1. Archive

Ledbetter explains his position as accountant

Editor: Much has been said recently about my accounting contract with the supervisor of elections, which lasted for 10 years, from Oct. 1, 1981, to Sept. 30, 1991. I have previously given a statement to all local reporters, but none have seen fit to print my total explanation, leaving much confusion and unanswered questions about what I actually did for that office.

From February 1981, when I resigned as county administrative officer, to November 1982, when I was elected to the Board of County Commissioners, I was a self-employed, licensed public accountant in Hernando County. During that time, I was retained as an independent accountant by Neil Kinnear, supervisor of elections, to perform the following accounting duties for his office:

1) Compute biweekly payroll, based on approved time cards.

2) Prepare monthly computerized journals, ledgers and financial statements from check stubs and deposit slips.

3) Reconcile bank statements.

4) Prepare employment returns (Forms 941, UCT-6 and W-2).

5) Prepare Deferred Compensation reports.

6) Prepare Florida Retirement System monthly reports.

7) Compute and prepare employment tax deposits.

8) Prepare end-of-year financial statements as required by the State Comptroller's Office.

These duties were performed under a verbal agreement with the Supervisor on a fixed-fee basis (which was stated annually in letter form), as was done with all my other monthly accounting clients at that time.

After being elected to the County Commission in November 1982, I closed my accounting practice with the exception of this one account, which I choose to keep after clearing it with the County Attorney in public meeting. I kept this account, thinking it may give me some needed insight into, and understanding of, the position if I should ever want to run for that office. As a Commissioner I abstained from voting and declared a conflict of interest when any matter pertaining to the supervisor's budget came before the County Commission. I continued performing accounting services for that office under four different supervisors until Sept. 30, 1991.

Each time a new supervisor took office, I met with her and explained the services I was performing for the office. I made it clear I worked at her discretion on a contractual basis, and such contract could be modified or terminated as she saw fit. I never was asked to audit records, prepare budgets or advise the supervisor on such matters as preparation of travel vouchers. Looking back, I wish I had known Diane Hysell needed my advice or help. I had the experience, ability and knowledge and would have been glad to extend my services to any degree she desired.

The supervisor's books were audited annually by an independent CPA firm with never any criticism of my work, or the fact that there was no written contract or monthly billing statements for my work. As soon as the state auditor criticized the lack of monthly statements, immediate corrective action was taken.

Henry D. Ledbetter, Brooksville

Let school leadership stay with voters

Editor: For months I have been extremely concerned by the obvious anti-establishment attitude portrayed by a handful of people who evidently desire to dominate our School Board. We did not elect Mr. Maniaci, or any other lobbyist, to delay vital school business via self-appointed filibusters. I was proud to learn that Hernando County School Board Chairman Paul Clemons has taken proper parliamentary steps to end such community sabotage.

Congress does not permit such interference; state legislatures do not permit such interference. It need not be permitted by any elected body.

I personally assess Mr. Maniaci as an abusive bully whose nihilistic example is harmful to the students we seek to raise to be productive contributors to our society. When the people of a community elect an official, that person has been established into a position of authority created by the people. Unfounded character assassination and politically-motivated sabotage of that office is unwarranted.

However, I do owe a debt of gratitude to these people. At one time I thought it would ease the pressure for the superintendent to be appointed. Now, thanks to Mr. Maniaci and the people he represents, I foresee a grave danger to the concept.

We, the people, have lost far too much freedom to special interest lobbyists. We must not yield one more right to choose our leaders by a majority election. Ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The citizens of this community are as capable of judging the merits of a candidate as any minority lobby.

Patricia Fay Roush, Brooksville

An editorial postscript

Editor: May I add a postscript to your fine and timely editorial in your Hernando edition of the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 7 regarding the former Elections Supervisor Diane Hysell.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our bleeding hearts on the Hernando County Commission set aside a few of their many useless safaris and visit our state and local prisons and interview the prisoners they feel have suffered long enough, and have them released so they can continue to do whatever they were doing before being sent to jail.

I would think that the old saying of "what is good for the goose is good for the gander" certainly applies in this case. Besides, who wants people saying our bleeding heart commissioners are prejudiced.

