Let me take the opportunity to speak with you today about a couple of topics as I ponder a few things on my mind from the last couple of days. They are not connected in any particular fashion, but they all have relevance to the community we live in.
I believe all of us were saddened to learn about the recent criminal charges brought against a former city councilor. He was charged with alleged criminal tampering with ballots two years ago in a local condominium election.
Some might question whether the situation warranted such an extreme measure as a criminal investigation. However, one must consider the trust which is placed into the hands of board members of condominiums, the large sums of monies they are responsible for, and the value of the properties they are entrusted with. In the State of Florida, those figures range into the multi-millions of dollars throughout the state.
Not only is Mr. Rios on trial here regarding these serious changes, but so are the State of Florida and the safeguards they have enacted to protect our monies and our investments from illegal actions by those to whom we entrust our valuable assets. Over the years, we have read many complaints by residents governed by homeowners’ associations and condominiums regarding a laissez-faire attitude with regard to enforcing state regulations and covenants. This has caused the Florida Legislature to enact stricter guidelines and governance for the boards and those that serve on them.
While the vast majority of the management companies and those serving as board members do an outstanding job, there are always examples of those who fail to follow the rules, or abuse their power.
Charter School Board Meeting Was Refreshing
I had the opportunity the other evening to spend about two hours attending a local Charter School Board Meeting. I was pleased to observe a very nervous but well-spoken young lady who came before that board to discuss matters which she felt needed to be addressed.
She had two issues on her mind, and the board gave her the opportunity to air her suggestions and make a couple of requests after the board took the time to discuss the art of diplomacy in how she might correspond with those she was trying to win over to her viewpoint.
Both of her items dealt with reducing the tensions she sensed within the school related to the anxieties due to COVID restrictions. Her first suggestion dealt with the limitations regarding hair color. She thought it would be a good idea to let students express themselves more by engaging in some creativity with regard to coloring their hair. That drew a little laughter, as a few of the male members of the board were “follicly challenged,” including this writer.
Several members of the board complimented her for the courage it takes to speak up, but provided her with their reasoning as to why the various “coloring” of hair might be a distraction within the classroom. They also reminded her of the contract that she had signed upon entering the school year which prohibited such an expression due to the potential for disruptive behavior.
It was a pleasant and polite exchange of differing views, and I found it refreshing.
The second issue dealt with her desire to move away from the drab “protective masks” worn due to the COVID-19 Virus. It wasn’t a request to eliminate the masks, but instead, to allow students to wear more colorful masks. Here she experienced the board support her desires, so long as the masks didn’t include any offensive markings or language, and instead, provided some creative artwork or colors. The board allowed Principal Michele Wheeler latitude in creating a policy with regard to providing that opportunity to students, so long as it was not disruptive in nature.
A Little Patience Needed
Have you noticed the lack of patience by those driving around the island lately? If you haven’t, you must be driving an M4 Sherman Tank up and down the streets of Marco or in any of the shopping center parking lots.
Did you ever notice that if someone wants that parking space you are so carefully backing out of that they will wait an hour for it? However, try backing out when they don’t care, and they will lay on the horn and speed by as if they were at the Indy 500.
Now don’t make the mistake of sitting a couple of extra seconds at a light to make sure traffic has indeed stopped, otherwise the person behind you will almost immediately burst your eardrums as they blast that horn until you smoke your tires and move through the intersection.
One last little point. Bicyclists, you need to follow all the same rules of the road as if you are in your automobile. You can’t be blowing through intersections and not stopping for signals or stop signs. You have no special privileges, and I can tell you from experience, the asphalt pavement is not enjoyable.