It is a long, impressive resume for Dr. Robin Conwit.
She graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University and then medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She completed a residency in neurology at George Washington University and a fellowship at the National Institute of Health. She's been a principal investigator on clinical trials for ALS studies (Lou Geherig's Disease), a faculty member at Johns Hopkins and currently is at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland....
I'm starting to understand Commissioner Jack Mariano's logic.
Well, not entirely, but at least when it comes to the fees Pasco County charges to use its parks. It's $2 per vehicle to park at the county's beach and wilderness parks. Families also have to pay a surcharge if their kids are part of a youth sports league using county fields.
Mariano complains about this annually. Usually multiple times. He has suggested a small property tax increase to offset the costs. Other commissioners have argued correctly that the parking charge is a user fee. It's still a bargain compared to surrounding counties' parks and they wonder why east Pasco residents should pay higher property taxes just so the beach parking lot 40 miles away can be a freebie....
The summer sequels are upon us. Gas Tax 2 is about to dominate the conversation for the next three months.
Was it really just 12 months ago that we watched and listened to the thrilling debate, the political intrigue and the sort-of, maybe half-hearted acquiescence turn to thunderous opposition to appease the Republican Party loyalists? Mr. Smith Goes to Washington this was not.
The main plot is repeated in 2014, but with a twist borrowing heavily from the Reagan administration. Here's how it goes:...
Supporters of Hernando County's proposed Penny for Progress, a one-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax that could be shared among the school district, county government and city of Brooksville, frequently point to the successes in Pasco County as the political goal to emulate.
Pasco voters approved the sales tax increase in 2004 to pay for schools, roads, public safety and environmental preservation. In 2012, the electorate blessed the tax for another decade with nearly 70 percent of the turnout supporting renewal. Even former objectors acknowledged the benefits of less-crowded schools, safer roads, preserved green space and new ambulances, patrol cars and heart defibrillators....
Let's get the punch lines out of the way. Steve Spina has more comebacks than Brett Favre. His new nickname is Boomerang. His swan song has more choruses than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.
The list of jokes could be lengthy. Except the interim city manager for Zephyrhills has an even longer list. Just check the office whiteboard. Spina, 60, who assumed his former position May 1 after three years of teaching at the University of South Florida, recites the tasks that have his attention:...
Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey has a simple description for the devices known as air dancers or air puppets — those giant, air-filled, string-bean-like characters with flapping arms that businesses use to attract attention.
"Very cheesy,'' Starkey said.
Who can argue?
Starkey was one the founders of Scenic Pasco, the citizens group that successfully lobbied the county to change its sign ordinance a dozen years ago to cut back on road side clutter....
Hang around enough government meetings and the formerly foreign language becomes all too familiar. A latest catch phrase is P3; government speak for public-private partnership.
That phenomenon has been around for quite a while — think of developers being required to build collector roads, not just the neighborhood streets serving their own home buyers. But this strategy grew much more common as cash-strapped governments looked for assistance in providing services. Pasco County is using this approach in developing planned tourism destinations at a baseball complex at Wiregrass Ranch and at a wake boarding operation at SunWest Park. In these instances, government owns the real estate, but private vendors will build and manage the operations....
Heather Olejniczak can see trash and discarded furniture from the front of her Spring Hill Nutrition store on the east side of the Kass Circle business district. She wants a community cleanup.
This isn't radical thinking. Ask the county to waive any tipping fees at the landfill. Get a trash collection company to donate a Dumpster and please haul it away afterward. Spread the word. Arm the locals with trash bags, gloves and bug spray and have at it some Saturday morning....
The sunset-colored sign beckons drivers from U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive to Hernando Beach and its promise of water-front living, fresh seafood and thousands of acres of unspoiled Florida. To get there, you just need to navigate the traffic leaving Walmart, ignore the aroma of a dying sewage treatment plant, and turn left at the entrance to the county-owned trash transfer station.
The view gets better. Honest....
Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon has a dilemma — his own bosses.
After county commissioners assumed the role of playground bully and kicked sand in the faces of their School Board counterparts, Sossamon wonders if they can all play nice together for the good of the community.
Two words: Fat chance.
Even Sossamon's allies concur.
"Why would the school system want to do anything with the county at this point?'' asked Commissioner Diane Rowden....
Pasco County might be its own worst enemy in trying to build public support for a proposed elevated toll road above the State Road 54/56 corridor crossing the county's southern tier.
The March 10 town hall meeting disintegrated into catcalls, boos, finger-pointing, threats of political retribution and overall rancor topped by the occasional shout-out of a barnyard vernacular synonymous for skepticism....
There is apparently a new rule for people petitioning Hernando County commissioners — you can be seen, but not heard.
Last year, this new rule did in a drone research application at the county-owned airport; education impact fees; and most recently, fluoridating the public water supply. In each case, they were done in (but later reversed in the case of the airport research) by a close-minded commission majority unwilling to consider opposing viewpoints supported by economics, science or even a consultant's report compiled at the request of commissioners and partly paid for by the county....
Hernando School Board member Matt Foreman believes county commissioners wasted nearly $40,000 in public money. He is right.
He said commissioners gave the school district the runaround and failed to give due consideration to a consultant's report calling for a higher impact fee to build classrooms and upgrade school technology. He is right again.
Foreman said commissioners did a disservice to the school board and the community at large by failing to explain the rationale behind their 4-1 vote to continue a moratorium on school impact fees. He called such action disingenuous. Who can disagree?...
Rob Marlowe never left public service. Not really. He exited New Port Richey City Council last year after two terms to focus on his information technology business, but still found time to author a blog, serve on the citizens committee culling resumes of city manager wannabes, stay active in the CoteeMan Triathlon and roll up his shirtsleeves to yank out the decaying landscape and to trim the palm trees at the former U.S. Postal Service building owned by the city....
Tucked away behind a busy Zephyrhills intersection sits a public embarrassment.
The former Hercules Aquatic Center, once one of the gems of the county park system, is now 16 acres of blight. Beneath the oak trees is an overgrown exercise trail, knocked over barbecue grills, broken glass and a vandalized bathhouse leading to the drained junior-Olympic-sized swimming pool.
It used to hold 273,000 gallons of chlorinated water and came equipped with eight racing lanes, two diving boards and lots of use from high school swim teams. Now, the diving area is filled with mildewed deck chairs, dirty rain water and the red floats that had separated the individual lanes. The high schoolers use the YMCA....