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Voting for the good guys

By Staff | Feb 5, 2009

To the editor,

Here we go again!

When my wife and I first became Sanibel voters, in 2005, the island was in the midst of a contest for three seats on the City Council. Neighbors whom we respected quickly told us who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

What differentiated “good” from “bad?” The issue was keeping Sanibel the way it is as opposed to gradual, but massive, overdevelopment. We learned how, in 1974, amidst much controversy, the citizens of Sanibel incorporated themselves as a city in order to deter Lee County from achieving its projected population of 90,000 souls on Sanibel.

How exciting it was to have all three of our candidates win! Then, how upsetting to see our City Council’s preservationist ardor slowly fade.

This change of philosophy came about as some faces changed. Two of the three whom we elected saw fit to leave their posts. Evidence of the change can be seen in two examples. One of these was a ceding of managerial responsibility to the staff who run the city. We have a well-run city government, but it is running on a ruinous financial track, with outsized salary increases and inordinately generous pension policies.

But even more dangerous is the erosion of our beloved Sanibel Plan. The founders, who incorporated Sanibel in 1974, said that we are first, a sanctuary Island, secondly, a close, but diverse community, and only in third place are we an attraction. They made it clear that there are quality of life issues and ethical concerns which trump the ability of investors to make money from real estate.

The Sanibel Plan was recently put to the test by the issue of permitting big houses which are not in harmony with the scale and appearance of their neighborhoods. Our Planning Commission chose to uphold Section 86-43 of the building code which demands that rhythm and harmony be preserved.

At that point, our mayor (the only holdover from the three whom we elected in 2005) saw fit to appoint to a vacancy on the Council the very person, ex-mayor Harrity, whom the voters repudiated in that 2005 election. This appointment assured that the Planning Commission (appointed by City Council) would change in complexion, opening the doors to those who envision a Sanibel no longer guided by the ethos of our beloved, but endangered, Sanibel Plan.

Elections for City Council will be held on March 3. David Berger and David Bath are running as a team. I support them because they support the Sanibel Plan. Please, listen to their messages and decide for yourselves. Once more, I believe that I will be voting for the good guys. I hope that you will, too.

Apparently, just once isn’t enough.

Karl Rodman