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Missy Layfield - Editor
02/27/2014 Delete

What Happened While
We Were Gone?

As we face the busiest month of the year on Fort Myers Beach, we know that there are many Islanders who have recently arrived, or will in the next weeks, from their colder lives up north. Some of you have kept in touch while you were away from our sunny shores, but many arrive on island wondering, ‘What happened since we were gone?” Well, quite a bit…

By the abundance of election related content in this issue of the Island Sand Paper, you will note that we have a big election coming up. On March 11th, Island voters will go to the polls to fill three Town Council seats. We have five really well qualified candidates, including one incumbent, so this is likely to be a close election. The sheer numbers of our Letters to the Editor tell us there is a lot of interest in this election, as there should be. Tip O’Neill said, "All politics is local.” And it doesn’t get any more local than this.

Pools! You’ll hear a lot about elevated pools. The actual issue is required setbacks for elevated pools. This is a very complex issue and the Town is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over it. Here’s a very simplistic summary because we suspect that many readers aren’t as captivated by the nitty gritty of who did or said what and who is at fault and who should be tarred and feathered as some of our Islanders may be. I’m exaggerating. There have been no tar and feathers that we know of. Yet. The basics: Permits for elevated pools as accessory structures were issued for properties on Palermo Circle. Town code allows accessory structures within 5 feet of the seawall. Once construction began on these 10+ foot elevated pools and neighbors got a gander at what these structures, built to within 5 feet of the seawall, actually looked like and how they blocked their view corridor, well the seaweed hit the propeller, so to speak and has been snagged there since, as the Town first issued a moratorium, then considered code changes, then lifted the moratorium, and recently agreed to deny permits and issue a stop work order.

02/20/2014 at 5:09pm Delete

Expectations - What's Fair?

We appreciate that many of our readers have come a long way to visit our little Island and we appreciate your being here. No one appreciates our beaches, waters and warm temps more than we who call this home year-round. Just like most vacationers, many of us year-round residents enjoy the game played by vacationers called, "How miserable is it up north?”

Arriving a bit earlier than we’ve become accustomed to, high season is here! The beach is a busy thoroughfare of walkers, joggers and bikers – passing the umbrellas, chairs and towels of those out to just soak up a bit of sun, sand and surf. Our restaurants, pubs and shops are bustling with activity.

Islanders appreciate your being here and your patronage of our restaurants, bars and local businesses. Everyone here appreciates the importance of tourism to the health of our community. We regularly salute our service industry workers who work long hours hustling to take care of our visitors.

We’re concerned about some rumors that we’ve heard recently that some of you have experienced less than stellar service at some businesses during your visit. We have no idea where or if the comments are justified, but frankly we are not surprised. As year-round residents we know there is a big difference between this time of the year and the summer or, in fact, almost any month other than February and March.

Some locals "hunker down" for the season, avoid Estero Blvd, and do errands and shopping early in the morning or after dinner when possible. We don’t like sitting in traffic anymore than anyone else.

Many local establishments juggle the challenges of increased business in season in stellar fashion, with nary a wrinkle showing in their smooth customer service with a smile and friendly word to all. And that is truly the standard for beach service businesses. If you have not experienced exceptional beach service, we apologize and hope that you give us another try.

02/13/2014 at 4:10pm Delete

Are you gullible? Naive? Easy to fool?

I bet every one of us would answer no. We all like to think of ourselves as pretty savvy. However, most of us are willing to believe just about anything said about some topics. Hate one political party? Most people are willing to believe just about anything nasty, insulting or unflattering about that party or it’s members. And they’ll find the one kernel of truth buried deep in the muck of exaggeration and outright falsehoods, and use that single kernel to justify believing the rest.

The Internet is a wondrous and frightening place. You can find people who believe as you do, whether you believe that the Holocaust did not happen, or are convinced that the moon landing was faked. Or maybe you think aliens are probing your mind as you sleep. Got that too.

Most of us would dismiss any of those beliefs as unreasonable. But not all, I’m sure there are letters winging their way to me already claiming that the moon landing was a hoax-just look at these 10 websites and photo evidence. The rest of us would dismiss most of those claims, just as most of us are not going to fall for the Kenyan prince who just wants us to help him regain his millions.

Yet, when it comes to someone we don’t like or an institution we don’t trust, all bets are off. We’re ready to believe anything we’re told about them, providing it’s bad. If it’s political, a few people will go to a fact check website. And there are a lot of them. Some claim to be non-partisan, but lean left or right. Others are more centrist. Do your own research and book mark two or three of them to use if you’re one of the people who prefer to know whether a claim is true of not. If you’re just interested in bashing those you disagree with, don’t bother with fact checking, it will just annoy you, and slow down your forwarding of that email "joke” bashing Boehner/Obama/Coulter/Pelosi to everyone in your address book.

Such might be the nature of politics or political humor in 2014, ...

02/06/2014 at 3:25pm Delete

Council Elections 2014

And we’re off…

Election season has come to Fort Myers Beach as a total of five candidates have qualified to be on the ballot for three seats to be decided on March 11th. The five are all serious candidates ready to serve our community. Over the next month voters will get a chance to learn more about these candidates via candidate forums, meet and greet events and through the pages of the Island Sand Paper.

The Sand Paper will cover the candidate forums scheduled on February 21st at Fish Tale Marina and Feb 24th at Town Hall. We’ve begun asking all the candidates to answer questions, which we’ll print in their own words. We’ll select questions that will help residents get to know them and their positions on important local issues. We’ve also invited the candidates to submit a Guest Opinion on any subject of their choosing. All candidates have been informed of how we will cover this election.

We will not be endorsing anyone. Our position is that our role is to help voters gather information on candidates and then let them make up their own minds. Here at the Sand Paper, we have opinions on local issues which you’ll only see on our Editorial page, but we won’t be telling you how to vote-that is a sacred right and responsibility that is in the hands of each voter.

How can you participate? First of all, are you a registered voter? If not, you need to be registered by this Monday, February 10th. If you’ve moved, or changed your name, make sure your registration is up to date. Call the Lee County Supervisor of Elections office for details on how to register 239-LEE-VOTE (239-533-8683).

You can also participate by supporting candidates via a Letter to the Editor. Send us a letter under 300 words telling us why you support a candidate. We will print one letter per candidate per writer. Support three candidates? We’ll print up to three letters, though no more than one per issue. So, if you plan on supporting three different candidates with three different letters, ...