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An idea for a less trashy future

My wife and I have been seasonal renters from Michigan to Marco Island for four years as we appreciate everything about Marco and the look of a resort community. However, as the number of people visiting Marco has increased each year I have noticed an increase in the amount of trash discarded along the roadways.

The landscapers do a wonderful job of maintaining the vegetation on the island and I know some of the litter is from the garbage disposal system and from construction sites but much of it is simply people throwing debris out the car window and expecting someone else to take care of it. Fortunately there are people who do care about the looks of the environment and pick up unsightly trash as part of being a good neighbor.

I have two suggestions to address the trash problem. One is for everyone, visitor or resident, to be conscious of every piece of trash they generate. Think before buying that drink in a disposable cup “what am I going to do with the cup when it is empty?” My second suggestion is for the Florida legislators. “Florida needs a bottle law.” Use Michigan’s law as an example which has a $.10 deposit on beer and pop cans and bottles. The law has made a big difference in Michigan’s roadside trash as there are people who will pick up cans and bottles and redeem them while slobs who don’t care about the dime continue to litter. I have encouraged Michigan legislators (so far without success) to expand the law to include all beverage containers. We still have (too much) roadside trash, but limited amounts of cans & bottles.

Trash will be a problem as long as people are involved, but this is a problem that can be solved. Please consider being part of the solution. Not part of the problem.

Dale Ertzinger, Marco Island

Once again

For the impiety time council is once again discussing what the city is obligated to do in regards to County Road 92 (Goodland Road) for which the city assumed the responsibility “for the maintenance and operation of the entirety as it currently exists within the boundaries of the City.”

In return the county agreed to “pay to the city the sum of $1,000,000 per year for a period of 15 years for the maintenance and operation of (Goodland Road) and for all roadways within the city.” It was also agreed that “the payments shall be made semi-annually until paid in full.”

Note that the agreement calls for “maintenance” of Goodland Road as it “currently exists” -- not the improvement thereof. And, I am sure no one foresaw someone asking for the replacement of the roadway. So, the city has no obligation to provide a Taj mahal of a roadway which could end up being better than any other roadway in the city.
Furthermore, the agreement says the county’s “maintenance and operation (payment is) for all roadways within the city” -- nothing is specified for Goodland Road itself.
Nor, has there been any discussion about how the county is going to solve the roadway flooding problem within Goodland itself. Until that issue is resolved, it does not seem like anyone should be spending any money on a roadway that will merely feed into what could be referred to as Goodland Lake.
So what is the solution? First of all the county needs to define what they will do to solve the flooding within Goodland. Then, if the county wants to “improve” Goodland Road for the benefit of county residents in Goodland they should agree to take back the ownership and “maintenance and operation” thereof. Otherwise the county should accept the city’s offer to resurface the roadway which would meet its “maintenance” obligation. If the county accepts the responsibility of Goodland Road, the city should provide the county with the $800,000 the resurfacing would cost.
In any case, the county does have an obligation to make semi-annual payments of the money it still owes to the city “until paid in full” -- which they have not done.
Bill Flasche, Marco Island

Goodbye, Roger Hernstadt

These are my observations of former Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt.

Hernstadt was hired under questionable circumstances. His budgetary “bucket plan” paid no dividends until 2016.

He wanted a new community center, new fire stations, new government center, and to commercialize Veterans’ Community Park. Hernstadt couldn’t accept the park as open green space, though surveys showed the voters wanted it.

Hernstadt was a good PR man, always attending social functions and ensuring he was in the limelight and polishing the right apples, but he was divisive and heavy-handed. Like many in the Marco power structures, anyone crossing “King Roger” was quickly barred or shown the door, including city councilors.

Remember Hernstadt’s lobbyist? Paid him a lot, receiving little in return.

Remember using the veterans for grants to develop Veterans’ Community Park?

Remember the Smokehouse Bay bridge? Many empty promises to come within budget and on time.

Remember encroaching on the Esplanade’s private property? That was another of Hernstadt’s accomplishments.

Remember the Small Brothers’ hotel that he tried to help develop?

He felt he could not support the new City Council. He wanted to resign. We simply granted his wishes.

Hernstadt wants six months’ severance pay, his city iPad and family benefits for the remaining 11 months of the year. Ridiculous! Secret Service too? Pay him 20 weeks’ severance, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health benefits and no iPad.

Goodbye, King Roger.

Bill Harris, Marco Island

Peacefully resolve issues

As we all realize, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of former Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt’s performance could have been made, but now will not because he offered his resignation.

It serves no positive purpose at this point to belabor this issue, but all of us in Marco Island owe him a debt of gratitude for his service to our community and should wish him and his family nothing but the best.

Clearly campaigning in this past election was an arduous task physically for all the qualified candidates and their families and I am sure emotionally hurtful for many. It is understandable that it will take time to reconcile with the bitterness of defeat; however, our councilors who now occupy their positions were duly elected by the people of Marco Island and deserve an opportunity to govern.

It is obvious that their performance on our behalf will be judged and scrutinized and the people will eventually be able to remove them or return them to office.

For now, however, we all must acknowledge that there is no gang of four but seven public servants willing to expend their talent and time to work for the betterment of us all.

I know and like them all, but, more importantly, respect their position. I trust that the only agendas any of them have are those placed before them at each council meeting.

It is time now for the rancor to stop and the work to begin. Let us afford our friends and neighbors the ability to focus peacefully on the many serious issues that face all of us who live here.

