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Issue swept under the rug

May 24, 2013
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

Council at Monday's meeting voted not to look into allegations that Councilmember McClain was no longer living in his district and thus subject to forfeiture of his seat as by doing so he no longer met Charter qualification requirements.

Rather than look at the admitted fact that Mr. McClain took up residence in another district some time last year, Council embarked upon a course of disambiguation and divining intent (as in where did he intend to live even though he was not there) to convince themselves that the Charter permitted legal residence in one district while actually living in another. The word "reside" may have a dual meaning, either permanent or temporary, some time meaning a "fixed" abode and at other times being of transient character. For different purposes, e.g. voting, vehicle registration, legal jurisdiction, etc. residence may have a variety of meanings depending upon the context in which it is employed. There are even State guidelines to determine the residence of the homeless, as oxymoronic as that may sound. So in the present context what is the definition to be employed; a true fixed permanent home or having a physical presence outside that home and how should intent be gauged, by where mail is received, by who pays the bills on the fixed abode?

I maintain that under either definition or circumstance, Mr. McClain is in violation of the Charter. He no longer lives in his fixed permanent home having vacated it last year. He had/has no intent or apparent ability to return there or he would have done so when the story broke. Additionally, up until Monday when he played "let's make a deal" (I will try and find a place by the middle of July.) Mr. McClain offered no tangible evidence that he even intends to move back to District 1. He has been absent now for six consecutive months. Surely, enough time to secure geographically correct accommodations. Furthermore, he had stated that he had refused offers of a place to live within his district. I see no action here to comply with the law in order to satisfy the intent test.

If the definition of a temporary residence is accepted that test is also not satisfied as he has no temporary residence in District 1. In point of fact he admittedly is now living in another district.

To do as Council has done, to countenance having a fixed permanent home in one district while actually living in another does violence to the Charter and the concept having districts. It de facto makes it possible for council members to serve at large. It is also interesting to note that Council decided all this without the benefit of evidence being submitted or testimony being taken. The rug was simply lifted and under it went.

Our institutions depend on the integrity of their operation and that integrity depends on ethical behavior as well as fidelity to the law. Witness how these concepts are being contravened in Washington: Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS and AP scandals. Are we to be subjected to reprehensible behavior, albeit on a smaller scale, in our own city? Unfortunately, we live in a city where only 16 percent of those registered bother to vote.

Let me conclude by quoting H. L. Mencken. "People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard." Remember this when you pay another 7 percent tax on your electric bill and when you look for the money to pay the soon to be levied fire assessment and as for those of you on city water and sewer know that Council decided to bill you to help pay certain institution's UEP assessments.

Bill Deile

Cape Coral



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