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‘Slate’ gets their way

As many of you know by now, Roger Hernstadt, our city manager, has resigned.

If you voted for the “slate” of Jared Grifoni, Howard Reed, and Charlotte Roman and wanted the city manager gone, you got what you wanted.

If you are unconcerned or uninformed citizens that voted for the “slate,” then you got what you deserve.

If you are part of the concerned citizens that fought the good fight to keep the “slate” out of office, but lost, now you have just lost the best city manager that Marco Island has ever had.

Sorry to say, but this is not the only person they want to remove. Next on their list will be the police chief and the fire chief. Don’t let this happen.

Rise up in arms to stop this City Council from tearing down this city. Scrutinize everything these councilors say or do. Don’t let these councilors impose their will on our city. Fight back in every way possible. Attend every City Council meeting and advisory committee meeting that you can. Speak up whenever you can and make your opinion heard. The “slate” does not represent the true voice of Marco Island.

Gene Burson, Marco Island

Revenge!

Yep, that’s what we got from a poorly designed developers proposal. But, what would have happened if the developer had merely offered us $3,500,000 to be used for any project we wanted instead of proposing his own design of Veterans Community Park?

Three and a half million would have paid for our new Mackle Park Community Center or could have provided funds for our own development of Veterans Community Park, rebuilding one fire station, modernizing another fire station or whatever we chose. And, after being fully vetted we could have had a new Hyatt Hotel that had fully contained parking, new restaurants a new tax revenue for the city.

Would the proposal had opposition -- sure! But, I bet reason rather than emotion would have prevailed.

But, instead emotion has pressured a fully qualified professional manager out of office -- a manager who saved us about $40 million in refinancing City Debt; millions more in renegotiating the Police Pension Plan; got us a state lobbyist who brought over $3 million in the last two years; created a “bucket plan” to pay for the new Mackle Park Community Center and accumulate money for other renewal or replacement obligations; and was probably the best qualified to negotiate a Goodland Road settlement. And why? Because he enabled the developer to submit his plan to the Planning Board in the standard manner before going to City Council.

Score: Emotion, 5; Reason 2

Bill Flasche, Marco Island

Time for a new whipping boy

Congratulations on getting the best city manager we have ever had to resign. The man who finally got our bucket plan together is out. I truly wish Roger Hernstadt the best. The citizens, who voted for the slate of four, do not deserve a man with his talent and commitment.

Now it is time for a new whipping boy to appear and I wonder whom, these negative wonders that you voted in, will now hunt down next? Our police chief? The fire-rescue chief? Or possibly, the interim city manager?  I fear for these very competent individuals and what will happen to them. You can bet the “old boys “from the STRP era will return with a vengeance with their personal agenda groups. Get ready for more of their same old story. Say goodbye to a sensible budget.

Thank goodness the outdated bridge and Mackle Park Community Center issues have been resolved. The new $3.5 million Mackle Park Community Center is being built today and will be paid for from the bucket plan, thanks to Mr. Hernstadt.

Do you wonder what the fate will be for the COPCN (ambulance service)? Are we, the taxpaying citizens, not worth the cost to have the very best available and quickest emergency response service at our disposal if an emergency arises?  I guess, we can always move to Naples to get better and faster lifesaving emergency medical service.  Should we have to consider that?

I guess it is more important to get a hotel built without any of the benefits that could have made our park more user-friendly for all citizens of this community to enjoy.

The citizens have said they want a community park with shade trees and a band shell building with decent bathrooms making the park more usable year round. This would cost each family approximately $6.50 per year. Are citizens too financially overburdened to pay $6.50 a year for these amenities? Could the Councilor who lives behind the park want to stall park improvements as long as he can?

We have missed out on a golden opportunity to develop this island to its’ fullest potential for All citizens by losing an optimistic, devoted city manager. We have allowed him to be insulted and attacked at almost every City Council Meeting. We have closed our eyes and ears to the consequences of voting for a block instead of individuals.  We have allowed vicious, character assignation letters to infect our voters. Many of us are guilty of doing just that. We have voted in a slate rather than chose individuals who have worked hard to energize our city for all young and old alike. What happens next? What new vibrant, experienced professional city manager will want to come to this city? Is it possible someone in the slate of four has an “old crony” waiting in the wings? Who knows?

As they say, be careful what you wish for. It may come back to haunt you!

Suzanne Piro, Marco Island

Outraged by the spineless behavior

I would like to begin by thanking Marco Island councilors Batte and Brown for showing the citizens of Marco Island that they have dignity, intelligence and class in their performance on the City Council. Unfortunately, they are the only ones serving on the council who do. They are quite obviously the only councilors who have backbones.

I was outraged by the spineless behavior of the rest of our City Council at the Feb. 6 meeting. By accepting the resignation of City Manager Roger Hernstadt, they fulfilled the promise that they made to the person who organized their sneaky little platform of four in November’s election. I wonder if these four puppets can sleep at night or look at themselves in the mirror. If I was in their shoes right now, I certainly would be unable to do so. But maybe that is because I am an independent thinker. Maybe that is because I have a conscience. I doubt that they could even understand what that means.

City Manager Hernstadt was an asset to city government. He performed his job with honesty, integrity, intelligence and responsibility. Since he has been city manager, my taxes have gone down each year, while city services on Marco Island have improved. He has touched Marco Island in other positive ways as well. He and his wife Jessica have contributed significantly to the good of this community with their time, talents and even their personal money. I have had the honor and pleasure of working with Jessica Hernstadt on committees and events for the American Cancer Society, Kiwanis, Meals of Hope and other organizations. Roger and Jessica brought the island together in a spirit of generosity and volunteerism. Roger and Jessica Hernstadt are two of the finest people I know.

The foursome of Chairman Honig, and Councilors Reed, Roman and Grifoni were able to bamboozle the voters of Marco Island back in November with their fancy signage and advertisements. But I think their days of bamboozling are over as they have exposed themselves for what they really are.

When I asked one of these four councilors if the rumors of their anti-Hernstadt agenda were true, he looked me right in the eye and denied them. In hindsight, that sends chills through me. It would be interesting to hear what this individual has to say for himself now. To be honest with you, I really don’t care what he would say, because it would surely be just another lie disguised as one of his “divine” insights. I can assure you, there is nothing divine about an elected official who not only denies the truth, but chooses to serve in his elected position with total disregard for the very people who voted for him, only addressing and adhering to his own personal agenda and that of his puppeteer.

My husband and I have been homeowners on Marco Island since 1997. We knew this island before it was an incorporated city. We have seen many things happen. Some good, and some bad. The Feb. 6 City Council meeting was by far the worst thing we have ever seen.

Maureen Chodaba, Marco Island       

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