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Suncoast Parkway is road to riches for developers

Re: Suncoast Parkway Fifth Anniversary - Driving Growth, St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 5.

At last! The answer to the age-old chicken-or-the egg question. Build it (a highway) and they (developers) will come is documented in this Page 1 feature story on the impact of the Suncoast Parkway marking its fifth year of existence.

The impact of the tollway is as predictable as the change of seasons. The article should be a wakeup call to Citrus County commissioners who are struggling with the existing impact of growth in the county, let alone the amplified problems that will follow the Suncoast through the county.

Those who believe the Suncoast is necessary to solve the traffic problem on U.S. 19, State Road 44, etc. are going to be disappointed in the fact that the stated purpose of the Suncoast is to "serve longer distance, interregional traffic" through the county. The Florida Turnpike Enterprise confirmed in a letter to me dated Dec. 27, 2005, that the Suncoast is "not intended to serve local short-distance trips." The Suncoast will not, and is officially not intended to, improve the movement of traffic on U.S. 19 and SR 44 that the commissioners are wrestling with.

So where is the logic coming from to justify spending $600-million (not $200-million as incorrectly stated in the article) for a four-lane road to Red Level? Follow the money. The article could have been headlined: Suncoast - The Road to Developers' Riches.

Is this road in the same category of pork as the $250-million Alaskan bridge to the island with a population of 85? Who is served: the public or the landowners and developers who are salivating over the riches the road will bring them? Who is left holding the bag to pay for the infrastructure required to support the additional growth that always follows a highway?

The taxpayers.

If the commissioners want a people mover, they should ask the state to look at routing the highway up the existing right of way on County 581 to support the biggest booming population center in the county. That route would be more functionally logical, environmentally sound and economically justified.

Tom Paslay, Homosassa

Assistant state attorney

wrong to close game rooms

Re: Closing down gaming rooms.

It's time for Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson to answer some questions from his superiors, the taxpayers.

In December, Simpson decided to raid some of the many game rooms operating in Citrus and Hernando counties, and forced others to close down to avoid harassment in the same manner. All of these businesses were licensed by the counties to operate, and if anyone was doing their jobs, they were inspected by various agencies for compliance with Health Department rules, occupancy rules, etc. I'm sure that some time or another sheriff's deputies must have at least driven by for security purposes. If any of these activities took place, all must have seen no problem in their operation.

The legality of these game rooms has been challenged in many districts throughout Florida. Each time, they were found to be operating legally, and many are open today. What makes Simpson think he can go against these rulings? It appears he is playing a game of chance with taxpayer money by thinking he is right and everyone else is wrong. Through his comments, he seems to have decided what is and is not an acceptable form of recreation for adults in this district, and how we should, or should not, spend our money.

My suggestion to Mr. Simpson is to expand his efforts and raid some veterans halls or maybe some churches to stop all those bingo games and raffles. Maybe you should tell them how to enjoy recreational activities and how to spend their money. I'm willing to bet he doesn't have the necessary skills to challenge them. Or maybe he prefers to selectively enforce the laws for some and not for others.

Next question: Why has he not arrested the various county officials who were well aware of the operation of these game rooms? I'm sure that if any other law-abiding citizen were aware of illegal activities going on seven days a week and did absolutely nothing to report or stop the activity, we would be held responsible for being an accessory to the activity. Now, Mr. Simpson, since you seem to be making a real name for yourself, why don't you really impress us and charge all of those involved with their operation. Give us a real show for our money, sir.

To date, Mr. Simpson has accomplished a few things that I think everyone should think about. He has contributed to the unemployment rate in this district by closing businesses that also employed several people. He has forced legitimate business license holders to contribute to more empty retail space. He has taken it upon himself to decide what people should or should not do with their time and money, and he is tying up the court system with a case that has been beaten many times over. I wonder how we ever survived without Mr. Simpson.

I encourage all residents of Hernando and Citrus counties to write their newspapers and district representatives and demand that Mr. Simpson be held accountable for every penny spent on his efforts to accomplish something that others have failed to do. Hopefully, when this is all over, our game rooms, as well as churches, veterans halls and other private organizations will still exist, and once again perfectly sound people can decide for themselves how and when to spend their time and money. I challenge everyone to speak up and voice your opinions.

Tom Schram, Spring Hill

Electric bill increases merit

an investigation by Times

Wow! Like so many others, I gasped when I opened my electric bill. It has more than doubled now for two months in a row. I do not understand the jargon when seeking a clue as to why. For years, the St. Petersburg Times has done investigatory journalism and, in fact, has won numerous prizes for such work. Is this not a candidate for such a project? Do we not deserve the answers to "why"? I believe the citizenry deserves to know.

Ken LaPorte, Crystal River

Reproductive-age manatees

susceptible to boat collisions

Re: The truth about the Save the Manatee Club has surfaced, Opinion letter Wednesday, Citrus Times

I would like to respond to Tom McGill's letter regarding Save the Manatee Club. I have personally met many of the leaders of this organization and have found them to be hard-working and extremely dedicated to saving this species.

In my 15 years in Citrus County, I have enjoyed seeing manatees in the Homosassa and Crystal rivers. Sadly, a very great number of them have large scars on their backs. Mr. McGill, have you ever had your back slashed by the propellers of a boat?

Because manatees are slow-moving, need to surface to breathe air, and prefer shallow water, they are vulnerable to collisions with boats. Most worrisome is the fact that watercraft collisions are the leading cause of death of reproductive-age manatees. Large mammals like the manatee that have a long potential life span and a low reproductive rate normally have a low adult mortality rate. Losing reproductive, adult female manatees can be doubly lethal if they are pregnant or have a dependent calf.

Abiding by the posted speed zone signs while in areas known to have manatees present is the humane thing to do. It is also the law.

Isabell Spindler, Beverly Hills

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