MAILBAG: More letters from readers
Ill-prepared for duties
Predictably, the Batte/email issue was going to boil over into this past Monday’s City Council meeting. I watched fellow Islanders express their opinions that they believed an independent investigation into whether the Batte emails violated the city charter was appropriate. In response, Council voted to discuss the possibility of an investigation at the next meeting. Council eventually went on recess, most people in attendance left (myself included), and then they came back and flip flopped the decision at the end of the meeting!
In July, an ill-conceived motion was put forth by Councilor Ken Honecker to amend one portion of the rental ordinance. This would have restarted fight and solved nothing. Ultimately, Council voted for a March 2016 referendum. Finally, we can move on, right? Nope. Councilor Honecker made a new motion at the Aug. 3 meeting to debate once again, whether or not the ordinance should be rescinded! All of this occurred during approximately 40 minutes of a comedy of errors masquerading as a “debate” over the proper procedure for adding items to a future agenda.
Putting aside whether an independent investigation should be conducted or whether you support or oppose the rental ordinance, our council, as a whole, continues to demonstrate that they either ill-prepared or unsuited for the duties required of them. Just about the only thing you can count on is that there will be flip-flops, mistakes, do-overs, misunderstandings, revotes, procedurals errors, and a rehashing of all issues of major importance.
This, to me, indicates that our council is not prepared and is making decisions flying by the seat of their pants without proper justification or contemplation over the direct or unintended consequences of their actions.
We may need to start stamping our council agenda with “Warning: Do not blink! Council liable to radically change course without notice!” Marco Islanders are justifiably frustrated with the actions of this council. This is bad government and a disservice to the people of Marco Island.
Having watched a few of the Marco Island City Council meetings, I am dismayed by how dysfunctional this group is as they stumble through their agenda. Their antics do not make for efficient or effective city government nor do they instill any confidence in residents affected by their actions, inactions, and misdeeds.
As a former superintendent of schools who had to work with a nine member Board of Education made up of diverse personalities, I know that when difficulties with communication or effectiveness occurred, the use of a professional facilitator to help members clarify their roles and responsibilities as well as improve the group processes resulted in improved governance.
Having seen the disarray that is our City Council I am surprised that the City Manager has not made an effort to assist the Council in improving their effectiveness and public image.
Sacher responds to Bill Harris
In his most recent letter to the editor, (Mailbag, Sun Times, July 30, page A3 and online), Bill Harris once again attempts to mislead the Marco Island community with misinformation and irrelevant statements. To wit:
He specifically challenges my comments that despite the contention of a small group of people at the July 20 regular council meeting that while they demanded that council “listen to the people” that, in fact, the number of petitions submitted only represented about 20 percent of the registered voters. He states: “Councilor Sacher should recall that year 204 only showed about 36 percent overall voter turnout, so the 20 percent that signed is pretty impressive.” According to the Collier County Supervisor of Elections, 8,628 of 12,455 registered voters actually voted, or 69.3 percent; almost double what Mr. Harris claims. It was very hard to confirm this data – I asked the SOE for the information!
With respect to the comments about the Marriott: the project has been underway since this past May and to-date the number of emails and letters of complaint from our community = 0!
As to Councilor Joe Batte: the Marco City Charter clearly provides that members of council shall not give direction to any city staff. Further, nowhere in either the City Charter or council rules of procedure are there provisions for council to get involved in the actions of a councilor.
I have had some interaction with the media; I have not “... finds no fault with Batte’s abuse of his position and power ...” but rather, I have merely stated that Batte’s actions as a private citizen are the same rights that every other member of our community enjoys. To state that “If he approves of Batte’s excesses” are a reason for me to step down is absurd. If Mr. Harris feels so strongly that either Batte or myself are guilty of ethics violation then instead of writing letters and emails and disseminating misinformation he should simply follow the procedures and file an ethics complaint with the state.
Joe Batte has devoted the last five and a half years of his time to serve the Marco Island community; in addition, he has also served prior to council in voluntary capacities. Besides being a gadfly at council meetings and writing letters and emails, what have you done for the community, Mr. Harris?
I regret that I find it necessary to write commentaries for the media, however our community deserves to know the truth about baseless statements. Respectfully,
Larry Sacher, Chairman
Marco Island City Council
Our own backyards
While everyone is standing high on their words of wildlife indignation perhaps they should subscribe to and regularly read the weekly reports from Florida Fish and Wildlife Enforcement.
Become aware of what goes on in our backyards …for example, Gordon Pass, last Saturday July 25 the FWC discovery of 100s (yes, hundreds) of undersize red grouper plus turtle parts in two fishing boats …why don’t these stories get reported by local newspapers and media?
Something’s rotten on Marco
As a past chairman of the Marco City Council and having served three-plus years as a councilman, I watched Monday’s meeting with disgust. The simple request by a councilor to have as a formal agenda item the question of “should the council authorize an investigation of undo influence by a councilman” was rejected by a 4-1 vote. What are the four who voted “no” concerned about? As a formal agenda item, councilors would have to explain why they were for or against an investigation. Now the citizens of Marco Island can only guess what their motivations were.
The City Charter requires that councilmen only inquire of staff and that all other requests for accommodation go through the City Manager. It serves two purposes. First, you can only have one boss. Second, and much more importantly, city councilors should not have preferential treatment or favors by the city staff not afforded to the average citizen.
I heard the police chief’s defense of his actions and have two immediate questions. How many citizens email him with code violations directly? How many citizens ask that a code violation be “adjudicated” and he responds, “Will do”?
If the city council will not even discuss an impartial investigation, Freedom of Information Act requests should be initiated as follows:
All emails from individual city councilors to city staff and all responses to those emails.
All emails to the City Manager from individual city councilors and all responses to those emails.
Only then will the citizens know if and how much undo influence individual city councilors exert on city staff. If the citizens of Marco Island cannot trust their elected representatives to be open and transparent on all issues before them without prejudice -- what’s left?
Former Marco council member