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Busing unfair to both black and white students

Re: The Feb. 25 article about a proposed plan would limit busing of blacks in Pinellas County.

The busing of school children was originally accomplished to be certain that white and black children were given the same level of education. Now a task force states that forced busing for desegregation burdens black students unfairly. Forced busing is unfair to white and black students alike.

Why not eliminate all busing and put those funds into more and better teachers? All children could attend their neighborhood schools and have a more extensive education.

Dorothy Peters, Pinellas Park

Promoting drug use?

Re: Volunteering at the needle exchange, by Dana Edwin Isaacson, Feb. 16.

Yes, I can see that Isaacson feels he is doing a good job by giving out clean needles, bleach and water, cookers, alcohol pads and condoms. But doesn't he think that he is promoting drug use by giving out needles?

First of all, my research has shown that you must have a doctor's prescription to obtain a syringe. So, unless all the people Isaacson gives needles to have doctors' notes, he is breaking the law.

Second, what is the purpose of giving out cookers? Aren't these used for cooking heroin? If not, then what are they used for? Can he honestly say that this does not promote drug use?

To sum up, what does Isaacson think he is doing every Saturday? True, he may be helping in the fight against AIDS. But at the same time he is promoting the use of drugs. Perhaps drug users need to be scared in order to quit. Which is what AIDS is _ something to scare drug users into quitting.

Shad A. Thomas, Clearwater

Fight continues

Re: A stubborn voice for social change, Feb. 27 Perspective.

Despite two decades in which the British government pitched all its resources _ social, economic, political, as well as military _ into an attempt to drive nationalists out of the six occupied and oppressed counties of northeast Ireland, the community remains as vibrant and determined as ever. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey is a living albeit wounded victim with enough "fire in the belly" to confront the arrogant authority of the British presence. The so-called "special relationship" between the United States and Britain must bear a heavy responsibility for the ongoing violence now part of everyday life behind the Orange Wall of partition.

T. Killoran, New Port Richey

"Enough is enough'

Hey, mom, enough is enough.

As reported in the Feb. 22 edition of the St. Petersburg Times, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is at it again.

The legislation backed by MADD which lowered the blood-alcohol level for adults to 0.08 percent, was yet another right removed, another privilege denied. Why are we, as adults, continually forced to swallow the "higher than thou" agenda of these so-called special interest groups?

MADD's formation, as a grass-roots organization to bring awareness and legislation against vehicular manslaughter caused by drunken drivers, was both noble and beneficial to society.

But how much is too much?

With legislation throughout all 50 states enforcing at least a 0.10 percent alcohol level, MADD has accomplished what it set out to do. The limit is warranted, given the number of highway fatalities reported during the last 15 years. But this is not good enough.

The lowering of the legal limit by two-tenths of a percent does not guarantee a safer passage throughout the highways of this state.

What it does, essentially, is increase the risk of a possible $1,500 in fines and insurance premiums after consuming, for most, two drinks (wine, beer or mixed).

Are we driving drunk?

I think not.

What's next, mom, a "one ounce of alcohol per person, per day" limit? Please stop calling for this type of "common-sense legislation," which in effect impedes our quality of life, and instead, reorganize your aggression toward something that is killing your kids more than alcohol.

Perhaps: "Mothers Against the Possession of Firearms"?


James Coleman, St. Petersburg

Saving lives, preventing injury

Re: Florida Bicycle Helmet Law, H.B. 651.

Did you know:

In 1992, 107 bicyclists in Florida were killed and over 50,000 were treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries; 31 of those killed and more than 20,000 of those injured were under the age of 16.

Deaths and injuries from bicycle crashes cost Florida $380-million per year, while just one serious brain injury can cost $4.5-million over the child's lifetime.

Today, only 5 percent of Florida's children who ride bicycles wear helmets.

Times have changed since many of today's adults were children. There is more traffic, concrete and complexity in even a simple bicycle trip. Quick response emergency care and trauma teams at hospitals keep alive many who formerly died. But no neurosurgeon can begin to repair the severe damage that can result from a brain-jostling head impact. Bicycles should be ridden with care and protection.

Please contact your Florida state representative and ask him to support House Bill 651.

Diane Roffey, Executive Director National

Safety Council, Pinellas County Chapter Inc.

