Letters to the editor for Saturday, October 29, 2022

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Get involved in Naples zoning issue

Naples City Council will have a meeting to discuss a “zoning in progress” or “ZIP” This Monday, Oct. 31, at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall Chambers. They tried to pass this last week with limited notification to the public. When some citizens opposed it they push it back to Monday's meeting.

Rather than focusing on hurricane recovery they will be looking at limiting lot coverage and other factors including limiting impermeable surfaces, banning lot combinations, limiting driveways, pools and pool decks and setback definitions.

This will result in more two story homes and make many existing homes "Non-Conforming." This affects every single-family property owner

The zoning in progress would freeze zoning and act like a building moratorium and create uncertainty around permitting and design work in progress for at least 120 days if not more. I urge you to read the proposed discussion items and either contact your council members directly or come to speak publicly about the issue.

An open discussion with public involvement and time to review the complex issues is a process we recommend. Putting the community on notice via "ZIP" at this time and during a storm recovery seems insensitive and is unnecessary.

Please get involved and join the discussion. Please help spread the word too. Council needs to hear from us the residents, property owners, and voters.

Matthew White, Naples

Lee commissioners not responsive

No question about it – our county commissioners are dealing with much more than they ever anticipated. While this may be a lot for these ordinary mortals to deal with, we pay them $100,000+ to handle the aftermath of a devastating storm with wisdom and compassion. Unfortunately, as ordinary men, they are failing. Their lack of transparency and refusal to speak honestly with Lee residents is telling. When asked why they dithered in ordering a mandatory evacuation, they dissemble and offer up mumbo-jumbo, asserting first that Lee County was outside the "cone of uncertainty," then refusing to admit that they failed to recognize the danger posed by a predicted 4 foot to 8 foot storm surge until too late.

Now we learn that at the time of the storm, our County Commission chair, Cecil Pendergrass, was on a tourism junket in Germany as Ian gained strength and headed our way. Obviously, he felt no need to cut short his trip to return and lead the county. And his response to questions about this: He is simply too busy to explain. Who paid for the trip? Silence. What does this all tell you? Write in Karen Watson for county commissioner to send a message that Lee County deserves better.

Charlotte Newton, Women For a Better Lee, Fort Myers

Marco council candidates get vote

Recently, visiting friends asked who I favored in the upcoming city councilor election and why. Not wanting to bore them with local Marco Island issues, I narrowed my answer down to the following synopsis. Maybe it’ll help some of our still-undecided voters:

Recently, Marco residents passed a contentious referendum restricting short-term rentals in the middle of single family residential zones.

Two of our five candidates, Rivera and Palumbo, have received thousands of campaign dollars from sulking short-term realtor organizations. If these two candidates are as upright as their literatures claim, and if elected, they will owe a lot of loyalty to their short-term realtor supporters.

I’m of the opinion that elected city officials should have no more than ONE primary loyalty, namely, the residents.

That said, I’m left with only three candidates for the three council seats, Brechnitz, Dowell and Folley. Ergo, these three get my vote.

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

Byron Donalds an election denier

Our representative in the 19th congressional district, Republican Byron Donalds, is an election denier — make no bones about it. On the infamous Jan. 6, he along with other Republican congressmen did Donald Trump’s bidding by voting against the certification of Joe Biden as president.

Donalds tries to distance himself, though, from the wild, unfounded claims of voter fraud by hiding behind a manufactured rationalization: That is, because several states did not have their legislature’s approval to make COVID accommodations in the voting process, their elections were unconstitutional. Had his position carried the day, millions of votes would have been obliterated and the country would have been thrown into chaos. His vote not to certify was irresponsible representation of his constituents.

What he did in the name of “election integrity” endears him to Trump and the former president’s followers and gives Donalds the badge he needs to obtain the MAGA vote. It also, however, tells us a) that his primary accountability is to Trump, rather than to his constituents; and b) that his ambition to hold public office will allow him to do whatever is necessary to please Trump. We deserve better and should deny Donalds our votes.

Dennis Rodgers, Fort Myers

Republicans making it harder to vote

I have a mail-in ballot. In the past, I would fill it out and drop it off in the drop box outside the Supervisor of Elections headquarters after 5 p.m. To my surprise, there was no such drop box where I usually found one this election cycle, so I left to pick up my disabled father, who was waiting for me.

