Support public schools at polls
It was with interest that I read the July 6 guest column from Shelley Kappeler regarding the support (or lack thereof) that teachers and school-related personnel in Pasco and across Florida receive. While I disagree with her assessment of the impacts of teacher unions, she does raise some points about the state of the teaching profession and the consistent lack of support demonstrated by communities, school boards, parents and our state leaders.
Florida has a legacy of providing education on the cheap by almost any measure. Forty years ago in 1968, teachers left the classroom to protest poor working conditions and insufficient funding from the state Legislature. Those brave men and women decided to take action after having exhausted every other option. The legacy of that action is that a collective voice is much more powerful than any individual voice in gaining the public's attention and forcing reluctant political leaders to take action. While some parents and communities did not support the walkout, many other parents, citizens and political leaders provided encouragement and resources to support the teachers' collective efforts toward improving Florida's schools.
Today, our public schools continue to be underfunded, yet teachers and school-related personnel work hard each day to provide every student with the best education possible. While I do not support the use of a single-measure test in evaluating student learning, one can look at rising FCAT scores to find proof that Florida teachers and employees accomplish more with fewer resources than others. We should be increasing our investment in the public school system instead of siphoning off resources to fund experimental programs that do not accept every student or use the same accountability standards as public schools. As Ms. Kappeler indicated, these programs "imagined a lot of promises" and are built on little more than hope.
On Nov. 4, all of us have an opportunity to stand up and be counted as supporting public education. We have a chance to vote for local, state and national candidates that support great public schools for all of Florida's students. Teachers, parents and other citizens can send a message that we intend to hold our elected leaders accountable for the promises made to "hold education harmless."
Further, we can stop the movement by former Gov. Bush and others to destroy the separation of church and state and implement a private school voucher program. We simply have to vote "no'' on Amendment 7 and Amendment 9.
History shows that teacher unions have been and continue to be a powerful collective voice in support of public education and the dedicated professionals who serve our students. However, I agree that teacher unions cannot do it alone. They need the support of the community of parents, business people and others committed to building and investing in a strong, vibrant public school system. As the president of the United School Employees of Pasco, or USEP, I pledge my willingness to be a part of a broad-based, communitywide coalition to support teachers, school-related personnel and great public schools in Pasco County.
Lynne J. Webb, Land O'Lakes
Council member limits free speech
We live in the greatest country on Earth, founded on freedoms, the most important being freedom of speech. So important was it that our Founding Fathers made it the First Amendment. To deny this freedom returns the people to a totalitarian form of government, ruled by those who want no voice of the people lest they disagree with how they are being governed.
At the last Port Richey Council meeting, I exercised my right to free speech; neither my words nor actions stepped over the line of proper decorum. Yet council member Perry Bean felt it necessary to threaten and intimidate me, stating that he was watching me and made reference to the city charter about certain remarks that are not permitted to be said. I can assure you, there is nothing in the charter that silences a person's right to speak freely. It does say that a person cannot be impertinent, slanderous or boisterous while addressing the council. I was not.
Regrettably, the charter never addresses a council member's behavior except to state that they "must preserve order and decorum." Perhaps threats to the public and stripping them of their right to free speech is for a higher authority.
And for the record, I am in favor of lower taxes as long as, and in so doing, those who vote to do this act with prudence and responsibility. At least since the new city manager was hired, the monthly budgets have been canceled. So cutting $264,000 from a budget that this sitting council has never seen fails the test of fiscal responsibility, the very point I was making in my address to the council. Yet, my right to free speech was put under fire with implied retaliation. Mr. Bean, read the Constitution. A more perfect document does not exist.
Phyllis Grae, Port Richey
Port Richey has no plan if fee gone
When I read that our Port Richey Council wants to get rid of the municipal fee but they don't have a backup plan from where they will get the $264,000 that will be gone, it scared me. Just where do you think this money will come from? It won't come out of thin air.
I believe City Council member Mark Hashim is having fun getting rid of the city piece by piece right under your noses. Has anyone noticed that brush isn't being picked up either?
City residents, wake up or your city will be gone and you will be living in the county. Council members Perry Bean and Phil Abts, no offense, but neither knows much about the city budget either.
It might help to do a little homework on where the $264,000 can come from. Have a plan.
Judy Parisi, Port Richey
Vendors see profit in red-light video
It is no surprise that Port Richey really did install red-light cameras for revenue. In fact, that was the primary reason in my opinion. I am sure the city will come out later and claim some major success, but that is more propaganda to protect the revenue stream.
Without an independent review to make sure they didn't change the conditions of the test (such as amber time or the use of grace periods), those claims would be meaningless.
Here is the latest list of the scam:
• Short yellow lights usually coupled with grace periods of one-tenth of a second. Funny that most lights also have one second all-red clearance intervals. Most of these violations can be resolved with a simple increase in amber time to the five-second range on 45 mph roads.
• Right turn on reds not done right. This is starting to become more common. The Los Angeles Times reported this as well as Kevin Drum of CBS. In quoting the CBS News article: Right-turn enforcement was included, records and interviews show, after camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems surveyed several intersections and set a "threshold" of violations needed to make the cameras financially feasible.
• Stopping over the stop line as reported by a television station in Texas.
What people have to remember is that red-light cameras are a business. Do you honestly believe that they are in business to write no tickets? Red-light cameras need violations to be profitable. Translated, not enough violations, no business case for the device! It is a disturbing way to enforce a law — for profit.
I have a novel idea: Let people vote on it. Let people decide, not some money-motivated council or camera vendor!
Stephen Donaldson, Dade City
Rigged primary is undemocratic
It is frustrating enough to have election districts crafted to ensure that incumbents can never be removed; but to have primaries rigged to exclude a large number of voters is beyond tolerance.
I can only hope that democracy will prevail.
Pennie Jefferson, Dade City
Primaries are for political parties
The purpose of primary elections is for every political party to select its candidate for the general election in each race. If a political party has no candidates vying for a particular race, then it should not vote in that race.
To have Democrats vote to select a Republican candidate makes as much sense as Republicans selecting Democratic candidates. Independents who have no political leanings should not vote in primaries either. Primaries are for those who have similar political philosophies to voice their preferences.
John Nicolette and Ted Schrader are both running as Republicans and as such are participating in a Republican primary for County Commission. If the Democrats want a voice in that election for county commissioner, they should nominate from their ranks.
The lack of Democratic participation that made it necessary for a write-in candidate to close the primary to ensure only Republicans vote to select their nominee, which is as it should be. To blame Bill Bunting, John Nicolette, the write-in candidate, the Pasco GOP or even Ted Schrader for this turn of events is nonsense. Let the Republicans choose their candidate for the November election and stop criticizing them for what a change in rules made necessary.
Diane Borreson, Hudson