Overcast74° WeatherOvercast74° Weather

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

  1. Bowen: Pasco County pans local-preference purchasing gimmick


    Pasco County's economic development philosophy will continue to exclude protectionism.

    Wise thinking.

    County commissioners, including two who hadn't yet been sworn into office, last week nixed the idea of a local-preference ordinance that could potentially steer more government spending toward Pasco companies while adding greater expense to the public.

    This notion has been kicked around in one form or another for five years, ever since Commissioner Jack Mariano shared a proposal from Hillsborough County to create a regional version of a local-preference ordinance. Mariano liked the idea then, saying it would be beneficial to Pasco....

  2. Pasco EDC chief: Sales tax revenue presents moral obligation to get it right

    Economic Development

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco Economic Development Council president John Hagen calls it a gift — a treasure of such virtue that it carries with it a moral obligation to ensure better economic opportunities and quality of life for local residents.

    The gift is the voter-authorized renewal of the Penny for Pasco sales tax, collection of which begins Jan. 1 for the next 10 years. Approved in November 2012, the tax will aid schools, roads, land preservation and public safety, and also provide $45 million over the next decade for economic development....

    There’s long-term value to get it right, EDC’s John Hagen said.
  3. Pasco officials allow extra innings for baseball tourism pitch

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County is allowing the developer of a proposed baseball complex in Wesley Chapel to go extra innings in search of acceptable financing.

    Pasco commissioners on Tuesday gave James Talton and former major-leaguer Gary Sheffield, the principals behind Pasco Sports LLC, until early next year to cement their financing for a sports tourism project planned for public land just north of the Shops at Wiregrass mall....

  4. Bowen: Forgotten wildlife law erodes county's credibility


    One of the ill-defined themes of the just-concluded County Commission election season was a mantra that Pasco County government needs to be more business friendly.

    Candidates said it a lot, though pinning down people on naming a specific policy they would change often led to ambiguous answers.

    Whatever. A sound bite is a sound bite.

    Now, consider the actions of the Pasco County Commission last week in the final meeting for retiring Commissioner Pat Mulieri and for the electoral-defeated Henry Wilson. They were part of a unanimous commission that rezoned 551 acres along Shady Hills Road, about a mile north of State Road 52, from farmland to a designation allowing a mixed-use development....

  5. Departing commissioner advocates for expanded recycling

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County's residential recycling program is on the upswing, a gain attributed to allowing customers to put cans, glass and plastic in their own curbside containers instead of store-bought blue bags.

    County data show haulers picked up 3,867 tons of recyclables in the 12 months ending June 30, a 23.5 percent gain over the 3,130 tons collected in the year before the county switched to its "choose and use your own container" program....

  6. Bowen: New commissioner hopes to follow dad's footsteps


    Mike Wells was once one of the statistics he now wants to curtail.

    Wells, Pasco commissioner-elect for District 4, used to leave his home in the Waters Edge neighborhood by 6 a.m. each workday. He headed north on Moon Lake Road, east on State Road 52 and south on the Suncoast/Veterans parkways to Interstate 275 to his eventual work destination at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in southern Pinellas County. To avoid the heavy traffic on the return trip home, he didn't start his end-of-day commute until 6:30 or 7 in the evening, which didn't get him in the front door until 8 p.m....

    Mike Wells was elected to the County Commission’s District 4.
  7. Pricey park plan renews taxing questions in Pasco

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County envisions $93 million worth of new parks by the end of the decade including new district parks at the Connerton and Bexley Ranch developments. Right now, the county has budgeted only about a third of the money it needs.

    Likewise, existing parks need $6.6 million worth of repairs over the next five years or the possibility exists of closing playgrounds, concession stands and other park amenities....

    Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park is one of only two in Pasco County that exceed expectations based on consultants’ criteria that include design, current condition and accessibility. Fourteen parks are considered deficient.
  8. Danny Burgess cruises to state House District 38 win


    Former Zephyrhills mayor and City Council member Danny Burgess has a new line to add to his political resume: state representative and successor to Rep. Will Weatherford.

