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

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Crist Dodges a Big One

Today the Florida Supreme Court denied the governor's request to impanel a grand jury to investigate municipal corruption in several districts - one being, of course, Collier County.

Can one just imagine if the grand jury was impaneled and wound up investigating Crist himself and the FDEP's involvement with the STRP, the local syndicate, asbestos crushing/burying and effluent dumping into the Gulf ?

As is said in the professional poker tour, better lucky than good.

CLICK HERE FOR THE SUPREME COURT ORDER

Bookies in Vegas are giving odds: 1,000 to 1 the petition is NOT re-filed.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Investigatory Olcharchy

Sometime around April 2007 the citizens of Marco Island contacted the US Attorney, the FBI and the Collier County Sheriff's office requesting an investigation into the dumping, staging, crushing and pulverizing of tons of asbestos on Marco Island. Along with the request, photographs, videos and witness statements were submitted.

Once the citizens' request was made public, the then City management under Moss/Reinke fell all over themselves claiming cooperation. The City propagandist went to work with the public. Councilor Tucker claimed that there was photographic evidence showing that it wasn't Quality Enterprise or any contractor, but three geriatric septuagenarians that dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos. The syndicate went to work denigrating, besmirching, ridiculing, berating and slandering everyone who even raised a word of concern. And more importantly, the City would conduct its own investigation.

As per Moss:

"Whether [sic] there is criminal conduct is a matter of an ongoing investigation by the Marco Island Police Department."

Like lemmings fitting into shinny metal boxes, we all fell into the belief that law enforcement would do the right thing.

Did it?

As we know by now, the City of Marco Island conducted an investigation. The results were – as published – "inconclusive".

The problem is that the investigation was not into who or what dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos on Marco Island – as we all thought – but the investigation was to determine if three specific individuals – Ed Forster, Butch Neylon and Ray Beaufort – placed asbestos fragments on what is now Veterans Park. Since these three mature/seasoned citizens could not have possibly done anything that the syndicate City's statists were attributing to them, they were rightly absolved.

But why didn't other law enforcement look into the matter? Or better yet, why didn't any law enforcement look into the obvious – who or what dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos on Marco Island?

Let's run down the usual suspects.

Moss/Reinke were called into a meeting by the FBI in Naples. They told the incredibly gullible (at best case) FBI agent Matt Chester that the complaints were coming from "a bunch of disgruntled old people with a lot of time on their hands". Agent Chester responded with, "That sounds good to me!" and that was that.

Aghast at the FBI's response, the Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Molloy was contact. He too was taken aback and suggested that the FBI's supervising agent Jerry Garcia be contacted. Several calls and letters to Agent Garcia were ignored.

The Collier County Sherriff's Office quickly withdrew. A Detective White was involved, but eventually a letter was issued stating that the Sherriff's office would get involved if asked … by the MIPD.

In just obtained documents from the MIPD and our favorite non-law enforcement agency the FDEP, we are now treated to an insight of what really happened.

In the MIPD report on this case, we confirm that the dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos on Marco Island was not investigated per se, but that the "placed" fragments were the focus of the investigation.

And in this very same report, we read the October 25, 2006 entry by the MIPD Detective Guerrero that the FDEP would not investigate:

"Regarding the current findings on site-C [the few pipe fragments], Harris [FDEP Investigator Dave Harris]stated that DEP would not be conducting an investigation, but if their assistance was needed they would be available."

But yet, in a report just obtained by the FDEP, we find this entry by the very same Dave Harris on the very same day of October 25, 2006:

"Detective Guerro [sic] has requested D.E.P. Law Enforcement's assistance with technical information. The case will be coordinated with Marco Island P.D. for further investigation."

And in a curiously undated "Case Summary", FDEP Investigator Harris writes:

"On February 1, 2007, I called Detective Guerro [sic] to see if she needed any assistance from DEP/Law Enforcement and she stated she did not."

Interesting how the MIPD did not need assistance from the State agency charged with investigating environmental crimes despite that on that very date they were still investigating the asbestos case.

So the MIPD states that the FDEP will not be conducting an investigation (FDEP will NOT be conducting an investigation), the FDEP states that MIPD requested assistance and that the case will be coordinated for further investigation (FDEP IS conducting an investigation), and the FDEP states that the MIPD did not need assistance from the FDEP (FDEP is NOT involved).

Here's the kicker: when we did a public records request of the FDEP we simply asked "who instructed Investigator Harris to NOT conduct an investigation as to any issue on Marco Island?" The FDEP provided the report, and with the report came this admission: "The Division of Law Enforcement has no documents specific to your request."1
Hence, per the FDEP there are no documented instructions to the FDEP Investigator Harris to NOT conduct an investigation.

