In support of Pam Rambo
To the editor:
Pam Rambo is a very well known, highly respected, very creative and beloved artist and personality. She has an international reputation as a sheller and blogger, with over 100,000 followers of her website www.iloveshelling.com. She has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and in the New York Times, National Geographic and numerous other local publications.
People come from all over the world to go shelling with Pam. She is the face and voice of shelling on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. She is the most enthusiastic and effective ambassador this area has ever had!
The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau approached Pam, who had consulted with it for several years, and challenged her to come up with ideas for its promotion of the first-ever National Seashell Day.
Pam conceived the idea of a mobile structure, which would showcase the beauty, color and diversity of the shells native to our islands. She convinced the Lee VCB to purchase an older VW convertible, with the agreement that she would decorate the vehicle in exchange for access to it and eventual ownership of it.
She used her own collection, as well as the treasured collections of her many followers, to secure the 22,000 perfect local shells – representing thousands of hours of beachcombing on Sanibel and Captiva – to decorate the VW, which became the Shell Love Bug. She used her connections to secure volunteers, who spent hundreds of hours washing, sorting and painstakingly attaching the shells to execute Pam’s design.
The Shell Love Bug was an immediate success! It attracted excitement, attention, admiration and awe everywhere it went. It went to New York City and won a first place national prize for the Lee VCB. But no credit was every given to Pam for the national win.
According to a lawsuit Pam has filed in federal court, numerous assurances had been given to her regarding her access to and eventual ownership of the car. But once it was so successful, the Lee VCB backed away from all its promises, not even allowing Pam to have the car for the Sanibel Shell Festival, where so many members had contributed to its creation!
The Lee VCB denied that any agreement had ever existed because it was not in writing. It even contended that a $3,000 receipt for consulting work Pam had done prior to the creation of the Shell Love Bug represented payment for her work on the car.
It is laughable to suggest that $3,000 would be adequate compensation for the design genius, the irreplaceable materials and the hundreds of hours it took to create the unique masterpiece.
Pam engaged an attorney and, at one time, an agreement was reached with the Lee VCB. But that agreement, too, was broken.
Lee County’s attorney said the county must follow the law, but the Lee VCB in my opinion has twice broken the law by ignoring a court ordered cease and desist order. It has further broken the law by infringing on Pam’s copyrights, which is a federal offense.
As a citizen and taxpayer in Lee County, I am dismayed and disgusted that the very agency which is responsible for creating positive publicity for our area is instead doing the opposite by engaging in a federal lawsuit, which will have to be paid by the taxpayers.
Effective management, using reason, judgement, common sense and integrity by the Lee VCB could have and should have resolved this situation months ago. This calls into question the competence of those in change of the organization.
I appeal to the Lee County Commissioners to do the right thing and honor the commitment to allow Pam Rambo to claim her creation!
Lee County deserved better!