Mayor Slaps Down MERTF Committee Behavior

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Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers was none-too-happy that the Marine & Environmental Resources Task Force committee removed Estero Boulevard resident Eddie Rood from their agenda after the town staff placed him on the agenda for their December 13th meeting.

Rood, who also leads the 501c3 organization Friends of Little Estero Island, wanted to tell the committee about the problem of the invasive Australian Pines on the beach and the proliferation of sand spurs. Those are issues the MERTF committee was specifically organized to address; environmental issues affecting residents.

The committee removed Rood from the agenda because they were not consulted with adding him beforehand. It’s important to note that the majority of the committee worked overtime trying to do everything possible to get Rood’s Dune Walkover denied. The personal animosity toward Rood from the majority of this committee runs deep.

Mayor Dan Allers said he was concerned that a town resident with concerns that pertains to the island is simply taken off the agenda. “How does that happen? To me this seems like something that should go through the MERTF Committee so they can make recommendations to the council. And to not be heard doesn’t make sense to me.”

Allers was not happy Rood was just removed from the MERTF agenda when staff believed the issue was important enough to put him on. “This is an environmental issue, Allers said.”

Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt said the items Rood brought up were time sensitive and needed to be heard.

Rood had to use 3 minutes of public comment at the start of the meeting and then again at the end of the meeting to pass along his Australian Pine and sand spur information.

During the MERTF meeting several committee members also repeatedly berated and mocked town employee Chad Chustz, who is the town staff liaison to the committee for not attending. Chustz was out on a sick day.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the politics in Chicago are bad! Holy Shit, reading the article and then the comments, no wonder it takes this council and city years to do what is simple and right! God, Can you send down Harold Washington back down, to set both sides back on the straight and righteous path??

  2. It may surprise many people, including most of MERTF’s members but Eddie Rood is a great supporter of the environment. That’s a fact. He has great respect for wildlife and nature. Not permitting him to present his time sensitive topics seemed petty and vindictive but just another example of the arrogance and pompousness of the MERTF chairman and a couple of its members. In this instance an island resident with valid concerns wasn’t allowed to present them as an agenda item. Shake my head.

    • You must not have watched the entire MERTF meeting. Eddie Rood was able to present all of his concerns and they were addressed. If Chadd Chustz had contacted the MERTF chairman in advance…. this would not have been an issue, I’m also glad to hear Mr. Chustz is actively working with the Anchorage Advisory Committee. I question what his motives are for no longer being actively engaged with MERTF.

      • I watched the entire MERTF meeting and saw the lengthy discussion and decision to remove Eddie Rood as an agenda item. When he was there simply to help. The fact that he was allowed to speak at the end doesn’t forgive the ridiculousness of removing him from the agenda in the first place. He was permitted to speak only after it was clear to the committee members that Eddie’s intentions were misread. God forbid that anyone would present a topic that could in any way be disagreeable to MERTF or its members beliefs.

  3. I would like the mayor, the entire town council and the Ryan’s as well as some of the commentators on this article to closely look at the performance of Chadd Chustz as a FMB employee. He is no longer visible on the videotaped MERTF meetings. He is frequently sitting in the back reading and typing on his cell phone or laptop. If previous recorded meetings are reviewed, when asked a question from a MERTF member, he normally has to ask that it be repeated because he isn’t paying attention. He has stopped collaborating with the chairman of MERTF to establish agendas. This is why Eddie Rood was only able to present his information during public comments. Mr. Chustz has ignored the agenda items established by MERTF members at previous meetings and has attempted to establish his own agendas. Additionally he has repeatedly failed to provide MERTF members with electronic draft copies of previous meeting minutes or show up with hard copies of the agenda at the meetings. He also is frequently absent … not including this December meeting in which he called in sick. If looking at performance beyond this year, the Town Council was presented with updates to the two vegetation ordinances in January of 2022. Mr. Chustz was never able to rewrite one ordinance and have it moved forward for the required two council votes of approval let alone two prior to Hurricane Ian nearly 9 months later. Therefore, the current residential vegetation ordinances are over 20 years old and MERTF can only hope residents realize that native and Florida Friendly vegetation is the best way to replant the island.

    • Rose, that’s very odd. I’m on the Anchorage Advisory Committee and must say that Chadd has attended all of our meetings. I have found him to be very knowledgeable and engaged when his input is required.

    • Rose — That’s a stretch. How on earth does anything about Chadd Chustz have anything whatsoever to do with Eddie Rood being on the agenda? Eddie had only constructive topics to present and said absolutely nothing controversial, ctitical or negative. He only wanted to contribute helpful information.
      Additionally, I give Chadd a lot of credit for attending your meetings and having the intestinal fortitude and strength to stay there until adjournment.

    • I don’t think this is the right venue for discussing the alleged behavior of a town employee. You had better be careful in lofting accusations for which could be used as libel/defaming.

  4. As long as our island has individuals on boards who hold personal grudges, we cannot move forward. Time for those on the MERTF to step aside. We are too old for this behavior.

  5. Mocking Chad Chustz during a meeting is very concerning to me. He is one of the hardest working staff members post storm yet takes his time to attend and advise this committee during their meetings. It makes me question if we have the right people serving and if their leadership has set this negative and dismissive tone suggesting a need for immediate change. Moving forward toward the rebuild and revitalization of our town we need all committees focusing positively and with common goals. We can respectfully listen to all ideas pertaining to how to get there but must remember we are all on the same team!

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