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Lawmakers have neglected mentally ill

Mentally ill people in jails

Thank you for bringing the plight of this most vulnerable group of people to the attention of everyone. I am the executive director of a nonprofit agency that has provided treatment and rehabilitation since 1988 for these individuals who are currently in jail as a result of their mental illness. These men and women are in desperate need of an advocate as their voices are not being heard.

It would not serve them to jail the head of the state Department of Children and Families. Rather it draws attention away from the ongoing issue, which is the closing of our state mental hospital, G. Pierce Wood in Arcadia. The mentally ill now live in alleys, under bridges and on park benches throughout the state. The closing of hospitals such as this one are in direct relation to the dramatic rise in the homeless population.

The Legislature in its haste to "do something" has created a maelstrom statewide by not providing for the ongoing needs and services that are required to support this population. As a result of legislative inaction for the past several years, we have created local unfunded mandates to provide mental health services in our county jails.

These mentally ill people are not getting better. They will not make the transition back into our communities without treatment, and they will continue to cycle through arrest, incarceration, jail and back to the street, on and on, unless we provide residential settings for them.

When the state's lawmakers cut the funding in 2005 to this population, they created an environment that is dangerous to those individuals and the community.

Sara Romeo, executive director, Tampa Crossroads Inc., Tampa

Bayflite call not injured's to make Nov. 23

Be grateful for Bayflite

On Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for all of the things that we do have, including all of the emergency personnel that assisted William Skelton when his rock truck flipped. He should be thankful that he escaped life-changing consequences and is even able to make an issue of a health care bill.

Instead of an article criticizing a system that is in place to preserve human life and provide care to those in need, how about a front-page story on those who can enjoy another holiday thanks to the devotion and dedication of EMS providers? Unfortunately, all that was shown was a person who has decided not to embrace the good fortune that he has.

I am thankful that we have services like Bayflite in our area. I would gladly pay $8,000 to have my loved one on the operating room table in under an hour when tragedy strikes. I am thankful for the professionals who are able to make the decisions I am not able to during a time of need.

The state criteria are in place to protect people like William Skelton. I am disappointed that he takes them for granted. Mr. Skelton, count your blessings and be thankful - and pay your bill while you're at it!

Nate Ferguson, Palm Harbor

Indifference and its deadly toll Nov. 22

Our plate is full

Nicholas Kristof thinks the situation in Darfur, where Muslim militias are slaughtering and raping anything that moves, is somehow our responsibility. The woman who wrote to him disagreed, and so do I. It is a dreadful, evil and inhumane situation. Jon Lewis, a Mideast expert, called it Islam's killing fields. All foreign aid comes from the American taxpayer, and we should have a say in how it is spent.

In our country today, Appalachia is in poverty, we have seniors who can't buy their medicine and a large population of homeless living in boxes. Veterans go without care, soldiers whose families have to buy their body armor, hungry children and hurricane victims with blue tarps still on their roofs after three years.

We are the most generous nation in the world, but Halima's problem is not our responsibility. Her future is not up to us, as Kristof states. This president has tried to rescue one country from a Muslim dictator and is crucified on a daily basis for it.

Those people are going to have to rise up. Recall that an army with little more than pitchforks, single-shot rifles and frostbitten toes rose up and drove the British back across the ocean. It is Darfur's indifference, not ours, that is the problem. When Darfur gets as mad at the Muslim murderers as we were at the British, Halima will be avenged. Let rich Arab nations help. We are not the only country on the world stage, and right now our plate is full.

Lynn O'Keefe, Largo

A universal language, letter | Nov. 23

Look to English

There is a "universal language" in effect today: English. English, by and large, is the language of the Internet. It's the language of the media.

English is the world's most popular second language. It's among the official languages of the European Union, NATO and the United Nations. From Berlin to Bangkok, from Tokyo to Turin, English is a part of just about every school's curriculum. People from all over the world scramble to take courses in English, seeing it as a means to a better life.

Esperanto and other artificial languages of its ilk will never work in practice. They are languages divorced from a people, from culture and from history.

Successful languages serve human needs. Whatever word to describe a concept does not exist in English, we simply borrow the word wholesale from another language (Think about words such as kamikaze, braise, yo-yo, mayonnaise, barbecue, and paparazzi - they're all words borrowed from other languages that we use every day.)

Before the letter writer seeks to mandate the teaching of Esperanto to the world's schoolchildren, he would be well-advised to give a second look to English.

Elizabeth Hoff, St. Petersburg

Classless rant

On Nov. 23, the paper had a quote from Will Smith ranting about how teachers are useless:

"I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front of the class."

I would like to ask Will Smith: Who taught you to read?

Diana Touchton, kindergarten teacher, Palm Harbor

Some shopping magic, editorial Nov. 26

Insurance eats holiday

Having just read this editorial, I hope stores do well this season.

I have just received my home insurance bill from State Farm. They have simply increased my yearly insurance premium from $1,200 to $2,200. I guess they will get my Christmas fund this year.

Merry Christmas.

Charlotte Morales, Safety Harbor

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