.

It was only after the city was convinced that they knew the condition of the system, were able to reduce the price by 30 percent, could make the urgently required repairs, had public support and were assured that rates would be stable for five years, did the city move to purchase the system. This certainly was not a case of lack of due diligence as Mr. Sacher and Mr. Thomas allege.

The alternative to purchasing the water company ourselves would have been having Gulf Breeze and Milton own our systems. That "plan" would have resulted in total loss of control by Marco Island, massive rate increases, disastrous failures of our water and sewer systems and water shortages. In addition, I am sure that all voices of input, objection or protest, would have been scoffed at by the local city councils. Who would have cared? I am anxious to see what positive, constructive alternatives Mr. Sacher and Mr. Thomas have.

As Bernard Baruch once said: "Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no one has a right to be wrong in his facts." One fact that cannot be refuted is that past members of our City Council and other community leaders worked hard in blocking the sale to others, reducing our purchase price and assuring that our system worked and that we controlled our own destiny on this vital resource. Since 2003 there have been no utility related major spills or water shortages and the utility has received numerous state-wide awards for operational excellence and environmental compliance. Sure there are significant growing pains and unexpected factors that occurred, but untrue, unfair and totally negative bashing is unfair.

In 2008, the last time our community voted for a majority of City council, they overwhelmingly rejected the tactics of misinformation and negativism. Mr. Sacher and Mr. Thomas should heed that warning.

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

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Comments » 17

lauralbi1 writes:

And to top it off, the Chairperson of the Collier County Board that oversaw this water system and allowed it to deteriorate was none other than Fay Biles. But Marco was the forgotten Collier County area and did not need any of the County's attention.
Maybe Fay could confirm the factsa above and at least tell Mr. Thomas and Mr. Sacher that they know not what they speak of !!
That is now twice that Mr. Sacher has misspoken on MAJOR issues. The other was regarding Deltona's vision for Marco Island. Pretty major stuff.
That is what you get when you have a one issue candidate that knows nothing about being a City Council member.
Ed Issler

JohninMarco writes:

John, you and Issler always changed history to suit yourselves. The complaint going back to when you were a one term councilman were that you had no idea how to fund BOTH the purchase of the water system plus the cost of the STRP. Lets remind people how you and other council people stated that people come and go from Marco all the time and the STRP will be paid off in 7 years. When the economy crashed what became clear to most residents was that the city had taken on two major expenses with little idea how to pay for them. What has become clear is that we had the tax base for one project. Now the taxpayer will be paying twice for your mistake. We are paying for both projects via our water bills. No matter how you or Issler continue to put lipstick on this pig, its a pig. I guess you both will continue with these childess personal attacks, but I think most people see through this.

jwputnam writes:

I cannot believe that I find myself in agreement with Klaus, but he is absolutely 100% correct.

John Arceri has destroyed the peace and economic well being of this Island. He is a disgrace in my eyes.

ajm3s writes:

I find it interesting that only two candidates were referenced in this commentary. If you go back to the specific question that was posed by MICA, there were other candidates that voiced similar concerns.

Could it be that these two candidates, Mr. Sacher and Mr. Thomas, called out in the editorial pose a threat to Mr. Arceri vision?

If you want informed representatives, I say vote for:

Mr. Petricca
Mr. Sacher
Mr. Honecker

And for the four seat, I would tend to believe Mr. Thomas poses a threat to the City from Mr. Arceri's perspective.

Note: Mr. Petricca voiced a detailed and similar response whereas, Mr. Meyer voiced a more broad belief that the "water treatment plant/sewer project" as "one change that has had a negative impact on our Island community".

I could understand why Mr. Arceri did not call out Mr. Petricca because as a member of the UAB he was informed, but I am still wondering why he did not include Mr. Meyer in his list of candidates that were not informed or misinformed, the claim made against Mr. Sacher and Mr. Thomas.

Perhaps, Mr. Arceri supports Mr. Meyer even given his response, albeit more broad in scope.

Team building philosophy from Mr. Arceri: If you are not with me, you are against me, and need to be eliminated.

ajm3s writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

And to top it off, the Chairperson of the Collier County Board that oversaw this water system and allowed it to deteriorate was none other than Fay Biles. But Marco was the forgotten Collier County area and did not need any of the County's attention.
Maybe Fay could confirm the factsa above and at least tell Mr. Thomas and Mr. Sacher that they know not what they speak of !!
That is now twice that Mr. Sacher has misspoken on MAJOR issues. The other was regarding Deltona's vision for Marco Island. Pretty major stuff.
That is what you get when you have a one issue candidate that knows nothing about being a City Council member.
Ed Issler

For a rebuttal simply go to Mr. Sacher's website:

http://library.constantcontact.com/do...

