Friday, October 21, 2016

Soundings in a Crazy Political Season

"Winning," Vince Lombardi famously said, "isn't everything. It's the only thing." The end really does justify the means. As the election season draws to a close, we're seeing this manifested big time -- in lies, smears and misdirection. Whatever it takes to win. And we're seeing some behavior that is downright laughable.

Here are some examples.

A group of letter writers to the Naples Daily News recently claimed they suffered ill effects from exposure to Naled, a pesticide used for decades to control mosquitos in Collier County. But not to worry, they say, all will be well if the voters just elect Andreas Roth and David Chapman to the Mosquito Control Board. That's right. Who needs science when you can invoke politics?

Now maybe the letter writers did have a negative reaction to Naled, an organophosphate approved by the EPA long ago and used largely without incident for over 50 years. But why did the letter writers wait until now, just before a critical election, to tell their stories? Why didn't they alert their neighbors to the threat last year? And why tie their maladies to endorsements of political candidates? Those are, of course, rhetorical questions.

Here's another grabber. Roth and Chapman imply they have a better way of controlling mosquitos than using those bad chemicals -- but they're not telling us how. You have to elect them to find out!

Then there's the bare-knuckles fight in the North Collier Fire District. That's hardly news, given the fractious behavior we've come to expect from that bunch. But the current election has shown you can always reach new lows.

Four of the five commission seats are being contested (one candidate is running unopposed), and the majority will determine whether cost allocations are fair and whether further consolidation is to be even considered. Each pair of competing candidates offers huge contrasts -- in experience, in outlook and, yes, in honesty.

But that's not enough of a stew for North Collier. The local firefighter's union has to get involved. That's the group that sends out big, uniformed firemen to intimidate voters on election day.

The union wants to to protect the status quo; further consolidation would dilute its power. As such, it has endorsed the circle-the-wagons candidates, those far-sighted folks who want nothing to do with the county, with EMS or with further mergers -- Chris Lombardo, Norm Feder, Christopher Crossen and Ramon Chao. Mailers supporting the hunker-down slate were signed "Pelican Bay 20/20." The problem is no one in Pelican Bay had anything to do with it!

Okay, that's just a small lie. At least the union head was upfront in his attack on Jim Burke, a fire commissioner for 8 years who dares to think progressively and buck the union. Also anathema to the union is Richard Hoffman of Big Corkscrew, a candidate whose accounting skills are a big threat.

But wait, there's more. An ethics complaint has been filed with the state over illegal signs on fire district property promoting ... guess who? And, as a capper, a barely literate email blast just appeared from some courageous soul who won't sign his name: "Why would anyone vote for Burke (The People's Liar) and or Hoffman (In Need of Medical Insurance). They are controlled by the puppet master Naegele." (Bob Naegele is president of the Pelican Bay Property Owners Association and, to my knowledge, knows nothing about puppetry.)

Then there's Tamara Paquette, a candidate for Collier County Commission, District 5, calling her opponent a "terrorist" in a recent forum.

And the state utilities pretending Amendment 1 is pro-solar when it's anything but.

And John Morgan, the primary force behind Amendment 2, invoking God in support of medical marijuana. Synthetic drugs with their terrible side effects are made by man, but good, natural marijuana is made by God. (You can't make this stuff up.)

But don't be disheartened. There's a bright side. This will all be over soon. Just hang on until November 9.

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