County Commissioner Jack Mariano at Sunwest Park

So Local Pasco Podcast, Tuesday, January 5th, 2016, Commissioner Mariano Edition

One of the reasons I avoided doing a podcast like this for years was my fear of it turning into a ‘positional’ vehicle.  That, like it or not, I would sometimes find myself compromising and covering things that didn’t feel “right” to me.  It’s on my mind a lot, since I started the podcast, that this is a hazard…balancing access against the level of honesty I feel this kind of thing requires. It’s heady stuff.

But I am not a journalist.  I have opinions on things in our community that don’t square well with some folks.  I try to remember that just because someone doesn’t agree with me regarding how to fix something, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

In fact, there are some projects, some things we get really right, in this community, and I think Sunwest Park is one of those.  The “Hudson Pits” is what we called that area in the 70s.  It was a sort of misbehaving teenage wonderland, out there.  Bonfires, cars, beer, girls, gunfire.  Heady stuff for kids living on the outer rim of the Bay Area.

When the property became available, one of the people who recognized the potential, EARLY, was County Commisioner Jack Mariano.  He is a big part of how it happened, and a big part of the constant problem solving necessary to make it a really wonderful asset to our community.

Pasco County District 5 Commissioner Jack Mariano, at Sunwest in an earlier phase of park development.
Pasco County District 5 Commissioner Jack Mariano, at Sunwest in an earlier phase of park development.

Which leads me to my next story, regarding the planning underway to extend the panhandling ban to seven days…And this is a place where I disagree with the Commissioner.  Let’s be clear:  panhandling is scary.  Often, alcohol and drug dependency are part of the story, along with some violent crime, and, deplorably, deaths of homeless people crossing or near highways.  It’s not a good thing, and we all know that.

In the podcast, I tackle some numbers that are pretty stark.  We have a huge homeless problem, and a much smaller tax base than larger, more urban counties.  However, arresting the homeless for petty crimes has it’s own cost…It is actually cheaper to get services to the homeless than it is to incarcerate them.  It is also less demeaning and destructive to those who are arrested and jailed.

To find out more about how you can both help the homeless in our county, andreduce their number, please visit the website of the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County, today.  Make a donation. Volunteer.  Do the good things.

~Greg

James Bryant, aged 49, was killed last Christmas on U.S. 19 at Clock Tower Parkway, an intersection notorious for the presence of homeless people, and the dangers it engenders.
James Bryant, aged 49, was killed last Christmas on U.S. 19 at Clock Tower Parkway, an intersection notorious for the presence of homeless people, and the dangers that homelessness  engenders.  People who knew James tell me he was sober when he died.  The Florida Highway Patrol said alcohol was NOT a factor in his death.  Would locking him up saved his life?

 

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