Since the FDEP report is devoid of naming any FDEP supervisors, and the FDEP is contradictory (stating both that the MIPD did request assistance and did not need assistance) the only person mentioned not wanting FDEP investigation/assistance is the honorable Detective Guerrero (not Guerro as repeatedly mistyped in the FDEP report).

Somebody give this poor woman a raise since she seems to be directing the $1.5 billion FDEP annual budget.

Confused yet? How about this gem from the Collier County Sherriff:

So the FDEP was investigating the asbestos dumping. But wait, didn't Detective Guerrero report that FDEP Investigator Dave Harris stated that the FDEP was not investigating the asbestos dumping?

And a nice touch about former Chief Reinke, n'est pa? So the guy that was presumably ultimately responsible for the MIPD investigation into the asbestos dumping is potentially being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Perfect.

Is there any wonder, other than FDEP's Jon Inglehart's admission to "letting this one get away" why no Florida law enforcement agency actually, seriously, or even euphemistically looked into who dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos on Marco Island? Sans the details, which will now invariably appear like one of those moles in the Wack-A-Mole arcade game, don't all of these ersatz investigations seem to be weird?

And if cogent Marco Island citizens think this series of unfortunate events is ripe for some obscure fact to suddenly reveal itself, wait until they read the EPA documents on this whole sordid affair.

And speaking of a sordid affair, can anyone figure out why there is no mention whatsoever of Councilor Tucker being questioned by the MIPD during the investigation? After all, he claimed publicly that he had pictures of "those people" planting the asbestos. Wouldn't law enforcement want to ask a person who has photographic evidence of a crime under investigation … for the photographs? But yet, there is no mention of Councilor Tucker in the MIPD police report. (For the record, it was not until much later that the Councilor admitted to lying about the pictures.)

Perhaps we will never know who directed the FDEP to not investigate and to look the other way when those charged with not letting things get away let this one get away.

And just in case one forgot who purportedly cleaned up on the third go around of the dumped, staged, crushed and pulverized tons of asbestos on Marco Island that no law enforcement agency would prosecute and that the syndicate has been so far successful in burying (pun intended) – here is a picture to remind you …


References:
Marco Island Police Department Final Report

Florida Department of Environmental Protection – Inspector Dave Harris Asbestos Report

http://www.marconews.com/news/2009/nov/22/marco-building-inspectors-not-licensed-do-their-jo/

1. November 16, 2009 email from Michelle Rinkel, Crime Intelligence Analyst, Bureau of Operational Support and Planning, Division of Law Enforcement.

Notes:
Much appreciation to the MIPD for their professional and prompt attention to the request for the report, and for the follow-up conversations. And a thanks to the Office of the Ombudsman & Public Services of the FDEP.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Realism in Latest Education News

This week the Florida Department of Education treated parents in Collier County with a report denoting that the Collier County Learning Education Agency (a euphemism for the Collier County School Board) did not meet basic grade-level proficiency in reading and in arithmetic for four consecutive years. (click here for the letter)

The "proficiency level" is 65% for reading and 68% for arithmetic; meaning that based on some standardized test, in order for students to be considered "proficient", 65% of students have to read at their grade level, and 68% of students have to do arithmetic at their grade level. Collier County scored 61% and 66% respectively.

Let us put this in perspective.

First of all, shouldn't the goal should be that all students, 100% of them, be able to read and do arithmetic at their grade level? Apparently not in Florida.

Secondly, for the district to meet this "proficiency level", and therefore be able to pat itself on the back, it is acceptable for 35% of the students to not be able to read at their grade level, and it is acceptable for 32% of the students to not be able to do arithmetic at their grade level. Basically, if the district fails 1/3 of our students, they are doing a good job.

Thirdly, the metric by which this "proficiency" is measured, is none other than the FCAT. You know, that test that nearly all state university professors abhor as well as the majority of K-12 teachers, albeit the latter doing so privately.

And lastly in this disconcerting list of perspectives, consider the fact that failing 1/3 of students based on a questionable assessment is being meted out by a state that consistently ranks last amongst states in a country that ranks 18th out of 34 in primary education (K-12) of industrialized countries.

There is a mess beyond the pitifully low expectations resulting from Florida being governed as if in a perennial popularity contest.

In a 2009 study conducted by Education Week, Florida ranked 43rd out of the 50 states in graduation rates, reaching an abysmally low 60.8%. That's almost 40% of high school students who are not graduating in a state that only expects 2/3 of the students to read and do arithmetic at their grade level. Imagine if every student in Florida had to read and do arithmetic at their grade level in order to move on to the next grade: the graduation level would be even worse.

