Health care, politics and business are the issues on this week’s “Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle” program that airs on Sunday morning at 10 on ABC7. Alan Levine, Health Management Associates’ Florida hospitals president, discusses plans for a new hospital in Estero/Bonita and a clinic on Marco Island; Penny Phillippi, former Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency executive director, gives her version of why she no longer works for Collier County and calls new Commissioner Tim Nance “disingenuous”; and Mike Reagen, outgoing Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, discusses where local leadership and economic development need to go.
* Video highlights will be posted on Monday at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Lytle: Alico Road seems to be a logical place to build your new hospital?
Levine: That’s one of several places where we’re looking.
We think the Bonita Springs, Estero area is underserved right now, and there’s a whole corridor of opportunity there. We want to make sure, because once you build a hospital, it’s there for a long time. So we have to make sure we put it in the right place.
Lytle: What did you make of the comments from Commissioner Tim Nance, the new commissioner, quoted in our newspaper as saying that he really didn’t have any problems with the work you were doing, and he looked forward to trying to work with you because you’re a nice person, and he looked forward to a productive future; yet you’re no longer there.
I was having a hard time squaring those two.
Phillippi: I found Commissioner Nance disingenuous on that issue, and in one-on-one chats he said, “I’m going to support a hundred percent. Everybody talked, everybody here, they love what you’re doing; they like your work; they’re very appreciative. And it’s going to be a little rough, but I’m going to support you a hundred percent.”
But when we got to the board room, he voted to rescind my contract, and then he proposed we have six months to one year to prove myself. I said, “OK, it’s time to go.’’ That was my thought.
Lytle: Did you have a chance to go to him and say, hey, what ... why did you change your mind?
Phillippi: Absolutely not. I no longer trusted him ... I no longer trusted what he was going to say to me.
Lytle: Does it concern you at all that the new economic development executive in Collier County government is coming aboard before a plan of direction, a strategy for him, is in place, given the sometimes interesting political makeup and official conduct of this Collier County Commission?
Reagen: No. I think that there are two parts to your question. I think frankly we’re at a point where Collier County in my estimation has grown dramatically the last 30 years, stimulated primarily by net in-migration and the importation of passive wealth — people coming here with money. And everything has sparked great development.
We’re at point now where we need to diversify the economy. We’re not really sure how to do that. OK. But nobody’s in charge.
So I think the new director needs to put a staff together, listen to people, collect information and then suggest a plan. And I think that would take ... I would respectfully suggest a good six, eight months.
Now the second part of your question, I think we need a balanced, stable, civil foundation to nurture whatever that plan may be.
Lytle: How does this Collier County Commission get there?
Reagen: I think, like in the Navy, they’re going on a shake-out cruise, and sometimes boats crash when you do that, and sometimes they don’t.