Marco Island first

I am very disappointed in the members of the community that have been so mean-spirited toward our new City Council leadership over the resignation of the city manager.

This small minority of people lashing out and attempting to create dissension and division obviously prefer the “good ol boy” system, where only those with an “in” or are personal friends with a city councilor or with the city manager get special treatment. I believe this system was deeply ingrained in the community and possibly fostered by the city manager.

The sweeping victory in the recent election of the new City Council speaks strongly of the island-wide dissatisfaction with the way our city was being run. Councilors Grifoni, Honig, Reed and Roman were elected to help fix a broken system. They, along with Councilor Rios, are clearly working to serve Marco Island in the very best way they can, through honesty, transparency and communication, which has been seriously lacking in the Marco Island City government for many years.

I am very happy with the fresh start our four new councilors are bringing and they continue to have my support. I hope and pray that the ugliness and negativity will stop because many that I know are happy to move forward and are focusing on the positive. Thank you councilors Grifoni, Honig, Reed, Rios and Roman for putting the future of Marco Island first.

Kristina Pruyn, Marco Island

Open Letter to Roger Hernstadt

Dear Mr. Hernstadt: I am very sorry to hear of your resignation as Marco Island’s city manager.

It is regrettable that some of our councilors failed to set aside emotions and find a civil, constructive, businesslike manner in which to work with you on their issues of concern. It was the hope of many citizens that these issues would be resolved by councilors working with you using civil communication and with a “let’s roll up our shirt sleeves and constructively work together” attitude. We are truly saddened that did not happen.

I wish to sincerely thank you for:

  • Always having an open door policy for all citizens and councilors. 
  • Embracing Marco Island by participating in 99 percent of our community and fundraising events. You have cooked countless hot dogs, burgers and pancakes to benefit others. 
  • Generously donating your personal money for many good causes on Marco Island. 
  • Saving us taxpayers a ton of money by instituting the bucket plan to fund current city building assets, replace vehicles, road resurfacing and drainage projects, and $3.5 million for replacement of the dilapidated Mackle Park Community Center.
  •   Negotiating the police and fire pensions saving taxpayers millions over the life of current and future contracts.  
  • Hiring the state lobbyist who obtained $2.5 million plus for Marco Island, and hopefully, will obtain another $1.5 million in applications currently under review.
  • Last but not least, I thank you for bringing into our lives, your wife Jessica, a lovely lady who also wholeheartedly embraced our community.

You will be missed. I wish both of you good health, good luck, and much happiness. As we say in our church, “Peace be with you.”

Linda Turner, Marco Island

In Response to Mr. Burson’s letter

Mr. Burson’s blistering letter (Feb. 10) attacking our new City Council is so out of touch that it is almost unsettling.
He insults nearly 70 percent of the voters on the island (who voted in a way he disapproved of) by calling them “uninformed and unconcerned,” while simultaneously calling on the other 30 percent to “rise up in arms” and “fight back in every way possible.” Good heavens, is he trying to start a civil war on Marco Island? If so, it seems foolish on his part considering his odds.
Mr. Burson claimed that “this City Council does not represent the true voice of Marco Island.” But what Mr. Burson does not realize is that his divisive rhetoric, his elitist mentality and his idol-worshiping of island bureaucrats is exactly what 70 percent of this island voted to reject. His pounding of the war drums and calling for more division serves only to delegitimize his arguments and affirm that the majority of this island made the right choice when we voted for Councilors Grifoni, Honig, Reed and Roman.
Many people on this island are extremely happy with the job our new council is doing. We feel strongly that we are being listened to and that we are heading in the right direction. If you are trying to lead some kind of rebellion on this island, Mr. Burson, I think you’ll find very few that will follow you.

Toni Jessen, Marco Island 

For the record

There have been a number of letters written to City Council and local papers recently stating that our prior city manager, Roger Hernstadt, was “ forced to resign” and that City Council had “abused him with negative comments since the November election.”

Nothing could be further from the truth and it is important that everyone understand the truth. This is no time for “fake news.”

First, since the new City Council was elected in November there has not been any derogatory or abusive comments about Mr. Hernstadt  by anyone on City Council at council meetings or anywhere else publicly.

Second, the only thing City Council discussed recently was the scheduled annual performance review of the city manager. This annual review was an employment contract requirement and was scheduled to take place at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting. There was absolutely no indication by any City Council member that anything negative was going to be involved in the review. In addition, this past November, the voters of Marco Island sent a clear message that they wanted a new direction for the city by electing a “new majority.” The scheduled performance review was to try and identify what areas of change and direction was needed to meet the expectation of our residents.

Mr. Hernstadt, suddenly and without warning, resigned on Feb. 6 some two weeks before his scheduled review.

I understand that there were a number of our residents who personally liked Mr. Hernstadt and who approved of his policies and direction he was taking the city and were upset about his resignation. We must, however, assure that our priority was to meet the expectations of the 68 percent of our voters, some 23,000 votes, that were cast in November for the newly elected city councilors, wanting a “new and fresh direction” of city leadership.” Mr. Hernstadt, himself, recognized the need for change when he said in his resignation letter that he believed “that a new beginning might be best for the city.” It should be noted that, traditionally, the biggest reason for city managers to consider resigning is after a new majority of city councilors have been elected -- especially if that new majority is seeking a change in direction.

John Arceri, Marco Island

Time to move forward

I have found the opinions shared regarding the departure of Roger Hernstadt to be a bit amusing. Are these folks related to him? I dealt with him. Arrogant? Yes. Control freak? Yes. Did he do some good things for the Island? Yes, he did, but in my opinion not enough to justify renewing his contract.

