Sheriff White deserves applause
Much has been written in the St. Petersburg Times recently about Sheriff Bob White's reorganization of his department. I seems the Times continues to try to manufacture news when the real story is overlooked and credit not given to the reduction in costs associated with the changes made by White.
As a constitutional officer elected by the people of Pasco County, the sheriff has an exclusive right to hire and fire staff at will. Just like our new president, he is expected to bring in highly qualified people to fill positions of trust in his administration.
His recent changes have resulted in a reduction in payroll, a reduction in tax dollars he will receive from Penny for Pasco and the addition of 30 deputies assigned to road patrol without an increase in costs. Bravo Sheriff White for a job well done in protecting the safety of the citizens of Pasco County.
The Times continues to make comparison to the way the county administrator hires and that is like comparing apples to oranges. The county administrator is appointed and his staff appointments are subject to County Commission approval. He is not elected and does not directly answer to the citizens of Pasco County. A fairer comparison would be to compare the hiring practices to those of other sheriffs in Florida.
Why can't the Times be fair and balanced in its reporting and give readers the real facts behind the story? The net result of Sheriff White's changes are 30 road deputies on patrol and no additional costs to Pasco citizens. That action should be praised, not criticized.
Ed Collins, New Port Richey
Who is Swiftmud working for here?
It is disturbing that Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) is supporting the transfer of environmentally-sensitive land in Aripeka to SunWest Acquisitions, Inc., a private developer. When Sun West Acquisitions, Inc. originally applied for an environmental resource permit in March 2007, the water district had various environmental concerns about the project. Among them:
• Wetland and surface water impacts.
• High potential for sinkhole development.
• Significant historical or archaeological impacts.
• Adverse impacts to sea grass beds and wildlife (the Florida black bear, West Indian manatee, bald eagles, Marian's march wren, and Scott's seaside sparrow).
• Possible groundwater contamination (due to limerock being close to the surface and salt water intrusion).
• Possible activities in sovereign submerged lands.
Interestingly enough, when these concerns were formally raised, the developer's consultant withdrew the application within a month's time. In addition, other public and environmental groups have expressed reservations concerning this project.
For example, in April 2008, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (an association of local governments and gubernatorial representatives) concluded that SunWest Aquisition's project could not be determined to be consistent with council policies, nor could impacts to natural resources of regional significance be determined to be of overriding public interest.
In my opinion, Swiftmud in developing this relationship with SunWest Acquisitions has betrayed the public trust. Existing "Florida Forever" conservation lands should not be swapped to accommodate developers' financial interests (at the taxpayers' and environment's expense).
Our coastal lands are very important to the vitality of our environment, water resources, and wildlife. If the Aripeka land is not valuable, then why did Swiftmud take control of this land to begin with?
I hope our state and local legislators take a good look at what shenanigans may be going on with this land deal.
James Fredericks, Hudson
Vets' van service has to be paid for
In response to the letter about van fare for veterans going to the VA hospital, the letter writer should know that before we decided to charge for a round-trip ride, we contacted the Department of Transportation and the Pasco County Veterans Service. To operate a van for this service costs a lot of money. Thanks to the county commissioners, who grant us the van and help with this service.
We sent out letters to all veterans and civic organizations for donations. All we got was a response from Regency Park. It takes a lot of money to conduct this service including insurance, driver's pay, maintenance and gasoline.
I am a member of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 78 and I support this service 100 percent. If we didn't have this service how would the letter writer and other veterans get to the VA Hospital?
Anthony M. Russo, Port Richey