Editor: Mr. Bill Stevens, what you are doing to me is terribly, terribly wrong. How can you, in good conscience, justify your continual and unrelenting references to the mistakes of my early life as good journalism? Surely you must be aware of the difference between good journalism and "tabloid" journalism. The former requires objectivity and fairness in dealing with news stories that affect the personal life and social reputation of an individual, whereas the latter relies primarily on innuendo, reader "shock" value and "reckless disregard" for its punitive and/or deleterious effect.
Surely you must be aware that if I am a "controversial" individual, as you claim, the controversy is of your own making in your journalistic "overkill." Surely you must be aware that the governor of your own state, now a U.S. senator, has commended my usefulness as a Pasco citizen and my societal contributions to the state of Florida. Surely you are aware that another governor of another state, now also a U.S. senator, commended me publicly and called me a "perfect example of something wrong made right." And surely you must be aware that the editor of the Tampa Tribune commended me for my civic achievements and commended many others for their support of "this hard-working civic activist."
Could it be that you are marching to a different drummer, Mr. Stevens? Could it be that you resent my "audacity" (your word) in being proud that my life can make a difference in my community? Surely you are aware that I have paid dearly for the transgressions to which you refer so often and so virulently _ although they took place almost a half a century ago. Part of that price, Mr. Stevens, was the loss of my three beloved children whose whereabouts I do not know and perhaps shall never know _ a loss that I feel every day and will feel until I draw my last breath on this earth.
Mr. Stevens, why is it that you feel that I have not paid enough? Why is it that you feel that I have no right to the dignity and respect of my fellow man _ for which I have labored so hard and so long to earn? Can it be that you do not feel me worthy of membership in the society of man? If so, please tell me to what church you belong.
Mr. Stevens, the 25 years that I lived under an assumed name to rebuild my shattered life was never a secret to the FBI and the Social Security Administration. I notified both those governmental bodies of my plans on the same day I married my current wife under the name Robert L. Gipson. There was no criminal subterfuge involved. It was not then nor is it now illegal to live under an assumed name. The FBI did know and has always known of my whereabouts and my new life. Mr. Stevens, are you unaware of the exhaustive background and character investigations that must be conducted and reviewed before an unconditional pardon by a governor can be granted and/or before a state Cabinet can grant a restoration of one's civil rights? Apparently you must be, or you would not so persistently attempt to discredit a human being who has measured up as a "meritorious" citizen by all legal and moral standards!
Mr. Stevens, as a professional journalist and arbiter elegantiarum, I urge you to consider when, if ever, an individual earns the right to be relieved from the total ostracism connoted by the terms "ex-con" or "ex-felon." The U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that Robert L. Gipson has earned that right! If you prefer to disagree with the Supreme Court, Mr. Stevens, then I suggest that the determination be left to a higher authority than you and the Supreme Court! And may He have mercy on us all!
Robert L. Gipson, Port Richey
Thanks from injured deputy
Editor: I was involved in an auto accident Feb. 8 at the intersection of Kirkland and Freemont Drive in the Oaks subdivision in River Ridge, New Port Richey.
I am a deputy for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and was off duty in my private vehicle at the time of the accident. I have been in law enforcement for several years and it has always been my experience and duty to render aid to the victims of auto accidents as well as their families. Well, this experience was a little different, not to mention awkward for me as I was never on the victim side before. As a result of this experience I would like to say thank you to some wonderful people who came to my aid and continue to do so during my healing process.
First, I would like to thank two ladies and a gentleman, although I did not obtain their names, who were the first to run to the scene and assist me. One lady ran and called 911; the other ran back into her home and brought out a blanket and pillow. The gentleman and both ladies made me comfortable until EMS arrived. These nice people had no knowledge that I was an off-duty deputy, nor did they care. They just reached out and helped another person in need. Their show of compassion and concern was unlike any I have seen in quite a while.
Second, I would like to thank the crew from Pasco County Fire/Rescue Station 11 and the medical and flight crew of Bay Flite, as well as the medical staff at Bayfront Trauma Center. Your care and expertise are second to none.
I also would like to thank Chief Al Latchford of the Port Richey Police Department who visited me in the hospital, and on his own time went to my vehicle and found my wedding ring that I had lost at the time of the accident. Thank you, dear friend.
The cards I have received from the public, especially little Richel Haag and the Wilson family (John, Karen and Kim) have been overwhelming. It's nice to know that these people took time out of their day to think of me. I also want to express my appreciation to Jim and Fran Frank, who picked up my children and consoled them after my family was advised of the accident.
My family is one in a million, my wife, Judy, mother-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers and sister, I can't thank you enough for your love and support. You have all made a serious situation bearable.
To my co-workers, thank you for your concern and support of my family. I appreciate it.
Jim Garrison, New Port Richey
Residents deserve the credit
Editor: You can explain to writer Richard Verrier that neither U.S. Homes or Bob Fertig can take credit for the active social life in any of the U.S. Homes developments. The residents plan and organize all the activities. They elect the officers, make up the telephone directory and form all the committees that then take charge of the numerous affairs. The success of these activities depends on the volunteers and their expertise and hard work. No one is paid. If you have a bunch of homeowners who do not pitch in and do their share, you'll have a stagnant social life. If you have an active group willing and able to contribute time and effort you'll get first prize _ oh, excuse me _ U.S. Homes gets the prize _ you get the fun of retiring to a busy community. Been there.
Helen C. Ahrens, New Port Richey
To our letter writers:
Communities in Pasco County are preparing for local elections in April. During the local campaign season, the Times will not accept letters to the editor that support or criticize by name any candidate for public office. We welcome letters that address issues in the campaign or in the community.
Letters may be mailed to Letters to the Editor, 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668, or may be faxed by dialing 869-6273. They must include the name, address and telephone number of the writer. Published letters may be condensed or edited for clarity and taste.