Editor: I would like to comment on your editorial of March 23. I was delighted to read that someone else is concerned about the serious problems facing our county, besides the nude dancing agenda that our sheriff has adopted as his "pet" project. I realize that these types of businesses are not the most desirable establishments to have in our neighborhoods, and that they do attract a variety of problems for the Sheriff's Office. The owners and managers of these locations should be held more responsible, and any illegal activity or violation of the law that occurs in these premises should be handled appropriately by the Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff is out of touch with the priority matters that are affecting our county, and unless his efforts are moved to these areas, life as we know it in Pasco County will continue to deteriorate rapidly. Law enforcement in Pasco is the No. 1 priority. Our deputies are underpaid, understaffed and overworked. The response times to calls for service are at a ridiculous level, and deputies have to start every shift behind 20 jobs, not handled on the previous shift. More time is wasted explaining and apologizing to residents who have called and who are irate after waiting two hours for a deputy to respond to their call. A deputy does not have the time to properly patrol his sector or zone because of these backlogs, and contact with the business people and neighborhood people is a missing part of his patrol duties.
The sheriff must work with us, not against us. If he decides to stop playing politics, and start working with the residents and business people who care, changes could be made. Seniors will not fear leaving their homes or being in them at night. Schools will be able to teach, and put parents' minds at ease that their children are safe while attending classes. Businesses will not have to worry about finding their locations vandalized or burglarized when opening in the morning. Maybe it's asking too much, but I want Pasco County to start looking like the place I moved to 19 years ago, when I left the environment in New York we are now beginning to see here.
Pete Graffagnino, Port Richey
Council must do its job
Editor: Re: Mr. Applefield's lengthy and informative column on March 21.
I will not agree nor disagree with Mr. Applefield's figures. I will bow to his more informative knowledge of those figures.
However, I do not think that the money was the issue. It was the antics of the Port Richey City Council that annoyed the city residents most. Let's face it, the City Council acted like undisciplined kindergarten children. They argued about little things not worthwhile. Big things went down the drain.
Look back a bit. How many city managers, how many police chiefs did we have in the last few years? People do drive by and see city workers standing and holding shovels. Yes! Just holding shovels, not doing anything. They have their jobs because they know someone on the City Council.
If Sen. Jack Latvala did not do anything else, he shook up our so-called elected officials to the point of doing something.
I am not going to speak pro or con about the merger, but I do want to let the council know that they have a job to do, and they must do it. It is only the City Council's fault that we came to this sorrowful point. Will they wake up now?
Michael Starr, Port Richey
Check title when buying car
Editor: I was disturbed by the letter published recently by a woman whobought a car from a private seller who turned out not to be the owner, and she was unable to get a clear title for the vehicle.
The Tax Office was correct: It is illegal to sell a car you don't own. This came into law last year, and it is a misdemeanor. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office should make a note of this.
You may legally sell a car you don't own if you are acting with the owner's power of attorney, or if you are a licensed dealer. But dealers may not sell a vehicle at a location other than their car lot.
Some dealers sell their license privileges to friends, and this is illegal unless the friend also is a paid employee of the dealership. Regardless, it is illegal to sell cars under a dealer's license away from a car lot.
So, beware of sellers who seem to have a different car for sale each week. You can bet the titles are not in their names.
To check the title of a car you are considering buying from a private seller you should ask to see the seller's identification and then compare it to the title. Get the title number and call the Department of Motor Vehicles or your tax collector. They can check for current title information, such as the legal owner, lien information and the latest odometer reading.
In many cases it is actually safer to buy a used car from a licensed dealer's lot. Dealers warranty all titles and can take care of any problems that might occur. Some dealers, in fact, are actually more honest and fair than those side-of-the-road salesmen.
Shelley Wiley, manager
White Horse Auto Brokers
Something about calls smells
Editor: The Times has expressed concern about a "bogus" petition to stop the proposed merger of Port Richey and New Port Richey when they should, I believe, be more concerned about Sen. Latvala's magical, mystical 26 phone calls that started the brouhaha in the first place.
Does it bother anyone else that only 26 phone calls from unidentified individuals initiated the dissolution of a city? I am deeply disturbed that the media have so readily taken up the fight to have Port Richey merged with New Port Richey without verification that those "secret" calls did indeed come from voting citizens of Port Richey. Latvala's credibility is excellent, I am sure (certainly better than his judgment), but he owes the citizens of Port Richey a full disclosure of those phone calls. He should have been pressed by the Times for this information at the outset. It certainly should have been required before he took the drastic action of initiating legislation requiring a referendum. Whatever happened to the notion of "Government in the Sunshine?" Something smells about this whole affair.
The possible harassment of the 26 callers by Port Richey employees is not an adequate excuse for the secrecy being employed. To contemplate the merging of two, albeit small, cities is a big deal to many of us, and all facts leading to that action should bear the light of day.
I believe that the 26 individuals who secretly called Latvala should be identified and verified as voting residents of Port Richey. If this cannot be done, then the entire matter deserves no further consideration and should rightfully be tabled. Latvala's apologies to the citizens of Port Richey should follow soon thereafter.
John H. Long, Port Richey
Entering traffic Twilight Zone
Editor: Day after day, Land O'Lakes traffic is in gridlock, much like on the bulging freeways of Los Angeles or the congested avenues of New York City. Each morning, Highways 41 and 54 turn into two-lane parking lots while one of our municipality's two traffic lights lethargically allow a scant few automobiles to seep through the intersection that was likely designed in the '30s.
The evening rush hour is worse by far, as all traffic heading north to Land O'Lakes via 41 and Dale Mabry is dumped at the apex into a two-lane country road that was built for a handful of farmers driving tractors and a few occasional snowbirds heading to and from their annual Florida pilgrimages.
Rarely do the two largest local newspaper editions in this area inform the public in any useful way about the road construction that so adversely affects local residents in Land O'Lakes each day. They write about sewer concerns, a double-dipping county commissioner collecting more than $83,000 in twin annual county salaries and dock-ordinances for residents along Grand Boulevard in New Port Richey. They write about hospitals, horses and holidays, but rarely will the beleaguered public find a word about the glaring traffic snarls that have turned this community into a traffic Twilight Zone. The newspaper that does such a story would hold the attention of every Laker old enough to drive and educated enough to read.
Larry Clifton, Land O'Lakes
Children give a loving effort
Editor: It seems that these days, children expect to be rewarded in some form for just about everything they do. Not so for Kathy Jackson's third- and fourth-grade students from Richey Elementary School, who recently held a carwash for the Humane Society of Pasco. The children, along with their parents, grandparents and friends, raised $130 on a hot Saturday recently.
Their reward was knowing that they had given up a day of fun and worked very hard to raise money to help someone other than themselves.
Mrs. Jackson, an active volunteer with the Humane Society, was teaching her students the value of selflessness and the personal rewarding fulfillment giving of one's self for others brings. The children put loving effort into making posters and telling others about the society and had fun washing the cars together. They also wanted to know when they could do it again and what else they could do to help.
The Humane Society exists on donations and is run by volunteers. The shelter is at 14949 Harmon Drive, Hudson. The society has just opened a "great deals" resale shop in Embassy Plaza, across from Gulf View Square Mall.
Marj McConkey, volunteer
Humane Society of Pasco Inc.