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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

C.T. Bowen has been reporting and writing about the people and politics of Pasco County since moving to Florida in 1987. A native of upstate New York, he lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife, Mary Beth, a public school teacher. They have two sons.

Phone: (727) 869-6239


  1. Bowen: Token opposition doesn't halt Mariano dash for cash


    Eight years ago, Commissioner Ted Schrader emerged victorious from a hard-fought Republican primary in a year when no Democrat ran. The November ballot, however, still listed space for a write-in candidate.

    Between the primary and the November election, Schrader raised a grand total of $280 for his campaign, including $30 in interest from the credit union handling the account. He still received 96 percent of the vote....

  2. Proposed Pasco flooding fix includes 72 percent fee increase

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The 2017 Pasco County tax bills won't start arriving in mailboxes until Nov. 1, but already local officials are thinking about the notices that will be mailed a year from now.

    Specifically, how much higher the county's stormwater assessment will be on the 2018 bills.

    On Tuesday morning, county staffers proposed a nearly 72 percent increase in the fee from its current $57 per home to $97.87....

    In the wake of Hurricane Hermine, Suzanne Hamilton surveys flooding in the front yard of her home and on her street in the Bass Lake Estates on Sept. 6.
  3. Connected city advances, despite some disinterest from inside the corridor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — The connected city corridor has hit a short circuit.

    On the day the massive planning area received its initial county government approvals, two of the property owners in what would be the southeast corner of the 7.800-acre district bowed out.

    "We don't want to be involved,'' Realtor Joseph T. Hurley told Pasco County's Development Review Committee.

    Hurley said he was representing the Spada family, owner of the planned Wildcat Groves employment center, and an adjoining property owner. Together, the parcels total 191 acres, he said....

  4. State House | District 36


    Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, is seeking re-election to a second full term after initially winning this seat in 2013 when Gov. Rick Scott appointed then-Rep. Mike Fasano to become Pasco tax collector. Murphy is opposed by college student Amber Mariano of Hudson, the daughter of Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano. She initially filed to run for a seat based in Orlando, but switched districts at the June filing deadline. ...

    Amanda Murphy
  5. Pasco County Property Appraiser


    Voters will be selecting just the third Pasco property appraiser in 48 years. Mike Wells Sr. is retiring after 20 years, and his predecessor, Ted Williams, first won the office in 1968. Longtime Pasco tax collector employee Gary Joiner won the Republican primary in August and faces real estate broker Jon Sidney Larkin of Dade City. Neither has held elected office previously.

    About the job: The property appraiser is responsible for determining the value of property in the county and six cities for taxing purposes and processing and reviewing applications for exemptions. Funding for the Property Appraiser's Office is approved by the Florida Department of Revenue. The property appraiser serves a four-year term. The annual salary is $147,009....

    Gary Joiner
  6. Pasco County Commission | District 3


    First-term incumbent Kathryn Starkey defeated Randy Evans in the Aug. 30 Republican primary, collecting nearly 56 percent of the vote. She now faces Democrat Barry Horvath, a west Pasco businessman, who is making his first run for public office.

    About the job: Commissioners are elected countywide, but must reside within their district. District 3 stretches along Pasco's southern tier from Gulf Harbors west of U.S. 19 to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel. Commissioners set policy and adopt ordinances to be implemented by staff. They determine land uses and oversee an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion. The salary is $84,794....

    Barry Horvath, Democratic candidate for the District 3 seat on the Pasco County Commission.
  7. Pasco County Commission | District 1


    The east Pasco-based commission district is poised to have just its third different commissioner since Ronald Reagan won the White House. Commissioner Ted Schrader is leaving after 16 years in office, and his predecessor, Sylvia Young, served 20 years beginning in 1980. Ron Oakley is making his second run for the seat and emerged victorious in August's three-person Republican primary. Dimitri Delgado, running with no party affiliation, is a retired Coast Guard commander and said he always planned to seek public office when he could find a permanent home after retiring from the service. ...

    2016 Republican District 1 Pasco County Commission candidate Ron Oakley
Provided by the candidate
  8. In the state House District 36 race, youth challenges incumbency


    Amber Mariano turns 21 next week, but the Republican candidate in state House District 36 sometimes has a hard time persuading voters that she's even on the verge of that milestone.

    "You look 13,'' she said adults have told her as she canvasses west Pasco County neighborhoods in search of votes.

    Mariano, a third-year student studying political science at the University of Central Florida, has the difficult task of challenging state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, for the House seat representing west Pasco....

