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Hello. Leave a message, then get a grip on reality

By C.T. BOWEN
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

Somewhere a telephone rings.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not available right now. Please leave a message."

"You're a tax-and-spend liberal. That idea you had for a special-taxing district for recreation is ridiculous. Who needs it? We were happy to play in the streets when I was a kid."

"Don't try to raise my taxes."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message unless you're calling to complain about the need to build parks for children."

"You scoundrel. Why in the world would you suggest we need to increase the sales tax? I'm not sharing my hard-earned money.

"It's irrelevant if other counties already do it. The county needs more money for its capital projects? Well, so do I, pal.

"I don't care if there's no place for kids to have soccer practice. Those miscreants.

"Crowded roads? Let the state pay for it.

"I do like the libraries. But impact fees can pay for everything.

"Do deputies really require radios that cover the entire county? Get federal money for that.

"I'm a voter you know. Don't you dare raise my taxes."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message, unless you're calling to complain about the need to build parks for our children or a progressive way to meet the county's capital needs called Penny for Pasco."

"A gas tax? Have you looked at the price at the pumps these days? I don't care if it was 30 cents a gallon cheaper when this talk started back in February, there's no way I can afford three more pennies per gallon. Absolutely not.

"We can do without paved and resurfaced roads. Setting aside money to buy future right of way just makes the landowners rich. Forget it. When I lived up North, the roads were already built. How come they're not all built down here?

"Get your hands off my wallet."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message unless you're calling to complain about paying for better parks, libraries, roads and public safety equipment."

"Yeah, listen. I live in west Pasco. I think the idea of spending tourist tax money at Saddlebrook is outrageous. The rich get richer. Spend it over here in west Pasco so it can benefit us, the people who live here.

"So what if the money is from tourists and has to be spent to build something to attract even more tourists? We need a beach or something just for us."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message unless you're calling to complain about capital projects or offering parochial tourism ideas."

"What's the big idea of calling our neighborhood an area in decline? You and those two other commissioners are the ones who voted to allow affordable apartments to be built near Regency Park and Embassy Hills.

"I don't care if the rents are established to attract working-class people and young families including professionals like police officers and teachers.

"Rentals mean riff-raff. You'll pay for this come Election Day."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message unless calling to complain about anything tax-related or championing economic bigotry."

"Requiring trees to protect babies left in parked cars? Give me a break."

Click.

Ring.

"Hello, this is Commissioner Peter Altman. I'm not in right now. Please leave a message unless you're calling to complain about taxes, renters, tourism or my genuinely dumb statement to push landscape requirements."

"How come you never return your calls?"

Click.

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