Letters to the Editor, March 13
Marco Island city councilors: I am sufficiently exasperated by all the legal, political and emotional posturing to the question of arming or otherwise providing improved protection for our school children. There seems to be a plethora of “ifs, ands or buts” to the proposal of arming teachers in our schools. Ditto to the question of whether or not professional armed officers might serve dependably (Parkland shooting).
I believe these issues will be resolved in a sensible manner … eventually. However, in the meantime, would it not be reasonable for the City of Marco Island to legislate that every teacher or employee within Marco Island schools shall be provided with, and instructed in, the use of a chemical defense product, i.e. the so-called “pepper spray” that is used even by police officers?
Even parochial schools would approve of such a prudent, protection tactic.
Russ Colombo, Marco Island
Protect and preserve
On Monday March 5, Marco Island City Council made history by passing a law designed to protect and preserve one of the jewels of our piece of paradise and also to make its citizens and business proud that we care, not only about our birds and turtles, but also that we want to preserve this great island as a piece of paradise for our residents and taxpayers, and also keeping Marco Island as a great tourist destination, i.e. our beaches and wildlife.
Back in the fall of 2017, our city Beach and Coastal Resources Advisory Committee proposed the elimination of plastic straws which causes the greatest level of beach and coastal pollution and also causes the greatest damage to our wildlife, in particular, birds and turtles. Their alternative was to get an ordinance to get our businesses on the beach to use biodegradable straws that quickly decomposes and not only helps protect our wildlife but also eliminate the unsightly straws that liter our beaches.
When they came up with that proposal I was more than happy to sponsor an ordinance to be voted by City Council, and again, fulfill my promise to protect our beaches and lifestyle. I thank the Beach and Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, as well as the many phone calls from citizens of Marco island encouraging me, and I am sure other Councilors, to support this ordinance. I also like to thank my fellow councilors for a great win for all of us; it was a 7-0 approval by Marco Island City Council. Again, promises made, promises kept.
Victor N. Rios, Marco island
Am I missing something?
As most of Marco Islanders must know, our recently hired city manager, Dr. Lee Niblock, has allegations placed against him for committing battery.
At the Feb. 20 City Council meeting Dr. Niblock acknowledged the allegations against him and requested that he be allowed to take an indefinite leave of absence until the Collier County Sheriff's Office concludes its investigation.
I have no problem with that. Then the topic came up if the leave of absence should be with or without pay. To me it was a no brainer. Dr. Niblock initiated the request for an indefinite leave of absence, not the City Council. Of course it should be without pay. When the City Council asked advise from our city lawyer, our city lawyer stated that granting Dr. Niblock leave without pay would be the same as terminating him. This is where I get confused. If any other city employee requested an indefinite leave of absence would that employee be entitled to full pay while not working or be considered terminated if they were not paid? I think not. And when the amount of pay given to Dr. Niblock was discussed, it was put in the hands of our city lawyer and Dr. Niblock's lawyer to negotiate. Our lawyer already wanted to give Dr. Niblock full pay. Some negotiations! Both lawyers against the Marco Island tax payers. What a surprise outcome!
I would like a response from any member of the City Council explaining to me and all of the tax payers on Marco why it appears that Dr. Niblock is given special treatment. Is there a clause in his contract allowing him to take indefinite leaves of absence with pay? If not, where is our city lawyer getting his facts that giving Dr. Niblock leave without pay is the same thing as terminating him? And why is paying a city employee not to work a prudent way of spending our tax money?
Thom Fisher, Marco Island
Innocent until proven guilty
As a citizen of Marco Island, I believe the only sound comment about the allegation towards City Manager Lee Niblock came from City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni in the Marco Eagle: “We’re not the judge, we’re not the jury, and certainly not the executioner. I am extremely uncomfortable sitting up here and altering an individual’s livelihood based on an allegation.”
Well said, Mr. Chairman. Anyone can make an allegation, which doesn’t make it true, and that includes all of you and me. So before others “cry for his head,” I believe we must trust in the American justice system to run its course. Be advised that many of the citizens of Marco Island don’t agree with the rush to judgment, as shown at the last council meeting. I believe you’re innocent until proven guilty and that Niblock should have continued doing his job.
I’ve met with Niblock and have never found any city staff member reaching out to the citizens and city staff more than he did.
There was a letter in the Eagle that suggested we move to an elected mayor. I’m thinking that’s not a bad idea after watching the last council meeting.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, councilors. Let’s wait and see what the Sheriff’s Office concludes as agreed to by council members Grifoni, Charlette Roman, Howard Reed, Victor Rios and Joe Batte. Allegations are easily made and tougher to prove. I’ll just leave it at that.
Sam Young, Marco Island