1. Archive

Sheriff's Office withheld vital information

Re: Jail workers resigned amid investigation, July 27

Editor: "The policy of our paper is very simple _ merely to tell the truth." It is with this statement that the St. Petersburg Times has declared its mission to the public. With these same words ringing in my ears I place before you truth and facts not speculation and innuendos presented to your reporter and printed.

The Pasco Sheriff's Office states via spokesman Kevin Doll that an internal and external investigation involving myself and my husband "did not find enough evidence to prove or disprove allegations." The allegation was that I had forged a prescription. However, the facts are that the Sheriff's Office collected not one but two handwriting samples from me. The samples were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab where they were analyzed by senior crime laboratory analyst Bruce Dekraker. Dekraker reported, and I quote directly from the Sheriff's Office's own files, "Analyst Dekraker advised he felt that there was no way Susan Schlotterlein was responsible for the document." I would think that was pretty clear-cut evidence to disprove an allegation of forgery.

The Sheriff's Office continues with its misrepresentation of the truth by stating that I "refused to answer questions" when in fact in a report written by their own Detective Christine Armstrong states that I agreed to speak with them if my attorney could be present. In this same report Armstrong states that I never returned to work at the Sheriff's Office and thus abandoned my position, when also among the Sheriff's Office documents is a copy of my resignation letter dated Oct. 10, 1998, a full week earlier.

Perhaps Lee Cannon is embarrassed to admit that when a single mother requested a schedule to allow her to care for her severely disabled daughter the request had been denied, even though the same courtesy had been afforded to other employees in the past. The Sheriff's Office omits the fact that my resignation came the day after its denial of my request, but its investigation started the day after I logged a complaint with the EEOC. Is it really any wonder that I requested to have an attorney present for all interviews?

In a last ditch effort to wring answers from innocent people, the Sheriff's Office turned its wrath to my now husband, Sgt. Timothy Hines. The Sheriff's Office states that he refused to cooperate with its investigation when it had two taped interviews, with a total of six tapes, and one unrecorded interview. The only thing Sgt. Hines refused to do was lie. Prior to his resignation dated Oct. 28, 1998, Sgt. Hines was told on tape that he was being demoted to deputy, transferred to the New Port Richey facility and placed on a midnight shift. A poor reward for an employee who had been with the agency for 10 years, eight in the capacity of sergeant. All 10 years with a flawless record.

Perhaps his resignation letter says it best for both of us. He wrote, "It has become increasingly evident that the agency I started my career with has indeed changed. I have seen a system I once respected deteriorate into a disorganized tangle of conflicting agendas. Hard work, loyalty and above all else integrity have become the exception rather than the rule. I cannot in good conscience continue to be employed by an agency that has shown by its actions and intent to be of poor character."

Sheriff Lee Cannon is constantly crying for more funds and stating that it's difficult to keep good employees.

Perhaps he should turn his attention to his "leaders" Maj. Ortiz, Capt. Troy and others as well as his crack detective squad and ask them why good, loyal employees are leaving at such an alarming rate.

Perhaps the next time Cannon has his hand out for more funds, the taxpayers of Pasco County will ask why the outrageous expense of a nine-month investigation was required when only one person was investigated and could have been cleared in a month at the most.

Susan Schlotterlein-Hines, Dade City

Kids are bored, and it's everyone's fault

Re: Don Addis cartoon, July 30

Editor: Inadvertently or intentionally, Mr. Addis has hit on one of the major reasons for the attitudes of kids in our geographical area at least. The cartoon depicts two boys sitting around with nothing to do and being bored.

In this area that is a major problem. There are no activity clubs or civic centers where kids can go to be involved. The residents of this community, being primarily retirees, seem to feel that it is not their place to pay a half-penny tax or any form ofmonetary supplement for improved activities or schools. This may be in part because their kids are grown and they no longer feel that they should be responsible.

The parents of the kids must share in the guilt for not spending time striving to get the politicians to promote better programs, as well as encouraging their children to be more self-motivated with the community. Kids who are involved in the community are productive members of the community.

Michael Knox, New Port Richey

Proposition being ignored by county

Editor: In last November's election, there was a proposition to grant homeowners ages 65 and older, with an income under $25,000 per year, an additional homestead exemption.

This was well received by the voters and passed by over 70 percent of us. The next action is required by individual county's commissioners to act upon it and approve it.

In a telephone conversation with Commission Chairman Ann Hildebrand, it became clear to me that the Pasco board would not be acting on this any time soon. Based on the proposed tax increase in the budget for Pasco County, it looks like it's on with the increases as usual.

Were we voters heard? Or, have we just dropped another feather into the well?

Thomas McDonald, Bayonet Point