Murray Hendel – One of a Kind

By Dave Trecker
Published in Florida Weekly

Murray Hendel was just that. One of a kind.

He passed away earlier this month and left a legacy we mere mortals can only dream about.

He never ran for public office but had more clout than most local officials. Political wannabes routinely lined up for his support. Charismatic, direct and funny, Murray mobilized people for a cause, then sent them off to deliver.

From a prominent Connecticut family of retailers and Democrat kingmakers, Murray referred to his northern relatives as “those pinkos.” He was a personal friend of Senator Bob Dole and a self-proclaimed New England Republican. But politics never got in Murray’s way. He was one of those rare people who could rise above politics.

I crossed paths with Murray many times. When he chaired the Collier County Presidents Council, he recruited me, then parceled out an assignment: “Trecker, I want you to follow what goes on in Tallahassee and report on it every month.” Many years and many organizations later, I still keep track of the Florida legislature.

When Murray became disenchanted with the CCPC, he gathered Bob Raymond and me for breakfast at a local Skillets and, together, we founded the Collier Community Alliance, later to become the Collier Citizens Council. Murray, of course, was the first president. He was decisive and very impatient. “Trecker, do you think we should do this? Good. Take care of it.”

A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Murray was — like the writer — a huge UConn basketball fan. When both the UConn men and women won national championships in 2014, he presented me with a commemorative jersey. It doesn’t fit (Murray was a big guy), but it’s still hanging in my closet.

His bio is something to behold. A CPA by training, he served in the military and was a senior executive in a number of firms. While working with the IRS, he received a National Presidential Award from President Lyndon Johnson.

In retirement in Naples, Murray chaired the Tourist Development Council and Naples General Employees’ Pension Fund and served as a director on the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the CCPC and CCC, he served as president of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums and the Holocaust Museum of SW Florida.

To no one’s surprise, Murray caulked up a slew of awards.

• Community Achievement Award (2010)

• Samuel Noe Award (2010)

• Collier County Community Service Award (2015)

• Collier County Sheriff’s Office Community Star (2018)

•Jewish Historical Society of SWFL Award (2018)

And he has an award named after him — the CCC’s Murray Hendel Award for Civic Achievement. Recipients have included community leaders who battled identity theft, promoted mental health care and provided medical service to the needy.

Murray was in constant motion. I watched as he led the charge to raise funds for the Freedom Memorial, a project that honors veterans and first responders. He also championed a one-cent increase in the tourist development tax, a controversial proposal that was enacted in 2017.

One of his proudest achievements was “Murray’s Mile,” a one mile stretch of boardwalk along the Gulf Shore beach named for him by the Naples City Council. To stroll with Murray on his early morning walks there was the ultimate recognition. Kathleen Passidomo and past mayors Bill Barnett and John Sorey were among his companions. “If you wanted political blessing,” said Bob Raymond, himself a regular walking companion, “you had to join Murray on his ‘mile’.”

He was indeed one of a kind — a friend and mentor to many of us. But you can’t get too maudlin about Murray. He didn’t like praise. It took up too much time. ¦

— A Naples resident, Dave Trecker serves on a number of local boards.

CCC to Host Commissioner Candidate Forums

In Person and on Collier Television CTV. Comcast 97

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Commissioner Chambers

3299 Tamiami Trail East, Suite 303

District 2 Candidates – 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

  • Jason Brooke
  • Reg Buxton
  • Lynn Corr
  • Chris Hall
  • Gerald J. Lefebvre
  • Nancy Lewis
  • John Socher
  • Rob Tolp

District 4 Candidates – 6:45 to 8:15 p.m.

  • Daija Hinojosa
  • Daniel Kowal
  • Michelle McLeod
  • Penny Taylor

The forum is hosted by Collier Citizens Council in partnership with Naples Better Government, the League of Women Voters and Greater Naples Leadership and features a discussion of candidates’ positions and priorities.

View Commissioner Candidate Forum at Collier Television CTV. Comcast 97.