Kathy Varga, Coordinator, Florida Suncoast

Safe Kids Coalition, Clearwater

Spending defense 'an insult'

The members of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority's recent defense of their spending of public monies is truly an insult to the public's intelligence and an embarrassment to themselves. Unfortunately, their strange logic is all too often used by public officials caught with their hand in the taxpayer's cookie jar. Their guilt, lack of judgment, indiscretion, or whatever, was clearly established when they were exposed and very quickly changed their policy to coach class travel rather than first class. The chairwoman's $7,000 trip to India, alone, is so repugnant to the average taxpayer that her immediate resignation should be demanded. Why, indeed, was there no audit of their high flying/spending ways?

Even if they were not breaking the law, which looks very unlikely, the sheer magnitude of their excesses and the arrogance of their defense demonstrates a huge lack of sensitivity to the taxpayers of this area and continues the erosion of public confidence in such public bodies. Shame on them.

John Farnham, St. Petersburg

Jail medical staff responds

In the past few months, much has been written about the state of medical care at Pinellas County Jail. I would like to take this opportunity to give your readers a chance to know what the medical staff does on a daily basis.

Many people are surprised to learn that a large staff is needed, but remember that inmates come into the jail with the same medical problems as are in the general population. We treat people with diabetes, cardiac problems, hypertension, acute alcohol and drug withdrawal. We treat people with traumatic injuries, acute and chronic mental health problems. We make sure dialysis patients get their treatment, that pregnant women get prenatal care. Our physicians suture wounds sustained in the jail. We test and treat inmates for syphilis, tuberculosis, other STDs (sexually-transmited diseases) and, at an inmate's request, for HIV. We administer medication on the orders of our doctors, dentists and psychiatrists. We obtain blood, urine and other samples for laboratory analysis.

We are also called upon to treat the more minor problems. Rashes, athlete's foot and dandruff are all part of the daily stack of medical requests. Dental problems are treated and diseased teeth are extracted. Because of the Federal Consent Decree, medical requests are to be answered within a 24-hour period. How many of us who live on the other side of the bars are able to get immediate, free medical care? How many of us can get an appointment with our doctors in less than a week?

Every three years, the contract for the medical care provider comes up for review. As the lowest bidder wins, the company usually changes. The staff usually stays, once again in the position of being new employees, with no seniority, retirement plan or feeling of permanence.

Why would anyone want to work under these conditions? Well, there is the opportunity to learn more than one usually does in a hospital or nursing home. There is the opportunity to make a difference. There is the chance to show the inmate that others do care. We are not perfect, we do not always succeed, but we do try. We put up with verbal abuse, being spat upon, having excrement thrown at us and occasionally being assaulted. We know we make a difference. My colleagues are among the finest professionals with whom I have ever worked. We save lives every day. Perhaps this is not newsworthy, but this is why we stay.


S. Richardson, LPN, Largo

Editor's note: This letter also was signed by 13 other RNs and LPNs.

Some praise . . .

My daughter, an eighth grader at Seminole Middle School, has been given the wonderful opportunity to develop her writing skills in the English class of a teacher named Madeline Miller. The St. Petersburg Times has also added immensely to her learning the craft of expressing oneself by the use of the written word.

Two parts of the Feb. 28 edition caught our attention. The sports section headline How Swede it is! was a delightful pun. Mary McGrory's column Olympics lofty lessons lost on some in two small columns provoked much dialogue and thought about human beings around the world.

Thank you for delivering, on a daily basis, such a valuable tool for education and entertainment for the mere cost of 25-cents per issue. Kudos to Mrs. Miller and the St. Petersburg Times.

Kate Hummel, Seminole

. . . some criticism

Re: the airport merger plan being floated, Feb. 23.

Hey, St. Petersburg Times, whose side are you on? Remember, your offices are located in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County. If you desire to be called a Tampa Bay-ian, that is your right, as is the right of those who live in Pinellas County to call ourselves Pinellas Bay-ians.

As for Mayor Sandy Freedman, she should mind her own business, of which she has plenty in Tampa. What monies are to be saved if we merge the two airports? If anything, Pinellas County taxpayers would incur additional expenses. Pinellas County has a beautiful airport. In the future, it is capable of competing with Tampa, not only in charter flights but also scheduled ones.

It seems to me that everything Tampa has is theirs and everything Pinellas tries to do, Tampa wants! I grew up to believe you should first praise the house where your family lives and then praise the others. I personally believe that the St. Petersburg Times should move to Tampa and let someone else represent the people of Pinellas County.

John Blafas, St. Petersburg

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