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Open letter to the Mayor

By Staff | Mar 4, 2009

Mayor Denham,

I am writing to protest the manner in which you conducted yesterday (Feb. 25) the special meeting of the Sanibel City Council. I believe you inappropriately used the platform of the Council to advance your own political agenda and re-election campaign.

I am a member of the Committee of the Island but my comments relate to the format and procedure of yesterday’s meeting rather than the substantive subject of the meeting. When early on in the meeting you indicated that you believed that the political advertisements in the press raised questions about your personal integrity, you immediately put the subsequent discussion into a context of defending your “integrity.” At that moment, the following discussion was certain to focus on repudiating the claims in the advertisements.

Such action would certainly be understandable, particularly in the midst of a contentious election campaign. However, what was most inappropriate was to have that discussion in a City facility and in City Hall – and led by City employees.

What you should have done was to step down from the platform and turn the meeting either over to the two City Councilmen who are not running for re-election or request that the City Manager and her staff reply to the claims asserted it the subject advertisements. By chairing the meeting and thereby leading the discussion, you were in effect advancing your own political re-election campaign. In addition, by using the City’s facilities to respond to assertions made in political advertisements you damaged the election process to the detriment of all citizens. You provided a City forum to defend your record and those of your colleagues who are competing for re-election – but provided no comparable venue to the candidates who are competing against you for positions on the Council.

I believe your actions, with the implied concurrence of your two Councilmen competing for election vote, was a travesty and an insult to the maturity and civility that has for long characterized dialogue within our community.


Allan Silberman