    Burgess, a Republican, easily won the race for state House District 38, covering east and central Pasco County, a seat held for the past eight years by Weatherford, the outgoing House speaker. Burgess, a Dade City lawyer and captain in the Army Reserve, collected 60 percent of the vote to overwhelm Democrat Beverly Ledbetter, a retired high school social studies teacher....

  9. Mike Moore wins Pasco Commission District 2 seat


    During her campaign for Pasco County Commission, Democrat Erika Jean Remsberg rode a public bus to interact with east Pasco's needy residents. On Tuesday, Republican Mike Moore rode a proverbial steamroller to win the central Pasco District 2 seat.

    Moore, who made job creation his top platform plank, won a new job for himself after collecting 59 percent of the countywide vote with 108 of 111 precincts reporting....

    Mike Moore, center, talks with Pasco County District 5 Commissioner Jack Mariano on Tuesday night in Wesley Chapel.
  10. Democrat Murphy retains state House District 36 seat


    State Rep. Amanda Murphy won re-election Tuesday to the state House, earning a two-year term after winning a bruising special election last year to replace Mike Fasano in west Pasco's District 36.

    Murphy, D-New Port Richey, captured more than 54 percent of the vote with 33 of 35 precincts reporting to best Republican Chris Gregg, who had made job growth, less government regulation and his own party affiliation the centerpieces of his campaign. But the public wasn't buying Gregg's pitch — that a Republican needed to represent the west Pasco district simply because the GOP holds a majority in the Legislature....

  11. Bowen: Paying at the pump to subsidize Pasco County growth


    It's Halloween. Time to break out the favorite costume, a dead horse. And it's time to beat this thing again.

    The discussion for today is the county's schedule of transportation fees adopted in 2011 as a way to try to lure employment centers and drive growth to the State Road 54/56 and U.S. 19 corridors. The fees, called mobility fees, are up for renewal. The County Commission is scheduled to give final consideration for setting the costs for the next three years on Wednesday....

  12. Public to Pasco County: Give us swimming pools


    Four years after the county drained two swimming pools as a cost-saving measure, Pasco residents say splash parks, swimming pools, water fitness programs and swim lessons are some of the top priorities missing from the county's parks and recreation offerings.

    The so-called needs assessment, assembled via mail and telephone surveys with 621 people, is contained in an ongoing rewrite of the parks and recreation master plan previewed for county commissioners this week....

    In a poll, Pasco residents said splash parks, swimming pools, water fitness programs and swim lessons are some of the top priorities missing from the county’s parks and recreation offerings.
  13. Pasco cedes some ambulance service to private companies

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco Commission majority wants to turn over some public ambulance services to the private sector.

    On a 4-1 vote this week, the commission approved an amended ordinance to make it easier for the private sector to get into the non-emergency transport business in Pasco County. The vote came despite warnings from Commissioner Ted Schrader that losing the $1.2 million in annual revenue to private companies could translate to future property tax increases in the EMS budget or delay adding county ambulances to three fire stations that do not have them due to cost. ...

  14. U.S. 19 project frustrates business owners


    Businesses along the U.S. 19 corridor in Pasco County do $5.6 billion in annual sales. That's billion with a B.

    It's a dollar figure county planners use to emphasize the importance of the western edge of Pasco as an economic engine and why the area is worthy of substantial redevelopment.

    Now, ask some of those U.S. 19 business owners what is the most successful enterprise along the highway and don't be surprised if they suggest an unlikely answer:...

    The pace of the U.S. 19 road construction in Pasco County has drawn the ire of business owners and others concerned about safety, aesthetics and reduced commerce.
  15. Bowen: Wesley Chapel growth creates Portable City at school


    This was Wesley Chapel in the late 1980s: Saddlebrook Resort, a McDonald's near the Interstate 75 exit at County Road 54, a road to nowhere known as Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and a mailing address assigned by the U.S. Postal Service that said Zephyrhills.

    Talk about an identity crisis. The place didn't have enough businesses to start a chamber of commerce until 1998, a year before the community's first high school opened....