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Dirty Work at the Cross Roads

By Staff | Jan 22, 2009

To the editor,

When I was a child, my beautiful mother – a want-to-be thespian – tried out for a two act melodrama entitled “Dirty Work at the Cross Roads.” She got the part of the heroine and I spent the next three months watching rehearsals. A crazed, envious villain chased mother about the stage the better part of act one. Fatigued from screaming, mother swooned giving him a chance to grab her. He dragged her limp body to the railroad cross roads and tied her to the tracks as a fast approaching locomotive blasted its horn just off stage. The stage darkened, a foreboding storm approached and the already exhausted pianist frantically beat on his upright as the huge white light of the speeding train raced closer. The curtain dropped.

As my husband and I left the Jan. 6 Sanibel City Council chambers, I had a sudden flashback to the end of act one of “Dirty Work at the Cross Roads.” We had just witnessed a political highjacking the likes of which we had never before seen on Sanibel. The re-appointment of Dr. David Berger – one of Sanibel’s most respected planning commissioners – had been rejected in a 3-2 balloted vote. When council members were asked to voice how they had voted, they refused to allow their votes to be read aloud by the city attorney. Recently appointed councilman Marty Harrity (who was not interviewed at the Council meeting when he was appointed, despite the Council agenda having promised a public interview) announced that if anyone wanted to talk to him about his vote, they would need “to make an appointment” and come to his office. The Council chamber, filled with citizens who had just given glowing reports about Commissioners Berger and Marks, began to boo. Never in all the meetings I have attended in the city chambers have I felt such genuine disgust.

So what happened? Why – on an island that has a reputation for rewarding volunteers who give generously of their time and talent by re-appointing them – was David Berger not re-appointed?

Is it possible that David Berger was not reappointed because he is a strong supporter of Sanibel Land Codes? There is presently a movement afoot to weaken and/or eliminate portions of our protective land codes, in particular Section 86-43. As retired lawyer Wayne Ponader has succinctly explained, “Section 86-43 preserves the Planning Commission’s and the Council’s powers to regulate the character, size and appropriateness for neighborhoods of houses built on Sanibel.” The elimination of 86-43 would be a giant step toward destroying the very foundation that has prevented Sanibel from having over-sized and over-built properties such as on nearby islands.

But dear readers, don’t despair. Let me tell you about the second act of “Dirty Work at the Cross Roads.”

A deeply concerned audience returned to their seats, the theater quickly darkened and the curtain rose. Lord almighty, here came a huge locomotive racing right at mother, its smokestack belching black pollution and its mighty horn blowing in horror. Suddenly, bounding out of the bush, came two strong men wearing identical white hats. Gallantly, they threw themselves over my mother’s frail body and miraculously managed to unleash and pull her to safety just seconds before the grinding wheels of the trillion-pound train reduced her to minced meat!

Ladies and gentleman, we have two mighty candidates that have made the bold decision to run for the Sanibel City Council. They are bright, resourceful, experienced men who respect the Sanibel Plan and Land Codes on which Sanibel depends if it is to remain an environmentally preserved barrier island. David Berger and David Bath are dedicated to protecting the natural paradise and culture of Sanibel while efficiently lowering the runaway cost of government.

Stay tuned…

Sandy McCartney Ehlers

Sanibel