The 2008 American Legislative Exchange Council Report Card on American Education has Florida 48th in the nation in average composite scores on the ACT, a standard college entrance exam.

Even apparatchiks within the state of Florida's good 'ol boys network have recently sent warning signals. Just last month the Florida Chamber of Commerce issued a stern warning to the Florida educational ochlocracy: unemployment will get much worse if Florida education doesn't start focusing on science, technology and mathematics because tourism and real-estate flipping will no longer support us.

Contrast these independent reports and the seemingly endless list of objective studies decrying the State of Florida's education with the propaganda put forth by the state for consumption by the feel-good status quo. It is as if we are living in The Matrix.

For realists, the issue is and has always been to look beyond the propaganda and focus on what to do about this perennial sad state of affairs. Oddly, the solution has always been the simplest to put forth but yet the hardest to implement.

First, every citizen of Florida must realize that they have a stake in education. Our way of life as a representative republic depends on it. Need proof? Are you frustrated that so many people buy into the man-made global warming hoax, or that they think "flex-fuel" vehicles are good for the environment, or that the majority voted to rob the treasury? What does one expect when over 15% of Florida high school graduates upon entering college don't understand how to compute an average?

Secondly, can we stop setting mediocre standards? How can we expect our children to excel if we find it acceptable that 1/3 of all student can't read or do arithmetic at their grade level? For those of us that have actually taught in a classroom, we know quite well that the higher the expectations, the better the outcome. And for those of us that have actually taught in a classroom, we know quite well that the higher the expectations, the more flak we get from the administrative bureaucracy. Low expectation initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind contrivance now practically guarantee that in Florida we leave 1/3 to 40% of our students behind. What else is expected if the expectation is exactly just that?

Thirdly, more money is not the answer – the public education system is a bloated bureaucracy that wastes entirely too much time and money on programs that have nothing to do with the core curriculum, on initiatives that are aesthetically pleasing but intellectually vacuous, and at superficial machinations so as to thwart complaints from the rogue crank. The money is there – make it available to those that actually do the teaching, for the resources directly related to teaching and cut out the middlemen (or in the case of the educational Borg, the middlemillionmen.) This idea is not new – look at the success of the medical facilities that have doctors doubling as administrators.

Next, stop the blame game and take responsibility. The reason for a poorly performing educational system is not the unions or the minuscule few inept teachers or some bogeyman. Parents must become actively involved in the K-12 educational process by continually demanding the best from the best so that the education being provided is the best.

Lastly, if a rating must be provided, can it be one that is honest? Can it be one that is objective and not self-serving; namely not one generated by the state of Florida so it can rate itself? The complacency afforded by the self-serving rating systems must be put aside so that we all can take an objected stock of the K-12 situation. While everyone loves to hear about an A+++ rated this or that, or about a student that went on to a prestigious school or became a world-class athlete, we must realize that in Florida many are not so fortunate. (Besides, as Albert Einstein was apt to note, geniuses are not made and are lucky to survive school).

Can one imagine what would happen if there was a similar self-serving rating scheme by and for financial institutions … but wait, there was one … and it gave us the financial meltdown that gave us an economic debacle not seen since the Great Depression.

Let's stem the fast tide towards the educational debacle that is all too near.

1 Comments:

  • Our Island Schools have excellent ratings. TBE & Charter both. I am extremely pleased with the education my grandkids are receiving & I'm an ex-teacher. Other schools may need help, but I can't raise money for & worry about all of them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, November 16, 2009 12:36:00 PM  

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Police for Code Enforcement

Since the MIPD already issues citations for obstructing sidewalks and are called out for rental party houses, why not add disturbing the peace with noise pollution (see emails below)? And if so, why not transfer the code enforcement budget over to the police department? At the risk of appearing cynical, if a contractor knows that a guy with a gun is going to show up to inspect the new plumbing, you can rest assured that the plumbing will be completely code compliant. After all, somebody has to enforce the rules and regulations and laws ...

Attached are 2 emails regarding persistent
A/C noise in my side yard and pool deck. There was noise deadening material
applied to the inside of a stockade type fence surrounding the subject air
conditioner which eliminated the noise violation levels and this was the
condition when the new owners bought the property.

Some time after, they removed the foam which increased the noise above the
allowable levels and Eric had the foam put back. To improve privacy, they
installed a 6 foot plastic fence along the property line. A few months later
they again removed the noise deadening foam which increased the noise levels
beyond code coming over the fence in my side yard and our pool deck. Eric
has now refused to recognise the excessive noise which is at the same levels
he mitigated in the past.

