1. Archive

Comprehensive plan attracting new challenges

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Editor: There are many kinds of terrorism that affects people's lives. One insidious type comes as no surprise to residents of Florida. Bloodless though it may be, it is no less dangerous to their well-being as that which destroys life in other ways.

There is a current outbreak in Citrus County that residents need to recognize. If you wish to put a name to it, it's called greed.

Comprehensive plans were devised some years ago to halt the destruction of where we live by those who will do anything for money. You cannot say it any simpler or truthful.

The birthing fights were intense and ferocious, but right and common sense prevailed in most cases. After bitter and snarling combats, our plan was put in place and written into plain-worded law in the late 1980s. Plain-worded, at least, for those who believe in the intent. Ever since, however, many have tried to imply words do not always mean what they say.

Lately and strangely, we see even those words can be changed if the right people are involved. Right now there is ongoing a particularly vicious uptrend in these attacks against the Citrus comprehensive plan.

I would suggest for any who believe in protecting their quality of life that a heads-up is in order.

Get involved, for the wolves are again at your door. Changing certain county commissioners is a perfect place to start. Contacting Tallahassee's Department of Community Affairs with demands for strict compliance to law as now written without content tampering is another.

Copy Gov. Jeb Bush, too. He's always saying he wants to know your problems, so give him something to chew. And stay tuned in, a local Homeland Security is on the way.

L.C. Alexander, Inverness

Lien law puts construction industry first, homeowners last

Editor: The news recently was that Gov. Jeb Bush signed new lien law legislation. You'd think that some good news for consumers and victims of the lien law was coming out, but quite to the contrary, all consumers got was more warnings in bigger type.

Don't be fooled. The consumer is still on the hook for liens created by a builder who closes his doors and files for bankruptcy protection.

While the builders may be prosecuted, and I stress the word may, what good is that to an owner who just lost tens of thousands of dollars? Sending the builder to jail while losing, say, $45,000 is not what I consider a good tradeoff. The liens remain and that is where the problem is. This law is anticonsumer, period.

It seems a bad law just keeps getting worse and more complicated. During last year's election cycle, the word bonding was mentioned several times, yet after the election, not a peep. Even Rep. Charles Dean stated so at a meeting of the East Citrus Republican Club when I posed the question of total repeal or bonding. His reply: bonding.

There is a recovery fund from where victims of the lien law can hopefully receive compensation. It's capped at $25,000. So if your loss was $65,000, after recovery it's only $40,000 that you're out. Strange that a state law should have a "recovery fund" for problems and yet the fund is inadequate and underfunded.

The law is a problem and no matter how you slice it, dissect it or examine it, it is the consumer, the owner of the home being built, that is ultimately the person placed in "double jeopardy" by being forced to pay twice. As a Citrus citizen said more than 10 years ago: "The law allows one set of citizens to legally rape other citizens, financially that is."

One of the highlights indicated was that the building department would send to the customers (owner) information about the lien law, including the customers' rights if liens are not filed properly. What exactly are we talking about here, clerical errors? What rights, after the liens have been filed? Right to get an attorney who can do nothing for you but advise you to pay again or your home will be foreclosed on? Wow. I'm impressed with the double talk. Better to have the attorney before you sign a contract with the builder.

A lien will automatically die if no court action takes place in a year is another highlight of the legislation. That's really comforting to a family that gets whacked with liens and has this cloud of possible foreclosure hanging over them.

In a nutshell, the Florida Construction Lien Law is a law written for the construction industry as a whole. The consumers of our great state are last on the list and the least important. Doesn't it always seem to be that way anymore?

Casimer J. Smerecki, Inverness

Inverness clerk offers thanks after ending long career

Editor: The year 1964 began an exciting and rewarding career for me with the city of Inverness. June 30, 2003, ended that employment relationship, but the friends I've made along the way will always be a part of me.

Albert, Bruce, Keith, Pam, Taylor and Paige and I are deeply appreciative for the opportunities given to me during my tenure. As a part of my retirement, the elected officials, administrative staff, directors and city staff planned two perfectly wonderful occasions _ an open reception held appropriately at the Historic 1912 Courthouse on June 11, and a dinner at Stumpknockers on June 23 for fellow employees and family.

I was truly overwhelmed with the attendance along with the plaque presented by Rocky Hensley on behalf of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce for my 38 years with the city and related community service.

The City Council's proclamation naming me city clerk emeritus and presented at my last City Council meeting, June 17, was received with grateful emotion. The retirement articles in the Citrus Times and the articles and an editorial in the Citrus County Chronicle were so appreciated.

The kind words spoken by state Rep. Charles Dean, my son, Bruce, incoming City Clerk Debbie Davis, City Manager Frank DiGiovanni, and Mayor Joyce Rogers were lovely. The certificate of appreciation presented to me by the county commissioners on June 24 was unexpected and gratifying.

Public service has been my life _ it has been my pleasure and delight to be there for the citizens of Inverness and Citrus County. Inverness is beyond a doubt a special place and is blessed to have leaders who deeply care.

I'll miss being a part of the everyday life at City Hall, but will always have a special place in my heart for all those who made it such a great place to work _ God bless you all.

Marilyn C. Jordan, Inverness, city clerk emeritus

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