Please contact Nancy Kerns for additional information. 239-821-5208 or nancyhkerns@gmail.com

Transparency and Full Disclosure of Fiscal Impact Analysis

Transparency and Full Disclosure of Fiscal Impact Analysis

The Collier Citizens Council affirms the fundamental principles of transparency and full
disclosure when examining any issue affecting Collier residents.
Certainly taxpayers are concerned about a possible $3.8 Billion deficit (NDN 9/7/2020) from not following Smart Growth protocols of development in the vast RLSA in Eastern Collier County. This hidden charge is a rounded $10,000 per capita financial burden paid directly or indirectly by the county’s 385,000 residents
We know that either a neutral or positive taxpayer benefit is required by statute (LDC 4.08.07L) as a condition for RLSA development. Any result short of that is not only unacceptable but is a breach of a critical, legal safeguard for the protection of the County and its residents. Therefore, we advocate a pause in the approval of RLSA projects until residents are provided with complete and credible information about the assumptions and calculations documenting statutory fiscal compliance.
We also know that basic principles of transparency and fairness are not in place when developers’ consultants decline to provide full disclosure of the assumptions and calculations within their fiscal impact models. Such ‘black box’ algorithms yield opaque results without credibility to concerned residents expecting that their representatives will protect their financial interests.
Accordingly, the Collier Citizens Council recommends the following protocols and actions prior to any RLSA approvals:
1. Only ‘open box’ financial models documenting fiscal impact compliance. Project cash flows to include a proportion of exterior County improvements allocated to each project.
2. County engagement of consultants to (i) create models, or (ii) validate/amend developer models and (iii) forecast cumulative fiscal impact from prior approved towns and villages, including Ave Maria’s alleged, large deficit paid by residents.
3. The scope and extended timeline for constructing exterior infrastructure and the buildout of towns and villages requires utilization of sound present value analysis. The County is deploying massive upfront cost outlays for exterior and interior infrastructure, core amenities and maintenance prior to the receipt of substantial lagging cash inflows from building impact fees, sales taxes etc.
4. A significant contingency cost is required for all fiscal impact models to account for the uncertainties of costing and timing variables. Developers, not only residents, must share in future risk with updated and rebalanced fiscal impact models at intervals of 5 years or less.

Ian McKeag and Mike Lyster, Collier Citizens Council

2020 Amendments on November Ballot

Published in Florida Weekly 1/10/20

 

HERE COME THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

 

By Dave Trecker

 

The good news is there will be only six constitutional amendments on the ballot this year as opposed to a staggering 12 in 2018. The bad news is few people have a clue what any of the amendments are about.

 

Here’s a quick summary.

 

Amendment 1 tinkers with wording on who can vote in Florida, changing “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state …” to “Only a citizen …” It’s a distinction without a practical difference. Whether you vote for or against matters little.

 

Amendment 2 gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. Florida’s minimum wage is now $8.56, indexed to inflation.

Supporters, led by activist lawyer John Morgan, claim that falls far short of providing a livable income, said to be $55,000 for a family of four.

 

The impact could be considerable in Southwest Florida, with its slew of restaurant, hotel and farm workers. Jim Wall of CareerSource Southwest Florida said the boost in minimum wage could add $120 billion to the local economy by 2024.

 

Opponents see nothing but carnage. Amendment 2, they say, would be a death knell to small businesses. Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce wrote, “We’d lose over 500,000 jobs in Florida.” Carol Dover of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association added, “We need to be sure these [low-income] people understand they literally could be voting themselves out of a job.”

 

The irony is, by 2026 most of the country will have a minimum wage well beyond $15 an hour.

 

Amendment 3, the dreaded ‘jungle primary,’ would open the primary election for governor, the legislature and cabinet to all voters regardless of party affiliation, with the top two vote getters progressing to the general election. That could be two Republicans, two Democrats or one from each party.

 

Spurred by an ‘All Voters Vote’ campaign, the amendment claims to enfranchise 4 million independents now shut out of closed primaries. Supporter Mike Fernandez said, “Florida is among only a handful of states that do not allow all qualified voters to participate in primary elections. How backward is that?”

 

Neither Republican nor Democrat officials want anything to do with the amendment. They argue it robs registered voters of both parties the right to choose their own candidate. Florida Republican Party attorney Benjamin Gibson said, “The amendment redefines what has worked well in Florida for over a century.”

