Collier County & Local News for February 2022

Collier County Government News

Board of County Commissioners

Collier County residents are represented by one of five elected county commissioners.
Find your commissioner

The BCC held regular bi-monthly meetings on Feb. 8 and Feb.22. See agendas here, minutes here, and video replays here.

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is a crisis in Collier County, a guest opinion piece I shared last month, called attention to what is a bad and worsening situation in our community.

On Feb. 22, the Board heard a presentation from staff that included a history of county efforts to address housing affordability and recommended next steps. After hearing public comments, in a series of unanimous decisions largely led by Commissioner Burt Saunders, they voted to encourage the development of lower-cost housing and directed staff to:

  • move $20 million into a dedicated land acquisition fund within the infrastructure sales surtax fund,
  • bring back information about setting aside up to one-tenth of the county’s property tax, or millage, rate, which could raise more than $10 million in the first year to help offset interested developers’ land and construction costs, and
  • recommend a consultant to do a study that is necessary for them to consider imposing linkage fees on industrial and commercial construction, which could provide another source of recurring funding.

A special BCC meeting will be scheduled in the near future to discuss more solutions to the crisis. (Naples Daily News, 2/23/22)

More on the Acting County Manager Scandal

Acting County Manager Sean Callahan was fired last month when it was learned that he had been secretly double-dipping as a lobbyist, in violation of the county’s policies. (Sparker’s Soapbox, 1/31/22)

This month, an investigation by the Naples Daily News revealed that Callahan was registered to lobby in the U.S. for Cambodia, Egypt, South Korea, among at least 19 clients. (Naples Daily News, 2/12/22)

“Confidential” records relating to foreign governments left behind in Callahan’s office were subsequently obtained by the Naples Daily News in response to a public records request. (Naples Daily News, 2/23/22)

County Manager Search

At last month’s BCC meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 to hire a search firm to find the next county manager, with commissioners Rick LoCastro and Bill McDaniel dissenting.

On Feb. 22, commissioners Burt Saunders and Penny Taylor reversed their previous votes, citing cost efficiency as the reason for the change. So by a 4-1 vote, the county will instead rely on its human resources department to conduct the search. Commissioner Andy Solis again voted in opposition. (Naples Daily News, 2/23/22)

Naples City Council

City of Naples residents are represented by an elected mayor and six elected city councilors.
Meet the Naples City Council

The Naples City Council held regular meetings on Feb. 16 and Feb. 28 and a Workshop on Feb. 17. For agendas, minutes, and recordings of these meetings, click here.

Naples Beach Hotel Redevelopment

The redeveloper of Naples Beach Club property has put a temporary hold on the sale of a handful of its luxury residences due to vagueness in a city ordinance. (Naples Daily News, 2/1/22)

Separately, the disgruntled neighbor who sued the property’s developer and current and previous owners this month amended his lawsuit and hired an attorney to represent himself and his wife, rather than handling the litigation on his own. The defendants’ dual motions for summary judgment are scheduled to be heard on March 29 by Judge Lauren Brodie. The case could end there if the judge decides in their favor — and there’s no appeal. (Naples Daily News, 2/22/22)

Marco Island City Council

City of Marco Island residents are represented by seven elected city councilors.
Meet the Marco Island City Council

The Marco Island City Council held regular meetings on Feb. 7 and Feb. 22 and a Workshop on Feb. 17. See agendas, minutes, and video replays here.

Boathouse Covers

Marco Island’s current Land Development Code does not permit boathouse covers due to potential consequences such as depleting oxygen in waterways, or the structure being blown into the water during hurricane-force winds or blocking the surrounding views. Boat owners want the ability to use boat covers to protect their boats from the sun. At the Feb. 7 meeting, Council voted 7–0 in favor of changes to the code to permit certain types of structures. (Marco Eagle, 2/10/22)

Nesting Sea Turtles

According to the 2021 Collier County Sea Turtle Activity Report, there were 99 nests on Marco Island, with 10 considered “disoriented”. This is the highest disorientation rate of any Collier County beach. At its Feb. 22 meeting, Council unanimously approved the first reading of amendments to the City’s sea turtle lighting ordinance. The amendments would give existing units or structures along the beach five years to implement turtle-friendly bulbs on all external sources of artificial light visible from the beach. (Marco Eagle, 2/25/22)

