Editor: The following statement clarifies any misunderstandings regarding my absence from the Board of County Commissioners meeting Oct. 21. I would hope we live in a democracy where a person is presumed innocent until factual evidence proves the charges are correct.
My absence from the commission meeting was certainly not deliberate or intentional, and I fully intended to return as soon as possible. I sincerely apologize to all who were inconvenienced. On my way to the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud), I received two calls on my pager from our office, which I returned immediately: one reassuring Commissioner Paul Sullivan that I would return ASAP. You will remember a year and a half ago the commissioners appointed me to represent Hernando County on the Ecosystem Management Initiative Management Committee. The item being discussed at the Swiftmud Basin Board meeting was a priority of the committee because of its effects on the county.
The Basin Board meeting was extremely important and was planned and announced as having direct effect on Hernando's present and future water supply, recreation and economic values. My "job" to represent all the citizens was being performed by attending the Basin Board meeting, protecting the citizens. Under unusual and unfortunate circumstance, two of my fellow commissioners were absent at the same time. Chairman Ray Lossing and Vice Chairman Sullivan knew of my commitment at the Basin Board meeting Tuesday morning before the commission meeting.
I realize the commission meetings are crucial to all involved, as was this Basin Board meeting. The Swiftmud management recommendations for restoration of a water conservation structure (the Wysong Dam) included that counties be applicants and finance the project. My mission was to insist that Hernando taxpayers would not pay for this project. Essentially this would burden our citizens by twice paying for the Swiftmud project.
I demonstrated this in my presentation with a Swiftmud letter to the governor that stated cash reserves were replaced in 1993-94 budgets. I hand delivered an important fax from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explaining that "any permit applicant would have to be legally and financially responsible for potential damages."
Swiftmud was given these powers and responsibilities by the Legislature. I have worked long hours and weekends diligently and relentlessly to serve my county addressing issues brought to my attention. I would hope this newspaper and its readers would take the time to ask questions, review minutes of the Basin Board meetings and analyze the overall time schedule, over which I had little control, other than to ask to be heard as soon as possible.
Once again a controversial issue has dominated the scene. All the pertinent information was not reviewed. Therefore comments of neglecting my job are not justified. Due, in part, to my efforts, the Withlacoochee River Basin Board is requesting more information from Swiftmud management and letters of support for the concept of a temporary water conversation structure in the location of the Wysong Dam from all counties and agencies of the Withlacoochee Ecosystem Management Initiative.
District 1 commissioner
County government needs
to learn about respect
Editor: I am somewhat dismayed about the discord happening within our county government. I have not been able to attend commission meetings because of my work schedule, but from the information I have gathered from newspaper articles, I believe this problem leads to a lack of professional ethics on the part of our county commissioners.
When I was a boy my parents taught me that if you want respect, you must show respect. Maybe that was a different world, but I sincerely believe it applies today.
I have to admit that I am not one of the movers and shakers of the county, but I still am a concerned citizen, a taxpayer and a registered voter. I sometimes think that politicians get too controlling and too power hungry. That may be a great part of the problem with the work environment at the courthouse.
I also think that limiting citizen input at commission meetings is really aggravating the situation even more. I would encourage all commissioners and county leaders to treat all people (including guys like me) with some amount of dignity and common courtesy. That should ease some tensions.
Gary Bogard, Brooksville
Ham radio club wins
appreciation of Scouts
Editor: Boy Scouts of America Pack 91, of Mary Giella Elementary in Shady Hills, appreciated the wonderful amateur ham radio program the Spring Hill Amateur Radio Club presented during the international Jamboree-on-the-Air Oct. 18.
The original radio operator scheduled to provide the program canceled at the last minute. With minimal planning, the Spring Hill Amateur Radio Club and Charles Perdue, in particular, developed an informative and hands-on program for the Scouts. An enthusiastic team of Mr. Perdue, Jan Lepitak, Jordy Friedman and Ralph Wilson saved the day and provided a memorable experience for our Scouts.