By Steve “Stef” Stefanides
For over a year now Councilman Joseph Batte has sat quietly awaiting a review of three ethics complaints brought against him by the former owner’s wife of a home that was the subject of numerous complaints by Batte and other neighbors due to excessive noise.
Ms. Tracy Calvert, the wife of Brian Spina, the former owner of the property utilized as a rental and located at 300 Capistrano Court, and Mr. Keith Perry, a friend of Mr. Spina, alleged that Batte had misused his position to direct members of the Marco Island Police Department to engage in enforcement actions against the Spina property.
They further found no basis to a claim that Batte had misused his office for enhancements to his own property. Batte had requested that the city attend to a problem with an “outflow pipe” for storm drainage that was the city’s responsibility to maintain. The deterioration of that pipe was degrading the seawall integrity on the Batte property.
The commission also went on to void a compliant against Batte that he used influence over the Chief of Police to address a parking citation. They found no probable cause to support to allegations.
Batte had also been accused of requesting extra patrols around his residence. “That claim was a bit outlandish. Many of our residents call into us if they are going to be gone for an extended period of time and we are glad to have that information and make the occassional extra patrol and have the contact information for when they are gone,” said Marco Police Chief Al Schettino.
Schettino himself had been cleared earlier this summer of similar complaints made by the Spinas to the Ethics Commission. The Commission found there was no basis for those charges either.
“It disgusts me that these individuals had their good names and reputations dragged through the mud and had the system used to cloak the real intent of these charges. It further bothers me that one of our own councilors chose to further inflame the situation by playing to the press regarding this issue,” said Council Chairman Bob Brown when he heard of the ruling by the Ethics Commission.
“Needless to say I am relieved by the findings, but I am very concerned that the system can be used this way. The events of over a year ago couldn’t have come at a worse time for me, as we as a family were dealing with a horrific personal tragedy in our own lives, and I am not sure I will ever fully heal from some of the hateful things that were said and inferred,” commented Councilman Batte.
The city has been proactive in more effectively dealing with noise complaints and other quality of life issues in an effort to insure residents are not disturbed within neighborhoods.