Letters to the Editor, April 16

Marco Eagle
Editorial cartoon

In total denial

You have to be completely out of touch or in total denial at this point to not realize that there are significant problems in our police department. There has been one embarrassing story after the other about some kind of misconduct or criminal activity. It simply can't be glossed over anymore. 

Those that want to dismiss this constant barrage of problems as "a few bad apples" or "problems inherited years ago" simply have no credibility in my opinion.  Maybe four years ago, you could use that as an excuse but certainly not today, when you have the worst of the worst in leadership positions.

Let's just look at one such officer, John Derrig: fired for excessive force, lying on his reports, has severe anger managements problems and a laundry list of complaints filed against him. Just google him and see for yourself. 

Many people in this community are terrified of John Derrig and have been bullied and intimidated by him, including young women who he is known to target. He has been allowed to be gainfully employed when he shouldn't even be allowed to carry a gun and now he is leading the charge to "Keep the Chief". That tells me all I need to know about that movement.

I grew up in this community and witnessed the department go downhill over the years. I used to see the Marco police as a positive, now I see them as a corrupt fraternity.

 I am not a stranger to police policies. I was a military police officer for the Air Force and worked with intelligence and investigations on criminal cases. I think the Police Chief retiring is a positive thing. The City Manager and City Council need to stay the course and clean up this city starting with the MIPD. 

Alex Popoff, Air Force veteran, Marco Resident

Ego control

It was sad to read Councilor Larry Honig’s attempt to lecture Marco Island on what “Keep the Chief” means, (Marco Eagle, April 9). I’m not party to that movement, but such signs have been appearing on Marco regarding Police Chief Al Schettino’s approaching retirement in June. 

Once upon a time, the United States of America trained and commissioned Mr. Honig as a U.S. Army “officer and gentleman.” Apparently, Mr. Honig abandoned both qualifications when he left the army.

City Charter prohibits City Council involvement in staff personnel matters. In my opinion, Councilor Honig could have simply acknowledged Chief Schettino’s decade of service, period. Alternatively, given his now obvious personal disdain for Chief Schettino, Honig could have just remained wisely silent.

Instead, Mr. Honig’s article took delirious delight not just in outlining certain unfortunate MIPD failings, but also in presenting innuendo, allegations and highlighting mistakes made under Chief Schettino’s watch. I find this the sort of stuff usually left behind in high school. I also wondered if and why Mr. Honig considered his own hands clean enough to cast stones at the departing chief. 

About three years ago, then Council Chairman Honig made and allowed a series of egregious blunders regarding Marco’s search for a city manager. At that time I wrote him: “My support of you as councilor remains in place, but as council chairman, well, not so much.”

Regrettably, Honig’s current attempt to lecture Marco Island on the meaning of “Keep the Chief” has me rethinking my opinion of him as a councilor. Maybe it’s time to consider limiting councilors to one four-year term instead of two. That might limit the growth of their egos as well.

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

Hipocracy at its worst

Since Marco became a city we have witnessed many comical people elected to City Council. Over the years some councilors have become more morbid, egoistical and power hungry. After the shenanigans  by the last criminal  city manager,  who was aided and  programed by Mr. Honig and Mr. Grifoni and others, he was canned again for his nefarious deeds, and the cabal of plotting councilors were exposed.  Their plan to remove the police chief and fire chief and other city employees did not happen because the corrupt manager had to be removed for his criminal activity, to the chagrin of the City Council cabal.

However, the sneaky, weasel like councilors continue their efforts to undermine the morale and loyalty of our dedicated first responders. Those efforts are a gutless ploy that pose a sinister and dangerous situation for the people of Marco. I recall that Mr. Honig and Mr. Gifoni received a vote of “no confidence” from their very own collegues on council and the people are supposed to believe what they say? Duh? They didn’t even have the decency to step down. If anyone needs removal, its them! There must be a way for the people to remove these types, quickly and efficiently.

The sunshine law should include all interviews for city manager/mayor,  be made public so that sitting councilors cannot influence a candidate needing a job. Councilors and candidates of questionable character would be hard pressed to apply their dangerous hidden agenda. Smarten up Marco!

