Monday, September 28, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Phares Heindl

After the recent code enforcement hearings presided over by Special Magistrate Monty Lazarus the public responded favorably with letters to the editor and via the Marco Island Property Ownersnewsletter. Having recently watched the video replay of the hearing, I strongly agree that Magistrate Lazarus did an excellent job presiding over the code violation cases. He was decisive and impartial issuing no nonsense rulings while maintaining a judicial demeanor showing courtesy and respect to all parties involved.  While Council is to be commended for the shift to a magistrate enforcement system, give the performance of Mr. Lazarus, a former Marco Island citizen of the year, do we really need three Special Magistrates?

On December 1st, 2014 during a regular city council meeting after discussions were held and individual score sheets tallied; Robert Pritt, Myrnabelle Roche and Monte Lazarus were selected as Special Magistrates out of 11 applicants. The final tally in the selection process gave Robert Pritt 20 points, 14 points to Myrnabelle Roche and only 8 points to Monte Lazarus. Out of seven Councilmen only two, Larry Honig and Bob Brown provided any points to Mr. Lazarus. Councilman Hong wisely and presciently voted all of his points to Lazarus.  Without Honig’s “all in” vote for Mote Lazarus, the much acclaimed code enforcement hearing would not have taken place.

Of the three Special Magistrates, only Monty Lazarus is a resident of Marco Island.  Robert Pritt is from Naples and Myrnabelle Roche is from Pompano Beach.  Moreover, of the three, only Monty Lazarus presented a resume of public service to our Marco Island.  I am not sure why five of Councilmen gave no points to Monty Lazarus but it is not too late for Council to do the right thing and appoint Mr. Lazarus as the sole Special Magistrate for Marco Island.

The City’s announcement for Special Magistrate implied that there would be only one person selected for the position.  The official job posting, among other things stated “The special magistrate is a position that will require an estimated 10 hours per month. The rate of pay will be up to $175.00 per hour.”  When the selection process was over, however, there was not one magistrate who would appear monthly as implied by the job posting, Marco Island ended up with three Special Magistrates, one driving all the way from Pompano Beach just to hear a few code violation cases.  Marco Island would be better served with only one Special Magistrate. Having three Special Magistrates only induces unpredictability and possible inconsistencies into the process.  Monty Lazarus with a backup appointee or forum for conflict cases could easily handle Marco Islands light code enforcement case load.

Having witnessed outstanding performance of Special Magistrate Lazarus, I would urge City Council to revisit its appointments and appoint Mr. Lazarus as the sole Special Magistrate for Marco Island.

Phares Heindl

Marco Island

 

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