Local News in Review – July 2018

Here’s my latest review of news about our local elected officials, governing bodies and upcoming elections.

Top stories

  • School Board candidate Mary Ellen Cash was fired from Collier district in 2012; job performance, behavior cited. Cash is running against Darlene Alvarez and board incumbent Roy Terry in District 5. Naples Daily News, 7/25/18
  • Editorial: Newspaper endorsements waning, Daily News continues. Our editorial board has decided to stick with tradition, but on a more limited basis than previously. Naples Daily News, 7/21/18
  • Commissioners vote to keep property tax rate unchanged as values rise 5.6 percent. The levy won’t be officially set until the county holds two public hearings in September. Naples Daily News, 7/10/18

Growth and development

  • Editorial: Midyear report: How are we doing on managing growth? If “growth” makes your blood pressure rise, there’s still time to get involved and have your say. Naples Daily News, 7/3/18
  • Editorial: Midyear report: Catching up on infrastructure and community priorities. A Nov. 6 vote on a list of infrastructure and community projects that would be paid for with a one percent local sales tax is tentatively set. Naples Daily News, 7/11/18; collieronecenttax.com
    • Related: Commentary: Why not use road impact fees, gas taxes instead of extra sales tax? By Thaddeus Cohen, Collier County Growth Management Department, via Naples Daily News, 6/30/18
  • Commentary: New roads, MPO and Rural Lands West. With Ave Maria only one-third built out, what’s the hurry for a new town next door? By Bonnie Michaels, League of Women Voters, Collier County, via Naples Daily News, 7/3/18
  • Commentary: Are we planning for the right future in Collier County? Citizens over 65 are the largest voting bloc in the county, but their needs apparently aren’t being considered in proportion to their numbers. By Doug Hartman, Chairman, Collier senior advisory committee, via Naples Daily News, 7/16/18
  • Brent Batten: Don’t make Bonita’s flooding Collier’s problem, commissioner warns. District 2 Commissioner Andy Solis wants the Board to oppose diversion of water from Bonita Springs “until a cooperative and coordinated review is completed with Collier County.” Naples Daily News, 7/7/18

Environmental protection

  • Editorial: Midyear report: Slow path on environmental protection. We’re encouraged by some movement, yet the lingering question is whether it’s fast enough. Naples Daily News, 7/4/18
  • Collier County land preservation program moving too slowly for some conservationists. The expiration of the tax to pay for Conservation Collier purchases has complicated new acquisitions. Naples Daily News, 7/10/18
    • Related: Editorial: Commissioners right to continue Conservation Collier acquisitions. Naples Daily News, 7/19/18


  • Editorial: Midyear report: How are we doing on attainable housing? The framework of a community housing plan is in place, but providing enough safe, decent places to live within a price range that’s affordable to the workforce and seniors in Collier County remains a work in progress. Naples Daily News, 7/7/18
  • Commentary: Shift affordable housing focus to economic diversity. County leaders should focus on housing, but focus it where the jobs are, where people can have shorter commutes and not clog up arterial roads. By Jacob Winge, Director, East Naples Civic Association, via Naples Daily News, 7/21/18
  • Editorial: Avoid East Naples for housing? The next time you hear someone say there already is too much housing for the workforce, families and seniors in East Naples, ask, “Do you mean the part of East Naples where you live?” Naples Daily News, 7/28/18

Fees and taxes

  • Commentary: Learning more about North Collier fire fee referendum. By Norman Feder, Vice chairman, North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District board of commissioners, via Naples Daily News, 7/22/18
  • Brent Batten: Retirees rise up against fire fee. North Collier Fire District proposal on the August ballot would result in a lower bill for some but a higher bill for others. Naples Daily News, 7/14/17
  • Brent Batten: Immokalee fire fee faces foes in churches, businesses. Unlike the proposed change in the North Naples Fire fee, the Immokalee proposal would make no exemptions. Naples Daily News, 7/26/18

