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THE BIG THING IS ACCOUNTABILITY

Schrader and Mulieri should adjust priorities Sept. 13 - C.T. Bowen column

This was a difficult year for most governments. The Board of County Commissioners worked diligently to save positions and respond to the needs of citizens who indicated that safety was an important issue. Our employees were supportive. They did not receive raises in two years, yet they continued to do their jobs and hoped that they would not receive pink slips. Unfortunately, this week, many did.

The board's goal was to respond to citizens needs, save positions and put money in a contingency fund to balance the deficit that is expected next year. Additional funds would be returned to the residents. When a discussion of outside agencies came up, the decision was to give $30,000 to 211. When we reduced taxes each year, I did agree to give funding to outside agencies. However, last year I requested more information as to agency budgets, etc. I received the amount of each directors salary with the exception of United Way. I believed more accountability was needed.

This week the Tourist Development Council I chair will give out funds. Each group must fill out paperwork and prove what it has done. Although it is not ad valorem funds, it is still government money and accountability is needed. Last year, we did a similar procedure with transportation funding for each agency. We do not receive any information on how the money is spent or a copy of the audits of the social service agencies we fund. Yet we as a county must be accountable for all funds we release. I am sure each agency does an outstanding job and I personally contribute to a number of them. If we are to continue, a better system must be developed.

In relation to dirt or non-county maintained roads, ad valorem funding is not used for road and bridge. Gas tax money is. All who drive contribute; yet many do not have their road graded or a shovelful of dirt put on it. Roads were designated county maintained years ago. Residents living on these roads have enjoyed the benefit of everyone's gas tax money being used to maintain their roads. People who live on dirt roads are usually in low socioeconomic areas and cannot afford to pave them.

I did struggle with the funding of the Pasco Economic Development Council during these rough times. I met with the directors and indicated, they must produce this year and the amount will be revisited next year. However, the board's goal is to bring industry and jobs to Pasco. We cannot continue to be a bedroom community.

Charity begins at home. I felt we should have taken care of our employees first. I have also wanted to use money as a match to extend bus services in areas such as Moon Lake and Shady Hills. I also believe that the seven faith based organizations that I have been involved with are trying to fill a void.

To paint me as someone who does not care is unfair. I believe giving is a personal responsibility. I also respect the decision of the three commissioners who voted to fund these agencies.

Commissioner Pat Mulieri

Gowers Corner

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Veterans are due decent service

I am a 91-year-old widow of a World War II veteran. Some months ago, I went to the Pasco County Government Center on Little Road. There was a disabled veteran asking people to sign a petition to help stop the commission from taking funding from the service office for Pasco veterans.

He told me they wanted to cut the money to operate the office that serves our dear, wonderful veterans who put their lives on the line so all of us could be free. Since then I have seen stories in the newspaper about his fight to keep the veterans service office going at full speed.

I called the office to see how long it would take to get an appointment. The man said it would be about a month or more. He said they were getting a lot of veterans calling to make an appointment because they never knew the office was there until the petition started.

I had a service officer help me get a pension from my loving husband's Army service. Thank God the man helped me get what I was entitled to.

I think the man, Richard Kimmel, is a hero to all veterans and I think all of us should sign his petition. I can't believe people like our commissioners can be so dumb as to not help by putting the money back where it belongs.

Helen M. Barbarotta, New Port Richey

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Our freedoms shield haters, too - Sept. 16 letter

Flags were tokens of true patriotism

Phyllis Grae's letter regarding the Sept. 12 tea party at the corner of Ridge Road and Route 19 exaggerates the number in her mob by about the same factor as conservatives did the march on Washington - not 2 million but tens of thousands - and with her new math - not 200 but 80. Apparently one of her freedoms is thinking that dissent abuses American freedoms rather than being its greatest strength.

The raucous and ill-informed tea party mob outnumbered us dissenters by 10 to 1, a tribute to Bill Bunting's misguided leadership, even in the face of driving rain. The number of passing cars honking for our small group far outnumbered those cheering on the tea baggers, but who's counting?

Regarding the two men from our group carrying flags, the one flag was Palestinian, not Iraqi, but Ms. Grae doesn't allow her ignorance to get in the way of her bias - all Muslims and Arabs are alike to them; enemies of the United States in her eyes. The man carrying that flag is a Vietnam veteran who served in one of the most highly decorated U.S. Marine Corps combat battalions in that conflict, a conflict that he sees as misguided as our treatment today of Iraqis and Palestinians invaded and occupied by us and the Israelis.

The man carrying the American flag upside down believes that our nation is in danger and in need of help, and he is a patriot, not a hater of the United States. Our protest group believes that the United States of America is our country, right and wrong, and we intend to see the wrongs corrected. How is that not patriotic?

Daniel Callaghan, New Port Richey

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