Debate on access to public records set off a bit of a furor Tuesday as Marco Island City Councilors reached deep to understand public outcry for quicker response on records requests.
Councilor Larry Honig initiated a confrontation with Councilor Amadeo Petricca by scolding him for comments made at a homeowners' event. Honig insisted Petricca's constant berating of city staff for lack of response to records requests was unfounded.
Petricca was asking for much more than public records, Honig said, looking instead for staff to produce compilation and analysis of materials.
"I stand by my words," Petricca shot back. "I will do what's necessary to do my job as a councilor. I'm somewhat offended, but I'll take it knowing where it came from."
The thread of discontent on records response carried through public comment. Regina and Tim Dayton, who are suing the city for problems with building inspections, complained they were not able to get public information they had requested.
City attorney Burt Saunders tried to clarify the problem saying request e-mails that were said to be sent to the city were never received. Bill McMullan spoke after the Daytons agreeing information was not being provided as it should be.
When councilors got to the business agenda, they faced another concern: Last minute changes to ordinances.
Councilor Larry Magel brought wording revisions to second reading of an ordinance outlining board and committee terms. Councilor Larry Sacher complained the recommendations did not meet council's 48-hour rule. Councilors had agreed they would have at least 48 hours to review new information.
"It's unfair to the spirit of what we are trying to do that these are last minute changes," he said. "I'm uncomfortable with last minute changes without the public seeing it."
Council determined Magel's changes were "wordsmithing" and not substantive. The ordinance passed unanimously, changing terms to start Feb.1 for all but Audit Advisory Committee and Code Compliance members. The audit committee will have a start date of June 1 to correspond with the work cycle of the city's audit. Code Compliance is addressed under a separate ordinance. All members will be able to serve for two, 4-year terms.
Bryan Milk, city community affairs director, asked council to consider revising several paragraphs during second reading of an ordinance regulating vacant lot use by seawall contractors. Councilors had not been given time to review the changes before the meeting and felt the changes were too encompassing to consider in such a brief time. Approval of the ordinance was tabled until council meets on Feb. 4.
On first reading, an ordinance to update protection of sea turtles and threatened species passed by 7-0. Nancy Richie, city environmental specialist, said the revisions make the city's Land Development Codes more current, eliminate conflicts within city boundaries, and better align with Florida law.
Councilors appointed volunteer members to four advisory committees and the Planning Board. With only two applicants, council set aside appointments to the Arts Advisory Committee. Council also deferred appointments to the Audit Advisory Committee until closer to June 1.
The Beach Advisory Committee will include Ralph Barnhardt, Ruth McCann, Pattie Miller, Debbie Roddy, George Schmidt and Peter Clapp. Petricca passed on an appointment.
Returning to the Beautification Advisory Committee are Susan LaGrotta, Linda Colombo, Bob Kennedy and Syd Mellinger, New members are Peggy Anuta, Stan Niemczyk and Linda Turner.
New Parks and Recreation Committee members are Litha Berger and Gerald Swiacki. Returning are Rich Lutz, Val Simon, Greg West and Paul Meyer. Sacher passed on an appointment.
Planning Board members Bob Brown, Monte Lazarus and Jack Patterson will remain. New on the board are Frank Mulligan, Irv Povlow, Marty Roddy and past city councilor Bill Trotter.
The Waterways Advisory Committee will include returning members Richard Shanahan, Don Dilks, Jim Timmerman and Don Ricci, Jr. New members are Bill Bott, Peter Clapp and Brian Gilmore.
Council scheduled a workshop for 9 a.m., Monday, Feb.4, with a regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. that evening. Both meetings will be held in the community meeting room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.