Updated 2/1/22 8:35 AM
Affordable Housing in Crisis
“Our affordable housing situation in Collier County is bad and will soon get much worse,” according to Joe Trachtenberg, volunteer chairman of the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. In a Commentary that is a must-read for Collier voters, he lays out the stark facts and asks, Will we ever realize how essential our essential workers are?
- Guest opinion: Affordable housing is a crisis in Collier County, by Joe Trachtenberg, Special to the Naples Daily News, 1/31/22
Board of County Commissioners
Collier County residents are represented by one of five elected county commissioners.
Find your commissioner
County Manager Announces Retirement
Battling COVID-19 and its aftereffects since September, Collier County Manager Mark Isackson announced that he will retire by July 1. Commissioners voted 4 – 1 to recruit a search firm to assist in seeking and vetting internal and external candidates for the post. Commissioner Rick LoCastro voted no, preferring to consider only internal candidates. (Naples Daily News, 1/27/22)
Deputy County Manager Callahan Fired
Sean Callahan, who served as acting county manager while Isackson recovered from COVID-19, was secretly double-dipping as a lobbyist for the past 10 months, in violation of the county’s policies. (Naples Daily News, 1/28/22)
Commissioner Solis Will Not Seek Reelection
Collier County Commissioner Andy Solis, who represents District 2 in North Naples, announced he will not seek reelection when his current term ends. (Naples Daily News, 1/28/22; Commissioner Solis newsletter, 1/31/22)
Pedestrian Safety Ordinance
Collier commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that allows for people to approach cars on certain roads and specifies from what direction they may approach and what door they may approach. The ordinance is intended to bolster pedestrian safety while upholding the First Amendment rights of panhandlers. (Naples Daily News, 1/11/22)
East Naples Triangle Redevelopment
A multimillion-dollar condo-hotel on a long-targeted redevelopment site in Collier County is moving ahead — without previously requested incentives from the county to help pay for it. (Naples Daily News, 1/19/22)
County commissioners voted 3 – 2 to approve a list of recommended land purchases recommended by Conservation Collier, spending no more than $14,065,100 from the Collier County Land Acquisition Fund.
Commissioners Solis and Penny Taylor voted against the approval. They both cited information presented concerning the potential presence of pollution on a site offered for sale by Barron Collier Partnership that contains a 16-acre landfill. (Naples Daily News, 1/26/22)
In addition, the Board voted 4 – 1 to allow Conservation Collier to use its full revenue from the tax to buy land, with Solis dissenting. This is a change to how voters were told the taxes collected over the 10-year program period would be spent when the program’s extension was on the ballot in 2020. (On the Ballot: Conservation Collier, Sparker’s Soapbox, 10/18/20)
Homeless Shelter Expansion
Commissioners unanimously approved a request by St. Matthew’s House to expand from 104 to 150 beds in East Naples. There is a waiting list of 96 individuals at the East Naples homeless shelter, up from 50 to 60 individuals in October. The County’s lack of affordable housing has worsened the situation. (Naples Daily News, 1/28/22; Naples Daily News, 10/18/21).
Pay Raises for County Staff
The BCC unanimously approved pay raises for the County Manager’s Agency, County Attorney’s Office, and county non-union EMS workers to realign the county with its strategy to have a competitive pay plan. Pay ranges will increase by 10 percent, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022. They will cost the county about $7 million for the remainder of FY 2022, and about $10 million in FY 2023. (BCC Agenda Item 11.C. and Meeting Video)
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 Jan. 18, Jan. 19, and Jan. 24, and a Special Meeting on Jan. 20. For agendas, minutes, and recordings of these meetings, click here.
Naples Beach Hotel Redevelopment
It was expected and hoped that the conservation easement being negotiated to protect a portion of the former Hotel’s golf course in perpetuity would close this month. But at a January meeting, the council requested additional information from city staffers to address lingering issues and uncertainties. (Naples Daily News, 1/27/22)
The Naples Daily News lost its City reporter several weeks ago, significantly affecting coverage of city council news since then. At the time of this post, the minutes of the meetings are not yet available. We reviewed the agendas of the January meetings and noted that the following items of interest were to be discussed.
- Stormwater inspections — 6 month update and options for process changes – Jan. 18
- Ordinance amendment re: the Police Officers’ Pension and Retirement System – Jan 24.
- Outdoor dining: Recommended adoption on Second Reading of an ordinance – Jan. 18
- Parking: Recommended approval of an ordinance on First Reading and schedule for Second Reading – Jan. 19
- Live entertainment: Recommended adoption on Second Reading of an ordinance – Jan. 19
- Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board composition and terms of appointment: Recommended adoption on Second Reading of an ordinance – Jan. 24
- Amending the City’s fire prevention regulations: Recommended approval of an ordinance on First Reading and schedule for Second Reading – Jan. 24
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 and special meetings on Jan. 10 and Jan. 24. See agendas, minutes, and video replays here.
