Letters to the Editor, August 25

Marco Eagle

Contrasting capers

Picture this:  You’re a mid-60s retiree, enjoying sailing radio-controlled sailboats on Marco’s Mackle lake with fellow club members. Passersbys stop to watch when suddenly one collapses and doesn’t rise. You rush to him, recognize the unresponsiveness and order someone to call 911. You administer CPR until the ambulance arrives. The victim eventually recovers fully. Your quick action is credited with having saved the victim’s life. 

This scenario actually did happen. The life-saving hero was Marco resident Rocky Cale.

Editorial cartoon

Now, fast forward a few years to the same spot, with Rocky and friends still sailing their little RC sailboats on Mackle lake. The lake is choked with overgrown weeds and, as usual, club members clear the necessary area manually. This has been the procedure for over 15 years. Incredibly, however, this time, Rocky, (alone), is placed under arrest by the Fish & Wildlife Commission for removing vegetation without a permit. At the county jail, his belongings are removed, he’s given the orange jumpsuit, finger printed and mug-shot. Luckily, Rocky’s wife scraped up the $1,000 bail, enabling Rocky to await a Sept. 12 court date at home instead of in jail … for pulling weeds!

Epilogue:  Brief research so far turned up the following:  The Fish and Wildlife people were called in by Marco’s Park and Recreation manager, Samantha Malloy, apparently without authorization from her superiors. An adversarial relationship has existed between Rocky and Malloy for some time over an unrelated city matter. Word count limitations prohibit more details here, but please stay tuned. Could you be next?

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

Government is broken

Dear Marco Island Residents, words cannot express my disappointment and disgust in waking up today and reading the news that an elderly Marco Island resident was arrested for pulling weeds at Mackle Park. I will not name his name as he had already been publically embarrassed enough. He is the real victim here.  

How can this be allowed to happen? I will tell you how. We live in a word run by prosecutors and law enforcement, not leaders who lead. Marco Island is a prime example. The government is broken. This needs to change, now. It is a swampy swamp and when an elderly man cleaning a literal swamp gets put in an orange jump suit, this should be the final straw.  

This man hurt no one. This man stole nothing. No harm was done. How in the world are city employees, employees of the citizens, allowed to treat our elderly or any citizen for that matter in this deplorable manner? 

If there was such a thing as justice, the code enforcement officer and the woman from the parks department should be arrested for elder abuse. By definition, this is clearly a clear act of elder abuse. I know this will never happen as their excuse for a lack of moral behavior is they are just "doing their job." Well, that is true to an extent but they accountable to no one for their actions, as there is no mayor elected by the people to run the show.

What needs to happen is this. Marco citizens need to put a referendum on the ballot to change the Marco Charter to a strong mayor. All city employees will report to this "elected" mayor. The buck stops there in all city business. Like America, Marco needs a strong leader that is allowed to lead. Fixing this great country starts one city at a time and Marco is a prime example of a broken system. Marco Island is broken.     

After seeing this news today I no longer intend to come back to Marco Island. In choosing the best environment to raise my children, I do not want the current lack of leadership and the defacto low level non-elected public employees of Marco Island educating and helping raise my kids considering their choice and actions when dealing with the elderly and their own citizens.    

The lack of leadership must stop now.  Citizens of Marco please unite and change your charter to allow a real leader to be voted by the people who will care for the citizens and city of Marco that was once a great place to live. Only then, can it become a great place again. 

Adam Urban, Marco Island

We have met the enemy …

With all the talk about the red tide related fish and manatee deaths, I remember a 1970 Earth Day poster that read “We have met the enemy and it is US!”

While the news focuses on the nitrogen rich discharge from Lake Okeechobee, we should not let this distract us from our own nitrogen discharges.

With all the septic tanks eliminated 10 years ago, one would think that the nitrogen level would now be back to normal. Actually, 2017 and 2018 canal water samples show highest ever levels of total nitrogen, The highest values are over twice the state safe limit for our coast.

Biologists attribute Marco’s high ntrogen level to our loss of the important sea grass nursery for many fish species. It can also feed the algae, which is responsible for red tide.

We need to eliminate the amount of human discharged nitrogen that ends up in our vital waterways and beaches. The logical source is landscape fertilizer and possibly reuse water supplied by our sewer treatment plant. The surface nitrogen washes off our land from rain and irrigation water. It then flows into our swales, street drains and culverts and that lead to our canals and waterways. Even in our yards, clippings decay and release the nutrients back into the soil where it joins up with dissolved fertilizer and drains down under our seawalls and into the waterways.