  9. Pasco poised to ease billboard ban, allowing digital signs to replace older ones

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Seventeen years after banning new billboards in Pasco County, a majority of the County Commission is poised to relent on that long-standing opposition to changes in the outdoor advertising industry.

    A proposed ordinance, scheduled for a commission workshop Oct. 24 and a public hearing the next day, would let billboard companies take down some of their current static signs and replace them with high-tech digital light-emitting diode (LED) billboards that can rotate messages....

    Digital billboards, like this one on Tyrone Boulevard in St. Petersburg, would be allowed in Pasco County under a proposed ordinance.
  10. Pasco property appraiser's race: Bombs away in Round 2


    The haymakers haven't stopped in the race to succeed retiring county Property Appraiser Mike Wells Sr.

    The Republican primary election turned into a vitriolic political brawl between county Commissioner Ted Schrader and Gary Joiner, longtime employee of the Pasco Tax Collector's Office. Joiner's campaign — backed by Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Sheriff Chris Nocco and substantial campaign cash tied to Florida House Speaker-designate Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land Land O'Lakes — ran roughshod over Schrader....

    Democrat Jon Sidney Larkin is a first-time candidate for office.
  11. Pasco panel taps Sarasota firm to develop Wesley Chapel sports center


    WESLEY CHAPEL — The gym's not even built, but it has its first winner.

    RADDSPORTS of Sarasota emerged in first place in a two-team competition to design, build and operate a proposed multipurpose sports center in Wesley Chapel. The firm and its partners, luxury hotel developer Mainsail Development Group of Tampa and financier Municipal Acquisitions of Washington, D.C., were top-ranked by five of the six members of a county evaluation committee last week. The Pasco County Commission is scheduled to consider the committee's recommendation Oct. 11....

    Pasco County is hoping to capitalize on youth athletics, like volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and cheerleading to build its tourism base and fill a proposed 98,000-square-foot multipurpose center in Wesley Chapel. A county evaludation commitee recommended Pasco partner with RADDSPORTS of Sarasota on the complex. Photo by Leigh Clifton
  12. Bowen: Lack of dollars puts at risk Pasco's vibrancy


    Pasco County, which brands itself as "open spaces, vibrant places," is in danger of losing some of that vibrancy.

    The open spaces? Those should still be coming as the county embarks on a 10-year master plan to expand its park system. The plan is intended to make up for past shortcomings and to accommodate as many as 200,000 new residents expected to flood the county by 2025.

    But open space might be all they get. New parks could be pieces of land, a parking lot and a shelter....

     Pasco County faces a $61 million deficit in its 10-year plan for new park facilities, which means splash pads like this one at Sims Park in New Port Richey, playground equipment, recreation centers and most of the outdoor ball fields and courts won't be built without an influx of cash, a county committee said.  BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

  13. Pasco picks RADDSPORTS for athletic complex


    The gym's not even built, but it has its first winner. 

    RADDSPORTS of Sarasota emerged in first place late Friday afternoon in a two-team competition to design, build and operate a proposed multipurpose sports center in Wesley Chapel. The firm and its partners, luxury hotel developer Mainsail Development Group of Tampa and financier Municipal Acquisitions of Washington D.C. were top-ranked by five of the six members of a county evaluation committee. The Pasco County Commission is scheduled to consider the committee's recommendation Oct. 11. ...

  14. Pasco United Way chief to head Pinellas Community Foundation


    The United Way of Pasco County is looking for a new leader after president/CEO Duggan Cooley accepted the job as executive director of the Pinellas Community Foundation.

    Cooley replaces Julie Scales, executive director of the Pinellas foundation since 2003, who announced her retirement in December 2015. Cooley was selected after a nearly yearlong national search that drew about 50 applicants....

    United Way of Pasco President/CEO Duggan Cooley, center, holding a check from the Heritgage Pines Community Assocation in 2015, has accepted the job as executive director of the Pinellas Community Foundation.
  15. Tourism plan calls for bed tax increase to pay for projects


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco's three-year strategy for boosting tourism includes proposed increases in the bed tax and a capital project list focusing attention on bicycle trails.

    Inclusion in the strategic plan, however, does not guarantee those ideas will become reality. Past commissions have approved the state-required tourism plans, only to later balk at increasing the 2 percent tourist tax on overnight accommodations....

    Pasco’s plan to boost tourism calls for $1.25 million for so-called wayfinding signs and other amenities targeting bicyclists and pedestrians using county trails. [Douglas R. Clifford, Times 2013]