MAILBAG: Larry Honig, Deborah Chapman, Preston Stiner, Dawn Kuhn, Don Hunter


Council’s headlong rush into yet another island fight

Next Monday, the Marco Island City Council may approve a complete change of Marco Island’s water-sewer rate structure, the first such change in our 50-year history.

Do you know what your new monthly bill will be? No, you don’t. The city has not provided a formula — or even an easy way for you to calculate it. Massive changes in customers’ monthly bills will come as a surprise and a shock, even though our utility is running a financial surplus and there is no public outcry for rate changes.

The city hired another consultant — the third one to work on this — who cannot tell you. The consultant did not make an independent recommendation on the rate structure. He rubber-stamped numbers given to him by the city council.

If you’re a homeowner, you’ll have to install a second “deduct” meter on your property, so that water for your lawn, boat, car and pool is not automatically charged for sewer. The consultant suggested that the city give you $250 to do that, but the total $1.3 million cost for Marco Island is nowhere in our budget.

Oh, and you’ll have to pay to install the meter, and if you don’t have a backflow preventer, you’ll need one of those too. Count on $1,000 to $2,000 as your plumbing expenses. The city’s draft ordinance gives you one year to get it installed. You’ll also pay for two meter readings each month.

If you’re a commercial user, your monthly bill could increase by 50 percent or more. Marco Island is already one of the most expensive cities in Florida in which to do business, and one of the most unpredictable because our regulations and their enforcement are constantly changing. The consultant could not say that he had analyzed what increases would do to the demand curve for the users who will pay larger bills.

When the consultant appeared before city council, I asked him approximately 30 questions – most of which he could not answer!

At city council’s request, the consultant also incorporated a 50 percent increase in utility capital spending – totally unnecessary and wildly contradictory to the goal of paying down our utility debt, which is among the highest per capita in the state.

I encourage all concerned citizens to ask that before a new structure is voted on the city provide a summary of how your monthly bill will be affected and to obtain an estimate of the personal cost to you of installation and plumbing.

Larry Honig

Member, Marco Island City Council

Project smacks of empire building

(This letter was sent to members of the Marco Island City Council and forwarded to the Sun Times.)

First, let me say that we are a military family. My husband, my deceased first husband, my father, my brother and uncles all served our country.

I am most disheartened by the city's attempt to rush through a building plan on park property and citing the reason as needed for our veterans. This is a blatant attempt to tug at our heart strings and to discourage opposition. The Glon property, as we called it when we voted to purchase same, was to be an open green space for the community. The park is perfect as it is now with the flags and fountain. Must we pave over every inch of this island? Must we become just like the East Coast?

In the 37 plus years that I have been a full-time resident, I have seen many changes and mostly for the good. I think this project smacks of empire building. How has this plan has gotten so far with so little publicity? I truly resent using our veterans as an excuse for this grandiose scheme.

I am asking voters to please tell city council to stop this use of our taxpayer dollars at once. We have roads and bridges to rebuild and pave. We do not need a building at Veterans Community Park.

Deborah Chapman

Marco Island

Needless waste of tax dollars

(Editor’s note: This letter was sent to members of the Marco Island City Council and copied to the Marco Island Sun Times.)

I recently read the article in the Sun Times about the proposed veterans center at Veterans Park (“7.5 million government center is proposed,” Sun Times, Sept. 24, page A1). Below are my comments that reflect my opinion and at least one other veteran who lives on Marco.

This is a waste of our tax dollars. Yes I’m a veteran but don’t agree with spending $5 million to build a veterans center for such a small portion of our community.

It is an improper use of taxpayer funds. It also sounds like it will ultimately become another city government office building used to house more city employees. If veterans need a place to meet then there are already VFW and American Legion buildings in Naples, it’s a short drive.

I believe the citizens of Marco Island have already agreed to build a new community center at Mackle Park and one of the key drivers to do so was to have more meeting space available. To our city government and council just stick to your job and ensure we have better streets, bridges and sidewalks, reliable and affordable utilities and good fire and police protection. This taxpayer does not support spending $5 million for a small, select group of people.

