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Letters to the Editors

Special counsel's voice is vital to acquisition

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 10, 2002

Editor: Tuesday at the Hernando County Commission meeting, Bruce Snow's contract as special counsel for the county is on the agenda for renewal. If his contract is not renewed, we lose the only reasonable and truthful voice in the Florida Governmental Utilities Authority's proposed acquisition of Florida Water Services.

Until the commission appointed Mr. Snow to represent it in this issue, all the commissioners heard were the positives in the FGUA acquisition of Florida Water for $44 million-plus. Is the county legal department afraid of someone with more expertise than they have?

I won't waste time in explaining the history of this issue, starting with split contracts and the State Attorney's Office. Suffice to say the commissioners need knowledgeable advice from an attorney who cares about the county and will tell the truth.

I'm asking residents to call the county commission (754-4000) before Tuesday to encourage our commissioners to approve Mr. Snow's contract, thereby assuring themselves and the public a fair and balanced interpretation of this issue. That means no more one-sided interpretations of the facts from the administration and staff.
-- Janey Baldwin, Brooksville

County isn't being smart in planning water management

Editor: Following front page articles in our area newspapers remains as fascinating in 2002 as it has been in past years. Consider the following on two consecutive days a week or so ago:

The first concerned the pending construction of 799 homes on a tract south of Brooksville. An accompanying map outlined an adjacent area noted as "possible future development." I am assuming our county commissioners and their staff have discovered either an untapped aquifer, an inconspicuous desalination plant, or are planning a pipeline from the Weeki Wachee River.

If you think about the amount of water that 799 homes would require, even without lawns and such amenities as commercial development and a possible golf course, it would seem that income from the resulting taxes and impact fees wouldn't mean too much. More on this later.

The following day, a front page article reviewed the problem that our ever-busy commissioners have regarding overturning a Southwest Florida Water Management District directive allowing today's homeowners to tap the aquifer and water their lawns more than once a week. This is hardly the first time this has been an issue. The strangest thing about the directive, which I thought came from an agency that had authority over such matters, is that it came at a time of the year when knowledgeable lawn care people tell us there is no need to water lawns more than once a week.

Back to the original point. I mentioned the potential water needs of 799 homes without lawns. Should these homeowners decide to have lawns, and possibly a few swimming pools, they would be permitted, as I have been told, to water those lawns for 60 days. My math tells me that is the water I would use in 14 months of a once-a-week pattern.

Whether the four-year drought is over or not, we have gone through some dry summers with complaints about sprinkling directives that were not too stringently enforced, being labeled as discriminatory. The fact that homeowners have typically invested more than $1,000 in their lawns is a figure that doesn't include charges by lawn maintenance companies, that probably average an additional $200 a year.

I'm not sure where we can go on this, but I continue to wonder how our administrators can justify additional building, at least in the major development category, while they continue to tell long-time taxpayers how much they are expected to sacrifice.
-- Roland J. Olsberg, Spring Hill

Gatti has proven his innocence; the persecution must stop

Editor: How many times must Joe Gatti prove that he is innocent of these trumped-up charges? How much money must he spend to clear his good name and reputation? How long will Deborah Burge be allowed to persecute this man?

Why is Deborah Burge permitted to continue her vengeance and retribution upon this man because she lost her original case against him and could not collect big money? She swore then that she would pursue him to the end.

All this was in the newspapers at the time of the first trial. We are having Brooksville's very own "witch hunt." Tom Gallagher should hide his face in shame.

What is next -- a dunking stool?
-- Jean Lane, Brooksville

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