Letters to the editor for Sunday, June 26, 2022

·18 min read
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

Support outstanding Collier school board

If you have children who attend the Collier County Public Schools, please pay attention to the upcoming school board election. Not until I became a school board member myself (in Upstate New York) did I realize the important role of the board in setting priorities, policies, and budgets, and communicating with the community. I did not pay attention to who was elected or what was said at the board table prior to my service. But I learned.

Thanks to the outstanding leadership of our current school board and Florida Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Kamala Patton, Collier County Public Schools has maintained an “A” rating, increased the graduation rate up to 92.6 percent, and outscored the state in 21/21 tested areas. Student success is their priority and the basis for all decision-making, despite the increasingly politicized environment in which board members must do their work.

If you appreciate your children’s teachers, the dedication of other school leaders, the depth and breadth of programming available to meet the needs of all students, and the overall quality of our public schools, get involved now. Vote in the August primary (board members are usually determined then).

Use your vote to say yes to all the good things that are happening. Your vote matters. The people you elect matter. They can continue this forward momentum in Collier County or they can join statewide efforts to undermine our public schools, e.g., by diverting public funds to private and religious schools, muzzling teachers, and banning books. Choose wisely.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing, Naples

Record of accomplishment at schools

It appears that the current school board election may become a down in the mud pit election, based on emails I am seeing. The accusations are flying with the new candidates making unsubstantiated statements about the current board members to get elected. You should know what is said if you are getting their emails. It appears that the new candidates are loaded with cash to run this type of campaign.

For those of us who have lived in Collier for many years, we remember when the school system was in disarray because of the irresponsibility of Dr. Thompson. Several new people were elected, at that time, to change the direction of Collier County Public Schools. They did their job and Dr. Patton was hired. Over the years she has created a great school system. One year she was in consideration for national superintendent of the year. She is the rock that leads our students.

So, when everyone votes, remember that those wishing to get on the school board may use mudslinging to compensate for the fact they do not have the experience of the incumbents, so they are saying and doing anything to get an advantage.

But, if after reviewing the achievements of the current members, you believe that someone could do better, then vote your conscience. I don’t believe you will see the incumbents mudslinging as they are running on what they have accomplished. I’m happy with what has been accomplished. Do you want to go with what has worked for 12 years or take a chance on someone that isn’t a proven commodity? Ask questions, don't just believe.

LeRoy Huenefeld, Naples

Sundown towns, racialized trauma

The News-Press story title was Sundown Towns in Florida. Two towns were discussed, Jay and Ocoee, Both towns grapple with racially motivated trauma in the past.

There are other "Sundown Towns" in Florida and most of them grappled with racialized trauma in the past.

I would like to add two additional towns, Rosewood, Florida and Fort Myers (Dunbar). The Rosewood racial massacre occurred in January 1923. Whites destroyed the town and murdered blacks. Indeed in the Dunbar section of Fort Myers (which was set aside for people of color) KKK raids occurred on several occasions, and I do believe there were lynchings. I would leave that for the Dunbar residents and historians to reveal.

However, the trauma, both psychological and physical, is everlasting. And accompanying that is the everlasting racialized poverty.

Past residents, today’s children and their children will never overcome the psychological trauma and the poverty associated with this.

Our governor's "Stop Woke" law cannot erase the events nor the conditions which have followed.  And to add additional insult, the governor's social policies continue to add trauma, disadvantages that poor people cannot overcome.

Lewis Robinson, Fort Myers

Paper shows liberal bias

A recent preview of the “Views” page revealed 12 letters published by the extremist editors of The News-Press. One represents the prevailing view in Florida, center right, and nine were of the extreme left. Two were neutral. So, I ask, is The News-Press publishing letters that are representing the people who live here? Or anywhere in America?

Do the editors overwhelmingly receive letters penned by the Harris/Biden re-election committee? Or, as I suspect, do the editors throw away the majority of letters that correctly describe liberal rule as horrible, with the poor being hammered by bidenflation and extremist climate positions and the gay agenda. One thing is a fact, Everything has gone downhill since the liberal extremists took power, go try and buy a used “work” truck if you don’t believe me. Try and buy a week's worth of food. Maybe some formula for a hungry baby.