Preston Stiner

Marco Island

Go back to original park plan

I just read with great interest about the proposed building for the Veterans Community Service Center. When the citizens of Marco Island voted to spend $11 million for the Glon property we were given the opportunity to view different proposals for the new park.

It wasn’t voted on to be a “veterans” park but a park for the citizens of Marco Island. There was to be peripheral parking, not a huge parking lot in the middle of the property, lots of shade trees, a play ground for the children, most importantly an outdoor amphitheater similar to the one in Cambier Park and Bonita Springs for outdoor concerts and entertainment for the enjoyment of all. This was especially important as the one that had been promised and permitted at The Esplanade was suddenly turned into an outdoor commercial bar. Also suggested down the road was a community theater.

I don’t have anything against the veterans, I love what they have done for the country and what they stand for. They now occupy a beautiful area of the park. Just remember this park was to be for the benefit and enjoyment of all the citizens of Marco Island, not a select few. Please go back and review what the park was meant to be and why we voted to spend $11 million to acquire this special piece of property. Let’s get back to the original plan and make sure all of the citizens are able to enjoy and benefit from this beautiful piece of property in the heart of Marco Island.

There are plenty of places for the veterans to meet now and we are building a brand new community center in Mackle Park that will accommodate them.

Dawn Kuhn

Marco Island

Behind the badge: A road of sacrifice

All of us who follow local and national news have heard, read, or seen the harsh criticism repeatedly targeting our law enforcement and corrections officers.

The silence in reporting their daily good deeds is deafening (to use a perhaps overused idiom)! It is unfortunate that some news outlets are more concerned with reporting the negative to sell their service, without providing the public a look behind the scenes of modern law enforcement and corrections, and positive impact they have in their communities.

There is no end to learning and training in law enforcement. I find, without qualification or reservation, that modern American law enforcement and corrections officers are the best trained, best equipped, best educated, and the most intellectually, emotionally, and mentally prepared population of professionals ever to serve in the United States of America; they are held to the highest level of accountability by their agencies and their peers.

Today, efforts are preserved to ensure that only the very best and, most mature, qualified, ethical, and moral people are selected to serve in law enforcement and corrections agencies.

We can be assured that a veritable obstacle course has been placed before every applicant for new corrections and law enforcement positions. Mimicking procedures used by elite federal law enforcement agencies, new members of law enforcement and corrections departments are screened to ensure that each has conducted him or her self in a manner commensurate with the high standards required for membership in this elite club. Only then will they be accepted into an extensive, discipline-specific training academy, where they must successfully pass a state mandated competency examination before being permitted to wear a uniform.

In most states, beyond these many preliminary hurdles is an extensive field training period. Probationary officers will be trained in the field by a specially selected, experienced training officer. Field training officers are responsible for discovering any weaknesses in the intellect, morality, ethics, courage, and tenacity of the new hire, and probationary status may last six months or more.

While we all know that the very qualifications to become a law enforcement or corrections officer in America today requires moral, physical, emotional and mental fortitude; it bears repeating that these courageous men and women have sworn an oath that exposes not only themselves, but also their loved ones, to financial ruin, endless criticism, public attacks on their virtue, and an ever-growing population that is all too willing to cast the entire profession in an unfavorable light. These harmful efforts unnecessarily expose our men and women of corrections and law enforcement to public scorn, ridicule and possibly, as we have seen all too often recently, deadly attacks by the most lawless among us.

It seems fitting to pause in these ever-growing, dangerous times to recognize a whole population of men and women who have stepped forward to knowingly and willingly accept the responsibility of protecting ALL citizens from the very worst in our society. These men and women of law enforcement and corrections are expected to mentally deal with the most heinous, shocking, and grotesque crimes that the criminal mind can conjure, and still be able to function as positive role models for our children.

They do, through purposeful action, what the timid and less tenacious will not do; or the less physically capable cannot do. They should all be heralded as heroes.

Don Hunter


(NOTE: Don Hunter is former police chief of Marco Island and former sheriff of Collier County.)