Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Local News in Review - January 2019

Here’s my latest review of news for Collier voters about our local elected officials and governing bodies.

In a sentence: Commissioners elected Bill McDaniel as Chairman and named members of the Sales Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee; growth, development and redevelopment activity continued; Naples Councilwoman Linda Penniman resigned due to concerns over her husband’s health and a special election is scheduled for April 2; the City will be moving more than 900 properties off septic tanks at a cost of almost $15 million; and Marco Island takes preliminary steps in its city manager search. 

For more on these stories and other news you should be aware of, read on!

Board of County Commissioners (colliercountyfl.gov)

Next election: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbent: District 1/Donna Fiala, 3/Burt Saunders, 5/Bill McDaniel. Find your commission district HERE.

Sales tax surcharge
  • Commissioners appoint sales tax oversight committee members. They will review expenditure reports and validate expenses to make sure the proceeds from the tax increase are used only for expenses allowed under the sales tax hike plan. Naples Daily News, 1/10/19
Growth, development, redevelopment
  • Rural Lands town idea scaled back from 4,000 acres to village of 1,000 acres or less. Some conservationists welcomed the news, but cautioned that even a smaller proposal needs to be cognizant of environmentally sensitive lands and endangered species. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
  • Immokalee Road median landscaping east of 951 to be completed this spring. Pump stations for the irrigation wells were recently installed. Naples Daily News, 1/14/19
  • Proposed 350 apartments in North Naples draw criticism at public hearing. So County planning commissioners (again) put off a vote on Stock Development’s request for an amendment to the county’s growth management plan. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19
  • Golf course purchase proposal moves forward. Commissioner Fiala cast the lone dissenting vote when it became clear that fellow commissioners were opposed to keeping the property a golf course. Naples Daily News, 1/22/19
    • Related: Golden Gate golf course where homes planned offered to county for $28 million. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19 
    • Related: Editorial: Golden Gate golf course opportunity merits close consideration. Naples Daily News, 1/19/20
  • Immokalee Area Master Plan gets a new chance at approval. The Collier County Planning Commission will continue a page-by-page review of the latest version of the plan on Feb. 21 before making recommendations to the BCC. Naples Daily News, 1/31/19
  • Potential buyers eye County land in Estates after residents balked at bus barn idea. Commissioners voted to further explore plans for a property swap between the county and the Collier school system that would put a joint vehicle maintenance facility on the land. Commissioner McDaniel cast the lone dissenting vote. Naples Daily News, 2/2/19
    • Related: Editorial: Collier should try to do better than a bus barn for Estates residents. Naples Daily News, 2/6/19
Other County news
  • County to study impact of short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb. Commissioners voted unanimously to support the county Tourist Development Council’s recommendation. Naples Daily News, 1/9/18; Action Item 7619
    • Related: Vacation rentals may be in legislative battle between local vs. state control this year. Naples Daily News, 1/31/19
  • McDaniel elected chairman of the BCC. Burt Saunders was appointed as the board’s vice chairman. GNCC Advocacy Watch, 1/12/19
  • Whose beach is it? Condo owners, The Ritz stake their claims, shoo public away. Commissioners do not plan to open the private beaches for the public, Commissioner Andy Solis said. Naples Daily News, 1/13/19
  • Medical marijuana law changes sought by Commissioners. Chairman McDaniel will send a letter to the Governor offering proposals to make marijuana dispensaries more acceptable to places like Collier County. Naples Daily News, 1/24/19
  • County unveils new emergency notification system for storms, brush fires, evacuations. The location-based free service, called Alert Collier, will allow county officials to send mass alerts to subscribers via text messages, phone calls, emails and hearing impaired devices. Naples Daily News, 1/30/19; www.alertcollier.com
  • Fire prevention fee hits church in the collection plate. The new system of billing for access to county water by churches, nonprofits, businesses and others results in savings to some but a big increase for others. Naples Daily News, 2/5/19

Naples City Council (naplesgov.com)

Next elections: April 2019 (special election/Linda Penniman); February 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: Mayor/Bill Barnett, Councilors/Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod, Ellen Seigel
  • Naples to hold special election April 2 to fill seat vacated by Linda Penniman. The qualifying period for candidates began Jan. 28 and ends Feb. 8. The winner will serve the rest of Penniman's term, which expires Feb. 1, 2022. Naples Daily News, 1/24/19
    • Related: Penniman resigns due to husband's health concerns. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
    • Related: Ted Blankenship, Ray Christman and Randy Read qualify to run for vacant Naples City Council seat. Naples Daily News, 1/30/19
    • Related:  Former Naples City Manager Bill Moss and former attorney George Dondanville qualify for special election. Naples Daily News, 2/4/19
  • Proposed NCH Downtown ER expansion clears another hurdle. But the Planning Advisory Board stipulated that the hospital devise more solutions to potential parking problems before the City Council hearing. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
  • City to move forward with proposal to move more than 900 properties off septic tanks. The total cost will be about $14.7 million. Naples Daily News, 1/14/19
    • Related: Editorial: Naples takes a small but important step in what must be a statewide effort. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
  • Council votes to spend $1 million to improve Naples Bay water quality. The vote was unanimous, but Vice Mayor Gary Price asked for a definition of success from a data-driven water quality perspective. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
  • Council keeps “Boats on the Beach” program afloat. A final vote and public hearing are required at a future meeting. Naples Daily News, 1/18/19; About the Program
  • Dredging of Gordon Pass put off when Army Corps diverted funding. Because it is a federal channel, only the Corps can do the dredging. City staff are drafting letters to state representatives urging funding for the project. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19

Marco Island City Council (cityofmarcoisland.com)

Next elections: November 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: 4 Councilors/Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman
  • Commentary: Marco begins 2019 with first step toward effective government. With the professional help of the interim city manager, I’m hopeful the council will establish a framework for effective governance, one that will be less volatile and subject to manipulation. Charlette Roman, Member, Marco Island City Council, via Naples Daily News, 1/11/19
  • Marco Island ups penalties for violations of endangered species ordinance. But Council stopped short of adding the strictest penalties it can. Marco Eagle, 1/11/19
  • Council rejects assisted living facility. Approval of the requested rezoning would have facilitated the construction of a three-story, 143 unit facility on five of 12 acres. Naples Daily News, 1/23/19
  • Council takes preliminary steps in city manager search. A senior advisor with the Florida City and County Management Association will meet individually with Councillors about what they are looking for in a manager and the city’s most pressing concerns. Marco Eagle, 1/29/19

Collier County School Board (collierschools.com; School Board)

Next elections: August 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: District 2/Stephanie Lucarelli, 4/Erick Carter
  • New high school site lauded by School Board. The 2001 School Board purchased the 60 acre “Site GGG” with foresight, anticipating the future need. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
    • Related: Brent Batten: There's a new high school coming to northern Collier County. Naples Daily News, 1/5/19

Fire Districts

Next elections: August 2020. Find your fire district HERE.