Sal Soldano, Marco Island

Unfair to the chief

Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino is attentive, compassionate and intensely serious about the safety and wellbeing of all Marco Island Citizens and visitors. 

Every New Year’s Eve, Chief Schettino is not home celebrating with his family or friends like most of us.  Instead, he is out all hours of the night patrolling for offenders setting off illegal fireworks that threaten the safety and wellbeing of people, homes, pets and wildlife.

No thanks to a previous police chief, Schettino inherited an officer he could not terminate because the police union prohibited such action. Additionally, a serious sexual situation involving three officers occurred on Chief Schettino’s watch, but the chief is not the cause of why these officers behaved immorally and unprofessionally. These officers are responsible for their own despicable actions and should be held accountable!!

When teachers are abusive or inappropriate, they are fired, not the principal.  

It would have been far more productive and less costly to the taxpayers, if Chief Schettino had been given the courtesy to meet with the interim city manager to discuss and assess these problems, and to form an action plan for solutions.  This is fundamental in any quality improvement program. It appears that the city does not have such a program in place.

Forcing Chief Schettino to retire was a rush decision most likely heavily influenced by a couple of resentful, mean spirited and persuasive individuals with a personal vendetta. What a shame! How unfair to the chief and to the citizens of Marco Island.  

Linda J. Turner, Marco Island

Real estate influence

The turnaround on short-term rentals shows how strong the influence of Realtors and developers are on local governments.

It is obviously important for local officials to pay strict attention to Realtors and developers and to make sure they do everything possible to maximize their profits. They do not take into consideration the high price we paid for our homes in Naples and Marco Island. The investment we made in our residential properties should be protected and not left to the whimsy of an investor.

Tony Riviezzo, Marco Island

Kindness taught in schools

(Last month) I visited Collier County Public Schools classrooms where teachers and school counselors had initiated and implemented kindness programs. These programs were created by the teachers and were not part of Florida standards or any other state's academic standards.

In one such program, each student wrote a kind message to another classmate selected by the teacher. Each student wrote one and received one kind personal message. This was an everyday event.

We can teach all of our kids the enjoyment ofbeing kind. Our world is too important and “wecannot permit hatred to win.” Let’s ensure

that this is taught everywhere: at home from birth, in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, through two to four years of college and then forever more. World peace. It is possible.

Irv Povlow, Marco Island

Marijuana for treatment

With each passing day, we hear and read more about the healthful effects of marijuana use. We're told marijuana can help address problems with anxiety, addiction, Alzheimer's, AIDS/HIV, arthritis, depression, insomnia, PTSD, stress and even dull otherwise intractable pain from cancer and other incurable diseases better than any current medications.

I've even read how marijuana use can help people lose considerable weight.

In light of all these revelations, what are we waiting for? Why would we continue to treat patients with addictive opioids for pain complaints and with dangerous benzodiazepines for anxiety relief and insomnia when we have marijuana that can address both concerns more effectively? Isn't this the cure we've all been waiting for?

Imagine finally ending our opioid epidemic and our endless war on drugs by turning to one purportedly healthy alternative. Imagine converting all of our methadone and suboxone clinics into healthy marijuana dispensaries. Imagine all of these things coming true and how America would radically change as a result. Well, I guess for now, they're just wild imaginings.

As for marijuana being used as a weight-loss remedy: Heroin, crack and methamphetamines also do the trick, but I wouldn't recommend using them, at least not without a prescription.

Lance McCormack, Marco Island

Felons’ right to vote

It was exciting to see that some 65 percent or so of voting Floridians decided it was time to throw off one of the last vestiges of Jim Crow and announce loud and clear that those people who paid their debts to society by being incarcerated for 10, 15, 20 or more years had now earned the right to have their constitutional right to vote restored.

But wait! Not so fast, said a small group of purposeful elected officials with politics in mind; they have determined that maybe they know better then the voters. It seems democracy be damned, they are determined to stop or slow this process of popular democracyas much as they can. Why the ballot question

in the first place if the overwhelming decision of the people will not be followed? I think the residents of this state should take a very hard look at what is transpiring here and keep that knowledge in mind come the next election.

Philip Kingston, East Naples