 

Amendment 4 would require 60% voter approval of proposed constitutional amendments in two successive statewide elections. “The vote is so nice, we’re doing it twice.”

 

Proponents say that would do away with whimsical amendments and help keep the constitution clean. They point out the Florida constitution has been amended an unconscionable 140 times in the past 60 years.

 

Detractors say this is nothing more than a power play by a partisan legislature to make it difficult for citizen groups to have a say in lawmaking. Over the past 20 years, 79% of amendments that made the ballot were approved. But what if supporters had to mount costly campaigns not once, but twice? The legislature is betting few will have the financial chops to stay the course.

 

Amendment 5 would extend from 2 to 3 years the period a person can transfer Save Our Homesbenefits to a new homestead property. Little controversy here.

 

Amendment 6 would allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. Again, little controversy.

 

To learn what the experts think, go to the Collier County website, find “Stay Connected” and punch on “Meeting Video Archives.” Once accessed, go to “Archived Videos” and view “2020 Election Amendments forum.”

 

A retired Pfizer executive, Dave Trecker serves on a number of local boards.

2020 Amendment Forums

Click on the link below to view the forums for Conservation Collier and the six Constitutional amendments that will appear on the November 3, 2020. You may also go to the Collier County website … colliercountyfl.gov… then go to the video archive to view the video.

https://collier.granicus.com/player/clip/2909?view_id=4&redirect=true

A PLAN FOT PROTECTING THE COLLIER COUNTY SHORELINE

 

A PLAN FOR PROTECTING THE COLLIER COUNTY SHORELINE

By Dave Trecker

What’s our most valuable asset?

Most people would say it’s our shoreline, with its beaches and bays and inlets. A focal point for tourism, it sets Collier County apart; visitors always head straight for the beach. And it provides a weekend destination for the rest of us.

Plus it has financial value. The coastline is a growth magnet for new businesses and new residents, drawing not only from our northern states, but from countries around the world. And it adds immeasurably to the value of our homes.

There’s no question the shoreline is very important. It’s also very vulnerable.

Like much of the rest of Florida, the Collier coast is flat, threatened by sea-level rise and fierce tidal storms. Hurricanes are on the rise, with Category 4 and 5 storms projected to increase in frequency by up to 87% by the end of the century. But you don’t have to wait until 2100 to see the impact. Experts say we could have as many as 180 tidal floods a year by 2045.

The Naples area is particularly exposed. An analysis by CoreLogic estimates a storm reconstruction cost of $43 billion, one of the highest in the nation. And we continue to build along the shoreline, putting more luxury high rises in harm’s way – the most recent example being One Naples at the foot of Vanderbilt Beach Road, now up for county approval.

Short-term measures to deal with the threat are few and far between. Coastal Zone Management shores up eroded beaches with frequent truck hauls, bringing quarry sand to repair the most badly damaged areas. Rocketing flood insurance rates discourage some coastal building. Otherwise little is being done. No zoning changes, no mandated elevation of shoreline structures, no surcharges to discourage coastal building, no steps to elevate roadways or protect infrastructure.

And you can’t blame our local officials. They have a limited budget and immediate problems to deal with, not the least of which is the COVID-19 pandemic. Coastal resiliency is well down the priority list.

But it’s not being ignored. Fortunately something is being done about it. A far-reaching plan is being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen our beaches and protect inland property. Driving the project is Gary McAlpin, head of CZM. Sensing the coastline’s vulnerability, McAlpin worked with USACE for nearly ten years to secure funding for a feasibility study.

That study went public in August 2020. Incorporating stakeholder input, the plan will be finalized for review by the USACE chief in 2021 and subsequently sent to Washington DC for approval by numerous committees and eventually by Congress. Funding authorization for engineering and permitting would then be sought. With a comprehensive design in hand, USACE would seek federal money to implement Phase 1.

What does the plan entail? It’s a fifty-year, multi-stage blueprint for safeguarding the shore, with an overall cost in the billions. The plan calls for the U.S. government to foot 65% of the bill and Collier County 35%.

Phase 1 would involve massive beach strengthening – increasing beach width to 150 feet and building dune heights to 10-14 feet – and large-scale protective plantings. Sand would come from offshore dredging.

