On Marco Island: Independent Reporting, Documenting Government Abuses, Exposing the Syndicate, Historical Records of Crimes Against the Environment

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Anyone, Anyone, Anyone?

City of Marco Island

Discovery Workshop
STRP: Facts & Figures


HOST: Anyone, Anyone, Anyone?

PURPOSE: Answer all of the public’s questions and concerns as to the STRP
  • Finances
  • Infrastructure
FORUM: City of Marco Island officials prepared to answer questions as to the STRP project will be in attendance. Representatives from community groups can pose questions. Citizens can pose questions.

TIMING:
Discovery Workshop #1 to be held on ________
Discovery Workshop #2 will be held two weeks later on _______ so as to afford the city time to research the answer to any question that they could not address in the first workshop.

TYPE: Moderated. Moderator _____________

RULES: Only questions and clarifying statements from the public are permitted.
  • City officials will be allowed ample opportunity to answer and to explain their answers before the next question is posed.
  • City officials may require time to research the answer to some questions, hence the second workshop.
  • Speeches, politics, insinuating and disrespectful questions, and attacks of any kind will not be permitted.
  • A queue of questioners can be devised by which to ensure that not one person or persons preclude others from asking questions.
GOALS: Better if not complete understanding of the STRP by the citizens of Marco Island.
  • Greater clarity in the affairs of the City as related to the STRP.
  • Hopefully answer all questions and concerns.
  • Hopefully a venue by which to unite the community on this divisive issue.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Crimes Prompts Call for STRP Hookup Extension

Dear Chairwoman DiSciullo,

After the revelations of this week about potential Sunshine Law Violations, conspiracies, collusion and abuse of power related to the STRP, I feel compelled to repeat the request I made last Monday night to extend the deadline for filing the Tigertail and S. Barfield sewer hookup options for, at least, 90 days. This extension would not mean a suspension of hookups for those who wish to hookup.

The extension would only apply to those who feel that there are too many issues up in the air at this time to make this FINAL and IRRECOVABLE commitment. Time is of the essence in this matter, because the filing deadline is February 2nd.

I am also very concerned that there will not be another council meeting before the deadline and I am therefore asking you to make an executive decision ordering the extension. An extension would relieve some of the pressure and anxiety that is on all of the folks in these two districts that are on limited incomes and others who believe that the STRP is and was ill conceived.

People in the future districts have also approached me with concerns about signing their payment option letter before seeing the contract it represents. Some have also expressed concern that the city is getting into the lending business and that these contracts must meet the

Federal Truth-in-Lending regulations. I am therefore requesting that copies of the contracts be sent to everyone in the future districts for review before they are required to select a payment option.

This message is being blind carbon copied to many people in hopes that they will also add their voices to the growing chorus of individuals with real reservations about the STRP.

Respectfully;

Doug Enman
Chairman, C.A.R.E.S., Inc.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tigertail Tea Party!


click to enlarge ...

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Eminent Piece of Domain

The Background
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government can take private property if more tax revenue can be derived from that property when put to commercial or other use.

The case was Kelo vs. City of New London. Mrs. Suzette Kelo and her neighbors in the town of New London Connecticut had rebuilt – with their own money – an entire neighborhood transforming what was in essence a ghetto into a quaint middle class community.

So along comes the city and decides to condemn the property – not to build a school or a hospital or a highway – but to build a parking lot for Pfizer. Yes, that Pfizer – the pharmaceutical with 2005 revenues of $49 billion. The city argued that eminent domain applies since the tax revenues that would be derived from the implicit benefit of the parking lot would be greater to the city than if Mrs. Kelo and her middle class neighbors continued to pay their property taxes.

Results

As a result of the decision, the vast majority of Americans were outraged. Even our close democratic allies expressed disbelief and rightly so since private property rights are fundamental to a free and prosperous society. Clearly, the intellectual corruption that infests the American judicial process reached new lows.

So the citizens sprung into action. States all across America enacted or are in the process of enacting state laws protecting private property in the way our constitution is written, and in the way our founding fathers expressly constructed.


