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Shame on letter-writing driver for ageist attitude

Re: Commission should not raise gas tax, letter by Cheryl Finnerty, and Traffic planning at a crossroads, story, March 4.

Letter writer Cheryl Finnerty wants to keep senior citizens off roads during rush hour. She claims there is no reason for us to be on the road in the early morning. I beg to differ. If a doctor or dentist appointment is scheduled for an early hour, how else should we get there except by traveling on "her" roads?

Some of us even have the nerve to be employed, just like she is! Still others volunteer some of our well-earned leisure time to help out at hospice or a local hospital or perhaps the very school her children attend.

Oh, how rude of us to use the local highways to get to the local places of business or employment or volunteer job! Whatever were we thinking?

Perhaps my tax money went to pay for something else, but I have a feeling at least a few pennies of it went for maintenance on these very avenues she wishes to ban us from.

I hope she does not convey this hateful attitude toward her parents or other older relatives _ they might get the feeling they're not wanted.

Mrs. Andrew E. Black, Largo

We can't always choose what time we'll be on the road

I would like to comment on Bob Coffey's March 18 letter, Snowbirds clog the roads. This is our second year of snowbirding in Florida, and I have to say if we "stay put after our long drive," as he put it, then how are we to help the economy of Florida?

We also like to shop, eat out, go to plays, movies, visit friends, beaches and other places. Although we do try and stay off the roads during the morning and evening rush hours, sometimes it can't be helped. We can't all pick the time of day to be somewhere or to keep appointments, so please, think before asking us to stay put after our long drive.

My husband and I are safe drivers and have never had an accident, but I can't say the same for all Florida residents, both young and old. A small amount of patience and consideration goes a long way for both residents and snowbirds.

Marilyn Line, Palm Harbor

Senior drivers can drive just like the young: foolishly

I am a senior driver and I know that those letters about senior drivers don't apply to me. I have made it a habit to try to drive like the younger drivers do.

I drive at least 10 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit at all times. If the traffic light changes to red just before I get to it, I run it. I weave in and out of traffic at outrageous speeds and if at all possible I try to see how close I can fit my car in between two cars when I'm doing this.

I tailgate whenever I think this will speed up the slower drivers _ I don't care if there's small children in the car or not. I never pay attention to school zones. And most of all I try to never be late for happy hour _ and lacking that, I'll use my cell phone to see what everybody else has done during the day so that I won't have to talk at the supper table.

If someone gets me really mad, I rely on that old standby and give them the one-finger salute. If traffic gets to me I'll light up a doobie or stop and get me a cold one or two to drink on the way home.

So you see, they can't be talking about me, 'cause I am them, just a little older.

R.W. Murray, Oldsmar

Phone rate legislation favors businesses, not average people

On March 15 the Florida House of Representatives took up House Bill 1683, the so-called Switched Network Access Rates Reduction Act.

While masquerading as a bill that would spur competition in the local telephone market, this legislation is actually a vehicle for increasing local phone service rates. I voted against this bill because it will place an undue burden on residential and small business telephone users.

This legislation could amount to the largest telephone rate increase in the history of the state. It is estimated that in the long run this bill could increase local phone rates from $398-million to $448-million annually, both for residential and small business service.

It is further estimated that the cost of service per line could increase from $3 up to $8.31 per month. How the proponents of this bill can call such increases "revenue neutral" is beyond me.

The legislation, as written, will truly impact every family and small business, while intentionally exempting over 2.6-million "big business" access lines and every pay phone line in the state from sharing in the increases.

I cannot support legislation that so blatantly favors the needs of big business over the needs of the average Floridian. This bill, while packaged nicely, is a Trojan horse that will, one day, open up and hit each and every resident in the pocketbook. That is not something that I, as a legislator, can in good conscience support.

Rep. Mike Fasano, District 45

Unlike detective, civilian driver would have spent night in jail

Re: Detective punished for driving impaired, story, March 16.

Let me get this straight.

A Pinellas County detective 1) spends the evening drinking, 2) crashes a police cruiser into a stationary object, totaling it, 3) has the smell of alcohol on her breath ("Several deputies said they could smell alcohol on Bennett's breath"), 4) lies about consuming alcoholic beverages to the investigating officers, 5) questions the Clearwater police as to "Where's my agency? Why isn't my agency here yet?" (for reasons that are quite obvious) and the Clearwater Police leave the scene upon their arrival, despite the fact that she is obviously intoxicated, has destroyed city property and could very easily have taken lives but for her good luck.

She 6) is not forced to submit to a field sobriety test, despite alcohol on her breath, watery eyes and a crash at 12:30 a.m., 7) is not required to submit to a blood-alcohol test required for a criminal case, 8) is required to take a breath test for the internal affairs investigation and her tests of 0.179 and 0.185 are inadmissible for a criminal case, and 9) is not charged because the State Attorney's Office decided not to file charges.

Detective Karin Bennett is not charged, receives a five-day suspension without pay and will be driving a replacement cruiser paid for by the taxpayers in just six months. Does anyone see something wrong here or is it just me? You can bet one of us would have spent the night in jail and would be lucky to keep our driver's license.

Paul Gibson, Clearwater

Principal must have had a good reason for bending the rules

I am a graduate of Tarpon Springs High School Class of 2000. I had frequent interaction with Tarpon High's principal, John Nicely, because I was editor of the school newspaper. On my bookshelf there is a picture that my mother snapped on graduation night. It shows me on the stage receiving my diploma and a hug from Mr. Nicely. To me, that hug was as important as the diploma.

I have read the newspaper account of Mr. Nicely's situation and I am sure that if he chose to bend school rules, he did so because he felt it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Nicely was a positive example to each and every one of us every day. He was a gentleman and a kind and caring principal.

The world I live in is very far from black and white. Oftentimes, between right and wrong there are many shades of gray. The biggest wrong committed here was calling into question the character of a man who has spent his career making people like myself enjoy school and want to strive for success.

Travis Visser, Palm Harbor