North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District 
  • New fire station in North Naples still possible after commissioners reject land sale. Commissioners directed staff to meet with representatives of the Orange Blossom-Pine Ridge Community Alliance to see whether they would support some form of a fire station on the property. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19

Greater Naples Fire Rescue District
  • District starts 14 new firefighters. A federal three-year grant enables the District to increase the number of two-person quick response medical squads. Message from Chief Schuldt, 1/9/19
  • Greater Naples Fire Chief calls on County to regulate storm shutter use due to safety concerns. Chief Kingman Schuldt wants homeowners to take down their storm shutters 30 days after a hurricane passes or 30 days after hurricane season wraps up. NBC-2.com, 1/14/19

North Collier Fire District 
  • Strategic planning benefits community’s fire service. The District’s recently completed 2018 - 2023 strategic plan documents its current status, short-term and long-term goals, and availability of resources to achieve those goals. By J. Christopher Lombardo, Chairman, North Collier Fire District Board of Commissioners, via Naples Daily News, 01/15/19

That’s it for January's local news. Have a great February!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

State News in Review - January 2019

In the weeks since their swearing-in ceremonies, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Commissioner of Agriculture (COA) Nikki Fried, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General (AG) Ashley Moody announced some pretty dramatic initial initiatives — DeSantis in particular.

And from Washington, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and newly-elected Rick Scott, and re-elected U.S. Reps. Francis Rooney and Mario Diaz-Balart were much in the news, too. Of note: Rooney is turning out to be a member of Congress who works across party lines.

So with those greater-than-usual flurries of activity, I’ll focus this month on news from or about our elected representatives specifically. Next month, I’ll share news from the Florida legislature. Its official 60-day session convenes on March 5.

But first — In case you missed it, there was a particularly troubling report last month of a hostile takeover bid for Gannett, publisher of USA Today and 100 other newspapers including the Naples Daily News. According to the NYTimes, critics have described hedge fund Alden Global Capital as a “destroyer of newspapers” that is prone to “savage” layoffs, and as “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.”

I have long urged pretty much everyone I know to subscribe to the Naples Daily News. Despite the downsizing of its staff and reduction in local reporting since its acquisition by Gannett in 2015, it’s still the best source of information about our local government. If the takeover goes through, I fear we may become one of the more than 1,300 U.S. communities to totally lose news coverage.

www.usnewsdeserts.com/states/florida/


See also "The Elbert Files: It's time to break up Gannett," BusinessRecord.com via Dr. Michael V. Reagen, 2/1/19.

I’m really concerned, and you should be, too. If you don’t already subscribe to the Naples Daily News, I urge you to do so. Consider it a form of community service. Click here for a great 52-week Digital Only Groupon offer, or subscribe directly here.

Now, here’s January’s news.

Gov. Ron DeSantis

It’s been a whirlwind month of news from Tallahassee as outgoing Gov. Rick Scott was succeeded by newly elected Ron DeSantis. Here are just some of the highlights — in chronological order, to give you a sense of the drama.

  • DeSantis takes the reins. He emphasized clean environment in his inaugural speech, but the two biggest audience cheers were about traditional conservative hot button issues – immigration and “activist judges.” Florida Phoenix, 1/8/19
    • Related: DeSantis' inaugural speech as prepared for delivery. Orlando Sentinel, 1/8/18
  • DeSantis’ unveils major environmental reforms. An executive order includes $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and water protections — the highest level of restoration funding in the state’s history, a blue-green algae task force, creating a chief science officer position, phasing out septic tanks, putting teeth in environmental crime enforcement and creating an office of resilience and coastal protection to fund and coordinate a response to rising sea levels. Naples Daily News; Governor’s Press Release, 1/10/19
  • Governor, Cabinet as Clemency Board pardon Groveland Four. “I don’t think there was any way that you can look at this case and see justice was carried out,” DeSantis said. Tampa Bay Times, 1/11/19
  • DeSantis to pursue sanctions against Airbnb over West Bank policy. He called its decision not to list properties in “the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria” anti-Semitic. Tampa Bay Times, 1/15/19
  • Governor wants smokable medical pot ban ended. DeSantis criticized the Legislature’s implementation of a medical marijuana law. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19
  • DeSantis retracts 46 of Scott’s last-minute appointments in rebuke of his predecessor. Scott made 84 appointments to various boards, committees and courts on Jan. 4 and 7 before his term ended on Jan. 8, against the wishes of the DeSantis team. Tampa Bay Times, 1/18/19
  • DeSantis’ latest move shows he’s picking his targets carefully, some say. In his first two weeks of office, he has suspended the elected Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Broward County Sheriff and Okaloosa County School Superintendent, and demanded the resignations of the entire board of the South Florida Water Management District. Palm Beach Post, 1/19/19
  • DeSantis poised for immigration battle over E-Verify. Getting it through the Legislature – and a related bill barring so-called “sanctuary” policies – could prove challenging. Palm Beach Post, 1/18/19
  • DeSantis calls for $625 million for water projects in environmental priorities. “This is the first of four steps to get to the $2.5 billion that I committed to in my executive order,” DeSantis said. Naples Daily News, 1/29/19
  • DeSantis supports letting trained school employees carry guns. He also said the state needs to step up efforts to head off potential attackers. News Service of Florida via Pensacola News Journal, 1/29/19
  • DeSantis outlines plan for increasing college grads. He’ll issue an executive order that will help Florida go from being ranked 24 to number one in the nation by 2030 for the rate of people with an associate degree or higher. APNews.com, 1/30/19
  • DeSantis takes aim at Common Core in executive order. He asked Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to spend a year creating new state curriculum standards, which would then be presented to the Legislature for the 2020 session. Tampa Bay Times, 1/31/19; Executive Order

