Speak up about redistricting
During this summer, the Florida Redistricting Committee will travel across the state to fulfill our constitutional responsibility of redistricting. We are honored and excited to host one of these meetings in our very own Pasco County. This meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the Wiregrass Ranch High School gymnasium in Wesley Chapel. Pasco County residents will have opportunity to comment and provide their views about redistricting, as well as share directly with Florida legislators how you would like your district to be shaped.
As chair of the congressional redistricting committee and lifelong resident of the area, it's my hope to see a strong Pasco representation at the upcoming Wesley Chapel hearing. Please join us in helping to represent our communities and shape our district map for the next 10 years.
Pasco County has seen its population swell from 344,765 during the 2000 Census year to 464,697 based on the 2010 Census. This hearing is a unique opportunity for Pasco County to better shape its own political landscape in the central Florida region because of this growth.
I highly encourage Pasco residents to speak at the town hall meeting by registering in advance through the redistricting website at www.flordiaredistricting.org. Also on the website, Pasco residents can utilize the House's MyDistrictBuilder, a free application for the public and their legislators to actually draw new district boundary lines. You can create a complete or partial redistricting plan for the state House, state Senate or Congress, and submit your ideas for legislative consideration.
In addition, Pasco residents can voice their concerns via some of the MyDistrictBuilder's social media tools. Redistricting advocates can utilize the My DistrictBuilder's Facebook and Twitter sites to learn about events as they happen, ask questions and share your thoughts. Residents can visit MyDistrictBuilder's YouTube page to watch tutorial videos on how to use the MyDistrictBuilder application.
For more information on the redistricting website tools or the Wesley Chapel public forum, please contact my office at (727) 869-8600 or via e-mail at John.Legg@myfloridahouse.gov.
Rep. John Legg, Florida House District 46, Port Richey
A smoke-free workplace
On behalf of the Hernando County Health Department and Tobacco Free Hernando, I'd like to recognize the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition for its efforts to ensure a safe environment for its employees and visitors by implementing a 100 percent tobacco-free policy on all of its properties.
The coalition joins other local businesses as a leader in modeling healthy behaviors that will have positive physical, environmental and financial impact on our community.
Studies indicate that tobacco-free businesses have a lower risk of fire and accidental injuries. They have reduced cleaning and maintenance costs. Tobacco-free work environments have a reduced risk of harm or discomfort to others by the elimination of second- and third-hand smoke. Finally, employees at tobacco-free worksites are more likely to reduce their tobacco use and some are even motivated to quit.
Adopting a smoke-free policy shows an interest in the health and well-being of all Hernando County residents. I wish to congratulate James Farrelly, executive director, the Learning Coalition's board of directors and the staff for this proactive step.
Elizabeth A. Callaghan, Administrator, Hernando County Health Department
Inmate labor could help budget
The parks need maintenance. Inmates can weed and clean bathrooms for free. The pools need maintenance. Teach the inmates to clean pools and they will have a trade. Inmates can paint, sweep, pick up trash, dig holes, plant trees, etc., etc. They are used to collect trash and clean bathrooms for Pasco government facilities now.
Get them off their bunks, away from television sets and weight rooms and provide some labor to help them pay their debt to society. Work them during closed hours to avoid public contact. This will help keep our libraries, parks and pools safe and open.
There are lots of volunteers out there who will help if you ask them. Ask us.
Gail Ockunzzi, New Port Richey
Editor's note: According to the Sheriff's Office website, Operation Payback had an average of 81 defendants participating each month, completing nearly 62,000 hours of labor at 27 county facilities and at special events. Estimated cost savings to taxpayers was more than $493,000.