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Pasco paramedics deserve better

Published January 11, 2007


I must agree it is quite amazing how fast the county administration can react when they want something done.

As a resident of Pasco County and a paramedic, (who works in another county), I have always been impressed with the down-to-earth demeanor of the men and women of the Emergency Services Department. They are some of the best of the best. They aren't hung up on the macho attitude that seems so prevalent in so many other departments.

What does concern me however is the county's seemingly flippant attitude toward these men and women. Poor station conditions, poor wages, uncontrolled insurance costs, (almost $1,000 per month for family coverage), the seemingly endless mandatory overtime all lead to, unfortunately, the revolving door that is Pasco County Fire Rescue. The department is known throughout the region as a place you don't want to work. That is terribly unfortunate for the employees, and for the citizens of the county, who should be afforded the best and most experienced people to serve them in a time of crisis.

It has been my observation the hands of the department administration are tied. Having had the opportunity to speak with Chief Anthony Lopinto, I believe he is a man of integrity with great hopes and aspirations for the department. If any angst exists regarding the direction of the department, it should be directed to the Board of County Commissioners and at John J. Gallagher, the county administrator.

The Board of County Commissioners and the county administrator hold the men and women of Emergency Services to a higher standard than any other department under their span of control.

Why is it that these same officials are not as responsive and accountable as the people that they are supposed to control?

The Board of County Commissioners and the county administrator owe the public and the members of the Emergency Services Department an explanation. As a citizen of this county, I expect to hear one.

Eric Johnson, Shady Hills

Aquifer tax could ease sinkhole pain

In our northern states we have a problem of surface land collapsing due to subsurface voids. It's called mine subsidence. Here in Florida the problem is called a sinkhole. In our northern states the voids are caused by the mining of coal. Here the voids occur by pumping water from the aquifer. The pumping not only creates a void of water that normally supports the roof but also creates a flow of water that further erodes the roof supporting structure and overburden.

Why should homeowners suffer the expense of repairing above surface damage or huge insurance bills to protect their investments when the cause is overpumping of water? The answer is they should not. The expense should be paid by those who cause the damage.

This could be accomplished by charging a statewide tax on every gallon of water pumped from the aquifer as a well-head tax. The money collected would then be used to correct any damage caused by sinkholes. The burden would then be spread to all users of aquifer pumped water, as it rightfully should. Insurance premiums would go down. A side benefit would be that water prices would climb, which would encourage conservation and make desalination a more attractive alternative. The end result would be less pumping. Less pumping, less sinkhole damage, less well-head tax. A win-win-win situation.

I will send a copy of this to our state representatives. If you agree please clip this article and send to our representatives also.

Ronald K. Nuce, Port Richey

Re: Judge insensitive to potential jurors Jan. 5 letter

Judge's only goal was serving justice

Although I cannot agree that Judge Stanley Mills should be admonished and have some concerns over the presentation of the selected facts contained in the letter, I am not writing to criticize the letter's author. Indeed, Ms. Nunziata is to be commended for her service as a juror. It is a shame that too many Pasco residents shirk jury duty, since so many of our forefathers paid the ultimate price to ensure and protect our Constitutional rights including the right to trial by jury.

The judges have no control over the availability of food at the courthouse. The availability of food is controlled by the county through various contracts with third-party vendors. The small luncheonette, for example, is a family-owned business. I'm sure its hours of operation are, like all businesses, driven by the ability to turn a profit. Although I agree that sandwiches being made available to jurors would be welcomed ), the idea is better addressed to the County Commission. Likewise, the judges do not control the information provided to potential jurors at the time they are noticed for jury duty. That information is provided by the Clerk of Court.

More importantly, I cannot agree that Judge Mills is insensitive to those in his courtroom or that he should somehow be admonished. Having appeared in Judge Mills' courtroom often, I have witnessed the lengths he has gone to protect the rights of those who come before him, as well as his concern for the jurors called to serve. Judge Mills, as indicated in Ms. Nunziata's letter, was working well past regular courthouse hours in hopes of concluding a jury trial.

Failure to conclude that trial would have resulted in a substantial hardship to the litigants who may have waited years for their day in court and, quite frankly, to the jurors themselves. It was not the only evening that Judge Mills worked late that week to conclude a trial, going so far as to cancel his own anniversary dinner plans the following evening.

That evening, Judge Mills didn't leave the courthouse until well after 10 p.m. Apparently lost in the discussion is the voluminous case load, numbering several thousand, that each judge must address.

Also, during the process of jury selection potential jurors are asked if they have any medical conditions which might impact their ability to serve. Those who disclose medical problems which, in their opinion, would preclude jury service are usually not selected for service.

Randall J. Love, president, West Pasco Bar Association

[Last modified January 11, 2007, 07:37:40]

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