Sunday, October 21, 2018

An Educated Voter Won’t Be Fooled

EDITORIAL & OPINION
More Straight Talk


The discourse on the American political scene continues to spiral to depths not seen since the Joseph McCarthy Era of the ‘50s. A time in our history we should have all prayed would never return.

These changes to the climate of civility and reasonable discourse within our society cannot be tolerated by those who believe in the principles that this great nation was built upon. It threatens both Republicans and Democrats, leaving many to wonder whether we can recover.

The recent revelations that Congress has shelled out $17.2 million in the last 20 years in what has been described as “hush money” to settle sexual harassment suits and other infractions of workplace rules is sickening. These monies belong to you, the American taxpayer and the abusers should be dismissed immediately and be responsible for paying from their own pockets.

Uncorroborated allegations of wrongdoing or deliberate distortions of the truth to acquire political advantage should also be dealt with in forceful fashion. We see it everyday throughout this nation and even here locally.

Bullies don’t exist just within our schools or on our playgrounds, they are present throughout our entire society and its time we expose the lies and distortions within our communities, as well as at the highest levels of government.

I will never forget the frenzied calls to “save our park” two years ago when elections were held for city council. That popular cry was born from the intentional creation of a false narrative which claimed a developer was looking to build a hotel in Veterans Community Park. Nothing could have been further from the truth. To be quite blunt, it was an outright lie.

Yes, a developer wanted to build on a parcel across the street from the park. The developer wanted to build on the property he owned. He needed to acquire additional density credits that would have made his project financially viable. To do so he was willing to purchase those credits from the city for approximately $3 million. That money would have been utilized to construct the capital improvements envisioned for the park.

Improved parking around the perimeter of Park Avenue, Joy Circle and Elkcam was part of that plan. In addition to that city would be adding additional shade trees, a bandshell, improved lighting around the park and state of the art restroom facilities.

Those improvements could have been constructed by the developer on behalf of the city, and according to the community’s desire. Another option would have the developer simply provide the city with a check for the necessary improvements and the municipality would contract separately for the improvements.

Striking fear into the hearts of residents by misrepresenting the facts and having them believe they would be losing their park provided those with a hidden agenda the necessary issue to convince residents that they were in danger of losing Veterans Community Park, an important community asset. That was a misrepresentation of the truth, or what many of us simply call a lie.

Fast forward another two years and we find islanders deluged with unsolicited emails and unwelcomed blasts from anonymous sources. They continue to engage in similar slanderous misrepresentations of the facts in an effort to cloud election issues.

Who you vote for in this election is your business, no one else’s. However, I want you to know the truth and dispel any of these falsehoods that are circulating around the island by those pushing their own political agendas.

Apart from the possible construction of a bandshell or new restrooms there are NO plans to build any other buildings on what is known as Veterans Community Park.

Anyone that is telling you they are going to cut your water bill in half is not telling you the truth. We produce clean water and treat wastewater as efficiently as any other utility in the State of Florida. The cost that drives your water bill up is directly related to the fact we had to borrow huge sums of money to refurbish a dilapidated utility which was falling apart. The truth was we paid too much for it, saddling rate payers with huge utility bills.

Another fear tactic involves the building of a parking deck. No one is proposing to build a multi-deck parking facility at Veterans Community Park. It’s just not true, and others are misrepresenting the truth about this issue.

However, as part of a wide-ranging discussion on how to improve parking that concept was discussed, but the Parks and Recreation Committee is recommending the improvements around the perimeter of the park instead of a parking garage.

Taxes as relates to providing the services provided by the City of Marco Island to Marco residents are some of the lowest in the state. Take a close look at your tax bill and compare the Marco portion of your bill to the remainder of the other categories for which taxes are collected.

Like everything in life, we can always strive be better at what we do, but you won’t get there with a negative attitude and failing to seek out the truth, rather than listening to naysayers.

One of the quotes that is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln reads, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Go to the polls this year as an educated voter and your vote will go a lot further when you are in possession of the facts.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com

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