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Easy to criticize purchase of Aloha Utilities from the outside

Easy to criticize from the outside

There have been a number of letters to the editor complaining of the rate increase resulting from the purchase of Aloha Utilities by the Florida Governmental Utilities Authority. Some have been critical of state Sen. Mike Fasano, others have criticized Wayne Forehand and others have blamed FGUA. None of the writers has accepted any responsibility for not participating in the long process that led to the buyout of Aloha. While the hard work was being done, they were content to sit back and do nothing. Those who did the heavy lifting understand the situation and why the rate increases are in the public interest.

For more than 10 years, hundreds, if not thousands, of Aloha customers complained about the black, smelly, corrosive water delivered daily by the utility. Customers attended PSC hearings, town meetings and committee meetings in search of a solution.

A number of years ago, Dr. Abe Kurien, a resident with considerable knowledge of water chemistry, led an effort that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Committee for Better Water Now with representation from all the areas served by Aloha. That committee tirelessly pursued the PSC and Aloha management, worked with Sen. Fasano and the Pasco County commissioners and ultimately achieved the goal of replacing Aloha with a company that has already begun to improve the water quality and be responsive to customer concerns.

During the negotiations that led to the purchase of Aloha by FGUA, there was full disclosure by FGUA to the Committee for Better Water Now of the impact on rates that would result. The FGUA lead negotiator made it absolutely clear that the FGUA board would not approve the purchase if it did not have the complete backing of the customers. That information was shared by committee members with their constituents. I participated in multiple meetings where the rate impacts were discussed. In none of those meetings was any objection voiced. There was unanimous agreement that the FGUA purchase should go forward. We accepted the fact that rates would go up immediately on the purchase of Aloha, but we knew they would go up less than if the purchase was not concluded. The only difference was that the Aloha increases would take effect over a longer period of time. Without the purchase, we would simply be paying more for the same water and the same arrogant Aloha management.

Now that the deal is done and the bills are coming out, so are the complaints. I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy for the complainers. There was ample opportunity to participate in the process and be heard when the decisions were being made. There was ample opportunity to object during the final negotiations when the details were made known. If you did not take the time to participate in developing the solution, you abdicated that to others who were willing to do their best to resolve a problem that has plagued us for more than 10 years.

I commend all those involved, especially Sen. Fasano and the Pasco County commissioners, who supported the quest for better water.

No one wants to pay higher rates, but neither did we want to continue to pay outrageous sums for black, smelly water!

William F. Humphrey, Trinity

Water is nothing to complain about | April 26, letter

If you complain, know your facts

The letter writer calling someone ignorant and uninformed shows ignorance. Many of the letters that I read focused on the sudden increase in rates, and in my case, without any warning. We all expect rates to increase, but in the case of government, the money goes in before the improvements (if any) come out.

I personally have not seen any difference in the quality of the water and do not understand why an increase in the cost of water should also result in an increase to the sewage rate. Does this mean it costs more to process better quality water through our sewer system?

I take the comment regarding being more aware of water usage to heart, and do what we can to conserve. My family's water consumption has remained flat for the past two years under Aloha since moving to New Port Richey from Palm Harbor.

Through the previous 10 years, there were minor spikes in usage, but basically we conserved as much as possible. Short of washing our clothes in the retention pond and bathing only once a week, I cannot come up with a plan to conserve even more.

Water is indeed something to complain about; otherwise, we would still be buying water from Aloha. The complaints registered over the past years are what prompted Sen. Fasano and others to pursue the change in ownership, and I applaud their efforts.

There are people who complain and chastise others without knowing the facts, there are people who call others ignorant because they don't agree with their views and even some who never say a word, but expect things to be different in the future.

This country was founded on the principle that everyone's voice counts. Although you may have a different viewpoint, please remember you're only ignorant if you don't allow others to express themselves.

Bruce Edgar, New Port Richey

Stop throwing cash at promises

Well, what do you know? T. Rowe Price now states that it is transferring some jobs (after the layoffs) three years from now and they'll let us know about the 1,100 or so jobs that are supposed to be created.

What a great return for our money we are getting from them.

After $30 million in state and local aid plus the recently agreed to $8 million plus in local highway improvements that Pasco County now agrees to shoulder, T. Rowe Price promises to take whatever it can get but promise nothing concrete in return. Wow, what a great deal for us. We give away something like $40 million and get a promise to consider expanding some time in the future if the economy picks up.

What is wrong with our leadership accepting this sort of double-talk? We are such a bunch of wanna-bes that we let these sharpshooters take terrible advantage of us every time. All that they have to do is promise jobs — not deliver jobs — just promise them. What a bunch of suckers we are to believe them. I, for one, don't believe a word they say. They see a weakling here and they are milking us for all they can get.

Please, county commissioners and state legislators, wake up. Personally, I don't think that they have any intention of expanding here. They are using us to see how much they can bargain for with another location in another state. It is their wish to bargain one against the other, I think. When they do locate somewhere, it will be all to their advantage and not much to the locality.

Instead of trying to get bragging rights to these big corporations, we should be trying to get smaller manufacturing jobs to employ our people. They are around; just look for them and look out for them. We are trying to hit a home run here and we're not having much luck.

Call the bluff and stop letting these big corporations walk all over you.

Lewis Corvene, Hudson

Tobacco tax hike hits working poor | April 27, letter

Why pay sales tax on other taxes?

This was an interesting letter on the increase of the tobacco tax. However, one aspect of this tax hike has never been told. We are paying a sales tax on the other federal and state taxes.

That's right, we are paying a tax on taxes. If the tax goes up $1 per pack, that means we will have to pay 7 cents more per pack and 70 cents per carton.

Is it legal for county, city or state governments to charge a tax on other taxes? This practice does not seem right to me, and I'm sure it applies to other products we use each day.

Fred Malito, Hudson

Dude, let's get the car washed! | April 25, article

No carwash until bikini days end

I find the new "bikini carwash days" at Bubble Bee Car Wash & Lube on U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs very offensive. I cannot believe the part-owners, Rachel Sarkis and her husband, think sex and exploiting women are a great way to give them a little bit of an edge to bring in new business.

When is Bubble Bee going hire good-looking, muscular males for their Speedo days? Do the current, hard-working employees have to take the Thursday and Friday off so the bikini babes can strut their stuff?

At first I thought I would go and express my distaste and displeasure in person. I'm sure my lone opinion at the cash register wouldn't matter.

I've been taking my car regularly to Bubble Bee for more than two years. They have lost my business as long as the bikini days continue. I hope others will take the initiative to express their distaste.

Carol Hess, Holiday

Shakespeare production a treat

Thank you St. Petersburg Times for sponsoring Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Also thanks to New Port Richey Public Library and Charlie and Marie Skelton for a fine presentation at the Richey Suncoast Theatre.

This show was superb, well directed by Bryan Sarabia and nicely performed by the entire cast. Might that it be a portent of more plays Shakespearean.

Roger and Maryanne Freeman, New Port Richey

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Easy to criticize purchase of Aloha Utilities from the outside 04/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 27, 2009 5:31pm]

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