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News4Jax is sticking with its still unproven allegation that somebody 50 years ago promised Jacksonville residents free water and sewer service.

In a story that began with poor grammar it said: “For the years, the News4Jax I-TEAM pointed out the broken promise by the city to repair and replace old and broken septic tanks.”

But, all the TV station and other local media have done is state that there was a promise. No one ever has documented one.

Such a promise would be meaningless, in any case. But there was none. It is a figment of their imaginations.

Hundreds of miles of sewer lines have been extended into the areas formerly outside the city limits before the consolidation of city and county government in 1968.

In many cases, residents declined to give up their septic tanks, pay to connect to city sewer lines and pay a monthly fee for sewer service.

This problem was reflected in the News4Jax story.

Vern Thomas told reporters he is not sold on the idea, News4Jax said. His septic tank is working and he believes connecting to a sewer line will just lead to another monthly bill from JEA.

He is right. But under new policy, he won’t pay for the connection. Other taxpayers will.

There are 65,000 septic tanks, more than twice what there were 50 years ago. (If the city replaced all of them at the rate they are paying now the cost would be $3,536,260,000.)

So for 50 years city officials have been allowing people to install and use septic tanks and now want to replace them as a “public health hazard.”

Yet the state Dept. of Health issued only 31 citations for septic tank problems last year, and none – zero — were a sanitary nuisance.

Why isn’t the local media asking questions that should be asked?

  • Who made the alleged “promise”? To whom?
  • Why has the city permitted thousands of septic tanks if they are dangerous?
  • Why is the city going to replace the tanks free, when thousands of homeowners in the past have had to pay?
  • Where are the septic tanks that are leaking and polluting local waterways? Why haven’t the homeowners been cited, and forced to fix them?

Rather than just reciting fiction, the media could be doing their job – reporting facts.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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