Key DeSantis appointments

  • DeSantis picks strong opponent of Medicaid expansion to head Agency for Health Care Administration. AP News, 1/4/19
    • Related: Feds whacked new Florida health chief for failing to probe hundreds of disabled deaths, sexual assaults. Miami New Times, 1/14/19; Federal Department of HHS Office of Inspector General Report, 8/2017
  • DeSantis names former Department of Management Services head, IBM lobbyist to lead state’s long-troubled child welfare agency. Miami-Herald, 1/3/19
  • DeSantis names former judge, lobbyist to head the Department of Juvenile Justice, “arguably one of the state’s most troubled agencies.” Miami-Herald, 1/2/19
  • Army Major General will head Florida Department of Corrections. Florida Phoenix, 1/3/19
  • DeSantis appoints second Secretary of State, following resignation of first pick. The Capitolist, 1/28/19
    • Related: Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel resigns after Halloween blackface photos emerge. Tallahassee Democrat, 1/24/19
  • DeSantis reshapes Florida Supreme Court.
    • Gov. DeSantis appoints Carlos Muñiz to Florida Supreme Court. Tampa Bay Times, 1/22/19
    • Gov. DeSantis names Miami appellate judge Robert Luck to Florida Supreme Court. Tampa Bay Times, 1/14/19
    • DeSantis Names Judge Barbara Lagoa to Supreme Court. Sunshine State News, 1/9/19
  • DeSantis asks South Florida Water Management District board members to resign. Treasure Coast Newspapers via Naples Daily News, 1/10/19
    • DeSantis appoints Sanibel Councilman Chauncey Goss to water district board. Naples Daily News, 1/29/19
    • DeSantis names Broward’s “Alligator Ron” Bergeron to water district board. Miami-Herald, 1/29/19

COA Nikki Fried

Fried, a lawyer and previously a lobbyist and public defender, is the only Democrat in the Florida Cabinet and the only Democrat representing Collier voters. She ran to head the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on a platform of stricter access to guns, easier access to medical marijuana, and cracking down on water pollution.

  • Fried creates 'Director of Cannabis' position. She promises to expand patient access to medical marijuana and transform Florida into a national leader on hemp production, an industry that could bring millions of dollars into the state economy. Naples Daily News, 1/14/19
  • Ag Commissioner Fried taps Mary Barzee Flores for Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Affairs. The former public defender, gun control advocate and critic of the NRA will oversee consumer services, including the concealed weapons permitting and licensing program. Tampa Bay Times, 1/14/19
  • Ag Dept. to draft edible medical marijuana rules. Fried says the product falls under packaged foods, which her agency is responsible to regulate. BayNews9.com, 1/17/19
  • Nikki Fried adds LGBTQ protections to department workplace policy. The move followed Gov. DeSantis’ signing an anti-discrimination order for state employees that excluded protections for the LGBTQ community. Miami-Herald, 1/18/19
  • Fried lays out vision and agenda for Florida's farmers, consumers, and families. “It's my hope that together, as a Cabinet, we will put science before politics, results over opinions, and state above party…,” she said. Press Release, 1/30/19
  • Fried announces more help for marijuana patients. Two new advisory panels will cover hemp and medical marijuana. Florida Politics, 1/30/19

AG Ashley Moody

Ashley Moody, previously a Hillsborough County Circuit judge, ran for Attorney General on a platform to “champion conservative principles and stand with those who protect our state.”

  • New AG addresses human trafficking. “It’s a plague that we cannot give up on combating in our state and nationwide,” Moody said, highlighting that January is human trafficking prevention month. Florida Phoenix, 1/10/19
  • Moody names advisory Opioid Abuse Working Group. It will gather information and best practices from across Florida to help her combat the opioid epidemic. Office of the Attorney General, 1/11/19
  • Moody open to ‘improving’ criminal justice. But “in any effort to make our system better, … we have an obligation to keep our communities safe and protect Floridians, and that will always be my primary concern,” she said. Florida Politics, 1/3019

News from CFO Jimmy Patronis

  • Audit: Florida's pension system earns 8.9% on investments, but problems lurk ahead. The number of people with vested benefits exceeds the number currently contributing to the pension fund, and the systems’s unfunded liability has nearly doubled since 2009. Tallahassee Democrat, 1/4/19
  • Florida’s financial software 30 years overdue for upgrade. Patronis told the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee his top priority is to get the state off the archaic software. Florida Politics, 1/23/19

News from Collier’s legislative delegation

In the Florida Legislature, County Collier residents are represented in the Senate by Kathleen Passidomo, and in the House by one of Bob Rommel (District 106), Byron Donalds (District 80) or Ana Maria Rodriguez (District 105).

  • Editorial: Septic systems merit attention, action by the Florida Legislature. Sen. Passidomo supports SB 214. Naples Daily News, 1/5/19
  • Florida lawmakers consider changes after surge in teacher licensing exam failures. Rep. Donalds, who leads a state education committee, says updating Florida's exam is a top priority, from lowering its fees to re-evaluating what's on it. WTXL.com, 1/23/19
  • Alligator Alley plaza costs may fall on Collier County taxpayers. Passidomo is pushing for legislation that would require the state to pay for the station with the money it receives from I-75 tolls. WINKnews.com, 1/31/19; SB 72 / HB 6011
  • Donalds wants grand theft laws loosened.Florida Politics, 1/31/19; HB 589
  • Donalds wants to expand apprenticeship training in Florida. His bill would allow providers like the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, the largest commercial construction association in the state, to request money directly from the state via a grant program. Florida Daily, 1/31/19; HB 367
  • First Step Act promises moderate reforms to prison system. The bill, sponsored in the House by Donalds, would allow judges to depart from mandatory minimums for drug trafficking, among other changes. Daily Commercial, 2/1/19

