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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

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. County banks BP dollars, balks at bonus for employees

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners put some finishing touches on the proposed 2015-16 county budget this week by forgoing a one-time bonus for non-public-safety employees and banking, at least temporarily, the settlement money from BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    County Administrator Michele Baker first proposed a budget in July that carried a status quo property tax rate and 3 percent raises for employees. Changes authorized by commissioners since then include:...

  2. The Pasco penny promise shouldn't be broken

    Local Government

    Promises made. Promises kept.

    If that sounds familiar, it should. It became the campaign theme in 2012 when 70 percent of the voters said they wanted to extend the Penny for Pasco sales tax for another 10 years, raising a half-billion dollars for schools, transportation, public safety, economic development and environmental land preservation.

    The second go-round for that penny-on-the-dollar tax officially began Jan. 1 of this year. Just nine months later, Commissioner Jack Mariano wants a do-over....

  3. Panel kills charter government move in Pasco County

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A citizens committee killed the push for a charter government in Pasco County on Monday afternoon, voting 8-7 not to pursue changes in how the county operates.

    "I haven't heard anything that would make Pasco County a better place,'' committee member and retired County Administrator John Gallagher said after three months of meetings.

    The vote Monday followed an appearance before the panel by Pasco's legislative delegation, including Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, who started this public debate in January. Corcoran, the speaker designate in the Florida House of Representatives, had sought a charter that included an elected county mayor, single-member districts for commissioners, term limits and a recall provision....

    State Sen. Wilton Simpson panned the mayor idea.
  4. Pasco School Board okays natural gas bus fleet

    Transportation

    LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco School District has opted to go it alone as it moves toward fueling its buses with natural gas.

    After hearing a pitch last year from Nopetro of Coral Gables to partner on a compressed natural gas fueling station, the School Board on Tuesday night approved building its own fueling station at a transportation compound on Interlaken Drive in Odessa at a cost of $6.2 million. The supplier will be Clearwater Gas System, which has a pipeline running nearby, along the State Road 54 corridor....

  5. Third candidate joins Port Richey mayoral race

    Blog

    PORT RICHEY – The race for Port Richey mayor picked up its third candidate this week with Robert J. (Bob) Breedlove joining the race.

    Breedlove, 61, a land surveyor, moved to the city almost three years ago. He and his partner, Lycia Marie, live on Limestone Drive. Marie is serving as his campaign treasurer.

    Breedlove resigned his position on the city’s planning and zoning board to run and  filed his pre-qualifying papers Tuesday. Qualifying ends Tuesday, Aug. 25, for the Oct. 13 special election to fill the vacancy created by the July death of Mayor Eloise Taylor. The term expires in April 2017....

  6. Bowen: Snipping the ribbon on the heart of Land O'Lakes

    Local Government

    There are a lot of numbers surrounding the reopened county park at the Land O'Lakes Community Center.

    The $2.3 million it cost for the expansion.

    The 16.5 acres at the site.

    The 300 feet from home plate to the outfield fences on the softball diamond.

    The two football goal posts.

    The $250,000 in state funding for a planned stage/bandshell.

    But the number mentioned most often at last week's ribbon-cutting ceremony was 91. As in 1991 — the year the county first said it wanted to revamp the park for the Pasco Police Athletic League's Land O'Lakes football team....

  7. With millions needed for road repairs, drainage projects, Pasco searches for a way to pay the bills

    Local Government

    HOLIDAY — Kimberly needs a face lift.

    So, too, do Tammy, Maureen, Peggy, Victoria, Cora, Dawn, Erin and Janice.

    Those are the names of streets in the Holiday Gardens neighborhood of southwest Pasco that turned from residential roads into rut-filled obstacle courses during the recent heavy rains and flooding.

    Carol Southard had to drive her Chevy across her own front lawn to get off her property because of the collapsing road at the edge of her driveway on Kimberly Lane. Across the street, Diane Richmond had to rely on friends to provide transportation....

