Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Keynote Speaker and Environmental Advocate Urges that City Council Meetings Be Televised

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March 29, 2013

Keynote Speaker and Environmental Advocate Urges That City Council Meetings Be Televised As published in the Islander and Island Reporter on March 29 , 2013 . The Committee of the Islands has long supported live audio streaming of our city council meetings ? ? not only to enable Sanibel citizens to follow the proceedings , but also to alert them to what subject is under discussion if they want to attend the meeting to address that issue in person . At the Committee''s recent annual meeting , keynote speaker Ralf Brookes ( photo at right ) ? ? noted land ? use attorney and environmental advocate ? ? took it a step further , urging that city council meetings be televised , as they are in many Florida cities . Brookes made this suggestion in the context of remarks focused on strong citizen involvement to ensure environmental protections and to guard against overdevelopment . A resident of Cape Coral , Brookes is a passionate advocate of controlled growth . A graduate of the University of Florida Law School , he is board ? certified in city , county and local government . He represents Florida cities like Bradenton Beach and Yankeetown , as well as private clients in seemingly hard ? to ? win cases where the common thread is sensible development vs . overdevelopment . In his remarks , he pointed to recent state legislation dismantling the state''s oversight of local amendments to land development codes . Environmental community leaders , he said , are now often outvoted on governing boards , with no state or federal recourse . Brookes moved into several “ war stories ” where he was involved in mitigating or reversing some potentially disastrous planning projects . Specific examples covered Boca Raton , Delray Beach , and Yankeetown . Menu for Citizen Involvement In addition to calling for televised council meetings , Brooke presented this menu to citizens seeking to guard against overdevelopment : ? ? Organize early and raise funds to hire a lawyer . ? ? Fight on many fronts , appeal adverse decisions . ? ? Encourage new applicants to apply for public office . ? ? Seek wide citizen support , since developers and realtors have deep pockets . ? ? Acquire lands for the best protection . A lively question ? and ? answer session followed the presentation . It was noted that Sanibel citizens , directly and through groups like Committee of the Islands , had indeed followed these steps in the long and successful effort to protect the environment and maintain the sanctuary character of our barrier island community . Board Members , Officers Elected In other business at the meeting , the following members of the Committee''s Board of Directors were reelected to serve 2 ? year terms : Jim Beauchamp , Phyllis Gresham , Martin Packard , Wayne Ponader , Ruth Woodham , and Mike Cuscaden . Carolyn Swiney was elected to her first term on the Board . The board subsequently elected the following officers for 2013 ? 14 : Barbara Joy Cooley , president ; Mike Gillespie , vice president ; Bud Reinhold , treasurer ; and Martin Packard , secretary . The Committee of the Islands was founded in 1975 by those who helped incorporate Sanibel as an independent , self ? governing city within Lee County . Guided by the mission of these founders , the Committee seeks to ensure the continuity of good local government , to protect the environment , and to preserve the sanctuary character of our barrier island community . Further information is available on the Committee''s website at , or via email to coti @ . You can also visit Committee of the Islands on Facebook . The Committee of the Islands board , from left to right : Mike Cuscaden , Ruth Woodham , Carolyn Swiney , Phyllis Gresham , David Bath , Claire Mallon , Bud Reinhold , Martin Packard , Barbara Joy Cooley , Jim Beauchamp , Mike Gillespie , Wayne Ponader , and Larry Schopp .

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