News from the Florida Courts

  • Florida Supreme Court tosses out decade-old education funding lawsuit. Four members upheld a lower court ruling that terms such as "high quality" are too subjective to be judged, while three justices dissented. Tampa Bay Times, 1/4/19
  • Amira Fox sworn in as first female State Attorney in the 20th judicial circuit, which includes Collier County. One of her first orders of business will be establishing a circuit-wide narcotics task force to crack down on the sale of opioids in Southwest Florida. Fort Myers News-Press via Naples Daily News, 1/11/19
  • Judge rules on Medicaid contract. A Leon County Circuit Judge found the state exceeded a limit on the number of health plans state law allows to serve Medicaid beneficiaries in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota counties. The state quickly appealed. Gainesville Sun, 1/28/19

News from Collier’s Congressional delegation

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney

  • Rooney explains why he thinks America should end its dependence on coal. “I don’t think we need to burn coal,” he said, “and a carbon tax is the most market-oriented, non-bureaucratic, efficient way I can see to kill off coal.” News-Press, 1/1/19
  • Rooney introduces bill to permanently protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from offshore drilling. Press Release, 1/3/19
  • Rooney joins ten House Democrats to introduce bill requiring HHS Secretary to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices.Press Release, Rep. Peter Welch (E-Vt.), 1/8/19
  • Rooney files algal bloom legislation. NBC-2, 1/10/19
  • Brent Batten: Rooney starts the steep climb toward term limits, again. Naples Daily News, 1/12/19
  • Rooney doubles down on his support of Trump’s immigration policies. Florida Daily, 1/13/19
  • Welch, Rooney demand regulator scrutiny of $74 billion drug company merger. Press Release, Office of Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), 1/14/19
  • Editorial: Kudos to Rep. Rooney, bipartisan Florida delegation for unified request for Everglades funds. Naples Daily News, 1/26/19

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart


  • Diaz-Balart co-sponsors bipartisan Everglades for Next Generation Act. Florida Daily, 1/11/19

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

  • Rubio starts new Congress focused on the Middle East. Sunshine State News, 1/5/19
  • Rubio introduces bill to extend moratorium on drilling in Gulf through 2027. Pensacola News Journal via Naples Daily News, 1/5/19; S.13
  • Rubio, as newly-elected Chairman of Senate Small Business Committee, introduces five bills to assist small businesses. Financial Regulation News via Sen. Rubio Weekly eNewsletter, 1/15/19
  • Rubio joins with Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein to extend waivers to states for foster care, child welfare. Florida Daily via Rubio eNewsletter, 1/14/19
  • Ahead of the March for Life, Rubio introduces or co-sponsors six bills to “protect the sanctity of life.” Press Release, 1/17/19
  • On Venezuela, Rubio assumes U.S. role of Ouster in Chief. NYTimes, 1/29/19

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott

  • Scott sides with Trump on lifting Russia sanctions; Rubio doesn’t. Tampa Bay Times, 1/17/19
  • Scott tells Trump to use emergency powers to end immigration crisis. The Daily Caller, 1/25/19
That's it for January's review of state news. Next up: local news. Stay tuned!


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Local News in Review - December 2018

In December, Collier County began planning to implement the one percent sales surtax voters approved in November, both the County Commission and Naples City Council weighed in on the community’s challenge to NCH’s new admissions policy, and the Collier School District’s high school graduation rate rose to 92 percent, ranking it eighth in the state. For these and other top stories in December about our elected local officials and governing bodies, read on! 

Following the news summaries are links to information about upcoming meetings of our elected boards and how you can register for a presentation titled What Does the Clerk Do for You? by Clerk of Courts Crystal Kinzel.

Board of County Commissioners (colliercountyfl.gov)

Next election: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbent: District 1/Donna Fiala, 3/Burt Saunders, 5/Bill McDaniel
Find your commissioner HERE

Growth, development, redevelopment
  • Golden Gate Estates could get a bus barn, or more shopping. Commissioners voted 4-1 to continue exploring a land swap with the Collier school system. Commissioner McDanial dissented, citing the possibility of selling the parcel to provide something better for residents. Naples Daily News, 12/13/18
  • Collier County will continue its multi-agency approach to economic development — for now. After hearing a report on current programs, how they operate and the return on investment, commissioners decided to stay the course, but indicated they could revisit funding for some programs during the next budget cycle. GNCC Advocacy Watch, 12/15/18
  • Editorial: Planning for future made strides in 2018. A review of significant long-term planning highlights of 2018. Naples Daily News, 12/25/18
  • County adopts policy to constrain Orange Blossom Drive. The stretch of neighborhood road from west of Airport Road to Goodlette Frank Road will remain two lanes and will not be widened. Commissioner Andy Solis, District 2 Newsletter, 12/31/18
  • County will take steps to clear gateway to Vanderbilt Lagoon. Commissioners agreed to front funds to start dredging Water Turkey Bay Channel and form MSTU to fund repayment and future routine channel maintenance. Commissioner Andy Solis, District 2 Newsletter, 12/31/18

Housing
  • U.S. home affordability drops to more than 10-year low in Q4 2018. A family needs annual income of $97,021 (57 percent of median Collier wages) to afford a median-priced home in Collier County, making it among the least affordable places in the country to buy. ATTOM Data Solutions via Naples Daily News editorial, 12/23/18
  • Related: Collier Community Assessment Issue Paper on Housing, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, 9/18, here
  • Editorial: Kudos and kicks in addressing the burden of housing costs. As 2018 ends, there’s still a chronic need to deliver housing that’s affordable to the workforce, including teachers, first responders and professionals starting their careers, as well as seniors who can’t afford pricey assisted living. Naples Daily News, 12/28/18

Sales tax surcharge
  • Report suggests Collier sales tax could sunset ahead of schedule. Current estimates show the tax will bring in more than $81.5 million in its first nine months, up from initial estimates of $70 million a year. Naples Daily News, 12/11/18
  • Dozens of applicants vie for seat on Collier sales tax oversight committee. They include lawyers, teachers and former Fortune 500 executives. Naples Daily News, 12/15/18
  • Related: Who is applying to sit on Collier's sales tax citizen oversight committee? Naples Daily News, 12/15/18
  • David Lawrence Center lawsuit scheduled for initial court action in January. At issue is a 5-acre parcel of land for a proposed $26 million mental health complex to be paid for with some of the proceeds of the one percent sales surtax. Naples Daily News, 12/22/18
  • Collier County tax increase to go into effect in 2019. Collier County residents and visitors will see the impacts nearly everywhere, including retail stores and restaurants. Groceries, medicines, and gas are all exempt. NBC2 News, 12/26/18
  • Deputy County Manager Casalinguida briefs BCC on sales tax rollout. Sales tax revenues and expenditures will be tracked, monitored by a citizen oversight committee. and regularly reported on to the Commission. Commissioner Andy Solis, District 2 Newsletter, 12/31/18

