Red-light cameras another way to tax | April 11 Dan DeWitt column
Avoid the 'tax' by stopping at light
You want to call it a tax, then so be it. Happy?
Now let's avoid that nasty tax. How? Stop for the light! Pay attention to your driving (stay off the cell phone), watch out for those well- hidden red lights and stop when they turn red. Just like it says under state law.
Apparently DeWitt has a problem with either (a) paying attention or (b) seeing those hidden lights. He has mentioned paying a "couple of those fines" and then driving "very cautiously." Seems like something got his attention. I don't see him as any kind of spokesperson for the National Safety Council, just a columnist who gets caught running lights and has a place where he gets paid to vent.
Under the Florida law, no points are assessed to anyone for a citation received from a traffic infraction enforcement officer by way of a red light camera. The only penalty is monetary and it is charged to the registered owner of the vehicle not the driver of the vehicle. There is no need to identify the driver in order to assess the penalty.
It is as if the owner of the vehicle loaned it to a friend or relative, they went through a toll booth or parked illegally got photographed or cited and the only thing available to enforcement was the license plate number. Exactly who do you think is going to get the bill? The only one the officials can find, the registered owner. They do not care who drove through the tollbooth or who parked the car.
If I was the one who received that notice and I know I was not driving, you can be sure I would quickly be in touch with whomever I had loaned my vehicle for repayment. I would probably be hesitant to loan my vehicle to that person again.
If a certified law enforcement officer gives you that ticket, you get the points! Those couple of fines could turn into a much bigger problem at four points a pop! But then you do have your bike. Oops, same laws apply. Taxing isn't it?
John H. Stansbury, Brooksville
Make a difference in a child's life
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for the nation to renew its commitment to our must vulnerable children.
By becoming involved with the Guardian ad Litem Program, Hernando citizens have an opportunity to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. As a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, I advocate for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. I gather information from all who are intimately familiar with the situation and the needs of the child, and make recommendations to the court. I make sure no one forgets that behind the case number is a child, usually a very young child, who is depending on me to make sure they are raised in a safe and secure home headed by capable, loving adults.
Currently, there are approximately 350 abused and neglected children who cases are involved with our local dependency courts. Sadly, due to the lack of volunteers, only about 210 of them have a dedicated volunteer assigned to them.
Beginning May 17, you will have the opportunity to join me in making a difference. A free pre-service volunteer training will be offered in Brooksville. To learn more, call Lynn Sennett, recruiter, at 352-274-5231 or e-mail Lynn.Sennett@gal.fl.gov.
Peg Donovan, Spring Hill
New store must consider homes
I, a homeowner in Autumn Oaks, was told a construction company was going to build a Dollar General store on County Line Road within 500 feet of our home. Our home was on a corner, within easy sight of the construction area. Not a good thing.
I volunteered to be on a committee of homeowners organized to fight this blight. There were a series of meetings where our association started to challenge the Dollar General construction, which, by then, had actually raised the new structure.
Our committee pressed for changes to the site development with such things as a brick wall and planted trees to hide as much as possible the ugly walls of the store and prevent the ensuing traffic from using our local community roads. A decision had been made to use one of our streets (Winding Oaks) as their main entrance thoroughfare to the store rather than using County Line Road. The use of Winding Oaks also imperiled Echo Mountain Drive, as it would likely be used as egress from the Winding Oaks entrance. The north side of our home is on Echo Mountain Drive.
At a recent meeting of the Pasco Development Review Committee, I overheard the attorney for the developer and Dollar General say that they were not obligated to make any concessions to the homeowners' association. Wrong, Mr. Attorney!
You need to take the needs of the homeowners into careful consideration unless you want to transfer to the Dollar General Corp. a white elephant — a store facing the active enmity of the 250 families who live in Autumn Oaks.
Joseph L. Barcelo, Hudson
House bill gives students options
House Bill 7059 was delivered to Gov. Scott's office Friday and the governor has until April 28 to act on this bill. The initiatives within HB 7059 shine a light on our highest performing students by increasing access to acceleration options in public education.
The core of HB 7059 allows school districts to provide academically challenging curriculum or accelerated instruction to eligible students. HB 7059 gives principals and school districts the flexibility to establish guidelines for these options and also requires school districts to include accelerated options, early graduation, and dual enrollment options in each district's student progression plan.
It also provides high school students the opportunity to graduate early once standard graduation requirements are met and it rewards school districts with funding for unpaid credits delivered to these students. Additionally, HB 7059 authorizes students who graduate midyear to receive an initial Bright Futures Scholarship during the spring term.
The bill clarifies student eligibility requirements for dual enrollment and clarifies that all schools may offer career-themed courses, not just career and professional academies. Too often we forget those students that may not choose the collegiate path and instead are looking to learn a trade once they graduate high school. House Bill 7059 benefits those students by focusing on high skill, high wage, and high demand jobs, and helps put these students to work immediately upon graduation.
Rep. John Legg, Port Richey