Now that Jacqueline McMiller has withdrawn, the mayor of Fort Myers is set to keep the job for four more years without an election – and our city’s housing crisis will continue.
Mayor Anderson’s campaign website promises that he will “improve our neighborhoods so that property values increase.” What does that mean for folks already struggling to afford housing? Most likely, it will soon be time for them to find somewhere cheaper to live and move on.
The mayor touts formation of task forces to address affordable housing and homelessness as two of his key achievements, but increasing property values lead to increases in rent, taxes, insurance and maintenance, which doesn’t help affordability or homelessness.
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Anderson claims that high property prices “benefit the homeowner, the surrounding community, and the city as a whole.” While the city certainly benefits – higher property values mean higher taxes – and so do some home sellers, the benefits to homeowners and the community are less clear. Taxes and insurance are up, and the people being displaced from Fort Myers by high housing costs include valued community members who will be missed. There are also costs to both the community and businesses caused by worker shortages when low-wage employees can no longer afford to live nearby, making hiring and keeping staff harder.
Sara Goldstein, Fort Myers
No high THC pot shops in Collier
I was horrified to hear that some on the Collier Commission want to take off the ban on vending THC products here.
Most are unaware that if the ban is taken off, localities cannot limit the number of places selling THC laden pot.
Shops in Collier can sell CBD (the non-high component with most of the medical properties) and give out the marijuana cards. Then patients can get statewide delivery of all pot products to their homes, so no one is being denied.
The problem is, many pot shops in counties that do not have the ban sell up to 100 percent THC – which is called “shatter” – the most extreme drug dealer pot. Others sell Delta 8 high THC pot without a doctor’s permission due to a loophole. Wild claims of safety and cures are made without proof.
We are in the midst of an epidemic of teens vaping high THC pot, so now is NOT the time to let in a limitless number of high THC shops in Collier. Let the state fix the problems with these shops first.
Kate Ramsey, Naples
Our democracy is fragile
I taught government and history for over 30 years. Watching the Jan. 6 Capitol events unfold, I felt horror thinking this was the end of our democracy. Brave Capitol Police were outnumbered and pleaded for reinforcements that didn’t come for hours. Our Capitol was breached on four sides. The mob broke windows, stormed offices, trashed the Rotunda and Senate chamber. Trump and Confederate flags and bear spray were used as weapons against Capitol Police. Our congressmen and senators fled. A noose was erected. Chants to get Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi echoed through the halls.
My mind flashed back to the history of the 1933 German Reichstag (parliament) attack and fire. Hitler and his Nazis then formed a dictatorship with horrifying consequences. That attack and this looked shockingly alike.
After hours of mob violence, I was grateful for the courage of our vice president to call Congress back in session and resume the electoral certification. I was appalled by the legislators who voted against certification of the election. The blatant violation of their oath of office to our Constitution was on full display.
Our democracy is fragile. How fragile it is was illustrated by the terrorist events of Jan. 6. Only through the courage of those who upheld their constitutional oath, Jan. 7 dawned with our Constitution and our democracy still standing. We all have a responsibility to defend that democracy with our vote, voicing our concerns to legislators, and allowing a free press to survive.
Linda Russell, Lehigh Acres
Constitutional questions regarding abortion
As the Supreme Court considers new restrictions on abortions, I hope they will consider only the constitutional questions. Abortion legalization isn’t a religious debate because no religion has a right to use the government to impose their religious beliefs on someone of a different faith. That’s the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment specifically protects all persons from unwarranted search or seizure of any kind. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under law.
Since no Pro-Life supporter can show direct personal harm, how can we then suffer our government to decide the spiritual boundaries of a woman seeking an abortion? If the Constitution says the government absolutely can’t tell anyone what they can keep in their gun cabinet, how is it then justified that the government absolutely must tell women, and only women, what they can keep in their body? To put the government in control of a woman’s womb is the most unwarranted of searches and seizures.
Having seized the contents of the woman’s womb, will the government fairly pay the mother for her lost working time and labor? Will our taxes have to pay the total life cycle cost of raising the child in government custody? We can’t take constitutional rights away from only women, in some states, or at some times.
Scott Lee Dozier, North Fort Myers
Our 401K is now a 201K
Locally, the smell of a recession is upon us. While not officially a recession, needing two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the gas stations, the grocery stores, the restaurants, and the beaches tell us something different. Aside from the seasonal people leaving, the traffic is unusually soft, the restaurants are eerily empty and the beach looks like red tide is back. Memorial Day boating was visibly missing, yes, boaters.
While our local economy leans heavy on tourists, our growth should be shielding us from a slowdown but the visitors have decided to stay home and the locals have decided precious dollars are best spent chasing baby formula and tampons. The stock market looks like a graph from 1929 and even our great weather cannot lift the fog of a recession.
In my lifetime, the years of 1960, 1973, 1979-1980, 1999, 2009, and now 2019-2022, the recessions and down turns in the economy feel like a Roadrunner cartoon. Every time the coyote seems to get ahead, an anvil drops on its head. After 2009, the feeling for retirees was we cannot survive another downturn. Retirees do not have the time to recoup lost investments, afford sky high gas prices and empty shelves.
