A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR, HOWARD CANTRELL
As an investigative reporter for over 40 years for more than a dozen newspapers and periodicals, I experienced all kinds of interesting stories, but none prepared me for what has happened in my latest journal, “Yes, Marni, There IS No Place Like Cape Coral” I originally thought that the story of what was going on with a small religious group in Cape Coral Florida was a story of a few overzealous and abusive city employees who abused their power of authority and over reached their authority by committing a few serious violations of Constitutional guaranteed rights of protected Americans. After all, it is not uncommon for persons employed by governments to think that they were somehow “above the law” and that their position, badge, or gun made them immune from scrutiny. So, it would not be too surprising to discover that a few renegade abusive employees of Cape Coral would overstretch their authority in attempting to enforce their personal contentions and whims upon those they served. But, what my investigation actually discovered was that it was not just a little wrongful doings, but some of the most egregious acts imaginable
Although this original story went a little further when the supervisors, administrators, City Manager, and City Council Members of the abusive employees actually condoned and encouraged the abuse and actually joined the violators by further initiating unlawful acts in violations of The Religious Freedom Restoration Act by condemning a House of Worship, prohibiting the religious group’s religious practice, and furthermore filed a SLAPP Litigation against the group in an effort to dissuade the group’s objections and protests. The story had all the elements of an investigative reporters expectations; arrogant abuse of authority, corruption, conspiracies, discrimination, retaliation, and attempts to cover up illicit activities. What more could an investigating journalist ask for? In normal situations, once such improper acts were brought to the attention of responsible and reputable management, corrections would occur and the story would be over with.
BUT, that’s not what happened. As each chapter of the story evolved, it opened additional discoveries that resulted in exposure to further complacency, corruption, abuse, and unlawful activities.
One would wisely think that when a religious entity is attacked, a local Church is condemned, or their religious practice is deterred or prohibited, the local religious community would be up in arms. Yet, in the Cape Coral community, not one Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, or other denomination made a peep. It was almost like a passage out of the New Testament, “The Good Samaritan Fable.” I personally witnessed hundreds of Priests and Levites turn their heads and walked right by the suffering victim. I found that the adage “that when good people do or say nothing, evil triumphs” is more true in Cape Coral and the surrounding area than I have ever experience before.
Falsified police reports by police officers and failures to address reported illegal and unlawful activities were ignored or covered up by Internal Affairs under the direction of the Chief of Police, first by the presiding Chief, Bart Connelly, and later by the subsequent appointed Chief, David Newlan.
Acts of discrimination, abuse, and intentional retaliations by the employees and administrator of the Water Services Department, led to intentional falsified billings and threats of retaliation. Numerous complaints and demands for correction to Department head, William Boyd, were all ignored.
When it was discovered that the City of Cape Coral deliberately discriminated against its lower class residents by refusing to operate any type of homeless shelters, Missions of Mercy, substance abuse treatment facilities, or HUD low cost housing for low income residents, their response was to further retaliate against those raising the issues.
When formal complaints of unethical, unlawful, gross misconduct, and other improper acts by attorney involved in the case were submitted to the Florida Bar Association, the Bar whitewashed their alleged findings and evaded any type of investigation and corrections.
The local media reporting was overwhelmingly prejudiced against the religious group and blatantly attempted to protect the city’s multi-billion dollar tourist industry by ignoring the abuses, evading any meaningful or responsible coverage, and deliberate character assassinations to discredit the group’s plight. The actions by Wink News, Channel 2. and Channel 7 were simply deplorable.
The local court was riddled with predisposition and misconduct favoring the local municipality and the attorneys representing the city. When formal complaints against the local Judge, John Duryea, were lodged with the Florida Qualifications Commission, a secret investigating panel evaded any meaningful actions. In fact it was so obvious that the Fox was guarding the Chicken coop that it deprived the complainants any proper disposition.
After over one year of investigating the condemnation of a House of God by the City of Cape Coral, a slew of other stories came to light. So, from a simple story of few actions of impropriety by a local city government, a ripple effect was created stretching into all sorts of avenues of lies, deceit, and corruption that opened up an elaborate Pandora’s Box of activities.
For that reason, my book, “Yes Marni, There IS No Place Like Cape Coral” will now consist of 3 separate volumes to cover all of the side issues of my original topic. To do otherwise, would be a gross injustice. Although my book is in fact a story, it will be more of a chronological history of all of the entire events from start to finish, detailing names, dates, and the supporting documentation. My primary intent of publishing this book is for the disclosure of unacceptable actions and conduct, but I also hope that it embarrasses the corrupt abusers and derelicts of our society.
As a side note for those interested, many years ago as a young investigating journalist who was writing a 5 part series on the Italian Mafia for a large Midwest newspaper, I was the victim of an attempted assassination to silence me. For all practical purposes, I was predominately dead for several years. To this day, I still have lead fragments in my skull that constantly reminds me that truth and justice does not come easily or without a penalty. But, that incident has given me a stronger determination to expose non conforming activity, no matter what the cost.
The following story, events, and documentation presented in each of my volumes are true. The names of the characters have not been changed because there are no innocent participants to protect.