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Stilwell shouldn’t have been removed

By Staff | May 20, 2009

To the editor,

Sanibel residents are more politically active than most citizens in a comparable-sized city. The majority of us confine our political activities to our island, even though we are all citizens of Lee County, and should be concerned with the action of our County Commissioners.

I believe it was this attitude that was an important factor in the trashing and ultimate dismissal of the county’s chief executive officer, Don Stilwell. For some reason, the News-Press took it upon themselves to see that he was hounded from office. It found no formidable opposition. This is where we failed.

Mr. Stilwell’s first alleged offense was loaning money to his son-in-law. Is this unusual, or a crime? I hope not. Many of us have loaned or even gifted money to our sons-in-law. In the News-Press Guest Opinion of May 5, Rick Diamond, a self-described community activist, stated that the loan was obviously improper, because Mr. Stilwell could have had a return of 50 percent. Is Mr. Diamond aware of the principle of high return/high risk? He chooses to ignore the fact that there was no return and Mr. Stilwell lost his entire investment in the ultimate fiasco. Mr. Stilwell was also found innocent of any misdeeds regarding the affair, which evidently was very upsetting to Mr. Diamond.

Now for the disclosure that led to Mr. Stilwell’s resignation (i.e., the use of “sexual e-mails”). Prior to getting into the relative seriousness of these acts, I suggest the following question for the local office of the FBI. Is it a normal practice today to release information on an individual on a matter that has nothing to do with the purpose of the investigation? Particularly when any reasonable individual would realize the serious implications of the matter. Are we returning to the days of J. Edgar Hoover and his fondness for character assassination?

I have contacted several offices of the FBI, inquiring as to the necessity of including the sexual material in their release to the News-Press. Their response was basically “We do what we do, and the damaged party can submit a request for information following he appropriate procedure.” My advice would be “Lots of luck,” as they appear to be hell-bent on covering their footprints.

Now to the description of the sexual e-mails. Mr. Diamond describes them as follows: “titillating, half-nude e-mails.” I believe he meant females. I would prefer the description as the upper torso of a female, sans clothing. If the transmission of such material today is so horrid, is this the reason for the ultimate decline of the Greek and Roman civilizations? They did have a lot of marble statuary of a similar nature. Do any of us remember looking forward to the upcoming issue of the National Geographic? Since that time has passed, how many have viewed the Playboy centerfold while at the barbershop?

Mr. Stilwell’s action, while not appropriate, certainly did not warrant his removal from office, but we must show our high standards of morality. Unfortunately, he was not serving in a higher level of government, where “holier-than-thou” is not the standard.

Warning to all Sanibel and Lee County residents – there is a rumor circulating that a major investor is proposing a string of pool rooms throughout the county. This would include Sanibel. You know what that means. The next thing you know, you’ll be saying damn too damned often.

Dale Armstrong