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Hernando needs outside perspective in sheriff's office

Editor's note: All of today's letters are in response to the appointment of former Pasco Sheriff's Col. Al Nienhuis as Hernando sheriff and the Dec. 30 article Critics cry politics in pick.

Outside view is what's needed

Why would Richard Nugent cry politics when he himself was part of the biggest political picking in the history of Hernando County? Retiring U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite picked him to run without consulting the leadership of the Republican Party in Florida's 5th Congressional District.

Nugent and Hernando Commissioner David Russell cry foul because Gov. Crist named Al Nienhuis as Nugent's replacement. Maybe the old saying holds true here: "Familiarity breeds contempt." Gov. Crist recognized the comfortable closeness and control of Hernando County politics by the Republican Party in so few hands. Lying low and not voicing his opinion concerning the appointment is the chairman of the Hernando Republican Executive Committee Blaise Ingoglia, a major factor in the Republican rhetoric whose money and influence helped elect most of these officeholders.

I believe Gov. Crist wanted an individual with a fresh perspective and one who would not be controlled by the powers to be. Based on these statistics Democrats like myself and independents should be concerned as to the direction Hernando County takes in the next two to four years. Let's face it, Republican control of Hernando County since 2000 has gotten us where we are today: second-highest unemployment in the state of Florida for over two years; no worthy job creation; and budget troubles rivaling any county in Florida. Maybe Crist recognized this, and it isn't an implied payback.

Vito J. Delgorio Sr., Spring Hill

Best man wears sheriff's badge

I read the Critics cry politics in pick about the appointment of Col. Al Nienhuis to the position of Hernando sheriff and thought it was better than the 1947 Roswell UFO crash story.

The article leads you to think Sen. Mike Fasano single-handedly secured the appointment. Where was the fact that Col. Nienhuis has a distinguished law enforcement career? He is an FBI National Academy graduate, about to complete his MBA at USF, professionally held the office of Pasco undersheriff (second in command) for 10 years and achieved the administrative rank of captain at his prior law enforcement agency. Thus, he brings a rich knowledge of law enforcement to this position.

The reality is that there were eight candidates for one position, thus why step up to the plate and say the best man won when we can rationalize the result and blame politics? This situation happens each time a position opens in both the uniform services and civilian sector. Why just admit you lost when you can blame a hook or mystery hand that made the decision?

The fact that Nienhuis is new to Hernando County is good. He has no prior influence to cloud his professional evaluation and administrative leadership of the Sheriff's Office. This is the same situation he faced when he came to Pasco, and he has more than risen to that challenge. Many people wrote recommendations for Col. Nienhuis, including people from Hernando and, yes, me too. There were many good candidates; however, I feel the best man won. I feel in 2012 the people of Hernando will confirm that at the polls.

Hugh C. Townsend, New Port Richey

Nothing but a backdoor deal

Thank you Charlie Crist, for the parting shot you took at Richard Nugent. Your action in naming a new sheriff for Hernando County helped many people illustrate just what they don't like about politics in America: the cronyism, the backdoor deals and the general sense that the people don't really matter.

There is no way to candy coat the selection of Al Nienhuis for the remainder of Sheriff Nugent's term. It was simply a backdoor deal.

How do you substitute 15 years of law enforcement experience for 22 years of service to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office? How do you explain to the people of Hernando County that someone from outside their home is now their top law enforcement official? This is especially disconcerting when we consider that a willing, able, capable, qualified — and local to Hernando County — applicant was recommended by one of the best sheriff's in the state of Florida.

Hernando County residents now live with no say in their law enforcement representation. At least with Mike Maurer we could feel like we had input, vis-a-vis our support of the sheriff who recommended him. Instead, we live with political back doors.

I don't wonder why politicians end up with limited support within any political party. I also see how this casts a pall over the reign of the politicos who made this happen.

I'm sure Al Nienhuis is capable of the job. This isn't about the actual name or appointment; this is about the process. This is pandering and catering to a process that too many Americans' have grown tired of. Thank you for pointing out a particularly stinky aspect of American politics.

