This is a week of transition on our island. On November 30th, the resignation of Vice Mayor Summer Stockton became effective. She has served on council since March 2013. We thank her for her service, recognizing the effort required to serve as a council member. We do wish her final meeting had not ended prematurely with her walking out without comment, depriving council and the community of the opportunity to thank her for her service.
On Monday, the remaining four council members will consider choosing her replacement. I say consider because there is no guarantee that they will be able to successfully appoint a replacement. An appointment needs at least three votes. The history of this council would suggest a lot of 2-2 votes. We hope that is not the case. We need a full council.
We need a council person who is willing to come in fresh, without an agenda and without baggage. Someone who will approach decisions with a fair mind and a keen eye on how that decision will effect the entire town.
We’ve all seen enough of cronyism. What else would you call the ridiculous sidewalk to nowhere ostensibly approved to protect pedestrians walking on Palermo Circle near the Beached Whale? Had both sides of the street been addressed, it would have been less egregious, but the very busy parking lot of the convenience store directly across Palermo was never a part of the plan. According to the aerial view of the Palermo right of way, vehicles regularly park in the Palermo ROW at the convenience store, as well as the Whale, as is true of many commercial properties, including the Red Coconut RV Park. But it’s just the one business that the hammer dropped on.
The majority of this council approved the lease of that ROW to Red Coconut and couldn’t deny the Beached Whale request fast enough. They didn’t want to know how the Whale hoped to use the space or how they planned to address traffic issues in their parking lot.
Just say no – more than a catchy anti-drug slogan. Cronyism. Making decisions to benefit yourself or your friends or those you like or to punish those you don’t. Most would expect to find it in large cities, but it’s alive and well in small ones also. Beach residents have recognized it and are tired of it.
With this appointment Monday, council has the opportunity to signal a new direction, one where the good of the entire community is the focus of council decisions. One where residents, business-owners and taxpayers ALL feel that they are heard and their concerns respected.
Another transition occurring this month is the retirement of Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Bud Nocera. He’s not a guy to acknowledge his accomplishments and has often politely asked this newspaper to please put the focus of articles on the community or the businesses in the community rather than him. The article in today’s issue is a notable exception.
Yet he is responsible for pulling the Chamber out of a steep dive toward financial ruin and for leading the way to a stable and growing organization focused on supporting the Fort Myers Beach community and its businesses. Coming to our community with a strong history of tourism leadership, he never took his eye off the prize of a healthy economy for all beach businesses and therefore the entire community.
He was the target of a smear campaign, ironically led by the former Chamber members whose very “leadership” had put the Chamber’s finances in jeopardy, who then conveniently shredded most records. His decision to not engage and to instead focus on rebuilding the Chamber so that it could support beach businesses was a classy move and one that a true leader would recognize.
We join his many friends in our community is wishing him well in retirement and welcoming Jacki Liszak as she takes the reins of the Chamber as President.
Godspeed and Fair Winds!