Sunday, July 1, 2018

Local News in Review - June 2018

Here’s this month’s review of news about our elected local officials and governing bodies, and an update on the local August 28 elections.

Top Stories

  • Dwight Brock, longtime Collier clerk of courts, dies at 64. The pugnacious watchdog for Collier County taxpayers took on developers, businessmen and politicians over his 26-year career. Naples Daily News, 6/12/18
    • Related: Gov. Rick Scott appoints deputy clerk Crystal Kinzel to be interim clerk. Naples Daily News, 6/20/18
  • Evolution, climate change skeptics lose battle over Collier science textbooks in 2-3 vote. School Board member Erika Donalds said, “The theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution can be taught alongside each other without violating the Constitution.” Naples Daily News, 6/19/18
    • Related: Florida Citizens Alliance is taking legal action to force school boards to “follow the law.” Florida Citizens Alliance, 6/19/18
  • Collier remains an A-rated district; tied for third-highest in the state, despite over two weeks of cancelled classes due to Hurricane Irma. Naples Daily News, 6/27/18
  • County commissioners conditionally approve Marco Island ambulance application. Marco voters must approve additional taxes to pay for it, and the City must agree to not seek reimbursement of ad valorem taxes it currently pays to the county for services. Naples Daily News, 6/26/18
    • Related: Commentary: Support proposed ambulance service. By Dr. Jerry Swiacki, Chairman, Our City Our Ambulances, via Naples Daily News, 6/11/18
    • Related: LTE: Vote against ambulance referendum. By Marvin L. Easton, Naples, via Naples Daily News, 6/7/18
  • Judge won't look at Naples ethics panel question in time for ballot spot. City Council voted to let a judge decide whether the referendum would appear before voters. Naples Daily News, 6/15/18
    • Related: Naples officials: PAC declined way to resolve dispute over ethics panel. “We've been bending over backwards to try to expedite the process,” Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke said. Naples Daily News, 6/21/18

Growth and development

  • First public meeting held on Rural Lands West, a new town being built in eastern Collier County. The project will go before the county's Planning Commission for approval this fall, then to County commissioners for a final decision. Naples Daily News, 6/4/18
    • Related: Commentary: Rural Lands West – The Conservancy’s perspective. By Nicole Johnson, environmental policy director, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, via Naples Daily News, 6/2/18
    • Related: Editorial: Collier’s interior road needs a long-lingering question. Naples Daily News, 6/5/18
  • Collier sports complex design contract OK'd, with shift to more multipurpose fields. The planned $70 million sports complex northeast of Collier Boulevard and I-75 will have 16 multipurpose fields, up from the originally-proposed eight. Naples Daily News, 6/12/18

Fees and taxes

  • Collier sales tax hike debated at public forum. Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Dalby spoke FOR the tax; Collier County Republican Executive Committee chairman Ron Kezeske spoke AGAINST. Naples Daily News, 6/11/18
    • Related: Editorial: Mental health center a beneficial part of sales tax proposal. Naples Daily News, 6/9/18
    • Related: LTE: Candidate opposes 1 percent sales tax increase. By Stephen Jaron, Naples, Candidate, Collier County Commission District 4, via Naples Daily News, 6/9/18
  • North Collier Fire District board OKs new fee for August ballot. If approved by voters, the district still would have the option not to assess it, and could revisit whether to levy it every year as it considers its budget needs. Naples Daily News, 6/21/18
    • Related: North Collier Fire proposal would raise fees for many businesses. Naples Daily News, 6/7/18
    • Related: Commentary: Don’t give North Collier Fire District a blank check. The assessment fee calculation methodology is seriously flawed. By Janet Vasey, local government adviser, via Naples Daily News, 6/10/18
  • Collier commissioners postpone vote on proposed tax for repairs to private rural roads. An ordinance championed by Commissioner Bill McDaniel would create a municipal services taxing unit to fund repairs of private rural roads that have become inaccessible to emergency responders. Naples Daily News, 6/26/18

