Brent Batten: Naples is just right for Lefty

Phil Mickelson of the US plays a shot off the 11th tee during the final day of the British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's golf course Sandwich, England, Sunday, July 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Phil Mickelson of the US plays a shot off the 11th tee during the final day of the British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's golf course Sandwich, England, Sunday, July 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Phil Mickelson,

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.


Dear Phil,

We haven't met but I've been following your career for some time.

I'm a golfer as well, although there are significant differences in our games. For instance, I play right handed.

But that's not why I'm writing you.

The purpose of this letter is to invite you to visit Naples, Fla., as you consider the "drastic action," you recently mentioned to address California's high income tax.

I realize you've apologized for pointing out the obvious, that you pay a large percentage of your income in taxes, that like any rational person you consider your options when making financial decisions and that one of those options is moving to a state without an income tax.

There's no need to apologize to the people of Florida for thinking about moving to a state with no income tax. Except for those who were born here, we've all been there, done that. (And, as an aside, I don't see too many of the people born here rushing to leave for high income tax states.)

Our economy is built on the notion that low income taxes attract people who in turn spend money generating jobs and sales tax. Of late, high earners such as you have been conspicuous in our community, doing things like raising millions of dollars for charity.

One sports figure, former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano, has donated millions in our area to a hospital, a children's museum and a university, since he moved here to escape New York's high state income tax.

Still, there are plenty of good causes to which you could attach your name, should you choose to make a home in Southwest Florida.

You took a good deal of criticism for suggesting you'd like to keep more than half of what you earn and you'd probably take more if you followed through on that suggestion.

But rest assured you wouldn't be alone. You may not have seen Monday's New York Post, what with the conclusion of the weekend's golf tournament in San Diego pushed back to Monday because of terrible weather (did I mention it was sunny and 80 here all weekend?) but there was an article about a flood of Wall Street executives moving to Florida because of the tax situation.

Our friends over in Palm Beach County have even set up an office in their business development section to communicate with these executive refugees.

Collier County has a new business development manager named Bruce Register. He started work Monday. I don't know what his plans are but you should give him a call. Maybe he'll set up an operation like the one in Palm Beach.

If low taxes, beautiful weather, a welcoming community and the opportunity to do good aren't enough to get you to move here, I'll throw in an added incentive.

As mentioned, I'm a golfer. I believe I could convince my playing partners to carve out a space for you in our group. That way, you'll get to know some people, find out which courses have the best beer cart service, things like that.

I can't promise we'll have room for you in the foursome every week but don't worry. I'm sure you can find a game on your own if you need to.

At any rate, I hope you'll take me up on my offer to show you around Naples with an eye toward making this your home.


Brent Batten

16 handicap

Naples, Fla.


P.S. I think I can help you with that over-the-top move that causes you to hook your driver.

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