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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 21, 2001
Editor: Re: Demand for county bus rides on the rise, March 15 Citrus Times:
Call a subway-reliant Manhattanite a "transportation disadvantaged person," and you'd probably get your lights punched out, and rightly so.
A Londoner using the "underground" in that metropolis might not get so physical; he'd probably just apologize, maintain his/her travels, pondering all the while the curious nature of those American cousins.
In Tokyo, you'd get a polite bow and a suppressed snicker.
And no one, certainly not this writer, wants to contemplate the response of a Parisian to such a denotation.
Granted, Citrus County is no such metropolis as to rival any of the aforementioned, but each of those cities has undergone economic privations and crises of their own in their time. Each found innovative and practical solutions to burgeoning demands on their transportation services without resorting to calling its citizens sans car "transportation disadvantaged persons."
Following are suggestions adopted from the resolutions each found:
1. Solicit advertising for the buses from the businesses and professionals who benefit financially from those using the Citrus County Transit System, e.g., doctors, supermarkets, insurers, home improvement centers, medical supply houses, pharmacies, attorneys, newspapers. These businesses come into the community and derive their profits from the services they provide, yet often burden the budget with small return. Yeow! I can hear the cries of outrage from the Republicans among us as they are asked to reach into their own wallets rather than mine.
2. Hold a countywide contest to rename the Citrus County Transit System. My entry is simple: CCT. The current designation connotes an unpleasant association in many "transportation disadvantaged" person's minds.
3. Adopt a bus. Local community service organizations adopt highways to beautify and clean up our roadways. Why not our buses? If the volunteers made it a fundraising project to repaint the buses in bright colors, rather than the current white with green-and-blue stripes, wouldn't a parrot-painted vehicle pulling into the yard do a lot more toward brightening some traveler's day than an often daily reminder that the trip entails attending to frailties we are all going to experience at some time?
4. Currently, service is non-existent on weekends. Wouldn't it behoove for-profit businesses in the county, such as Rock Crusher Canyon, restaurants and dances to underwrite part of the cost of providing rides on weekends to people not otherwise able to attend their events or promotions?
5. Rewrite the regulations for providing taxi accommodations within the county, especially in the evening. What am I thinking? That would be too, too much to expect.
Who thinks up this stuff? Why and how muchare the residents of Florida spending on this Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged? Who heads it? I want a name so I can punch his/her lights out, apologize, bow, with the accompanying suppressed snicker, or give an appropriate Parisian response.
-- Barbara Burke, Inverness
Editor: To an educator whose career included helping school administrators attain advanced degrees in eight major U.S. universities, present developments in the Citrus County school system appear disheartening. As social tragedy it is a condition that has caused destruction of every nation where politics have invaded its schools.
In simple analogy, it is as if a Wall Street broker were to take over the Department of Agriculture in Washington and to demand that every farmer be penalized if he produced corn with ears containing fewer than 2,000 kernels. His solution would be to require farmers to test every ear and to destroy every plant that did not meet his requirements, regardless of weather, soil conditions and plant breeding.
Further, and most awful of all possible actions taken, he would replace all agricultural technicians with fellow Wall Street brokers. They would advise farmers on soil improvement, better horticulture, plant science and crop cultivation. Qualified specialists would be replaced by politicians and various pseudo-experts chosen by legislators. Along with selected clergy, the broker would enlist and organize hundreds of media voices to condemn all farmers for failure. He would place religious emissaries in every community who would recruit, pray forand compel every farmer to conform. Anyone who failed to meet his demands would be driven out of agriculture for not being willing to compete in production of ears perfect only for producing ethanol.
Above all else, he would divert taxes into the pockets of Wall Street speculators, lest money trickle down to the "bread-and-butter" economy of farm folks. Such shortchanging of support for basic human needs would mean a bleak future for all America.
This must be considered an exact parallel with educational conditions in Citrus County and America. Here as elsewhere, without giving school personnel time to deal with the "roots" of troublesome child behavior, a massive "dumbing down" of education in the United States is certain. Only fools believe that politicians (at present the Republicans in Washington and Tallahassee) really understand the problems of public education. So much social tragedy could be prevented by supportive expertise. A very complex technological world has already left troubled Main Street parents of Joes and Janes vulnerable to hypocritical "Judas goats." These are the compassionate(?) people who betray voters with fancy language and lead them as sheep to slaughter.
-- John A. Buelke, Citrus Springs
Editor: I recently passed the entrance to the new Citrus Hills development on County Road 486 and Forest Ridge Boulevard. To my dismay, I saw that thousands of square feet of sod had just been laid, with sprinklers going full blast on the area, pouring out gallons of water, some of which was running into the street. Why don't our wise county commissioners put a moratorium on new developments' landscaped entrances, which are totally useless except for snob appeal?
This water crisis is a permanent one. It is permanent because the growth in Florida is permanent. The water shortage has been getting worse every year. Yet some, displaying head-in-the-sand mentality, say it's a "temporary" crisis.
Please, commissioners, insist that developers landscape with only native plants, which require less water, and install a negligent amount of sod, if any. The Agricultural Extension Service is trying, by way of community meetings and programs, to educate homeowners to have "Florida Friendly Yards." Why, then, are these developers allowed to flaunt their disregard for the aquifer which furnishes all of our water, just to impress Northern (or foreign) buyers who don't have any idea of the drought conditions that exist in this state?
It's up to you, the County Commission, to do something before we all have to buy bottled water to drink. I challenge you to stand up to the big developers by putting this issue on your next agenda.
-- Joyce Moore, Hernando
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