Ask others who have worked for him what they think and you will find many who have had a similar experience to mine.

We need a city manager who knows who pays his/her salary and is not threatened by hiring competent staff. We also need to support our new City Council and give them a chance to make a positive impact on our community. It is time to move forward.

Steve Garske, Marco Island

Free speech at risk

Many parents and students are thinking about education. Those who are at a college or university are questioning their investment in pursuing higher education. An important concern is the present environment on campus. Free speech is at risk. Invited speakers are uninvited, because the liberal segment deems them offensive. They shout down speakers, especially those who express conservative ideas. Students who are not politically correct are forced to apologize for expressing their views that conflict with the liberal agenda.

A university is the place to question assumptions, discuss and argue positions, and then come to informed conclusions. It is a place to express diverse perspectives, and listen to the views of others. It is a place to freely exchange ideas. Universities cannot be viewed as a sanctuary for comfort, but rather a place for confronting ideas to make informed decisions.

Administrators at the University of Chicago have finally taken a stand. There will be no safe zones for those who feel intellectually uncomfortable. Hopefully other institutions of higher learning will follow this example, turn the current environment on campus around and back to their original mission. Until then, I, as a graduate of three state-supported universities, will withhold donations.

Carol Montpetit, Marco Island

Service above self

I believe testimonials are one of the most impactful ways of informing people of the benefits of a product, service ... or location.

Commissioner Donna Fiala’s commentary, “For love of East Naples, my home for 43 years,” in the Naples Daily News Editorial/Opinion section Feb. 6 was outstanding!

Those who have offered criticism on her passion to elevate available products/services to current and future East Naples residents demonstrated they do not know citizen and Commissioner Fiala.

Why would a mother raise her children in an area where she is not comfortable?

Why would a citizen dedicate her life — day and night — to improving the area in which she resides?

Why would a person live in an area for four and a half decades if that person did not believe in what it stands for and its potential?

Why would a public servant always give more than they take in serving constituents?

No one would do these things unless they were passionate about improving things for everyone — whether they live in the East Naples area or not.

Those of us living in the East Naples area feel as though we are part of the Fiala “family” thanks to her “mothering” to our needs, wishes and desires to live in a better place for the rest of our lives. Citizen, mother and commissioner, thank you for personally sacrificing so much for so many.

Keith Dameron, East Naples

Keep pets out of carts

There appears to be an increased number of customers taking their dogs into stores while shopping. Unfortunately, many place their dogs in supermarket shopping carts, placing us all at risk.

Our fresh produce and other food can become contaminated, exposed to E. coli and other hazards. Having an animal with unclean paws and rear ends in the carts poses special risks to infants and the elderly.

The self-centered and noncaring people who practice this behavior do so without regard to the health and safety of others. They should keep their animals on the ground and out of our food supply.

Donald Ungemah, Marco Island

Deficit less under Democrats

National debt level is the accumulation of deficits over the entire preceding time period. For example, debt level in the year 2016 is the accumulation of deficits over all the years preceding 2016, which is more than 200 years in our history.

As the impact of any economic policy decision on the economy is felt for some time in future years, debt level in any year arises from both the current and past policy decisions; and these impacts cannot be easily separated.

However, yearly changes (trend) in deficit levels are indicative of the prevalent policy impacts. A downward trend in yearly deficit levels signifies a retardation of debt growth and an upward trend indicates an explosion of debt growth, due to the prevalent policy.

Congressional Budget Office data, as reported at, shows that deficits increased by 97 percent, almost doubled, during the President Ronald Reagan years (1981-88); increased by 90 percent, again almost doubled, during the President George H.W. Bush years (1989-92); decreased by 59 percent, almost halved, during President Bill Clinton’s first term (1993-96); and declined further during his second term, turning into a surplus.

The deficit increased by 191 percent, almost threefold, during President George W.

Bush’s tenure (2001-08); and decreased by 58 percent, more than halved, during President Barack Obama’s two terms (2009-16).

The above analysis shows, contrary to popular belief, that the Republican economic policies have exploded the national debt with no end in sight and, obviously, miserably failed to reduce it. In contrast, Democrat economic policies have resulted in an extraordinary retardation of debt growth and even a reduction during Clinton’s era.

Mukhtar M. Ali, Marco Island

Immigrants built America

I am an exasperated American who grew up under Adolf Hitler, lived under Josef Stalin in the German Democratic Republic and cannot live under another of their type.

As I try to process what the latest daily idiotic move of our president is, I grow increasingly fearful that history will repeat itself. I see the same type of people who cheered Hitler and accepted every lie he told do the same thing here in the USA.

How can this be? Don’t people ever learn anything form the past? How can they be so utterly blind and follow every deception as if it were real? I am at a loss.

There was a time after World War II that the U.S. government recognized what it had done at Yalta to permit the ethnic cleansing of 16 million people from their homeland where their ancestors had lived for many centuries. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said to do it, but to do it humanely.

Well, somewhere between 1 million and 2 million people died in this humane process.

As an act of compassion, Congress passed a series of laws under the name of the Displaced Persons Act. A military transport ship called the USS General S.D. Sturgis brought my family to New York, where I saw my father cry for the first time in my life when we saw the Statue of Liberty. That same statue has tears flowing down her robe today. The many President Donald Trump supporters should hide their heads in shame for the contempt they show for humanity. I am ashamed to be living among them.

Immigrants built this country and there would be no Apple or iPhone if it hadn’t been for Steve Job’s father, who was a Syrian.

Fred Rump, Naples

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