EDITORIAL: Support Councilwoman Gore
Ignore Biased Local Media and Government Officials Serving Special Interests
Charleton Heston once made a movie named “Soylent Green.” It was set in the not-to-distant future when man had destroyed the natural environment of the land so badly nothing would grow. People were surviving by eating food produced in the oceans. When Heston discovers that the oceans are in their final death throes and the people are being fed reconstituted human bodies he is hunted down and shot to keep him from disclosing the facts to everyone. The powers that be have never liked us to know the truth; they believe with true arrogance that “The People” are incapable of thinking for themselves.
While this is a fictional account of a possible future, there is really no disputing that we are facing the collapse of our planetary biospheres at an unprecedented rate. Over 80% of our ocean fisheries are either fully exploited, over-exploited or already in collapse and now, just this week we’ve witnesses another massive Green Algae breakout on our own Caloosahatchee River. The problem is hitting home and while our elected officials shift the blame around and avoid real solutions because they are indebted or enamored with big agriculture and sugar growers, public utilities, mining and ranching interests –these very real boogiemen continue to squander our common heritage and quality of life for short-term profits. It is so bad that even the corporate media – our local Gannett paper, the News Press, ran a headline this week that read:
River Gunk: Algae Bloom Turns the Caloosahatchee Green
And all the while, most of our elected officials continue to try and deflect us from the most serious crisis in our community – the continued availability of clean, healthy water.
Just this past week in what should be a friendly environment of local council members meeting on Fort Myers Beach, the manipulations by the key players reached new heights. While hosting Kevin Ruane, mayor of Sanibel, and self-proclaimed people’s champion for proper environmental policies, one of the newly elected members of the Beach Council – Tracey Gore – tried to get some hard answers to her questions about why better, more effective policies were being avoided as the rivers and coastal areas turn green and brown with algae caused by known culprits. Rather than directly address her concerns, Ruane, aided by Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki, insulted Gore, saying she was the problem!
To add injury to insult the so-called “local paper” – The Island Sand Paper published a scathing editorial by its Editor Missy Layfield calling Gore to further task instead of defending their brave council woman’s persistence to get answers to legitimate questions. Most residents of Fort Myers Beach recently elected Gore by wide margins BECAUSE she is seen as a genuinely honest champion of the people in sharp contrast to some other local politicians that are ostensibly under the control of a few well-placed or well-heeled insiders like businessman Al Durett, the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Island Sand Paper itself. A newspaper that, co-incidentally derives a substantial portion of its revenues from Durrett or his shopping mall and marina interests.
Gore was opposed by these folks but was elected in spite of their opposition because the people want answers. They are sick of walking our beaches and seeing dead fish and disgusting algae; they are sick of reading about the bad water policies but seeing nothing done about it and they are angry that those they elect seem to fall under the spell of those with money to spend on protecting their special interests rather than looking out for the rest of us.
This is not just a local phenomenon as witnessed by the rise of outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson or those like Bernie Sanders that have social agendas never before popular in America. The people are waking up and they understand that much of the media and almost all of our governmental agencies are avoiding real solutions because those with the purse strings manipulate us to no end.
Unfortunately for those trying to stay below the radar as they manipulate, Fort Myers Beach has a very active and politically aware population living on its tiny Island jurisdiction. And they have awoken even more than the general population.
We take umbrage with the Island Sand Paper for publishing an editorial chastising councilwoman Gore. As the former Editor and Founder of the Sand Paper (I started and ran it from its inception in 2000 until sold in 2010) I have unique knowledge of how it makes money on the Beach. I find it quite disingenuous that Editor Layfield would take Gore to task for “lack of civility” while ignoring the underlying frustration Gore must feel from never getting direct answers to the very questions we elected her to ask. A true community paper should spend more time on ferreting out malfeasance and misfeasance in government and less time dispensing “kudos” to further ingratiate itself with Islanders. A newspaper should be a watchdog, not a lapdog.
As a former Chairman of the Board of the local Chamber, I have unique knowledge of how that organization pretends to be for the good of all but really just serves its own interests and the interests of those members that pay into its coffer.
And finally, as someone who has heard Mr. Durrett curse and slam public officials that don’t kowtow to his agendas and bow down to his money, I feel my opinion (if not fact) is well informed and grounded in knowledge certain gained from years of dealing with these people. It should also be noted that Durett is one of the biggest advertisers in the Sand Paper and also supports the Chamber.
Make no mistake the paper, chamber and moneyman have formed an alliance for their own sakes and Tracey Gore’s election has upset their apple cart.
One of the saddest things to witness is how many otherwise good locals are still being deceived by these special interests masquerading as “friends of the Beach”, whether by some paltry donations or “special recognition” or even in the name of art.
Council woman Gore is one of the true people’s champions I have seen in my long years researching, writing and publishing in South Florida. Do not be duped by media attacks or any other form of diversion. Stand by her, she will make you proud.
Caption: This photo shows what the water looks like in the Caloosahatchee River as it flows into our backyard. As our waters continue to sicken threatening the foundations of our prosperity and health, officials continue to ignore real solutions to the problem. In typical fashion, political infighting, diversion and finger-pointing at anyone who dares to address the root causes of our water quality decline - big sugar, agriculture, mining and ranching in complicity with the best elected officials these special interests can buy - continues unchecked and in most instances unchallenged. Even at the most local of levels, politics and business as usual is preventing sound policies from being formulated and implemented. (See the related Editorial in this weeks edition for one recent example of why it is so difficult to cut through politics and implement commonsense)