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Chamber director gives disgusting performance

Editor: I am writing to tell you and your readers about the disgusting performance of Hal Robinson, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, at the Feb. 18 County Commission ethics workshop.

I have never seen such an arrogant, swaggering and insulting presentation in my life. Robinson claimed the ethics discussion bored him. He was insultingly challenging to Commissioner Pat Novy about her proposals.

I know she won't do it _ her ethics wouldn't permit it _ but she would be perfectly justified in voting against every chamber proposal as a result of the disrespectful and personally insulting presentation of Robinson.

We expect as much from other commissioners. They are just politicians. But what kind of business community do we have in Hernando County? Did the chamber board of directors vote to oppose a ban on gift acceptance by commissioners and the requirement that lobbyists with a financial stake register? Did they instruct Robinson to demean, attack and insult Novy?

Novy's proposals give the public two things: assurance that commissioners' decisions are not being influenced by gifts, and knowledge of who has lobbied a commissioner and has a financial stake in a decision. Did the chamber board vote to block the public from getting this assurance and information?

We were better off when Joe Mason was head of the chamber. He at least was honest with everybody. He didn't pretend to be an open-minded, forward-looking purple fuzzy kind of guy.

Maybe the chamber dispatched its director to suck up to the safe majority that opposes an ethics code and has been so personal in attacks on Novy. Maybe the chamber will lose the access it buys with such services when the people decide they can't trust businessmen and politicians who insist on concealing for-money lobbying and insist on giving gifts to our elected representatives.

The newly unified chamber owes Pat Novy an apology and itself a rethinking of its leadership style . . . at least.

Janey Baldwin


It's no surprise commission

snubbed ethics restrictions

Editor: The Feb. 18 so-called commission workshop on ethics held no surprises. Either the commissioners had no intentions of seriously considering any strong restrictions on their actions, which means the three-month delay from the October motion was just a stall tactic so there wouldn't be enough time to try to get enough registered voters to force a code of ethics on the November ballot; or the commissioners were sincere in wanting a stronger code of ethics, but were talked out of it in secret meetings with developers, builders, Chamber of Commerce leaders, engineers, mining interests and other members of the shadow government who influence our commissioners' decisions.

Those people have a reason for the public to not know who they are, how often they meet with the commissioners and what they discuss with our elected officials.

I was very surprised that Commissioner June Ester allowed Chamber of Commerce spokesman Hal Robinson to verbally harass and assault Commissioner Pat Novy in a rather lengthy tirade. She didn't cut him short.

Robinson also insulted the guest from Common Cause who spoke in favor of a strong code of ethics. Robinson was lucky Ginny Brown-Waite isn't still on the commission because she would have torn his head off and served it to him on a platter for his despicable treatment of Novy.

Many of the people who spoke against the strong code of ethics, including Mr. Business _ Robinson _ said, "If it ain't broke, don't fit it."

Where would we be today if Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, Madame Curie, Louis Pasteur, Marconi and many others had that attitude. We'd still be crank-starting our cars and walking in thunderstorms to the outhouse.

I, and many others, say, "If it ain't broke, improve it." That's the only way our country progresses. We will get better government through constant change and improvement.

Robinson, Tony Mosca, Ester and John Richardson proposed that a resolution be sent to the Senate, asking the state to enact a stronger code of ethics. Seems rather funny that they won't impose stronger rules on themselves when given the opportunity, but will abide by stronger rules if the entire state has to abide by them.

I also find it rather hilarious that Commissioner Nancy Robinson made a motion to replace her first weak code of ethics from the National Association of Counties with the code of ethics of the most corrupt, unethical, bend-and/or-break-the-rules, immoral group of people in the country: the U.S. Congress. That's what our county commissioners admire and want to emulate, the ethics of the U.S. Congress. Like I said in the beginning, no surprises.

I also assume that if Mosca, Richardson, Robinson or Ester decide to run for the state Senate or the state House, the main platform will be a stronger code of ethics for all elected officials in the state.

Isn't that what they are requesting in their resolution to Gov. Lawton Chiles, or is it just talk to weasel out of a tight situation regarding an ethics code?

Tom Jacobellis

Spring Hill

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