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Vote out Rooney

Sometimes, I get really upset when I hear about children dying, because, you know, I'm a decent human being, so I overcome my social anxieties and try to call my representatives.

A Sunday evening was one of those times. In another effort to push through the Reach Every Mother and Child Act that is so crucial to saving the lives of mothers and their babies worldwide, I dialed U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney’s phone number. It was after hours, but I knew the drill: a friendly voice thanking me for participating in our democracy and telling me to leave a message after the beep. Instead, a robotic tone informed me that Rooney’s mailbox was full. Full? How could that many calls from your constituents go unanswered? How can a representative with a full voicemail box possibly be in touch with his constituents?

The “full mailbox” was representative of much of Rooney's term, as he consistently failed to be there for his constituents. Politics aside, his record of simply showing up to vote was beyond abysmal, according to attendance statistics from govtrack.us. From Jan 2017 to July 2018, Rooney missed 96 of 1,038 roll call votes, which is 9.2 percent. This is much worse than the 2.4 percent among lifetime records of representatives. For one period of time, he missed 28.1 percent of the votes.

Rooney introduced one bill in 2017 that gotonto the floor for consideration. His one bill dealt with

government employee retirement. Great, I guess, but there are literally children dying.

A representative that doesn’t show up and doesn’t take calls is no representative. We must vote him out in the fall.

Rosie Poling, Marco Island

Paradise soon to be lost

The subject of costal water quality has dominated the local Southwest Florida news broadcasts for the past month.

Algae choked canals, red tide, fish and marine animal kills have caused state and local governments to issue an environmental state of emergency for nearby coastal areas.

Many of the beaches in Lee County have been declared hazardous. The stench of rotting algae and dead fish have forced many who reside adjacent to canals to abandon their homes.

The point that must be driven home is that SW Florida has reached an environmental tipping point.

Over development and chemical run off into our once pristine waters is threatening to destroy everything most of us came here for.

So far Marco Island has been spared most of the effects of this catastrophe. Our beaches are still usable. They are in fact very crowded with visitors unable to use the beaches to our North.

Unless we take an aggressive stance to protect our fragile ecosystem we here on Marco will suffer the same fate as Lee County.

All the talk and emergency proclamations will do little without action.

We here in Marco should consider:

  • Banning grass within 30 feet of any canal or waterway. This will eliminate the introduction of thousands of pounds of fertilizer and pesticides into our canals. It will also eliminate the temptation to blow grass clipping into the canals. This must apply to all areas on the island. No exemptions for hotels, condos or special interests.
  • Replace grass on swales with an environmentally friendly material. This would eliminate the necessity to  use fertilizer and pesticides that run off into canals.
  • Create incentives for home owners, condos and businesses to gradually reduce the percentage of areas dedicated to lawns.
  • Stricter enforcement of environmental laws already in place. Strict licensing and monitoring oh lawn maintenance companies.

These are just a few ideas that our City Council should consider.  We all love green grass but the life blood of our island is our waterways. The economic viability of our city depends on it.

Anthony Costantino, Marco Island

Ambulance ambience

Well, here we go into August and with this new month, the vote on whether or not Marco ought create and operate its own ambulance service will be on us. I first heard of the subject about two years ago and since then tried to learn about it with inquiries to Marco’s City Council, Fire Chief Murphy, the “Our City Our Ambulance” committee and Collier County’s EMS Chief Butcher. All these good folks were as helpful and informative as their particular positons allowed.

I appreciate their accessibility although some concerns do remain:

First, what exactly is the ambulance problem that Marco’s Fire Chief Murphy says he’s been fighting for the past eight years? Has the sky really been falling for that long? Records indicate that the ambulance service provided to Marco by Collier County actually exceeds the nationally accepted standards and I’m not aware of any particular crisis.

Secondly, the county offered to provide two full-time ambulances to Marco for an added annual cost of about $500K. This is a far more reasonable cost than the annual millions of dollars a city-owned service would cost taxpayers. Why haven’t we been given a much closer look, or voting opportunity, to this attractive option?

Third, Marco’s city governance has been, and still remains, an administrative nightmare. Marco seems unable to keep even the simple City Manager concept in reasonable order; ditto Marco’s roads, canals, storm drains, etc.  We have the dubious distinction of buying and operating Florida’s most expensive water and sewer system.  Not a wonderful track record.

Fourth, and in fairness, my research does suggest that yes, a City of Marco Island ambulance service might indeed be a very “nice to have” additional service…however, it does not appear to be a “need to have” expense.

Given the above rationales, (and there are others, I’m sure), it certainly doesn’t seem smart to throw away what has been working very well for decades and assign the life & death responsibilities of Emergency Ambulance Services exclusively to a still-immature, messy city of Marco Island.

I’ve concluded that old-fashion common sense outweighs the political/emotional arguments presented.

I will vote “no” on the ambulance issue, even though I may be in the minority.  

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

US should put pressure on Armenia

July 23 marked the 25th anniversary of the occupation of the Agdam district of Azerbaijan, its complete destruction and ethnic cleansing.

Since 1987, Armenia has instituted a policy of outright territorial annexation in regardsto Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh region. Armenian nationalists launched an undeclared war on Azerbaijan and by mid-1992 expelled all of Nagorno Karabakh’sAzeri population. After

the Khojaly Massacre perpetrated by Armenian army with the support of Russia’s 366th regiment, where 613 Azerbaijani civilians were exterminated overnight, Armenian militants continued their ethnic cleansing campaigns in other districts of Azerbaijan.

As a result of Armenian assault on Agdam in 1993, the town of Agdam along with 80 villages constituting 340 square miles were occupied. A total of 128,000 residents of Agdam fled, becoming a part of 1 million refugees in a camp in Azerbaijan. Occupation of Agdam by Armenian forces caused material destruction equaling $6.2 billion; 5,897 ethnic Azeris died.

In 1993, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 calling for immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces. Armenia has yet to comply. In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Armenia continues to occupy Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh region, denying 750,000 Azeris their right to return.

The U.S. government must be proactive is exerting pressure on Armenia to take a constructive stance, force it to comply with U.N. resolutions, withdraw from internationally recognized Azerbaijani territories and allow the return of Azeris to their homes.

Sumer Aygen, Marco Island

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