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Commentary seen as distorted

October 24, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

The new Mayor Bob Raymond put out a "Guest Commentary" to several papers to insinuate, among other things, that Charlie Whitehead "bashed" Fort Myers Beach. This is totally untrue! Charlie posted an endorsement by the Civic Association on his website Neither Charlie nor the endorsement says anything negative about this community, its residents, or even it's Town Government. I read it. The endorsement lists an opinion of just Larry Kiker's record in Public Office. The Mayor's "Guest Commentary" is distorted and only serves to make this island look like a community divided, which we are not.

One of the most offensive statements, in my opinion, the Mayor made is, "By the way, Mr. Whitehead is not a resident of the Town of Fort Myers Beach and apparently knows very little about our community." Charlie lives right over the bridge on San Carlos Island, near our Commercial Shrimp Fleet which this Town celebrates every year with a festival and parade. He also lives near my family on San Carlos Island who put on the Fourth of July Fireworks celebration in this Town for more than 20 years as well as the New Years Eve Fireworks. He lives near my mother who continues to serve this island's residents, businesses and visitors in more ways than we can count.

There are families who live OTB (over the bridge) whose children attend our Beach Elementary School, and these parents are very active in this community. Many of our Beach School teachers and staff live OTB and are active in this community as well; the same goes for many of our firemen. The list goes on. Historically, we are a shared community; San Carlos Island just opted not to be incorporated, so they are not governed by our Town.

As for Charlie Whitehead, he has been active in this community for over 25 years, longer than anyone currently sitting on Town Council. He has sat on several of our Advisory Boards, the Beach School SAC Committee and has headed up our Town's Little League Program. It is the Mayor, who has only lived here full time for just over five years, who apparently knows little about this community and the people who make it great! It disappoints me that Bob Raymond would use his new "powers" as Mayor to make negative and distorted remarks about someone who has been a friend and an asset to this island for over 25 years!

As Mayor, to speak on behalf of the Town, on an issue that puts this island in the middle of a political campaign between two local candidates who share friends, shows a lack of civil virtue. Both Charlie and Larry have done well to keep their campaigns OTB. One of these men will be our next County Commissioner, and come Nov. 7, both campaigns will be water under the bridge.

FYI Mr. Mayor: After your letter, I checked Public Records. Another thing you are wrong about in your article is the Town Manager's compensation package. Taxpayers do indeed pay for the Town Manager nearly $176,000 a year as the endorsement states. Here's the breakdown for you: Wages $120k; Vehicle $6k; Health $21,929.96; Retirement $17,751.50; Social Security $6,826.20; and Medicare $2,144.98. Just thought you should know since in your "Guest Commentary" you wondered "where on earth" they came up with that figure. It came from Town Hall. Now, can we all just please get along?

Tracey Gore

Fort Myers Beach



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