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Letters to the Editors

Fighting developers an expensive proposition

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 5, 2002

Editor: Re: Column about growth plans was misleading April 28 letter to the editor from Steven M. Seibert, secretary Department of Community Affairs:

I read with interest Seibert's expository letter on how the DCA functions and criticizing Greg Hamilton's April 14 column On growth, small minds don't see big picture, as being "grossly misleading." I must accept your letter as being accurate since I do not have a depth of knowledge of the inner workings of your department (although I am learning quickly).

There is a basic flaw in the implementation method described by Seibert, and that is a judicial challenge through the Circuit Court. The Save the Homosassa River Alliance has embarked on this process, and it is very expensive -- far beyond the means of the average citizen and even most small local groups, even if such a group exists.

The Alliance has estimated a cost of $50,000, maybe more, in the matter of our appeal of the county decision on the Halls River Retreat in Homosassa. We will raise whatever funds are necessary to see the matter through. Surely Seibert will admit that this is a real burden for us and tilts the system heavily in favor of the well-funded developer.

Anyone who has tried to raise this kind of money knows it is no small task.

Perhaps Seibert is aware of a less expensive process. If so, both the Alliance and I would be grateful for his input.
-- James Bitter, Save the Homosassa River Alliance

Brown-Waite not listening to all sides in gun debate

Editor: Re: Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to conform, April 29 Times:

Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite made a comment in that article that she is "not pandering to the pro-gun lobby -- she genuinely believes in the right to bear arms." No doubt she does. However, it appears her support is apparently without reservations.

When Brown-Waite chaired the Senate Select Committee on Homeland Security, the governor tasked her and the nine members of her panel with developing legislation that would increase security at locations in Florida that might be subject to terrorist attacks. She forwarded numbers of such bills, which the governor signed.

When her panel met, we went to great lengths to inform her and each of the members of that panel what we found at our state's gun shows. It included detailed information of the terrorist groups who had already been caught buying weapons at Florida's and our nation's wide-open gun shows. We mailed volumes of briefs to her and all the panel members. There is no way she can claim she did not know what is still taking place at gun shows.

In 2001 and 2002, bills to close this dangerous loophole were unread and we asked that she forward the bills to the governor. We are convinced the governor would have signed them into law. She refused to send the bills to the governor or even admit there was a problem at gun shows.

In March, federal immigration officers arrested a Pakistani immigrant who was caught trying to buy an assault rifle at a West Palm Beach gun show. Federal authorities say he plotted last spring to blow up electrical facilities and other sites in South Florida, illustrating that such people are well aware they can obtain guns with no questions asked at Florida gun shows.

Sen. Brown-Waite voted to support a bill that allowed concealed handgun licenses from other states to carry concealed in Florida, despite the fact some of these states literally had "sign here" permits, not even coming close to meeting the requirements our Legislature imposed on our concealed license holders.

Brown-Waite has been listed for the past six months on a Web site of a guns right group in Pasco County. It also has been announced several times at the Lakeland Gun Show that Brown-Waite will be the Senate sponsor of a new license plate that will have the wording "Protect the Second Amendment" on it. The proceeds of this are to be used to teach gun safety in our schools.

Brown-Waite has a huge photo on the wall of her Senate office of a handgun with the wording "Don't Mess With the Senate!" In addition, she was silent when the Legislature came up with the hair-brained scheme to allow guns in school parking lots. Dead silence from Brown-Waite when an NRA-backed initiative destroyed data on pawned guns after only 48 hours.

Since Brown-Waite is president pro tempore of the Senate and exercises considerable influence over what this body does, her total lack of leadership on gun violence prevention issues is nothing more than a scandal.

Brown-Waite's statement that she is "not pandering to the gun lobby" simply isn't true. She supports the Florida NRA every chance she gets.

We would like Sen. Brown-Waite to tell her constituents what the right to bear arms has to do with felons or terrorists buying guns at Florida's wide-open, no-background-check-
-- required, buy-all-the-guns-you-want-
with-no-questions-asked gun shows?
Arthur C. Hayhoe, executive director Floridians For Gun Safety Inc., Wesley Chapel

Article shows Times bias unfair to Brown-Waite

Editor: Re: Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to conform, April 29 Times.

For more than 50 years I have observed that the Times, too often at the expense of impartiality, is an organ of the Democratic Party.

But your blatant bias was never made so clear, beginning with the photo you selected and then throughout the rambling article searching for the negative comments about Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite from anyone willing to comment.

I only wish you had called me. I have known Ginny ever since she ran against "the establishment" for Hernando County Commission in 1988. I knew nothing about her except that she was from New York state. That fact almost kept my proud rebel prejudice from approaching her for help to prevent a very negative rezoning approachment from my "back yard." She was the only commission candidate willing to come out and see firsthand. She walked miles in the heat through brambles and broken rock. Her vote prevented a far-reaching permanent loss of conservation land.

My only request of Ginny then and now is to use her "Yankee intelligence" and be honest. We have not always agreed, but she has told me why she has disagreed and, most important, she has never lied to me, a rare quality in a politician, indeed.

I count Ginny as a true friend who deserves the backing of all who value honesty.
-- A.M. Sevier, Brooksville

Brown-Waite stubborn, self-centered in Legislature

Editor: Re: Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to conform, April 29 Times:

As usual, staff writer Dan Dewitt got it almost right. It should have read, Lawmaker's legacy is refusal to get along, or, perhaps, Will Rogers never met Ginny Brown-Waite.

I attempted to work positively with Sen. Brown-Waite for six long years in the Legislature. It was impossible. The woman is self-centered, insecure and hell-bent on trying to destroy anyone she feels is a threat to her future. I have seen her publicly humiliate and rebuke her staff, other legislative employees, lobbyists, local elected officials and constituents. The quality of life in downtown Tallahassee will markedly improve with her absence.

Sen. Brown-Waite has public tiffs with colleagues, but she never fails to look out for No. 1. I continue to be amazed by the sheer number of people who have had negative dealings with her, and yet, she has an uncanny ability to fool the press and many of her constituents. Most politicians like people and want to be liked themselves. Not Sen. Brown-Waite. Like a playground bully, she simply craves attention and a chance to put some perceived enemy in his place.

I don't find myself agreeing with local gadfly Janey Baldwin very often, but her comment in the story that Harvey Waite (Brown-Waite's husband) will go straight to heaven when he dies certainly begs the question, "Just where is Ginny Brown-Waite going?" Even the summers in Washington, D.C., don't get that hot.

Plus, the president and Congress will have their hands full with the war on terror and the weak economy. Why in the world would we want to inflict Brown-Waite on them right now?
-- Jeff Stabins, Weeki Wachee, former state representative, R-District 44

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