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Immigration assets: good citizens, good Americans

I take great exception to the Oct. 15 article, An immigration profile.

My family came to Florida in March 1991. Since this time we have taken nothing from the government. My husband brought his job with him. This generated revenue for all areas of retail in Largo. We have purchased a house since moving here, a car and numerous other large articles. Our children attended private school for two years, but our tax dollars went to your public school system.

I am employed at a job that was advertised for three weeks before anyone even applied for it. If anyone else had applied before me they could have had it since it is minimum wage with no skills necessary.

I work 40 hours each week so my family has good health benefits, making sure we do not have to take any government assistance.

My family has worked very hard to become good citizens and in March 1996, we will become Americans.

We are not all a drain on the Florida government. Some of us are an asset.

Ann Corner, Largo

The princess and the frog

I'm sure most are familiar with the fairy tale in which the beautiful princess kissed the frog and it immediately turned into a handsome prince.

The British have this story backwards. They have Diana the beautiful princess and Charles the frog. I'd like to say to Prince Frog _ oops _ Charles that it's not nice to trash your wife, the mother of your children. After all, they can read and I'm sure your "frog-warts" number increased greatly in their young minds as well as in the minds of many of us world-wide.

So, can it, old boy _ get a job!

D. Alessi, Largo

Making the tough decision

Re: The report on the autistic teen at Chamberlain High School, Oct. 18.

Hats off to the Hillsborough school district for making the tough decision to remove autistic Christian Ragusa from Chamberlain High School. While anyone with a heart must feel sympathy for the Ragusas' plight, we cannot ignore the rights of other students to get a fair education as free as possible of distractions such as these.

As the husband of a devoted educator, I have seen many instances where the equilibrium of an entire class can be thrown off by a malcontent or two. Teachers deal with that fact every year and, for the most part, should be commended for their efforts. However, this case goes far beyond that. The possibility of physical harm to others is a very real factor here. How much time must the teachers devote to Christian at the expense of the other students? Why must the teachers' efforts and the students' rights be compromised because of this one student?

"Inclusion" cannot be a blanket policy. Cases must be reviewed on an individual basis. Common sense should prevail over emotional rhetoric. Nobody has wished this situation upon the Ragusas, but it's time for them to act responsibly and consider the others involved in all of this. I'm sure that there will be some who see this as a "cold-hearted" viewpoint. However, the school district has made its decision and they were right on the money with it. Congratulations to them.

Steve Hudson, Safety Harbor

A better man

Re: Lawyer's racial remark revealed, Oct. 18, on Stephen Crawford.

I'm grateful that one mistake does not negate the rest of a person's character or career.

Since coming to Tampa, I have been encouraged and inspired by an energetic, open and spiritually sensitive circle of Christian lawyers and business leaders who have labored for years to break down the racial barriers between people and a new sense of CommUNITY (to use Mayor Freedman's phrase) in the city of Tampa. They don't get a lot of press, but they are working for positive understanding and practical change every day. One of those leaders is Steve Crawford.

My personal and pastoral relationships with Mr. Crawford convince me that when he said he was "horrified" by an inappropriate remark in a letter to an out-of-state client, he was being more consistent with his deepest convictions than when he wrote the letter. The letter was the aberration; his distress over it reflects the real man. It does not nullify the track record of his commitment to racial justice and understanding.

The pervasive racism of our culture is insidious; it can sneak up on the best of us. It caught Steve this time, but he is one of our city's best and I predict he will be a better man because of it. He already is.

James A. Harnish, senior pastor, Hyde Park United

Methodist Church, Tampa

Toy gun ban applauded

Re: Toy stores to lay down their arms.

I would like to take the time to applaud Toys "R" Us and Kay-Bee Toy Stores for banning the sale of realistic-looking toy guns. It is a step in the right direction. In my opinion, we need to stop the production of all toy guns. Society needs to stop the acculturated violence that takes place in the United States. What are we teaching our children when we allow them to run around with their friends while role-playing scenes of fatality? My spine shivers when I hear a child yell out at another child, "Gotcha! You're dead!" Although the children believe the play is all in fun, one never knows if the child will come to know the imminent dangers of a real loaded gun. What happens when this child, perhaps, finds a real loaded gun in the closet of his or her parents?