Other County news

  • Collier County reinvests in business accelerators after disputes, changes. But some question whether taxpayers’ money should be used to support them. Naples Daily News, 7/7/18
  • Innovation Zone OK’d by Collier Commission to spur economic development in East Naples. The county hopes to create higher-paying jobs outside its three primary industries: agriculture, hospitality and construction/real estate. Naples Daily News, 7/10/18
  • Collier on the brink of learning how much is here in the arts and what it can do. County commissioners offered matching funds up to $50,000 for a consultant to help it develop an arts and culture strategic plan. Naples Daily News, 7/7/18
  • Brent Batten: Collier hires firm to sell naming rights, starting with amateur sports complex. Commissioners approved a contract for $150,000 — an amount that could grow significantly over five years — to market naming rights for county facilities. Naples Daily News, 7/12/18
  • Editorial kudo to Commissioner Bill McDaniel. He urged the Commission to do away with its 60-day summer break, noting that important business takes place during that time and that commissioners represent a permanent population of 360,000 people. Naples Daily News, 7/13/18
  • Editorial kudo to Collier Board of County Commissioners. Their decision in early July to accept and distribute more than $3 million of federal grants will benefit projects by Habitat for Humanity, Youth Haven and the Shelter for Abused Women and Children. Naples Daily News, 7/27/18

City of Naples

  • City Council accuses Ethics Naples executive director of violating city’s code of ethics. The allegations are the latest in a series of battles between the city and the Ethics Naples PAC. Judge Hayes is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 21. Naples Daily News, 7/25/18
    • Related : Editorial kick to Naples mayor and city attorney. Naples Daily News, 7/27/18

City of Marco Island

  • FDOT has schedule for repairing Jolley Bridge streetlights. State official credits Commissioner Donna Fiala’s advocacy for keeping the issue top-of-mind. Marco Eagle, 7/24/18
  • Editorial: The known and unknown questions on Marco referendum. Voters won’t know before election day if they will get a reduction in county property taxes if they agree to pay higher city taxes to launch their own ambulance service. Naples Daily News, 7/24/18
  • Commentary: One of the most consequential decisions in our city’s history. By Larry Honig, Marco Island City Council member, via Naples Daily News, 7/14/18
  • Commentary: Local control – the choice is yours. By Jared Grifoni, Chairman, Marco Island City Council, via Marco Eagle, 7/27/18

City of Everglades City

  • Former Everglades City Mayor Hamilton accused of grand theft, official misconduct. FDLE found Hamilton had used his position to steal almost $48,000 in taxpayers’ money and authorized and issued 16 fraudulent checks under the guise of official business. Naples Daily News, 7/17/18

Collier County Public Schools

  • Conservatives back away from Collier School Board race, shift focus to state. Members of the far right said they have given up on the Collier County School Board and instead are focusing on implementing changes at the state level. Naples Daily News, 7/27/18
  • CCPS receives $3 million for workforce training. The Florida Job Growth Fund grant was awarded to develop the Southwest Florida Manufacturing Excellence Center at Immokalee Technical College. Naples Daily News, 7/5/18; Gov. Scott News Release, 7/2/18

Local elections

  • Record number of vote-by-mail ballots for primary sent to uniformed, overseas voters. A higher number were sent this year than in 2016, when the ballot included presidential candidates. Naples Daily News, 7/17/18
  • Collier commissioners, challengers discuss mental health, growth, sales tax at forum. The four candidates laid out their spending priorities, should they be elected or re-elected. Naples Daily News, 7/9/18
  • Safety, teacher retention and charter schools among topics of Collier school board forum. Candidates discussed their priorities and the issues currently facing the school district. Marco Eagle, 7/12/18
  • School Board candidates discuss bullying, reading scores, term limits at conservative group forum. Naples Daily News, 7/16/18

That’s it for July’s local news. Stay tuned in the coming days for how I will vote on my August ballot!

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