Our government seems to have lost the desire to create and sustain a healthy economy. We have sold our souls to the Chinese, and climate addicts, we huddle from fear over Iran having a nuclear weapon but mostly, we fear our 401K is now a 201K. We can’t take this anymore.
Jack Holt, Cape Coral
Thanks to Gov. DeSantis
To Gov. DeSantis, your dedication and effort to turn around previous inequitable water policies have finally come to fruition. Your veto of SB2508 required extraordinary courage and a willingness to resist a state Legislature accustomed to receiving financial stipends from entrenched sugar interests. Sadly, when the issue of clean water is at stake, these Sugarcrats consistently ignore the best interests of their respective communities and vote to represent their paymasters.
You, on the other hand, have steadfastly remained true to your visionary Executive Order 19-12 that clearly spelled out your commitment to clean water. With your veto, you have ensured that science and common sense will govern Lake Okeechobee management and guarantee that the Army Corps and the SFWMD will not be subjected to political interference and micro-legislative oversight.
My hope is that our local politicians finally get the clean water message: toxic-algae-laden water is bad for business, community residents, wildlife and the tourists that support local economies. Gov. DeSantis gets the message and has clearly stated: “Water quality in this state is a top priority.” He demonstrated his commitment by vetoing SB2508, now it’s up to us, the public, to keep a watchful eye on our errant politicians and expose the selfishness of the Sugarcrats.
Joe Orndorff, Sanibel
Minority rule in United States
Recently I heard an interview with a University of Texas Law School professor regarding the current state of the U.S. Supreme Court. I now understand that the Federalist Society and the Electoral College have brought about a very conservative U.S. federal court system, starting with the district courts and ending with the Supreme Court.
Anyone who has a decent understanding of the Electoral College in presidential elections already knows that two of the last four presidents took office without having won the popular vote. This allowed minority-elected presidents to appoint five of the nine currently sitting Supreme Court justices. The current court has six conservative justices and only one of those six was appointed by a president (G.H.W. Bush) who had the support of a majority of the voters. The average age of those justices, when appointed, was 51 years, so it is likely that most of these conservative justices will serve on the court for 30 years. All six of the conservative justices on today’s court are current or former members of the Federalist Society.
Since its founding in the early years of the Reagan administration, the Federalist Society has played a major role in identifying conservative law students at the prestigious law schools that are the training grounds for future Supreme Court nominees. The Federalist Society, with funding from some of the most conservative foundations in the country, has played a key role in every district and Supreme Court nomination put forth by Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump.
Also during the Reagan administration, Congress passed a law eliminating the automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court of certain cases. The remaining avenue to have a case pleaded in front of the the Supreme Court is through a writ of certiorari, meaning at least four sitting justices need to agree to put the case on the Supreme Court’s official docket.
Until President Trump nominated and Sen. McConnell rushed through the confirmation of Justice Coney Barrett to fill the open seat following the death of Justice Bader Ginsburg, there was a five-to-four, conservative-to-liberal split on the court. That meant that either the liberal or the conservative justices could grant a writ of certiorari so that the plaintiffs would have their day in court.
Today, with a six-to-three conservative-to-liberal split, the conservative majority can fill the docket with cases that allow the Supreme Court to find in favor of conservative positions. When coupled with the conservative, and in some cases radical, agenda of the Federalist Society to litigate cases that more firmly move the legal apparatus of the U.S. government to the right, the prospects for protecting voting rights, marriage equality, civil rights, gender equality, reasonable gun safety legislation, access to birth control, and academic freedom (just to name a few areas) is in severe jeopardy.
In five of the last six elections the Republican Party has lost the popular vote yet the Republican minority-elected administrations have appointed two-thirds of the current Supreme Court justices. It is time to reconsider both how we elect the president and the lifetime appointments to the federal courts.
John H. Wolfe, Fort Myers
Representing, advocating for children
The Guardian ad Litem Office is thankful to have received funding to achieve the goal of 100 percent representation of children in the Florida dependency court system. The Guardian ad Litem Office represents and advocates for these children utilizing a team approach model that includes an attorney, trained staff and volunteers. The team works together to represent the child at every court hearing and advocate for the child in all areas of the child’s life, such as medical, education and normalcy. We do this with the overall objective to move the child to permanency, whether by reunification with the child’s parents or, if not possible, with the most appropriate, stable, loving home for that child. Our trained advocates spend quality time with their children and contact all critical persons in the child’s life: their caregivers, teachers, and medical providers. They listen to the child’s expressed wishes. Sometimes the wish is to go home, which may not be in their best interest. Other times, we can facilitate the wish, such as sibling visitation. Often, the relationships with the Guardian ad Litem Office advocates are some of the safest, stable and consistent relationships with a trusted adult these children have. As a staff member and a former volunteer, I can say that I have cried tears of joy at both reunifications and adoptions of children – celebrating that they are now safe and home.
