Don't link taxing, spending services
I fully understand the reasoning and request for the focus group to review the merger or consolidation of services provided by governmental offices. Commissioner David Russell indicated he would like for this group to see if the consolidation of the Constitutional offices would be tenable and if so, to look at adding a ballot measure to the 2012 presidential primary ballot. He explained this would give the voters an option to adopt a special law abolishing all of the Constitutional offices, except for the sheriff and now the clerk, in an effort to merge or consolidate and streamline government.
I continue to support, and have effected in my office, cost savings and getting rid of duplication of government services. The services I am privileged to provide to the people of Hernando County as their tax collector, duly elected under the state Constitution in and for Hernando County are designed exclusively by state law, to protect taxpayers from even the appearance of any undue influence by those in county government who actually levy the taxes and spend the people's hard-earned money.
I also understand, but think the idea of merging or consolidating the state duties of tax collector with those of the property appraiser, clerk or supervisor of elections may be well-motivated, but ill-conceived and also illegal.
It is ill-conceived as related to the tax collector duties because, those who tax and spend people's money should not be in the position to influence how I collect, enforce and distribute the taxes. I make sure, when I collect and enforce taxes, that the state safeguards I use everyday, insulates taxpayers from any undue influence by those who impose the taxes and also spend the tax dollars.
I am very firm in my conviction, those who tax and spend should not collect and enforce the tax collection process.
I believe the Constitution's Article VIII, the commissioner and the focus group are reading does not allow such a merger or consolidation by special act or referendum in a non-charter county such as Hernando County. Even if any of the proposals for merger or consolidation being considered by the focus group are adopted, it cannot be enforced because the state Constitution's county office will still exist and it will not be bound by any county budget or service procedures. The Constitution is still in control.
Again, why would we put the county commission in a position to direct and control tax collections, property valuations, auditing functions and the counting of ballots? Checks and balances were put in place to keep people honest and punish the dishonest.
Juanita B. Sikes, Hernando County Tax Collector, Brooksville
Veterans' service officer fills a need
The administration in Hernando County is cutting back on jobs in the non-administration area — just as what is happening nationwide.
After 12 years of service in the Office of Veterans Affairs in Spring Hill and Brooksville, Debra Gould-Avery no longer has a job as of July 15. Who will fill her shoes? Part of her job includes visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to assist widows and children of deceased veterans, to inform them of benefits to which they are entitled, and to make them aware of what is available for them.
Debra is a retired WACS veteran having served in the U.S. Army for 23 years from 1976 to 1999.
Will the one-man department be able to handle these visits as well as the myriad of problems facing veterans? Added work force will certainly be necessary to handle all the Hernando County veterans who are now in the service and will be returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
I sense a bureaucracy here (an administration policy-making group, a system of administration marked by officialism and red tape).
To quote Thomas Jefferson (and who would dispute his wisdom): "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it." In this case, the word "opinion" would be replaced with the word "judgment."
If left unchecked, continuing in this path will slowly change so much of what has been good in America. In spite of what is happening to shake the very foundation of America formed by our forefathers, this is still the greatest nation in the world.
Lee C. Lund, World War II veteran, U.S. Navy WAVES, Spring Hill
Lax procedures led to fatal results
Hank Earl Carr killed two Tampa detectives in May 1998 because he was handcuffed in the front, which allowed him to obtain one officer's gun and to kill both. The final toll was five dead. I understand they no longer handcuff suspects in the front unless there are unusual circumstance. It seem every time a suspect gets out of handcuffs someone dies.
The death of this motorcyclist, and the near death of a sheriff's deputy, was caused when the keys to Brittany Miles truck were left in the ignition. I hope the sheriff carefully reviews this incident and puts procedures in place to never allow this to happen again.
For a suspect with very small wrists, perhaps an additional or different restraining device should be used and the suspect's car should be immobilized with a wheel lock or other device and the key should never be left in the ignition, but secured separately by a police officer.
Times reporter John Cox wrote and in-depth and masterful account of this tragic event. This is the kind of reporting that makes the Times a great newspaper.
Art Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel
Real reason women keep maiden names | guest column, July 8
Hyphen in name honors Irish dad
Jerry Cowling's guest column brought tears to my eyes as I chose to hyphenate my name after getting married. I knew exactly why I did it and it had nothing to do with feminisim. I was proud of my wonderful father and grandfather and our Irish heritage.
I am so proud to be a McGill and couldn't bear the thought of just dropping my name. I am so blessed to have a husband who understands that I am proud to have his name. He simply sees my hyphenated name for what it is — a way to honor and respect my dear old Irish dad.
Colleen McGill-Grenville, Weeki Wachee
Getting a clearer image of Scott | guest column, July 3
Gov. Scott's right to reject light rail
James Pettican's guest column was not much more than sophomoric nonsense. It should have been entitled, "Finding a dopey nickname for Gov. Rick Scott."
Pettican misses the point completely. Or more precisely, doesn't mention it. Although I don't agree with everything Scott is doing, he is balancing a huge budget deficit that he was presented with. Balancing budgets, especially in a severe recession, is a painful procedure. Cutting expenses, including layoffs, is inevitable.
Pettican, and most others that criticize Scott, offer no alternatives other than raising taxes. We're taxed enough already, and I for one am sick and tired of giving politicians more of my money for bigger government, higher government union employee paychecks and Cadillac pensions and health care. All while the rest of us suffer.
Pettican criticizes Scott for vetoing the money-losing, boondoggle high-speed rail proposal. He praises other governors that want this federal handout, saying "They worried less about future liability than about jobs here and now." Pettican is no different than all of the kick-the-liability-can down the road politicians who have been running this country for decades. News for Mr. Pettican: We're broke! We'll have to borrow the high-speed rail money from China to give it to the states to implement yet another money-losing government project. And our children and grandchildren will be stuck with the tab. Why would anyone in their right mind even consider doing this?
Let's face it, the government can't run anything. High-speed rail isn't going to happen anywhere in this country. We've reached our debt limit, yet again. Huge spending cuts will be made, including eliminating any funding for high-speed rail. Scott was right.
Frank S. Fischer, Spring Hill