Vice Mayor Mike McCabe Delivers Final Statement at Naples, FL City Council 12.18.2023
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Vice Mayor Mike McCabe Delivers Final Statement to Naples City Council on 12.18.2023 (this is a transcript of his statement)
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: And thank you. You know, with this being the last meeting of the year, I wanted to, I guess, vent a little frustration, and bring some things to light. And so, I've written some things down.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: The free state of Florida. The Florida State Administration. The Florida State Legislature declared this free State of Florida during the pandemic when they felt the federal government's overreach and assault on States' rights was unacceptable. The Free State of Florida, they called it. They did it as it was a reaction to a government overreach and a taking of our rights.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Home Rule. What is Home Rule? Home rule is a form of government where you, the local members, the residents, elect members of your community to determine what your laws are. What your codes are. What your community looks like. It is based upon the theory that the residents in a community know what's best to solve local issues. Home Rule is all about you. It is the purest form of government that dates back to the Roman Times. And when elected officials go to Tallahassee and decide to create laws that prevent local government from making local decisions, that preempts or takes away Home Rule. And we have a problem. We have a big problem. Why did I need to describe this? Why did I want to start off with Free State of Florida, and tying in Home Rule is because they are intricately connected.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: The State of Florida administration and legislatures strongly stated and proclaimed that the federal government's assault on States rights was so egregious that they would not accept it. They filed suit against the federal government. They declared we, the state of Florida, would not stand for this government overreach. Yet this same state administration, the same state legislature in the past legislative session, in prior legislative sessions, and in the most recent special legislative session, the Florida Legislature has done exactly what they found abhorrent by the federal government. The state legislature has preempted and assaulted Home Rule with a serious overreach. They have done so with many actions, and I will mention several. For short term rental prohibitions. They have passed prohibitions and restrictions on local municipalities from regulating short-term rentals within their communities. These short-term rental actions have added to, or even created the housing shortage and lack of affordable housing. Instead of homeowners buying homes to live in, investors are buying up the inventory to rent like hotels. They pull housing out of the supply for families, they create shortages, and they drive up prices, that frees the underserved from realizing the American dream. The legislature feels that short-term rentals should not be regulated at a local level. Or I better stated the R&B lobbyists feel that Short Tum Rentals should not be legislated on a local level, and the state legislature has followed their lead.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Another one. Senate Bill 170. The mother of all local preemptions. This law says that local governments must halt enforcement of an ordinance if a single lawsuit challenges the law or the ordinance.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Another one. Senate Bill 102. Affordable housing. The live local act. The Florida legislature has said they're setting aside $800 million for affordable housing. They set that aside in the Sadowski fund and has been there for years and years and years, but now they're saying they really mean it. But that law, that law goes further in what it does, it preempts local governments in our ordinances and limits on height and density, and it suspends any requirement for zoning changes or Comprehensive plan amendments. It suspends our laws in the way we want our community to be.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: The next Senate bill, 540. That sounds the death knell for the planning-related challenges, that allows for prevailing parties to recover attorney's fees and challenges to the comp plan and plan amendments, even local residents. This deals a devastating blow to effective citizen engagement. It turns local residents into bystanders during planning debates.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Senate Bill 1604. This law requires local governments to accept the decisions of a special magistrate during a FLUEDRA (Florida Land Use & Environmental Dispute Resolution Act), process. A FLUEDRA process is basically when a developer decides they don't like the result out of a city council meeting, and they file suit and they go to a special magistrate. This creates a path to circumvent and overturn your local government, your city council decisions.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Senate Bill 1346 overrides local government limits on demolishing structures in flood zones.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: And Senate Bill 250. The mother of all attacks on Home Rule takes away local government ability to make decisions within its jurisdiction. It was done without overt knowledge or in the sunshine. It was buried in an emergency relief act. It wasn't even a forthright attack on Home Rule. It was a subverted one. It was buried then in the special session in the dark of night, without any input or vetting. This legislature extended Senate Bill 250 until almost the end of 2026. There was no sunshine on these actions. Or even a thought or even a mention that they were going to be looked at to get any input from local governments.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: There was not even an attempt by the state legislature to justify it, explain why the legislature even felt that it was necessary. Why should you care? What does this assault on Home Rule mean to you as residents? It means legislators who were elected from counties like Escambia, Taylor, Baker, Okeechobee, Orlando, and even from Tallahassee. And here's the question. You as residents, can you even pick those areas out on a map? And here's the even more important question can they even pick out Naples on a map? But they are the ones that are going to be making decisions, for you, in your community. Do you think that's appropriate? I think not.