Letters from Joanna Henkel Skolfield and Bryan Nelson
For two years now, three dogs and I have made our way to Fleet Peeples Park virtually every day, meeting with other residents from Winter Park and neighboring communities and their pooches.
We spend time in this wonderful place, enjoying the great experience of making friends from all walks of life, holding a common interest — being with our dogs.
Two years, over 500 visits, almost 1,000 hours and nary a scratch.
Are there incidents at the park? Yes, but rarely. Are there people who use the park who don’t always use common sense? Yes, but rarely. For a park that is used by hundreds of people and dogs on a daily basis, it is a safe place. A place I feel comfortable going to alone. Was this always the case with this park? No. I grew up in Winter Park, a third generation native raising children here.
In the past, my parents wouldn’t let my brothers or me go to the park because there were too many unsavory characters and drug addicts. Is that the case today? No. When the park became a place to bring dogs off-leash, it became a safer place for people to go.
This is the most widely used park in Winter Park, an asset to the city.
A city divided because of people exercising outdoors with their dogs is sad indeed. This is not the Winter Park I grew up in, the conflict being an aspect of the city that I’m not proud of.
There’s a sense of community at Fleet Peeples Park, an intangible with tremendous value to be nurtured, maintained and be proud of.
—Joanna Henkel Skolfield
End bureaucratic overreach
Bureaucracies today exist as one of the major complaints against government. At every level — local, state and especially federal — there exist layers of personnel and paperwork that are supposed to serve the people, but sometimes go awry of their purpose. One aspect of the bureaucracy that sometimes causes major problems is the permit. Construction permits, operation permits, permits of all kinds, exist with the legislative intent to ensure some semblance of quality control and to mitigate the negative impact certain operations may have, such as pollution or public safety. However, it is certainly no secret that the burden permits create can sometimes outweigh their effectiveness.
Another part of the problem with bureaucracies exists with their rule-making authority. Oftentimes, legislation created by various legislative bodies will “delegate” authority to departments and agencies — the bureaucrats — to make rules in order to implement the laws. These “rules” often coincide and create the very permits that can cause so many problems for businesses and individuals. Senate Bill 550 is the perfect example of rule making gone too far. Passed during the 2010 legislative session, this is the so-called septic “compromise” bill that I, along with other Central Florida legislators, did not support at all. This legislation provides that the Department of Health’s Bureau of Onsite Waste Water, notorious for its attempts at undermining homeowners through the rule making for septic tank replacement, make rules to implement the onerous provisions of 550. This includes the five-year septic tank inspection cycle and how it is to be implemented. What could be simple, cheap and environmentally sound is turning into a $1,000-per-inspection boondoggle that will cost you, the taxpayer!
This is not a new issue with the Department of Health’s Bureau. For the last few years, I, along with other like-minded legislators, have been fighting the department’s overreach into homeowner’s rights. The department feels justified in their actions based on vague legislation and a sense of “environmental urgency,” the latter being beyond their purview as a Department of Health. Their list of statutes and rules relating to onsite wastewater and septic tanks is more than 120 pages of regulations they feel best serve the public, even at the expense of the taxpayer and sound science.
It certainly is no wonder bureaucracies are sometimes referred to as “the fourth branch of government.” After all, they sometimes take it upon themselves to “legislate through rule making,” but that is certainly not their purpose, nor what they are supposed to do! However, there is legislation and legislators who seek to remedy this situation. Streamlining permitting processes along with reducing multiple departments’ oversight of the same issue can not only provide government efficiency, but in these difficult economic times, promote savings that are vitally important and can be used elsewhere like education, health care, economic development and public safety. Government efficiency and “right-size government” are two initiatives that I am working on with my fellow House members in order to best serve you, the taxpayer. If you would like more information on these issues or need assistance with a state agency or issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 407-884-2023. As always, it is an honor to serve you.
—Rep. Bryan Nelson
Florida House District 38