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Business Observer Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 5 days ago

Letter to the Editor: New Fort Myers Chamber CEO has glaring conflict of interest

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Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman was recently named president and CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.
by: Melinda Clarkson Isley | Guest

I respect and like Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman. He was the voice, with the late Frank Mann, in the map he offered that could result in a minority-majority district and keep Dunbar intact. Even though his counterparts wouldn’t pass it.

But I cannot wrap my mind around the thought process that went into approving and hiring Brian Hamman as CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. Brian: you cannot serve two masters. Private business and government need to have a separation of powers.

I was raised in a family of attorneys, judges and others who held public office. Morals, ethics and conflict of interests were well ingrained in my upbringing. 

Who was on the selection committee and current board of the chamber during this decision? I am not a member of the chamber. I have heard great things about the young leadership that stepped in when Colleen DePasquale left. I heard they brought in a lot of new young members. Apparently after COVID-19, the under 39 set wants to meet in person and socialize instead of texting and talking through social media. This is great news.

Do I have to mention how many former Lee County commissioners did jail time for inappropriate/illegal activity: Hall, Averill, Roeder, Scaffe, Bigelow, Steele, among others. 

How can Brian possibly separate the two? If A joins the chamber as a business and says: Brian what are you going to do for me? Or scenario B: Chamber member X is in front of the commissioners for a land deal. How will Brian vote or does he recuse himself?

How many votes and decisions to both entities will you have to recuse yourself from? It’s not fair for Brian to stay in both roles — unless he takes half a salary from both for his obvious absence.

In keeping both positions Brian would be overburdening both entities with keeping up with his conflict of interest. County staff is busy enough and the Chamber barely has any staff: staff that isn’t paid enough.

Brian: Recuse yourself from one of these duties before it’s done for you. Save your legacy.

 

Melinda Clarkson Isley, 53, is a native of Fort Myers and a fourth-generation Floridian and Southwest Florida entrepreneur.

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