COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Tuesday Collier County Commissioners will discuss on vote on whether a $2.35 million contract with Paradise Advertising and Marketing should be reconsidered.
The contract got unanimous approval last month. But last week, Commissioner Georgia Hiller told the County Manager she wanted to change her vote.
It started January 25th when Commissioner Hiller recommended the county craft a new policy. She wanted vendors under county contract prohibited from donating to charitable organizations closely-affiliated with county public officials, "In order to prevent vendors from attempting to influence the vote of Commissioners by giving back donations earmarked for particular projects," Hiller said at the meeting.
Hiller cited two donations made by Paradise Advertising and Marketing: $50,000 to the Freedom Memorial, and another $50,000 to the Marco Museum exhibit project. Both are Pet projects of two commissioners.
"I don't know if there was a conflict in fact, but conflict in appearance," Hiller said at the meeting.
Commissioner Fred Coyle replied, "The suggestion by Commissioner Hiller that there might be something dirty about the contribution of Paradise Advertising should outrage all of those who have been involved in supporting the Freedom Memorial and the Marco Island Historical Society and Museum
A week later, Hiller sent an e-mail to the County Manager saying, "Please put the Paradise contract on the agenda for reconsideration. I want to change my vote." Hiller did not respond to our phone or email messages asking why.
County Tourism Director Jack Wert said Paradise has done a spectacular job for 8 years. He said the suggestion Paradise could direct some of its commission came from a few Tourist Development Council members. The company - which does a lot of pro-bono work - was free to do what it wished.
Tuesday, Commissioners will discuss and vote on whether to reconsider the contract with Paradise. If the majority votes in favor of reconsidering, then the contract will be put on a future agenda, to be voted upon once again.