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Letters to the Editors

Hernando laws are now made to be broken

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 13, 2001

Editor: Re: Streetside trees stir unrest over liability issues, July 1 Hernando Times:

After many attempts to reach George Adamick of the county Department of Public Works, I was able to speak with him at about 7:15 a.m. June 22.

I introduced myself as a resident of Seven Hills, and the reason for my call pertained to Mariner Boulevard, which had been cited for six violations of County Ordinance No. 88-5. Since Seven Hills homeowners pay for the maintenance of the median, I began the conversation with my observation that there are three types of people who live in Seven Hills: (1) those with no opinion or interest in what's going on; (2) those who want to save the trees, despite the violations; and (3) those who wish to bring the median into compliance with county ordinances and provide for adequate liability coverage. He assured me the six violations cited in Charles Mixson's letter of May 2 to John Levandis, property manager of Seven Hills Homeowners Association, would be strictly enforced.

In less than a week, facts ascertained from newspaper articles purport that Commissioner Chris Kingsley and County Administrator Paul McIntosh have rescinded the ordinance affecting the violations pertaining to right-of-way violations for 70-odd Seven Hills residents. However, on May 30 Kingsley wrote a letter to a number of Seven Hills residents who "begged" him to reconsider the six violations "and not destroy the beauty" of Mariner Boulevard. He replied, "Hernando County has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers . . . to protect against the liability arising out of these obstructions." He was referring to Mariner Boulevard, but doesn't the same "fiduciary responsibility" apply to every right of way in the county?

On June 22, Kingsley wrote to McIntosh that he felt the citations issued to homeowners in Seven Hills seemed to be discriminatory. He made a false statement in that letter when he said, "Because of the actions of one local resident, the rest of the subdivision is being adversely affected." He was misinformed. That "one local resident" had been cited for right-of-way violations and was ordered to comply within 30 days by removing the obstruction. That was discriminatory, because he was the only one cited.

Code Enforcement has said in the past it only cites violations that are reported. Its employees apparently turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what should be their job, and expect neighbor to report neighbor, thus creating an antagonistic and unfriendly atmosphere. This "one local resident" correctly felt that what applies to one, applies to all. So he made a list of all the violators in Seven Hills and it was the director of Code Enforcement who made the decision to cite the residents. The county was finally doing its job, and the resident was simply protecting his rights.

Because of this perceived discrimination, the county has seen fit to rescind Ordinance No. 88-5. Do we now assume that the six violations on Mariner Boulevard are forgiven, as well? If not, why not? If so, we have a thought.

Several Seven Hills residents have been actively involved in this controversy from the start. We have observed that Kingsley and McIntosh undoubtedly rescinded the ordinance, not for the sake of the Seven Hills residents, but rather to favor the county's position with regard to Spring Hill Drive, a county-owned and maintained right of way, rife with violations and to which the county has allocated $80,000 for beautification. By "forgiving" Seven Hills, they fall right in behind us and protect the county from complying with violations on county-maintained roads. Let's see how close we come.

Could it be that the county backed down on right-of-way and median violations because the county itself could be cited for numerous violations throughout Hernando County, and/or pressure was brought to bear behind the scenes?

How does one forgive liability? Liability exists with each and every violation, whether actual or perceived. In order to inspire confidence you must demonstrate stability. If there is any doubt we need a charter government, rescinding a county ordinance proves we have a Mickey Mouse operation headed by Kingsley and McIntosh.

Laws in Hernando County are made to be broken, but only by an elite group. This smacks of selective enforcement.

These are the kinds of "tricks" that arouse suspicion. Charter government forces accountability and can be tailored to meet the particular needs of the county. Charter government is not to be feared, but rather embraced because any provisions adopted by its citizens must be consistent with state law; it gives power to the people and demands accountability from its civil servants.
-- Jean C. Marin and Bob Anderson, Spring Hill

Don't label breeds "vicious"

Re: When a vicious dog bites, owner should be punished, June 29 Jeff Webb column

Editor: The outrageous article Jeff Webb wrote on vicious dogs is the second most asinine article I have had the misfortune to read regarding vicious dogs, the first was the Dog World article about Germany's vicious dog law.

Jeff Webb's article only shows how vicious the power of an editor who has no knowledge is and the danger he presents to hundreds of thousands of good dogs. The only part of his article that is correct is: "Dogs don't kill people, people allow dogs to kill people."

No breed of dog has any more or less ability to be vicious. I work with every breed of dog and in any given day handle several pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds. The rare dog in these breeds that causes a problem does not warrant these breeds being labeled vicious. On the other hand, it is the rare chihuahua that does not attempt to tear one to shreds.

Dogs that kill are owned by irresponsible people, and the breed has no bearing on this fact. Put an end to irresponsible dog owners, don't label breeds. The law should be very clear on correct confinement of animals. A farmer can't own cows, horses, pigs, etc., without a proper fence to confine such animals. Why are dog or cat owners not required to confine their animals in the same fashion? All owners of animals should be required by law to have a fence (cyclone) constructed to contain the animal, no exceptions.

Webb states that reasonable care would be to chain the dog. This is inhumane treatment of any animal and in fact causes frustrated-aggression response from dogs.

Let us look at senseless deaths and injuries, and the cause of all of them: irresponsible people. This is the answer to every death and every injury from dog bites to other animal attacks, car crashes to drowning, shootings to stabbing to bombings. Humans are the cause, not "menacing mutts."
-- Sylvia Brlecic, Hudson

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