10,000 Trees in Ten Years
City Council heard a presentation by the City’s Beautification Advisory Committee of a proposal to establish an Urban Forest Master Plan for Marco Island. Following the presentation and public comments, they asked the Committee to assess the current state of trees on the island and to outline details of the plan. (WGCU Public Media, 1/29/22; White Paper)
Other Marco News
- Waterways Committee Looking at Recommendations. (Coastal Breeze News, 1/10/22)
- Marco Island City Council discusses resident surveys, water quality and more. (Marco Eagle, 1/26/22)
District School Board of Collier County
Collier County residents are represented by five elected School Board members.
Meet the School Board
Record High School Graduation Rate
The graduation rate for Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) in 2021 was 92.6%, an increase of 20.1 percentage points since 2011 and an increase of 0.4 percentage points compared to 2020. This is the highest rate in CCPS history and “particularly noteworthy given the challenging teaching and learning conditions last year.” (CCPS News Release, 1/4/22)
2021 was the second consecutive year that Florida high school seniors could be exempt from taking end-of-course exams that the state had previously required for graduation. In Collier, 77 seniors, or 2.6% of its 2021 graduating class, received the exemption. (Naples Daily News, 1/27/22)
Teachers’ Union Pay Raises
The School Board unanimously approved an agreement ratified by the Collier County Education Association on compensation for the 2021-2022 school year. The agreement provides an increase for all teachers at an estimated cost of $7,500,000.00. (Agreement)
The Board also unanimously approved several Memoranda of Agreement agreed upon by the Teachers’ Union that implement differentiated supports and adjusted working conditions. (Memorandums of Agreement)
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.
Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, State Attorney Amira Fox, and Linda Oberhaus, CEO of The Shelter for Abused Woman & Children, are working together to combat human trafficking using a new “Identity, Support, and Prosecute” (ISP) model. WINK News, 1/27/22
Supervisor of Elections
The Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards’ Office publicly tested voting machines on Jan. 20 in preparation for the Naples city elections Feb. 1. (WGCU Public Media, 1/21/22)
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
Rep. Bob Rommel filed HB 1055: Video Cameras in Public School Classrooms that would allow school boards to adopt policies to place video cameras in public school classrooms and require certain classroom teachers to wear a microphone. It would require school boards to vote on whether to implement plans to install cameras by January 2023. (News Service of Florida via WUSF Public Media, 1/2/22)
Rep. Rommel has spoken out against critical race theory on his Twitter account, and he indicated his proposal would also allow the monitoring of teachers who may be teaching such concepts to students. (Newsweek, 1/5/22)
A House panel on Jan. 25 overwhelmingly approved a proposal (HB 105) that would allow local governments to restrict smoking on beaches and in public parks. Rep. Rommel cast the sole dissenting vote. (News Service of Florida via cbs12.com, 1/25/22)
SB 280 would require local governments to evaluate the business impact of a local ordinance before passing the measure. Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo, speaking in debate on the floor for the first time this Session, said the bill is intended to deter local governments from passing poorly designed laws by giving them the tools that they need to manage their ordinance process. It passed with a vote of 28 – 8 in the Florida Senate. (Florida Politics, 1/27/22)
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
H.R.4673: “Ensuring Veterans’ Smooth Transition” (EVEST) Act — automatically enrolls all departing military members into the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system (13newsnow.com, 1/20/22)
Diaz-Balart — Nay; Donalds — Nay
Passed 265 – 163 on 1/20/22
H.R.1836: Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 — expands eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill educational assistance (military.com, 1/12/22)
Diaz-Balart — Yay; Donalds — Nay
Passed 287 – 135 on 1/12/22
District 25: Mario Diaz-Balart
- Anti-corruption lawyer drops bid against Diaz-Balart, pivots to race for HD 120. Miami Herald, 1/5/22
- Diaz-Balart “proud to have earned an A+ on @SBAList ’s pro-life Scorecard. I will always vote to protect the rights of the unborn & the conscience rights of taxpayers who don’t want their tax dollars funding abortions.” Tweet, 1/19/22
District 19: Byron Donalds
- Rep. Donalds Announces Membership to the House Everglades Caucus and House Blockchain Caucus. Press Release, 1/5/22
- Rep. Donalds Statement Opposing Democrats’ Radical Federal Takeover of Elections. Press Release, 1/13/22
- Rep. Donalds Announces Legislation Abolishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Press Release, 1/14/22
A proposed congressional redistricting map unexpectedly released by Gov. Ron DeSantis this month is particularly relevant to Collier County residents.
Among other changes, it would create a new District 26 by combining part of the current District 25, represented by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami), with part of the current District 19, represented by U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples). See DeSantis’s proposed map here. Since the governor has veto power over whatever map the State House and Senate agree on, this matter could become a bargaining chit later in the session. (USA Today Network-Florida Capital Bureau via Tallahassee Democrat, 1/19/22)
Local news reported in this post is by Dan DeLuca, Laura Layden, Rachel Heimann Mercader, and Karl Schneider (Naples Daily News); Samantha Roesler (Marco Eagle); Steve Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News); Katiuska Carrillo and Samantha Roesler (WGCU Public Media); and Nicole Gabe (WINK News).
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That’s it for January’s news for Collier County voters. Later this week, January’s state news update and a report on the Naples City Council elections.