And Florida took action. On May 11, 2006 Governor Bush signed an eminent domain law that he described as “… Florida now has the toughest protections for private property rights in the country” and “… [to] end the abuse of eminent domain and provide greater protection for the rights of private property owners”.


The History
The matter of eminent domain is so important to the makings of our democracy that all of the authors of the constitution demanded it. Some even argued for the extreme.

James Madison would only go along with the power of eminent domain as long as it was used expressly for the public good AND where the owner received just compensation. Our favorite revolutionary Thomas Jefferson went further. He insisted that the principle of owning property is the absolute right to keep it for oneself – even from the government. Jefferson lost the argument but the point is well taken: this issue of taking someone’s private property is a very serious matter.

And hence the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In no interpretation, not even in today’s Byzantine judicial morass, is the definition of private property anything other than what it clearly states – property is anything tangible. From one of the many legal dictionaries property is defined thus:

Not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth. The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner as he pleases.



What is the Relevance to Marco Island?
Well, let’s see. Even the above noted abhorrent decision allowed the taking of property BUT ONLY WITH JUST COMPENSATION. Hence the courts have affirmed, and will continue to affirm, that private property can not be taken without just compensation to its owner.


If the government can take a citizen’s private property only with just compensation, why is it that the City of Marco Island is taking property – as in septic tanks – without just compensation?

2 Comments:

  • Rots a ruck! The way I see it, the City is not "taking" your septic tank, it simply is forcing you to hook up to their septic tank ... one that, unfortunately, is some distance away, costs 20 grand or so to get to, and dribbles your (ahem!) "contributions" along the way through leaky pipes and failing lift stations. Ancient state legislation permits the City to do this as a matter of "public health" although the Federal EPA has long since considered it unnecessary (and frankly stupid) unless there is clear evidence that the public health and/or the environment is being endangered by onsite (septic) wastewater treatment. That's certainly not the case on Marco as the City's own test data indicate!

    Since I don't see this as a matter of "eminent domain," I don't think an argument based on that will fly. In my opinion, pursuing that course simply wastes what time, money and political capital opponents of the STRP have left. I suggest that anyone who wishes to attack the STRP should go back to my original premise and show that the STRP IS NOT JUSTIFIED AS A MATTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH and is, in fact, DANGEROUS to the public health. The facts support this argument and only by winning this argument will the STRP be killed for good. Everything else is a delaying tactic at best. The most one can hope for is a more equitable distribution of costs which is certainly valuable but does not kill the project.

    I'm probably in the minority with my opinion because, as a friend properly pointed out to me the other day, under my leadership, CARES failed to convince the People and Masters of Marco that I was correct. I apologize for taking peoples money and failing but I contend that my original argument remains correct and needs to be followed. Because I failed to carry the day doesn't mean that someone else can't.

    Many have chosen to oppose the project on the basis of money. Undoubtedly it was always a matter of money to many and will remain so. However, I contend that you will NEVER be able to kill this project on the basis of its cost, fairness or even presumed corruption. You can halt it temporarily, you can make it more equitable, you can possibly lower the cost, but you can't kill it. To kill it, we need to convince 4 councilors that it is not necessary, is potentially dangerous, and should be canceled. Delaying the project may give us the opportunity to place reasonable thinking people on the council ... but that's its main benefit. If you leave the high ground and abandon the only valid reason for killing the STRP, I'm afraid you won't even be able to get a thinking council in place who will do it.

    By Anonymous ed, at Wednesday, January 24, 2007 6:19:00 PM  

  • with great respect to all of us that have tried with myriad attempts, to date the net results is that the strp is going forward.

    taking of one's property is the same as denying the use of one's property irrespective of reason or purpose. all cases to date validate this point.

    so, given the above facts, the suggestion was and is to consider doing something that has not been tried but that has worked for others in all cases.

    the problem that i see with pursuing the eminent domain suggestion is that it involves the legal system - which as you know has worse odds than vegas regardless of the law.

    an aside - there is no high ground unless you want to prevail like we did in vietnam and how we are prevailing in irag.

