Today's Letters: Board fractured under Hammond

Published May 15, 2007

Leader of agency that oversees child care resigns May 11 story

Lisa Buie's article stirred some memories of a Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition board gone bad. Note this minor correction: I had walked off the board shortly before Jim Garrett resigned.

I was already off the board when I wrote my third editorial about the coalition. I had called for the executive board to step down in two of my editorials.

In all fairness to Jim Garrett, he did an excellent job for Pasco County before we merged. I was part of the team that hired him. Trouble began immediately with the merger. I, like Dave Marshall, will always regret supporting that merger.

I walked off the board because it became clear that a clique of voters on the board took control of the agenda. Lisa Hammond allowed this to occur and of course the board quickly broke down. The agenda had two elements; the first was to get the money away from public schools and place it in faith-based pre-K programs. They accomplished removing the money but could never find enough programs to commit the surplus. I still feel the anguish of those services that were sacrificed to poor children for that deliberate effort. Those services included an array of classrooms throughout the county, certified teachers, transportation, medical care, family services and meals. Ironically, the coalition ultimately gave the surplus money away.

The second item on the agenda was to break the contract with Youth and Family Alternatives; they backed off an initial effort and patiently waited for the contract to end, then associated with another contractor. The county recognized this and to my knowledge has never supported the new contractor. It should be noted that it was George Magrill and Youth and Family Alternatives that was responsible for a stellar Pasco Coalition before the merger.

The real culprit is Lisa Hammond and her failed leadership as chairwoman of the board. Jo-Ann Fuller was just a good soldier. Hammond allowed herself to be influenced by the Office of Early Learning and the Agency for Workforce Innovation, who pulled the strings on how they wanted money spent locally. For that office to investigate problems was ludicrous. There should have been an outside audit, but that could never occur during Jeb Bush's tenure. After all, the agenda for the coalitions came out of his administration. In fairness, I can speak only for our coalition.

If there is a solution to all this, it is to give Pasco its coalition. Originally, Pasco accepted Hernando as a partner because it did not have enough Hernando children to stand alone as a coalition. Who could have anticipated their deliberate actions that ultimately fractured the board? Lisa Hammond has to go and the executive board be reformed.

Marc J. Yacht, Hudson


Leave DUI charge out of newspaper

It is deplorable of you to publish a picture and story of a local schoolteacher who was arrested on a DUI charge. Even worse was the placement at the top of the page. What was your intent? Obviously a poor attempt at sensationalism.

Shame also on the New Port Richey police, who purposely position at areas where the speed limit dips in an overzealous exercise.

While every right-thinking person advocates getting impaired drivers off the roads, this appears to be yet another case of law enforcement beefing up numbers that make them appear to be doing a great job. The teacher in question stated she had four beers in two hours. Although honesty is not the best policy when dealing with law enforcement, her statement could very well have been true. Officers always indicate the person "failed" the field test. Under the circumstances even a sober person more than likely will fail the test. Regardless, it is your word against the officer. You will lose that one!

You could have added credibility to the story by mentioning the blood-alcohol level. DUI may very well be the only crime where you are guilty before proven innocent. The officer becomes judge and jury right at the moment you are stopped. With the legal blood-alcohol limit set so low, a small woman on an empty stomach after as little as one or two drinks will be at that magic number.

Only with DUI, the punishment is one size fits all. Yes, we do need DUI laws; however, they need to be fair and just! Presently, they are far from that. The punishment does not fit the crime.

It probably took this officer three hours to arrest this person. Face it, this young schoolteacher is much easier and safer to apprehend than a real bad guy with a weapon.

Sad that you felt the need to single this woman out and cause her pain and disgrace.

Frank Ferreri, New Port Richey


Let's hope for best for safety director

I certainly hope our Port Richey City Council and mayor have made the right decision in hiring a public safety director. Saving taxpayers money is part of their job. I hope the savings goes to dredging.

On the other hand, I have been a self-employed businessman in this city for more than 25 years. One of the expressions I live by is, "If it works, don't fix it." In my 17 years of living in this wonderful city, I have found no problems with our Fire Department.

The Police Department, however, has been a calamity from the top down. That is, until Bill Sager became chief and turned the Police Department around. I personally believe it is one of the best departments around including the county Sheriff's Office.

Bob Clark, Port Richey


Let's subsidize neutering, spaying

Here's a possible, attainable solution to unwanted cats and dogs. Most vets charge $100 plus for neutering/spaying. Right now, discount animal clinics are charging $40 plus.

How about Pasco County hiring a full-time veterinarian at $50, 000 a year and all they do is neuter/spay all day long? Nothing else. The county should charge only $5 per animal.

In this economy, most people with families and animals cannot afford expensive spay/neuter costs. This plan would lessen the population of unwanted animals and also lessen the burden on the county Animal Control Department.

Pat Nagy, Hudson


Armless driver can earn freedom

It is truly a testament to perseverance to see an armless, one-legged man elude the police in a car chase through the streets of Pasco County. I bet those police were hopping mad that he was able to skip out on them that way. It must be very frustrating for them to see this habitual offender get the jump on law enforcement time and time again.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make my suggestion that he be put in jail and if he escapes then let him go for good because then he has truly earned his freedom.

I find it no coincidence that his last name is Wiley, reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote of Road Runner cartoon fame. No matter what they seem to do, there is seemingly no way to get a handle on him.

Dennis Cadle, Brandon


Sam's should have gone by the book 

Building a chickee turns into a bar fight May 7 Jodie Tillman column

It seems as though Ms. Marisi is the epitome of penny-wise, pound-foolish. After paying a $10, 000 fine when she rebuilt after the fire it seems to me she would have done any other project by the book.

Sam's has had to have lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue already this season by not having live music. I was there recently and the place was virtually deserted. Too bad. I enjoy going there especially on Sunday nights.

Brent Lane, New Port Richey


Stop the split infinitives

Please stop. Split infinitives are still a no-no, aren't they?

The second line of the headline on Page 8 of the May 12 Pasco section blares out "Fest to still go on." Good grief.

"Fest still to go on" would have been just as effective and grammatically correct. Imagine that!

James Somma, New Port Richey


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