Other County news

  • Mental health, drug addiction care needs discussed at Collier workshop. A $26 million centralized receiving facility was the first of seven priorities detailed at a workshop organized by Commissioner Andy Solis. Naples Daily News, 6/5/18
  • Medical pot dispensaries: After Collier's unusual way to ban them, questions remain. Collier officials said their ban took effect when commissioners couldn't muster a supermajority in a vote to add dispensaries as an allowed use in the county's land development code. Naples Daily News, 6/2/18
  • Public use of Vanderbilt Beach protected under new ordinance. But Commissioner Andy Solis, the sole dissenting vote, said it might create problems where there hadn’t been any before. Naples Daily News, 6/26/18
    • Related: Why Collier County is protecting its public beaches from new state law. NBC-2, 6/21/18
  • Brent Batten: Collier officials revive idea of acquiring Golden Gate golf course. Naples Daily News, 6/14/18
  • Commissioner Bill McDaniel asks for proposal on bear-resistant trash cans. The state budgeted $500,000 for BearWise funding for 2018-2019. nbc-2.com, 6/13/18
  • Youth football event contract ok’d. But members of the county’s Tourist Development Council question the county’s return on the $512K investment and if the event is the right fit for Naples. Naples Daily News, 6/13/18

City of Naples

  • Judge sides with City on parking credits dispute. The challengers had argued the decision would allow the redevelopment of the Olde Naples Building off Third Street in a way that would put the burden of its parking on nearby property owners. Naples Daily News, 6/26/18
  • Public access to beaches behind homes supported by new City ordinance. The defense would be used if a property owner thinks the City is illegally using his or her beach and sues. Naples Daily News, 6/6/18
  • Mural proposed for Gordon River underpass in Naples to tell SWFL history. The design, by local artist Juan Diaz, will be considered by the City’s Public Art Advisory Committee in August. Naples Daily News, 6/26/18

City of Marco Island

  • Commentary: Marco Island might lower communications tax. Unincorporated Lee and Collier Counties, the City of Bonita Springs, Estero and Everglades City have lower rates than the City of Marco Island. By Jared Grifoni, Chairman, Marco Island City Council, via Naples Daily News, 5/29/18

Collier County Public Schools

  • CCPS beats Florida average on standardized tests. The district improved its scores in every science category. Naples Daily News, 6/15/18
  • Commentary: Putting a cap on another year of Collier district’s success! Students received a record $41 million in scholarships, and Golden Gate High School had its first-ever acceptance and full scholarship offer to Harvard, among other highlights. By Kamela Patton, Superintendent, via Naples Daily News, 6/8/18
  • School Board allocates $1.26 million to Marco Island Academy charter school. The funds, to be used for capital construction and additional safety features, represent a portion of the expected proceeds from the sale of an 11.6-acre parcel known as Tract K to the Marco Island Eagle Sanctuary. Naples Daily News, 6/14/18
  • Editorial kudos: School Board made right call in reconsidering “risk assessment” decision. It reversed course in a 4-1 vote that gives an auditing firm and district staff two years to look at management of district contracts. Naples Daily News, 6/22/18
  • Editorial: Collier leaders set right tone on school resource officers. As we advocated, County Commissioners, Marco Island City Councilors and the Sheriff’s Office are getting trusted staff members together to work out a cost-sharing agreement to include in their next budgets. Naples Daily News, 6/27/18

Local elections

The last qualifying period for candidates wishing to run in 2018 elections ended on June 22. See the complete slate of candidates running for county and local elections on the Supervisor of Elections website here and those running for state and federal elections on the Florida Division of Elections website here.

Candidate news of note:
  • Donald Berry files papers to run against interim Collier clerk Crystal Kinzel. Since both are Republicans and there are no other challengers, the August primary will be open to all Collier voters and will determine the outcome. Naples Daily News, 6/21/18
  • Collier teacher Victor Dotres exits School Board race, endorses Jennifer Mitchell. Mitchell, a former Naples Park Elementary teacher, and repeat School Board candidate Kathy Ryan are in the running for the District 2 seat now held by Erika Donalds. Naples Daily News, 6/22/18
  • Jory Westberry, candidate for School Board District 4, was unopposed. She will assume the seat held by Kelly Lichter in November.
Several other offices up for election in 2018 were uncontested, including two of three County Judge seats, one of three Mosquito Control District seats, all three Soil & Water Conservation District seats, one of three Greater Naples Fire District seats, all three Immokalee Fire District seats and most community development district seats.

That's it for local news in June. Next up: the month's state news in review. Stay tuned!
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