Could Bars Be Called Before The Nuisance Abatement Board?

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Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros made that suggestion earlier this month at a town council meeting. Council members were having a discussion about the bicycle fatality on Estero Boulevard that was caused by an alleged drunk driver.

Hosafros suggested the town public safety committee look into the last two fatalities on the beach and find out where people were getting their alcohol before the accidents occurred. “It could be that we have an establishment on the beach that’s over-serving, and if that’s the case, then our Nuisance Abatement Board would come into play.

The town created a Nuisance Abatement Board back in September of 2020 following the murder of 22-year old Johnny Jackson at the Lani Kai. The Nuisance Abatement Board was created to consider cases that involve crimes such as murder, drug dealing, gang activity, illegal gambling, prostitution and assault. And, there needs to be two reports of such activity in a 6-month period.

There’s nothing in the ordinance the says the town can go after businesses for serving alcohol. In fact, that’s exactly what some of the business owners objected to when the NAB was first being considered. There has not been a need for the board to meet to consider any cases yet.

Hosafross said both of the recent fatalities have involved alcohol and she also wants LCSO to look into instituting sobriety checks. “I’m wondering if we need to ask the Sheriff to start performing some kind of weekend stops on the island, especially during season. They do have a method where they stop every third car just to ascertain whether people appear to need to have a sobriety test. It doesn’t really slow down traffic when it’s already not moving. They only pull people out if they ascertain that might be a need.”

At a future meeting the town hopes to hear from LCSO on the issue.

Mayor Ray Murphy said we need more lighting on Estero Boulevard. “We’ve predicted these fatalities and they’re coming now.”

Hosafross added, “While were trying to do good things for safety with lights, our over-riding problem may be with alcohol when it comes to accidents on the beach.”

31-year old Cape Coral resident Jorge Rivera is accused of drunk driving in the death of a 54-year old woman from Michigan while she was riding her motorized bike on Estero Boulevard after dinner on January 27th. Rivera is scheduled to be arraigned before Lee County Judge Robert Branning on February 28th at 8:30AM.

44 COMMENTS

  1. My 5 cents
    1) Why not also blame those worried about the turtles for no lights and the delay for years.
    2) Any kind or color of new lights would be better for street traffic safety than no lights
    3) The drunk driver is 31 and from Cape Coral so he drank on the way here, while here, and going there
    4. Record crowds of people from nearby and far away are here for good times so more chances for accidents
    5. Too many of those on town council shouldn’t be

  2. Hosafros wants to hang some of this on the bars and bartenders for over-serving the driver, assuming he was even in any of the island establishments.

    Others want to hang some of this on the Town Council for not getting sufficient lighting in place for improved visibility.

    But those two positions fail to acknowledge one very simple, important point: that man made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel and drive when clearly impaired. And because of that, a woman is dead. And while we would all like to lay the blame at the foot of someone on the Town Council or one of the island bars & restaurants, the fault lies clearly and solely on the driver. This tragedy, and that’s what this is—a tragedy, should be a wake-up call to all of us: residents, visitors, business owners, employees, and yes Town Council members about the dangers of drunk driving.

    Above and beyond anything, alcohol is a depressant. It depresses your senses: vision, hearing, and your reaction times. And I think some of us who live here year-round have seen our share of visitors having a grand old time while here on vacation. And if we’re being honest, we’ve also seen our own tossing a few (and probably a few too many) back. But that doesn’t allow for the fact that this driver is from Cape Coral. So drunk driving isn’t particular to visitors. We’re all susceptible to it, and it requires us to make better decisions.

    I wouldn’t even presume to try to understand her family’s pain. An unimaginable horror. But it would upset me if I thought her death was being manipulated into something political. So let’s dispense with trying to assign blame to anyone but the driver.

  3. Councilwoman has always tried to deflect everything to the businesses in the island. Everything is their fault. Common sense says as the amount of people grows so shall every statistic grow. Including car accidents, pedestrians being hit, along with every other kind of accident you can think of. Is it the business fault for everything. Or is it just easy to deflect the blame? It’s always easy to blame someone else and not accept the fact that the individual made a poor decision. In this accident and any other. No matter how many safety precautions you take. Incidents will happen. But the town council should stop bullying the towns people and businesses. This is not why you are sitting at that seat. It’s to benefit the lives of the residents and guests.

