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Out of order

June 14, 2013
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

At the June 5 meeting of city council, Mayor Sullivan, twice gaveled City Manager John Szerlag, denying him the opportunity to respond to allegations made by the council member in District 4 over utility assessments being levied on local churches.

The City Charter states: 5.04. Powers and duties of the city manager. (c) Shall attend all council meetings and shall have the right to take part in discussion but may not vote.

This is what gives the legal right to the city manager of Cape Coral to participate in discussions with council regardless if one of the individuals disagrees with him or not. The city manager has as much of a voice at Council meetings as any council member has. He does not vote, of course, but he has a legal right, protected by the Charter of Cape Coral, to speak at city meetings. If the city manager or any councilperson, for that matter, is being accused of something by another member of the council, I feel they would have a moral and personal responsibility to the citizens of Cape Coral to address any wrong doing presented by any member of council.

The direct statement the city manager was being accused of (and may I remind the voters of Cape Coral, without any facts or proof to back it up) was made by the current District 4 seat. He stated: "The city manager would have us believe it is too late to change, we must push forward. That we cannot make any adjustments when we see what we are doing is not working." Then the council member also alleged "special deals" had been made with people and implied it had been done in secret.

When Mr. Szerlag tried to address these harsh accusations, he was silenced, by the Mayor. As the Mayor had so abruptly stated, "you (the city manager) work for us." Maybe, mayor, you forgot who you work for in this city? Who you represent? The District 4 council member addressed the City Manager, and you, Mayor, may have violated the charter as well as allowed an accusation that in my mind needed the immediate attention of the city manager to be addressed.

2011 was a turning point for Cape Coral. That year, a new council was elected on the platform of moving forward with the Utility Expansion Project (UEP), among other things. With an overwhelming voice, the votes said that they wanted change and they expected the new council to make that a reality. A majority of Council voted to directed the city manager to implement the U.E.P., which he has done.

Instead of voting "no" to the will of the voters, instead of staying stagnant in our growth as a city, instead of worrying about just the past and not addressing the challenges of the future, our city is beginning the push forward. Our city is beginning to see the light once more. We, my friends, will come out of this recession stronger and better than before.

I want to be a part of the new spirit of optimism to move our City forward. The residents deserve better than statements not backed by facts. We residents must demand better from our elected representatives to allow accusations from council members to go unaddressed.

Richard Leon

Cape Coral

Candidate, District 4



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