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An opinion on incorporation

November 22, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

Today's (11-15) Pine Island Eagle delivered to my door contains a front page quotation in which I am quoted as supporting incorporation. I never gave that quotation to the paper. I just got off the phone with Ed Franks who authorized me to state that is was Noel Andress who gave the quotation, and the lay out artist made a mistake. Ed says the paper will print a correction. I respect Noel very much, but disagree with him so far on incorporation.

Because of this, I reluctantly must put my personal opinion about incorporation on the record. In addition, there is another letter to the editor which I wish to address. I also have a letter to the editor in today's (11-15) paper which I intended as an effort to lay out the facts regarding the incorporation effort.

I oppose incorporation because GPICA has gone to our legislators without the knowledge and permission of the residents of Matlacha. No one was told a charter was being drafted, let alone that it had been delivered to our legislators by GPICA representatives. This conduct, along with misrepresentations about the straw ballot by some with GPICA, has gravely alienated many in Matlacha, whether they are predisposed to incorporation or not.

Now the GPICA President says in his letter that the charter was submitted to the Legislature "for review and correction" to be "revised" per the suggestions of our "legislative delegation." I recommend to readers that you check the websites of the Florida League of Cities and the National Civic League. There you will learn that the formation of a city requires a collaborative effort by all residents. The creation of a charter is a complex legal and financial process which requires experts and ongoing resident participation. The draft charter GPICA has submitted without any input from Matlacha is a cut and paste from another city's charter. A charter is the product of citizen choice, to be created and voted on by them.

The draft charter creates a new, all-powerful council. As my letter to the editor explains, Matlacha will very likely have no say whatsoever in the governance of Matlacha-Pine Island. And now GPICA says that Matlacha will have no say in what the final charter says. As a footnote, I doubt the draft charter was ever presented to any of the residents of Pine Island for their thoughts either.

There are options to an all-powerful council. Since the charter is created by the people, it can and should contain significant restrictions on council power. Do Pine Islanders really want a council that can create multiple governmental agencies and spend money unchecked by you? If this draft charter is adopted, it will be almost impossible to get your freedom back.

Finally, beware of GPICA circulating a "petition" for persons to express their preference as to incorporation. It is difficult to find anyone in Matlacha who trusts GPICA any longer, sad to say. Matlacha residents have the right to vote on incorporation - in a vote conducted and supervised by the Board of Elections. So long as GPICA delegates to itself the process of incorporation, we will not be heard.

Michael Hannon




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