Friday, January 28, 2022

Using Fear for Elective Advantage

More Straight Talk

Kind of amazing how quickly time has flown over the last year. Just this last Saturday, on September 22 we celebrated the official beginning of the fall season. Prior to moving here 30 years ago it signaled a time to prepare for the onslaught of winter, which was not my favorite time of year.

The great thing about fall in New England however, came with the changing of the leaves and the vibrant colors that adorned the landscape. It was time to get out to the local apple orchids or into the pumpkin patches to pick out a few decorative items for your front steps or a basket of great apples to bring home to consume, either as some type of pastry or just to eat them while you took the dog for a walk over at the local park.

Yes, I do miss home once in a while, as those great memories come flowing back. Seems the only thing that changes colors here in Florida is the color of the license plates we begin to start seeing this time of year. We’ll be welcoming a number of our friends back in the next couple of months from their travels or from their homes up north as we share the adventures we’ve all taken part in over the summer months.

One of the other things I miss is the smell of the leaves burning or bonfires in the backyards before we would all go into hibernation for those cold months. Just to be clear, it is that great smell of the wood fires and not the hibernation that I speak of.

Unfortunately there is another smell in the air this time of year. That smell isn’t pleasant for the vast majority of those of you I’ve come to know. It is the smell of negative politics before a November election.

No matter where we go we can’t escape its repugnant aroma. Whether it is on the national, state, county or local level, its ugly presence seems to always invade what should be a celebration of the essence of our representative republic.

It is no wonder that fewer and fewer good men and women choose to come forward and offer their service to their communities. They do so to protect their families and their reputations from some of the vilest and disgusting attacks by those that choose not to provide facts, but instead deal in the commodity of fear, lies and the distortion of the real truth.

We witness this throughout all levels of government and unfortunately within some organizations. We are bombarded with endless news stories throughout the media that thrive on undocumented and unsubstantiated claims. They splash it across the headlines on the front page and then write two sentences that are buried on an inside pages when the original claims are found to be false.

Many of you spoke to me over the weekend when we had the opportunity to help celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the success of CJ’s on the Bay. You asked me why you were getting unsolicited emails from anonymous sources attacking certain individuals running for office. Many of you came up with some pretty good labels for this type of despicable behavior, some of which I can’t mention here.

Those emails reached a new low when they chose to attack a sitting councilor, one who is going through his own personal health challenges and the effects of chemotherapy. He recently went to a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting to speak about an idea he had to combine certain necessary improvements to Veterans Community Park. He came as a private citizen to discuss his concept for their consideration, even though he wasn’t feeling well. He wanted them to simply hear his idea and place it amongst all the others that had been presented.

That is what these meetings are for. They are to acquire your ideas and your thoughts so we can reach a consensus. These cowards, who hide in darkened rooms and behind their keyboards, distorted and maligned his reputation, as well as two other citizens who took the time to be part of the process months ago who are now running for office.

During the elections two years ago we saw similar lies told about other residents through these anonymous sources. They distorted the truth and fabricated outright lies for elective advantage. These types of activities chill the waters of community involvement and as such, prevent differing views from being heard. They prevent a consensus from being formed and progress from being made. That is not how America works. We are not narrow-minded, although occasionally we can be misled by those with devious intentions.

Despots and dictators seek to squash the voices of a nation and of its people when allowed to go unchecked. You should be sick of these types of activities on our island. You should find these abhorrent actions by a group of shadowy figures to be contemptible and disgusting.

It is ok to disagree with one another, that is the American way. However, it must be done in a respectful and legitimate manner. It is from divergent opinions that we come to consensus and agreement on the issues of the day.

FDR’s words during World War II were correct then and are applicable today: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Stand up to those that would have us listen to these falsehoods and distortions and send them packing. We are Marco Island Strong and won’t be misled by those seeking to gain from their misrepresentation of the facts.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at

4 responses to “Using Fear for Elective Advantage”

  1. Frank Recker says:

    Amen Stef!! Well spoken. I remember well the elections in 2012. It was urgent to get those crazy, free spending, irresponsible, incumbent budget busters ~who didn’t listen to the citizens~ (like me I was told!) kicked out of office! Compared to what has occurred since, Burt Saunders as city attorney and Jim Rivière as city manager look pretty stellar! Everyone who votes on Marco needs to keep in mind that public office, especially on Marco, is a thankless task. And you’re right, too many folks prefer guerrilla warfare tactics rather than open and transparent debate. After 21 years of city hood, it’s really time to grow up. If the bitter ‘Washington style’ politics continue, no sane candidates will dare to appear on future ballots!

  2. Dave Rice, Sr. says:

    Well said Stef!
    Re: Professional journalists – I no longer continue to read one of their articles that begin with ” A source close to the issue reports…..
    Been there and done that years ago as a college coach —a supposed source suggested that a recent successful football season was a result of “academic grade tampering of some kind”…..where I was coaching any contact with an athletes academics was strictly taboo.
    30 + years later, one of my former players brought to my attention a blog discussing the teams success related to that source (perhaps the source himself) . Fortunately, responses by members of the administration and team answered and the blog disappeared.
    Today, the smut only seems to worsen.

  3. Joe Batte says:

    This is certainly Straight Talk Stef, & thanks once more for your talk that tells the truth, something sorely lacking in this campaign for city council!
    The same group & the same lies were used in the city council campaign 2 years ago, & look what that gave us!
    Hopefully your straight talk will ring a bell w/the electorate!

    Joe Batte

  4. Russ Colombo says:

    Well said, Stef! – It reminded me of my grammar school days when my fifth grade teacher taught: “Never write a letter that won’t end with your signature.”

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