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Wistful thinking

June 26, 2020
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The COVID-19 pandemic has snaked its tentacles into all we take -- or took -- for granted.

We, as a community and as a state, have endured major disruptions to public education and our economy, including front-line workers and the many, many deemed "non-essential."

We all have watched the numbers of the infected, the ill, and the dead climb.

We've donned masks and held not only strangers but friends and family at more than arm's length as we stayed home when we could and tried to avoid crowds when we couldn't.

And we've all seen ourselves forgoing many simple family milestones that just a few months ago we would have enjoyed as routine.

In the past few weeks, we've heard more than a handful of those kinds of stories -- the mom who saw her son's high school graduation go virtual; the high-risk mother unable to attend her son's funeral; family members living in a hot spot state unable to attend a beloved nephew's wedding; a 21st birthday spent quarantined and alone far from home.

Our "new normal" is anything but, a message we also heard from some of the candidates for Cape Coral City Council Wednesday night.

Meet-and-greets are problematic and public forums to which all candidates are invited all but non-existant.

Most of the traditional forums have been cancelled.

That includes the city of Cape Coral's long-standing televised debates.

That determination, though, is not related to the pandemic.

The city's administration made a unilateral decision following the last election in 2015 to do away with the forums it had hosted for years.

The sessions, moderated by a person of the city's choosing with members of the media invited to ask the questions, were no longer deemed needed.

Candidates had emails and websites to share their messages, after all, and the public had other opportunities to meet them and so staff, not Council, tapped out.

This year, to date, there have been few opportunities to hear all the candidates answer questions about the issues or the matters likely to be decided during the next four years.

Among them?

The continued implementation of the city's $60 million Parks Master Plan.

A possible public-private partnership for the development of the city-owned Seven Island acreage,which drew but a single, not-what-the-city-was-looking-for response to its first Request For Proposals.

How to address the financial woes of Cape Coral's municipal school system, which is not self-sustaining as both promised and mandated.

How to foster the city's desired development of Bimini Basin.

Continued expansion of utilities throughout the north Cape.

Council's direction, including goals and objectives, for the new city manager.

Development -- or not -- for the city-owned waterfront acreage along Pine Island Road just outside the city limits.

Projects, if any, coming in as a result of the city-wide comp plan amendments and revamped zoning designations.

What, if anything, to do with the old golf course acreage, which the city hoped to buy in lieu of seeing development there.

There are lots -- a veritable plethora -- of projects on the table as the city moves past its 50th anniversary milestone this year, with, hopefully, well-chosen leadership.

It's interesting.

City Council worked with Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle to move the Cape's election cycle back to even years to attract more voters.

And the municipal administration working parallel decided the city no longer needed to host televised forums intended to help inform the voters Council hopes to attract.

Although we disagree that eliminating the forums should have been a staff-level decision, we'll give the city administration the argument, perhaps, that voters had enough alternate ways to become informed through the election cycle.

But not this year.

We think we all can agree on that.

The traditional forum schedule, the traditional meet-and-greets, the tradition feet-on-the street campaigns, like the other little things we take for granted, have undergone a sea change due to the pandemic.

Call it wistful thinking for the old "normal" if you like, but we suggest Council take a look at the no-city-forums edict, at least for this election cycle.

More, but less informed, voters is a scary thought.

And any look back at 2020 for what went awry is likely to be scary enough.

-Breeze editorial

 
 
 

 

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