Taking apart DCA won't help
This letter is in support of keeping the Department of Community Affairs intact as a separate agency and maintaining its current funding.
Dismantling the DCA is not the answer to save Florida's economy. The current regulatory structure is not the root cause of our economic problems. The problem with the Florida economy is declining home prices and tightening credit caused by poor banking industry oversight, speculation and overbuilding.
Many legislators seem to be relying on the flawed notion that Florida can solve the economic problems by building more empty houses. Developers stopped building new houses because no one was buying them and housing stock had approached excessive levels, not because the permitting process was too expensive or complicated. It's not wise to eliminate infrastructure protections, but it's even less wise when you know that it won't actually create any new jobs or fill any empty houses.
The DCA has served as a good check and balance for local planners who often receive a lot of pressure from developers to make decisions that are not necessarily in the best interest of the people of the area. I am a strong supporter of government supervision of local development.
Now is not the time to unravel decades of proven environmental safeguards and legitimate and reasonable growth regulations simply because we're overreacting to the economy. The popular regulatory relief being pursued by the 2009 Legislature is a thinly veiled attempt to appease an industry that blames everyone but itself for its current situation. Legislators, desperate to appear robust and in control, are easily persuaded to grasp at any straw.
Dismantling the DCA is not being driven by good economic policy, but by the desire to look active. There is absolutely no evidence that growth management rules have caused the current situation nor is there evidence that eliminating those rules will cause the situation to improve. Removing the checks and balances will only cause us to repeat undesirable mistakes of the past. We must not dismantle the DCA. We can't afford to lose its oversight in promoting good sound growth in Florida .
With 300,000 vacant homes and daily foreclosures adding to the number, we can ill afford the 600,000 more homes that developers are seeking to build. We certainly are not wise in allowing them to be built in our valuable wetlands or without collecting the impact fees that will be needed to support the impact on the water, schools and roads.
As we slowly build or pave all of Florida, we are destroying our beautiful environment, which is what everyone loves about Florida in the first place.
Speak up for the Florida that we love. We must not allow environmental and growth regulations be dismantled by the 2009 Florida Legislature under the guise of stimulating the economy.
Pat Carver, Dade City
Thanks for the high bill, senator
After receiving my first bill under the Florida Governmental Utility Authority we can see that Commissioner Ann Hildebrand was correct when she stated "It's going to be a red-letter day for the customers."
With an increase of more than 200 percent for the price of water and a more than doubling of the base charge, I am sure many former Aloha customers will be feeling in the red, mainly in their checkbooks.
With the checkered past of the FGUA regarding everything from rates to poor water quality, former Aloha customers should thank Sen. Mike Fasano for helping bring this deal to fruition.
I'm guessing it takes a special politician to be the driving force at raising your utility rates astronomically and champion what a victory it was for customers.
Robert W. Ratyniak New Port Richey
No warning for rate increase
The FGUA has figured out a way to pay for the purchase of Aloha: triple the water rates for existing customers. I received my March bill and really thought there was a mistake. The rate for water use has risen more than 200 percent and the base rate doubled.
The rate increase went into effect Feb. 28, but our billing service, AMS, didn't give any warning. It certainly didn't take long to raise the rates after the purchase was approved, but I wonder how long it will take to notice any improvements.
Bruce Edgar, New Port Richey
An improvement over old Aloha? | April 21, letter
Fasano isn't the one to blame
As a former Aloha Utilities customer (now FGUA customer), I was most disappointed in reading the referenced letter. Blaming Sen. Mike Fasano for the increased rates the FGUA is charging its customers is absurd. The gentleman obviously does not have an understanding of how he and his fellow Aloha customers have come to the place we are now.
Sen. Fasano's office has been our biggest advocate for the past 15 years to fight the abuses we suffered at the hands of Aloha Utilities. When the Pasco County Commission decided to enter into negotiations with the FGUA to purchase the beleaguered utility company, and that sale became final, the Public Service Commission no longer had regulatory authority over Aloha.
The sale of the utility was negotiated by the FGUA and the County Commission. Sen. Fasano's office did not play any role in those negotiations.
If Aloha had remained in charge of the utility, we all would have faced increases of 130 percent now and more in the near future. Instead, although the FGUA has raised rates to assist in making the utility more viable and productive, those rates are far lower than anything Aloha was in the process of thrusting upon us.
I would encourage every customer of the FGUA to contact your local county commissioner if you have complaints about the utility's rates and/or service. At a point in the near future, the County Commission will have total regulatory authority over the utility.
One of the reasons customers advocated for the sale of Aloha was to have someone local to whom they could approach with problems, not an unresponsive agency far away in Tallahassee.
As an aside, Sen. Fasano voted against the reappointment of PSC Commissioner Edgar in part due to the PSC's unwillingness to deal harshly with Aloha over the years.
Now that the utility is under the purview of the County Commission, all customers have a local ear and voice. Those local people are your county commissioners. I am sure they would welcome a call or letter.
Ed Collins, Trinity
A suggestion for watering rules
I will admit that I do not know the logistics of the water supply in this area but I would like to make a suggestion on changing the watering schedules for Pasco County and hopefully make it easier to spot illegal users and save the county workers time.
Why not have all even-numbered residences water on one day and odd-numbered residences water on another day? The selection of days should be left to the discretion of the county officials; preferably they would be two days apart.
This would enable the county workers to ride down any street and readily spot sprinklers that are on illegally.
Just a thought.
R. James Melilli, Port Richey
Judge's ruling was excessive
Concerning the April 19 story of the sentencing of Brian Rushing for DUI manslaughter, I know information only from the article and can understand and agree with all of the sentencing from Circuit Court Judge Pat Siracusa except for one part: taking the 21-year-old man's driver's license for life.
Here is a young man who by all accounts is trying above and beyond what is required to atone for his reckless driving that resulted in the accident when his blood alcohol was slightly over the legal limit.
His brother, as a passenger, was killed in the accident, which undoubtedly will continue to be a most heavy burden to bear.
His father has recently died, leaving just him and his mother left in the family.
Certainly strict probation for 10 years as laid out in the article and the mandatory jail sentencing for less than a year is within reason, but to take away his driver's license permanently is a monstrous and outrageous sentence coming down from the bench. He was a first-time offender and trying to make his life right. He will forever be severely handicapped by not being able to drive again.
What was this judge thinking?
My hope is that some attorney will take up his case for review and appeal of sentencing and that this judge's record be examined for further extreme punishments. If this is a pattern, Judge Siracusa should be investigated and held accountable.
Alan O'Brien New Port Richey