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It is time for new blood
June 20, 2018

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To the editor:

My wife and I have owned three different homes on Sanibel since the 1980s. We moved full-time to our current home on Sanibel in 2013. Over the years, we have viewed with increasing alarm the gradual decline of the water quality here on the island. When we first moved to Sanibel, the water was always a great blue-green color and, for the most part, the water was crystal clear. Today we are lucky to experience those pristine waters a few months of the year during the winter.

While we laud the mayor and council for forcefully speaking up to "demand" the cessation of water being released from Lake Okeechobee, for the most part those demands fall upon deaf ears. They are well intended, but we all know where that road leads.

If you want to change the current water release policy, you need to change the people making that policy. One political party's control needs to end here in South West Florida, and the rest of the state for that matter. The members of the South Florida Water Management District are appointed by the governor. Now is the time to ask serious and probing questions to those from both parties running for that office. The same holds true of our state legislative representatives, Congressional representatives, the Lee County Commission and, yes, even our local elected officials. It seems to me that most merely give lip service this time every year to stopping the current practice. Yet the policy continues year after year, election after election, nothing of any impact seems to be done. Lots of talking, lots of promises, lots of studies, yet very little results. I bet many still are accepting campaign contributions from those who oppose the resolution to this issue via the sound recommendations that have been developed (Hmm, does Big Sugar ring a bell?) Forceful political advocacy, action and influence is what is required.

I was a former elected official - councilman and mayor - in New Jersey who ran for higher office precisely because of the same intransigence by single political party dominance unwilling or unable to do anything about flood control in my home county. My "demands" as mayor of my hometown, for sound flood control measures, much like those of the local officials in Sanibel regarding the water releases from the lake, were ignored or given perfunctory lip service. That is until a major flood hit the area killing several people and inflicting millions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses alike. While the one party control elected officials still ignored my recommendations, the public did not! I was subsequently elected to the county commission, called Freeholders, in New Jersey. I was the only member of my party elected to that board in over 40 years. While I was the only member of my party on that board, nonetheless, I was able to make flood control a major county issue from an elected position of influence rather than merely "demanding" action to a tone deaf one party county commission. I was also able to raise the issue directly to federal and state legislators and the governor, as well as the media.

The one way to get folks attention in Tallahassee is via direct political action. Enough is enough! The economic future of our area is being threatened. Tourism and the related jobs as well as property values are being adversely impacted, to say nothing of our health and our water quality. No one wants to have the lives threatened of the people living next to the damn, but it's taking longer to address and resolve the issue of the unsafe damn than it took to build the pyramids. Elect a few folks from a different political party and shake things up. Rather than just a knee-jerk action to vote the party line, this time be independent. Vote your own self interest and that of our area to finally do more than verbally demand change - elect folks who will make things change.

I agree 100 percent with the comments of Sanibel Councilman Jason Maughan's suggestion in getting voters involved with the upcoming election. However, electing the same ole same ole folks will not do the trick. Folks who are of the same party demanding action from folks in their own party usually does not produce results. Good ole boy/girl politics must change here in Southwest Florida - it's a closed club! Time's up for those folks who put cotton in their ears and blinders on while ignoring the "demands" of the citizenry - time for new blood. Send a message to Washington and Tallahassee, to Fort Myers - vote for a change in one party control and electing the same folks.

Love your political party? Great, so do I, but this insanity has to stop!

Frank R. Nero

Sanibel

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