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Don't those interrogated students have rights?

Editor: With three of my own children in the Pasco school system, I am writing this letter with great concern.

I am referring to the situation that occurred when eight Gulf High students were questioned at school during school hours about a burglary in their neighborhood the day they were absent. The police or school officials never notified the parents of the situation.

I send my children to school with the idea that, while there, they will receive an education and be safe. I realize that by talking to the deputy, those eight students were physically safe. But were they emotionally unharmed? I can imagine it was extremely intimidating to be called down to School Resource Officer Tim Spitzer's office _ regardless of innocence or guilt.

While I do believe burglary is a serious crime, I think that any questioning of minors should be done in the presence of the parents and in the appropriate location. It should not be done in the school. That's a place of learning, not interrogation. The intuition of the police deputy that tied in the neighborhood kids was further complicated by the inappropriate behavior of school officials releasing confidential personal records.

Who was looking after these students' rights? Don't they get any? I certainly hope that in the future the School Board will enforce some kind of procedure for a situation such as this.

Joanne Partridge

New Port Richey

Detroit needs

a competition lesson

Editor: Barbara L. Fredricksen's Opinion Column of Feb. 9 about American and foreign cars was most interesting. Over the years, I have bought 11 new American cars; six were satisfactory and five were of poor quality. My most recent new American car was a 1984 lemon and the last straw. After reading various consumer magazines extolling the quality of some foreign cars, I decided to buy one. The magazines were right; I was just a bit slow and reluctant to switch.

Detroit auto executives always cry foul when business gets bad. Like cold weather, the rhetoric starts drifting south, but very few people are buying it. We know American workers can build good cars because thousands are doing a great job for Honda in Marysville, Ohio, for Toyota in Georgetown, Ky., and for Nissan in Smyrna, Tenn. Therefore, one must assume that the primary problem with the Detroit automakers is mediocre management.

Quality, price and service sell cars in America, not appeals to prejudice and racism. Detroit auto executives must recognize they now compete in a global economy, not a closed domestic economy.

William A. Crutchfield

New Port Richey

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. unless Ford has

served you well

Editor: In response to the column about Ford by Barbara L. Fredricksen.

I have driven and owned Ford cars all of my life and I am 70 years old. I haven't had all the problems with all of them put together that your Dad had with his car. If I thought that the foreign cars were so superior to ours, I would go to a foreign country and get myself a good job so I could buy one; but since I don't think so, I will stay in the U.S.A. and keep buying Fords. This is where I made my money.

It is hard for me to believe that some of those foreign cars have more than 2-million miles on them. I am just a lazy, illiterate American, so I guess that is the answer.

Olaf Feltman

Hudson

Intruder can expect

"deadly force'

Editor: First of all, I am 34; wife, 30; son, 12. In response to Sheriff Jim Gillum's statement as printed on the front page of thePasco Times dated Feb. 5: "Under Florida law, deadly force may be used against an intruder if a person fears for his or her life."

Let's take the first part of the statement, "Florida law." Is this the same law that lets convicted muggers, rapists, robbers, murderers and child abusers back out on the streets after serving little or no time in prison?

As for the second part of his statement, "deadly force." Well, as for the other readers of this letter, I can only speak for my family, "That's all right, Mr. Criminal, no problem, you will only lose the use of your legs if we catch you in our house but, then again, we could always change our mind (or sanity)."

Third part, "may be used." In our house, we take this as "will be used."

Fourth part, "intruder." We are sure a few have access to a dictionary, so look it up.

Fifth part, "if a person fears for his or her life." Let's face it, we, as wife and I, just simply can't believe that a person breaking into our house, or "intruder" as Mr. Gillum states, is the tooth fairy or someone selling Girl Scout cookies. Given that more than 90 percent of "intruders" are armed, any person with a half lick of sense could determine that they are very dangerous and the intended victims should definitely fear for their life.

It's time we stopped passing laws to protect the criminals. They are the lowest slime on this earth and do not deserve even the smelly sweat off my back, and I think that everyone is getting sick and tired paying taxes to support them.

Wife and I will shoot to kill anyone who has the urge to "invade" our home.

