When I learned of Dade City Commissioner Camille Hernandez's letter to Gov. Crist, I was appalled and angry: appalled that she represents me and my fellow citizens, and angry because many of the folks she accuses are my friends.
The anger subsided because those she accuses are capable of defending themselves and the charges are all clearly baseless and easily refuted by public records.
My disgust at her action has not diminished. Charges like hers, made in this manner, represent the worst of big-time, smear politics and have no place in my city government. Ms. Hernandez failed to follow any form of procedure or protocol. She instead chose to send a letter that contained unsubstantiated charges, rumor, and innuendo to the governor with a copy to the press.
Her actions reek of a shameful personal attack that not only targets Mayor Brock and former City Manager Harold Sample, but also the other commissioners that she accuses of being manipulated and controlled.
This is not the first time that Ms. Hernandez has pursued a personal attack. Not long after election, she ran afoul of the city staff regarding Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine laws, then immediately went headhunting for those individuals who disagreed with her position.
Dade City works hard to develop and maintain strong working relationships with area businesses, governments, and citizens. The electorate chose smart, competent leaders who, in turn, have hired smart, competent administrators to protect and manage our interests.
Ms. Hernandez is apparently unable to work effectively with this team. She has alienated the city staff, thrown baseless accusations at elected officials, and, according to her own allegations, lacks faith in her fellow commissioners to make individual decisions.
Ms. Hernandez's pursuit of a personal vendetta is a waste of time, money and energy that should otherwise be spent improving our town. Her actions have been hurtful to the community and its leaders. Ms. Hernandez should retract the letter to Gov. Crist, apologize to the mayor, commission, and citizens, and submit her resignation.
Curtis Beebe, Dade City
Firefighter's action honorable
I own two properties in Pasco County, both in New Port Richey.
I am appalled at how Capt. David Garofalo was treated when he placed a department-issued polo shirt at the roadside memorial for the nine heroes of Charleston. I am highly disappointed in the Pasco County fire administration. The administration should be proud to have had one of their firefighters take his own personal time to travel and pay tribute to the fallen firefighters. Instead they have placed a "written verbal warning" in his personnel file for leaving a shirt.
Capt. Garofalo traveled to South Carolina to represent the fire department, the citizens of Pasco County, and most importantly me as a taxpayer, and I am proud that he did. Capt. Garofalo spent his own money on gas, food and other travel incidentals, and he did not expect compensation. The statement by Pam Blevins, who is the Charleston fire chief's secretary, sums up the situation very well: "That's just kind of petty."
I now hold the county commissioners and the county administrator to task. Your duty is to make this situation right. The first thing that you need to do is to remove the written verbal caution from Capt. Garofalo's file. The second thing you need to do is to place a letter of gratitude in Capt. Garofalo's personnel file. The letter needs to express how grateful you are that one of the employees of Pasco County traveled on his own time and money to Charleston to proudly represent the citizens of Pasco during this tragic time for the Charleston Fire Department. Thirdly, you need to apologize to the fire chief of Charleston. His department suffered a loss that no community should have to go through, and Capt. Garofalo should not be disciplined for leaving a shirt at the roadside memorial of his firefighters.
The last thing that you need to do to make this situation right is to address the management that felt this was worthy of an investigation. Why the management decided to pursue this is the most disturbing aspect of the story. I am not really sure what management was trying to accomplish. I certainly hope that the commissioners and county administration have selected competent department heads, and I hope you do not condone this type of activity by them. I am sure that more money, time and effort was spent on an investigation than the shirt was worth. I have no problem with a shirt being left at a memorial, but if my tax dollars were spent on a frivolous investigation, I will be very upset. When acting Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello was interviewed by the Times, he made your county and the citizens that you represent look very poorly.
I implore you to quickly fix this very poor representation of Pasco County. The citizens of Pasco deserve better.
Michael L. Handoga, Tampa
Sysco only helps if jobs are local
I believe that the Zephyrhills City Council is all excited over nothing. They are willing to give tax breaks to Sysco without knowing all the facts, let alone 60 acres of prime real estate.
Sysco claims they will create 257 jobs with pay ranges from $45,000 to $100,000 per year.
Are they really going to hire 257 local area people, or are they transferring 257 of their employees? This plan is not as attractive as it first seems. If they are transferring their people, we will not see any of this money in our local economy.
Their people will not move to Zephyrhills. They will continue to commute back and forth from their established locations, which for the most part are in Lakeland. I don't know of any company that is willing to train people at $45,000 a year.
That should have been the first red light for our elected officials. I will oppose this agreement unless they can truthfully answer my question.
Richard Welch, Zephyrhills
Editor's note: County documents indicate Sysco will transfer 125 existing jobs from other Florida operations. The company anticipates 132 new jobs within the first 12 months and another 50 after 36 months.