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GPICA meets candidates, votes on bylaws

August 15, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Greater Pine Island Civic Association held its monthly meeting last week with two main topics on the agenda: introducing the two candidates for Seat 4 of the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District and voting on the newly revised GPICA bylaws.

There are five fire commissioners on the board of the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District. The job of every fire commissioner is to ensure the department is performing at the highest level to prevent fires and enforce the fire code; that the department has an adequate water supply (fire hydrants, etc); has the most up-to-date apparatus and equipment; and adequate communications to perform their duties and responsibilities.

Every member of the board must be well educated about fire equipment and all phases of fire fighting. Commissioners are also responsible for disaster preparedness, selecting the chief and all department personnel.

Article Photos

Jamie Brush, candidate for MPIFCD Commissioner.

M/PIFCD commissioners are unpaid.

Seat 4 of the M/PIFCD has been held by John Cammick for 13 years. This election cycle, Cammick is being challenged by Pine Island resident Jamie Brush, who has been coming to Pine Island for many years and now lives in Bokeelia with her husband and two children. Her career has been in marketing.

The format for introducing the two candidates to the GPICA members was through a question and answer session. Each candidates was given an opportunity to offer a three-minute opening statement. Questions were asked by audience members as well as the GPICA board. The two candidates were given one minute to answer questions. At the end of the Q&A ,each candidate was given two minutes for a closing statement.

Brush's opening statement included a wide range of topics.

"To be frank, I'm running for this position because I'm tired of major community decisions being made with little consideration for us, the actual community," Brush said. "As you well know, Lee County continues to make headlines because Lake Okeechobee has once again dumped its polluted water into the Gulf of Mexico."

Brush went on to mention the current board supports the purchase of Woodstock Airstrip by Lee County Mosquito Control potentially creating an ecological disaster due to the potential hazard of stored chemicals and fuel. Brush expressed concerns about exorbitant tax increases, government raises that go unopposed and construction delays that are unaddressed.

"It sometimes takes a new set of eyes to see what others might have missed," Brush said. "If I'm elected, here's what I'll do. I will work tirelessly to stop the infiltration of poison into our island by air, land and sea. I'll expose backroom deals, I'll ask tough questions, I'll break up the status quo. I'll represent our community and not only my own interests. This means I will work to reduce taxes, vigorously oppose the creation of a de-facto municipal airport and fight to protect Pine Island from annexation. I hope you will put your faith in me when it comes time to vote."

Cammick has been working with the fire department for 17 years.

"My history with the fire district started in 2000 as a volunteer fireman and certified EMT," Cammick said. "Then in 2003 I became a fire commissioner. I am also a member of Kiwanis, Greater Pine Island Civic Association, the Elks and president of the Greater Pine Island Water Association. The department is going great with our new chief and several new firemen and I'd appreciate your vote."

Two of the questions asked were:

Q. What experience does each candidate bring to the board?

Cammick: "Being a financial advisor for 25 years, I lean towards being treasurer of the fire district. My past experiences of being on the boards of hospital and United Way made it easy for me to act as treasurer.

Brush: "I've worked with a lot of municipalities, I've worked with schools, I've worked with government agencies, secretive projects with the FBI. I'm good at fitting in and I think of myself as a liaison and can make real connections. I feel there's a real disconnect at the fire department and I hope that my connectivity will help over there."

Q. We understand that there are zoning issues with the new fire house in Matlacha. What is the status of the fire station and what kind of deadline is there for it to be completed?

Cammick: "The zoning issues are why it's taking as long as it is. We keep hearing that it's going to take another week but we hope to have it done next year at the latest. Everything's going great it's just a matter of time until Lee County gives the OK."

Brush: "To be honest, I'm not familiar with the rezoning issues at the new fire station but I have been reading over the meeting minutes from our fire district and especially those with the general construction manager and I did read that the groundbreaking was to be in February of this year and I'm interested to see if it will be done next year. Maybe just watch it a little closer."

Both candidates expressed concerns about the necessity of getting the new Matlacha fire station up and running as soon as possible.

Fire board meetings are on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. the main fire house #1, 5700 Pine Island Road, NW, Bokeelia.

The GPICA does not endorse political candidates. GPICA's goal is to be a forum to allow island residents and registered voters the opportunity to hear from and evaluate candidates for themselves. Commissioners are volunteers and are not compensated for their time.

Over the last several months the GPICA board of directors updated the organization's bylaws. The new bylaws have been available online for review since April 3 where residents could make recommend changes, additions etc.

One major change in the new bylaws is the replacement of Robert's Rules of Order with Democratic Rules of Order. The main difference is the Democratic Rules of Order is only 27 pages vs. Robert's Rules at 700 pages. Democratic Rules are easier to understand and apply.

The new bylaws also changed the monthly meeting schedule from eight "in-season" (October - May) meetings to 12 monthly meetings.

The final change is the addition of a new article. ARTICLE XI. DISSOLUTION OF THE GPICA: Upon dissolution of the GPICA by a majority vote of the BOD, all assets shall become the Property of the Calusa Land Trust and Nature Preserve of Pine Island, Inc.

The new bylaws were approved: Yes - 24; No - 6

An amendment to GPICA's Articles of Incorporation was passed by a vote of 25-3 establishing GPICA's status as a 501c4.

In additional business, Karl Deigert, president of the Matlacha Civic Association, read a letter stating that Matlacha residents "wish to secede from representation (of GPICA) and the current boundaries of GPICA." Also that the new boundaries of the GPICA be changed in its new bylaws.

According to the letter ,MCA polled its membership and arrived at the conclusion that "The majority of the MCA active membership have responded ... and a majority of Matlacha residents 'of the whole of Matlacha' want to 'secede' from GPICA."

The letter requests "that the newly drafted bylaws of GPICA be amended before final ratification to exclude from the GPICA Boundaries to exclude the entire community of Matlacha along Pine Island Road east of Pine Island Creek."

MCA sent 159 emails: 91 responded "Yes" to secession, 7 responded "No" to secession, and 61 were "no response." According to the 2010 US Census, there are 677 residents in Matlacha.

MCA also notified the Lee County Commissioners and the Florida State Representatives for Lee County.

GPICA president Claudia Bringe responded that the board had been asking for input for the new bylaws since April 3, but received the Deigert letter on Aug. 3, failing to meet the 10-day deadline in Article X of the current and new bylaws.

The GPICA meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 5630 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia. The next meeting is Sept. 4.



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