Russ Lemmon: Once initial shock wears off, you realize why he was council's No. 1 choice

Russ Lemmon
Anni Collette

Anni Collette

K.C. Collette

K.C. Collette

Captain Hiram's promoted an appearance by the band Badfish on signs like this one on County Road 510. Talk about an unusual pairing.

Captain Hiram's promoted an appearance by the band Badfish on signs like this one on County Road 510. Talk about an unusual pairing.

Russ Lemmon is a columnist for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. This column reflects his opinion.

Seven bite-size Lemmon Drops to nibble on while waiting for your body clock to adjust to the time change:

• Granted, the initial "shock value" is high.

The top choice for Vero Beach's city attorney has been arrested twice for soliciting female undercover officers posing as prostitutes.

Some people won't be able to get past that.

Even if there was no adjudication of guilt in either case.

When I first heard about Daniel "K.C." Collette's past, I admit my jaw dropped in disbelief. Mainly because the news came out after the Vero Beach City Council put him atop the list of candidates to succeed Charlie Vitunac. ( Wayne Coment has been serving in the position on an interim basis.)

It's embarrassing all the way around.

Once the initial shock wore off, though, I went looking for more information. The fact that both incidents occurred in the 1990s (the first in '93, the second in '95) put it in a new light.

In reading the story by reporter Ed Bierschenk in Friday's paper, I was pleased to see Councilman Craig Fletcher had a forgiving attitude.

I was impressed how Collette, in a letter to council members, owned up to what happened. He didn't try to deny it, he didn't try to muddy the waters by saying something like, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

He admitted he had a problem back then.

He sought counseling and came out the other side a different man.

Overcoming adversity is something we all must do in life. He should be given a pat on the back, not condemned by holier-than-thou types.

To me, in a situation like this, K.C. Collette has to answer only to his wife, Anni. They were married in 1975.

She wrote a letter to council members assuring them they picked the right person for the job. She said her husband made mistakes in what was "a very difficult time in our lives."

I spoke with Anni Collette by phone Friday and asked her about the heartfelt letter she wrote. She said she wrote it on her own and showed it to K.C. only after completing it.

"He never would have asked me to write it," she said from Findlay, Ohio. "I prayed about what I wrote. I thought to myself, do they want to hear from me? ... I wrote it because I know, in my heart, he is a wonderful man. He really is a fabulous person."

Anni Collette, who is a paralegal, knows some people will think she's just "standing by her man" — as some wives of elected officials caught in sex scandals have done.

"I understand that completely," she said. "I don't know how to tell someone that it's not a 'stand by your man'-type thing. If he would have continued a pattern of doing something like that, I wouldn't be with him. I'm not that type of person.

"I just don't say, 'You're forgiven' and move forward. You have to prove yourself."

After the two humbling incidents, he has proved himself to her for 17 years.

That's pretty admirable, if you ask me.

• Freddy Dudding commented on the ridiculous 1-cent Medicare checks I wrote about previously.

"But this statement," he said, "takes the 'plaid rabbit.' "

Sure enough, Dudding's statement — dated Feb. 7, 2012 — showed a zero balance. That's because the only thing listed, a flu shot, was paid at 100 percent.

He received the shot on Sept. 21, 2009.

"For this, they used 34 cents in postage!" he said.

• In late January, I wrote about the eye-catching landscaping in front of Vatland Honda on U.S. 1 in Vero Beach. Judith Stevens referenced that column when she encouraged me to check out a nearby business on Eighth Street, between U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway.

Reliable Septic operates out of a building owned by Stevens. I must say, the landscaping rivals Vatland. (University of Florida fans will definitely like it. That's all I'm sayin'.)

"I've never been so impressed with anything in such a long time," she said. "I think he deserves a standing ovation!"

Nicely done, Reliable Septic.

• In case you missed it, Parts 1 and 2.

Part 1: The former Denny's restaurant on U.S. 1 in Vero Beach is now a pile of rubble.

Part 2: A new sign for the new shopping center at U.S. 1 and 53rd Street says construction will begin in "Summer 2012."

• The sixth annual out-of-state license plate count is a wrap. It ended on March 8, which beat the previous record by a day.

Three readers — Jim Grigsby, Larry Connolly and Ursula Leahy — contacted me on Thursday to report the sighting of a Hawaii license plate.

A sincere "thank you" to everyone who participated. The number has grown each year.

• Elks Lodge. Elks Lodge. Elks Lodge.

Sorry, just reminding myself to go to the new location for this month's meeting of the Taxpayers' Association of Indian River County. I've been invited to speak at the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. (It's open to the public. The cost of lunch is $15. Lunch is optional for those in attendance.)

• Did you notice the countless wire signs last week promoting the band Badfish's appearance at Capt. Hiram's in Sebastian? (See accompanying photo.)

Chuck Fountain wonders how many people driving past signs saw only the words "Badfish" and "Capt. Hiram's."

Not exactly the type of word association a seafood restaurant would seek.

"I might book the band," he mused, "but I don't think I'd promote it."

Russ Lemmon is a columnist for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. This column reflects his opinion. Contact him at 772-978-2205 or russ.lemmon@scripps.com.

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