New drinking rules have school bus driver hot | Sept. 17 article
Dehydration of bus driver a threat
Under newly clarified policy in the school bus driver's operational handbook, bus drivers can no longer drink water or any electrolyte replacement fluid while sitting in the driver's seat when operating the bus. I would agree that such action would be inappropriate in a moving bus.
However, the rewritten policy, disallows the driver imbibing water in the driver's seat of a stopped bus. As buses can reach unhealthy temperatures, more so when full of students, drivers usually carry a bottle of fluid.
Prudent drivers may take a few swallows of water when stopped at a red light or when embarking or disembarking students. The current rigid policy might well put drivers at risk for dehydration. Affected drivers may experience varying degrees of illness that might hamper perception, or even consciousness. It could also have deleterious effect on chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. This is undue micromanagement; drivers should be able to judge when and if they need to drink replacement fluids.
I fully support the concerns raised in drivers' grievances concerning this flawed policy and would recommend more sensible directives for the welfare and safety of the drivers, their assistants and the Pasco student body.
Dr. Marc J. Yacht,
Editor's note: On Tuesday, the school district said it will drop the ban on bus drivers drinking beverages behind the wheel.
Mariano should look at other service cuts | Sept. 11 editorial
Park fees hurt quality of life
I have a strong passion for improving the quality of life for Pasco County residents. When the discussion of imposing park fees (taxes) at 11 of 37 parks arose, I asked the question "is anyone concerned about the effect upon businesses at Strickland Park (Hudson Beach)?" No one spoke about any concerns. It is too bad that the 3,000 petition signatures did not sway commissioners.
The fees (taxes) were initially proposed to be voluntary or on the honor system. As was done in a neighboring county, staff would show why these fees (taxes) were needed in hopes that the people would donate. The proposed mechanical costs were said to be $32,000. That cost doubled. The collections under the voluntary system were anticipated to be $656,000. The estimated collection turned out to be $213,959. The County Commission modified its ordinance on voluntary/honor system collection of these fees (taxes) in hopes that it would improve collections. However, revenue is still woefully short and the difference is still, in fact, funded by property taxes.
We are very lucky to have a good park system that allows children and adults to play organized sports. The leagues have a lot of volunteers and pay for all the lighting, all the paint, and the striping of their fields. These to me are significant user fees.
In 1986, the people of Pasco County voted on a library and parks bond referendum, which was approved "for the purpose of financing the acquisition, construction, and improvement of the county park system, but not for the purpose of funding the anticipated increase in the cost of operation and maintenance." In my opinion, the people approved this with the understanding that the county would provide operation and maintenance costs without levying additional taxes, especially unfair and inefficient ones.
I have brought league officers before the County Commission to express their objection to the fees (taxes). I have brought business people before the County Commission explaining that doing away with these fees (taxes) is a good economic development tool for the county. I was thankful the County Commission agreed to keep the Land O'Lakes and Veterans Park pools open.
I also asked the county commissioners to allow a specific question as we developed our citizen survey about the elimination of the park fees (taxes) and the elimination of the $5/$10 fee (tax) showing the citizens what the cost implications would be on their tax bill. It was rejected and Commissioner Henry Wilson had a similar request also rejected.
I will object all of next year to a continuation of these fees as they have proved to be inefficient and unfair and have not met their collection goals, which could lead to a reduced fund balance. It has significantly led to a detriment to the quality of life of Pasco County residents. Having children and families playing in parks should be encouraged and not discouraged by additional taxes.
Commissioner Jack Mariano, District 5, Bayonet Point
Mariano works for constituents
The editor takes issue with Commissioner Jack Mariano's obsession (I call it working) to eliminate park fees and surcharges for youth sports leagues. Every commissioner should pitch ideas and efforts to do what he can to correct something they feel should be changed.
The editor did acknowledge Mariano's passion for recreation as understandable because the "county's highly regarded park system is a valuable quality-of-life asset'' and I believe Mariano's goal is to continue to make it available to all of the citizens. To use the reserves is not a ploy, but a logical approach to providing a benefit to many seniors. I don't care what park it is or where it is located, it is a part of the county that should be there for use without having to pay.
I believe Mariano, based on past performances, will also take a hard look at the items put forth by the editor as many have great merit. The issue of budgeting to offset 3 percent pay cuts for public employee — as engineered by the state — should not be lumped in with our local county needs. The state is responsible for correcting this onus as it affects every county.
While business concerns may be agreeable to tax increases, this should also be something that the citizens of the county should be presented with in the near future. Yes, it is true that we are paying less in county taxes than we were in 2003, but in the meantime, we have lost a lot of county-provided services and benefits.
I don't believe Mariano is a proponent of political theatrics as the editor suggested. I hope Mariano continues to work for his constituents.
Clint Thaxton, Hudson
Wheels were his link to world | Sept. 10 article
A crosswalk needed on U.S. 19
Thanks for the article on Royce Merton Shean, the 94-year-old man who died trying to cross U.S. 19 in a motorized wheelchair.
I came out of a dental office on the east side of the road when I learned of this tragedy. Later, I twice called the city manager's office to see about having a crosswalk placed in that area.
I live behind the plaza in a senior apartment complex and have tried several times to cross U.S. 19 and find that you have to wait until traffic clears. Where I come from, drivers stop when they see a pedestrian trying to cross the road. It was the law.
U.S. 19 is a dangerous road and a crosswalk needs to be located across from Southgate Plaza. It would cost little and it would save lives. Drivers should be ticketed for not stopping for pedestrians. You can't be too safe when driving.
Erin Scarlett, New Port Richey
Can our democracy recover? | Sept. 18 guest column
Whole system's been corrupted
James Pettican's guest column started out well, and I mostly agreed with his description of the state of democracy in the United States and the lack of our citizens' knowledge about it. However, the far-left-leaning Mr. Pettican then began bashing our Gov. Rick Scott, accusing him of being a neophyte governor who actually spent tens of millions of his own money to get elected (imagine that!) and, he's learning the job of governing while on the job.
Pettican is obviously not aware of Gov. Scott's efforts to fix the problem of lack of knowledge of Florida's citizenry, especially in our schools. He should read the opinion piece in the same day's paper entitled, "Costly higher ed system not working" written by Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an independent nonprofit organization. Neal praises Gov. Scott for taking action, saying: "It's about time someone questioned the status quo."
Scott's resume shows he worked his way up from nothing to become a very successful businessman, leader of a large company that he created, and he was a huge job-creator. Compare these accomplishments to the leader of Mr. Pettican's party, President Barack Obama. Obama has absolutely no leadership experience whatsoever, has never run a business, never created a job, never led anything as much as a lemonade stand and has used other people's money to get elected.
He also criticizes the Supreme Court for allowing corporations to contribute to political campaigns. Yet, he neglects to mention unions, both private and public, that have been making huge contributions to political campaigns since the beginning of time. Public unions make political contributions to the very politicians they end up bargaining with for pay and benefits, expenses which are loaded onto the backs of the taxpayers. Is it any wonder why there are problems with unfunded union pension programs in this country?
This whole system is corrupt and that's why it is being dismantled throughout the country, state by state, county by county, city by city. The taxpayers can't afford it.
Frank S. Fischer,