Today being July 1st, 2017 and having not done an article for a few months I didn’t have much of an issue with what is on my mind and what I want to write about. As of today, I have served a total of a combined twenty-six years both on City Council (12 years) and as Mayor (14 years). From the start of my political career in 1984, I understood that our local newspaper would on occasion write an article that had my name mentioned in it and it was in their opinion critical of a decision I had made. That was just politics and it happens to all of us sooner or later
that serve in the political arena. If I felt they were justified which in some cases they were I didn’t whine and complain or go on the defensive, I agreed with them and moved on.
Of course, as a Council member it happened but as Mayor and understandably so it was and is a lot more frequent. It goes without saying there were positive articles as well. I learned how to get along with the editorial staff and sincerely tried and still try to be straight up when asked a question from the news media and I’m not too full of myself to simply say I don’t know but I’ll find out if I don’t know the answer. So where am I going with all of this? Within the last six months it seems that our local newspaper has been extremely critical of not just me as Mayor, but about the city as a whole.
Articles that could be spun as positive are spun as negative. Our wonderful Baker Park which hopefully will be breaking ground in late December or early January is moving along nicely. An unfortunate misunderstanding took place a few months ago where we had two donors for the same amenity. It was an honest mistake by a staff member and it was rectified the very next day to the satisfaction of both parties. However,
the paper made it read like we were the bad guys and put the blame on me. Another article about our new city dock which is in the process of being built came out negative portraying the city as being uncaring concerning one of the former dock’s tenants. It just wasn’t so. The list goes on but I suppose the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me is the newspaper’s obsession with our city summer vacation schedule. We break for our vacation in mid-June and return in mid-August. They were very specific two weeks ago when in their “Kudos & Kicks” Saturday publication giving our city the largest kick for taking time off this summer.
Very simply put their reasoning was that times have changed and we need to meet during the summer months. Well, in one sense they were correct that since I moved to Naples in 1973, times have certainly changed. What they totally missed is the simple fact that the City of Naples is not Collier County. We are still very seasonal and I can guarantee you that our city residents would not like us to meet during the summer months. As my fellow Council member Doug Finlay so aptly stated in a letter with regard to Summer meetings, “I know many of our residents would not want that to happen. In fact, they often become critical when we hear items out of season.” He goes on to correctly say that because so many of the items that we deal with are controversial ones that involve redevelopment and land use they don’t like these matters heard with Council chambers being empty.
The population in the City of Naples is roughly 21,000 people and the County is roughly 365,000 and is continuing to grow rapidly. I don’t see that number changing in the city. We are and will remain a seasonal small town city. When the newspaper refers to time off for us they have totally missed the boat and as far as I’m concerned, I’ll give that “Kick” right back to them! They make it sound as if when we finish our last meeting in June we all head for the hills and are never heard from until we reconvene in August. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I don’t know of any of my fellow Council members including myself who isn’t in touch on a daily basis with our City Manager and staff. E-mail,
Facebook, telephone and a myriad of others are available to us. As we all know the technology today is amazing and communicating with constituents has never been easier or more effective no matter where we are.
I don’t see that schedule changing anytime soon. Next article will be a complete summation of projects that will be happening to finish 2017 and ones that we anticipate in 2018. Enjoy the rest of your summer wherever you are! Email me at email@example.com I do respond!