Challenging the ALPRs

Three Marco Island residents have filed a federal lawsuit claiming the City of Marco Island is violating their Fourth Amendment rights by tracking their whereabouts into and out of the city with its automated license plate recognition (ALPR) systems. No date has been set for the hearing. (Naples Daily News, 2/16/22)

District School Board of Collier County

Collier County residents are represented by five elected School Board members.
Meet the School Board

The Collier County School Board held a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 8 and a Policy Work Session on Feb. 14. See agendas here and video archive here.

Academic Year Calendars Approved

At its Feb. 8 meeting, the School Board unanimously adopted changes to the 2022-2023 Academic School Calendar. (CCPS Meeting Minutes, Proposed Changes to 2022-23 Calendar)

The Board also unanimously approved the recommended 2023-24 Academic Calendar (CCPS Meeting Minutes, Recommended Calendar 2023-24)

Other Local Elected Officials

All Collier County residents are represented by Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, Clerk of the Circuit Court Crystal Kinzel, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, Property Appraiser Abe Skinner, and Tax Collector Rob Stoneburner.

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk

No criminal charges will be filed in the Dec. 29 killing at the Naples Zoo of Eko, a rare 8-year-old Malayan tiger. After his Office completed its investigation, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said, “I am frustrated and even angered that there is no existing criminal law that applies in this tragic situation…. I am committed to developing draft legislation for our Florida legislators to consider that will hold accountable those who endanger animals with reckless acts.” (Naples Daily News, 2/4/22)

Florida Legislature

Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Reps. Bob Rommel (District 106), Lauren Melo (District 80), and David Borrero (District 105).
All of Collier County is represented in the Florida Senate by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (District 28).
Find Your State Representative

Senator Kathleen Passidomo — District 28

The ban for abortions after 15 weeks cleared its last committee stop and is heading to the full Florida Senate. The bill includes no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

“Over the last several days and weeks I had spoken to our bill sponsors in both the House and the Senate at length and I am convinced of their position, and I support that position here today,” Republican Kathleen Passidomo, chair of the Rules Committee and next in line to become Senate President, told members of the state Appropriations Committee before the vote. “It is a tough issue but I support our chair and bill sponsor in that regard.”

Rep. Lauren Melo — District 80

When the Legislature in 1997 tagged a volunteer work requirement to the Bright Futures Program, it created an unintended consequence of discouraging many working students from seeking the scholarship. But “not everyone can volunteer in lieu of earning a paycheck,” said Naples Rep. Lauren Melo.

As nursing homes grapple with a worker shortage, a bill sponsored by Lauren Melo, R-Naples, would give them more flexibility in meeting changing needs of residents. “It gives the flexibility needed to provide person-centered care,” Melo said. But AARP Florida and the Service Employees International Union oppose the bill.

U.S. House of Representatives

Parts of Collier County are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25) and Byron Donalds (District 19).
Find Your Congressman

Key Votes in the U.S. House

House passes bill to shore up Postal Service, working to avert insolvency. (NYTimes, 2/8/22)
H.R.3076: Postal Service Reform Act of 2022
Diaz-Balart — Yay; Donalds — Nay
Passed 342 – 92 on 2/822

House passes stopgap bill to avoid government shutdown. (, 2/8/22)
H.R.6617: Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act
Diaz-Balart — Yay; Donalds — Nay
Passed 272 – 162 on 2/8/22

Mario Diaz-Balart — District 25

“We are again witnessing the results of a feckless foreign policy of appeasement.”

Byron Donalds — District 19

“They want you and they want me and they want every hardworking American to bend the knee. But America has woken up and we realize that we’re not going down a socialist road and we’re gonna fight that this November.”

Local news reported in this post is by Liz Freeman, Laura Layden, Rachel Heimann Mercader, Tomas Rodriguez, Karl Schneider (Naples Daily News); Samantha Roesler (Marco Eagle); Steve Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News); and Adam Fisher (FOX4).

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That’s it for this month’s news for Collier County voters.

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