Other toy retailers as well as toy manufacturers need to follow the initiatives taken by Toys "R" Us and Kay-Bee Toy Stores. Unfortunately, the discontinued sale of realistic-looking toy guns did not happen until after reports of the recent criminal arrests and deaths involving toy guns in the United States. I wonder how many lives could already have been saved if people had realized sooner the problems with toy guns and their negative impact on society.

Danielle Staker, St. Petersburg

AARP defended

Re: AARP at center of struggle for power, money.

The headline and lead on David Dahl's Oct. 9 in-depth article on senior citizen organizations imply, unfairly I think, that money and politics alone circumscribe the American Association of Retired Persons.

And Alan Simpson, a senator who'll dream up any quote to get his name in the paper, hardly qualifies as a spokesman about AARP, saying AARP is "33-million people bound together by a common love" for discounts? That's asinine.

As a millionaire lawyer from Cody, Wyo., Simpson never felt the need for a discount.

Let's be fair.

If you are going to bash AARP, you also should point out:

That AARP's 55-Alive program provided mature driving classes for more than 65,000 graduates last year in Florida alone.

That some 3,139 volunteers assisted more than 166,000 Floridians with tax returns last year in cooperation with the IRS.

That it has programs addressing the economic and social needs of older minorities and older disabled persons.

That it runs training programs on financial aid for older women.

That it distributes millions of nonpartisan voters guides each election year.

That it sponsors research on problems of aging.

That it supplies a support group for grandparents for children whose own parents are unable or unwilling to raise them.

That each local chapter in Florida takes on a service project in its community.

The list is almost endless.

Many of us older citizens find productiveness and dignity enhance our later years. Such worthy organizations as AARP and the National Council of Senior Citizens provide the springboard for these endeavors.

Bud Wylie, New Port Richey

The Oct. 9 story comparing AARP and other senior organizations left unanswered a significant question: What do the organizations do with all the money they collect?

The answer, I believe, is what truly distinguishes AARP from the others.

AARP is first and foremost a service organization: service to its members; service to communities.

Here in Florida, programs like 55-Alive, Tax-Aide, Widowed Persons Service, the Women's Financial Information Program, Health Advocacy programs, Work Force programs, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Legal Aid for the Elderly and others too numerous to list have become part of the fabric of our communities. In fact, they have become so ingrained in our culture that they may not even be recognized as AARP programs, but they are.

While dues from AARP members ($8 annually) are dedicated primarily to cover the costs of the two publications all members receive (Modern Maturity and the AARP Bulletin), the bulk of AARP income is spent on programs such as these, support for the volunteers who provide them and advocacy.

It would be interesting to know how the other organizations _ especially those that ask for money with every letter _ compare.

Tess Canja, Member, AARP Board of Directors,

Port Charlotte

Re: The Oct. 9 front page article concerning AARP, its membership and programs.

In Congress' consideration of curbing Social Security and Medicare benefits, Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., made the remark about senior citizens that "no one out there is willing to give up a nickel."

Maybe senior citizens are taking a page out of their book. For isn't it strange that when legislation is presented to amend laws that reduce political pork, PACs, perks or other congressional benefits, the bill either dies in committee or, should it reach the floor, may very well be filibustered to death because "no congressman wants to give up a nickel"? Members of Congress have also been known to raise their salaries at a midnight session after daily newspapers have been put to bed.

Sen. Simpson would be better intentioned were he to explain to the American public how Congress intends to repay the millions of dollars that have been borrowed from the Social Security fund.

James A. Sewart, Palm Harbor

Still laughing

Dave Barry's column in the Oct. 9 Floridian section of your paper was hilarious. I could not stop laughing. I sent a copy to my son who plays for the opera and classical orchestras. I know he will get a charge out of it also. This type of humor is delicious.

M.C. Guentner, Clearwater

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