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Citrus slices

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET, JIM ROSS and BARBARA BEHRENDT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 6, 2001


Clean language on an environmental issue

Developers have to do more than simply meet the state's environmental standards if they want to impress Marion Knudsen.

Knudsen, the greenest member of the county Planning and Development Review Board, said Thursday she could not support plans for a 64-unit condominium complex along Halls River Road, even though the project passed muster with other state environmental agencies.

The state's standards, she said, "are not environmentally friendly, and that's the clean phrase. If I used the language I wanted to use, I'd be shoved out the door."

THE PATH TO HUMOR: It is not unusual for roads to appear on Homosassa maps but not in Homosassa itself, either because the road was never needed or a building somehow cropped up in the unused right-of-way.

Street vacation requests in Homosassa routinely come before the county's planning board without raising any questions. But with news that the Florida Department of Transportation is re-evaluating the path of the proposed Citrus leg of the Suncoast Parkway, Assistant County Attorney Carl Kern jokingly advised the board last Thursday to scrutinize a request to give four rights-of-way at the Yulee Sugarmill to the state.

"Are you sure the Suncoast Parkway is not going to go through there?" Kern asked with a smile.

YOU DON'T SAY: Each year, legislative leaders prepare a book that highlights achievements from the lawmaking session. State Rep. Nancy Argenziano, who was elected to serve in the House in 1996 and has been there ever since, recently called the book "lame."

"Every year it gets funnier and funnier," she told an audience last week.

Fortunately, Argenziano is rarely at a loss for words and can speak off the cuff without written assistance.

WHERE'S THE BUTLER WHEN YOU NEED HIM? School Board members and people in the audience were praying at the beginning of a special meeting last week when someone knocked loudly on the outside door.

Everyone in the room was standing with heads bowed at the solemn moment, so no one made a move to open the locked door, which is used by board members and other officials. But the loud knocking started again. Finally, someone moved forward to spring the lock as the prayer came to an end.

In walked board attorney Spike Fitzpatrick.

"I thought maybe you'd take the hint when we didn't answer the first time," Superintendent David Hickey joked.

BIG NUMBERS: Board member Pat Deutschman chaired that meeting in place of board Chairwoman Patience Nave, who was absent. Deutschman was reading from a prepared script to walk the board through the formal process of tentatively approving the $151-million budget.

She struggled over the nine-digit budget total several times, with Fitzpatrick chiming in at one point to be sure the figure was read correctly for the record. Finally, she was able to get out the long number, the 2000-01 school budget of $150,739,766.

Another board member leaned forward and noted that Deutschman had stated the wrong year. The budget was for 2001-02.

Deutschman, flustered, muttered, "I'm fired."

- Times staff writers Bridget Hall Grumet, Jim Ross and Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report

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