    “We don’t think the federal government is going to cost-share. It’s going to be on the county and the benefited residents.’’
Michele Baker, county administrator
  8. Audit reveals billing problems in Pasco water department

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — An audit of Pasco County's Utilities Department found accurate meters, but software troubles, inaccurate billing data and faulty internal procedures that need to be corrected.

    The discoveries come from the inspector general's arm of the office of Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller Paula S. O'Neil. The review was triggered by customer complaints last summer about exorbitant water bills. O'Neil briefed county commissioners on the findings Tuesday afternoon....

  9. Bowen: Seeking a medical mecca amid a redeveloping New Port Richey

    Local Government

    This might be the definitive little city moment. You meet the deputy mayor for a 9 a.m. cup of coffee, and two tables over sits the mayor having his own breakfast meeting.

    For a moment, it conjures up the scene in the Michael J. Fox movie Doc Hollywood in which the entire town council in a South Carolina hamlet is eating breakfast in the same local diner.

    "It is a small town,'' agrees Bill Phillips, the No. 2 guy on New Port Richey City Council....

  10. Woman involved in community causes picked for Dade City Commission seat

    News

    DADE CITY

    Commission picks retiree to fill seat

    The City Commission on Friday unanimously selected retiree Charlene Austin to fill a vacancy created by the death last month of Commissioner Bill Dennis.

    Austin, 71, a Florida native, and her husband moved to Dade City in 2010 from Texas at the urging of her sister. Austin had spent a 38-year career managing government contracts for the company now known as Lockheed Martin....

  11. Second candidate, a Massad ally, joins Port Richey mayoral race

    Blog

    PORT RICHEY – Kathy Sue Todd, who ran unsuccessfully for Port Richey mayor in 2014, has joined Dale Massad as candidates for the open mayoral seat to be decided in an Oct. 13 special election.

    Last year, Todd ran a largely self-financed campaign, contributing $2,500 to her account that reached $3,758. Her other biggest financial backer? Dale Massad, who made three contributions to her campaign totaling $585. Five other people also contributed to her candidacy....

  12. Trio seeks Dade City Commission vacancy

    Blog

    DADE CITY – Three people seeking the city commission vacancy created by the recent death of Commissioner Bill Dennis will be interviewed Friday morning in a special commission meeting.

    The applicants are:

    • Charlene C. Austin, 71, a Florida native who moved to the city from Texas five years ago at the urging of her sister. She serves on the Dade City Planning Board, coordinates the annual luminary project and was active in the unsuccessful effort to keep Moore-Mickens Education Center open as a full-time school....

  13. Ex-Council member Massad seeks Port Richey mayor's seat

    Blog

    PORT RICHEY – Former Council member Dale Massad is seeking the mayor’s position in an Oct. 13 special election to complete the 18 months remaining on the term of the late Eloise Taylor who passed away last month.

    Massad, 64, filed candidacy papers Wednesday, naming himself as campaign treasurer and providing documentation of his nickname of “Doc.’’ He did not immediately return a call for comment....

  14. County bids adieu to blue bag recycling

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County is trashing its blue bag curbside recycling program.

    Effective Oct. 1, garbage haulers will no longer pick up the blue bags and instead will affix brightly colored stickers explaining why: Residents are to use their own containers.

    The move to eliminate blue plastic bags from the county's recycling stream is intended to make it easier for private contractors to sort the glass, cans and plastic bottles left at the curb....

    Goodbye blue bags — starting Oct. 1, Pasco County residents are to use their own containers for recycling.
  15. Bowen: More money for cops, higher taxes for everyone

    Local Government

    Pasco commissioners want you to have less money in your pockets so the county's deputies and firefighters can have more money in theirs.

    That is the fallout of a tentative 5.3 percent property tax rate increase commissioners approved unanimously last month, providing additional dollars for above-average salary increases for employees of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the county fire department....