It will not be easy but Marco’s City Council needs to eliminate all manmade nitrogen discharges.

After 48 years, we still need to stop being the enemy of our environment.

Just say no to nitrogen!

David M. Rasmussen PE, Marco Island

A week of tragic events

August 23-31 are marked in Azerbaijan as a week of tragic events. Since 1988, Armenian army and guerrilla groups occupied several districts in Azerbaijan expelling ethnic Azeris from their ancestral homes.
After occupation of Kelbajar and Agdam districts, condemned by international community in UN SC's resolutions 822 and 853, Armenian forces continued their assault against Fizuli, Jabrayil and Gubadly, occupying a territory of combined 3,238 mi and expelling 157 thousands Azeri civilians. 
The UN SC passed its 3rd resolution 874 condemning Armenian conquests, reaffirming Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and demanding withdrawal of Armenian forces from these districts (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f1684.html). On March 14, 2008, the UN General Assembly reiterated its position on territorial integrity of Azerbaijan: resolution A/62/L.42 called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces "from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan." Armenia is yet to comply.
USG must be proactive is exerting pressure on Armenia to take a constructive stance, force it to comply with UN SC and GA resolutions, withdraw from internationally recognized Azerbaijani territories and allow return of Azeri refugees to their homes.

Sumer Aygen, Marco Island

Test statistics confusing

At Collier County School Board election forums, confusion has prevailed about raw versus scale scores and percentages versus percentiles.

Many standardized tests are constructed to be so demanding that, regardless of ability or knowledge, answering most questions correctly is nearly impossible. Test designers want scores spread across a wide distribution to identify the rare genius or maintain comparisons as students become better prepared.
Raw scores (the number of correct responses), often meaningless because of tests’ difficulty, convert to scale scores, numbers familiar to the public. Furthermore, the raw percentage correct is not the percentile ranking score. If a person answers 70 percent of questions correctly, but 99 percent of the test takers score below 70 percent, then that person receives a percentile score of 99.
Consider the ACT college admission test. The University of Florida website states, as a minimum admission requirement, a scale score of 19 out of 36 on the reading and math sections is required if submitting the ACT (https://admissions.ufl.edu/apply/freshman/).
For the online, preparatory ACT, on the reading section, a scale score of 19 represents a raw score of 19 correct out of 40 questions (48 percent). On the math section, a scale score of 19 represents 25 to 26 correct out of 60 questions (42 percent) (http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Preparing-for-the-ACT.pdf).
The University of Florida does not guarantee admission with an ACT of 19, and the goal is to have Collier County students perform much higher. The point is that standardized assessments do not operate like classroom tests where if teachers teach competently and students study seriously, then test scores should be 90 percent plus.
Similarly, translating a school district score of 62 percent plus to an A grade is based on a 34-page Florida Department of Education guide, not on a classroom model (http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/18534/urlt/SchoolGradesCalcGuide18.pdf).

Marla Weiss, Naples

State rule harms the poor

I have lived in Golden Gate Estates for 14 years. Almost every day, I walk about 4 miles on our streets. For a few weeks at this time of the year, in several places, I begin to see old pickups parked along undeveloped and uncleared lots. I know then that saw palmetto berry picking has begun. Almost all the pickers are black or Hispanic. I have gotten to know of few of the regulars over the years and have invited them to my property to pick berries.
Picking berries is hard, hot work. Among the pickers, I have seen elderly men and women in their white boots grab their buckets and head off into swampy wet areas to gather a few berries. This work is not done for fun. It is a brief opportunity for some people of minimal means to make a few extra dollars to get by.
One Saturday, at the start of my walk, I saw my first pickers of this year. I had noticed on the WBBH-TV website a clip about berry pickers being arrested. This is occurring because on July 17, the Florida Department of Agriculture added saw palmettos, a plant certainly not endangered or threatened, to the department’s commercially exploited plant list. This created burdensome requirements (search the Florida Department of Agriculture website) for anyone picking saw palmetto berries to sell them. The complexity of this process essentially eliminates the opportunity for the pickers I know to continue to do this legally. The requirements clearly target poor black and Hispanic people.

And, yes, as I returned from my walk, two sheriff’s deputies were present arresting the pickers I saw when I began.

Harold Williams, Golden Gate Estates