  4. Lee,
    Let’s say I’m drunk. It’s 9:30 PM. I’m walking along a dock on the waterfront. It’s dark outside but there are random lights along the way to illuminate the path I’m walking. But there’s a light out just above where a bucket is sitting at the edge of the dock and it’s dark there. I’m swaggering left to right on the dock and I trip over the bucket (where it’s dark) and I fall into the water and die. And the dock owner had recently voted to not replace the faulty light. Are you telling me that the dock owner has no “ownership” in the incident that caused my death? Come on Man!

    • Steve, that would be up to a jury. Was there a witness? Were the other lights bright enough to cast some degree of illumination on the can area? Was he tresspassing?
      In the case at hand Jim singled out one council member and acussed her alone in having ownership of what happened because of her vote. Others voted the same way she did.
      So, why just her? Obviously because he didn’t like her idea of looking into a possible local dram shop law and was responding to that objection.
      In the end, he went after a single council member because of a shared council decision and put his perceived “ownership” all on her.
      Let’s not forget that victim made the choice to ride her bike on a darkened stretch of road, a factor I am sure a good defense lawyer would raise many times.
      But my argument is ownership of this crime rests solely on the guy who chose to drive drunk, in violation of state law, committing two crimes, one of which is a secind degree felony, another factor that defense lawyer would keep in the minds of the jury.

      • Again, you keep shaping the truth into your own narrative. I said she (as an elected Councilwoman) has more ownership for the safety and security of the public than a private business. I never said she was responsible for the death. See the difference?
        That’s exactly how you do it by calling everyone who attended on January 6th as an insurrectionist, calling everyone who voted for Trump a racist, and everyone who doesn’t want to take the Covid jab as an anti-vaxer. That’s exactly the same if I would broadcast everyone who votes for “pro-choice” candidates are simply supporting the genocide of innocent babies. Except of course that only one of those is actually true,…

  5. I went back and read Jim Hockett’s original post and it would behoove you to do the same. I read it twice and I don’t see anything that said Rexann Hosafros was responsible for the bicyclists death. That’s creative journalism on your part.

    • Steve, he said she had more “ownership” in that incident than a business owner because of her vote. Ownership speaks for itself. His use of it implies that because of her vote she somehow has culpability in that death. It’s a false equivalence, that her vote gives her a hand in the crime of drunk driving that occurred.
      That’s unfair.

      • Gentlemen it’s been a great debate.
        I used some adjectives referring to Jim I should not have used and for that I apologize.
        Otherwise, debate closed.
        I won.

  6. Jim has no problem defending himself but I’m compelled to chirp in. Councilwoman Hosafros is an elected official and therefore open to negative as well as positive comments and constructive criticism. Jim posted comments on a public forum under his own name, not as anonymous individual with a fake account name. Jim’s comments may have offended a retired journalist but I don’t see the problem with putting it out there. Elected officials should have thick enough skin to handle occasional criticism.

    • Big difference between fair comment and criticism of public officials, which no one defends more than me, and claiming they had a hand in a killing, which, make no mistake, is what was said here. Huge difference.

      • Just when I thought we were bonding, you start that virtue signaling again buddy! 🤣

        We said she has more ownership (knowing the Mayor said lighting was a factor) than a private business. You are the only one who keeps saying she was responsible for the killing. Understand the difference?

        • Ownership? There’s no mistaking what that means.
          BTW I could argue that bar owners and bartenders who continue pouring booze to an obviously sloshed customer and watches them stumble out the door and climb behind the wheel rather than cutting them off earlier should share some responsibility.
          Bit I realize there is no dram shop law in Florida so it would be useless.

