Selling state's planes is about flash, not cash Guest column, Jan. 12
Scott wise to ground planes
Sometimes, it's helpful to have some flash to light up the place so we can more clearly perceive how our public treasury is being administered. And while the politicians and bureaucrats may be inconvenienced because of the grounding of state aircraft, they can take comfort in the realization that other means including teleconferencing, Internet communications and closed-circuit television meetings are available for them to carry out the business at hand.
For quite some time now, politicians and bureaucrats have been very adept at engaging in expensive junkets which are camouflaged to look like public business trips. They have been getting away far too long with squandering and raiding the public treasury for frivolous and capricious endeavors. The time has long since elapsed for these practices to be reined in.
The profligate usage of government aircraft is but one example. It has recently been chronicled that former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp was rather lavish in his travel and security expenses, including usage of state aircraft, during his tenure in office. Nancy Pelosi, in the style of a modern day Marie Antoinette, had no reservations about demanding that a long range Air Force luxury jet should be made available at her beck and call to haul her and her entourage across the country in comfort. President Barack Obama thinks nothing of ordering up Air Force One to run him to places where he can have a photo opportunity and deliver speeches which are laced with self-serving political messages.
When considering that the national debt is on the brink of overtaking and eclipsing the Gross Domestic Product; and that many of our states including California and Illinois are on the brink of bankruptcy due to wasteful spending, the grounding of the aircraft by Gov. Rick Scott is a refreshing signal that steps are being taken, albeit on a measured basis, to bring spending under control. The journey of a thousand miles requires a first step, and the grounding of state aircraft is a step in the right direction.
Jack B. McPherson, New Port Richey
Who is really protecting us?
Wednesday, I went to lunch at a west Pasco restaurant. It was dirty and there was a more than apparent sewage problem that you could smell 10 feet outside the bathroom hallway near where food was being served. When I tried to bring this to the attention of the manager, he simply stated, "It's a public bathroom, they smell!" This was clearly a sewage issue, not a bathroom issue.
When I got in my car, I called the Pasco County Health Department. They could not help me and referred me to Environmental Services, who told me they could not help and that I would need to call the Department of Business and Professional Regulations in Tallahassee. So I did, or at least tried. When you call, you have to press number after number and there was no one to speak with. In my frustration with the lack of help, I called Sen. Mike Fasano, who said he would try on his end.
So why is this? If there is a potential sewer health hazard, especially in a public restaurant, why is there no one you can call to inspect? I find it sad and scary that the only way to get anything checked on is to have to call your senator or the news media. Who is protecting the public?
Virginia Stevans, Holiday
Free speech is under attack
Imagine what it would be like to live in a community where negative comments in the neighborhood paper are not acceptable for publication, positive remarks are restricted to 150 words, homeowners are restricted to only talking about subjects being discussed by their governing body in their planning sessions and when this body meets in formal sessions, the owners are completely denied the right to speak before, during or after the meeting.
Even in the planning meetings, the mayor shuts off comments if the homeowners present too much input. Imagine homeowners attempting to be heard by petitions or letters to the members of the governing body and then receiving letters of correction, even ridicule, from the mayor.
Does that sound like a government that controls freedom of speech? We know so because we live in that community. The paper is our monthly newsletter; the government is our community association and the mayor is the president of our association board of directors. No, it is not in Cuba or Russia but right here in Pasco County in the deed-restricted community of Beacon Woods.
The board has slipped into the hands of a president, far more interested in power and control and suppression of dialogue than the well-being, happiness and community spirit that the two previous boards engendered. And so, now we have 2,700 homeowners who are denied the very freedom contained in the First Amendment to our Constitution: freedom of speech!
C. Michael Miller, James Gilligan, Daniel Meahl, Robert Ryan and Thomas Pohl, Bayonet Point