Commentary by Joe Batte: government by the people or special interests?
That's the question before us, people, and it is one you may need to step up and answer.
Recently, a majority of your elected Marco Island City Council members passed into law a long-needed rental ordinance that aims to make transient rental property owners responsible for the actions and behavior of the transient renters they rent to and collect an income from. The ordinance does nothing to interfere with peoples' right to rent, just their responsibility to control their renters and protect the quality of life of the neighbors.
Many of us know how our quality of life has been destroyed by these unregulated businesses in single-family neighborhoods.
Low and behold, after this law was passed by the peoples' elected members of council, we have a special interest group made up of Realtors and chamber of commerce, submitting a petition to repeal this law because they don't like it. As I see it, they don't like it because it puts requirements on these rental businesses and they want no such requirements. Also, by killing this law, they keep the door open as to their program to lobby Tallahassee to create additional limitations on local governments, preventing such local governments from controlling the transient rental epidemic.
So there you have it in a nutshell. But here is the despicable part that raises my blood pressure. Since when do duly elected members of the city council who function as the "lawmaking" or "legislative" arm of our government have laws created only to be held in limbo by a petition from a special interest group? And as I see it, that is what is coming or at least the potential threat of such petition.
It gets even worse folks because should this phony attempt succeed, you will be forced to consider city government going forward. Do we have government by the peoples' elected representatives or government by special interest group petition? Remember, if you don't like what your elected officials do, you can get rid of them. That's democracy.
But how do you get rid of the special interest lobby? That's something else. Should the result of this petition submission require the electorate (you) having to decide the question I just asked above, you had better be ready to respond. And my hope and prayer is that you will choose to support your elected lawmakers when they enact legislation, especially legislation aimed at saving the quality of life of the people they serve and keeping Marco an upscale community. And remember, as city council members, we all swore to do this when we took office, so continue to allow the city council to do our job free from political interference.
We all had a chance to debate the merits or weakness of the rental ordinance during the long hearing process. No other matter has been vetted more than this, including the STRP, but at the end of the day, when the decision was finally made by the official body given this authority by the electorate, up jumps a non-official non-elected special interest bunch attempting to kill it, for no other reason than it may not fit their special interest plan! And keep in mind that while they will attempt to convince you that this is a peoples' petition, just take a look at the signatures on the preliminary petition document and who delivered same to city hall, namely Realtors and chamber of commerce.
And condo managers, if you are joining this bunch, you are doing so for reasons other than the merits of this law since you must know that the new law allows condos to opt out, but since you are no more special than anyone else, you will be required to register.
Please feel free to contact me on the city website should you like additional information or how to help our city not fall from upscale to you know what. It's your call so get ready to answer the call when the time comes.
We must win this one and put this special interest disease that has been around forever to rest. This is the peoples place and they need to keep it.
Reach Joe Batte through his city email, firstname.lastname@example.org.