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New budget ranking system insults veterans

Ranking system could determine budget cuts March 10 article

Ranking insults our veterans

I am currently an Airborne combat medic and sergeant in the U.S. Army. I am home on leave from my third tour from both Iraq and Afghanistan. I could not help but be offended at the proposed ranking of last place for Veterans Services here in Pasco County's proposed new budget ranking system.

I have always been proud of growing up in New Port Richey, it is a truly great place to do so. The people who know me and those here who find out that I am in the service seem truly appreciative of my service. Apparently, the Pasco County government doesn't share the same sentiment. This proposal places vital veterans services on the chopping block. What about the promises to the Greatest Generation and the vets of Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War that their sacrifices will be rewarded?

Those who need it the most are our senior citizens, the last of the Greatest Generation. Most of these services go to getting them a check, which they earned and deserve, from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some will say that this is a federal responsibility and that it will not affect those already getting a VA disability check. This is flatly untrue. What if they have an issue with payment? Who is going to help them navigate the massive nonuser-friendly VA system? Who is going to help them fill out the computer based paperwork? The VA is overworked and understaffed and running a budget deficit of its own. What incentive does it have to help you collect more money from its coffers?

According to County Administrator John Gallagher, "As you get into the details, you start making value judgments.'' So, according to Mr. Gallagher, everything on the proposed budget ranking system is a list of values in order of priority, presumably the items highest on the list are the most valuable and those at the bottom the least. Among those ranked at the bottom: libraries' reference systems, 4-H, and veterans services.

It is nice to know that compensation of veterans through veterans services are not a priority and veterans are valued least in the Pasco government. We come after the Dewey Decimal System, and prize-winning tomatoes and pigs.

Seamus Bradley, New Port Richey

Chasco Krewe float is offensive | March 17 letter

Hard Rock Cafe is a better example?

If the American Indian Movement is more pleased to be represented by the Hard Rock Cafe and girls in skimpy tops and bottoms, that is its right, that's where the money comes from — gambling, booze and cigarette sales.

The Chasco Krewe costumes are lovely, well-made and cover all body parts that one would expect to be covered in a parade, unlike Hard Rock's outfits. Although I am not in the krewe, I find their krewe members to be very well-behaved and their float is beautiful.

If the American Indian Movement wants to represent itself, it should clean up its own image and try to make money in a more family-friendly way than liquor and cards.

Valerie Kelleher, Wesley Chapel

Group should follow Irish lead

The American Indian Movement is trying to make its voice heard during the Chasco Fiesta.

Wednesday was St. Patrick's Day and everyone wanted to be Irish for the day. I am an Irish citizen and I do not find it racist for Asians, people with black skin, brown skin or white skin to dress up as Irish to have fun and a few drinks. I am honored by it.

Instead of negative rambling about race and religion, the American Indian Movement should follow the lead of the Irish. They should use their voice to get a holiday for American Indians.

We could dress up like American Indians and honor the great leaders of that nation.

John Skelton, New Port Richey

Senate Bill 6 doesn't pass test

If there is any doubt that quality public education is being endangered for our children, and our children's children, those doubts can now be put to rest.

While the recent meeting of Pasco's School Board heard news of a possible $50 million shortfall next year, Senate Bill 6 is on a fast track for action by our Legislature.

SB 6 has been highlighted as a bill that eliminates any concept of tenure for teachers. But there is far more to the legislation than this. At its heart, the bill guts community control of public schools and provides that teacher appraisals will be done by the state. This bill has something to outrage people of all political persuasions: liberals, conservatives and libertarians.

Add to this an even greater emphasis on standardized testing for both students and teachers, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I cannot tell you if any teachers I had when I was growing up passed a standardized test. What I can tell you is that the majority of my public school teachers were interested in teaching, and made me excited to learn. None of my college courses involved standardized tests; they involved essays that required me to do more than recite facts. What I had to do in college courses was think, analyze, organize my thoughts. Standardized tests reflect nothing more than memorization or recitation.

I've met many people who know their stuff, but aren't able to stand in front of a roomful of people and communicate what they know in a way that the listeners are either inspired or get it. That is the skill of a good teacher, and that cannot be demonstrated in a standardized test.

So as our School District may be forced to cut music and arts programs, the very programs that have spawned great talent and creativity, we need to ask if we are giving our children a better future than the one we had. With legislation like SB 6, the long-term answer will without doubt be a resounding "No!" And that's how our representatives in Tallahassee should be responding to SB 6.

Mark S. Alper, New Port Richey

There are other roads than SR 54

I became extremely enraged with the news of the expansion of State Road 54 between Interstate 75 and Curley Road. This problem area existed way back in the 1980s.

The commission allowed business expansion and ignored the road and now we must pay for their mistakes by paying astronomical amounts for this expansion. How about the rest of the county? For example, DeCubellis Road between Little and Ridge roads has a college, an elementary school and a middle/high school complex, all surrounded by new developments with little access.

Ridge Road carries a lot of traffic and it is full of potholes. I am not even mentioning the Ridge Road Extension — I'll be pushing up daisies before that gets done.

The new SR 54 is starting to look like U.S. 19 with all the traffic lights. We are more in need of roads than ball fields or tennis stadiums (but you still need the roads to get to them.)

A. Marques, New Port Richey

Standoff wasted time, resources

I don't know on whom we can put the blame, but the standoff with the suspected bank robber on U.S. 41 appears to be absurd, unless it's another of these crazy civil rights things.

Thousands of people were inconvenienced and who knows how many of thousands and thousands of taxpayers' dollars were wasted on civil servants waiting around watching their government-owned vehicles gobble up fuel.

Surely there was a way to immobilize this character rather than have him disrupt the entire county. How about breaking the windows and gassing him? Or having a sharpshooter shoot his gun out of his hand? Or is that taking away the guy's liberty?

Al Meyer, Hudson

There are far worse eyesores

I want to express my disdain, amazement and anger at the citation threats that were passed out in my neighborhood on March 2. Ours is not a deed-restricted neighborhood. Our neighborhood is very decent and well-kept with the exception of a few houses.

On March 2, a person from the county drove down our street, looking for code violations. However, the people who were notified of violations were people with campers, boats and work trailers either on their own property or behind their fences.

Some of these items have been here for 10 years or more with no complaints. There are a few houses that are definitely in violation of some health codes, due to the filth and trash accumulating on their property, but these houses were not ticketed! There have actually been complaints about the stench oozing through our neighborhood due to one of these houses, yet nothing was ever said or done about it. There is another vacated house that has a dilapidated fence, that is a definite safety hazard for the children in our neighborhood, yet nothing there either.

The people who were notified are hard-working, tax-paying citizens, trying to survive in this depressed economy. Several of these people have work trailers in their driveways. They were told that they need to either store them behind their houses, where it is next to impossible to even get the items back there, or to move them somewhere else.

These are people who use these items everyday for their livelihood. These are not junk items. Is it not ridiculous to expect someone, who is struggling to support and provide for their family in an already declining economy, to be able to afford storage cost?

What is the point of buying/owning property and paying taxes if your belongings are not permitted to stay on your property?

George Manns, Holiday

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New budget ranking system insults veterans 03/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:02pm]
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