    By Anonymous mario, at Wednesday, January 24, 2007 6:48:00 PM  

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Well, That Didn't Take Long ...

Editor's Note:
First is the city manager's own words as found in the "Guest Commentary" in the Eagle. The second section is an attempt to take the city manager up on his words, statements and promises.


City Manager:
"As we grow, we recognize that communications and information sharing is an important attribute of successful communities."

"One of our goals this year is to expand and share information through guest commentaries, letters to the editors, e-correspondence, online city council agenda packages, communication surveys and a new and enhanced Web site."

Now, read this exchage to accomplish the above ...

Mr. Moss your answer is a cop out. There are no legal reasons to prevents a joint interview.
Doug Enman

----- Original Message ----
From: Bill Moss
To: "Bania, Ed"
Cc: dougenman@yahoo.com
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 1:40:00 PM
Subject: Re: Interview

Ed:

No thank you. CARES and the City are in litigation.

Bill Moss

"Bania, Ed" on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 1:09 PM -0500 wrote:
Bill and Doug:

Would you be agreeable to me doing a civilized interview with the two of you about the STRP and assessment rate system so we could put the issue "to rest" so to speak? I've done this sort of article many times at other papers on issues and with candidates in local, state and Congressional elections.

Just let me know what afternoon(s) and time(s) are good for you. We could do it at the conference room at City Hall or my conference room here at the paper. I look forward to it..

Thanks

Ed Bania
Senior Staff Writer
Marco Eagle
ekbania@marcoeagle.com
(239) 213-5331


Bill Moss
City Manager
bmoss@cityofmarcoisland.com

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Has the City Missed Anyone?

Now it’s the boaters (oh, sorry, the yachtsmen), and a group of homeowners that are angry and aggravated by the City of Marco Island’s abuse of process as regards to a host of issues related to the waterways . They are threatening to sue. We have visions of them sending in naval gunfire from a flotilla cruising just outside of the mooring limit.

One of their valiant members has been “cited” – a euphemism for arresting a nice guy whose last name does not end in “ez”. Another revolutionary standing up for his rights! Or soon to be another malcontent as soon as the comedians that make up the local hate group get a hold of this issue. Or another bored old fart when the Village Idiot of Naples Don Farmer cranks up his word processor.

Ok, so, is there anybody on Marco Island that the City Council and the city manager has not offended, or has not violated his/her/its state, federal or constitutional rights? Other than the Chamber of Commerce of course, being that they are all one of the same.

At some point can the City please get some real, sound and professional legal and financial advice? Assuredly, whatever legal “advice” the City is receiving clearly – in the words of the penguins upon arriving in Antarctica in the G-rated movie Madagascar – sucks.

A friendly word of support and guidance for the citizens on this mooring/anchoring issue which are standing up for what they believe in: don’t waste your time quoting laws – state, federal or constitutional laws don’t apply to this City. And when you sue, do it as far away from here as you can – like in Havana. Those folks have experience in mooring laws – remember the U.S.S. Maine?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Village Idiot

So we conjure this image of some hapless soul babbling incoherently throughout some rustic town square in the dark ages, invariably sporting ragged clothing, matted hair and missing teeth. It seems that madness and idiocy was a source of humor, human characteristics best exemplified by the spoken and written word. All of which one would ignore, unless forced to actually pay attention.

But truth be told, the term Village Idiot has no reference in history any older than in the 1907 play Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw. That’s not to say of course that villages were devoid of idiots before then mind you.

Nor afterwards. All sides of the multidimensional intellectual abyss which is the Marco Island Neanderthal political spectrum can instantly point to someone and proclaim “Aha, that’s the Marco Island Village Idiot!” So with so many mental votes (remember that actual voting is not allowed on Marco Island), who is to say which one amongst us can lay claim to such a distinguished title in this isle of plenty.

Perhaps we Marco Islanders can finally agree on something - the Village Idiot of Naples.

We can all refer to the one or two of his articles we sort of read, sort of until we could tolerate the insufferably dim and foolish mishmash of words no longer. And yet there is recent stupidity that serves to buttress affixing the ignoble title to the farmer.

