Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy doesn’t like seeing Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno’s big face on the side of a trailer as you come over the Matanzas Pass Bridge. He says it’s a violation of the town’s sign ordinance and the town is giving Marceno free advertising for his next campaign.
Murphy’s angst with the sign was part of a discussion about the LCSO outreach center trailer that is temporarily being housed at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge. The council was considering a resolution to accept $100 per month in rent from LCSO to use the property for the outreach center.
Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros, who’s term on the council expires in two months, wanted more rent money from LCSO. She said the rate of $100 per month was incredibly cheap. “This is out of whack. This certainly seems too low for a piece of property on Fort Myers Beach. And we just got an e-mail from the Sheriff that said they would be raising the rates on all the services they provide. This doesn’t have any relationship to reality.”
Councilman Jim Atterholt was willing to waive the fee completely to have the outreach center in that location. Councilman Bill Veach said, “They are not putting a food truck there. This is a real benefit to the community.”
Murphy compared the fee for the outreach center to fees the Sheriff charges the town. “I don’t know when we’ve ever had a fee that low for various and sundry duties that they perform down here. It does seem rather low to me.”
Veach said having the outreach center is incentive to have the Sheriff’s department spend more time on the island, to which Murphy responded, “If I knew that was going to be the case, I would have a change of heart. From what I see from the last outreach center that he had over there, it was only staffed with clerical type people. The only time deputies were there would be to get out of the heat.”
Councilman Dan Allers said that’s not 100 percent true. “People stopped into that facility to report crimes. It led to several quick apprehensions of people that were doing things that they shouldn’t do. I would argue that it being there did deter some people as well as catch some people.”
Atterholt agreed with Allers that there was a deterrence factor. Veach was also onboard stating that if people see a crime, they know where to go, as opposed to inaction, which happens in a lot of cases. “It’s a piece of dirt they are improving. I’m OK with this”
Allers made a motion to approve the agreement for another year with the Sheriff. Both Murphy and Hosafross objected to the motion. That’s when Murphy went off on the sign tangent. “We have a sign ordinance we all have to follow. The Sheriff has a picture of himself (on the trailer) that is larger than life. When we run for election down here, we’re allowed to put our signs on the street 30 days before the election, and that sign is the size of a pizza box. That’s how we’re restricted down here. What we’re doing here is giving the Sheriff free advertising for his campaign that he’s running already.”
For the record, Marceno is not up for election in November. Murphy is.
Murphy was so flustered about the situation, he never called for an official vote on the motion so it’s unclear if it actually passed. The council simply moved onto the next item after his rant about the photo.
There was also no clear indication if the town plans to write the Sheriff any tickets for violating the town’s sign ordinance.
Should the Lani Kai and other establishments be in violation of what is “painted” on their exterior walls? this is not a sign but rather a “building structure”.
Can’t do anything team Jesus proved the town has no right to violate free speech. Tell the mayor to stick it!!!
Thankful for the new people who will be voted in who foster positive relationships with Lee County and other surrounding organizations and municipalities. This is ridiculous and makes no sense and disrespectful to both LCSO and Lee County! Let’s be collaborative and stop this mentality. Props seeking to begin to mend years of this.
EDIT: “Props to those who ARE seeking to mend years of this.”
It would be amazing if our town had enough admiration and respect for our Mayor to put a huge billboard in honor of him as Lee County does in honor of our Sheriff.
💯 agree Karen!
Having the visibility of law enforcement in the community is a huge plus for beach residents and tourists alike. Cannot we just go along to get along. Thank you LCSO!
I agree safety should be our first concern….
It is a shame that some Council members have an adversarial relationship with our law enforcement team. All members of the community should be supportive of the Sheriff Department.
If a motion was made, and was seconded, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, a vote must be taken.
The Mayor knew he would lose the vote and tried to avoid the vote. If the Mayor cannot properly run a meeting, he should be replaced!
Can you get and publish an itemized bill for the million dollar improvement at Bayside Park? I’d love to see who charged what to get it to 1mil. Fake grass and bed sheets don’t cost that much. Especially the plaque.
I agree I would also like to see a detailed list of who was paid what….keep pushing … we need to see that before elections….and btw ty for the plaque with names so I know who NOT to vote for…
But there was no free advertising for him on the sign at Bayside Park….?
It’s time to end the adversarial relationship between the Town and Lee County. Sheriff Marceno and his team do a lot for Fort Myers Beach at no charge, Also, the Mayor must not recall the sign ordinance, dealing with political signs, was struck down by Federal Court in June. Town staff made a presentation to the Council regarding that issue.
Wow! Is he nuts?! I sincerely hope LCSO did not catch wind of this. Rexann and Ray are so out of touch with reality around here.
Whatever is going on between some of the Council members and the LCSO seems to be a distraction from the real purpose of the LCSO, public safety. I hope the LCSO realizes that most residents DO NOT have the same out of touch mentality as these members do. PS…I can’t wait to vote in November!