The leftists in charge don’t care about our petty problems. “Ride a bike to work,” says Transportation secretary Pete, as gas hits five bucks a gallon, Joe hasn’t pumped gas in a car for 20 years, he lets the taxpayers pick that up, while he and Hunter travel the world selling influence to hated terrorist nations.

Worst president in history? Hard to say only a year and a half in, but boy, how much more miserable can the liberals make the poor? Answer: Pull up your bootstraps, a lot more.

Jeffrey Naslund, Fort Myers

Marco Island vacation rental vote

In August, Marco Island voters will be asked to vote on whether to limit guest vacation rental stays to a minimum of 30 days. Passage would have an immediate catastrophic impact on local businesses and their employees.

We’ve owned our home on Marco for 22 years. We’ve rented it for approximately 30 weeks each year with a seven-day minimum stay. We tried for two years to maintain a two-week minimum stay at our home. Bookings dropped so severely over this period that we had to return to a seven-night minimum stay. A 30-day minimum stay mandate would have resulted in our home being vacant for months at a time.

The substantial vacancy rates that would result from its passage would result in a devastating reduction in tourist dollars spent on Marco. Weekly guests inevitably spend more on restaurants, movies, local guides, rentals, souvenirs and attractions during their one-week stay than a monthly guest would begin to spend per week during their 30-plus day stay. There is no money spent when homes are vacant, which is virtually guaranteed outside of peak months.

Many homeowners rely on rental income to offset expenses. Without this income many would be forced to sell their homes. When the supply side tilts in the wrong direction real estate home values suffer. Many buyers could no longer afford to purchase a home for the very reason the seller had to sell their home.

Become informed. Read the legislation. Vote NO to its passage.

Jim and Ann Mardis, Marco Island

Convert malls to affordable housing

We have too much empty or tired commercial areas.  A recession is bubbling over and supply and demand for non-necessities will be reduced greatly, as they have in the past.

We MUST create affordable housing.

Solution::Take the Coastland Mall, Coconut Point mall and any slowly dying strip centers and have developers convert them to high-rise affordable housing. The sites have the space, parking and zoning. The local government could give developer incentives so they net what they would if they convert those same locations to not affordable housing. With the local governments getting excess money from all the individuals moving down I am sure we have funds to help attract the developers.

Brigid Soldavini-Clapper, Naples

Visit important historical places

The notion of quieting your mind is very hard in the busyness of our world. In our small community here in Naples with its hustle and bustle and beauty and excitement, it is hard to just sit down and wonder "where did it all begin?" Our beautiful area of Southwest Florida is rich in history, and it’s important we help keep this knowledge alive. Take a moment and research the little things like who started the first library in Naples? Who are some of the important people who made lasting impacts on the newspaper industry that has served so much here in Naples? Who awakened this sleepy little town to the arts? Who are some of the chefs who introduced you to foods and dining experiences you found nowhere else? Who helped Southwest Florida see why it is important that we protect the wildlife and natural environment here in Southwest Florida? Who are some of the founders of our local first responders and public health workers? Although it is rapidly evolving, I hope everyone can take time to visit some important historical places here in Naples such as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Naples Philharmonic/Artis, and the Collier County Museums including the Naples Depot Museum. These are just a few examples of enormous historical impact, but it is important, especially for our youth who call this place home.

Beth Finn, Naples

Reg Buxton for Collier commission

I have known Reg Buxton, candidate for Collier county commissioner, for many years.  Almost weekly we would get together and discuss local, national, and international events. In all that time I never knew the extent of his contributions to our community. Did you know he has served on over 25 boards, councils, and committees?  My homework revealed he has served over 130 volunteer years on subjects like schools, mental health, charity, planning boards, and the list goes on.

Collier County needs a leader with a proven track record of going above and beyond what any specific office requires, and Reg Buxton is that person!  His service to nonprofit boards over 30 plus years underscores his commitment to Naples and Collier County.

I challenge you to find any other candidate who has exhibited one-tenth of the energy in any volunteer capacity when a political seat wasn’t the prize.