Steven Loska

Crystal Loska

Hudson

It's a shame about

the science museum

Editor: I am truly disappointed about the "demise" of the hands-on science museum in New Port Richey. I am also disappointed, but not surprised, about the behavior of the crowd that celebrated the defeat of the project. What other kind of behavior can we expect from people who just plain do not care about our children?

I dare say that many of these same people who do not want to see anything done that might help educate a child are the same ones who read the bad news involving young people and shake their head, and make comments about how bad the kids are today and lock themselves in at night, afraid for their safety because of the deplorable actions of those who are not adults.

Did they ever stop to think that just maybe, if we had something here for the kids, it could be a turning point for them so that we wouldn't be reading about them in the crime news? I should think that anything that would encourage families to get together and spend time, and maybe even learn something in the process, would have the support of the entire community.

The comment was made that "it seems ludicrous that many would visit or support a museum in New Port Richey or vicinity" because of all the major attractions so close by. It seems even more ludicrous to me to think that most families in our area can afford to go to these places with admission prices in the double digits for even the smallest kids, and for a family with two kids, it costs a great deal more. I would much rather spend less money and actually encourage my kids to participate in a learning experience than to spend a lot of money for mindless entertainment. They may be surprised at the number of tourists who would actually welcome a science museum. I do think that a great part of the revenue would be from repeat visitors within our own area.

Again, the concern is how to get the most tourist bucks instead of how it can benefit us as a community. The actions taken this past week only served to further perpetuate the notion that Florida is, indeed, only a place for the retired, who don't want to see, hear or speak to any children. Their interests do not lie with the future, because they will not be here. There are those of us who care about the future and what kind of children we are raising to be tomorrow's leaders and citizens. I hope they can do better than the example that was given to them Tuesday night.

I applaud Mayor Pete Altman, Joan Rees and Steve Rowswell. I hope they will not give up.

Carolyn Miller

New Port Richey

President should listen

about health care

Editor: Last month we listened to President Bush talking to the American people in his State of the Union address and thought that perhaps he had gone deaf! Obviously, he has spent too much time in foreign policy and has not heard or listened to the people in this country.

On Feb. 4, I read Diane Steinle's column about Ernie Follett, Financial ruin is often the companion of illness, and cried! I am not an emotional person, but this struck me again as we lived through similar circumstances. My mother and father, both of whom were blind, lived one block away. When my father passed away at 81 years and after almost 60 years of marriage, my mother sold her house for the sum of $34,000 and came to live with us with the hope that she could live the rest of her life peacefully. Instead, she was stricken with cancer. Although she suffered through five operations in two years and was put on a life-support system that completely eroded any dignity she might have had, she was called home by the good Lord. She also had bills for doctors, hospitals and drugs that amounted to more than $35,000, her complete lifetime of savings. Since they had serious medical problems, they were never able to secure insurance other than Medicare.

We also have a 30-year-old married son living close to us. His mother-in-law has suffered two massive strokes. Her expenses have been astronomical and drugs that are keeping her alive at the age of 49 are no longer affordable. In the past year, she had to declare personal bankruptcy to cover almost $30,000 in debts mostly incurred from medical expenses. My son and daughter-in-law have taken her to live with them. They help with expenses and drugs in whatever way they can. No grandchildren are in their foreseeable future. Don't tell me that, as they are of the Baby Boomer age, they wouldn't gladly pay a tax or insurance to help with health bills.

My husband and I, 65 and 58 respectively, are also suffering health problems. Our present income is $18,773.76 from pension and Social Security. Out of this we are paying $270.19 plus $120 a month that is paid by my husband's pension _ a total of $390.19 a month for insurance equaling $4,682.28 a year for health insurance. We cannot drop or change this amount, as no other company will insure us due to the problems we have. If my husband were to pass away, I would have no insurance or pension. If I were to get ill we would probably be in the same position of millions of people today and lose our only savings, our home, and certainly my only son has enough expenses already!

Americans are crying. Most of the people in our society do care. Keep writing articles, vote for politicians who are willing to stand up. Send articles like Ms. Steinle's to the president and our elected officials, and tell them to listen to America! We'll pay a tax gladly if we can avoid $390.19 a month in insurance. All we are asking is peace of mind so that we know tomorrow we will still have a roof over our heads and don't have to ask our children to support us.

