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Published Jul. 31, 2007

While the state attempts to reduce taxes for Florida residents to alleviate some of the pressure on personal budgets, Pasco County commissioners decide to forgive Wiregrass Ranch developers $42-million in impact fees for a 5,100-acre development here.

Local news reports state that Pasco County is whittling away at the $16-million budget deficit resulting from new state tax legislation and at the same time are making county property owners obligated for the $42-million in infrastructure cost for more sprawl here.

Is the government here in Pasco based on a Republic, as our founders intended, or a democracy, as so many of the founding fathers feared it would become, or an empire, which they all abhorred? For those that might have forgotten, "a republic is a form of government maintained by a state or country whose sovereignty is based on popular consent and whose governance is based on popular representation and control."

The people of this county are being abused by the decisions made by our public officials. I believe that it is high time for new leadership. Good deals for Wal-Mart, Wiregrass Ranch, commercial developers and big box retailers are jeopardizing our financial future.

Just so that you are aware, Commissioners Ted Schrader, Jack Mariano and Pat Mulieri voted to make us obligated for the $42-million. Commissioners Michael Cox and Ann Hildebrand dissented.

Please take the time to be an informed voter for the next election.

Carl Spoeth, Bayonet Point

Wish we could tell full story of soldier - July 23 Bill Stevens column

Americans fought soldiers, not Nazis

Bill Stevens' column wishes us to believe that American soldiers in Europe during World War II were fighting and "killing Nazis."

American soldiers probably were killing Nazis, but usually they referred to the enemy as German soldiers.

Americans, at the time, might have believed, based on their indoctrination, that the enemy was motivated by Nazi doctrines, since the war indeed was instigated by the Nazi political party.

But, the point should be - and Bill Stevens, a reputable reporter should realize it - in the field, the Germans were very difficult, tenacious adversaries and as such were regarded as combatants, as soldiers, not as political ideologues, which is what the term Nazi is supposed to convey.

Perhaps the veteran Stevens honored in his column did in fact refer to his enemy in Belgium as Nazis, but that's not explicit, nor is it easily inferred from a general knowledge of the war, except perhaps through a review of the comic book literature of the time.

Steven Greenia, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

45 mph limit makes no sense

In the scheme of things, this is minor. But, I have to ask why the speed limit on the new State Road 52 - a modern, six-lane highway - from Moon Lake Road east to the Suncoast Parkway is 45 mph. The Sheriff Office is having a field day with the new speed trap.

State Road 54 from the Suncoast east is a 60 mph, four-lane road. State Road 52 west of Moon Lake goes to 50 mph and Trinity Boulevard in southern Pasco is a 55 mph, two-lane road.

It makes no sense.

Melvin Eaves, Hudson

Beyond books - July 23 Floridian story

Libraries open world to teens

Wow, what a great article. Made me smile at the thought of teens flocking to libraries.

I'm pleased as punch that they feel safe there and are enjoying one of our greatest American treasures - free libraries. Thanks to our innovative librarians, our teens are enjoying a world of travel, adventure, fun and learning Thanks to Michael Kruse for writing this. Good job!

Margaret Wareham, New Port Richey

Firefighter's deed is appreciated

Thank you Capt. David Garofalo for your respect for the nine firefighters killed in Charleston, S.C. My nephew, Capt. William "Billy" Hutchinson, was one.

I hope your superior's superior will accept my gratitude for your heartfelt response. I consider your gesture at the fire scene as one extended from Pasco County Fire Department. Those not there can't possibly understand the immediate emotional gesture as you made. I met some of the firefighters from Florida at Billy's funeral. You don't know how much it meant to me and my family to feel the presence of someone from Florida.

Thank you for joining with us in our loss and our grief. My sister, Dot Hutchinson (retired, chief fire prevention education and safety for the Charleston Fire Department), especially appreciated the outpouring of respect in the loss of her son, Billy.

Elaine Merritt, Tallahassee

Reprimand sends wrong message

Shame, shame on you, acting assistant chief Mike Ciccarello.

As the widow of a firefighter, Capt. Barry Bennett of the Cambridge, Mass., Fire Department, who died in November 2003, I'd like you to know your pettiness is a slap in the face to fire department widows and children everywhere.

Pasco County's reprimand of Capt. David Garafalo sends the message that collectively, the loss of those firefighters wasn't worth the price of even one $25 shirt.

The measure of a true leader, chief, is knowing when to stop being a by-the-book, pencil-pushing boss and start being a compassionate human being. If you can't do that, then please allow me to send you my personal check to cover the loss of your captain's shirt.

May you never know Charleston's heartache and sorrow.

Jane Bennett, Maynard, Mass.

Investigation a waste of time

The circumstances of the polo shirt left by a Pasco County fire- fighter in Charleston, S.C., is a perfect example of a government agency gone bad.

What a waste of time and resources on the investigation and meetings that went on in deciding to discipline an employee for doing something above and beyond for the families of the fallen firefighters in Charleston.

I believe Pasco County taxpayers should demand that the time spent by assistant chief Mike Ciccarello and any others be calculated, multiplied by their hourly rate and that they be required reimburse this amount into the Fire Department's budget.

People in Pasco County work hard and expect their tax dollars to be used wisely. Ciccarllo needs to be reminded that he can not just waste these tax dollars on such petty games. To quote him: "This budget money is not his to waste and he needs to understand that."

Steve Hergenreter, Fort Dodge, Iowa