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Saturday's letters: The disabled deserve mobility

The rider of this three-wheel electric scooter was killed by the pickup truck in December 2007 crossing Missouri Avenue in Largo. Last week, a two-wheel scooter crashed into a man in an electric wheelchair on Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg. The scooter driver died. 

Times file (2007)

The rider of this three-wheel electric scooter was killed by the pickup truck in December 2007 crossing Missouri Avenue in Largo. Last week, a two-wheel scooter crashed into a man in an electric wheelchair on Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg. The scooter driver died. 

I found this article lacking in sensitivity and perspective. The snarky tone and one-sided approach left me feeling as if the writer were implying that those who use electric mobility devices, or EMDs, are not entitled to or deserving of the same level of autonomy as the able-bodied.

The article lacked perspective from a key part of the story: those who use EMDs. And while the reporter discussed "old people and fat people" who need power chairs, one population was glaringly omitted: people of all ages with physical disabilities.

The purpose of EMDs is to allow mobility to those who otherwise lack it because of physical limitations. Many elderly people and those with disabilities require power chairs to live — to get around the house, to get to and from the car or, if they are unable to drive, to use a sidewalk to get groceries — just as someone who is able would walk to the store if needed.

While I understand how to cite traffic accidents involving EMDs has law enforcement puzzled, my opinion is they should treat these cases as if it were a pedestrian involved. People who use EMDs would likely be walking or driving a vehicle if they were able; but due to physical restrictions beyond their control, they use EMDs to gain independence and mobility.

EMDs are devices on which people rely to lead a more normal, productive life, and this population should be neither berated nor disparaged for using them.

Noelle Anderson, Tampa

An offensive tone

I was offended by the tone of this article, and the headline is particularly offensive. I am a quadriplegic, the result of a diving accident in May 1956. I'll concede the fact that being 74 is undoubtedly considered old, but I am not fat.

I am a working, productive citizen and a member of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, serving on their legislative committee. If you have the opportunity of traveling the section of Fourth Street between Fifth and 30th Avenues N and see the new sidewalks and curbcuts, those are the result of a Title II complaint I filed with the Justice Department in 1998.

The article made this statement: "Electric mobility devices, or EMDs, are everywhere because of trends in geriatrics and bariatrics. Those are the portions of the health care industry that deal with old people and fat people."

EMDs, whether they be scooters or power wheelchairs such as I use, are simply a means to get from point A to point B. We are people with disabling conditions who are pedestrians using a device to assist our travel.

The fact that there are more people with disabilities using mobility devices is due to advances in technology that have saved people who might otherwise have died, or because engineering technology and funding have made the devices more available.

Walton D. Dutcher Jr., St. Petersburg

Simply electric legs

Power chairs are merely electric legs for a disabled person, as guide dogs are eyes for the blind. Think carefully on this subject, Mike Puetz (spokesman for the St. Petersburg police), as you and I could be only one car crash or crook's bullet away from needing one of these power chairs.

Gary Vertescher, Safety Harbor

Medicare being looted

I am appalled at the proliferation of electric scooter carts as highlighted by recent accidents, some fatal. These carts are provided to supposedly disabled people, but many of them are simply obese. I am tired of the advertisements on TV promising that Medicare will pay for a cart and, if not, the company will provide one free.

Medicare is being looted by these people at a time when funding is lacking for dialysis patients, cardiac patients and other worthy recipients. At minimum, the whole program for carts should be investigated.

George J. Myers, Tampa

Scooter replaces walking

I am getting up there in years and I may need one of these things at any time now, so I was interested in this article. If I can't drive, I'll take the bus. If I can't walk, I'll get a scooter. So the scooter would replace walking, not driving. This rationale of thinking might make it easier for those lawmakers who are proposing a law for this situation to process it.

Paul L. Darr, Largo

A strong plan for schools | Dec. 6, editorial

Are the teachers qualified?

Julie Janssen and Pinellas County School Board members are working hard to put programs in place that will raise achievement and provide a variety of opportunities for Pinellas County students. I fully support their efforts. My concern is: Do we have enough teachers who are not only qualified to teach these programs but are capable of effectively teaching the curriculum of these programs?

The new class size amendment has caused a chaotic last-minute scramble at many Pinellas County schools to quickly hire teachers so that there is at least someone in place to instruct students in each class. It would be interesting to know the number of "teachers" instructing our students who have no education background, teaching certificate or even a proven ability to teach.

