Water is the most important resource in our lives and there are gross water problems in our state, district and county. Why are water, the protection of the environment, and development of alternative sources to groundwater pumping not given the highest priority?
Eileen C. Hart, Odessa
What would you do to improve the traffic flow in the county? Would you, for example, support light rail and high occupancy vehicle lanes on the interstate?
John G. Larkins, Tampa
I participate as a concerned citizen in various public hearings. The agencies solicit our comments, then ignore our input, as with the Florida Gas Transmission pipeline. What will you do to ensure that public comments are incorporated and not dismissed?
Ann O'Brien, Lutz
What do you plan to do to help get rid of the water bureaucracy, Swiftmud? All these people do is buy land to drill more wells. Meanwhile, billions of gallons of water are flowing to the gulf from dozens of springs.
Perry M. Norris, Tampa
As the president of Hillsborough Trails Inc., I am very concerned that Pinellas, Orange and other nearby communities have either developed or are developing recreational trail systems, while we have not. What can you do to promote this type of system in Hillsborough County?
Ed Crawford, Tampa
Is there a way to bring government closer to citizens? Do we need more elected officials? Smaller jurisdictions? A different form of government?
Tom Stearns, Tampa
Faye Culp to Eileen Hart:
In talking to most people recently in my district, crime is number one on their minds. That's because our neighborhoods are not safe. I do believe that water is of high priority and in researching the problem with water management districts for our area I believe we need some oversight committees across the state for determining the performance of those five water management districts. Water is extremely important both to our everyday living and to our environment.
Faye Culp to John Larkins:
Our interstate system is not wide enough at this point to support taking away a lane for only high volume occupancy. I would support looking into alternative measures such as light rail or more bus routes, which would include the county.
Faye Culp to Ann O'Brien:
I would encourage more people to get to know their representatives on a personal basis and I would try to maintain a constant contact with representatives from every area in District 57. I think communication is extremely important and I would encourage telephone calling and letter writing which would continue year round.
Faye Culp to Perry Norris:
I believe that an oversight committee for each of the five water management districts should be formed to determine the direction and examine the performance of each district. Originally formed for flood control, the districts have become water regulatory agencies. The performance needs to be evaluated and I believe that term limits on those appointed boards would ease the ill feelings which has perpetrated throughout those districts, especially Swiftmud, and consequently West Coast.
Faye Culp to Ed Crawford:
Hillsborough County, being extremely diversified, with a large area being industrialized, is not a place where we could easily form trails. The outlying area of the county such as our parks and recreational systems, could certainly be emphasized through a public relations campaign and I would be happy to serve as part of the leadership for that purpose.
Faye Culp to Tom Stearns:
I do not believe we need a different form of government. The representative form we have today serves our state well. I believe that the individuals who are in office should make themselves more available to the general public. My record shows that I have been involved in leadership over the last 26 years throughout the county and the state. And I have had a general feeling for what our constituents want from walking through the neighborhoods and from meeting with various organizations.
Ron Glickman to Eileen C. Hart:
There are people looking at how we deal with our water problem. There are no easy answers. One alternative that has lot to say for it is a proposal of reuse of highly treated effluent from Hookers Point, to run that back through the bypass canal... interlink that with the wellfield system so that in a time of heavy rainfall, you potentially could shut down the wellfield and allow them to recharge and heal some of the damage out there. You might provide a middle-term answer to our water problems.
Ron Glickman to John Larkins:
I don't know how effective high occupancy lanes are. Unfortunately, to have an effective rail system it's going to take a lot of change that I'm not sure people want to undergo. If you have free flowing roads, there's not a lot of incentive to take a train. Second, we've got a generation of folks that have never utilized mass transit... People would rather travel in their own cars, in air-conditioned comfort. There's no use building that white elephant. It's best not to try to go too fast.
Ron Glickman to Ann O'Brien:
A lot of people believe "If I go to a meeting and advocate a position, if they disagree they ignored me." That's not to say a public body doesn't ignore citizens. When I was on the County Commission, we would get both sides of an issue. Invariably, one side is going to feel ignored.... If that view is not incorporated in final decision you should explain why not.... You can require a public statement as part of the decision why some significant opinion was not followed.
Ron Glickman to Perry Norris:
We need to make sure any answer to a water problem which may sound appealing does not have environment problems to it. What are the costs to these solutions? To run a pipeline to a spring will cost money... When Pinellas years ago ran out of their own water, they came interloping in Hillsborough. For Hillsborough to advocate that we need to go to another county and grab their water, we need to be careful about that. We need to get major players together... and try to find a cooperative solution. Just abolishing SWIFTMUD is not the answer.
