Politics, social services and best-sellers are in the spotlight for this week’s "Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle." The show aired at 10 a.m. Sunday on ABC7.
New Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman discusses the jail term for his predecessor, Tammy Hall, and efforts to get nearly $5 million back from VR Labs. Scott Burgess, new CEO at The David Lawrence Center, sizes up mental health care in Collier County. Craig Bouchard of Naples gives an inside look at the making of his New York Times best-seller list book, "The Caterpillar Way,’’ about an astounding business makeover.
Video highlights will be posted at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
NewsMakers Brian Hamman
Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman
Lytle: Lee County is finally playing hardball to get it’s nearly $5 million dollars back from VR Labs. We can’t see the promised jobs created yet. VR Labs is saying sorry, no can do, we don’t have the money. Your reaction to VR Labs’ response?
Hamman: Well, I hope they don’t expect us to go away quietly and accept that response. Look, that’s the taxpayers’ money that was given to them and I certainly think that we need to do everything we can to find out what happened there. And I think the FBI is certainly investigating that case. It’s been reported even in your program that the FBI is looking into that. And so, I certainly hope that if something happened that was wrong there or illegal that those people get brought to justice.
Lytle: Is there anything that Lee County can do from a bargaining perspective? Does Lee County have any leverage anymore?
Hamman: Well, you know you bring up a great point. So as you structure these incentives, they need to be performance-based. They absolutely need to be performance-based. And I think that as we look towards one that is coming up actually on the next meeting agenda with Gartner ... this contract is much different. You know the commissioners that are on the board right now are actually having to deal with a lot of the decisions that previous commissioners made and we’ve learned a lot from what they did.
And so now as we move forward with programs like this, like the incentive we’re talking about for Gartner, we’re going to make them very performance-based. So Gartner, before they get any of this new incentive that we are talking about, has to fulfill their initial contract. On top of that they’ve got to actually open up their new business, hire employees that we’ve asked them to hire – 80 of them. Then pay their taxes! And then it comes as a reimbursement.
NewsMakers Craig Bouchard
Craig Bouchard co-author of "The Caterpillar Way"
Lytle: Caterpillar’s amazing rebound came after losing more than a million dollars a day.
Bouchard: Yes. They lost a million dollars a day for three consecutive years in the early 1980s. And they were about less than $10 billion of revenue at that point.
There’s a Naples fellow, by the way, Don Fites, who took over the company for nine years during the 1990s and really helped to resurrect Caterpillar from that point. Don was one of the greatest CEOs in the company. He took it to $20 billion in revenue. And then the story really got good. And we wrote about how they went from $20 billion to $60 billion.
NewsMakers Scott Burgess
Scott Burgess, New CEO of David Lawrence ...
Lytle: David Lawrence is more doing more community outreach and more community education on how everybody can partner and work on better mental health together. Is that part of your agenda as well?
Burgess: Absolutely. I really sincerely believe that partnership and collaboration and community involvement is critically important for us. There’s long been a stigma. I’ve often said that mental illness is the only illness that’s being whispered about anymore. It used to be other conditions would be whispered about. Mental illness is something that really needs to get out in the forefront. It’s no different than any other medical illness.