For 18 months, Cape Coral City Councilmember Kevin McGrail has fought to make school bus stops a safer place to be, especially when you consider many of these kids often wait in the dark.
On Monday, during the council's regular meeting at City Hall, it's first in more than a month after a summer hiatus, McGrail sought the support of his fellow council members, and got it.
McGrail said the city could get funds from the state and federal government to have lighting installed in the areas that have bus stops. The problem is that it would take three years.
Since then, McGrail and public works have teamed up to identify the bus stops that are lighted and to eliminate unlit ones. The plan has worked somewhat, but there are still roughly half the bus stops with insufficient lighting.
Mayor John Sullivan said the Lee County School Board should be forced to pay it, since it doesn't get that much support from them to begin with.
In other business, City Council had to wrestle with a consent item regarding a contract given to US Water Services Corp. for the refurbishment of seven lift stations in the city in the amount of $1.8 million.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz expressed concern over the bidding process that it wasn't administered fairly and that perhaps the consent item could be brought back next week, where, if it wasn't pulled for discussion, it would go through.
Public Works Director Jeff Pearson said the matter wasn't of urgency and could wait a week, if needed.
However, Councilmember Marty McClain said there were eight bidders and that allegations can be thrown out and that the project should move forward.
Council voted 6-2 to approve all three consent items, with Chulakes-Leetz and Sullivan dissenting.
During public input, the council heard from a representative from CapCapeTaxes, a political action committee attempting to block the city from administering its financial diversification plan.
He claimed the group was denied its First Amendment rights after it was booted from its protest location in front of the council offices, where it was asking people to sign a petition to halt new taxes, saying that is public taxpayer property.
"The city attorney said case law justified it. I did a little digging and saw nothing authorized the silencing of the First Amendment," he said.
The group was sent to the nearby sidewalk on Cultural Park Boulevard.
Much of City Council didn't buy it. While Chulakes-Leetz and Sullivan showed sympathy to the protestors, with Sullivan saying, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," others disagreed.
"This is clearly a local issue. If we don't want to subject ourselves to a weekly T-shirt agenda, this has to stop," McGrail said.
City Attorney Dolores Menendez said City Hall is different from the town square because it is a place of city business.
"Once you open it as a forum, it will be open for all purposes. Other individual groups have asked to use City Hall and are usually denied," Menendez said.