Fellow Friends and Supporters:
This is a difficult time for people in Lee county and all around the world. As a citizen of this county, elected official and a candidate for the BOCC, my #1 priority is the well-being of our citizens and our community.
I know we will all get through this together, but we must do what is necessary to ensure the safety of all of our residents. With this being said, I do not feel that our County Commission is taking all the steps necessary to ensure the safety of our community. Below is an article that I wrote that appeared in the News-Press on Monday, March 30th.
I was disappointed as I watched the Lee County Commission at its emergency meeting Tuesday.
Listening to a report from Lee Health on the status of the coronavirus and how it might be affecting hospitals in Lee County.
I was truly amazed that not one question was asked by our commissioners to Dr. Larry Antonucci (President and CEO of Lee Health)
as to what additional steps he would suggest be taken to help reduce the negative impact of coronavirus on Lee County residents.
This is not the time for delay and indecision. This is the time for our county commissioners to take the bold steps, even if they are hard,
to make sure every possible action is undertaken to protect the health and safety of every Lee County resident.
It is unfortunate that they are allowing another five days go by before even considering whether further steps should be taken to protect the lives of county residents. I hope the price we pay for their inaction is not too great.
I urge our County Commission to decide Monday to pass a “sheltering in place” order and any other measures suggested by our medical experts to ensure the protection of Lee residents.
The emergency meeting came and went with no new action on the part of the Commission. I believe in a Commission that is strong enough to make the hard decisions to protect residents, which is why I am running for District 3.
I feel strongly about this issue and the safety of our residents, and I want everyone to share this message as it is imperative for people to know what is going on in their county. I wish everyone the best and hope you continue to stay safe.
The number one issue in southwest Florida today and every day is water – water – water.
Everyone is for clean water! Every political figure will say they want to make our water clean again. We have been fortunate that over the last 5 years many local elected officials (including myself) have actively advocated for additional federal and state funding to get water quality improvements moving more quickly. During the last year, we have finally seen the federal and state governments funding the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects at the levels they must be at to really make a difference.
But that is not all that must be done. We must take responsibility for doing what we can to reduce the pollution that we are causing to our waterways locally. We must make sure that we do everything possible to make sure we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Lee County government has a very well thought out Fertilizer ordinances that should minimize the amount of nitrogen pollution we allow into our waterways. The problem is that over the last 5 or 6 years there has been next to no educational outreach to contractors or residents and little or no enforcement to ensure that what is supposed to happen actually. The County must once again adopt an educational outreach program to educate the users of fertilizes as to what must be done and why. The county must also embark on an active enforcement program to ensure that everyone is abiding by the regulations to ensure that we are not adding to the pollution problem.
Lee County has many tens of thousands of septic tanks. Many of these systems are old and no one knows how many of them are operating efficiently. At a bare minimum, we must work to get a system implemented that would require owners of septic systems to have them inspected periodically, and repaired or replaced if necessary. That way, we can be assured that we are not inadvertently dumping pollutants into our waterways. In the long term, the County should reinstate prior efforts to convert, wherever it is feasible, septic tanks to modern sewer systems.
Conservation 20/20 Program
The Conservation 20/20 program has been approved by the voters of Lee County twice at the ballot box. It was established to provide for funding to buy environmentally sensitive lands and to maintain them so that we the residents could preserve a good portion of our natural lands to protect preserve our environment, the land itself, our native wildlife, and natural protection for our water quality.
This program worked extremely well for decades, with funds coming from our taxes (up to 35 million per year) being put into a dedicated fund.
A few years ago the County Commissioners decided unilaterally to take money from the dedicated fund and put it into the general fund. With this move, the county can spend our money, that we agreed to tax ourselves and spend it any way they want to.
This is not what we the taxpayers expected.
I believe that all the money that we pay into the fund (.5 mil) should go into a dedicated fund (the way it used to ) and stay there just for the purchase and maintenance of environmentally sensitive lands.
I am not opposed to growth, but growth should always be planned and we should always have the infrastructure (roads, schools, parks) in place BEFORE the growth occurs. We must stop this high-density development, in environmentally sensitive lands. We must stop this out of control growth. We must start demanding smart growth focusing on infill rather than sprawl. That is not what is happening now and we must stop what we are doing or before we know it we will become another east coast and lose the quality of life that we moved here for.
You've probably seen it: the you-tube posting by young men at a traffic light taking a table, chairs out of their trunk, setting up, dealing and playing a game of Uno, then folding their cards, table, and chairs, returning to their vehicle and waiting another minute for the light to change. Amusing but not funny. This scene is a result of the sprawl that has become a given in this development-devoted Board of County Commissioners. That's why I'm not only RUNNING but RACING for a seat on the Commission. This sprawl needs to stop for a plan.
Lee County ranks in the top 10 most dangerous Florida communities to walk, bike and drive. Our County ranks number 8 of the most dangerous U.S. cities for pedestrians and number 8 in Florida for car accidents.
It isn't going to get better until we manage growth.
They're called IMPACT fees because that's what they do. IMPACT our citizens by clogging roads, crowding classrooms (resulting in last year's sales tax approval) and stressing our present water/sewer systems. Because this present County Commission has kept impact fees at 45 percent (cost of impact), we have lost $147 million to date ~ which would have paid enough for new classrooms to alleviate the need to ask for tax increase. And we would have some funds for infrastructure projects such as roads.
County Commissioners say the present percentage assures growth but Collier County kept its impact fees intact and their growth exceeds Lee County's. Must be because they have collected funds for quality of life issues in Collier. I support impact fees returning to 100 percent of costs for growth. And for quality of life issues.
The DR/GR (Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource) is 83,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands in Southeast Lee County. It was established by the state and the County to protect our water supply and water quality as well as protect against overcrowding. In 2007 the Board of County Commissioners initiated a major planning effort. This effort that took almost 2 years and coast over one and half million dollars and involved many citizens committees resulted in the Dover Kole report.
This report confirmed the need to keep the area with very low-density development (1 home for every 10 acres of uplands and 1 home for every 20 acres in wetlands) and established a very defined area for mining (map 14) (the Alico corridor) where new mines would be allowed to request zoning approval. Additional areas would not be allowed until and if a need was proven.
Lee County citizens overwhelming supported Map 14 in 2010 which kept mining in designated areas and was court-approved. This County Commission dismantled this citizen initiative and court-approved map. Map 14 was deliberately and systematically removed from the Lee Plan which not only restricted mining to designated areas in order to protect future water supplies but protected homeowners who had built-in areas off-limits to mining.
Commissioners, explaining their determination to remove this protection, said ~ with a straight face: "this act is to eliminate legal liabilities and to streamline the Plan."
Just days after Map 14 was deleted from Lee Plan, the Commissioners approved Troyers Brothers' 907-acre rock mine in an environmentally sensitive area of Southeast Lee County.
I spoke against this assault to our water supply and the insult to our citizens who purchased homes with the understanding that it was residential. Said one resident: The noise, dust, and blasting will negatively impact our quality of life for the time we have left on earth.
And the commissioners were silent.