Ron Glickman to Ed Crawford
The state can cooperate with Hillsborough County and Tampa to see what is feasible. Trails tend to go along abandoned railroad lines. Hillsborough, I thought, had started the beginning of a trail in Northwest Hillsborough. It's something that just requires money and a corridor that make sense. Also, we need more citizens expressing an interest in it. More people have talked about prisons than trails. If citizens help express their desire that that's a priority, that gets some of the elected bodies to pay more attention.
Ron Glickman to Tom Stearns:
No, we don't need any more elected officials. Part of it is having elected officials who are interested in getting the pulse of the people. You can do door to doors, even after the campaigns. In large jurisdictions, you're not going to get to everybody, but you can have community forums....The public has got to take a certain responsibility. You would be surprised how few people contact their elected officials. People need to take a little bit of time and express their views. It's a two way street....
Doug MacPherson to Eileen Hart:
The water development districts of Florida have been for years charged by state law to find alternative sources in management technology for water and they have been ignoring the law. And we need to hold those people accountable for not doing what they're charged with. It is an important item in Florida. We must guard our resources very carefully to ensure future generations have water.
Doug MacPherson to John Larkins:
I would support alternative transportation modes that are probably more feasible than light rail unless you want to classify monorail as light rail. Then I would support a monorail system. We've got to do something. There's not enough ground in Florida to pave it all over. I have advocated that type of system between the two airports, St. Pete and Tampa, to save millions of dollars in construction. Instead of spending $50-million to upgrade TIA, we could build a monorail between them and share the resources.
Doug MacPherson to Ann O'Brien:
One of the things I believe in is citizen input. We as legislators listen all too often to special interest groups and not the citizens. Yet we represent the citizens. We've got to listen to more of what the public wants. Those are the people we are elected to serve.
Doug MacPherson to Perry Norris:
In the short term, obviously we cannot get rid of Swiftmud. In the long term, we need to look at performance of these governing bodies. If they're not doing what they're charged to do we need to get rid of them and replace them with a responsive body, whatever that may be.
Doug MacPherson to Ed Crawford:
I have sat on a special tax board in my community that is looking at county canals we have and developing those into a trail system for the local community. The problem is the bureaucracy fights us at every turn. We have got to eliminate all the red tape that makes them prohibitive for small communities. This goes back to all the regulations for the other agencies. We have canals in Twelve Oaks we want to cover over. They say "Oh no, it's a wetlands." So we've got to go to Tallahassee and Swiftmud for permits. It's a manmade ditch we want to cover over.
Doug MacPherson to Tom Stearns:
The thing we need as politicians is to get government more responsive to people. We need to make it more accessible to them. I don't plan to spend all my time in Tallahassee. Problems are not solved in Tallahassee. They're solved in the local community. We've got to reduce the number of mandates that Tallahassee keeps pushing down to local governments.
Elvin Martinez to Eileen Hart:
I don't know how it is in Miss Hart's district, but it is the highest priority. We have tried to solve the water problem. We have seen the falling out of that. Apparently it is Pinellas County that needs to come to the table in that area. Water is and will always be a high priority.
Elvin Martinez to John Larkins:
Yes, I would support light rail and I'm not sure that high occupancy lanes work. We ought to try anything, but I think the light rail is an interesting concept.
Elvin Martinez to Ann O'Brien:
That's a question that if you have a roomful of 100 people and they all have different comments I don't know how you could draw one document out of that. The public hearings process is one that has worked in my experience in the Legislature. The juvenile justice act is one that is replete with public comment. Public comment, in my work in the Legislature, has always been considered.
Elvin Martinez to Perry Morris:
We probably will have to redefine the role of Swiftmud. It is a water management district, not a water supply district. I think those waters seeping into the gulf are the Suwanee and the Crystal River, but I don't know if we can move quickly that far north and have those people furnish the water for a metropolitan area. It is an intriguing thought.
Elvin Martinez to Ed Crawford:
I would encourage the County Commission and offer whatever help and support I could to the County Commission to designate and incorporate those trails. Most of those trails have been around abandoned railroad tracks. We need to take an inventory in Hillsborough County to see where they are.
Elvin Martinez to Tom Stearns:
I think Gov. Chiles and the Legislature has been very responsive to that. We've brought government closer to the people with Blueprint 2000, the HRS local boards where hundreds of citizens are participating and being the spokespeople for HRS. In the juvenile area, we have juvenile justice councils at the county level. Their task is to make recommendations as to the budget items. We have in a way moved toward that. Blueprint 2000 lets people decide programs in their schools.