  7. Lee Melsek – You have to take these comments in context of what Rexann is saying – by stating that businesses need to be brought in front of the NAB is a hypocritical stance when she has a much responsibility as they do for not perusing adequate lighting for island when many suitable solutions have been researched and recommended. She chose to single out businesses and she is wrong (she is wrong most of the time). I don’t think anyone can disagree that the majority of the responsibly lies with the drunk asshole that hit the poor women, but no one can say that if the area was properly lit, that this may not have happened – no one knows, but to absolve her and the council of responsibility is also short sighted.

    • There is no evidence the town street lights had any role in this death. Therefore to somehow attempt to connect her with the crime because of her vote is ludicrous and more than a bit cruel.

      • No evidence other than the fact it was dark in the area, the light in that immediate was were out (listed as one to be turned off purposely by the Town due to turtle distraction) and the Mayor publicly saying it was a factor. Absolutely none other than those.

      • To be fair – there is no evidence his drinking caused the fatality either, just acquisitions. And we all know that his drinking is a major factor in the death of that poor women. But like Mr. Hockett said – the facts are the light was off due to “turtle distractions” – to ignore that fact is the same as ignoring the fact the guy was drunk. Cruel is being dead. Holding elected officials accountable is far from cruel, it is expected.

          • There you go again Jim with the ad hominem and straw man personal attacks.
            You said she has ownership of what happened. That certainly implies responsibility for it. That’s a fact. She has none. That’s the truth.
            BTW Norman missed on his assertion there is no evidence the drinking caused the accident. Of course there is. The law is clear. A blood alcohol level above 0.08 in Florida is defined as drunk. Law enforcement obviously has a blood alcohol or breathelyzer test result above that level. Therefore, by law, his impairment was the cause of her death.

  8. You do love those ad hominem straw man fallacy arguments Jim. Anything to fog the issue.
    First, she has no ownership in a drunk driver’s crime of killng someone and accusing her of such in a public forum is dead wrong.
    Secondly, you know nothing about newsrooms or how they function so don’t pretend to.
    Thirdly, I do agree with your statement about the mayor pointing the finger at the town’s lighting having a part in this.
    Pretty sure the lawyers for the victim’s family will love that assistance in a wrongful death lawsuit.

  9. Tough question. Do I agree with Lee’s comments or do I support Jim’s perspective. Ummmmm, uhhhh, let me think ….., ummmmmmmmm. Let’s go with Jim Hockett’s version. I like wise, well worded, fact based arguments. Lighting may not have been the biggest factor in the woman’s tragic death but it didn’t help either. To be this many years down the path with no lighting solution at hand is despicable, especially when their professional consultant gave them a firm recommendation that the council chose to ignore. I guess we know now that Bruce Butcher wasn’t to blame then and is not to blame now. They should have listened to Bruce.

    • Here’s some facts Stebmve:
      From the police report:
      Charge: drunk driving resulting in a death.
      Neither poor street lighting nor Councilwman Hosafross’ vote have been listed as contributing factors.
      Jim’s bouncing between ad hominem and strawberry man arguments attacking my politics and questioning my professional have anything to do with these facts.
      The victim was killed by a drunk driver. Rexann Hosafross and street lights are not responsible for that.
      Trying to connect Rexann to a killing is way beyond reason. And is despicable.

        • Bahahaha, it’s like the good ole days in the pressroom Lee. Too late to edit after the press is shut off and the ink rollers have been cleaned

          • PS, just to keep you straight, my comment was that she has more ownership than a private business. As an elected official responsible for the safety of the constituents that seems pretty obvious to me, but again I understand it’s a playbook leftist attempt to make that objective truth into an emotional plea. It’s so predictable, but disappointing because I truly know you’re more intelligent than that and can do better.

  10. Lee, actual my dislike is towards your personal radical leftist positions, however I suppose you may be just defending another person with the same radical viewpoint so I can understand that.

    But to the primary point, the Mayor himself is the one who said lighting contributed to the accident, not me. And everything I said in my comments related to the MPO study and the lighting fiasco is 100% accurate. As an elected official, it is HER responsibility to protect the citizens against drunks as much as possible by creating a safe and secure environment. To blame it on innocent businesses when we all know drunks will drink wherever they choose is the only slander occurring here. However you raise a good point about how defense lawyers may address this tragedy with the Mayor acknowledging lighting was a contributor to the death, the fact that the Council chose not to follow the MPO recommendations to provide new lighting for safety and security 2 years ago, and the fact that they turn off 50 of the lights in Estero because someone said they had light trespass onto the beach…one of them being at that exact location.

