Politics and Potpourri

Councilman Bill Barnett

Councilman Bill Barnett

I’m doing something totally different for this article because it seems that when I wait till the article is due I forget some of the spur of the moment things that I have seen that are worth writing about.

So I’m starting this article on February 13th, and it’s not due to be turned in until the 10th of March for the April issue! So many people ask me if I’m going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day and I look at them in amazement. I love Valentine’s Day but it would have to be under dire conditions that you would get me to go out for dinner that night. Believe me it has nothing to do with romance, but it sure has something to do with keeping my sanity. If I was looking for a restaurant where we could have a quiet, leisurely, romantic dinner with great food and impeccable service then I would have to pick another night to dine out, because the odds are it’s not going to happen on Valentine’s night, love in the air or not. However with all that being said I do remember going out that night for many years until I realized that my significant other felt the same as I did, but didn’t want to say anything because she was afraid of hurting my feelings!

Today is February 27th, and this will probably be my last article for Life in Naples, and here’s why. I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember once a year when Publishers Clearing House rings a lucky winners doorbell and lets them know they have won the grand prize and will be financially secure for the rest of their lives! Before the computer age we used to receive in the mail a huge envelope full of great magazine deals, and a stamp to affix on what you chose with your lucky number(s) and you mailed it in. I never participated so I never had a chance to win. With computers and e-mail a whole new world opened up for them and this year I decided to open my e-mail from them. Wow, I didn’t have to purchase anything to be entered in the grand prize drawing which this year is a million dollars for life, plus after I won I could designate that million to be paid out to someone I name for the rest of their lives, what a deal! I think February 28th was the grand prize presentation.

So I scanned through at least four pages of special great merchandise offers, most of them were four payments of $3.99 each and even though they said my cart was empty I clicked my submit entry and watched the bar process it and the message said entry submitted. In the ensuing days and weeks there was an e-mail from them at least twice a week with warnings that if I didn’t confirm my original entry I would lose out, so of course I did and with each e-mail came the endless pages of bargains and finally I  succumbed and bought a wall socket surge protector that I just couldn’t live without. That purchase increased my e-mails from them twofold, and I confirmed at least five more times so I wouldn’t miss out on the big day when my doorbell rang and I won!

Today just like in the old days pre e-mail I received a big envelope from PCH chock full of merchandise discount coupons and a disqualification warning that if I didn’t respond I was out of this drawing, oh woe is me. But then my day brightened considerably because I realized that this was a brand new offer to be drawn on April 30th, and it was for only $7000.00 a week for life, so I think I’ll pass on responding to this one. The harsh realization that maybe my doorbell won’t ring tomorrow is setting in and perhaps this won’t be my last article for Life in Naples. After all what would I do with all that money anyway?

In 1995 a Naples City Council member named Bonnie MacKenzie had an idea that she presented to City Council. Simply put she wanted the schools located in the City of Naples to hold an essay contest for students from grades 4-12, and the essay had to be about one of Life’s lessons, hence it was named The Laws of Life. The Council endorsed her idea, and the City of Naples became a major sponsor along with another group that Bonnie had worked with, the YPO 49’ers. Although today they are they are called the Southwest Florida 49’ers they are still sponsoring this event with the City and over the years the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office and the Collier County Public Schools became sponsors as well. I was elected Mayor in 1996 and I wholeheartedly endorsed this program. The “Laws of Life,” focus on twelve basic character traits. They are Citizenship, Cooperation, Courage, Fairness, Honesty, Kindness, Patriotism, Perseverance, Respect, Responsibility, Self-Control, and this years essay topic Tolerance. The initial essay contest in 1995 probably had around 100 entries submitted, and since then the Laws of Life have expanded to every school in Collier County. The judges are all volunteers and they read every essay submitted.

The year 2012-13 saw over forty one hundred students contribute essays for judging! There are four finalists in each division, (4-5th, 6-8th, 9-10th, and 11-12th grades). A dinner is held for the finalists, their teachers, the principals of their respective schools, and their parents each February and the winners in each division are announced. There are cash scholarship awards given, to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each division. The students do not know what place they are in, they just know they made the finals. and starting with 4th place in each division they are announced. The winner must read or recite their essay, and I don’t ever remember hearing one read, they are all recited. It is an absolute amazing experience watching the presenters and listening to them presenting their wonderful essays. There is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of those phenomenal students will truly succeed in whatever endeavor they might pursue during their life’s journey. Of all the events that I attend each year and I attend a lot, the Laws of Life awards dinner is my number one favorite.

Safe travels for those of you who leave Naples in April, and you can rest assured that we will strive to make our City even better for your return next season.

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