Dennis McCarthy, Spring Hill

Use 2012 election to correct matters

People of Hernando County, welcome to the filthy political machine known as the Pasco Sheriff's Office on-deck circle for Tallahassee. We recently read about how we are to believe that there are no political ties between contract attorney Richard Corcoran and Pasco Sheriff Bob White.

White plays the people of this county consistently and knew as far back as his "budget planning meetings" that he was going to appeal to the Cabinet any decision from the commissioners other than what he wanted. Spending how many thousands of dollars in fights with the police union, county commissioners and lining the pockets of lawyers with political ties?

Now, our second in command is picked as Hernando County's new sheriff. I find it revealing that everyone from Bob White, Mike Fasano, and all the kings horses made calls to Gov. Charlie Crist to put Humpty Dumpty back on the wall. Charlie Crist folds to the inappropriate favoritism and hooks up his buddies who stuck with him.

This entire cartel, for lack of a better term, has been in the works for the last 10 years, and it is continuing to grow. It all started in 2000 with Sen. Fasano setting up Bob White, and now Hernando County it is your turn for a taste of the witches' brew. My suggestion is that you all do not fall under the spell of political maneuvering and baby kissing.

Hernando County, please do not suffer from short-term memory loss like we have during election seasons past. Mike Maurer and others are now victims of the latest examples of how politicized the Sheriff's Office has become. Hernando, you have two years and then you can stop the cycle; we have been dealing with this for 10 years. And hopefully the next election will prove that there is a remedy for our short-term memory loss.

Christopher Cooley, Hudson

It's just more politics as usual

Why is our community upset and extremely disappointed by the now done-deal appointment of our new Hernando County sheriff? The unexpected, unjustified, alarming choice of someone other than Capt. Mike Maurer concerns politics; nothing more, nothing less. Rich Nugent, outgoing Hernando County sheriff of 10 years, recommended Capt. Maurer for the job.

It all boils down to flagrant cronyism as practiced by ambivalent outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and a meddling current state Sen. Mike Fasano. In my opinion, as a vigorously concerned Hernando County registered voter, it would seem Sen. Fasano would have been fully aware of the intensity and critical importance of this appointment to Hernando County where our duly elected public officials represent one county — Hernando.

Though extremely disappointed myself, it is in the best interests of the good and welfare of Hernando County to place this behind us. Common sense dictates that we all warmly welcome Al Nienhuis, our new sheriff, and his family to Hernando County. Here he will inherit the very finest Sheriff's Office in all of Florida's 67 counties, including the professionally respected and admired Capt. Mike Maurer, a veteran of 22 years on the force.

Chuck Schlakman, Spring Hill

Nienhuis must fix sheriff's budget

I was hired by Sheriff Thomas A. Mylander, as his accountant and financial person in June 1985. I either prepared or assisted in preparation of the Sheriff's Office's annual fiscal budget for 23 years.

In Hernando County, we have in excess of 15 percent of our work force that is unemployed, the highest rate in the Tampa Bay area.

I don't know the percent of our work force that is underemployed in Hernando County; however, it has to be equal to or in excess of the national average of 10 percent at the present time. Furthermore, we have no knowledge of how many of the unemployed workers are no longer looking for employment. Taking all these factors into consideration, it has to have a negative effect on the county's ability to fund the budgets without increasing the ad valorem tax revenue rate.

The Hernando County general fund revenues for fiscal year 2011 decreased by nearly 14 percent from the previous fiscal year. While the Sheriff's Office's budget for 2011 consumes over 43 percent of the entire county's general fund revenue (sheriff's approved budget is $41,555,505 versus projected general fund revenue $96,280,476.) If the Sheriff's Office expenditures are not reduced in the future, it will affect the quality of service that the county provides to the taxpayers.

Since, Gov. Charlie Crist has appointed Al Nienhuis to be sheriff of our county, he needs to have the courage and backbone to make some hard and serious financial decisions to the Sheriff's Office's fiscal budget to help relieve some of the financial burden on the taxpayers of this country. Or else he will be another do-nothing sheriff like we already had since 2001.

Larry D. Johnstone, Spring Hill

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Hernando needs outside perspective in sheriff's office 01/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 9:38pm]
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