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Council passes ordinance to regulate charitable soliciting

By Staff | Mar 26, 2013

With the support of numerous veterans, Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously increased the minimum amount of liability insurance required for solicitors and established requirements for veterans organizations requesting to solicit on city rights-of-way.

The only complaints were that the ordinance changes didn’t go far enough.

Mayor John Sullivan, who brought the ordinance forward, said many solicitors are making themselves out to be local groups or veterans when they aren’t, and donors are buying into that when they place money in someone’s bucket along city streets.

The insurance requirement would increase from $300,000 to $1 million for rights-of-way solicitors, and the organizations would have to be accredited nationally.

“These people change one word in their name to make it look like a local organization,” Sullivan said. “Put the ordinance out there and make it pass.”

During public comment, during which mostly local veterans got up to speak, Bruce Miller said he had wished the ordinance took it one step further.

“It should have gone to affect all city property. They’ll go to Eco-Park or other venues and nothing will change,” Miller said.

Another veteran, Ralph Santillo, passed along a story of a female Marine veteran who put $50 into a jug, thinking she was giving to his organization – until Santillo told her that his organization didn’t solicit on the streets.

“She went back and got her money and when she finished the guy packed up and left,” Santillo said. “We may need more teeth to keep more out.”

Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he supported the ordinance, but drew the line at expanding onto city properties.

In other business, the city council unanimously approved the North Spreader Canal agreement between the city and Lee County. This means both sides have voluntarily withdraw from the “Chapter 164, Florida Statutes process” and will instead work together on scientific study on the canal to reach an environmentally beneficial solution to the issue.

The vote was contingent on the Board of County Commissioners also voting for approval, which that board did on Tuesday.

Also, city council passed two other new consent items: to purchase liquid polymer for Water Reclamation at $81,000 annually, and for an interlocal agreement between the city and Greater Pine Island Water Association for the purchase of potable water during emergencies.

The council also appointed Carmen Salome to the Civilians Police Review Board and Peter DiPaolo as an alternate. It also appointed Ramon Villanueva to the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.