Keeping in mind that their stockade enclosure can easily be increased in
length and width if circulation was an issue and that "ear level" for some
is above 6 feet and my pool deck is 1-2 feet above grade which certainly
puts the noise at my ear level, I believe the City has taken an unreasonable
position. When the issue was first considered by the City, Eric said the
noise code extended to the sky above the property line.

Code Compliance needs a complete overhaul (Olmstead, Wardle and the
boss,Thompson) in this city perhaps putting it in the hands of the police
where whims and personalities are less likely to influence decisions.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-
From: "Sam Shniper" 
To: "Eric Wardle"
Cc: "Pam" ,
"Steve Thompson" ,
"Steve Olmsted" ,
"Marco City Council"
Subject: Code Enforcement
Date: Sun, 8 Nov 2009 09:26:30 -0500

Eric,

The air conditioner noise, that both you and I measured at 1051 Bond, which
comes right over their fence, is 61dB at 6 foot 2 inches above ground level
at my property line. This is TWICE the allowable limit.

You have tried to enforce this code requirement three times and despite
achieving initial compliance each time, when you went away the noise
returned. Your efforts have failed due to the neighbor's resistance to
insulating and/or upgrading their equipment permanently. Since they bought
this property when it was in compliance, giving up is not the answer and is
not fair to the victims. This neighbor obviously has an issue with code
compliance which should be taken up by the Code Enforcement Board.

If the Chief of Code Compliance won't continue to enforce the City Code, we
will hire a lawyer to have action taken and will ask the City to encourage
their Code Compliance Chief to fulfill his code enforcement responsibilities
and not waste our money and the City's on lawyers.

Sam
-0-0-0-0-0-
From: "Eric Wardle" 
To: "Sam Shniper"
Cc: "Pam" ,
"Steve Olmsted" ,
"Steve Thompson"
Subject: RE: Report on your measurements yesterday
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 09:49:52 -0500

Mr. Shniper,

I have copied a couple sections of the City Code below.

Sec. 18-102. Intent and purpose.

It is the intent and purpose of this article to regulate uses and
activities in the city in such a manner as to prevent excessive noises,
which degrade the quality of life, disturb the public peace, and
jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city.
It is further the intent of this article to recognize that factors such
as the time of day, location (e.g. proximity to residences), necessity
of public projects for the public good, and necessity of sounds
incidental to allowed uses and activities must be considered in
balancing the protection of public peace and individual freedoms.

(9) Fans and air conditioners. Operating any noise creating fan or
blower, air conditioner, compressor unit, pool heaters, pool pumps, heat
pumps, or the electric motor or any engine used to drive such device,
the operation of which causes excessive and unnecessary noise, unless
such noise is muffled and deadened by adequate noise compression and
muffling devices to minimize annoyance and disturbance to persons within
range of hearing.

As you can see this is not a black and white issue. Your neighbor has
taken reasonable measures to buffer the sound of the AC, keeping in mind
the need to allow air circulation for protection of the pool pump and AC
compressor. In the previous incidents you refer to I never took a
measurement at the height of 7 feet. I took readings at ear lever on
the property line and the adjacent property owner installed buffering
devices to reduce the sound to an acceptable level. That has not
changed; taking a measurement at the same location there is no
violation, this case is closed.


Eric Wardle
Chief of Code Compliance
City of Marco Island
239-389-5060

-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Shniper [mailto:SamS10@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 8:16 AM
To: Eric Wardle
Cc: Pam; Steve Olmsted; Steve Thompson
Subject: RE: Report on your measurements yesterday

Mr Wardle,

Since we agree that the measured noise coming over the fence is again in excess of the City Code, similar to the excess noise which you have mitigated numerous times at this location in the past, what enforcement action have you taken this time to re-achieve compliance?

Sam Shniper
1061 Bond Ct.
-----Original Message-----

From: Eric Wardle [mailto:EWardle@cityofmarcoisland.com]
Sent: Monday, November 09, 2009 4:43 PM
To: Sam Shniper
Cc: Pam; Steve Olmsted; Steve Thompson
Subject: RE: Report on your measurements yesterday

Mr. Shniper,

The measurement I took during my inspection on November 5, 2009, was directly above the six foot fence located on the property at 1051 Bond Ct. Subsequently, I reviewed the building permit issued by the City for the installation of the fence and have discovered the fence was not installed on the property line. The fence was actually installed approximately 6 inches away from the property line. Therefore the reading obtained on the November 5, inspection was not actually at the property line. I can only acknowledge that the measurement at the property line was in excess of 55db when measured at a height of approximately 7 feet. The reading measured at a height of 6 feet at the property line was below 55db.