The environment
  • Commentary: Let’s be honest about plan to protect eastern Collier County. We recognize the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is not perfect, but it is the only viable plan that delivers protection for over 100,000 acres of well-connected panther habitat and wetlands in private ownership. By Mimi Wolok - Audubon of the Western Everglades, Meredith Budd - Florida Wildlife Federation, and Brad Cornell - Audubon Florida, via Naples Daily News, 12/2/18
  • Commentary: 2019 outlook on our water, land, wildlife and future. We and Collier voters have the opportunity to influence anti-fracking legislation at the state level and plans for the development of eastern Collier County at the local level. By Rob Moher, President and CEO, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, via Naples Daily News, 12/22/18
  • Editorial: Steps forward, backward in environmental protection. A review of positive actions taken in 2018 and concerns for 2019. Worth the read. Naples Daily News, 12/26/18
Other
  • BCC to send letter to NCH about hospital admissions. Commissioner Taylor said the admissions policy change is creating chaos in the community, and Chairman Solis said it didn’t sit well that NCH did not send a representative to the meeting. Naples Daily News, 12/11/18
  • Medical marijuana dispensaries rejected again in Collier. For the second time in the past two months, Commissioners voted down a proposal allowing medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the county. Approval would have required a supermajority vote, and Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor voted against the measure. FOX4, 12/12/18
  • BCC creates new mental illness and addiction advisory committee. Its purpose is to help ensure all possible services, treatment, and public and private assistance are provided for county residents struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. Press Release, Collier County government, 12/13/18
  • Editorial: On right road to better hurricane preparation. While there were notable accomplishments in 2018, progress is needed in the areas of gasoline availability, generators in nursing homes, and timeliness of federal reimbursement. Naples Daily News, 12/23/18
  • Fuel pump security ordinance requiring safeguards against gas pump skimmers takes effect Jan. 1 Commissioner Burt Saunders proposed the ordinance in response to a growing problem in southwest Florida. Naples Daily News, 12/25/18
  • Search for gravesite spurs 6-year cleanup of county-owned cemetery in Immokalee. After years of efforts by VFW volunteers, the graves of 94 veterans were identified and marked. Naples Daily News, 12/25/18


Naples City Council (naplesgov.com)

Next elections: February 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: Mayor/Bill Barnett; 3 Councilors/Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod, Ellen Seigel

  • First portion of Baker Park set to open in March. The project, which began with City Council’s approval of the land purchase in 2013, will ultimately cost more than $23 million and be the most expensive public project in Naples history. Naples Daily News, 12/3/18
  • Naples Council to send letter to NCH about hospital admissions. At urging of residents, they will ask NCH leaders to delay the admissions change to allow physicians and the community to weigh in. Naples Daily News, 12/5/18
  • Naples City Council rejects ordinance that would have created ethics commission. The vote was 4-3, with council members Michelle McLeod, Terry Hutchison, Linda Penniman and Gary Price dissenting. Naples Daily News, 12/5/18
  • Naples Council wants to prevent electric, dockless scooters from coming to town. It plans to solidify state law into local law and grandfather it in case state law changes, which might happen if the scooter companies decide to lobby the state Legislature. Naples Daily News, 12/5/18
  • Design Review Board approves $35 million upgrade and expansion of NHC emergency room. The second-floor addition exceeds the height limit in the current medical district and will go to City Council for a final decision. Naples Daily News, 12/7/18
  • Old Naples redevelopment project stalls, drawing complaints. The mixed-use residential and retail project next to the Cove Inn has been untouched since late October when the city's building department issued a stop-work order for improper demolition at the site. Naples Daily News, 12/21/18
  • Naples City Council approves removal of stormwater beach pipes. Portions of Gulf Shore Boulevard will have to be torn up, which could allow for other improvements. Naples Daily News, 12/17/18

Marco Island City Council (cityofmarcoisland.com)

Next elections: November 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: 4 Councilors/Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman

  • Marco police cleared by Collier Sheriff’s office after sexual assault allegations. The accuser had made previous false accusations and has a long history of code violations. Marco Eagle, 12/18/18
  • Marco City Council selects former Delray Beach manager for interim role. Councilor Howard Reed cast the lone dissenting vote, citing multiple reasons for his decision. Marco Eagle, 12/13/18
  • Ex-Marco Island manager censured, barred from professional organization. The decision came after The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) committee on professional conduct engaged a fact-finding committee that was appointed by the Florida City and County Management Association. Marco Eagle, 12/20/18

Collier County School Board (collierschools.com; School Board)

Next elections: August 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: District 2/Stephanie Lucarelli, 4/Erick Carter

  • Collier County Public Schools achieves record 91.9 percent graduation rate. The District ranks eighth of 67 districts in 2018, up from 33rd in 2011. News from CCPS, 12/20/18
  • After more allegations lodged against school, Mason Classical Academy mulling legal action. Five months after submitting a complaint to the Florida Department of Education, the former treasurer of MCA continues to allege nefarious conduct by the public charter school. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 12/3/18
  • District receives clean opinion from Florida Auditor General on fiscal 2018 financial statements. Agenda Item C170, 12/10/18
  • School Board to be briefed on new high school planned to relieve overcrowding at Gulf Coast High at January 8 meeting. Agenda Item C1
  • School Board will be asked to increase funding for appeal of Schools of Hope provisions of HB 7069 at January 8 meeting. Agenda Item D1



Upcoming Events / Meetings of Local Boards

Consider attending (or at least watching live or on-demand) an upcoming meeting of one of our local elected boards. Click the board name for details:

Naples City Council - January 16

What Does the Clerk Do for You? The Clerk of Court & Comptroller has over 1000 designated duties. Join the Clerk along with her directors for Finance, Courts, Recording, MIS, and BMR/VAB departments to learn more about the Office. January 10, 2 - 4 PM (registration required)



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

State News in Review - December 2018

News in the weeks since the November elections has been filled with stories related to the transition. While Collier’s legislative delegation is largely unchanged, the new Governor, Cabinet members, and House and Senate leaders have new priorities. The news highlighted in this post provides a good indication of what to expect in the Legislative Session ahead. Following the review of state news are links to December news by or about Collier’s representatives in Congress.

