Gateway Sun

It was a strange hill to die on, politically speaking.

A completely unforced error that ended any future political aspirations in Gateway for Jim Brann and Supervisor Ed Tinkle – along with just about anyone associated with those two who wanted to run for the Board of Supervisors. We’ll get to that part in a minute.

First, allow me to introduce you to Section 6 of the “Adoption of Chapter VI of the rules of the Gateway Services Community Development District.”

What that rule recognizes is that, in a nutshell, Gateway and Pelican Preserve are two separate communities that were linked together to make life easier for a real estate developer to get permits way back in the day.

Gateway is a thriving family community, while Pelican is a 55 and older retirement community with all the bells and whistles. Both are very nice places to live, but they’re joined at the hip as part of the Gateway Services Community Development District through no direct actions of their own and no logical reason to the residents.

Ask yourself this question: How do you get to Pelican Preserve from the Gateway 7-Eleven?

Well you can go north on Gateway Boulevard, then left on SR-82, Left on Colonial Blvd, left on Treeline Avenue and then another left in to Pelican.

Or you can go south on Gateway Boulevard, right on Daniels Parkway for 5 mins, right on Treeline for 5-10 mins, and then right in to Pelican.

Or you can go south on Gateaway Blvd, right on Commerce Lakes Drive, left on Plantation Gardens Drive, right on Treeline and right in to Pelican Preserve.

My point is: the communities are not connected to each other. It takes about 15 minutes by car to get from the center of Gateway to the entrance of Pelican Preserve.

They are two separate communities in every meaningful way.

So in 2005 it was agreed that since Gateway and Pelican were both entered in to a forced marriage known as the GSCDD by the developer, some logical separations would take place that made things fair for residents of both communities. One of the specific elements of that arrangements was that Gateway residents would pay for Gateway’s amenities while Pelican’s residents would pay for their amenities.

This is what Chapter VI solidifies.

Now I know… that you know .. that I know, that you know .. that I really want the Gateway Commons Park built beside the pool in Gateway. Pretty badly actually.

And there would be no faster way to get that done than to rip up Chapter VI and go raid the piggy banks in Pelican Preserve. So why am I not all for it?

Because that’s simply not the right thing to do.

Chapter VI is fair for everyone. And it’s worked just fine for 13 years.

The argument from some political leaders and candidates has been that both Gateway and Pelican are part of the GSCDD so we should all share the costs of Gateway’s publicly-owned amenities. But since all the amenities in Pelican Preserve are privately-owned by the HOA, it would not be a true sharing of costs. The flow of money would go in one direction only.

If you live in Gateway it sounds great! But how is it fair?

It’s not. And Brann, Tinkle and Co. know it.

They just want to take Pelican’s money and spend it on Gateway.

There are countless examples in America where costs are separated out based on local needs and fairness. And that’s what Chapter VI does in the case of the forced arrangement between Gateway and Pelican Preserve. They took a problem and solved it in 2005. And now Tinkle, Brann and some others want to initiate nothing short of a money grab that would benefit one community (Gateway) at the direct expense of another (Pelican).

So that’s Chapter VI explained. It simply legally recognizes that Gateway and Pelican are separate communities unwillingly joined at the hip by the decision of a real estate developer decades ago, and it maps out certain logical and fair cost separations.

This part of the article is for the 20 to 30 people out there who are keenly interested in Gateway politics. If you’re not planning on running for the Board of Supervisors, you needn’t waste your time reading further.

So why are we even talking about this Chapter VI stuff all of a sudden?

Because Tinkle and Brann tried to spook people with Chapter VI as an election strategy in order to rally enough support from Gateway residents to motivate people to vote for Brann.

Thanks to them, it is now nearly impossible for a candidate from Gateway win a seat on the Board of Supervisors ever again wtihout the blessing of the Pelican leadership.

I’m not saying that in all corners of Pelican Preserve everybody is talking about this election and that everybody paid attention to the Brann campaign. But do you know who did pay attention to what Brann and Tinkle campaigned on? The key influencers in Pelican Preserve.

And did you see what they did 2 days ago?

Their political organizers campaigned for Vice-Chairman Bill Guy, who won the Pelican precinct with 94% of the vote — and Supervisor Doug Banks who won Pelican’s precinct with 88%.

Pay very close attention to this:

Pelican Preserve’s voting block grew from about 1,400 votes cast in 2016 … to about 2,000 votes in 2018.

And they’re still building new units every single day there. By the 2020 election they’ll probably have 2,500 votes.

Gateway had about 4,000 votes cast in 2018, and might have 4,100 in 2020.

Pelican has proven they can turn out 90% of the vote in favor of a specific candidate. Can you imagine a Gateway candidate starting 2,200 votes behind due to Pelican with only 4,100 Gateway votes available? They’d need to secure 75% of the Gateway vote to win, and that is extremely hard to do.

Even Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, a slam dunk win if there ever was one versus Bill Taylor, “only” got 68.8% of the votes in his race. That’s a landslide slide victory, but that percentage wouldn’t be enough in the Gateway race if Pelican voted the other way.

The new path to political victory in the Gateway Services District has been forged. In order to win in 2020 and beyond you must follow the blueprint of Guy and Banks used 2018: there must be collaboration and agreement between Gateway and Pelican Preserve’s political leadership.

