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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

C.T. Bowen has been reporting and writing about the people and politics of Pasco County since moving to Florida in 1987. A native of upstate New York, he lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife, Mary Beth, a public school teacher. They have two sons.

Phone: (727) 869-6239

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. Pasco bumps annual stormwater fee by $38

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A County Commission majority decided Tuesday they couldn't wait 47 years to fix the aging stormwater culverts blamed for much of the street flooding in west Pasco's older neighborhoods.

    Instead, commissioners voted 4-1, with Mike Wells Jr. dissenting, to increase the annual storm-water assessment by $23 for culvert cleaning and repairs and $15 to cover the engineering costs for nearly $40 million worth of stormwater projects....

    Commissioner Jack Mariano voted for the increase, saying people “want to see some things done.’’
  2. Pasco narrows administrator search to five candidates

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners narrowed the search for their next county administrator to five candidates Tuesday, but not without a curveball from Commissioner Jack Mariano.

    What about Kevin Guthrie? Mariano asked the rest of the board after being briefed on 11 candidates recommended by an executive head hunter.

    Guthrie 46, joined the county a little more a year ago as emergency management director and was promoted less than two months later to the newly created job of director of emergency services. There, Guthrie also oversees the county's emergency dispatch system and helped resolve a public dispute between Sheriff Chris Nocco and County Administrator Michele Baker over management of the 911 center....

    Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker is leaving when her contract expires in July.
  3. Bowen: Rebuilding a west Pasco community, one meal at a time

    News

    Home improvement guru Bob Vila would have a blast in here.

    The place is decorated in 1960s-era basement chic: dark wooden wall panels and damaged, water-stained ceiling tiles. Two of the four paddles on a ceiling fan are missing, and as many as half of the overhead fluorescent lightbulbs are burned out.

    "And this is the nicer part," confessed Lisa Heeter, 40, who spends a lot of time in the 8,100-square-foot building in a job titled neighborhood impact director....

  4. Pasco limits number of medical marijuana dispensers to two

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two months ago, Pasco commissioners agreed that growers and dispensers of medical marijuana could operate in the county, they just couldn't decide how many should be allowed to do so.

    On Tuesday, with no discussion, commissioners settled on a number — two. The only comment at the public hearing came from Chase Daniels of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, who said Sheriff Chris Nocco supported the proposal....

    Pasco County staffers recommended two dispensers based on the number of qualified patients in the county, and commissioners agreed unanimously. The medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web is available for patients with cancer or medical conditions causing chronic seizures or muscle spasms. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
  5. Eleven candidates recommended as Pasco searches for new administrator

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Fifty-four people applied to be Pasco's next county administrator, and an Illinois consultant has winnowed the field to 11 for county commissioners to consider.

    Thirty of the applications came from Florida, but only one of the 11 recommended candidates — Mark A. Cunningham, assistant county administrator in Sarasota County — is working currently in local government in the state....

  6. GOP official quits after racist Facebook post and 'death panel' uproar

    Politics

    Bill Akins said he resigned Tuesday night as secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee because he spoke out of turn during a Saturday congressional town hall meeting by insisting the Affordable Care Act has "death panels."

    "According to the loyalty oath I signed with REC, I'm not supposed to be making any statements, even if I want to do so as a private citizen, before running it past the REC and the chairman of the Republican Party," Akins said Wednesday morning....

    William Akins of Hudson resigned from his unpaid position as secretary of Pasco's Republican Executive Committee after a racist Facebook post was exposed by the Washington Post. "If liberals want to say, 'Ha, ha, we got him to resign,' they did not," Akins told the Times on Wednesday. "I resigned so I have the freedom to state what I want to state as a private citizen and I don't want to be restricted by the (party's) loyalty oath." [BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Special to the Times]

  7. Pasco property appraiser bumps budget 8 percent, mostly for new hires

    Local Government

    After five weeks in office, Pasco Property Appraiser Gary Joiner sought and received an 8 percent budget increase, mostly to fill three newly created positions with annual salaries of $275,000 in total.

    The new jobs — a second chief deputy, a director of community services and a human resources head — were part of a $387,260 increase to the property appraiser's nearly $4.8 million budget for the current fiscal year....

    New Pasco Property Appraiser Gary Joiner also got money for vehicles and laptops.
  8. Here's why GOP official says he focuses on 'death panels'

    Blog

    UPDATE: Bill Akins said he resigned from the Pasco Republican Executive Committee on Tuesday evening.

    ORIGINAL POST: Bill Akins, the secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, has released a statement to the Tampa Bay Times explainingg why he believes "death panels'' are part of the Affordable Care Act, a claim debuned by PolitFact six years ago.

    Many in the crowd of 250 people at a town hall meeting Saturday in New Port Richey shouted Akins down as he spoke. U.S. Rep. Gul Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, was host of the session. Akins later drew national ridicule when the Washington Post revealed his Facebookpage contained racist and fake news stoires and memes....