2themoon writes:

Klaus you basically are the village idiot on this website but you are dead on with comandante Aceri as the head of the Marco mafia.
Just like the liberals and Obama are doing on a national stage, Aceri and his syndicate goons play the divide and conquer game here on Marco
See how they divided the Marco homeowner and the Marco condo owner to get their candidates elected last election.
They have no shame and will try to destroy anyone that gets in their way of power...sound familar? By the way... Aceri is probably a bigger bleeding heart liberal than Klaus is.

sachmo writes:

As a Candidate for Marco City Council I welcome your comments and questions. I am disappointed that Mr. Arceri, whom I've never met, chose to single me out, nor can I explain why he wrote the threat to me about trying to make sure I do not win. I'm running because I believe my background and experience can help, and frankly, as a many-year resident, I have simply had enough of what I consider to be poor management of our Island paradise. If anyone would like to contact me directly, please feel free to do so via either my website (www.larrysacherforcitycouncil.com) or my e-mail (councilorlarry@comcast.net).

Larry Sacher

tnjessen writes:

The commentary could have been written without naming names.

As for telling the candidates to do their homework and ask questions I have no doubt they have done the best they could. Trying to get information or a straight answer out of the city does not come easy. In fact for some of us it doesn't come at all.

I've met several of the candidates and see how hard they are working. It is also my belief that most have not had their hands in the pot for years on end. Out with the old and in with the new. We need new ideas, strategies, trust and transparency along with councilors that are willing to listen.

Thank goodness for all the new candidates!!!

Good Luck

NobodysFool57 writes:

Here we go with the Gulf Breeze/Milton boogey man again. I personally doubt these two little podunk towns could've mustered the resources to seal the deal. The utility would've become a ward of the Florida Governmental Utilities Authority as Golden Gate City's water and sewer operations are today. Not to change the subject but, how's your boy Rony doing these days, did he find work yet? One last thing, a belated "too bad" on your and Rony's failed attempt to sieze LCEC's Marco Island assets. Our committee was not about to stand by and watch a rerun of the water and sewer fiasco. By the way John, don't you have something to study out at Ave Maria?

MrBreeze writes:

I as others see the purchase of the water plant as a shined up used car. The seller of the car poised that the "other" buyer was wanting to buy it so Marco Island will lose out.

The problem was where would we get water from if the plant was not purchased? I have stated before we should invest in the plant and upgrade to the point where we can sell water to the residents of the island with lower costs.

My water bill with zero gallons used is 50.00 dollars per month. My northern home is 10.00 per month with zero gallons used. We also buy water from a large municipial water plant and the water is piped som 50 miles away to our town.

So where is the cost difference when we own the plant? The problem was and is we need water plain and simple. We must make the plant run efficiant as possible to control our costs plain and simple.

Turn the page people history cannot be changed. Time to move forward with new people and ideas who support the citizens of Marco Island first.

ajm3s writes:

in response to NobodysFool57:

Here we go with the Gulf Breeze/Milton boogey man again. I personally doubt these two little podunk towns could've mustered the resources to seal the deal. The utility would've become a ward of the Florida Governmental Utilities Authority as Golden Gate City's water and sewer operations are today. Not to change the subject but, how's your boy Rony doing these days, did he find work yet? One last thing, a belated "too bad" on your and Rony's failed attempt to sieze LCEC's Marco Island assets. Our committee was not about to stand by and watch a rerun of the water and sewer fiasco. By the way John, don't you have something to study out at Ave Maria?

You raise a good point as to the financial viability of outside municipalities to secure a deal.

But as Mr. Arceri writes:

"In 2002, FWS announced they were selling our water systems to the towns of Gulf Breeze and Milton, located 600 miles away in the panhandle of Florida. These towns also announced to their residents that this purchase of Marco Island's system would result in significant profits that could be used to pave their roads and build their buildings. They also announced that the purchase price, around $120 million, would require an immediate and significant increase in water rates for Marco Island and that there would be no plans to upgrade or improve our water and sewer systems."