The next to last imbecility by the Village Idiot of Naples was so extensive that even our usually missing councilpersons had to opine. Well, at least one of them anyway. In the January 8th Eagle, the esteemed Mr. Kiester took the Village Idiot of Naples to task for insulting the citizens of Marco Island and for demographic insolence.

And the latest mind numbing banality by the Village Idiot of Naples is some rambling about the recall. Most of us missed it, given that we intentionally avoid village idiots – this one being no exception. Unfortunately once our attention was called to the “article” we had no choice but to lumber through it, only to find myriad guffaws, the best of which was the one about how the recall legal process and resulting legal expense were caused by the people who want to recall three councilpersons. The fact that it was the City Council of Marco Island that voted to commence the legal process and use tax payers’ money to sue the citizens in a non-democratic attempt to stop the recall has no bearing on this idiot.

So, to Don Farmer, the hapless soul babbling incoherently throughout the rustic town square in the dark ages (a.k.a. his column) – your co-villagers regard you as very amusing – on the exceedingly rare occasion that we are forced to actually pay any attention to you.

1 Comments:

  • Mario,

    I think you should apply for V. I. Don's job in the NDN and Marco Island Eagle. It's apparent that you are far more intelligent, do more research, write far better and aren't living on your (presumed) past achievements. If you have the time ... what with teaching at a university, operating a computer company and running a blog site ... why not give it a shot? Perhaps Michelle can replace Chris's Curls too so you can keep it all in the family.

    Ed Foster

    By Blogger CARES-Chair, at Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:02:00 AM  

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Money Making Opportunity on Marco Island!

Given this author’s experience from being an executive at the world’s largest insurance and underwriting company, permit the following money making suggestion for those in the insurance “trade”.

Sell a policy that will indemnify any commercial establishment on Marco Island for loss of business due to beach closures or any other adverse effect on any Marco Island tourist-related site due to sewage spills or sewage-related environmental problems.

It’s a sure-fire winner. Here is why.

According to the City of Marco Island, the staff at the City of Marco Island, the majority of the City Council, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and others (collectively referred to as the Class for the STRP), the sewage treatment plant will handle all of the new capacity without risk to the environment.

So, if you believe the Class for the STRP, you will be collecting premiums ad infinitum with no risk. And if they are right, well then, its easy money.

But if you don’t believe the Class for the STRP, don’t worry. You can still collect the premiums and when the environmental hazard hits the island and causes the invariable drop in tourism, you can do what insurance companies always do:
  1. Blame the insured and hence deny the claims or,
  2. Pay the claims then sue the Class for the STRP to recover the loss.

What? Blame the insured? Sure. Hasn’t everyone on Marco Island been warned ad nausea that the STRP is unfair, fiscally unsound and the sewage treatment plant is questionable in terms of handling the new load (no pun intended)? So … the insured, haven taken out a policy despite having been warned, are ipso facto not entitled being indemnified from the policy!

What? Sue the Class for the STRP? Sure. And care to guess who are going to be your biggest and best witnesses? Your insured (which ironically are proponents of the STRP).

So you see, you make money either way. In the parlance of those that have taken a internet management course, it’s a win-win!

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sewage Doesn’t Have to Run Downhill

By Graham Summers
The Growth Stock Wire

So you’ve got you eyes on a piece of land...

It’s cheap, located in a sleepy suburb near the intersection of two major interstates. Even better, one of the interstates passes through a particularly wealthy neighboring county where land prices have already exploded.

It’s a beautiful location, the kind of place where wealthy people would enjoy living. And you think it could be prime real estate in the next ten to 15 years. In your head, you’re already picturing developments springing up as folks flock to your nearby, cheaper real estate.
Should you buy? Depends on the nearest sewage treatment plant.


The most important aspect of land development has nothing to do with the view or the lot size. Nope, it’s sewage. As in, does the area have access to mainline sewage? Many unthinking developers have ponied up a ton of cash only to be stopped dead in their tracks by a lack of sewage.

