To the editor:
I would like to compliment the Cape Coral City council for a very professional and streamlined selection process for a new city manager. It appears that they selected a very competent candidate, Mr. Szerlag from Troy, Michigan. Councilmember Erbrick did an outstanding job of organizing the process.
I especially liked Mr. Szerlag's reply to Councilmember Leetz's question/role playing about a 35 second news conference after a hurricane and resulting flooding, power outage, etc. I think I might have said, The press conference has been cancelled due to the power outage, and we will update everyone when the power is restored so you can see or hear it.
There was a couple of political components inserted into this process, the apparent personal attack on the current council majority and disparaging comments about our community that was written up and sent to the candidates. Also the unprofessional comments made to candidates in person, by alleged, self-described prominent citizens, at the meet and greet. It seems this was ignored by the candidates who apparently considered the sources and participated in the process.
I attended the Council Meeting on Monday because I was interested in the CRA question. I had heard that Mr. Leetz, who authored the ordinance disbanding the CRA, had withdrawn his sponsorship. However, Mr. McGrail had signed on and there would be a vote. I think it was more than coincidence that Mr. Leetz attempted this takeover of the CRA after the liaison to the CRA, Mr. McClain, authored the ordinance to disband the FAC. However, this political payback backfired.
What I think Mr. Leetz didn't expect, was the amount of opposition to his ordinance. He has continually shown disdain for the CRA organization and has often disparaged its programs. His most recent opposition was the CRA sponsored improved beach at Four Freedoms Park. That improvement has been overwhelmingly positive for he park and the community.
It would appear that the e-mails and other community support prompted Mr. Leetz to do what he continually chastises others for not doing, he educated himself. His rationalization for dropping his sponsorship was to say that improved communication between the CRA and the council saved the day. That would be he himself finding out, "educating himself," and communicating with those that he was critical of. Too bad he initiated this ordinance before "educating himself" and causing the council and public to spend time on an issue that still looks like retribution and political payback for the FAC action.
Mr. Leetz's tactics worried many people in the CRA Zone and a number of those who showed up and packed the room to oppose Mr. Leetz' attempted takeover. He tried to deflect responsibility for their concern by stating his newfound support, that he had withdrawn the motion. He then tried to blame Mr. McGrail, saying that his co-sponsorship was unnecessary, it would have gone away and didn't need a vote. He tried to get that answer from the city attorney who, quite the opposite, agreed with Mr. McGrail and said that it should be voted on.
Many thanks to Ms. Bateman for her management of our finances. She negotiated and packaged a leasing proposal for the lease of Charter School and city vehicles that will save us money. Although not understood by two council persons, this lease will save us money by not buying the vehicles outright or purchasing used/rebuilt vehicles. Leaving the money in the bank, where it collects more money in interest than the cost of the lease makes sense.
I will commend Mr. Leetz for the unintended consequence of his attempted takeover of the CRA, new support for the organization.