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Editorial | Another one bites the dust

By Staff | Nov 16, 2023

In June, Cape Coral City Council eliminated five of its appointed advisory boards and changed its Youth Council to a fact-finding board.

With a 5-3 vote, the elected board eliminated the city’s Golf Course Advisory Board, Nuisance Abatement Board, Waterway Advisory Board, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Cape Competes Advisory Board.

Council in fact, with council members Tom Hayden, Robert Welsh and Jessica Cosden dissenting, eliminated all of the city’s citizen advisory panels that are not mandated by law, save one, the South Cape Community Redevelopment Board.

On Wednesday, the board whose efforts helped decide how tax dollars earmarked for the Cape’s historic downtown were spent was eliminated as well — a formality as Council, without notice, terminated all five members of that board en route to assuming their duties as state statute requires that CRAs have a board though not necessarily a board separate from the local government that sponsored the creation of the agency.

Council members Hayden, Welsh and Cosden again voted in the minority, arguing for citizen involvement, in this case for those with businesses or other interest in the redevelopment district created in 1989 to foster the revitalization of the city’s first business zone, dating back to the ’60s.

A couple of things.

First, we do get the argument of the Council majority that the members of advisory boards and panels are not elected, that the only direct representatives of the people are the eight officials sitting on the City Council dais.

Who, of course, appoint the individuals who serve — as volunteers, mind you — on what previously were deemed boards where citizen input and feet-on-the-street expertise was not only welcome, but needed.

If these appointments had devolved into unproductive political payback, well, Council could have fixed that in a manner that retained the baby while tossing the bath water Council itself had sullied.

But we don’t see that.

What we do see is a Council that increasingly wants to not only manage policy, but micromanage it from start to pre-determined outcome.

Let us be blunt: That’s not vision, that’s tunnel vision.

And elected officials who step on that track do so not only at their own peril but to the detriment of the community they promised to serve.

Since no one apparently is going to do so, let us thank those who most recently served on the Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners, former chair Linda Biondi, vice chair James Brantley, Gregory Gebhard, Janis Keim and Thomas Slaughter.

Our thanks as well to those who volunteered on all those boards recently dissolved.

We urge you to stay involved.

There are many who do appreciate your efforts and believe that input from those of us who live and work here is not a part of a process of governance but the part of a process that best reflects the people governance is intended to serve.

Breeze editorial