Public Education
  • More challenges for Florida’s science curricula? Two members of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis’ transition team for education are linked to efforts to weaken the teaching of evolution and climate change. Education Week, 12/7/18
  • Florida taps Republican politician for top education post. The Board of Education unanimously chose former House Speaker Richard Corcorcan despite being urged to first conduct a national search. APNews via Naples Daily News, 12/18/18
  • DeSantis pledges more voucher funding. Among those in his inner circle, Florida Trend magazine names former House speaker Richard Corcoran and state Rep. Byron Donalds. Tampa Bay Times, 12/22/18

Financing and Delivery of Healthcare
  • Passidomo: Florida's mental health system needs total revamp. Collier's Sen. Kathleen Passidomo helped pass a law in 2016 to provide better mental and behavioral services across the state, but it was never funded. WPTV.com, 12/11/18

Election Law
  • House Democrats weigh election reforms. Proposals include adjusting voting and registration deadlines, eliminating prohibitions on counting early votes and requiring signature-matching training for supervisors and canvassing boards. Miami-Herald, 12/12/18

Gun Safety
  • School massacre panel recommends arming teachers. The group convened to investigate the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School shootings voted 13-1 to allow the arming of teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training. APNews, 12/11/18
  • Gun permit process needs stronger oversight, audit finds. Commissioner of Agriculture-elect Nikki Fried wants a review of the entire process. Orlando Sentinel, 12/6/18
  • Related: Problems with concealed weapons program are worse than first reported. Tampa Bay Times, 12/6/18

Environmental Protection and Pollution Control
  • Where’s Florida? Nine Attorneys General sue to stop massive harming of marine life in Atlantic. Florida AG Pam Bondi is notably absent from the legal action. Florida Phoenix, 12/20/18
  • Water woes await DeSantis; transition team wants to do more now. His 40-member panel will frame issues and identify steps to improve water quality. Tallahassee Democrat via Naples Daily News, 12/10/18
  • Related: Transition panel wants state input in Army Corps’ Lake O releases. Florida Watchdog, 12/12/18
  • SFWMD board to pay $7.2 million for test wells to cut Lake O discharges. District officials say 30 to 60 “deep injection wells” could dramatically reduce the need for discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. Treasure Coast Newspapers, 12/13/18
  • SFWMD drops option to buy U.S. Sugar land. The deal negotiated by then-Gov. Crist called for the state to buy 187,000 acres to re-create the flow-way to the Everglades. But Gov. Scott dramatically cut the district's revenue from property taxes, citing the recession. Treasure Coast Newspapers via Naples Daily News, 12/13/18
  • Cabinet approves land deal. The state will purchase a conservation easement for $6.4 million on nearly 20,000 acres of timberland near the Suwannee River and Gulf of Mexico. Southeast AgNet Radio, 12/5/18

The economy
  • Florida businesses to see 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ comp insurance rates. “This amounts to almost a half billion dollars in savings for Florida’s business community,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said. Press Release, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, 11/9/18
  • S&P raises credit rating on Florida’s $24 billion Treasury Investment Pool to AA- from A+. S&P cited the “quality of investment, comparison with other funds with similar composition, and sound management by CFO Patronis’ Division of Treasury” as reasons they raised the rate. Florida Daily, 12/12/18
  • Florida unemployment rate drops to 3.3 percent, lowest in 12 years. Florida’s annual job growth rate has outpaced the nation for 79 of the past 80 months. Press Release, Office of Gov. Rick Scott, via Naples Daily News, 12/21/18
  • Florida’s low reemployment tax rate earned it national recognition. Since 2012, Florida has reduced its reemployment (i.e. unemployment insurance) tax rate by more than 94 percent. Sunshine State News, 12/14/18
  • Florida’s tax revenues boom as budget runs $365 million ahead of projections. DeSantis and lawmakers are looking at the biggest state two-year increase since the pre-recession peak of 2006. Tampa Bay Times, 12/19/18
  • Related: Projected surge in 2019 revenues may trigger 2020 tax refunds for Florida businesses. Watchdog.org, 12/22/18

