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Do your job

By Staff | Mar 4, 2015

To the editor:

Institutions, like people, become senile with old age and tend to eulogize our past accomplishments. We avoid current problems such as heavy traffic, massive tourism, an ecosystem on the verge of collapse, a city council that pads expense accounts and is indistinguishable from the chamber of commerce.

Forty years ago the citizens who prevented massive development on Sanibel formed the Committee of the Islands to continue the mission of protecting our environment.

Sadly, COTI is now owned and operated by a small, self-perpetuating board of directors. The full membership meets once a year, but the board discourages comments, criticism or member ideas by the usual corporate method of leaving ‘new business’ until just before lunch.

After the annual March meeting, COTI takes a long nap while the city council votes itself a salary and proposes a half million dollars worth of security cameras to protect stores and restaurants.

Yes, a few members of COTI have prevented some of the worst variances proposed by the planning commission and the council and others have written articles exposing the incremental changes desired by commercial interests to destroy Sanibel’s unique environment. COTI informs members via email of problems, but like all corporations, communication is one way. Comments by members are rarely if ever acknowledged or acted upon.

COTI’s endorsement of one candidate for the council is a good example of ‘top down’ control. The membership was never polled. A straw vote by email would in all likelihood have indicated support for Mrs. Francis Slane, who courageously exposed the mayor’s padded expense account.

COTI has been and could be a major force for good. There should be monthly meetings, even through the summer, yes, especially during the summer, to plan for the upcoming season. Every effort should be made to whip up enthusiasm amongst the members with discussions of ‘local affairs.’ When, and if a consensus among members is reached, there should be vigorous action, such as initiating a boycott of big sugar and moving events such as the shell and arts and craft fairs to the mainland to reduce traffic. COTI should be sufficiently forceful to convince the council, the chamber of commerce and the not-for-profit organizations to cease promoting tourism on Sanibel.

COTI should demand ‘truth in advertising’ by warning tourists of massive traffic jams, water too polluted for swimming or fishing, and the lack of collectible shells.

John Raffensperger