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Letters to the Editors

Blame airboaters for problems

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002

Editor: Articles written about the Wysong Dam have not always brought to light one element of the proposal that is somewhat controversial. Bruce Wirth, director of resource management for Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly called Swiftmud, discussed this area of contention with me and agreed with me on certain areas of the issue.

The dam, when inflated and in operation, will contain locks to allow boats to navigate through. The locks will close in the evening until early the next morning.

Boat ramps were constructed on either side of the dam to allow all boats access when the locks were closed. All boaters agreed with this arrangement except airboaters. The extra maneuver required was too cumbersome and time consuming for them and would not allow them the "freedom" and "right" to "navigate the river with ease and comfort".

An ultimatum was given that either the state design and construct an expensive ramp with our tax dollars to allow them to "navigate over" the dam or the shore next to the dam. Maybe the dam itself could be destroyed by airboat traffic. They would not use the two ramps designed for boaters.

Naturally, intimidation, coercion and threats worked. A great deal of money was placed into the Oct. 1 state budget to appease the airboaters. Homeowners can continue to be tormented at night as well as during the day by these instruments using their money to accomplish this discrimination against them and the other boaters. Airboaters have been designated by the state as a privileged group without rules, regulations, restrictions or prohibitions. Now they can discriminate against other boaters.

If you object, let Bruce Wirth know at Swiftmud, 1-800-423-1476. Also notify DEP. They are also involved in this fiasco.

In addition, don't forget to vote against the airboat individuals responsible. We have commissioners who are airboat lovers who have had a hand in this. Without their influence, this would not have been accomplished.
-- Gertrude C. Dickinson, Lake Panasoffkee, Rutland

Column on Fowler not biased, just rational

Editor: I recently read a letter from Robert A. Johnson which accuses a Times column (Close vote could mean retreat for Jim Fowler, Sept. 15) of launching a "vicious and mean-spirited vendetta" against Fowler. Not being the commissioner's biggest fan, I berated myself for having missed this delicious excoriation and eagerly dug back through old issues until I found the deadly missive.

Darn. Where was the viciousness? The vendetta? Where was what Johnson called the "vindictive and petty tone?" It seemed to be a rational and balanced piece.

It said that Fowler had won big in past elections, but not this time, despite outspending his nearest competitor 4 to 1. It suggested Fowler had turned a deaf ear to the will of the people (what he quaintly refers to as "not compromising my beliefs") one time too many, and that losing 60 percent of the votes in the recent primary suggests that voters preferred some other Republican in office.

The column surmises that if runoffs were still in effect, Fowler would be history. And it concluded by asking Fowler, in light of his slender 27-vote victory; "Are you listening?"

On a further note, Johnson says the editorial insults Fowler's opponents and their supporters by suggesting they were nothing more than recipients of an anti-Fowler vote. Wow. In Johnson's naive view of politics, Americans should only be allowed to vote politicians into office; not out of office. Any victory on the latter basis should be renounced.

"This is not the type of editorial," Johnson concludes indignantly, "that is expected from a paper of the stature of the St. Petersburg Times." I suggest it is precisely the kind of editorial that is expected of the St. Petersburg Times. It is an editorial that comments on the results of an election, not one that tries to shape election results ahead of time.

It wasn't the Times, after all, whose editor wrote a transparent whitewash of Fowler's political persona when it fell into question. It wasn't the Times that, three months before the election, began editing commentary critical of Fowler from letters to the editor. It wasn't the Times that continually printed big pictures of Fowler, shamelessly disguised as news, "kissing babies" weeks and days before the election. And it wasn't the Times that stopped an advertising campaign by a citizens group -- one that was screened, approved and paid for -- because it was clearly having a much-too-powerful effect on Fowler's chance for re-election.

"Mr. Fowler's integrity is more important to him than his personal popularity," Johnson writes. Interesting. This is a precise regurgitation of a phrase Fowler himself invokes at every opportunity with the pained sigh of a political martyr. The phrase has been his mantra since it was customized for him by a certain friend and newspaper publisher last April.

Is anybody betting said newspaper was the Times?
-- Jim Nicoll, Homosassa

Thanks to deputy who quashed golf cart mayhem

Editor: An incident took place this week in which a young boy approximately 9 years old was driving a souped-up golf cart throughout not only his own subdivision, but also our subdivision, Eden Gardens.

The boy was not only speeding but was racing through stop signs at a four-corner intersection. This young lad at times had his younger friends riding with him, and drove over homeowners' lawns. At times, he would speed out of Eden Gardens and make U-turns at the intersection of State Road 44 E and Eden Gardens.

I called 911 and in a very short time, Deputy Whitton appeared. In no time at all he had located the residents who owned the golf cart and spoke with the family.

Everything is back to normal now and the residents at Eden Gardens wish to thank Deputy Whitton for the swift, courteous and professional manner in which he handled this case. Whitton possibly saved this young lad's life.

God Bless you, Deputy Whitton. We need more like you.
-- Rodie Kennedy, Inverness

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