Monday, November 5, 2018

Local News in Review - October 2018

More than a year after Hurricane Irma devastated Southwest Florida, our County and City governments are still dealing with its effects ... the County Commission continued its efforts to facilitate more affordable workforce housing and to reach agreement on whether to make the zoning changes necessary to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the County ... and the Naples City Council decided not to appeal a court's ruling on creating an ethics panel, and they were unable to reach agreement on what to do about its fertilizer ban.

Why should you care about state and local news? Because if we voters don’t monitor our government in action and what our elected officials do and don’t do while in office, we won’t be informed enough to reward or hold them accountable come the next elections!

So with that, here’s my October 2018 Local Government News in Review:

Irma recovery

  • Collier County approves $250,000 campaign to lure visitors back after red tide. County officials will tap into an emergency advertising fund for the “Beaches Are Open” and "Return to Paradise" marketing campaigns and place ads on travel websites, with news outlets and on social media platforms. Naples Daily News, 10/9/18
  • Collier replacing Irma-damaged wall on Vanderbilt. Construction is scheduled to start this month and be completed by Jan. 10, according to County Commissioner Andy Solis, whose North Naples district includes that stretch. Naples Daily News, 10/15/18
  • Hurricane Irma destroyed almost 2,000 trees in the City of Naples — when and how will they be replaced? FEMA and insurance reimbursement won’t be enough; grants and donations are welcome. Naples Daily News, 11/1/18

Housing

  • Affordable housing proposals are moved forward by Collier County Commission. Commissioners approved, in some cases by 3-2 votes, recommendations ranging from regulatory relief to increased density, and unanimously rejected a mixed-income housing program, often called inclusionary zoning. Naples Daily News, 10/9/18
  • More or less traffic? Apartments planned for North Naples intersection worry residents. According to a traffic impact statement presented during a County Commission meeting in September, the new complex would bring 24-hour two-way volume down by more than a thousand vehicles. Naples Daily News, 10/19/18
  • Future Habitat for Humanity project to have a wall, at the request of Collier neighbors. County Commissioners unanimously approved rezoning to allow a new project off Greenway Road in East Naples after Habitat agreed to neighbors' calls for a wall to be built between them and the new housing. Naples Daily News, 11/2/18

Other County government action

  • Economic development zone proposed for Golden Gate. Commissioner Burt Saunders proposed the Innovation Zone to develop or improve local infrastructure, fund projects for industrial or manufacturing plants, lease or convey property, and provide grants to existing businesses or to attract new ones to the community. Naples Daily News, 10/3/18
  • Brent Batten: Gas pump locks proposed in Collier to prevent credit card theft. Commissioner Burt Saunders suggested the county follow Cape Coral's and Charlotte County’s lead and adopt an ordinance to deter gas pump skimmers. Naples Daily News, 10/11/18
  • Collier to reconsider allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. But with at least four votes needed to make needed amendments to the county’s land development code, and continued opposition by Commissioners Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor, it is unclear if the renewed push to will come to fruition. Naples Daily News, 10/23/18
  • Sales tax dispute fails to upend economic development deal with Chamber — for now. Commissioners voted 3-2 to strike down Commissioner Bill McDaniel’s proposal to end the agreement early, which would have saved the county $66,667. Naples Daily News, 10/23/18
  • Collier commissioners put off stormwater fee proposal until after election. County staff is working on a revamped plan to fund the $120 million in capital needs that address concerns raised by residents about the plan earlier this year. Naples Daily News, 10/25/18

Naples City Council

  • Naples City Council split on how to revise a fertilizer ban meant to stem water pollution. Councilman Gary Price wants a full blackout during the rainy season; others want to stop use during the winter. Naples Daily News, 10/15/18
  • Naples floats changes to beach boat storage program amid environmental concerns. Councilors support doubling the storage locations while halving the number of watercraft at each, keeping the same total of 31 beachfront boats. Naples Daily News, 10/15/18
  • Naples Council won't appeal ruling on creating ethics panel, will seek compromise. The council has scheduled a special meeting in November with Ethics Naples to find a compromise on some of the city's issues with the proposal. Naples Daily News, 10/17/18
  • Naples approves $207,500 to give first responders control of traffic lights. The Opticom system, which is already in place in parts of Collier County, reduces response times. FOX4now.com, 10/17/18
  • City Council considering additions to long-awaited Baker Park. They include a nearly $3 million main building, restrooms and picnic shelters. The park has an estimated completion date of October of next year. NBC-2.com, 10/31/18

City of Marco Island

  • Marco public works director accepts blame for not notifying public of roadwork. City Council Vice-Chair Charlette Roman asked for an explanation after a large throng of residents made their displeasure known when their commute times were multiplied by unforeseen challenges commuting on and off the island. Marco Eagle, 10/18/19
  • Increased testing the first step to solving Marco Island water quality issues. City Council will hold a water quality workshop after elections in November. Marco Eagle, 10/23/18
  • Marco officer promoted to supervisor after sex scandal has not performed duties. The police department has come under intense scrutiny over the past few months after multiple violations of police policy were sustained against officers after the allegations surfaced. Marco Eagle via Naples Daily News, 10/12/18
  • Marco police investigating another officer for misconduct while on duty. Two police sergeants resigned earlier this year as internal affairs investigations were launched as a result of allegations that they separately had engaged in sex on duty with the same woman. Marco Eagle, 11/2/18

Collier County Public Schools

  • Ex-treasurer of the Mason Classical Academy public charter school alleges lax financial oversight, verbal abuse. A complaint filed with the Florida Department of Education states the school’s top administrators, under the guidance of Mason Principal David Hull, “knowingly and willfully created an environment … where fraud can occur without detection.” Naples Daily News, 10/6/18