A few days later, I consulted the Supervisor of Elections website and found that I would have to drive 20 minutes opposite my home to get to a library before 6 p.m. That is an inconvenience because I need to pick up my father by 6 p.m.

Next, I called the Supervisor of Elections office to find out if there were any drop boxes near my home or job. I was told yes, although they are no longer outside but inside the voting locations. I asked why there was a change if we had never had a problem with elections in Florida since Gore v. Bush elections. The attendant said that there was a change in the law. I told her that this change makes it inconvenient for people who work 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and asked where I can submit a complaint. I was told to contact my legislator. I did so. I also sent an email to our Supervisor of Elections office. Anticipating no real response from the elected officials that made it difficult for me, and countless other busy professionals like myself, to vote, I submitted this letter to the editor and encourage others to do the same.

For those who say that I could mail my ballot, what millennials have post stamps? We use email, DoorDash, Instacart, and Venmo. It is clear that Florida Republicans are making it harder for people to vote because that is how they win.

Angela Cisneros, Naples

Jen Mitchell for Collier School Board

I stand with Jen Mitchell for Collier County School Board. Just as Jen stood with Gov. DeSantis at the post-Ian high school football game, she followed his leadership in education during the difficult pandemic and post-pandemic period. Jen’s focus has always been on our students. Under her leadership, students returned to the classroom and learned! The character-assassinating campaign against her is appalling. As a lifelong Republican, I have always voted for strong Republican candidates. Jen is a lifelong Republican who has been an active member of the Collier Republican Party since 2017. Yet, the local party leadership with their vicious ads wants you to believe that she is not. School Board races are non-partisan. They should be about what is best for our students. For our students to witness the political process being funded by local Collier County Republican leadership is appalling and the antithesis of what we want our students to learn about civics. I recently attended several events with Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democrat Party to become an Independent. She talked about out-of-control campaigns for candidates for whom the end justifies the means. It is disgusting that the Collier County GOP has made our School Board race the epitome of an ends-justifying-the-means campaign at the expense of students. I encourage you to vote for Jen Mitchell to continue her efforts for our Collier County students. Then I encourage you to demand new leadership in the Collier Republican Party that will make Collier County a great Republican county again.

Jan Face Glassman, Naples

Polling place hard to find

I got a pamphlet from the Supervisor of Elections in the mail the other day. One of the subjects covered was where I am going to vote on Election Day. It gave an address and then it said Florida Sports Park. I had no idea where it was, so I went to my trusty computer and looked it up on Google Earth. My wife and I tried to find it and on our first attempt we drove right by it thinking that can't be it. For one thing, it was located at least a quarter mile north of Rattlesnake Hammock, and second the place looked like a condemned building.

We had to leave on another errand, planning on coming back later. On our second attempt, I drove over rutted gravel and dirt roads to get close to the building. Sure enough, the "condemned" building was the right address. There is very little parking, and it is mostly handicapped spaces in gravel and dirt. Talk about a shock.

When I got home I called the Supervisor of Elections office and asked if this was a joke. She said "No" and when I told her of the conditions outside, she said that they had renovated the inside and that it was very nice. Whoop-de-do.

All I know is they better have a ton of signs all over the area telling people where the polling place is.

Chuck Bainbridge, Naples

Emotional wounds need attention

It’s been days/weeks since Hurricane Ian devastated and sadly ruined our lovely beachfronts, familiar restaurants and our numerous fun beachfront bars/saloons. The streets are filled with copious debris and all this newspaper wants to trumpet about is how quickly we all should get back to normal. As if emotional wounds and trauma are quickly remedied without professional medical help

This is cruel and irresponsible by our county leaders. The politicians should care about the mental well-being of their year-long residents. In case you haven’t noticed there are many incredibly sad humans shopping in our stores, golfing on our driving ranges and courses. Golfers who don’t show their same joy. Parents dropping kids off at school, frowning and fighting back tears.

My question and complaints are directed at community leaders who are gung ho to quickly get the money machine pumped and generating dollars without giving a fig as to the mental health our life-long residents.

Please start giving a damn about our non-millionaire workers who do most of the living, taxpaying and raising of our kids. Provide talk therapy to those of us who aren’t drug and alcohol addicts. We need help too, but as I unfortunately learned. The only therapy available is for people with the aforementioned problems.

