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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Not A Therefore B So Best is S

The City of Marco Island has promulgated a "new" plan by which to finance the ill-fated STRP. This plan, detailed in a proposed referendum and known colloquially as "Plan A" sets forth a financing option to the $135,000,000 project appreciably different than the original finance scheme. Of the many curious features, the "new" Plan A adds nearly $12,000,000 to the overall total with absolutely no substantiation for such an increase. The new plan requires all 5,835 STRP victims to fork over $10,000, plus an increase in taxes to all residents will raise $88,600,00 - for a new total of $146,950,000 or nearly $12,000,000 more.

There are two facets of Plan A that are objectionable. One is the financing and the other is the obscure and misleading ploy that it is attempting to accomplish.

Those of you believing that Plan A's finance scheme is better because it saves you - personally - money, you may want to look again. So as to not torture the readers that can parse a bit of 8th grade arithmetic and have therefore seen through the "fairness" claim, we leave the rest of you to crank out the calculator or seek guidance from a middle school arithmetic teacher. Hence we will forgo delineating the financing and focus on the bigger issue.

Present in Plan A is an intentional or inadvertent obscure and misleading ploy that will give the present city governance the absolution for having started the STRP illegally in the first place. Here is the hustle;

All citizens of Marco Island, with the exception of the Citizens Acquiescing to City Abuses, know that the STRP should have been put before the voters prior to starting. Without the voters' approval, the present city governance violated the spending cap. This requirement is in the city's charter. But for whatever reason, some of which are becoming evident in the cache of emails recently made public, the city did not. Now, with the city facing yet another legal challenge for yet another transgression and staring down yet another swell of citizen rancor, it is trying to make it look like the voters voted for the STRP without them having really voted for it.

Consider the following language, quoted verbatim from the
proposed resolution

Section 3. Alternate Septic Tank Replacement Program Policy. If a
majority of the electorate votes “No” for either the City Charter Amendment or
the Bond Referendum, the financing policy of the City Council for the Septic
Tank Replacement Program shall be as follows:
The Program shall be financed through the previously adopted special assessment process for the wastewater capacity improvements and wastewater treatment collection improvements.

Namely, if you don't vote for Plan A, the original financing plan (a.k.a. Plan B) will go into effect. So, by voting NO to Plan A, you are voting for the original Plan B - even though you never voted for Plan B directly.

If Plan A goes down in defeat, the present city governance will claim that the voters voted for the original finance plan. Nice, isn't it?

Such a ploy must be rejected.

If the present city governance is desirous and honest in wanting voter approval on any plan, then it must put any and all plans specifically, uniquely, separate and directly in front of the voters.

At the risk of being repetitive to the point of irritability, the STRP is ill-begotten, ill-conceived, ill-designed, ill-financed and ill-implemented. No amount of doing a New York City sidewalk shell game on the voters will negate that fact. How the present city governance has gone forth with the STRP is a sin. Nowhere else - in public or private enterprises - not even in a common household - does a plan get implemented without knowing in advance if it's fair or how its going to be paid for or how it will impact the surrounding. Nowhere - except in the City of Marco Island. Imagine for a moment of the consequences if Boeing put airplanes in the sky this way or if Ford put vehicles on the road this way or if the software companies that develop our air traffic control system implemented their computer programs this way.

There is an honorable and ethical solution. Plan S. Plan S, for Plan STOP, will stop all aspects of the STRP immediately. All construction, all financing schemes, all on-the-fly redesigns of the treatment plant, all ad hoc conjectures as to the environmental impact will stop. The cessation of all activities and bidirectional hostilities will stop and thereby afford all of us an opportunity to design a plan that is financially sound, that is procedurally sound, that is environmentally sound and most importantly, is clearly detailed to the voters so the voters can vote on it with full knowledge of what it will cost, how it will be done, and to what extent if any it will impact the environment.

Plan S will instantly negate what went wrong: The financing should have been derived and voted on before the project even started. The re-design of the plant as to capacity technology and environmental impact should have been analyzed and designed before the STRP started - and even before the finance plan was put forth for how else would we know how much would it really cost and how else would we know what the environmental impact would be. Plan S will reconstitute the democratic form of government that is our right and immediately obviate the single most divisive issue on this island.

Plan S is not an admission of defeat or of anything else, irrespective of what the present governance and the Citizens Acquiescing to City Abuses believe. In fact, this type of stopping and going back to the drawing board model is quite successful. It is done repeatedly with all types of projects. Cases are legion where projects have to be stopped, re-analyzed, re-designed, re-considered, re-approved and re-implemented. And all for the better. It just takes honesty and courage.

So when you go and vote for Plan A because you think it will save you money (at the expense of your neighbors no doubt) and because you believe the cynic that stated "the train has already left the station", think of what is being inadvertently or intentionally accomplished. And think that there is another option - Plan S.

The deadly embrace of "If not Plan A, then Plan B" is your present option. Therefore choose Plan STOP.

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