    • Oh bullshit. This has nothing to do with liberal-conservative.
      The guy was drunk. Period.
      His oqn headlights were lights enough.
      It is despicable to put this on her shoulders. And moronic.

      • Lee, you’re inflammatory comments have no merit when the facts are undeniable. However I do admire how you can take an untrue thing and then create an illogical but emotional narrative that supports the lie and then act as if you’re morally offended. It’s impressive. Were you ever part of the media by any chance?

  11. Oh, please Jim. Putting that death on Rexann is beyond absurd, it’s despicable. If that guy was drunk as the cops say lighting had nothing to do with it. Only a defense lawyer would attempt to blame it on the lighting. And they would lose.
    Drunk drivers kill people in broad daylight and along well lighted roads every day.
    Your personal dislike for Rexann’s positions has crossed into near slanderous malice.

  12. As I’ve said before – the lighting issue should have been resolved and up years ago. Human safety should be number one in an area where humans reside and visitors in large numbers come to period.
    As far as liquor there are Federal and State departments that oversee the liquor license holders – ATF and DABT. And police and courts, etc. a local level is another overreach of boundaries.
    We continue to have more and more people stay on the island and it has a huge affect on everyone here. Not just residents but everyone. The more people that live and vacation here the bigger the chance of more safety issues. You can’t have it both ways. There is no more complete quiet after season. You can’t swell to what I believe used to be about 40,000 people in season and not expect issues. I believe that number is probably higher now. I love the tourists. As a business owner it’s what keeps us in business. But we have to keep it safe for all who are here – they need to be able to see to walk – ride a bike or drive!
    We had a couple of girls who came in last week who we could visually tell they were intoxicated – they were told they would not be served and they called our Manager every name in the book – the police were called – the police told them they could either walk away from our establishment or they could be arrested for public intoxication. They chose to leave. But sometimes it is not so easy to tell if people are at a level of one more drink and they are over the edge. Staff is trained on what to do when we know they have had too much. We know our liquor license is at risk, we carry liquor license liability insurance that would make you cringe if you saw the figure as well as the value of a full service liquor license. We are a business that takes it seriously as all business do. We do what we are supposed to do.
    Get some damn lights up – let the other federal and state agencies manage the liquor establishments with their trained specialists and/or staff. Instead spend time working on the things you can control to make Ft Myers Beach safer. Pick a battle and do the best you can. The council should not be involved in every single issue. They would be meeting every day – they can’t do this. I appreciate every single one of them whether I agree with them or not. But I don’t want them to make our town a bigger brother than it already is. I want to see more lights and more police presence. I want my patrons to see when they walk, ride a bike or drive whatever is allowed and be able to read a menu!!! I want people to all have common sense but we all know that one just can’t be ………

  13. It feels like someone has a new toy (the NAB) and is anxious to use it. This was exactly the concern of many when it was created.
    Agree that there well may have been two factors in that fatality, alcohol and lack of lighting.

  14. Totally agree with Jim. It’s exactly what I told friends when we discussed the accident. There were two factors to the accident NO LIGHTING and a drunk driver. The council is totally to blame. Since we purchased our home down here over 10 years ago they were talking about the lighting, still talking. GET IT DONE! Shame on ALL of you.

  15. Is there even proof that this guy was even at an establishment? Maybe he over served himself at home, and was on his way to an establishment. Can’t haul his potential destination establishment in front of the NAB.

  16. Rexann has more ownership of that fatality than any business because she was the driving force to defeat the lighting recommendations made by the County in their consultants MPO study. Those recommendations would have already had all the lighting replaced with a white light that provides significantly better safety and security than their Amber choice while preventing the light from distracting turtles – plus at $0 cost to taxpayers. If she has a conscience and an ounce of humility, she and the other members will now realize that was a bad choice 2 years ago and move quickly to implement the County’s original recommendation and protect the citizens.

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