“As the old saying goes, crap doesn’t run uphill,” says Pat McAlister. “Most sewer lines run along creek beds, rivers, or drainages. Not because we’re dumping waste there, but because you’re trying to find the path of least resistance, and naturally occurring waterways are a great blueprint for that. After all, what’s better at finding the path of least resistance than water?

“For most of the 20th century, you either had two options with sewage: 1) connect up to a major sewage line, or 2) get your own septic tank. However, 25 years ago, a guy named Jack Sheaffer designed an alternate sewer system. It’s not well known, but basically it allows you to develop anywhere. And it costs roughly the same amount to install as standard sewage.”

Jack Sheaffer co-authored the original Clean Water Act in 1972. Sheaffer was concerned that standard sewage treatment wasn’t effective enough. Consequently, he designed an alternate sewage system called the Sheaffer system. In it, rather than channeling wastewater into a sewage treatment plant, you instead dump it nearby into a series of deep aerated ponds, where it is quickly filtered and disinfected by microbes. The microbes also take care of the smell. And once the water is treated, it’s used in irrigation.

Basically, the whole system treats, filters, and recycles wastewater. It’s clean, efficient, and environmentally sound. And it can be done anywhere.

How safe is it? Well, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employed the first Sheaffer system in the U.S. for Muskegon, Michigan back in 1972. Since then, Sheaffer systems have been popping up all over the place.

And lest you think a Sheaffer system ruins property value: In 1986, the Fields of Long Grove development in Lake County, Illinois received the “Best in American Living” by the National Association of Home Builders, Better Homes and Gardens, and Professional Builder. Since then, Sheaffer systems have been popping up all over America... and none of these areas are what you’d call “the low end” of the market.

Currently, Sheaffer systems are employed in Virginia ― the North Fork Sheaffer System serves two towns and two poultry plants there. Wynstone, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf community, used one. Pat even pointed me to Tollgate, a new mid- to high-end development outside of Nashville that uses a Sheaffer system.

“You can install one of these at $2,000 to $4,000 per house. That’s roughly what it’s going to cost you to hook up a development to standard sewage.” Pat commented. “However, because Sheaffer systems are still relatively unheard of by most builders/developers, land that isn’t near normal sewage sells at a massive discount compared to land with normal sewage nearby.”

===
Editor's comment. Note that the analysis denotes $2,000 to $4,000 to hook up to a sewage traeatment plant - a number that is well supported by research - except on Marco where it will cost upwards of $25,000. Additionally, 100% of all sewage spills and beach closures and environmental contamination from sewage has come from sewage treatment plants. The above noted environmentally sound approach is sound and viable and does not cause beach closures. Let's see if the local real estate cabal and the local hotel/merchant special interest groups continue to support the city's sewage plan when the first beach contamination/closure takes place during the season.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

If the City Could Do Just One Thing Differently in 2007 …

Clearly, there is much room for improvement in the manner by which the City conducts its business and treats its citizens – especially the ones with whom it does not agree. The last year in particular was replete with action and lack of action, and statements and lack of statements that leaves much to be desired. Asking for changes in all of the City’s shortcomings would be wishful thinking.

But there is just one thing seems benign while at the same time would go a long way to making better decisions, to healing the community division and to regaining the trust of the constituents.

And that just one thing is simply for the City to act only after all the facts are clearly known and independently verified.

Facts that are clearly known and independently verified are not the statements emanating from the special interest groups seeking something from the City. Facts that are clearly known and independently verified are not statements from the special interest groups seeking something from the City that are parroted by the City staff.

How many times have we sat through city council meetings to hear the councilpersons disagree amongst themselves as to what something meant, state emphatically that not all of the facts are known, make strong statements like “its voodoo”, and nonchalantly take the spin from the usual suspects (the real estate clique, developers, vendors, the local pizza guy, etc.) as “facts” – and then vote! How utterly inappropriate and quite frankly, being outright unwise and obtuse, its embarrassing.

Is this one thing merely a call for hiring more “experts” to give “expert” opinions? Would this one thing lead to – as we say in the engineering world – analysis-paralysis? No.

