To: John Gallagher From: Your friends

By C.T. BOWEN Editor of Editorials
Published April 1, 2007

Mr. John Gallagher

Pasco County Administrator

7530 Little Road

New Port Richey, FL 34654


Dear John,

(No, it's not that kind of Dear John letter, but it is satire in case you're wondering.)

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary as Pasco County administrator. Isn't it grand that we haven't had to change the stationery since 1982? Maybe we should just stick your name on public comment cards and leave it at that.

Sorry, we digress. This is about you and the mark you've made in Pasco. It strikes us as no coincidence that your silver anniversary fell nearly simultaneously with the reopening of two expanded library branches in Land O'Lakes and Regency Park. The county's parks and libraries became the signature quality-of-life improvement in Pasco that helped make this a more desirable place to live and raise children. Before, it was just a place to retire because Pinellas County was too expensive.

Too bad you didn't see that phenomenon coming a little sooner, but we all get caught up in day-to-day activities. You know, you might have had time to digest demographics if you'd hired a second in command. Your bosses have been bugging you about that for some time, now.

We imagine you've become accustomed to having a new boss every few years. They don't all stick around as long as Ann Hildebrand. Can you believe Pat Mulieri has gone from the newbie to a fourth term? She first won the seat from someone we suspected wanted to fire you back in the early '90s and Mulieri won re-election just six months ago over a challenger we suspected wanted to fire you in 2007.

Fortunately, the threats of termination, real or perceived, have been rare. It's a testament to your administrative and political skills.

What a ride this continues to be. We've come from traffic-snarled two-lane roads in west Pasco to traffic-snarled two-lane roads in Wesley Chapel. We remember your lament on your 20th anniversary. You said the hardest part about the job is getting roads built. Unfortunately, it's going to get harder, judging by the shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in the work program.

Maybe you're right about the more things change, the more they remain the same.

You still bicker with the school district over land-use decisions. This time, though, it's access to High School EEE in Hudson instead of impact fee payments over Denham Oaks Elementary in Land O'Lakes.

You still have to listen to sheriffs detail exorbitant spending requests, whether Democrat or Republican.

Mounting piles of trash and state environmental consent orders over sewage treatment plans were the norm back in the 1980s and oh, never mind.

The vote last week on a tennis stadium should help culminate the decades-long quest for a tourist attraction that included an amphitheater idea, spring training baseball flirtation and even Charlie Daniels land, but the devil went down to Pasco never did seem like a good tourism slogan.

You have to tolerate Tallahassee where the current idea of local control is cutting $9-million from the county budget if one of the property tax schemes comes to fruition. Probably reminds you of your first few years in office when the county needed a local gasoline tax increase to offset funding lost to changes in the homestead exemption.

You watch as former assistants retire from public service (twice in the case of Harold Sample) and former county attorneys appear before you pushing the interests of private clients. Some of the ex-employees come back to work for you, however, showing that it isn't such a bad place to work despite claims to the contrary from unionized firefighters. You went through all that before, too, so don't let it get you down.

We're sure you won't.

Good luck on the next 25 or forever how long you decide to stick around.



Your friends in Pasco County.


P.S. Oh, and, that iPod? Try the Dead's Truckin'. The lyrics will be familiar.

"Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it's been."