That would be accompanied by selective hardening with seawalls, groins and surge barriers, as well as elevating and flood-proofing critical infrastructure.

A unique feature of the project is hydraulic isolation and protection of six separate coastline areas. That means taking a number of small bites, each providing standalone protection.

To the USACE’s credit, the plan aims to use taxpayer money wisely. Resiliency measures are proposed only if they’re cost effective. Some areas are candidates for beach buildup and hardening, while others fare best from elevating and flood-proofing buildings.

McAlpin points out the USACE feasibility plan is just that, a plan. Buy-in from stakeholders is essential. Certain elements of the plan may be adopted and others changed. It will be an interactive process. And it will take time to wind its way through the government bureaucracy. Competing with other proposals for the same money, the project will require vigorous lobbying by our Congressional delegation.

While the USACE proposal is our best bet at this time, it could be scuttled for any number of reasons. If so, the county would have to come up with its own design and, importantly, find the money to pay for it.

One thing is certain. We must protect our shoreline and start to plan for it now. The risks are real. Sea-level rise, coastal storms and hurricanes aren’t going to go away.

Dave Trecker is chairman of the county’s Coastal Advisory Committee and a long-standing member of Collier Citizens Council.

Murray Hendel Award

MURRAY HENDEL AWARD

In 2017 the Collier Citizens’ Council wanted to find a way to honor one of its founders and first president, Murray Hendel.

The idea was to establish an annual award to be given in Hendel’s name to someone who had made extraordinary contributions to Collier County.

2020 will mark our fourth year in awarding a Collier citizen who has made such contributions: Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. He follows Carrie Kerskie, Judge Janeice Martin and Nancy Laschied, all honored for their extraordinary contributions in their respective fields of endeavor.

Sheriff Rambosk has served as a police officer , an assistant city manager and city manager in the city of Naples before he became Sheriff of Collier County in 2009.

As Sheriff he has instituted numerous innovations that have served our area well within the parameters of law enforcement.

However while serving as Sheriff, Kevin has also served our community by serving actively on numerous county not-for-profit boards : Collier Resource Center, the Shelter for Abused Women, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Collier , Boy Scouts of America , the Community Blood Center ,Juvenile Justice Center , Youth Haven and Substance Abuse Coalition of Collier County.

He has also been recognized for his numerous efforts by the following awards: 2020 NAACP Humanitarian Award, 2019 Florida Sheriffs’ Risk Management Fund Leadership award, named one of Gulfshore Life Magazine’s 2017 Man of the Year , 2016 Government Champion of Youth Paragon Award, Florida Business Recognition Award by Collier County School Board, 2014 Good Citizenship Medal-National Sons of the American Revolution , 2014 David S. Crawford Law Enforcement Officer Victim Services Award, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce 2012 Man of Distinction Award, 2011 Leadership Award by the Florida D.A.R.E. Officers’ Association, Outstanding Community Policing Award by the National League of Cities , Outstanding Crime Prevention Program “Love our Kids” – Lock your Guns program award by the Florida Crime Prevention Association.

It is our pleasure and honor to add one more well deserved distinction to Sheriff Rambosk’s roster of awards, the 2020 Murray Hendel award for his extraordinary contributions to all of Collier County.

A PLAN FOR PROTECTING THE COLLIER SHORELINE

By Dave Trecker

The threat is real.

Florida is the flattest state in the country, with 1,350 miles of shoreline, much of it vulnerable to storms and flood surges that batter beaches and threaten coastal property. Some 35% of the state’s nearly 9 million homes near the shore are at risk of flooding.

The Naples area is particularly exposed. An analysis by CoreLogic estimates a storm reconstruction cost of  $43 billion, one of the highest in the nation. Flooding is bad now and will worsen as the sea level rises. And Isaias reminded us that hurricanes visit Florida every year, whipping up vicious storm surges.

The shoreline is clearly at risk.

The good news is something is being done about it. A far-reaching plan is being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen beaches and protect inland property.

The impresario driving the plan is Gary McAlpin, head of Coastal Zone Management, which is responsible for maintaining county beaches, inlets and bays. Recognizing the coastline’s vulnerability, McAlpin has worked with USACE for nearly ten years to secure funding for the feasibility study.