While a degree in education or teaching certificate do not in and of themselves make someone an effective teacher, they show that the person has at least proven he or she has the intellectual ability and desire to perform the role of educator.

It does nothing for our students to put these wonderful programs in place without enough qualified, effective teachers to teach them. It will be more wasted time and money.

Mary Beth Whiteleather, Clearwater

Dysfunction at the top

As a parent of three Palm Harbor University High graduates (two medical magnet, one IB), I find Ron Matus' ongoing, insightful coverage provides a sobering look inside a seriously flawed Pinellas County School District administration and School Board.

A cloud of controversy continues to plague superintendent Julie Janssen. Her "bold initiatives" are poorly planned, haphazardly communicated and rarely implemented.

Whether it involves employee cronyism, school start times, moving the IB program, consolidating schools, creating a fundamental school, school uniforms or teacher pay cuts and the resulting lawsuit, she has left a wake of frustrated parents, demoralized staff and faculty and confused students and disgruntled taxpayers. Given this dysfunction and leadership void, school parents understandably are stepping up and speaking out, providing default leadership as best they can.

Pinellas County school officials need look no further than across the bay to their counterparts in Hillsborough County, who are providing an example of a capable School Board supporting a sound, visionary superintendent, facing many of the same challenges sans dysfunctional drama and subplots.

Michael W. Doyle, Tampa

New challenges in Greco's run | Dec. 5

Not right for these times

I met Dick Greco many times while employed at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in downtown Tampa during its first year of operation. Mayor Greco was instrumental in securing city bonds that helped get the massive convention-hall hotel built. He would come in often for lunch and speak to anyone who would listen. I can only describe him as being affable and very smooth.

However, Dick Greco is exactly what the city of Tampa does not need in the next mayoral election. We could use someone with new ideas and fresh thinking for this important position. Unfortunately, most of the other candidates are also seasoned politicians seeking to trade in their City Council/County Commission seats for the mayor's throne. But the last person we need is Greco 2.0.

Let us not forget the many boondoggle projects he helped saddle Tampa with: Centro Ybor, the Channelside District, a trolley system with no passengers and Raymond James Stadium. Finally, Greco seemed clueless as his corrupt city housing director, Steve LaBrake, made deals that would have made Chicago officials envious.

Dick Greco is a nice gentleman and a true Tampa icon. However, he is not the person to lead this cash-strapped city through a severe recession.

James B. Scully, Tampa

Greco's smart step

Mayoral candidate (and former Mayor) Dick Greco says that to tackle the city's problems, he has "already started to put together small coalitions of the most intelligent, learned people I can find in various areas that pertain to government."

This should be the standard for all levels of government — at all times.

We citizens get fooled into turning away from intelligence and learning as important for people who set the directions for our everyday lives. We were sold the notion that they are "out of the mainstream."

I applaud Dick Greco for publicly announcing his appreciation of the value of intelligence and learning in solving problems.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

So, how will we get it all done? | Dec. 2

Take a break

It would appear that teacher GinaMarie Campagnola's angst, stress and "busy-ness" are largely self-induced. I know the income of schoolteachers in Florida is relatively modest compared to other professions, so I have a few suggestions for her:

• Other than your parents, children and your charity, simply eliminate gift-giving. Have a nice family dinner instead.

• Is there anything really worth camping out all night for, or getting up at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving? Your greatest gift to your children is your time.

• Take time for yourself. You already have a demanding full-time job and three children. Weekends and holidays are for relaxing. Relax.

Finally, I would argue that your are probably teaching your children that mass consumption and stress equates to the holidays. Is this legacy you wish to leave them?

Gary Compton, Wesley Chapel

Electric cars

Beware power cuts

Since I have been a resident of Pinellas County, for 18 years, I have gone through two stoves, three microwaves and three TV sets, all a result of the electric company's inability to provide uninterrupted service. The constant on and off surges in power have fried the circuits in my appliances.

Imagine what will happen to the circuits in an electric car once it is plugged into this erratic power source. Buy a plug-in car at your peril, unless we get a better power supply.

John Bankhead, Clearwater

Saturday's letters: The disabled deserve mobility 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 4:41pm]
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