Are these facts? I believe your analysis is more real as to the outcome vs. Mr. Arceri;s claim, that the purchaser of MI water treatment plant would "result in significant profits that could be used to pave their roads and build their buildings."

Mr. Arceri paints with broad strokes to again frighten the folks to then make his negotiating skills seem admirable.

Good comment!

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s I say we need you to run for a council seat.

Klaus, I compared the condition of the water plant to a "shined up used car" it was "as-is" with no warranty. We the taxpayers were forced to buy the used car and hope for the best.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

ajm3s I say we need you to run for a council seat.

Klaus, I compared the condition of the water plant to a "shined up used car" it was "as-is" with no warranty. We the taxpayers were forced to buy the used car and hope for the best.

Not ready for prime time and tend NOT to adhere to the motto "go along to get along" if it just doesn't make sense, which I believe runs counter to current council makeup. Now I admit at times I may be the last one in the room to get it, but most times I just shrug my shoulders in awe. The candidates I endorse have best represented my positions as expressed in past public comments to council, but Mr. Sacher statement succinctly describes my overall concern regarding fiscal matters on this island, in his rebuttal in the Sun Times LTE:

"Given our demographics, we should be among the most fiscally sound cities anywhere, instead of having hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and utility rates that are literally causing people to move away."

Quote taken from Sun Times:

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/app...|newswell|text|Home|p

26yearsonmarco writes:

Mr. Arceri,

If someone were to ask me this question:

"In a recent MICA survey all nine candidates for City Council were asked what they thought was the one change in past decisions they would have made, the one thing that had a negative impact on our Island community."

My answer would be very simple: Becoming a City.

Grumpy_Old_Men writes:

If Mr. Arceri is such an expert on the making of a proper candidate, then perhaps he should be putting his money where his mouth is and run for election.

I am not "pro" ANY of the current candidates but I am watching to see who WILL examine the huge costs and responsibility associated with the water utility. That isn't negativity, it's fiscal responsibility.

Our_world_according_to_zookeeper (Inactive) writes:

To the Puppeteer John Arceri,

It is common knowledge on this island that you have been pulling strings for the last several years regarding many council members.

It appears now that there is a candidate or more whose strings can not be pulled by your personal likings, that candidate is not up to your "standards". It would be nice if our councilors were able to "think for themselves", LISTEN TO tHE WANTS OF THE CITIZENS and not be part of a group who have lied, cost tax payers unnecessary additonal money, placed the citizen's of this island health in jeopardy by ignoring health related asbestos issues and jeopardizing the waterways with sewer construction etc.

It would also be nice to have all our councilors pay their city taxes in full, like the rest of us.

Need I say more?

Maybe we can have an election that is fair without the contrived voting methods your candidates have used in the past. Bullet voting may be legal but it is, in my opinion, unethical.

It is "we the people" of Marco Island not those whose strings are pulled by and ex-city councilor who wants to be be Marco's Master Puppeteer for Life.

20_Days writes:

Zookeeper: It is no secret to most of the populace that Mr. Arceri runs several of the present, and past, city councilors. Rumor has it that prior to the past elections, meetings were being held at Mr. Arceri's home of the council members at which time he was holding court. Don't the Sunshine Laws apply here too? Or is this a grey area that can be utilized? At any rate, it certainly tells you that he is running the show and his puppets are doing his bidding.

I, too, would like to see those strings cut and elect some independent (of Arceri) councilors. I would like to see people who are able to glean what the citizens of this city want and are concerned about, and who can think and act on their own. People, who in my opinion, are capable of making decisions and doing their due diligence for the taxpayers of this island in a more ethical manner--unencoumbered by "strings".

We have on this current council, members who do not pay taxes to this island,at least one who can be found on many bar stools any evening of the week, one who was elected by the infamous "bullet vote" (again not illegal, but unethical--another grey area), and one, whom I understand no longer lives on this island. All of whom, in my opinion, are beholden to Mr. Arceri.

What I don't understand is how this man can think that he has the "right" to decide who runs and who sits on our council. When was he appointed the ruler of Marco Island? And why does he believe that he knows what is best for all of our citizens?

Fellow taxpayers of Marco, it is time to vote out the current running incumbants and get some new people who not only want the best for EVERYONE, but who are willing to do the thinking and work necessary without bias.

We need to let the Puppet Master and the purported Marco Mafia know that we have had enough of them!!!!!

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