Balancing views on manatee issue
Tempers have been flaring recently (among other things) over the proposal by U.S. Fish and Wildlife to expand the existing manatee refuge to permanently cover all of King's Bay. Here's where I stand on it.
Opponents of the proposal cite the dramatic and steady growth in the manatee population as evidence for why these additional protections are unnecessary. Supporters of the proposal cite the same growth in the manatee population as their reason for wanting to expand the refuge. Both sides have a point.
As your representative in the federal government, it is my job to make sure that Congress and the executive branch agencies are aware of and responsive to your concerns – on both sides of any federal issue. That is literally my job and constitutional role as your representative in the federal government.
When the county commission, city council and mayor unanimously objected to this proposed rule by a federal agency, my job was to use every bit of authority I have to make sure that the federal agency took those concerns seriously. In this case, that meant offering a "limitation amendment" to the Department of Interior appropriations bill stating simply that none of the funds appropriated in this legislation may be used to finalize or move forward with this particular proposed rule.
My amendment does not block funding for the existing refuge, it does not block funding for any future expanded refuge, and it does not prevent Fish and Wildlife from coming back next week to propose another rule. Simply put, it is an unmistakable signal to U.S. Fish and Wildlife that the local community is divided on this issue, its local representatives are not convinced, and that before Fish and Wildlife goes any further, they need to make every effort to build a consensus with all of the stakeholders.
I don't think that is an unreasonable position.
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, Spring Hill
County ignores code violations
What are we paying taxes for? Why do we pay Hernando County Code Enforcement when they can't do anything?
As a taxpayer in Hernando County I am getting fed up with the failure of our county to address code violations and health violations in my community. I, along with my neighbors, have on numerous occasions called and/or written Animal Control, Code Enforcement (which is the same office), and County Administrator David Hamilton to no avail.
The county does not even give you the courtesy to return phone calls or answer letters. For some reason they can't be bothered, it seems. A letter with the signatures of 16 residents was sent to the county administrator (with return receipt) which was signed for and no response or reply was ever given.
This letter dealt with nuisance and dangerous pit bull dogs being raised by a resident in our neighborhood. This individual had as many as 17 pit bull dogs and puppies at the residence, with no kennel license. They have escaped the yard numerous times and have bitten other residents.
Code enforcement/Animal Control has been contacted a minimum of 14 times in the past year with the same results — nothing done and no action taken. The standard answer is "we can't do anything about that." Whether the complaint is about nuisance dogs, overgrown yards, abandon houses with unlocked and filthy pools, abandon vehicles, garbage left to pile up in front of a residence for over a month; the answer is the same.
With the West Nile virus an issue again this year, you would think the Health Department would be interested in preventing abandoned homes with emerald green pools left to grow algae and breed mosquitoes and insects. When the Health Department is called they refer you to the Hernando County Code Enforcement Office and we get the standard answer "We can't do anything about that."
What am I paying my taxes for? Are other counties as bad as Hernando County with the lack of any response?
Dennis A. Ballard, Spring Hill