Here’s an interesting rumor for you.

There might be a group of residents who were/are working to dismantle and then dissolve the Gateway Services Community Development District.

The theory goes that the plan was/is to get rid of the roads (check!), get rid of the amenities (which was attempted), hand over the water utility to Lee County (hmm, the County is building a new $337k building on the Gateway site) and then there would be no real need to have CDD.

It could then be dissolved and taxpayers would each save a few hundred bucks per year.

True or not? I have no idea.

But for now the CDD certainly does exist, and so we must hope that the people in charge of it do the best they can for the community.

Speaking of the people in charge of the district… it has long been established that the 2016 elections would serve as a gateway (haha) to culture change within the GSCDD. Since three of the five Seats on the Board of Supervisors were at stake, the election provided an opportunity for the district’s residents to send a message and redirect the CDD’s priorities.

I’m not going to re-hash everything in full detail, but the message was loud and clear: that the culture of the GSCDD needs to shift toward prioritizing the needs of families.

That’s not to say the district needs to throw the good folks from Pelican Preserve overboard. In fact, Pelican’s budget is largely separated from Gateway so it’s not as if decisions made by the GSCDD board that exclusively benefit Gateway will cost Pelican Preserve residents anything. So there’s no reason both communities can’t get what they want – illegal chevrons on bike paths notwithstanding.

If I were to describe the culture at the GSCDD in one word, at least for the past two years, that word would be: stale.

But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore because, well… nearly everybody who made it that was is gone!

In the past year the following people have left the district one way or another: former Supervisors Rod Senior, Gary Neubauer and Pam Gill, along with former District Manager Cal Teague, Operations Manager Scott Connell, Utility Manager Ivan Velez, a Fiscal Analyst and a Billing Manager who I’m told slammed her access keys on a desk and stormed out of the building.

With that kind of turnover at the highest levels of the GSCDD, it does make you wonder what in the world is going on at 13240 Griffin Drive. But the election provided a bit of a reset and an opportunity to look to the future instead of fretting about the past.

So what would it take to ensure culture change?

Ordinarily … in situations like this … in the business world … the first thing you would do is make a change at the top.

In this case, with Chairman William Guy.

And I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen.

Any time there is an election or appointment of a new Supervisor, the newly established board must select a new chairman. With Supervior Ed Tinkle and Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty joining the board, a new chairman must be selected at tomorrow’s meeting.

Due to lack of tenure, the trio of Supervisor Doug Banks, Flaherty and Tinkle must all be disqualified in my opinion. Although Banks personifies what the electorate asked for, both Chairman Guy and Vice-Chairman Margaret Fineberg are qualified and tenured.

But if you want to make a change at the top… you’re left with Fineberg as the only choice.

Not many people will recognize this, but with Neubauer off the board it’s a much safer time to pass the torch to Fineberg.

I will explain why that is – and then make my point as it relates to the present.

You can downplay this all you want… but personal dynamics must be considered in the selection of any chairman of the GSCDD’s Board of Supervisors.

I shudder to think what board meetings would be like if Fineberg, Banks or Flaherty were the chairman and Neubauer was still a Supervisor.

Chairman Guy let Neubauer speak his mind, but also shut Neubuaer down when necessary. Guy also threw Neubauer’s frequently condescending tone right back at Neubauer. I’m just not sure the three Supervisors I previously mentioned would have the fortitude to stand up to Neubauer in certain situations.

Guy had the authority-when-needed aspect to his persona and Neubauer would therefore begrudgingly comply with the Chairman’s instructions.

Again, I’m not sure Fineberg, Banks or Flaherty have what Guy has in that aspect.

I do believe Tinkle would have handled Neubauer’s antics decently, but probably not as measured as Guy did.

My point is that Chairman Guy was absolutely the right person at the right time for that board, but as I consider the five-person make-up of the incoming board, perhaps (and I hate to say this, Bill) Fineberg’s personality would work better with the new group.

So that’s why I brought up the Neubauer example. As you consider the 5 people who will be there now, it will take a different leadership style to work with the two new personalities.

And circling back to all the change and turn-over, there can be no better time to proverbially “blow things up” and start anew.

The organizational chart is going to be completely overhauled. Severn Trent is about to be shoved in front of a train. The Girl Scout Building vs. expanding the current office must be decided. Three new Supervisors – a majority – in the past year have joined the board. And first and foremost the will of the electorate must always be prioritized.

In the end, Gateway residents cannot go wrong if either Chairman Guy or Vice-Chairman Fineberg winds up being the incoming board’s leader.

And if the board selects Guy at tomorrow’s district meeting, I’ll applaud them.

But with the culture change already sweeping through the district at the staff and board level, the concept of a “change at the top” holds meaning in this situation.

And I firmly believe all five Supervisors can sense the change.

So for all the reasons described above, I believe the Supervisors will – and probably should – select Fineberg to become the chairman of the board.

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

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