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County should level the playing field for accepting input

By Staff | Jul 1, 2021

To the editor:

I have sent the following letter to Mr. Kevin Ruane, chairman, Lee County Board of Commissioners:

Dear Chairman Ruane:

It was a pleasure to meet you at Cecil Pendergrass’ fund-raising event Tuesday evening. Thank you very much for your time. As per your suggestion, I am writing to you about a major concern of mine, and that is my perception that the only time the Board seems to be concerned about the citizenry is “I need money to be re-elected” time.

Let me explain this further.

The Board allows concerned citizens three minutes to address them. While I understand the need to limit people who may want to rant and vent, there are people who take time from work, drive long distances and have a presentation that may run to ten minutes. As long as they’re outlining “the facts and nothing but the truth,” why can’t they take at least a percentage of the amount of time allotted for developers who often have several speakers taking all the time they need to detail their plea for the Commissioners’ understanding? Why can’t citizens have the same opportunity to detail their concerns for Commissioner understanding?

If a citizen does not appear at the Hearing Examiner’s meeting on a given subject, the citizen is not allowed to appear before the Board of County Commissioners and testify. Sometimes, citizens do not know of the HEX initial meeting although the subject for consideration may have a huge impact on their lives.

The Board allows applicants and/or their attorneys to question concerned citizens. There are attorneys hired by firms appearing before the County who seem to be paid to deliberately intimidate the citizens who have the audacity to object.

That same courtesy is not extended to citizens to question statements of applicants and/or their attorneys.

Members of the Board often display what seems to be a lack of interest in what a citizen’s concerns are.

For example: working on an electronic device during the citizen’s time; holding discussions among themselves during the citizen’s testimony; listening with eyes closed.

And, with all due respect, Mr. Chairman, the Board appointed a new Chairman out of cycle. It was not your District’s turn.

Those were my concerns regarding present conditions. But I’d like to ask:

Is a citizen allowed access to electronics should he/she wish to make a visual presentation?

If the three-minute rule is sacrosanct, is it possible for a ten-minute presentation to be continued among three/four presenters? Could visuals be utilized for this purpose as well?

Given that in today’s age, perception is reality, how can anyone possibly see the Board as being open to discussion and fair to the citizens who elected them and pay their salaries.

Lastly, I would like to thank you again for your offer to communicate.

Thank you,

Norman Cannon

Fort Myers

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