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Paper's cheap shots will not fool Port Richey

Published March 9, 2004

Editor: There is no doubt that an election will be taking place in Port Richey in just a few short weeks. One can tell by the start of the cheap shots that your paper likes to take.

I refer you to the coverage of the City Council meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 24 when your reporter wrote that Dr. Dale Massad, who is indeed running for re-election, has made dredging of the canals the "centerpiece of his re-election bid." May I remind you that Dr. Massad started this project three years ago and never wavered in his efforts, even when he lost his seat by the toss of a coin in April 2001?

Port Richey's best asset is our water, and the fact that we are the Gateway to the Gulf increases our property values and brings more revenue, visitors and businesses into our city. And since you are also questioning whether Council members who live on the water should have voted to allocate $70,000 for the dredging, thinking that they would personally gain from their affirmative votes is an incorrect charge, since they would be part of a large group and not alone in the action.

However, I did question Council member Bill Bennett's right to vote on the increase of building fees (at an earlier meeting), but our City Attorney, Paul Marino, found no objection.

The Council's unanimous vote on dredging was for the good of the entire city, even those who live east of the water. Remember, we are one city, and whatever happens to improve any particular area benefits all.

The games have just begun and I predict that your biased, selective reporting will be unsuccessful. You overestimate your influence on the voters who may read your words but will not be fooled when they are at the polls.

-- Phyllis Grae,Council Member City of Port Richey

Give homeowners value for their taxes and dredge city's canals

Re: Port Richey must set fiscal priorities, March 5 editorial

Editor: I purchased a home on the water 17 years ago. Since then I have paid higher taxes for that privilege. Being an avid fisherman and boater, I accepted the higher taxes. However, I used to be able to navigate the canal at mean low tide. Now that is impossible due to the build up of sediment and muck.

All we are asking for is maintenance dredging to return the canals to their original depth, so we can use what we are paying extra for. You imply that we want the dredging to pour more money in our pockets. Let's face it, property values on or off the water have skyrocketed already. Maintenance dredging is not going to change that much since you still cannot accommodate large boats. Our sea walls dictate what depth you can dredge.

It's about time some of our excess waterfront taxes are returned in the form of maintenance. You mentioned creating a special assessment district. Do we do this when the roads need to be repaired, drainage needs to be repaired or whatever needs to be done in the city? No. These projects are paid through taxes by all and benefit all.

Maybe you should get from behind your desk, talk to the waterfront community and look at these waterways at low tide. Observe what little is left of the crabs and snails crawling around in the muck. Look at all the oyster beds dying. But most of all, support our community instead of always taking a negative attitude toward the city of Port Richey.

The Council voted unanimously to move ahead with this project. Are they all wrong?

-- Al Foley, Port Richey

Times' charter school report doesn't give us whole story

Editor: I was gravely disappointed by the article on the New Port Richey Charter School, The Language Academy. Rebecca Catalanello's one-sided reporting on the school is an injustice to all that the discipline of journalism strives for and I am shocked that the St. Petersburg Times would print such an uninformative, incomplete article. It seems that the great educational opportunities that the school offers its students are not important in the eyes of the paper.

English and Spanish clearly offers students a major advantage over their peers, the fact that the Academy offers students a bilingual education at no cost is certainly newsworthy. Some information on the school's programming might explain to readers why the school matters, a factor that may actually lead more people to read the bland description of its struggles.

Not once has the Times described the school's mission, let alone let the public know why they should care about what happens to the school. Yes, the Language Academy has faced difficult times, as have all charter schools in recent years, particularly in the financially pressed Florida school system. In the opinion of many, the Academy's ability to survive and thrive amid the financial struggles it has faced is a great testimony to how strong and dedicated the school's board, teachers, and other supporters are.

Someone should write a complete story about the Language Academy or no one should write about it at all.

-- Maura Bryce, Oviedo

We must act now to stave off, clean up water pollution

Editor: It has been stated that more than 50 percent of the pollution of our waterways and wetlands is the result of improper controls of the surface water runoff. The direct uncontrolled drainage into the many waterways and wetlands that abound in this area has caused immeasurable harm which continues with every rain storm.

Picture the many vehicles on U.S. 19 and imagine the runoff from pollutants carried into the canals, bayous and Gulf of Mexico. These pollutants breed algae which dies, floats and settles upon the sea grass and smothers it, leaving the sea bottom covered with a brown slime. The small fish rely on the sea grass for food, and the game fish rely on the small fish and so it goes up the food chain, which is being destroyed. The aquifer also is robbed of replenishment when the surface water is not detained and allowed to seep into the soil.

For 30 years, I have watched the deterioration of our beautiful Florida environment and for the past several months that I have been house-bound, I am acutely aware that is is past time that all of us stop accepting this situation. We need to pinpoint the location of these drainage problems and begin a corrective process now. I would like the answers to the following questions:

Is our political leadership and government providing the necessary custodial care?

How many drainage problems have been corrected with the money and time used to make studies?

How is the tax revenue from our tremendous sport fishing and boating industries being used?

How long will it be before the fish we enjoy catching will no longer be edible?

Why are the local beaches being closed for a good part of each year?

Why are Tampa Bay waters cleaner than those in Pasco County?

Would cleaning our wetlands and waterways enhance the value of real estate?

How long will it take fishing and environmental groups to organize committees to take corrective action?

-- Patrick Raimond, Port Richey [Last modified March 9, 2004, 11:25:00]

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