    Bill Akins, secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, at the U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis town hall meeting Saturday, Feb. 11 in New Port Richey.
  9. DOT says interim traffic fix in central Pasco likely in 2019 budget

    Roads

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Florida Department of Transportation says an interim fix for the traffic-choked intersection of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 in central Pasco is at least 17 months away.

    "I'm committing that I'd like to have this design start as soon as possible,'' said Bill Jones, director of transportation development for DOT's Tampa district office. "We want to make this work.''...

    The DOT plans to implement a short-term solution for congestion at State Road 54 and U.S. 41, shown on Monday.
  10. Odessa ranch targeted for homes, office complex

    Business

    ODESSA — The owners of South Branch Ranch on State Road 54 are planning to swap cows for commerce.

    Currently, there are approximately 65 head of cattle on the land at the northwest corner of the Suncoast Parkway and SR 54. For a decade, Pasco County planners and industrial recruiters envisioned the 715 acres as a potential home to job-centric business developments, and the county designated the site as an employment center on its land-use plan....

  11. Despite racist Facebook post, Pasco GOP's Bill Akins won't resign

    Blog

    Bill Akins didn’t have a good weekend.

    He made national news by getting shouted down at a congressional town hall meeting. He called his political adversaries “children.’’ They called him a liar.

    Facebook cleansed his social media page after the Washington Post revealed his postings to be filled with racist and erroneous stories and memes. One compared African Americans to monkeys. Another repeated the conspiracy theory of passenger jet airlines spraying toxins....

    Bill Akins, in happier times
  12. Author of racist Facebook post apologizes (sort of) but won't quit Pasco GOP

    Local

    Bill Akins didn't have a good weekend.

    He made national news by getting shouted down at a congressional town hall meeting when he said "death panels'' were part of the Affordable Care Act, a claim that was debunked and named PolitiFact's 2009 Lie of the Year. He called his political adversaries "children.'' They called him a liar.

    It went downhill from there. Facebook scrubbed his update wall after the Washington Post revealed his posts to be filled with racist and fake news stories and memes. One compared African-Americans to monkeys. Another repeated the conspiracy theory of passenger jet airlines spraying chemicals to kill the elderly....

    Bill Akins of Hudson (in yellow tie) is encouraged by U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis to let another audience member speak during a town hall meeting at the West Pasco Government Center on Saturday in New Port Richey. [Brendan Fitterer | Special to the Times]
  13. Pasco commission plugs in connected city corridor in Wesley Chapel

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners finally turned on the juice for the connected city corridor this week, approving a series of ordinances to set in motion the nation's first gigabit community to be built from the ground up.

    The unanimous votes almost were anti- climatic after nearly 18 months of public scrutiny in which developers agreed to: scrub a planned management committee that would have bypassed some county oversight on land-use decisions; contribute $7.2 million toward building Highlands Boulevard, a road outside the development; cap the sale price of land designated for employment centers to encourage economic development, and scrap initial plans to build parks on what is now privately owned land....

    The Pasco Commission this week authorized development of the nation's first ultrafast gigabit community to be built from the ground up. Metro Development Group's 2,000-home Epperson development is the first project within the connected city corridor in Wesley Chapel. Last week, Metro held a ground-breakding ceremony for its Crystal Lagoon amenity within Epperson. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times]
  14. Pasco okays land plat that had snagged Commissioner Kathryn Starkey

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners have approved a plan to divide a dozen acres of commercial land into four lots, three months after delaying the application because of a property dispute involving the family of Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.

    Starkey declared a conflict of interest and abstained from Tuesday's vote.

    The request to divide the land came from 54 West Inc., which is suing companies owned by Starkey's husband, J.B. "Trey'' Starkey III, and her brother-in-law, Frank Starkey, over a disputed drainage easement on the property at the northeast corner of State Road 54 and Starkey Boulevard....

    Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey abstained from voting on dividing the land into four parcels.
  15. DOT, Pasco County ponder fix at intersection of U.S. 41 and SR 54

    Roads

    LAND O'LAKES — State and Pasco County transportation planners are working on an interim fix for traffic congestion at the State Road 54/U.S. 41 intersection that is simpler and much less costly than a proposed $180 million elevated highway.

    The flyover plan remains on hold amid community criticism and a county task force studying traffic improvements for the entire State Road 54 corridor. In the meantime, the state Department of Transportation has suggested that extended turn lanes could ease traffic flow at the intersection, which has nearly 100,000 vehicles pass through daily. The improvements, if all are completed, carry a rough cost estimate of less than $1.4 million because no right of way is needed for the construction....

    The state Department of Transportation and Pasco County are working on a plan to ease congestion at the U.S. 41 and State Road 54 intersection by extending turn lanes. Times files.