To the editor:
The recent knee-jerk, or opportunistic, termination of the Charter Review Commission (CRC) by the City Council, in the guise of normal "sunsetting," is but the latest in a string of atrocious acts to silence the voices of qualified, credible citizens seeking to present ideas and information and ensure that issues relevant to the public interest are heard and considered. Since the City Council made no credible effort whatsoever to determine the facts of what actually transpired or hear from the commission itself, but instead relied on those speaking in complete ignorance, the question must be asked: Are the deaf and dumb leading the blind? Such a civic calamity is aided by the pathetic situation of Hear, Speak and See no evil mentality that grows out of fear of in-group retribution and citizen apathy.
This is a destructive reaction to participatory government which is the very purpose of voluntary citizens committees and commissions, but is abhorrent to the current council dominated by what has come to be aptly known as the "Slick Six" gang of Carioscia, Nesta, McGrail, Erbrick, McClain and Donnell. Talk about marching in lock step! It is, perhaps, more fitting that this council be renamed the "Sinister Six" to better fit their malevolent attitudes and method of gangster governance.
The modus operandi of this gang is to kill the responsible messengers, if what is presented in good faith and after due diligence is not to their liking. The FAC merely called for the reconsideration and recertification of discount rate planning assumptions that would have a significant impact on the future obligatory debt burdens of taxpayers to ensure the availability of adequately funded benefits due retirees in the future. The unfunded pension and other employee benefits liabilities is a very pressing issue that cities and states across the country are addressing, but not here in River City.
There was nothing in the legislation that required the FAC to be a benign, meaningless "here-is-what-you-want-to hear" committee. Is the newly resurrected Budget Review Committee to fulfill that role? Beware bearers of unwanted news and questions!
Was the FAC fulfilling its legally designated mission responsibility of being an advisory body? I think so, and the council and staff, especially Financial Services and the unions, damn well knew so.
This method of eliminating the messengers was again applied to the CRC even when what was to be presented was misrepresented to select council members in intended malevolent bad faith by the lackeys and informants of the SS gang itself. These are the same characters that disgraced the podium in their attacks leading to the dismissal of former City Manager Gary King. Clearly, there is no need to teach old dogs new tricks, if the old ones still work so well with their masters.
The killing of the CRC was over the issue of putting before council for its consideration and approval to add a referendum relating to single-member districts on the 2013 November ballot for voters to decide. Sounds like democracy at work to me. However, the lies that reached the council were that the CRC was somehow going to "by-pass" council and put a referendum directly on the ballot. The fact that this would have been a violation of the process and Charter itself and impossible, was of no import. Why deal with facts and reason? The hidden motive and opportunity were there, so the SS gang committed the deed, or more fittingly, assignment, and denied, once more, all evidence of obvious foul play.
The justifications given by the "Big Four" members of the gang, ie, McGrail, McClain, Erbrick and Donnell, for killing the commission, whose members were assigned with six-year terms, should have come with a shovel. Any comments in opposition by the "Silent Duo" were not even contemplated.
Not surprisingly, the bearers of such misinformation before council were none other than the ever sharp Betty Dill and Lyndia Bradley of Cape Coral Civic Association leadership, and, of course, we cannot forget the erudite Nancy Patti. Only Dill attended the CRC meeting. By admission, no one on council has heard the tape, read any minutes, asked any questions, at least of those with real answers. How uninformed can you be?
The saving grace to this disaster may be that those who have volunteered their services freely and in good faith are not going away quietly to hide in some hole of oblivion, but will continue to try to do the best they can in the public interest.
As the saying goes, "give them enough rope ...."
Former CRC Member