William J. Foster, Spring Hill

Laws would save Florida from waste

Editor: A sign of a true leader is a person that tells you what they want or believe, then keeps their mouth shut and opens their ears to what others have to say. If your ideas are better or can be incorporated into their plans, they are not so egotistical to say your idea was very helpful.

Betty Castor, the other night, did not give us any plans to improve our educational system. She only stated that it needs more money. Money and buildings do not educate or even create interest in students, but a good workable plan that trains students so that they will be prepared to earn a decent living, will.

Our politicians and officials have a piece of paper stating they have a college degree, but most do not have enough common sense to override their inflated egos and greed for power and money.

Our president and governor have shown they cannot govern a country or a state because they owe allegiance to those who have bought them, not to those that have elected them to office.

I felt I was pushed aside by Betty Castor for the press coverage she wanted and the prestige of hob-nobbing with VIPs. She really did not want to speak with the low-lifes like us that came to hear her speak.

Our governor needs to:

Investigate all state agencies to ensure they are functioning efficiently, not too top-heavy in management and not overpaid like some officials are (and we all know some are, don't we).

Place multiple Boards of Directors, like the Water Management District has, under one board of directors, which would meet in Tallahassee and report directly to the governor.

Never sign a bill that has a rider attached to it.

Once a month have a news conference. Report who voted for, against and were absent on each bill; also the state of the government.

Have surveys in which people and voters can participate on different issues along with their comments on issues.

Revamp laws on unions, but still maintain a right-to-work state. Example: If there is a union in a workplace, whatever the union gets for its members is not automatically passed onto non-union members.

Workable medical coverage for all people of the state that have at least six months residence. Make businesses pay their share and not just the workers.

Revamp our school system so that each graduate will have the skills needed to obtain and hold a job upon graduation. Colleges also need revamping so they eliminate all basket weaving courses not directly related to the course being taken which would reduce the amount of tuition, cut time spent in college and make college more affordable for more people.

With real leadership, we could lead the country in honest educational reforms and responsible government.

We do not need wimps and crony-controlled people in office. We do not need higher taxes or a state income tax, but we do need responsible officials.

If the news media would only keep at the government daily, instead of periodically, the news media could do the most in straightening out the government.

I have wondered for a time if Lawton Chiles and Betty Castor are related. They remind me so much of the twins I saw growing up _ Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Governor and Ms. Castor, straighten out your act and listen for once in your life to the people before you destroy us.

Dallas LaDuron, Spring Hill

Taking a stand on waste incineration

Editor: The time is now when the citizens of Florida can make a difference on the bio-hazardous/medical waste incinerator pollution problem that has been plaguing our beautiful state. State Sen. John Grant and Rep. John Long have proposed legislation that would impose a moratorium on the construction of any bio-hazardous incinerator with a capacity of 1,000 pounds per hour or more.

It is imperative that the people of Florida contact their local representatives and also the chairmen of the Florida House and Senate regarding these companion bills HB1451 and SB1324. Chairman of the committee considering House Bill 1451 is Hurley Rudd, District 100, Tallahassee, 202 House Office Building, Tallahassee 32399-1300. Chairman of the committee considering Senate Bill 1324 is George Kirkpatrick, District 60, Gainesville, 252 Senate Office Building, Tallahassee 32399-1100. A letter to Gov. Lawton Chiles, State Capitol, Tallahassee 32399, would also be in order.

Bette A. Klebenow, Brooksville

Congratulations to carriers

Editor: The St. Petersburg Times carriers of District 45, which is the oldest operating substation in Hernando County, would like to congratulate District 51 for all of their achievements according to manager, Mr. Bissonette, as related in editor Mike Konrad's recent column.

District 51 was formed several years ago. Both the carriers and the manager trained in District 45 before District 51 was created. The present carriers of District 45 would like the readers of the Times to know we also have a fine manager, Mr. Richard Corey, who has led the way for the past several years with little fanfare.

We, the carriers, have kept the readers of the Times our No.

1 priority.

The 19 carriers of District 45