COMMENTARY by Larry Sacher: We the people?
We the people?
Marco City Council passed Rental Ordinance No. 15-01; a group of citizens exercising the rights granted under our City charter chose to file a petition calling for a repeal of this ordinance and subsequently met all of the requirements necessary to have the petition certified, including signed petitions equaling a total of at least 10 percent of the registered voters on Marco (approximately 12,500 as of 12/31/14).
Needless to say, this ordinance has brought out both detractors and defenders, and is quite controversial and emotional at this time. City council was given the choice to either amend the ordinance, repeal the ordinance, or bring the ordinance to a referendum; a majority voted to put the ordinance on the presidential preference primary ballot in March 2016.
Without getting into the merits of the ordinance, there are two different issues that I want to make sure our community is very clear on as there have been far too many rumors and misinformation already.
One: While the majority of the speakers at the council meeting continually told council that "the people have spoken,” as I pointed out during council discussion, the total number of petitions submitted to the Supervisor of Elections was approximately 20 percent of the registered voters on Marco Island; 80 percent of our fellow citizens have not been heard from and I sincerely hope that come the March election, we will see a significantly greater number of voters.
Second, there were a number of people who spoke about our recently enacted noise ordinance and attempted to cite how poorly this also was constructed, citing "facts" about people being given citations for such things as "vacuuming their car" and "singing Christmas carols.” Obviously, if your council did such a poor job as to allow things of this nature to be citable offenses, we have a responsibility to address that.
Today, I asked Capt. David Baer of the Marco Island Police Department to substantiate these claims.
Having researched more than 40,000 items of data, Capt. Baer did find that the former head of the no-longer-existing Code Enforcement Department did have notes from a few years ago about these two items in which citizens did complain due to the late hours and volume of noise involved and in both cases immediately stopped and no action was ever taken. These alleged "overreach of government actions" bear no relationship to our noise ordinance.
There is an old adage about "if you say it often enough it becomes fact.” I would merely suggest that the people of Marco Island give heed to this adage when they hear or read some of these so-called facts.
Marco Island City Council