The study is now at a critical review stage. USACE has drafted an initial plan en route to a 50-year, multibillion-dollar blueprint for safeguarding the shore. The plan calls for the U.S. government to pay 65% of the cost and Collier County 35%.

McAlpin says, “The USACE recognizes the need and is willing to partner with us to develop a risk-reduction program that will benefit all county residents and businesses.”

The first stage, to be implemented when project funding is obtained, involves massive beach strengthening – increasing width to 150 feet and building dune heights to 10-14 feet – and large-scale protective plantings.  That will be accompanied by selective hardening with seawalls, groins and surge barriers, as well as flood-proofing critical infrastructure.

A centerpiece of the project is hydraulic isolation and protection of six separate areas. That means taking a number of small bites, each providing standalone protection.

The intent is to use the taxpayer’s money wisely. Resiliency measures are proposed only if they’re cost effective. For example, some areas may require beach buildup and hardening, while others fare best from elevating or flood-proofing buildings.

McAlpin points out the USACE feasibility plan is just that, a plan. Buy-in from stakeholders is essential. Certain elements of the plan may be adopted and others changed. It will be an interactive process.

Moving forward, the program has several milestones.

  • Approval of the feasibility plan by the Chief of USACE (2021)
  • Congressional authorization of the project
  • First-stage Congressional funding
  • Project development, engineering and permitting

County staff and commissioners have been briefed on the USACE study.

The next step is two public workshops, August 18 at 1-3 p.m. and August 24 at 5-8 p.m., at which the Army Corps will solicit comments and suggestions.

The workshops will be virtual and can be accessed at https://usace.webex.com/meet/alicia.m.logalbo. Enter your name and email address. For the audio portion, call (817) 336-1829, access code: 9556794, security code: 1234. A backup line is (888) 363-4749, access code: 5073286, security code: 1234.

The interim report, entitled “The Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement,” is available at www.saj.usace,army.mil/CollierCountyCSRMFeasibilityStudy/.

To submit comments, email Collier-CSRM@usace.army.mil or send by regular mail to: Mr. Zach Martin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, 803 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. The deadline is September 14.

A retired chemist, Dave Trecker is chairman of the county’s Coastal Advisory Committee.

Linda & Nick Penniman receive Conservancy highest honor

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has bestowed its highest honor, the Eagle Award, on Nick and Linda Penniman, long-time supporters of the environment and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at its annual meeting. The award was presented by Van Williams, president of the Conservancy’s board of directors.

“It is our honor and pleasure to support this couple, recognizing how much they’ve contributed to Collier County and the Conservancy over the years,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s their integrity, dedication and unwavering commitment to what we do and what needs to be done here in the county.”

Each year, the Conservancy presents its prestigious Eagle Awards to individuals and organizations that provide outstanding leadership on environmental causes, shepherd philanthropic initiatives and participate in grassroots activism.

“Linda and I do what we do not for the recognition, but because of the work that needs to be done,” said Nick Penniman. “This award was truly special to us because it was given to us jointly, recognizing the work that we do together. There’s no other place in the region where you have as many environmental issues to address. We truly believe the Conservancy is the most effective organization in the country as their work is urgently important to the development of Southwest Florida. It’s a great honor and very satisfying for us to be involved.”

Nick Penniman retired in 1999 as publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Currently on the Conservancy’s board of directors, he served as board chair from 1995-1997, and led the Saving Southwest Florida campaign to build the Conservancy campus for two years. For the Conservancy’s 50th anniversary in 2014, he published “Nature’s Steward: A History of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.” He is a former member of both the Coastal Advisory Community and the Environmental Advisory Committee for Collier County. His second book, “A Toxic Inconvenience: Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae on Florida’s Coast,” was published late last year.

Linda Penniman served on the Naples City Council from 2014 -2019, championing the environment and serving on a special taskforce for The Conservancy, chair of the Collier County Waterkeeper and aiding the city of Naples Planning Advisory Board, Coastal Advisory Committee and other organizations.

To learn more about the Conservancy, visit www.conservancy.org. ¦