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: I believe the state's reaction to the federal government overreach was appropriate, and a corresponding reaction from this local government and from all the local governments around the state to these state tactics, should be the same as what the federal government warranted from the state legislature. So should the municipalities of this state take the overreach from the state? Hell no.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: This brings to mind the movie the 1976 Movie Network. In it, the news anchor declares, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I'm there. You, the residents of this city, the voters of this city, and the city of Naples should be as well. The person in the movie exclaims that each person listening should go to the window, fling it open, and scream, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. You as residents of this great city, should be afraid. You should be very afraid of this government overreach, this state legislature overreach. You should proclaim that you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore. You should do this in a letter to your state office holders that represent you to the governor. To the state Attorney General. And I pray that they listen to you. But I fear they will not.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: They have bowed to the moneyed. To the powerful, to the lobbyist, to the special interest. There seems to be a For Sale sign hanging out on our state. Who has the best the most funded lobbyist, wins. Demand to take your government back. I say this because, as I said, I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I have mentioned the assault this legislature has had. I have not mentioned the assault that this legislature has made on local representation.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Senate Bill 774 and the new Form Six financial disclosure by elected officials. This is new as of January 1st for local officials and dramatically changes the game. It changes, the changes that it makes is not what I signed up for. I want each of you hearing this to do something right now. I want you to make a list of your assets and your liabilities. And I want you to come up with what your Net worth is, and then I want you to go out and post that, on a public forum. For any and all to see. After you've done that. Next, I want you to make a list of all of your assets that are worth $1,000 and post that on a public forum. For all to see. Yes, everything that you own that valued at $1,000 or greater. That's sofa. The dining room set. The pearls. I want you to put a list of all your finances, your bank accounts, your 401K balances, your investments by name.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: Any mutual funds and the major investments that are in those mutual funds. And if you own a business, I want you to list all your major clients. And now I want you to put that out in the public forum, for any and all to view. Once you've done that, then I want you to make a list of all your liabilities, anything that you owe greater than $1,000. Any mortgage, car loan. Home equity loan, loaned from a friend, loaned from a relative. Student loan. Child support. Alimony, Any indebtedness. Indebtedness greater than $1,000. Now go post that out on a public forum, for any and all to see. And heck, while you're at it, why don't you post last year's tax return? Out in a public forum for any and all to see.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: That is Senate Bill 774 and Form 6 for local election officials starting January 1st, 2024. That is the new financial disclosure for the elected officials. And if you don't file it. There is a penalty and a fine of $25 per day. And a civil penalties up to $20,000, and removal from office. Also, there's the possibility of perjury charges. Because you're signing the form and attesting to its truthfulness and its completeness, and should be there... Should there be an admission or a disagreement to what is listed? You're in trouble. We have seen just recently how this form and how this has been weaponized against public officials.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: And Councilwoman Petrunoff said she looked at them. One was seven lines; one was seven pages. It doesn't matter. Because all one individual who's sitting in this audience, who's sitting somewhere in the public, who doesn't like what you've said, doesn't like what you voted on, can file an ethics complaint, and say you did not disclose to the fullest capabilities and to the completeness, and it's off to the races. This has been weaponized and will be weaponized. This is the most egregious assault on privacy. It's an assault on one's rights. It's an assault on Second Amendment rights, and it's an unacceptable government intrusion. And I stress the word unacceptable. As I have said, I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore. I will not accept this government intrusion. As I know many of you, when I said, go ahead and list this all and post this out on the web, you wouldn't either.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: I have one question for you. If you knew to apply for a job, you had to go and list all of your financials out on public forum. Would you apply for that job? Hell NO. A recent Naples Daily News article said in Pinellas County alone, at least eight elected officials in five municipalities have left office or planned to by the end of this year.
Vice Mayor Mike McCabe: And that's because of this new requirement, this new form, this new financial disclosure. So this is not a Naples-specific issue. This is a municipality within the state of Florida issue created by the state legislature. Therefore, I will not accept, and I will not be subject to this assault by the state government. This has forced me to a point that I never imagined but must do. I will be tendering my resignation from the Naples City Council, effective December 31st. It is with great sadness that I do this. I chose to step forward. I chose to run for this office to make a difference. I was elected by an overwhelming majority of voters. And I took this seriously. I have worked tremendous hours to prepare for the honor that trust was put me, and I did it for every meeting and for every vote. And it truly pains me to step away but when the legislature changed the game, that stacks the deck to a point where the assault is too great. You need to make a decision. You, the residents of this City, should be afraid. You should be very afraid of this act. And those acts that I mentioned before. You should stand up and say I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore. So, with that, I thank you. It has been an honor. But I must say goodbye.