Effort fails to delay request for Collier medical director applicants

Dr. Robert Tober/file photo

Photo by Darron R. Silva .DS

Dr. Robert Tober/file photo

Collier County Medical Director Dr. Robert Tober’s contract is up in September, but county commissioners might find a replacement before then after an effort to keep Tober in his job failed Tuesday.

Commissioners voted 3-2 against an effort to delay putting out a request for applicants for Tober’s job until his contract is up. Commissioner Fred Coyle, who asked for the reconsideration, was joined only by Commissioner Donna Fiala in his motion.

“It’s unprofessional, it’s unethical and it discourages qualified applicants who want to work with this board,” he said before the vote. “I think we should follow our ordinance, provide an evaluation of the medical director and make a decision in September.”

Tober has been the county’s medical director for 34 years.

Because it was a reconsideration, there was no discussion other than Coyle’s reasoning for wanting to bring it back.

Last month, commissioners voted 4-1 to open Tober’s job and that of the deputy county medical director to other applicants. Commissioner Tom Henning, the lone dissenter in that vote, voted with the majority Tuesday. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Coyle strategically voted in the majority in the first vote. To bring a vote back for reconsideration, a commissioner must have initially voted in the majority.

Airport proposal fails

Commissioner Tim Nance’s proposal to hire someone to manage the commercial and industrial property at the Immokalee airport failed Tuesday in a split a 2-2 vote. He needed a majority of at least three commissioners for it to pass.

Commissioners Henning and Fiala voted against the proposal. Coyle was not present for the vote.

Nance said he believed the development at the Immokalee airport was going the wrong way, focusing on the airport and the public aviation business driving the development of the area. It is the industrial and commercial possibilities that had a greater chance of generating economic development, he said.

But several commissioners pointed out the county is hiring a consultant to evaluate the airports and make recommendations to help save money. Nance’s recommendation could be part of the consultant’s evaluation, they said.

Commissioners are hoping to reduce the financial impact of the Collier County Airport Authority on the county’s general fund and potentially reduce the more than $20 million debt obligation the airports owe.

Pipe replacement contract passes

Commissioners unanimously approved a $2.3 million contract with Denco Construction for the rehabilitation of the potable water, sanitary sewer and storm water management systems serving the Doral Circle subdivision in East Naples.

The project will replace 40-year-old pipes, install back flow prevention devices and new fire hydrants in the neighborhoods, according to Public Utilities Administrator George Yilmaz.

The project, which is expected to take about 10 months, will begin as soon as the county can issue a notice to proceed.

Public records lawsuit settlement approved

Commissioners voted to settle a lawsuit for $1,474.50 with a public records advocate over a claim that the county violated the law by asking him to make his records request in writing.

Joel Chandler, 48, of Lakeland, makes a living traveling the state filing lawsuits against government agencies in a quest to ensure public officials follow public record laws.

Coyle said he didn’t like Chandler profiting off the taxpayers.

“This is not punishing the government. It is not punishing the employee who made the mistake,” he said. “This is taking money from taxpayers. It’s repugnant to me.”

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