That was the message from Fire District Commissioner Jacki Liszak Wednesday. The 5-member Fire District Board let everyone know how angry and caught off guard they were when they learned Representative Adam Botana was pushing to merge the beach fire department into Bonita Springs.
Liszak said a category 5 hurricane couldn’t take us out, I don’t think a little legislation is going to take us out either. She added, “I thought it was in extreme poor taste to bring this up at this point in this community’s recovery process. The fact that this is being brought forward in the manner it was is so egregious I can’t even begin to address it properly. And it just goes to show how out of touch this particular individual is with our community that he purports to serve.”
Commissioner Ron Fleming mentioned that Botana was on stage during the September 28th one-year anniversary in Fort Myers Beach with Chief Wirth and didn’t say anything. “That ceremony turned into a political pep rally. The thoughts of the victims and survivors were glossed over.”
Fleming went on to say that the Botana plan to merge the district into Bonita Springs showed a lack of empathy and humanness. He said it’s pouring salt into our wounds. “He (Botana) should be ashamed of himself but he’s not. He’s a politician. He’s only in it for himself.”
Botana told Beach Talk Radio News last week that the reason he’s pushing for the merger is to save the taxpayers money. There are now 17 special fire districts in Lee County, each its own taxing district. Botana told both Fire Chiefs about his Bill on Friday, October 6th. Neither Chief knew about the proposed merger before that date.
Florida statute says this type of merger should be accompanied by a plan and needs to have an economic statement. To this point, neither was provided. The legislature can bypass that statute if they so choose and approve a merger like this.
The Fire District Board will be sending a letter to the Florida delegation in opposition of the merger. The Fort Myers Beach Town Council is also sending a letter in opposition. Fire Commissioners and Town Council members are not opposed to saving the taxpayers money but believe their should be some data to prove that’s the case. Florida Senator Jonathan Martin told Beach Talk Radio News this week he would have killed the Bill if it ever made it to Tallahassee.
Fire Chief Scott Wirth is encouraging residents that planned to go to the meeting on the 30th at FSW to speak at public comment to keep with that plan.
Representative Botana is scheduled to be on Beach Talk Radio Saturday morning, October 28th at 11AM