Pelican has the discipline to vote as a large block, whereas in Gateway you’re more or less herding cats and you just need to get enough of the available votes to win.

Now to be clear, Bill Guy and the current Pelican leadership are fantastic people. Absolutely. There’s no problem whatsoever for Gateway in 2020 or 2022 or .. maybe even the next 10 years. Everything will be fine. Banks has a terrific relationship with that group and for the next decade both communities are in great shape.

We just have to hope that 20 years when new influencers take hold of Pelican’s political apparatus, that they don’t decide they want all 5 seats on the Board of Supervisors.

Because I believe they could do it. Hell I believe they could do it within 4 years if they wanted to. And mark my words: if the Board of Supervisors alters Chapter VI, Pelican will put a stop to it. They’ll take over the board, immediately undo the changes, and act as Gateway’s babysitters for as long as they want to.

And in my opinion they’d have every right. Chapter VI is fair and equitable for both the Gateway and Pelican communities.

That’s why collaboration and communication is vital between Gateway’s leaders like Doug Banks and the Pelican Preserve leaders going forward. Banks and Guy cannot directly speak to each other outside of GSCDD meetings due to the Sunshine Laws, but Guy has a political team around him and they can collaborate with Banks and devise election strategies.

Pelican will be perfectly satisfied with 1 or 2 Supervisors. They don’t want to take over the majority of the board as long as their key interests are looked after. They’re happy to work with reasonable Gateway residents to form a mutually beneficial board.

So let’s quickly talk through the 2020 elections.

Tinkle has said he’s not running for re-election, but Pelican’s leadership probably will not take the chance. If Tinkle does run, he will wait until the last second to file his paperwork. I believe Pelican may run a candidate for Tinkle’s seat no matter what. That way if Tinkle doesn’t run there’s no problem. And if he does run they’ll blow him out of the water and that will be that. On the Gateway side, while Banks is a positive and forgiving person, I don’t think Banks will soon forget that Tinkle threw him under the bus by endorsing his election challenger. Bottom line: whether by Tinkle’s own choice or the voters, Tinkle will be off the board in 2 years. Which is too bad, because with his skills and work ethic he could have been the greatest Supervisor of all time. Unfortunately he could not get over his own need to control everything.

Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty has not said whether or not she’ll run, but again it’s not going to matter. Magnolia Lakes resident Flavia Walsh has indicated she’s interested in running for Supervisor, and she has earned the trust of Bill Guy and the Pelican political folks through her actions. Walsh will get the bulk of the 2,500-strong Pelican block and then they can fight it out for the Gateway block, but in the end we’ll be introduced to Supervisor Walsh.

That way there would be Guy, Banks, Walsh and whomever from Pelican replaces Tinkle to ensure Chapter VI stays exactly as it is. I believe the Pelican leadership would be satisfied with that, and they’d stay out of the race for Chairperson Margaret Fineberg’s seat unless Brann ran for it, in which case they’d crush him again.

The reality is that the “old guard” way of politicking in Gateway is all but finished. The new reality is that to win a GSCDD election there must be a joint agreement between Gateway’s political leadership (and right now that’s Doug Banks) and Pelican’s political leaders.

Banks, Guy and the Pelican political leadership will collectively play kingmaker in the 2020 district elections. So if you want to become a Supervisor in 2020, those are the people you need to get to know.

You’re in good hands, Gateway.

So to use a popular football saying, I’m on to Cincinnati.

I’ve been building a Florida-wide network of news sites that was already supposed to have launched, but the GSCDD elections were more intense than I had anticipated so I focused my time there rather than moving on.

Originally I was going to close the Gateway Sun in January 2019, but after considering everything that took place I’ve decided to keep it open for the benefit of the Gateway community and simply fold it in to the new network.

However, Gateway will no longer be the focus of the Gateway Sun. Instead of getting 4 to 6 Gateway-based stories per week, you might get 1 per month. But at least if the district or a Supervisor needs to get a specific message out to the public, this platform will be there to serve. But mostly what you’re going to see is state and national stories.

You’re not going to see any Gateway political stories over the next year, with the exception of announcing who the new Chairman and Vice-Chairman will be… Or, I suppose, major stories that have a true need-to-know for the public. But you won’t hear very much about the parks, lawn contracts or even the Lake Bank Repair Project any more, at least not from me.

I may re-activate for the 2020 elections assuming there’s a need for it. I’ll have discussions with the appropriate Gateway leaders and see if they need or want my help. We’ll see.

I know you come here for a specific type of content that you will no longer be getting from me, so I apologize for the content shift.

But people are tired of me. People are also tired of hearing about the GSCDD every day. The truth is there just isn’t enough viable content in Gateway to produce a daily, quality publication with an exclusive focus on the community. That’s why you only see 1 story per month in the regular media about Gateway. So over the years I had to turn the Supervisors in to characters and create a political soap opera just to have content.

The numbers don’t lie, and unfortunately some people are becoming bored of the Sun. And it’s been trending that way for a year now.

But one last time, I firmly believe you’re in great hands.

So I’m on to Cincinnati.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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