Bruce Buchanan, Naples

No to medical marijuana dispensaries

Of all the factors considered as to the rise in traffic fatalities in Lee County and the decrease in Collier there is a major variable that needs scrutiny. Lee County allows for medical marijuana dispensaries,  aka “pot shops.”  According to State Representative Spencer Roach (79th District, FL) these dispensaries are responsible for an unregulated increase in high potency THC (the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant) causing a “high” leading to aberrant behavior.

The Collier County Board of Commissioners has decided to discuss lifting the current ban on the dispensaries, (even though the drug can be obtained through the mail in less than one day). I encourage the commissioners to do their due diligence before allowing this dangerous drug to increase drug abuse and auto fatalities in Naples.

Reverend Michael P. Orsi, Naples

Gas tax suspension a political gimmick

Recently DeSantis told the media he would suspend the gas tax in Florida starting this fall. His motivations is to reduce the cost of gas for the citizens of Florida. Based on timing, this is surely a gimmick during the midterms and governor election. It is bad for the budget of Florida and it is a short-term waste of taxpayer money.

Last week Biden intimated he was contemplating eliminating the federal gas tax right before the midterms. His plan to reduce the cost of gas is motived by falling poll numbers and an outraged public. This move is meaningless and will offer a small reduction but add more to our national debt. At $30 trillion plus, what is another $500 billion? After all it is taxpayer money, or is it? It is surely a taxpayer obligation.

I have suggestions to both leaders, if you are really looking to boost your election success, begin with things that really make a difference. If you don't have a short- and long-term plan for energy, you are sinking America's ship. We can co-exist with a mix of fossil and renewables. It does not have to be one or the other but you are burning down the house to fix the garage door opener.

Jack Holt, Cape Coral

Allow more drilling, pipelines

The president wants to give us a gas tax holiday for three months. If I use 20 gallons of gas a week (which I don’t) and saved $.18 per gallon that is $3.60. So, for three months or 13 weeks, I would save $46.80. WHOOPEE, that won’t even pay for one full tank of gas. Solve the problem, allow more drilling and allow more pipelines, get oil from our petroleum producers who are the cleanest in the world. Even Past-President Obama called a “federal gas tax holiday” a gimmick.

Dwight Sedgwick, North Fort Myers

Medical debt burdens patients

Those of us health professionals who practiced long before Medicare and Medicaid, let alone Obamacare, thought that with these programs in effect, our citizens would no longer be in significant medical debt. Sadly, this is not true.

As a matter of fact, Kaiser Health News [KHN] studies indicate that “more than 100 million people in America ― including 41 percent of adults ― are beset by a health care system that is systematically pushing patients into debt on a mass scale.”

Much of this debt appears to be hidden. How can that be? Well, some people borrow money from friends and relatives. Many simply charge the debt to their credit cards. Others utilize some type of payment plan with health care providers, including hospitals.

"Debt is no longer just a bug in our system. It is one of the main products," said Dr. Rishi Manchanda, who has worked with low-income patients in California for more than a decade and served on the board of the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. "We have a health care system almost perfectly designed to create debt."

Almost half of Americans with medical debt claim it has prevented them from purchasing a home or saving for retirement.

"It's barbaric," said Dr. Miriam Atkins, a Georgia oncologist who, like many physicians, said she's had patients give up treatment for a serious malignancy for fear of debt.

Dr. Allen Malnak, M.D., Bonita Springs

Inflation lesson for liberals

My latest episode of Critical Liberal Foolishness will focus on basic economics. The dollar is a commodity just like the soybean and like the soybean it is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand. When the supply of soybeans meets the demand then you have a stable market with very little fluctuations in cost or value. Now let’s say a group of individuals who produce nothing come along and determine that the world would be much better off with more soybeans so they artificially produce 1.7 trillion bushels and throw it into the market. The value of the soybean is destroyed. The same group of individuals who produce nothing then come along and print $1.7 trillion of unearned dollars and throw it into the market. The value of the dollar is destroyed and somehow it is the fault of other people or events. Those of you who believe that inflation is Putin’s fault will also believe that the inflation rate is only 8.6 percent. Please consider this when you vote in the fall.

Don Rader, Naples

DeSantis and COVID

Have you noticed that Gov. DeSantis has gone from hosting free COVID vax clinics in wealthy communities he identified as donor/supporters, then to withholding and tampering with COVID vax and infection statistics, and now to willfully not supplying vax to the state for kids because he and his very expensive quack surgeon general don't believe the CDC. Time to use that one personal vote you have, citizens. November is coming.