Stephanie Burns, Naples
Best approach for representation
As a Guardian ad Litem attorney, I am compelled to comment on the flaws of the opinion pieces published by the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tampa Bay Times. On June 14, both these papers published misguided op-eds misleading Floridians about the representation of abused and neglected children. The Florida Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Office represents abused and neglected children through the GAL Multidisciplinary Team. This approach was found to be the best representation approach for children involved in abuse and neglect proceedings in a study commissioned by the United States Congress in P.L. 100-294, 102 Stat 102 (April 25, 1988).
Fact: Florida children have the lowest average length of time in foster care.
Fact: Florida has the lowest percentage of children in foster care over five years.
Fact: Florida has the highest percentage of children adopted from foster care by relatives.
Fact: Florida has the lowest length of stay in foster care for children waiting to be adopted.
The Florida Guardian ad Litem Office achieves these results using best practices including:
â€¢ Early appointment of a Guardian ad Litem
â€¢ Attorneys at every hearing
â€¢ Ongoing training for attorneys
â€¢ Reporting the child’s wishes to the court
â€¢ Pro Bono partnerships with hundreds of attorneys around the state.
Why is guardianship representation best?
â€¢ All information about the child is given to the court
â€¢ Recognizes the child’s limitations and advocates as a reasonable parent would
â€¢ Regular communication with the child resulting in established relationships
â€¢ Better outcomes for permanency, education, and contact with law enforcement
Why is child-directed attorney representation risky?
â€¢ It does not recognize the limitations of the child and requires the child to make adult decisions
â€¢ Only the information the child agrees to release is given to the court even if sharing the information would prevent harm to the child
â€¢ Attorneys are merely recommended by the American Bar Association to interact with the child once every four months
â€¢ Children are more likely to interact with law enforcement and spend more time in foster care.
I thank Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his ongoing commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable children. Gov. DeSantis has approved over $400 million in funding for the well-being of Florida children and their families including Title IV-E funding to increase Guardian ad Litem Office representation to 100 percent of all abused and neglected children.
Alicia L. Guerra, B.C.S., Fort Myers
Conscience, common sense not the issues
In the wake of the recent mass shootings, Joe Biden said, “The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense” as he moves for more gun restrictions. Conscience and common sense probably have a different meaning to people who experience violence in their cities each day. Voters notice that in the cities with high daily gun violence also have some of the strictest gun laws. Criminals don’t pay attention to these laws. Black people have noticed this too.
Gun sales have surged in recent years, but blacks have been the leaders in buying guns. A survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation indicates that retailers reported that they sold 58 percent more guns to black customers in the first half of 2020 than in the same timeframe in 2019. Personal protection is a key reason why people buy a firearm. In a 2021 Gallup survey, 88 percent of respondents said they own a gun “for protection against crime.”
Violent crime is up, homicides in major cities have reached levels not seen in years, misdemeanor crimes are not prosecuted and liberal politicians have treated the police like criminals. These actions have added to the many societal issues we face and low-income black people in particular have been the most affected. They believe that the ability to protect themselves is up to them.
The president would like to ban certain guns, raise the purchase age to 21, and enhance background checks. Will these actions slow mass shootings or daily gun violence? Maybe, but the real issue is government’s failure to address the societal issues that have contributed to increased gun violence.
Nick Blauwiekel, Naples
Stop this culture war and educate
Republicans and Democrats alike read books that are written and published. Books that are often segregated by society groupings. Groupings created by school boards, parents, the reader’s ethnic background, governments, religious views and educators.
In Florida, teachers do not want to risk offending parents and their school board. They’re walking a fine — sometimes invisible — line between what’s fact and what’s acceptable. When facts are not acceptable, it is impossible to educate. They can only indoctrinate.
Books written prior to about 1970 seemed to have a different view of life and values. Although far from perfect in execution, American values of truth, justice, equality, fair play, honesty, and integrity were pretty much recognized and accepted by all.
At some point it became clear to me that the 2022 values have become subjective to political bias. History must be whitewashed not to hurt feelings. Books, professors, curriculum, courses, and more must be modified to fit a prescribed political doctrine and way of thinking.
There are over 100 books now banned! This is bleak; students need age appropriate and accurate books. We should never fear truth. Open minds and intellectual curiosity are good things, not something to be banned from public education. Let’s stop this culture war and educate, not indoctrinate, our students. Our world needs a generation equipped with facts, figures, and critical thinking skills.
Kathleen Callard, RN, North Fort Myers
Not Fox News worthy
Beginning Thursday evening last week the major news networks were pre-empting their regular programming to broadcast live coverage of the Jan. 6 Investigations: ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC. All except the Fox News Channel – which hosts the top 10 most watched cable news shows in the country (Nielsen data). Not newsworthy? I’m sure Carlson, Baier, Hannity, Angle and Co. prefer their viewers tune in to their regular programming devoid of this live coverage. Why? For fear of learning something new? Isn’t that what “news” means?
Paul Shedivy, Fort Myers