Penny for Pasco supports wildlife
The Penny for Pasco sales tax will be on the ballot in November. Part of the tax has provided the financial support for Pasco County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program (ELAMP).
It was designed 12 years ago out of a legal settlement over Pasco's failure to follow the environmental measures of its own comprehensive plan. ELAMP, and its part of the sales tax, became the means of acquiring and maintaining important wildlife corridors between the well fields that make up some of the larger areas of undeveloped open space in the county. It is the only county program that works directly for environmental conservation.
I write on behalf of the more than 300 members of the West Pasco Audubon Society to express our very strong opposition to the proposal to reduce the portion of the Penny for Pasco sales tax that supports ELAMP. Evidently some commissioners need to be reminded of the features of the county that contribute to the quality of our lives: clean undeveloped watershed areas that provide the water we and our neighbors need; public lands that support the 331 native species of birds and other animal and plant wildlife in our county where we can enjoy them; and the assurance that we have an effective and funded agency that works to protect and safeguard them permanently.
Peter Day, New Port Richey
For education, a penny isn't much
It seems that everyone agrees that a good education is extremely important for our children, for Pasco County's future, for the state of Florida and for our nation. There is only one little problem; nobody wants to pay for it.
We are in an election year where nearly every politician running for office is promising no tax increases. People are arguing about that big penny which we added eight years ago in the Penny for Pasco as if that extra penny of sales tax is going to send them to the poor house. Give me a break!
I propose that concerned citizens voluntarily pay additional school tax. I would like the Pasco County School Board to set up a lock box for receipt of donations from interested persons. I think that the School Board should advertise this information. I believe that there are many persons such as my wife and I who believe in education enough to put our money where our mouths are. By the way, we have no children or grandchildren or any relatives who are students or employees of the school district.
At a time when there is trouble in a family, the family gets together and helps out. It is time for that to happen here in Pasco County.
Lewis Corvene, Hudson
Closed primary suppresses voters
Although an appointed school superintendent has merit, the context of the recent editorial in the Pasco Times advocating for such a change warrants further consideration. The issue itself is raised more emphatically by the disenfranchisement of 61 percent of registered voters. No Democrats, independents and minor-party members will even be allowed to cast a vote.
On the face of it, this is both regrettable and stunningly contradictory of the principles of representative democracy. It is a rather dramatic but perhaps overlooked manifestation of voter suppression. The consequences are not constructive.
One-party elections undermine the legitimacy of the office holders and promote alienation. Clearly, our election laws allow for such maneuvers, but what must be remembered is that it took the conscious and fully deliberated decision of an individual to actually take the action to close the primary. Hypocrisy may well be the appropriate term, at least for those also espousing representative democracy — which appears to still be a Republican ideal. Hardball politics and indifference to the greater good seem more apt characterizations of the decision to play this card.
Any way you slice it, the next superintendent of schools in Pasco Country will serve without the explicit support of the majority of the electorate.
As for the Democratic Party, we can only marvel at its inability to recruit and field good candidates. Not only did the Democrats fail to find a candidate for school superintendent, of the candidates for the three County Commission seats, there is only one Democrat on the ballot. Many may not like the shenanigans of the Republicans, but we have been done no favors by the impotency of the Democratic Party.
No laws were broken, but the spirit of democracy sure took a hit.
Dell deChant, New Port Richey
Is there not one Democrat to run? Educator should run school system | June 7 letters
Let School Board choose a leader
The logic of the first letter eludes me. The writer argues that any person who oversees a billion dollar budget should be elected. Doesn't she realize that the School Board is elected? They are directly accountable to the voters. They are directly responsible for the budget, not the superintendent.
Throughout most of America, an elected school board, accountable to the voters, searches and selects the most competent person they can find as superintendent. Should a superintendent's performance be inadequate, that person's contract can be cancelled or not renewed. At all times, the elected school board is held accountable for whom they choose. And they have the authority to hold the superintendent accountable.
The simple truth is that disenfranchising voters is flat out wrong. It spits in the face of our democracy.
In the second letter, I also see shaky thinking. The writer states "The Pasco Democratic Party has consistently refused to run political hacks for superintendent of schools."
Are all the Democrats in Pasco County who are knowledgeable in the field of education hacks? Are the candidates that the Democrats are running for other elected positions all hacks?
Both Democrats and Republicans should recognize the problems here. Electing a superintendent rather than searching far and wide for the best possible person is a bad idea. Secondly, closing off primaries when there is no meaningful opposition in the general election is undemocratic and does a huge disservice to the voters.
Robin George Yates, Bayonet Point
Lowering taxes should be the goal | June 7 letter
You get services you pay taxes for
In response to the stating the county should be lowering taxes by "cutting pet projects, crony contracts, and making government lean," I'd like to know what pet projects and crony contracts to which the writer is referring? Surely he can identify these wasteful projects and contracts he speaks of and bring them to the attention of the County Commission so it can check into them?
The writer also says that "County employee jobs should be cut across the board and jobs open by retirement should not be filled." If he had any knowledge of how the county operates, he would know that vacant positions are already not being filled, leaving those who remain to assume ever increasing responsibilities without a corresponding wage increase. He would also know that the county has been cutting expenses annually for the last five years due to lower property tax revenue. The same goes for the elected officials and their offices. His arbitrary 30 percent reduction in Pasco County government is short on specifics, other than a recommendation to close all new departments opened in the last 15 years. I'm sure he must know which departments this includes and which government services he believes should be cut or he wouldn't have made this statement. Please share that knowledge with the rest of us, so Pasco County residents can decide if they need these services or not.
It's easy to be an arm-chair quarterback and deride county commissioners for their decisions. It is much harder to face a room full of citizens outraged that a library, park, pool, or some other county service is on the chopping block and demanding that the cuts be made elsewhere. The very definition of government waste is a program that you or your loved ones currently do not use. If and when they do, that same service becomes a necessity and is worthy of funding.
I've rarely had need of an ambulance, fire truck, or policeman, but I'm very glad to know they are there if I do need them. The same goes for animal control, parks and libraries, court services, schools, landfills, road maintenance, veteran assistance programs, elderly nutrition, and any number of services available to Pasco County residents. It costs money to operate these departments, and property tax revenue is the way they are funded.
Remember that when you receive your property tax bill later this year. You get what you pay for.
Danny Reich, Zephyrhills