120630 The Good, the Questionable, and the Ugly – Tony Biell

The good, the questionable, and the ugly


Considering the elections that are coming up, perhaps an alternate title might be “Where they go, we must follow.” The things that our elected officials constantly are committing us to and taking money out of our pockets to support are at odds with the typically low voter turnout. Maybe this is good, since we should prefer educated and concerned voters over pure numbers. So let’s mention a few good, questionable and ugly things that voters got and will be getting for their votes and their money in Charlotte County and Punta Gorda.

The successful completion of the railroad crossing at Tamiami Trail and Jones Loop almost didn’t happen due to a series of misunderstandings between the railroad and commission members, some of which were aggravated by provisions of the Sunshine Law which prevented informal discussions between commissioners. After a series of wrestling matches and one-on-one meetings it finally did happen and so did the much needed widening of part of Burnt Store Road.

Chaney Brothers food distributors expanding into the county is added to the good column for the jobs and revenue that will be realized. Existing local businesses that will provide support to this large operation will benefit as will other start-up firms.

The proposed Punta Gorda south canal cut into Charlotte Harbor has been tabled, but needs to be resurrected for the good of the citizens in the southern part of the city. The effort should be restarted because environmental studies and permits take time, but this a reason to continue and not delay. The right thing will eventually happen, but let’s not delay further. This eventually will go into the good column.

The Parkside rehab is a project where the county should proceed carefully before taking money from other Charlotte County citizens and spending it on this neighborhood. This is an example of a county attempting to do what a local municipality typically would do. Enforcement of codes and a general self-cleanup first should be done in order to determine how committed the residents are. They developed a list of priorities which they determined should be followed to make substantial improvements in their community. The county then hired a consultant who came up with a different list of priorities. Guess what? The consultant’s priorities were adopted by the county without further input from the residents. This is a glaring example of lousy government bureaucratic mentality. “We know better than the people that live there, and we’re not going to bother talking to them”. Add this project to the questionable column.

Should the fact that aquariums are seldom self-supporting be a concern to the county and Punta Gorda?   It should be if citizens’ money is requested. Mote can be a good thing for Punta Gorda, but not if tax payer money is used and not in the proposed location. The vacant property north of Marian should be used for shops and restaurants similar to downtown Venice, so that the residents of Charlotte County and Punta Gorda can enjoy and not just visit once. A much more rational location for Mote is in the areas south of the courthouse. The philosophy of “we’ve got to put something there” is shortsighted and irresponsible. This goes in the questionable column.

How about the wonderful Murdock land trade and the magnificent water park, aka, Charlotte County’s albatross? The commissioners deserve kudos for their initial efforts to salvage this disaster, but this should be a top priority and it no longer seems to be. A good start might be to round up and draw and quarter the commissioners that were responsible. This is an example of the difference between private enterprise and government projects. In government no one’s salary, bonus, commission, stock option or reputation will be affected as it typically would be in private enterprise. This goes in the bad column.

The lawsuit that the county lost over water and sewer lines in Rotunda is accruing thousands of dollars a day in interest that probably will have to be paid to the plaintiffs. The worst of human greed and arrogance are at play here: the plaintiffs for attempting to take advantage of the county’s citizens, and the appellate court aristocrats for not providing an opinion which would at least allow further appeal. Is this a top, top priority for county governance? It doesn’t seem to be. Guess into which column this goes?

Citizens, do your homework and vote for those that will govern in your best interest!



Anthony J. Biell

June 30, 2012