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Letters: Cruel to jail homeless panhandlers

A Pasco County ordinance prohibits panhandling on public rights of way except on Sundays. The county is considering a crackdown on repeat offenders.

Times (2010)

A Pasco County ordinance prohibits panhandling on public rights of way except on Sundays. The county is considering a crackdown on repeat offenders.

Jailing panhandlers won't solve problem Feb. 9 editorial

Hungry need help all week long, not just on Sundays

I, personally, do not find the sight of a panhandler standing on the median of U.S. 19 holding a cardboard sign on their chest any more offensive than a hawker holding a Sunday newspaper on his chest. So why does Pasco County proclaim this practice is criminal on every other day of the week except Sunday? Of course we all know the answer to that. The Sunday exception in the new law was designed to placate the influential Tampa Bay area newspapers.

It is cruel to jail someone who is asking for alms because they are desperately poor. They are hungry seven days a week, not just on Sundays. Commissioners should reconsider the law. What is criminal is criminal. What is moral is moral. These two axioms make no exceptions as to which day of the week it is or whether you are indigent or wealthy.

Ironically, the Times itself summed it up in a Feb. 9 editorial, "Commissioners need to focus on more than aesthetics in considering how to address homelessness."

Donald Jacobs, New Port Richey

A danger to themselves and others

The problem with panhandlers is not limited to the act of panhandling although that is a problem in itself. The people I see panhandling on U.S. 19 and Beacon Woods Drive at an entrance to Beacon Woods are usually drinking. They are out in or near traffic while intoxicated. They are a danger to themselves and others. While one is in the median holding a sign, up to four others are sitting on the steps to the signal station drinking beer. The area and creek below is strewn with their garbage. They urinate behind the bushes. My guess is that none of them would choose a shelter if they could not drink there.

These panhandlers are violating several ordinances such as having open containers with alcohol, urinating in public, littering and being a public nuisance in addition to the panhandling.

If these activities were going on in front of a business such as the Tampa Bay Times, I think they'd be calling the sheriff.

Bill Bunting, Bayonet Point

Little respect for substitutes

I am a substitute teacher. You can call me a guest teacher all you want, and while it's a nice gesture, one that I do appreciate, you're not going to change many opinions.

I am also young, college educated and working on my master's degree in teaching. If I wanted, I could apply for my teaching certificate and have my own classroom, but I know that focusing on my education is the better choice for me. To those outside the school system, I probably sound like a pretty average post grad. To many inside the school system who see the words "substitute teacher'' next to my name, but don't know anything else about me, I am nothing.

The article "Fill-ins falling out" mentioned the district needing more subs, but it didn't mention anything about the quality of subs, which is just as important. Many substitutes come into a school with the "I'm-only-here-for-a-day" attitude. I can't blame these people for their way of thinking. As a substitute teacher with a bachelor's degree, I am paid the average $65 a day. Those with an associate's degree make $55 and retired teachers make $75. I recently read another article about substitute teaching with a message that the less you're paid, the less society perceives you're worth. Unfortunately, this is true. Before I even stepped foot into a classroom, I had to attend two days of unpaid training and pay to have my fingerprints taken. The cost of fingerprinting is more than I make in one day of teaching.

Aside from working as a sub, I have worked in the theme park industry. For a slightly longer shift of considerably easier work, I made about the same amount of money. So what's the difference? Working at a theme park, I was never called a "dumb b----" to my face. If you think that sounds a little hostile, you're right. I have been in classrooms where I was the sole object of 25 students' hatred. I have tried to teach lessons over texting, talking, crying and screaming — sometimes at me, sometimes at other students.

So why do I keep subbing? The answer is simple. I love what I do. I am now a permanent substitute teacher at Dr. Mary Giella Elementary School and as cliche as it sounds, I wake up every day, excited to go to work and thankful for all the opportunities that I get there.

I couldn't care less whether or not you call me a guest teacher. I know what I'm doing.

Jessica Meyer, New Port Richey

Elevated road isn't welcome

I am registering my opposition to the prospect of the construction of an elevated road being built in my front yard. I did not buy my home here in Fairway Springs and invest my time, energy and money to live like a troll, under a bridge. Aside from the obvious decimation of the value of our property and quality of life, I am nonplussed to understand such destruction even being considered for the sake of the convenience and the driving pleasure for residents of Pasco (some 14,000 permitted homes along State Road 54) whose dwellings do not even yet exist. Some would call the plans forward thinking so as to accommodate the growth. I call it short-sighted and cruel.

I am certain there are many other options available which could include service roads veering off SR 54 leading to east-west roads that would connect the thousands of cars to their respective new homes. Further studies should be done to determine if the natural county line boundaries should share the burden. After all, those drivers for the most part, will be driving home to Pasco to shower, change clothes and go back to Hillsborough and Pinellas where they work, plan, attend sports and entertainment events, visit family and shop in high-end stores and malls.

I shudder to even think of the consequences to our fragile environment with the addition of millions of tons of concrete and steel upon the surface of our sink-hole prone properties.

The communities they plan to annihilate have generations of life left in them. In terms of family and business and histories you cannot replace that with the present plan. Government officials should retract this abomination and start over with those of us in mind, whom you promised to serve.

Barbara Pool, New Port Richey

WREC increases hurt customers | Feb. 9 letter

Can't afford AC and heat anymore

I agree that the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative increases are unfair. And I wish my Social Security was $1,200. I get way less.

It's really ironic that we can't allow another company into Hernando as maybe then electric prices will drop.

Last year my air conditioner was broken, so I went through the summer with fans. The winter was way harder, but I did get through it. This year I have used my heat, but only at night. It looks as though I'll have to give up using my central heat and air once again.

Once someone told me that we the people were co-owners of WREC. If this is true, I say, "You're all fired." No decency, no compassion. It's all about money.

Dorothy R. Rockwell, Spring Hill

Letters: Cruel to jail homeless panhandlers 02/13/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 1:18pm]
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