Marco Island relationships – ‘It’s complicated’
As we mature – we turned 20 this past week – Marco Island is developing relationships with Collier County and with the state of Florida that need to take on a sophistication commensurate with our political age.
First, we need to assert our rights and privileges as a “home rule” city. Florida allows matters not specifically reserved to the state or to the county, to be decided by incorporated municipalities – that’s us! This is a big deal. This is the heart of how we keep Marco Island special, and local, just the way we want. Otherwise, pick the name of your city, plug in your geo-location, and you will look like every other city in the U.S.
Right now, there are efforts in Tallahassee to let Florida decide Marco Island zoning – such as what signs can look like, and how big or high they can be, and what colors on buildings are allowed. These efforts are a toe in the water – and they are outrageous. If effected, they could end any “special” aspect to Marco Island. The city of Naples is also enraged by these efforts, so we are in good company. Naples and Marco Island are the jewels of Collier County, and we must do whatever is legal and moral to keep it that way. We cannot be a jewel if we are just like every other town.
Second, we must assert our rights to have a locally controlled ambulance transport service, if that is what we as a community decide we wish to provide for ourselves. As it stands, the county asserts (correctly) that the level of advanced emergency response on Marco Island is between the top one and two in the county, out of 40 districts.
There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our citizens. Our view on City Council is that we may not wish to risk the possible consequences to ambulance service if county fire districts merge in 2020. One way to hedge the risk is to control our own ambulance service. That control might cost us an additional $2 million annually, and it might mean a big new city administrative department, but that should be our choice. Or we may decide to stay with the county. “Our choice,” please. “Home rule.”
Finally, we cannot ignore the results of the City Council’s commissioned survey of our employees in June. Recall that we engaged a Norfolk, Virginia based firm with a long and solid history of confidential employee surveys (including a 17-year history with the Department of Defense) to help us understand what is on the minds of our city employees. This was also designed to help our new city manager, after she or he is selected, to hit the ground running.
The survey clearly showed that the city staff is not appreciative of the so-called “support” of City Council. Wow. We on council have taken this result very seriously, and we have adjusted our behavior and our commitment. We are solidly appreciative of our city staff, but clearly we have not shown it well.
The survey also revealed potential criminal activity and other questionable actions in the Marco Island Police Department. Our police department is operating under a pall of suspicion and negativity that taints the vast majority of hard-working, honest police officers. This matter must be investigated and brought to conclusion. Our city manager has hired a former captain in the Pinellas County Sheriff’s department, who has a Ph.D. and advanced degrees in criminal justice, to conduct an independent inquiry. Captain Rasor-Cordero will be aided by an attorney on her consulting staff. We will get this resolved.
Larry Honig, chairman, Marco Island City Council
It seems that most people are quick to call, report or write about a complaint. In this case, I feel the need to acknowledge a company that I would refer to as a “good Samaritan” of companies, Rice’s Moving and Transport Inc. of Naples.
A few months ago my neighbor was being evicted. Rice’s Moving came and packed her up, piece by piece. The workers wrapped all the furniture and little items carefully and gently loaded their truck and hauled off all her belongings to their storage facility. They arrived early one morning and didn’t stop until they were done, except briefly for lunch, which they had with them. They worked almost nonstop from early morning until early evening.
I stopped to talk to them for a few minutes. I asked if I could buy them a pizza or get them some water since now it was near dinner time. I asked them what will happen to all my neighbor's things. The owner told me that she is in real need of all kinds of help. The least he and his wife, who own the company, could do for her was at least simply store her belongings in the back of the facility until she needed them again. They would be safe there; it is locked up and not in anyone’s way. Since they had the room they wanted to help her out.
My neighbor told me that Rice’s Movers had helped her before without any fuss or questions.
This is the true works of God through people. It is reflected all around us. Thank you, Rice’s Moving.
Peggy Doherty, Naples