Thursday, October 28, 2021

New Manager Will Have Full Plate

Michael McNees. | Photo by Steve Stefanides

City Manager Michael McNees won’t have much time to settle into his new corner office at Marco Island City Hall before he has to roll up his sleeves and begin the arduous task of getting to know the players within city hall and on the outside.

It’s unclear whether or not a new Chief of the Marco Island Police Department will be in place by the time McNees has settled into his office.

Late in February, after being on the job for only 45 days, Interim City Manager David Harden requested the resignation of Police Chief Al Schettino. Schettino will retire after serving 10 years on the job as an officer for the Marco Island Police Department, the last four of which were as the chief of the department.

The search for Schettino’s replacement, which was handled by the Florida Police Chiefs Association, had fielded 80 applicants for the job, some of which were from out of state. No one from within the department had applied.

Contenders for that position have been chosen and the list of finalists released.

  • Captain John Crane-Baker of the Delray Beach Police Department.
  • Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano of the Montclair, New Jersey Police Department.
  • Chief Anthony Giaimo of the Estero Police Department.
  • Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker of the Ocoee Police Department.
  • Assistant Chief Terrence Pierce of the Gainesville Police Department.

The final interview process and evaluations are still underway, and it is unclear when a final decision will be made. Chief Schettino will be on the job until at least June 15.

Strategic Planning For the Community’s Future

An outside facilitator was hired by Interim City Manager Harden to help bring focus to a process which would create a strategic planning document for the community. That will be a major undertaking for the new city manager as he begins to listen to the findings of those meeting involving citizens, staff and councilors regarding their views as to how they would like to see the island look in the next 5, 10 or 15 years.

The pressures of growth off the island and realities of growth on the island are all factors that have to be taken into consideration. McNees’ experience within the county and the contacts he has developed over his almost three decades in municipal and county government should give him a unique perspective as he attempts to guide those discussions regarding the community’s struggles with identifying its self-examination of itself.

Environmental and Water Quality Issues

South Florida is in the midst of dealing with a number of issues that could frame our future and the vitality of the island. Fully understanding the problem to reach a long term solution is needed, rather than any knee-jerk reaction undertaken by well-meaning individuals on their own.

Red tide, algae blooms and out of control readings of phosphates and nitrates are all issues which need addressing by a cooperative group of political bodies that put away their differences and borderlines.

Testing of our local waters are a good step forward but identifying those threats and focusing on their origins is critical to dealing with these water quality issues.

Another issue we must take seriously involved the wildlife with which we share our island. The gopher tortoises, burrowing owls, eagles and shorebirds, to mention a few, can have their very existence threatened if we do not take these challenges seriously. In addition to the loss of important wildlife, this would also damage the island’s character and reputation.

McNees should be listening to those who have championed these efforts and review the allocation of assets to ensure the appropriate attention is paid.

Operating and Capital Needs Budget For 2019-20

Whether the issues are water quality, planning for the future, protecting wildlife or improving customer service within city hall, it all takes the appropriate allocation of resources.

One great challenge facing McNees will be obtaining council approval to appropriate necessary funding to provide the services demanded by his customer base, the residents. In the meantime, McNees will have to implement the appropriate departmental oversight to ensure each dollar is spent in a way that maximizes the efficiencies found within the city structure.

McNees’ Plate is Full

Overseeing the installation of a new department head within the police department, dealing with the issues concerning growth and the identity of a community which has yet to reach its 25th birthday, while struggling with the reality that this is no longer 1967, all will provide McNees with substantial challenges during his first 18 months in office.

The issues mentioned in this article are just the tip of the iceberg; McNees will be a very busy man when he steps foot onto the city campus on July 1.


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