Letters to the Editor, Sept. 20

Marco Eagle
Editorial cartoon

Why I support Greg Folley for City Council

I have followed Marco Island politics throughout my 40 years as a resident, and Greg Folley has delivered more results for citizens than any councilor I can remember.

An accomplished lawyer, Greg is a veteran who served in all three branches of the federal government. He was lead labor negotiator and Chief HR officer for Caterpillar, Inc. Hailing from Illinois as I do, Greg was very worried about public pension liabilities here on Marco. His concerns were fully warranted. Greg deployed his skills, bringing Council together to address the City’s unsustainable pension liabilities. Fire and police pensions were far above market, with no employee pension contributions, retirement eligibility after 25 years with no minimum age, and cost of living adjustments of 3% following retirement for life, doubling pension payments from taxpayers to retirees in just 24 years!

Under Greg's leadership, Council confronted pensions head on. Both unions ultimately agreed to a more market-based set of pension benefits, paired with market-based wage increases. The net present value of these savings to taxpayers is nearly $10 million, well over 1/3 of the city’s annual operating budget. Our firefighters and police officers still enjoy highly competitive wages and benefits to help keep our city one of the safest places in the entire country.

These achievements warrant Greg's reelection, as they would not have happened absent his leadership. His work on pensions is just one of many examples of Greg delivering results for Marco Island taxpayers. We need him on council for another term.

Harry P. Lamberson, Marco Island

Candidate forum for Collier County School Board

The School Board elections are not over. No one candidate secured the necessary votes to win the seat.  There are runoff elections in the three districts on the Nov. 8, General Election ballot. All Collier County voters may vote for one candidate from each of all three Districts, 1, 3, and 5.

The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, the Marco Island Civic Association, and the Coalition for Quality Public Education have joined together to provide an opportunity for the community to hear School Board candidates present their views in person, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, 991 Winterberry Road, Marco Island. 

In District 1, Jerry Rutherford is running against incumbent Dr. Jory Westberry.  In District 2, Kelly Lichter is running against incumbent Jen Mitchell, and in District 5, Tim Mosher is running against incumbent Roy Terry.

Will Collier County Public Schools be able to provide the quality of graduate needed by local industry? Can graduates pass muster for top notch colleges? Will the new multi-million dollar high school have no debt connected to it when it opens next year? Are Collier County early elementary students failing at high levels in reading? 

Funding for public schools represents a significant portion of taxpayer dollars annually, and schools have much to do with the quality of life in any community. Your attendance is encouraged.

Sponsorship by the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, Marco Island Civic Association, and the Coalition for Quality Public Education is offered to provide a community-wide opportunity to collect information by citizens prior to casting their votes.  All are welcome to attend.

Dr. Jerry Swiacki, Marco Island Civic Association

Education freedom in Florida

The Heritage Foundation has authored the Education Freedom Report Card, which serves as a guide for assessing education freedom in each state. The report card measures four broad categories (School Choice, Transparency, Regulatory Freedom and Spending) that encompass more than two dozen factors. Guess what? Florida is the top-ranked state across the board. If you are looking for a state that embraces education freedom, respects parents’ rights, and provides a decent ROI for taxpayers look no further than our great state. It is an interesting study. 

Last week in a speech, Gov. DeSantis said that the purpose of education is to educate, not indoctrinate kids. He further said that his administration is placing more emphasis on American civics. Ensuring that kids have an idea of what it means to be an American. Good for him!

The top five states for education freedom, according to the report, are ranked in this order: Florida, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and South Dakota. All red states. At the other end, ranked 46-50 are: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.  All blue states. Dead last is the District of Columbia. 

I wonder what Charlie Crist would do to improve education freedom?  You need to look no further than his running mate. His focus will be less education and more indoctrination and the result will be less freedom in the Florida school system. 

Nick Blauwiekel, Naples

More:Letters to the Editor, Sept. 16