Eric Wardle
Chief of Code Compliance
City of Marco Island
239-389-5060
Eric

1 Comments:

  • Has anyone had unreasonable judgments from Code Compliance they would like to share? You could help reverse the arrogance.

    Citizens to Preserve Marco Island Zoning
    MarcoCitizen@Yahoo.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, November 12, 2009 7:55:00 PM  

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Council Supports Environmental Initiative

The City Council yesterday unanimously approved a motion to negate the City imposed inspection fees for septic-to-cistern conversion. Additionally, the City Council agreed to send a letter asking Collier County to abate the county's unilaterally imposed fee for the conversion.

This action by the City Council may seem small to some – it has not even been covered by the local media – but in reality it is a major step in demonstrating an environmental consciousness that all of us must have. Through this important initiative, the City can start to reclaim the high ground of being stewards of this fragile area.

Now it's up to the homeowners. There is a novel cistern design that requires no electrical and no plumbing. The City inspection fee has been waived upon successful installation. The City supports the idea. There is a contractor on the island willing and able. The cost is tenable. Each home is estimated to save thousands of gallons a year in water, and will stall some water runoff.

So to the homeowners still needing to decommission their septic tanks: do you just enjoy the environment or are you willing to also protect it?

We would like to thank Councilor Kiester for spearheading this initiative, the entire council for voting unanimously, and for the engineering staff under Mr. Joel for their invaluable advice and input.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Proof: Marco Island Violated Federal Law

In a just declassified email from the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to this blog's initiatives, two EPA criminal investigators state that the City of Marco Island violated the federal Clean Water Act.

In the very same document, the two investigators repudiate the City's ruse that the dumping of millions of gallons of toxic effluent into the waterways and into the Gulf of Mexico was done with a permit and therefore legal.

Background
Readers of this blog will recall that the City of Marco Island and its handlers in the syndicate had put forth the story that the City had a permit to dump toxic effluent into the waterways. Naturally, the majority of the City Council bought the story, as did the media and the "majority" of residents.

Those of us that could actually think knew something was amiss so we pursued the matter. We knew that something was not right given that serious law enforcement (read: NOT the FDEP) became engaged early on, and that there was no way a serious agency (read: NOT the FDEP) could permit toxic effluent to be dumped untreated into protected waterways.

Detail
It is unclear when exactly this occurred, but the City of Marco Island obtained a "permit" from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). When it became clear that the dumping millions of gallons of toxic effluent into the waterways was a problem, the City claimed that the "permit" from the SFWMD was sufficient legal authority to pollute the Gulf of Mexico.

Serious law enforcement got involved and then some back and forth started. The City attorneys got involved and argued that the SFWMD permit was everything the City needed.

The problem for the City came with the final word from the EPA: the SFWMD permit is insufficient as it is irrelevant, and the City of Marco Island was informed that it was violating the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA then started the criminal proceeding – (more details on these ongoing proceedings in future articles.)

(As it turns out, even the EPA investigators highlighted the fact that the SFWMD permit was merely for storm-water runoff and seemed amazed that the City would think anyone could believe such a bletcherous subterfuge.)

So what did the City of Marco Island and its attorneys do? Nothing – they left intact the deception that the City had a permit.

However, the cognizant citizen may have noticed that the City no longer dumps untreated toxic effluent into the waterways from their dewatering efforts – as they did at the beginning of the STRP.

Conclusion
The recently declassified document summarizes the above. Despite being heavily redacted, it is clear: the City of Marco Island and its attorneys knew they were violating the Clean Water Act, and were so informed.

Now we know two things: we now know why there are criminal proceedings at the EPA level. And now we know who the EPA is trying to protect (recall: "not embarrass") by refusing to declassify all of their documents [this battle continues by the way].

And Now What?
We are expanding our quest: will the EPA seek administrative and/or judicial penalties, and if so from whom? Or when will the EPA submit the violation of the Clean Water Act for prosecution, and who exactly will be prosecuted?

We continue the battle as to obtaining all documents. Round and round we go.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

FDEP Inspector General Engaged on Marco Abestos Dumping

The Inspector General of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been engaged to investigate the asbestos dumping on Marco Island and elsewhere.

Click here for the October 27, 2009 letter.

We trust that this time the investigation will go forward with honesty and integrity - as with the other two looking into the same matter.

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