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County's decision in favor of developers is disturbing

Editor: It is most disquieting trying to follow many of the decisions made by Pasco County commissioners. They seemed to be completely out of step with their staff when they sided with developers and builders April 21. County staff recommended regulations in regard to drainage and elevations for any new building site. When the builders objected to it and came up with their own ideas, the commissioners went along with them and tied the hands of its staff. It makes one wonder who works for whom in this county, and is the commission no longer interested in the flooding that was seen over the past several months?

Commissioners wrung their hands and promised to make changes to assure that it would not happen again, but the sun came out, the ground dried up and it was back to business as usual. If the builders, developers and commissioners are going to make up the codes and regulations, what is their staff doing? It was a weak claim that staff's recommendations would add $25 to each permit. If that is the sum for inspection of new sites, it is the cheapest flood insurance anyone can buy.

The one issue I agree with is a vote of confidence for County Administrator John Gallagher. The man has done many good things for this county. Call the road purchase a mistake or a blunder. What counts the most is how Mr. Gallagher has handled his job from day one, and he most certainly would deserve a vote of confidence any time.

Joseph Peck, New Port Richey

Thanks for article

on environmental group

Editor: I wish to thank Jo Becker for her article regarding PEER's (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) visits to Pasco, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Tampa Department of Environmental Protection offices recently.

I have spoken with Pasco County employees who work in Utilities, Parks and Recreation and for our resource recovery facility (incinerator) who have expressed disgust at what they are being told to do _ and to keep their mouths shut.

Now they can contact FL. PEER, a not-for-profit group of ex-FDEP attorneys to express their concerns. PEER is at 4244 W Tennessee St., office 337, Tallahassee, FL 32304. Their phone number is (850) 574-6515. Their website is www.peer.org.

Donna M. Slattery, Hudson

Obstacles to learning

prove vouchers are needed

There are a score of sound reasons a growing number of parents want to take their children out of public schools and enroll them in safer, more efficient private schools. Issues such as providing their children a better education, busing and violence in public schools are clearly at the top of the list. Many politicians, bureaucrats and school administrators have already learned that public schools often do not consider their child's best interests and have long ago enrolled their kids in private ones.

Problem is, while many of the aforementioned groups live relatively opulent lifestyles funded by taxpayers, they don't want the children of less-affluent parents to have an equal opportunity for the best educational experience possible. A meager tax voucher that would help average parents afford a relatively safe and competent private education for their children is often assailed by opponents as an attempt to undermine the sanctity of the public school system, as if that would necessarily be a bad thing.

In Florida's failing public school systems, students face huge obstacles to learning that were virtually non-existent for their parents and grandparents 30 years ago. Today, we routinely read about young female students being raped in school bathrooms, multiple students being shot to death in hallways and classrooms and young bodies being carved and scarred by flashing switchblades on school grounds turned into battlefields.

Often, students who should be concerned with adolescent love and SAT exams, instead, fear for their lives at school. Meanwhile, public school administrators who receive salaries and perks comparable to those of governors, form political alliances with anti-school-choice politicians; all bent on shaping public policies that detract from the educational choices available to the children of Florida.

The only system available to check the oppressive power of huge public-school boards is to force them to compete with their safer, more cost-effective private counterparts. Top-heavy public-school administrations across the state must be trimmed and pared and school violence has to be replaced by a reasonably safe atmosphere for learning. Most private schools consistently uphold these standards. Does your child deserve any less?

Larry Clifton, Land O'Lakes

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