Suzann Smith, Cape Coral

P.O.W. flag will always fly

In the comfort of my old rocking chair on my lanai looking out over the river, I can never not look up at Old Glory that's on my dock just flapping in the breeze without a stitch out of place. But underneath that flag flies another. It's black and white and though it was placed the same day as the one above it, it's more dilapidated, ragged, and torn. They both have been through heavy rainstorms, hail. and unbearable heat day and night for a few years now but my P.O.W. flag has taken the worst.

My neighbor recently told me I should replace it as a matter of courtesy and after I gave it a little thought I opted not to. The reason is simple. My P.O.W. flag represents all who have served, fought and some not coming home. They are like my flag. Tattered, beaten, and mostly forgotten.

My flag will fly until the last thread is gone. The un-battered flag above it can change the outcome for my flag and give peace for those who gave some and those who gave all. Richard Bourdeau, a U.S. Marine, North Fort Myers

Pro-gun advocates not pro-life

A contradiction exists within the pro-life pro-gun advocates group. Their battle cry is to defend the rights of the unborn. Pay attention, that is all they are defending. Once the child is born all bets are off because the guy with the gun has the greater right. Protecting the sanctity of life for those already born goes out the window.

The vast majority of Republicans have opposed gun safety for years banding together to block its consideration or refusing to bring it up. Source: NY Times, May 25, 2022.  Because of the gun violence in Uvalde they are forced to act. The head GOP negotiator walked out on the meeting June 16 saying it is time to fish and cut bait. Source: The Guardian, June 16, 2022. The bill is now stalled during a two-week recess.

If you're a pro-life, pro-gun voter and you vote for a pro-gun candidate who claims to be pro-life, remember this: They are not pro-life and neither are you. All those victims of gun violence and their families would agree.

Lorelei King, Fort Myers

Plan would eviscerate federal branch

Senator Scott, elected chairman of the Republican Senatorial Election Committee, has provided a plan of action for Republicans which will eviscerate the federal branch of government.

Reduce the federal government workforce by 25  percent over five years. I presume that includes the Department of Justice which may be in the process of prosecuting those who supported the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Immediately cut funding and workforce in the IRS by 50 percent. This already weakened agency would be even less effective at pursuing billionaires and corporations who would get away with schemes to avoid fair taxes. However, he found a "replacement source" of tax funds: tax the 50 percent of Americans earning so little they are not now subject to income tax. It will be easy to collect automatically from them with payroll withholding so even a weakened IRS can collect their taxes.

Sell off all "non-essential" government assets, buildings and land.

How will the many visitors to our national parks react when these precious heritage sites are sold to developers like Trump?

Sunset ALL federal legislation in five years. If a law is worth keeping he says Congress can pass it again. We saw how that worked with gun legislation. Presumably this will include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs. Also at risk will be the Federal Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. And finally any efforts to regulate AR-15 like weapons.

All of these actions seem to be endorsed by Rep. Donalds, Sen. Rubio and Gov. DeSantis. To protect our democracy, they must be opposed.

Charles J. Theisen, Jr., Naples

Clean up the mess

From the results of the commission's findings, it is obvious that Trump and allies committed crimes to attempt to overturn the 2020 election. They still claim fraud when there was none. We deserve legal justice for all who were and are involved in these crimes.

We deserve fair elections where all legitimate voters are free to go to the polls, mail in or cast their votes in any reasonable fashion. Everybody needs to be informed and to vote. This mess should be cleaned up and should never happen again.

Copley H. Smoak, Bonita Springs

Biden a disaster

You state that President Biden has a 39 percent approval rating.

I would like some of the 39 percent to write the Naples Daily News, explaining to us why they think Biden is doing a good job and at what?

From the very get-go he has been an absolute disaster. Starting with the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline, the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle, inflation at 8.16 percent, gas prices  through the the roof, empty store shelves and grocery prices out of sight and the Dow down 6,449.52 since Jan. 1.  I could go on so I can’t wait to hear why you think he is doing a good job.

Michael Adler, Miromar Lakes

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Letters to the editor for Sunday, June 26, 2022