Helen M. Woerner

Spring Hill

Bill of Rights being

subverted in Pasco

Editor: In December, the St. Petersburg Times ran a series commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. It was very well written and I especially enjoyed the examples of cases cited as each amendment was considered. If my memory serves me correctly, an offer was made to interested individuals and to educators to write in for a copy of the whole series.

I am wondering if any Pasco County teachers took you up on your offer, and if they are using it. Are young people taught the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as merely a historical document or, as your paper pointed out, how it is applicable in the 1990s? Do teen-agers feel that they have any protection under the Bill of Rights?

I have seen posted in Pasco school buildings (though I suppose it is nationwide) signs in large letters saying, "Attention Students: Upon reasonable suspicion, students, lockers or other areas may be searched for prohibited or illegally possessed substances or objects."

Last week, I read in the Times that teens are under curfew in Pasco County and that they may be asked to explain why they are out late.

I certainly understand what prompted the curfew, and I am scared, too, but I am much more fearful of this country's march toward fascism as we accept rulings like these and willingly deny rights because of a person's age.

Mr. or Ms. Teacher, when you get up and tell the kids about how wonderful our laws are and about the freedoms we enjoy greatly due to the Bill of Rights, do they laugh in your face?

Anna Boone

Zephyrhills

There's a reason for

these people's problems

Editor: I am writing in response to Tina New's letter on Feb. 7, to thank her for writing to call attention to the feelings of students who wish to learn about the present trend in our society. How much better to require everyone to stay in school until they are 18 years old unless they acquire a diploma. If there is a disciplinary problem, take them out of the classroom and put them in a detention class where they do supervised community service. This would teach them responsibility and also get them to exercise their freedom of choice. Wouldn't this be better than having to offer opportunities for dropouts to return to school?

Ironically, on the front page of the same issue of Pasco Times, we have the article about "Mildew Manor." The intruders are not homeless people who have lost their homes because their income from 40 years of work is not enough to keep up with the cost of living or couldn't keep up with mortgages because of loss of jobs. By their own admission, they are free spirits who like to have a good time.

Interestingly, they are of the age of our own children of the '60s. The students at that time had the same problems watching those who didn't accept responsibility for their own actions getting the attention from the social programs. Since that time there has been no statistical evidence that these programs have been beneficial.

Please tell me why the free-spirit individuals earn the respect of Chief Al Latchford and the Port Richey Police Department. I see nothing they are contributing to society. Where were they when the Salvation Army needed volunteers to man the kettles at Christmas time to get money for the homeless? Or were they among the homeless who were paid $250 a week by the Salvation Army to do the volunteer work?

I can't understand why people with so much time on their hands can't do some volunteering themselves.

Tina, I felt your letter of today's problems are very much related to the problems of the '60s and we must make people responsible for their own actions and have respect and love for each other. Unfortunately, this comes from within and no matter how much analysis we do, we still get down to the fact that the individuals must do it themselves.

You continue your education and take advantage of all that is offered to you during your school years. Remember, you are in the majority and we need leaders like you in our future.

June Rose

Bayonet Point

Any idea is better

than no idea at all

Editor: Re: Ken Altman's letter of Feb. 9, 1992.

That letter has a lot of "what ifs," but nothing concrete.

Back in 1934, I advocated socialized medicine, a forerunner of national health. I do believe that employees, employers and government all chip in, as in Social Security. That way everyone has a vested interest.

It may very well be that our current state representative does not have all the answers, but who does? At least he is setting a foundation of sorts. But to tear down the foundation without any other idea, what do we accomplish? Where do we go? I understand a lot of errors will be made, at least it is a start.

The Canadians that have to buy Blue Cross/Blue Shield when they come to the U.S. are doing so only very recently. Politics entered that picture.

Sorry, Mr. Altman, even a bad idea is better than no idea. A bad idea can be altered, fixed, built up. What can you do with no idea?

The field is wide open. Let's hear other ideas, good or bad, but let's have them.

Mike Starr

Port Richey

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