Regina L. Dayton, Marco Island

Demonstrations

Alas, my humble and admittedly subjective impression of the recent spate of anti-President Donald Trump demonstrations: an incoherent plethora of mixed messages with only one common theme, an aggressive hatred of Trump, often expressed with vulgarity and sometimes even violence.

Ah, dare I say the liberals in a rare display of “transparency” have finally revealed just exactly who they are: self-righteous whiners who pitch a major hissy fit when they don’t get their own way.

For those demonstrators upset by this description, I encourage you to please, please keep up your anti-Trump aggression for you shall forever wallow in your stunning poverty of comprehension of why you lost the election.

“Clueless” is the word that comes to mind.

Bruce Mason, Marco Island

Multiple fears

Look up the words plutocracy and autocracy.

I have grave concerns for our country and am troubled by our president’s strange and delusional behavior. These are my fears: President Donald Trump telling the media to “shut up,” but in this country we have what is called the freedom of the press and we need them; telling our diplomats to quit if they don’t agree with his executive orders; making enemies of our neighbors and allies; disbelief in global warming and not protecting our environment; wasting taxpayers’ money on investigating nonexistent voter fraud; Trump’s close relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin, so talk about playing Russian roulette; Trump’s fixation on his image, indicating a narcissistic personality; his advisory board of powerful billionaires and Wall Street bankers (remember the “bailout”); his daily tweeting and obsession with the popular vote; his latest travel ban making a legal nightmare; his problems with telling the truth.

I want to know where Congress is? I don’t hear them. “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.”

Bobby Schweikert, Naples

Raise minimum wage

Your article headlined “Area labor study: Lots of jobs, not lots of pay” presented the alarming facts that there are significant gaps in workers available for the projected low-wage jobs needed in Southwest Florida over the upcoming years.

It highlighted the study as “yet another sign that there’s a growing need for more affordable housing.”

I agree and would add that it’s yet another sign that the need for businesses to pay a livable wage to workers is an issue that is going to increasingly affect us all -- workers, wealthy, retired, you name it -- not to mention it’s a serious moral issue.

As a former financial professional, I have long said, “If your business model does not allow for you to pay your workers a livable wage, you do not have a workable business model.”

If the budget of your existing business or the business plan for your potential business is based on disregard of the basic welfare of your employees -- the people you entrust to provide your service, interact with your customers, expect dedicated performance from, entrust to handle your receipts, inventory and facilities -- you do not have a truly successful model.

Policies geared toward job creation through small business owners, without addressing a living wage, are misguided in this business climate.

We have forgotten that corporations were created to promote the social good and have embraced that business enterprises are vehicles for personal and shareholder interest only. It is imperative that all of us in the bottom 98 percent work to raise the minimum wage and focus on the crucial, real issues of money in politics, sound trade policies and our education system.

Jane Molbert, Naples

Tourism promotion works

Having opened the Hilton Naples 17 years ago, I’ve witnessed the power of tourism promotion firsthand.

On the state level, the public/private-funded Visit Florida promotes the Sunshine State as a must-visit destination. That trickles down to the local level, where the tourist development tax funded the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to entice Florida tourists to our area.

Hilton Naples and other surrounding hotels are able to then use our marketing dollars to pull in those visitors. Without tourism promotion on a state and local level, our potential pool of guests would be significantly smaller.

Funding for state and local tourism promotion is critical. Data demonstrates the return on the investment is worth the dollars spent to attract tourists. For example, every homeowner in our county saved nearly $1,000 in 2016 due to the tourist development tax offsets and visitor sales and gas tax contributions of $824 million.

As for general spending, last year visitors spent $1.98 billion in our county. The revenue generated from the tourist development tax is poured back into our community, improving our beaches and inlets, operating museums and managing our beach park facilities — making Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades a better place to live, work and play.

And speaking of work, there are 36,500 people employed in the tourism industry in Collier County. That’s a direct result of the demand created by destination marketing.

A total of 175 hardworking Floridians rely on their job at our hotel to feed their families. Tourism is their livelihood and provides a good future for their families. Eliminating entities like Visit Florida and the local CVB will cause irreparable damage to members of our community.

Clark Hill, general manager, Hilton Naples

Bills limit public records access

As a retired city clerk, I have been following with interest Florida Senate Bill 80 (and companion House Bill 163), which purport to put a chill on frivolous lawsuits by citizens and groups who have been denied access to public records.

It would insert judicial discretion into the current requirement that citizen plaintiffs be awarded attorney fees when they prevail in litigation against governmental bodies that denied them records.

This measure is a further effort by government insiders to deter citizens’ abilities to follow the actions of their officials. After all, supporters say, it’s just a simple word change replacing a “shall” with a “may.” Simple? Not really.

There is a reason that the phrase ”public records” has been memorialized in statute and the Florida Constitution. It is because the evidence of governmental action is to be handled in such a way that it is retained for public purposes and public inspection. Citizens are supposed to trust their government, but with each legislative session, we watch more and more seemingly innocuous restrictions to the public’s right to know creep into the law.

And, as sadly obvious from governmental “open” meetings, much of the decision-making has still been done at the staff level and spoon-fed to those who were elected to be the ones really doing the public’s business.

In my decades of handling records at the city of Naples, it became abundantly clear that the public is entitled to more, not less, attention to their requests for constitutionally guaranteed access to the records which government has created on their behalf.

I urge citizens to contact their local state legislative delegation to oppose SB 80 and HB 163.

Tara Norman, Naples

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