This community is unique in that there are an appreciable number of concerned citizens that have a great amount of experience and knowledge and time on their hands. These citizens can be called upon – as recently done with the water-main break – to provide independent information to the City. This community is unique in that there are two independent non-political devoid of hidden agendas professional organizations that are a wealth of information and whose intention is simply what is best for the community.

But there are committees inclusive of citizen involvement that vet the issues. Really? And then why is there so much confusion and lack of information at the most critical point in the process – when the council votes?

The detractors to the suggestion of relying on citizen/community organizations for information will of course raise the specter of bias by these citizens and groups. But such an objection is puerile. A minor challenge in research is weeding out the facts and eliminating the biases from the gathered information. Anyone with a modicum of secondary education, or even anyone that uses the internet, knows how to do this weeding quite easily and readily. The City could do the same.

And assuredly there are those that for lack of understanding will proclaim that soliciting too much information will delay the process of governing. Fortunately, that is not the case, and in fact, quite the opposite is true. Anyone who has implemented a project from nascent concept, to gathering the requirements, to analyzing those requirements, to designing the solution, to modeling the implementation, knows full well that the end product will be better and delivered much faster when there is more information at the onset by which to base the analysis and design. Omitting some fact out from the requirements has a deleterious effect on time and quality when that fact has to be considered/implemented ex post facto. The STRP and the asbestos nearsightedness are perfect examples on how projects were rushed to deployment without having gathered and appreciated the necessary requirements. Let’s not repeat these (and other) debacles.

So, doing this one thing is easy. The net effects of making exceedingly well informed decisions will be substantial. And such an approach will go a long way to earning a greater involvement from the community – a community that is in dire need of being all inclusive.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What’s Great about Marco Island for 2007

1. Councilors DiSciullo, Forcht and Kiester Why? Because Mrs. DiSciullo’s heart and mind are in the right place, because Mr. Kiester seems to get it, and because Mr. Forcht hardly shows up to meetings (recall Thomas Paine’s adage “That Government is best which governs least”).

2. The beaches (even though some are not “free”), nature (still free), relative easy access to the waterways (which are not contaminated – yet), and the splendor of the natural pristine general outdoors (except you know where of course).

3. The staff at Mackle Park. Well natured and willing to please.

4. Lisa Douglass. Why? Because she is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and despite the “forces”, does her job with grace and caring.

5. The revolutionaries, also known as civic activists. Why? “I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” (Thomas Jefferson). So to the Paine, Jefferson, Jay, Adams, Madison – Hall, Foster, Neylon, Davies, Putnam, et al, Thanks! Equally beneficial to Marco is MITA for keeping a watchful eye on all that free money.

6. The Marco Island Eagle. The paper reports all sides, stood up to the intimidation from the usual suspects, and is highly civic minded. A real community paper.

7. The local pro industrialization/commercialization/big government Political Committee (aka PAC). What? Is this the same group that, amongst other things, willfully petitioned the city government to squelch our first amendment rights? Yes it is – so why? Assuredly, these goofballs come up with the most inane, irrational, languorous, disingenuous, bucolic, transparent, Kafkaesque, mindless positions and statements – all of which makes them resemble the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers all rolled up into 20 or so souls. And besides, we are often laughing too hard at their antics that we miss most of their diatribe anyway. Heck, its free entertainment, isn’t it?

8. The small town look and feel. Most residents know each other, the police wave as they go by and are more inclined to give a lecture than a citation, most non-restaurant merchants are friendly, the kids get merchant cards for good grades, there are children that actually live here, and the whole Norman Rockwell panorama.

9. There is available space for a super Wal-Mart.

10. Many, many great residents of all ages that just want to be treated fairly while living in peace.

Ps. If your name appears on this list and you want to be removed, feel free to send an email (and we’ll put you on the Worst of Marco 2007 posting).

1 Comments:

  • Lisa is stuck - the rock is the B.S. propoganda she gets from Moss, etc which no one believes including herself and that is the hard place

    By Anonymous Fred (Ohio), at Tuesday, January 09, 2007 4:50:00 PM  

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