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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Bryce: We need rational discussion


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Since moving to Palm Harbor 28 years ago, I have watched it grow from small roads to major boulevards, from swampland and a quiet little town to a large bedroom community. Shopping centers have sprung up everywhere, and we now have some of the best schools in the country — not just in Pinellas County.

When I moved here from Ohio, there was very little on Tampa Road other than the Oldsmar Flea Market, Heath Signs and the Lockheed Martin plant (which has undergone several name changes over the years). Back in those days, Boot Ranch was a real ranch.

The area has changed radically, and Pinellas is now the most densely populated county in Florida. That transformation has brought challenges and opportunities — a variety of immediate and ongoing issues that deserve serious attention and thoughtful discussion.

That’s what you’ll find in this column, every week.

As a concerned taxpayer and parent, I am particularly interested in the educational needs of our children, the protection and safety of our citizens and making Pinellas a thriving business community — a place where people want to live, work and play.

I’m not a politician, just an average Joe who cares about his country and community. Yes, I am a misty-eyed patriot who admires and supports those headed in harm’s way to defend our country. I do not look down my nose at anyone who is willing to work hard, regardless of occupation. And I believe in the dignity of the human spirit, that everyone should lead a worthwhile life. As a businessman, I look for pragmatic solutions, not unproven theories, but realize there will be times when it is necessary to calculate the odds and role the dice as best as we can. It’s called “risk.” Not surprisingly, I believe in substance versus facade.

Over the years, I have served on more than 50 boards of directors and been involved in numerous organizations, including Dunedin Masonic Lodge No. 192, Palm Harbor Little League, Dunedin Falcons, the North Pinellas Republican Club, along with groups such as the Center of Academics for Business Administration and Management and the Future Business Leaders of America and homeowners associations.

I began my career as a management consultant, specializing in systems.

That has afforded me a rare opportunity to see quite a bit of the world: North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

I have worked with just about every type of company imaginable, from the board room to the trenches and everywhere in-between. Like many of you, we moved here for the climate and lifestyle. Having access to a world-class airport such as TIA was important, as were the fine hotels and golf courses in Pinellas (particularly for our clients). I am also one of those rare oddities who has worked for the same company for more than 30 years.

As social animals, I believe we need laws, rules and regulations so we may work cooperatively and fairly, but not if it leads to a bureaucracy that stifles progress and productivity. Pollsters tell us we no longer trust our politicians, we are unhappy with the electoral process and that we cannot fight City Hall. No, we shouldn’t give up. We need to rationally discuss the issues and vote accordingly.

I was particularly proud last year when the Tampa Bay area hosted the Republican National Convention. As a volunteer, I had an opportunity to meet with many delegates. Time and again, I heard them say how beautiful our community was and how nice the people were. We must be doing something right.

In my writing, I try to be straight with my readers. I am less concerned about being politically correct and more interested in encouraging my readers to think about things they may have overlooked or taken for granted. Over the years, I have discovered common sense is no longer common. As such, I am trying to focus on the right issues as opposed to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is why I am concerned with issues such as Common Core, local tax increases due to new regulations regarding flooding, the number of people being processed through the county jail and bureaucratic inspections.

You won’t always agree with my views, but my objective is to make you stop and think. This is why I refer to my work as “software for the finest computer: the mind.”

I possess the same frailties and frustrations most of you do. I want to be treated fairly, I worry about the future and despise being cheated or taken for granted. I want to do more than just survive. I want to succeed and leave this world better off than when I entered it, but I realize I will have to work and sacrifice to do so. I am one of you.

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