MAILBAG: Commentary from Larry Sacher, Jared Grifoni and JCMI


Thanks for Deli Fest success

Hillary and Bill.

Our congregational family of The Jewish Congregation of Marco Island would like to thank the community at large for coming to our table, and making our Deli Fest a success!

We wish to express our deepest thanks for the outstanding coverage of our Deli Fest by the Marco Island Sun Times. In no small part it allowed us to reach a broad facet of the community, reach our financial goals and introduce them to the works of our synagogue.

We made extra this year so we wouldn’t run out. Not only did we feed the throngs in attendance, we also donated leftover sandwiches and soup to St. Matthews House, fulfilling a key tenet of Judaism, Tikkun Olam, to heal the world. We look forward to working together in the future with our beloved Marco Island neighbors.

Estie Karpman, chair

JCMI Deli Fest

Politics before people

Marco Island needs a united voice. The COPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) situation at the Collier County level is putting politics before people and in particular it is the people of Marco Island (and other municipalities) whose voices are being disregarded.

Under FL Statute 401.25 (2)(d) and 401.25(6) the governing board of each county is required to “consider the recommendations of municipalities within its jurisdiction” and the purpose generally is “to protect and enhance the public health, welfare, and safety…”

The unincorporated areas in Collier County will have the fire district/EMS question on their March 15th ballots, a relatively short time away which will not consider the recommendations of the citizens of the Cities of Marco Island, Naples, and Everglades City.

Marco Island should respond in kind by adding the question to our city ballots in August or November 2016. This will provide the citizens of Marco Island time to understand the issue through outreach from our fire services, City Council, and various civic organizations and concerned individuals. A non-binding ballot question will hold additional weight since all of Marco Island citizens will be polled.

The City Council should follow up with resolutions to be sent to the Board of County Commissioners, our state Legislative delegation, and the Governor on the issue and in support of the results of the ballot question and of additional home rule powers relating directly to the ability of a municipality to issue a COPCN. Unfortunately, the City Council was hostile to the concept of home rule with respect to Common Core and local control of education in 2015 and in response to citizen initiatives on the topic actually voted to restrict the ability of citizens to come before council with resolutions themselves.

Council should recognize the importance of consistency in support of home rule. Remember, the purpose of the formation of local governments has always been to “assure adequate quality and quantity of local public services.” FL Stat 165.021(2).

It is important that the city of Marco Island take control of this situation. Instead of reacting as this happens “to us” we should be taking the fight to the arena of public opinion and by reaching out to other municipalities in Collier County and across the state through the League of Cities.

Jared Grifoni

Marco Island

Who's bringing shame on Marco Island?

Yesterday, Feb. 4th, I sat aghast watching the afternoon news on our local NBC affiliate which opened with a picture of the Marco Island City Seal behind the language "Protecting Your Tax Dollars" while the anchor indicated that the Marco City Council may have illegally granted the City Manager his recent pay raise!

When it was time to broadcast the segment, the anchor restated the language regarding the possibility that City Council broke the law in granting the salary increase.  The segment opened with an interview with Councilor Victor Rios in which he indicated that he was opposed to the Council giving City Manager Roger Hernstadt a raise based on 3 totally false accusations: firstly, he cited that Council acted without meeting the terms of the City Manager's contract (the reporter showed a portion of the contract referencing that the evaluation should be written); at Council's Jan. 19 Regular Council Meeting Councilor Honig brought up the need to provide a formal evaluation however since Council had not followed any formalized regimen the previous year they voted 7-0 to once again allow the individual Councilor to use whatever format they wished (the video of the meeting is not available at this time), and that the evaluation would be presented at our Regular Meeting on Feb. 1.

Council can choose to not follow written procedures by majority at any time.  To the best of my recollection, I was the only one who had used the same form the City Clerk had provided the previous year, completed my formal evaluation and reviewed it with the City Manager and also read my summary to the public in addition to submitting it to the City Clerk for the Record.

Secondly, Councilor Rios once again falsely stated that the City Manager had caught the Council unawares when he instructed our lobbyist to lobby for a Veterans Center Building at Veteran's Community Park.  Mr. Hernstadt had presented the concept and an "off the shelf" plan of a building he proposed; when the lobbyist presented it to the Legislature my only surprise was that to help market the concept he apparently found it more "salable" if he included the concept that it would be made available to Veterans.

Thirdly, Councilor Rios falsely blamed the City Manager for the circumstances behind a dispute with The Esplanade and the newly constructed Savage Bridge.

Mr. Rios talked about the embarrassment that the City of Marco Island has suffered in Tallahassee; as a citizen of Marco I would submit that it is Mr. Rios who continually brings embarrassment to our wonderful Island with his constant barrage of Guest Commentaries, news appearances, and frequent criticisms of the City Manager.  Our citizenry should expect a higher level of conduct from a City Councilor.

Larry Sacher

Marco Island