Other matters of public policy
  • DeSantis names Seminole County elections supervisor to be Florida’s next secretary of state. Michael Ertel will replace Ken Detzner, who was appointed to the position in 2012 by Gov. Scott. Miami-Herald, 12/28/18
  • More than 20 DeSantis campaign donors advise him on important policy decisions. They may have “an outsized role” in charting a course for the administration, says Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. Miami-Herald, 12/16/18
    • Related: DeSantis advisors reject criminal justice reforms, urge strict prison sentences. Miami-Herald, 12/21/18
  • 2019 E-Verify bills likely to revive bitter feud among Republicans. They could pit immigration reform proponents against the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the state’s agricultural industry. Florida Watchdog, 12/19/18
  • Florida's growing population to impact post-Census redistricting. The Legislature draws congressional and state legislative district lines, and is already gearing up for what could be a contentious battle. Florida Watchdog, 12/31/18
  • Who pays for Alligator Alley’s lonely fire station? Sen. Passidomo has filed SB 72 to ensure that tolls charged on the Alley cover the budget for emergency responders at the station. Florida Politics, 11/26/18
Florida Legislature - Collier Delegation Committee Assignments
  • Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (District 28) will serve as Senate Majority Leader, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee; Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Ethics and Elections Committee; Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee; and Rules Committee.
  • Rep. Bob Rommel (District 106) will chair the Civil Justice Subcommittee and will serve as Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee and of the Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, and as a member of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Health Market Reform Subcommittee, and Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.
  • Rep. Byron Donalds (District 80) will chair the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee and will serve on the Business & Professions Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Education Committee, PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and Ways & Means Committee.
  • Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez (District 105) will serve as a member of the Business & Professions Subcommittee, Civil Justice Subcommittee, Health Quality Subcommittee, Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and Public Integrity & Ethics Committee.
The Florida courts
  • Court battle over felons' rights could end. The passage of Amendment 4 may make moot a suit over the constitutionality of the state’s Clemency Board process. News Service of Florida via WUSF Public Media, 12/21/18
  • Democratic legislators call for a change in how state Supreme Court judges are nominated. Proposed SB 138 and HB 93 would curb the governor's influence on the process. Tallahassee Democrat, 12/12/18
  • Medical-marijuana ruling put on hold by Florida appeals court. The case could open the door to more firms doing business in the fast-growing medical marijuana market. News Service of Florida via Sun Sentinel, 12/19/18
  • Florida Supreme Court to take up ‘Assignment of Benefits’ insurance fight. AOB has been one of the most controversial insurance issues in recent years and is expected to spur a fight during the 2019 legislative session. News Service of Florida via Palm Beach Post, 12/29/18
  • State appealing ‘liquor wall’ decision. The ruling could allow retailers to sell hard liquor in their main stores, instead of in separate stores as they do now. Florida Politics, 12/29/18
Florida Cabinet
  • Almost 70 years later, Florida prepares apology to families of the Groveland Four. The young black men were falsely accused of rape, tortured and killed or imprisoned. Incoming Clemency Board members DeSantis, Fried, Moody, and Patronis have each said they support or will consider a pardon. Tampa Bay Times, 4/19/17; Tampa Bay Times, 12/19/18; APNews, 12/19/18; Miami-Herald, 12/20/18
  • Moody to crack down on Chinese fentanyl. Fentanyl abuse was a central part of her campaign for Attorney General. She called the synthetic “much more dangerous and deadly” than heroin. Florida Politics, 12/3/18
  • Citizens Insurance board approves 8.2 percent hike in property insurance rates. The recommendation by the state’s “insurer of last resort” must be approved by the state Office of Insurance Regulation, which is administratively housed within CFO Patronis’ Dept. of Financial Services. Sun Sentinel, 12/12/18

Congress — Collier Delegation
  • Rubio sees opportunities to deal with migration from Central and South America. Miami-Herald, 12/14/18
  • Rubio introduces bill to help hospitals providing care to low-income patients. Press Release, Office of Sen. Rubio, 12/18/18
  • Rubio one of 12 senators to vote no on Trump-backed criminal justice overhaul. Politico, 12/18/18 and FOX News Radio
  • Rubio, Diaz-Balart, and Scott urge Trump to nix proposed 30-year Cuban baseball deal. Florida Politics, 12/27/18
  • Rubio releases “Fighting for Florida” report detailing his 2018 legislative accomplishments. Press Release, Office of Sen. Rubio, 12/28/18
  • Rooney's carbon tax a bipartisan effort despite conservative opposition. Naples Daily News, 12/9/18
  • Rooney: Federal Farm Bill a “waste of money”, has “bloated subsidies” for sugar companies. Rooney and Rubio voted no; Diaz-Balart and Nelson voted for the bill. Sunshine State News, 12/14/18; WINK News, 12/19/18
  • Rooney, Diaz-Balart among 60 members of Congress to urge Trump admin to fund programs related to toxic algae crisis. Florida Daily, 12/20/18
  • Rooney: Protect eastern Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling. Cape Coral Daily Breeze, 12/28/18

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Local News in Review - November 2018

As with the State News in Review post I published Monday, I’ve slightly reformatted and added to this latest Local News in Review. The news is organized according to the governing bodies that represent us, links to their websites are included, and the names and links to the web pages of the incumbents whose seats will be on the ballot in 2020 are noted. It’s not too soon to start thinking about the next elections!

I hope in the coming months to help you familiarize yourself a bit more with our local governing bodies and what they do. You can also find links to them and more on the Helpful Websites page of my website.

This is my last post of 2018. With primary and general elections and 47 posts behind me, it’s been a great year! I am humbled that my subscriber list has grown from about 480 at the beginning of the year to 1,102 today, and there are also almost 500 Facebook followers. Knowing that so many people want to be more informed about their government is gratifying. You inspire me to keep going, and I’m looking forward to doing more next year!

Board of County Commissioners (colliercountyfl.gov)

Next election: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbent: District 1/Donna Fiala, 3/Burt Saunders, 5/Bill McDaniel; Find Your Commissioner here

Growth, development, redevelopment
  • Here we grow: Collier County’s Mark Strain on where we’re headed. Population of the county is projected to at least double, and quite possibly triple, in the next few decades. Chamber Connect via Naples Daily News/Marco Eagle, 11/9/18
  • County discusses plans for enhancing Golden Gate. At a neighborhood information meeting, Saunders supported staff recommendation to adopt zoning and incentives to encourage private landowners and developers to take the lead in improving Golden Gate. Naples Daily News, 11/15/18
  • Mega-permit for rural Collier development draws opposition, support. A conservation group is raising concerns about a plan, years in the making and now seeking federal approval, that would transform more than 150,000 acres of crops, groves, pasture and natural lands in northeast Collier County into a mix of towns and preserves. Naples Daily News, 12/1/18

Housing
  • Commissioners move ahead with affordable housing on one property, reject plan for second site. Staff will pursue options on the 5-acre “Bembridge site” on Santa Barbara Boulevard, but commissioners opposed, 3-2, considering housing on a portion of a 59-acre future site of a “Manatee Park” south of U.S. 41 in East Naples. Naples Daily News, 11/13/18
  • Related: Editorial: Opportunity missed to seek innovative affordable housing ideas. Naples Daily News, 11/17/18
  • Vacation home renters could see new rules in Collier County. The County's Tourist Development Council voted nearly unanimously to recommend county staff take a comprehensive look at vacation homes and condos offered for rent in the unincorporated area — and consider the need for stricter rules to govern them. Naples Daily News, 11/26/18
  • Related: Editorial: Short-term rentals merit attention, but not the heavy hand of over regulation. Naples Daily News, 11/27/18

Taxation
  • Tax fatigue? Collier commissioners agree to keep stormwater fee alive. They voted 4-1 (Commissioner Burt Saunders voting no) to allow county staff to continue revising a potential stormwater fee and come back with additional alternatives. Naples Daily News, 11/13/18
  • Editorial: A taxing issue to watch in Collier government. Three upcoming County Commission discussions bear monitoring by sales tax voters and citizens who historically haven’t spoken up often about the county budget. Naples Daily News, 11/25/18

