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Story had false assertions

Letters to the Editor
Published February 23, 2007


Chuin-Wei Yap's Feb. 20 article on the proposed SunWest resort contained patently false assertions. In a Feb. 19 meeting with four Times staff people, project leader Robert Carpenter and owner Vic Taglia discussed preliminary plans including the addition of seven boat ramps for public access to the Gulf of Mexico. A canal to the gulf is shared by the SunWest project and what will be the next-door Pasco County park. Together SunWest and Pasco County will apply for permits to dredge and extend the canal to accommodate deep water access. As was made clear in the meeting, and in a Times correction, SunWest will pay for the dredging of the canal. Taxpayers will not.

In the meeting, writer Yap specifically asked if the owners would seek grants for dredging, or if they would ask the Corps of Engineers or others to do so. Robert Carpenter responded, "No." He indicated that he wasn't aware of any grants for such an undertaking. Yap pressed further, asking about "port" money. Carpenter again responded that money for ports was based on a driving economic reason. "You have to prove that the people in Iowa would benefit from this project, and I don't think we can do that," he said. The line of questioning continued with the conclusion from Vic Taglia, "Hey, if you know of anything, let us know." It was clearly a joke.

The article contained these statements: "The company is searching for money but is running out of luck at state and federal levels, executives said Monday." "So far the company has not managed to unlock state or federal funds, which emphasize aid for working waterfronts and not private developments."

In the meeting it was very clear that SunWest developers would pay for the dredging. It was stated several times. Carpenter clearly stated that port money is for ports and that developers had not pursued grants or government funding.

Other misstatements like the canal "going through the marsh" can be attributed to the writer's lack of knowledge about environmental subjects, though in the meeting it was made clear that the alternative route selected was virtually sea grass free. The writer could not resist adding his own opinion to the story, "They might have some convincing to do at the public meeting."

The goal of SunWest developers is and has always been to identify the environmental resources, then plan a development that incorporates those into the design. They have spent a tremendous amount of time and money developing a proposal that was suitable for presentation to the community. To have this twisted in this false and damaging way serves no public purpose.

Honey Rand, Lutz

Note: The writer is a public relations executive retained by SunWest developers.


Choose taxpayers over fireworks

I am very disappointed in the Pasco County commissioners' decision to delay the proposed fireworks ban five months to Dec. 1. The reason given for the delay was that Commissioner Ted Schrader worried that the sellers would be stuck with inventories. Why isn't he worried about the us, the taxpayers, instead?

The delay will mean that the residents of Pasco County will have to endure yet another July 4th holiday with intolerable noise.

How can they completely disregard the wishes of their constituents, the people who they are supposed to represent? Their actions are deplorable!

Patricia Banach, Holiday


We need more trees recycled 

To protect our trees, it's a good-sized stick, Feb. 21 editorial

The editorial did not go far enough. The county will fine an individual for cutting down a tree, yet accept a fee from builders to allow them to legally destroy many trees.

Our vegetation, trees, weeds, etc., help purify the air and make oxygen for us to breathe. The trees are not replaced in adequate numbers to replenish what was removed.

Instead of recycling the trees when removed for road building, they are burned or hauled off. Why not chip into mulch?

Buildings will not replace the oxygen we need , nor eliminate the carbon dioxide we give off. I wonder how many trees it takes to purify the carbon dioxide each of us gives off and to replace the oxygen we need to breathe?

I think it is time we need to find representatives less self-serving. Find people who understand Florida and will change the direction in which we are being driven.

Christina Ennist, New Port Richey


Insurance situation is dire

I am a wife to a Pasco County Fire Department firefighter/paramedic. My husband has been with the department for almost nine years. During his time there we have seen our insurance costs for our family health coverage rise greatly each year. We now are paying close to $700 per month for our family to have health insurance coverage, which is not even the most expensive plan option.

Because the cost of our health insurance is staggering, my husband is forced to work a second job, but at what cost? Our two young kids and I can go days without really seeing my husband. All to make ends meet. Could my husband go to another department with better pay and better benefits? Sure he could. Has he thought about it? Sure he has. Will he? Why should he have to?

My husband puts his life on the line every shift he works for the taxpayers of Pasco County. He is a good leader to his crew and is a dedicated employee who has not called in sick in over a year. What does he get in return? A paycheck that does not compare to other surrounding area departments and a health insurance premium that forces him to volunteer for overtime, causing him to work 48 hours straight on little or no sleep a lot of the time, and mandates that he work a second job.

Barbara DeSimone (Pasco County Personnel Director) said in the newspaper "it is hard to make a direct comparison" of benefits of one fire department to another, citing that not all are a part of the Florida State Retirement. There are a lot of surrounding fire departments that are a part of the Florida State Retirement that offer higher starting salaries, higher top-out salaries, work less hours per pay period, and have much less expensive family health insurance premiums for the same coverage as we have. To me that is a direct comparison.

The dedicated men and women of Pasco County Fire Rescue have made career choices to serve and protect the public. It saddens me to say that the same public being protected by them will be the ones to suffer unless these issues are addressed and addressed quickly. This situation is simply unacceptable and the taxpayers of Pasco County have reason to be worried.

Nikki Pierce, Spring Hill


We are honored to be recognized

The entire team of physical therapists, therapy assistants, athletic trainers and all of the support staff of Ewing and Thomas Inc. are greatly appreciative and honored to have been named the West Pasco 2007 Small Business of the Year.

If we have succeeded, it is because of the many talented and compassionate individuals in our community who continue to set an ever higher bar of health care services and volunteerism. It has been our privilege these past 38 years to reach for those goals set by so many others.

We are blessed to call west Pasco our home and thank the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the St. Petersburg Times for this prestigious award.

Dee Thomas, president Ewing and Thomas Inc.


Pasco needs a new green slogan

Proponents say it's a boon for Pasco County. Opponents say it's a boon for Saddlebrook and a boondoggle for Pasco.

The other night, I had the most amazing dream. I envisioned the world's tallest space needle here in Pasco County. It would have everything you could ever imagine:

A rotating five star steakhouse called "Dempsey's."

A world class night club like the Palms in Las Vegas where you dance on a glass platform looking down below.

A roller coaster at the top, a gravity drop, bungee jumping platform, spa, honeymoon suites and sports bar.

The next day I came up with a few other good uses for this "multipurpose" world class tourist attraction.

Each of our county commissioners can have a satellite office to meet with concerned citizens to hear about the overcrowded roads, schools, high taxes and water shortages. You know, the everyday hum drum here in Pasco County.

And just like the slowly rotating restaurant at the top, our county administrator's office would also rotate 360 degrees each hour, so he can over see the empire.

The Economic Development Council can also have an office here, so they can help fulfill their dream of a Wal-Mart on every street corner in Pasco.

Swiftmud can be here too, and use their telescopes to review which wetlands to permit for destruction next year.

At night, the super structure will light up with brilliant neon lights, repeating over and over: "PASCO, Play, Stay and Buy a House!"

There are so many green slogans for our county today. Pasco County: "It's the right environment," and "It's only Natural."

As I awoke from my dream the other night, I think I heard someone whisper "Bulldoze it and they will come."

This is Pasco County's greenest slogan of all.

Edward Moore, Land O'Lakes


[Last modified February 22, 2007, 23:19:38]

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