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New Port Richey City Council decision was democratic

Let voters reverse ban on alcohol at Sims Park Nov. 10, editorial

Council decision was democratic

When elected, I was told by some seasoned politicians to ignore the editorials that can come from the Times, even when they lack merit. Such advice makes sense, for as Mark Twain famously said: "Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel." When my character is called into question, I have no choice but to respond.

In its unsigned editorial, the Times is critical of the New Port Richey council's decision to pass an expanded alcohol ordinance that would allow nonprofits to sell beer and wine in Sims Park during special fundraising events on a limited basis.

If you missed it, this misleading screed of an editorial basically accused the council of "ignoring democracy" with "unsettling" arrogance. It finishes with the zinger that implies we are "afraid of democracy.'' The entire premise is built on the lie that we are overturning a referendum to not allow alcohol sales, passed eight years ago by a 69 percent majority.

It was not a referendum that reversed the prior ordinance allowing the sale of beer and wine in the park eight years ago. It was the council, as the referendum was nonbinding. When the council banned the sale of alcohol in the park, the point was made that the issue should be re-visited in the future. That is what is currently taking place.

As for democracy, the council has conducted two public hearings on the matter, with yet a third scheduled. I have turned off the timer on every single speaker, allowing each to talk as long as they want. Some have gone on for 15 to 20 minutes, but I insisted that everyone be afforded a full opportunity to participate. Furthermore, as a private attorney, I have without charge defended the civil rights of numerous persons and groups, on both a local and national level. For someone to imply that I am leading an effort that ignores due process or democracy is a disgusting manipulation of the truth!

Here is the reality and the point completely missed by the editorial:

The voters will have a referendum on this and every issue. It's called an election, and it takes place here in the city in April. If you do not like the decisions by the council, then you have the power to vote us out of office, one by one. This is what democracy is all about! The most cowardly and ineffective thing to do at this time of local and national financial crisis is to worry about the political fallout associated with this issue, and insist on a referendum that would create delays and invite failure.

The public comments have been clear: Businesses and non-profits need help now! This ordinance is but one small tool that can help. Furthermore, our citizens need the services of non-profits more than ever, with unemployment in Pasco County doubling just over the past year. The chief financial officer of Florida is now requesting a special legislative session in Tallahassee, saying that the state budget shortfall is around a billion dollars and the situation is so dire that it cannot even wait for the regular session in March. I anticipate more spending cuts on the way for our city, and for nonprofits.

For whatever reason, the Times refuses to print important facts on this issue, choosing instead to frustrate the process with headlines of booze in the park, and painting me as some type of dictator. While they repeatedly distort the past referendum, they will not tell you that 70 percent of those at the current public hearings are behind the new ordinance, nor that multiple nonprofits have adopted corporate resolutions of support.

They will not report that every business owner to speak has been in support of the ordinance, with several signing a letter asking us to move forward. How is that not relevant to the story? Of course it's relevant, but it's not divisive enough to make the article. It's far more scandalous to accuse the council of ignoring democracy, in spite of the fact that we have afforded complete and total due process of law to the issue.

Mayor Scott McPherson, New Port Richey

Let voters reverse ban on alcohol at Sims Park Nov. 10, editorial

Ask again for residents' view

I appreciate the fact that some people in addition to New Port Richey Council members Bob Consalvo and Marilynn deChant understand the importance of the vote that was taken in 2000 in which the residents of New Port Richey made it absolutely clear that alcohol sales in city parks, city parking lots and Sims Park are not wanted.

Council members Consalvo and deChant deserve great credit for remembering the historic vote of 2000 that expressed the will of the people on this highly controversial issue when they voted against the proposed ordinance last week.

Your editorial is spot on. If the City Council is going to approve the ordinance next week, which they appear poised to do so, then they should also include a call for a referendum to once again poll the residents on this issue. As one of the organizers of the recall effort in 1999 and 2000, I am acutely aware of the time and effort that was put in by many hardworking people to give the residents a chance to express their opinion. By authorizing the referendum at the same time as the ordinance, the City Council will be acknowledging that there may still be a large segment of the city's population that holds a different opinion on this matter.

If the City Council does authorize the referendum and the results show that the overwhelming majority of city residents who voted in 2000 have changed their mind, then so be it. I for one will accept whatever those results may be, just as the City Council thankfully accepted the results of the referendum we spearheaded eight years ago. To not give the residents a chance to express their present opinion would be nothing but arrogance, however.

Could it be that the supporters fear that the numbers may not change all that much? On the flip side, could it be possible that the vision the residents have for their city has changed and they would now support this idea? Unless we have a referendum, we will never know for sure. It is my opinion that an elected official would want to know just where his/her constituents stand on an issue, especially one as highly controversial as this.

I join the writer of this editorial and ask the New Port Richey City Council to allow the people to express their voice. Whatever the outcome of the referendum may be, it should be respected by those on both sides of the issue.

Greg Giordano,

New Port Richey

People said no to alcohol in park

I was shocked that a New Port Richey City Council would put itself above the voice of the voters who put them in office.

In 2000, nearly 70 percent of the voters said no to selling alcohol in Sims Park. Yet last week, when the country was engrossed in electing a new president, this City Council did just that.

I also find it curious that a council member who would benefit from this, votes on it. In this small town, we have no less than seven bars, soon to be eight, within a few blocks of each other.

I say ''no'' to any new policy. Let the children have their park alcohol-free.

Margaret Wareham, New Port Richey

We'll pay price for pro-gun officials

Our local election results have proven one thing for sure: Guns will continue to receive more protection than people. Our Republican state legislative delegation, left intact after the election, will continue to support NRA bills that protect guns instead of people.

Voters re-elected two Republican county commissioners, including Ann Hildebrand, who is dedicated to protecting other county commissioners from the unfinished business of passing a simple ordinance to prevent gun sales at gun shows without a background check. They will, no doubt, continue to remain silent about the life-saving authority given to commissioners by Pasco voters in 1998 by 69,171 to 25,910 authorizing them to pass the background check ordinance.

The only good news for those of us in Pasco who support gun violence prevention is that the margins of victory for NRA-supporting legislators is getting slimmer and slimmer each election.

Art Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel

FSU made wrong football decision

Drew Weatherford of Land O'Lakes has worked hard, produced, and deserved to be starting quarterback at Florida State University.

Building for the future while sacrificing the spirit of such a player hardly benefits the ethics of Bobby Bowden. Shame, shame.

Hey, Coach, that kind of stuff is for the NFL, not FSU, of which I am an alum. If you and Jimbo Fisher want to play that way, go to the pros.

Henry L. King, Clearwater

New Port Richey City Council decision was democratic 11/10/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:40pm]
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