Other
  • County holding public meeting on Goodland Drive. Having taken back responsibility for the frequently flooded road that is the only way in or out of Marco Island, County government is moving to alleviate flooding and restore historical tidal exchanges between the east and west mangrove stands. Marco Eagle, 11/6/18
  • BCC passes ordinance to protect residents from gas pump skimmers. Commissioners voted unanimously to add an ordinance that would require gas stations to secure fuel pumps and protect residents from a theft of their personal financial information. NBC-2.com, 11/13/18
  • Collier brings back free shuttles to Vanderbilt Beach, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. Funded by a state grant, the program allows beachgoers to ride to and from Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park; Vanderbilt Beach; Conner Park, on 111th Avenue North, west of U.S. 41; and a bus stop near Immokalee Road and Creekside Trail. Naples Daily News, 11/21/18
  • With no site in sight, prospects of long-promised Collier ATV park in question. The $3 million budgeted is not enough to buy a property and construct a park, said Barry Williams, Director - Collier Parks and Recreation. Naples Daily News, 11/27/18
  • Collier rejects medical marijuana dispensaries — again. Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor again voted against the measure. Approval would have required a super majority vote. FOX4, 12/12/18

Constitutional Offices

Next elections: August 2020
On the ballot: five constitutional offices

In Collier County and Florida’s 46 other non-charter counties, voters elect five constitutional officers every four years. Each oversees an organization funded by taxpayer dollars that provides essential services to county residents.

The constitutional officers, names of Collier’s incumbents and their websites are:

While these officers and the people and activities of their offices are not often in the news, when I come across something relevant to me as a Collier voter, I’ll share it here. In November:
  • Collier Sheriff's officer runs mental health bureau with heart and soul. Lt. Leslie Weidenhammer, a former road patrol duty officer, is coordinator of the Sheriff's mental health bureau, which she helped launch in 2016 at the direction of Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. Naples Daily News, 11/17/18

Naples City Council (naplesgov.com)

Next elections: February 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: Mayor/Bill Barnett; 3 Councilors/Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod, Ellen Seigel

  • Naples bans commercial vehicles from parking on Port Royal streets. Councilors unanimously approved the ban, after the City’s Streets and Stormwater Department director explained that service trucks parking on the side of the road are a safety concern. Naples Daily News, 11/19/18
  • Naples Beach Hotel proposed redevelopment clears first hurdle. The City’s Design Review Board members liked many aspects of the proposal, but raised concerns about its mass and size. Naples Daily News, 11/28/18
  • Coastland Mall redevelopment plans include movie theater. A final vote by the Design Review Board is required, along with City Council approval. Naples Daily News, 11/29/18
  • Naples City Council rejects ordinance that would have created ethics commission. The proposal was rejected 4-3, with council members McLeod, Hutchison, Penniman and Price dissenting. Naples Daily News, 12/5/18
  • Related: Naples Council changes course, will appeal ruling on creating ethics panel. The vote to continue the legal battle against Ethics Naples, the group behind the proposed referendum, was 5-2, with Penniman and Hutchison dissenting. Naples Daily News, 11/7/18
  • Naples Planning Board calms concerns about retaining small-town feel. The city is re-evaluating its vision plan, and there will be four public workshops in January (see naplesvisioning.com). Naples Daily News, 12/12/18

Marco Island City Council (cityofmarcoisland.com)

Next elections: November 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: 4 Councilors/Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman

  • For 17 of the past 22 months, Marco Island has been without a trained, qualified, professional city manager. That absence has slowly been taking a toll on the city. By Charlette Roman, Marco City Council, Fall 2018 Newsletter
  • BCC offers two options for increasing ambulance coverage on Marco Island. Councilor Jared Grifoni, who represented the City Council during negotiations last month, characterized the offers as progress but said it was yet to be seen whether either option was right for the city. Marco Eagle, 11/15/18
  • New Marco Council voices support for former chairperson. Post-election, the Council approved a motion to express confidence in chairman Jared Grifoni by a 5-2 vote. Councilors Howard Reed and Charlette Roman, voted no. Marco Eagle, 11/19/18
  • Planning Board approves application for Marco Island assisted living facility. The application paves the wave to create a 12-acre medical campus and a 12,000-square-foot urgent care facility for NCH. Marco Eagle, 11/8/18
  • Related: Failure to give proper notice will require Marco Planning Board to re-hear assisted living facility proposal. Naples Daily News, 11/24/18
  • Marco cop cashed in personal time, bought condo after using other officers' donated hours. While City Clerk Laura Litzan said there was no explicit policy about the use of donated leave hours, the use of donated hours ahead of an employee’s own hours contradicts best practices established by human resources experts. Marco Eagle, 11/6/18


Collier County School Board (collierschools.comSchool Board)

Next elections: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbents: District 2 (Stephanie Lucarelli), 4 (Erick Carter)

  • The school district, Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Marco Island Police Department reach memorandums of understanding. The agreements provide armed school resource officers in all Collier public schools, including charter schools, through the end of the current school year. Naples Daily News, 11/16/18

Find your fire district here. Next elections: November 2020


  • Greater Naples Fire Rescue District challenged to meet expectations with limited funding. The District will “need to increase resources and capabilities, all while administering cost-effective budget strategies that maximize resources and expenditures.” Chief Schuldt's Weekly Message, 11/7/18
  • Commentary: Balancing budget against out-of-area response. Providing emergency response beyond fire district boundaries has its costs but reminds us that many decisions that commissioners tackle aren’t solely based on the budget, but must also consider the human element. By J. Christopher Lombardo, Chairman, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District board, via Naples Daily News, 11/25/18
  • Commentary: Inter-agency cooperation between North Collier Fire & Rescue District and Collier EMS saves lives. The District’s current Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) will expire March 31, 2019. The application for renewal will be considered by the BCC at their January 8, 2019 meeting. Message from the Board of the Fire Commissioners, 12/12/18
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Correction: As originally published, I wrote that “my subscriber list has grown from about 400 at the beginning of the year to almost 2,000 today.” The correct number is 1,102. I apologize for the unintentional error.