Without spending money on our mental health, Naples will go the way of many other sad coastal communities throughout the state. Let’s take care of each other while we still have the wherewithal to be a true community who cares about everyone, not just the wealthy.

Sylvia Wong Herscher, Naples

FEMA and debris removal

Like so many that went through hurricane Ian we thank God we are alive. So many people lost everything. Their possessions, their livelihood and precious friends. We were fortunate and only lost replaceable items.

It was unbelievable destruction everywhere. We stayed through it and clocked winds of 165 mph. Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, two beautiful tourists destinations, were almost completely destroyed. It will take a long time and a lot of patience to try and restore the beauty we once had here. I watched on the news our president and our governor stated that FEMA would pick up the expense for the huge debris removal. There were no conditions that this or that was required for that service. We are a small community of ten families. Luckily one in the community had a tree removal company. Our common area was so covered in trees and debris it was not walkable and considerably dangerous due to leaning trees and heavy branches. His company came in and cleared everything. It took three days, three long days. Our invoice is $18,000 and trying to turn it into FEMA has been a joke. No one knows what we’re talking about and we’ve talked to about four different agents. I do have the YouTube video of the speech from the president and the governor. Where do we go to get this resolved?

Nicole Kleve, Fort Myers

Political quiz time

There is not much time left in the semi annual “most important election of our lives” season.

This just in: “Our Democracy May be at Stake.”

With that in mind I pose the following which of these statements is most true question:

a) The other party is a bunch of misogynistic, xenophobic racists that pander to corporate America.

b) The other party is a bunch of socialists that want to destroy capitalism and have a borderless world.

c) Neither party is really concerned because they are the only choices and know the pendulum swings between them. They are a bunch of elitists that are re-reelected over 90 percent of the time and won’t make reforms that are good for the average American because that’s not their or their donors’ personal demographic.

Now a true or false bonus question:

I would support a viable third-party candidate that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Tim Winschel, Naples

Trump GOP favors super rich

Trump’s first legislation on becoming president was to reduce taxes on the super rich who had funneled hidden millions of dollars through the Citizens’ United process for his election. Nothing has changed in the mid-terms. My Republican Party of sheep controlled by Donald Trump represents interests only of the super rich. For example, Florida’s Senator Scott (super rich by illegal excess billing of his hospital corporation) advocates discontinuance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid even though I have paid into Social Security for 70 years (I am 90).

I pay taxes on the value of my farm PLUS on the income therefrom. The super rich including churches should also pay taxes on the value of their property plus on the income therefrom. If your taxable income is less than $200,000/year don’t be a dumb, stupid, misled fool (MAGA) voting for Trump-supported candidates for office. Saving our democracy from an autocratic Trump dictatorship is the SINGLE issue in this election. Women’s right to control of their bodies is next in line. Immigration, crime and the economy are trivial in comparison. Vote for your interest in the super rich paying their share of taxes by voting AGAINST Trump-supported candidates.

William A. Pettinger M.D., Bonita Springs

Stop GOP agenda, vote blue

If you believe inflation is the biggest issue in the upcoming election, you need to know:

“On average, 11.4 percent of inflationary price increases became corporate profits from 1979 to 2019. Since the 2020 pandemic, that number has jumped up to 53.9 percent.” There are reliable indications that a large portion of price increases are going to profits for large corporations in services like groceries, furniture and cars.

Corporate greed is driving inflation, and many corporations are using these profits to buy back stock shares to increase the value of their stock. This mechanism directly transfers wealth from working people like you and me, to the top 1-5 percent wealthiest individuals.

Actually, believing that gas prices are controlled by presidents is alarming. Whose economic policies help corporations avoid contributing to basic American life via taxes? Oh, that’s right. That would be Republicans. Who voted no to stop price gouging by oil companies? Republicans.

The pandemic got the ball rolling, Putin disrupted the world supply, price-gouging U.S. oil companies made record-breaking profits, and OPEC cut production (perhaps in exchange for one or more of your Trump's stolen top secrets). That is how your wages were cut into. Next they want to kill Social Security.

That is the Republican agenda and the only way to help out a stop to it is to vote blue.

Steve Wolfson, Fort Myers

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Letters to the editor for Saturday, October 29, 2022