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Morale will dip and cost will rise

Re: Veteran Services merger mystifies | Nov. 26 Times

Staff training, coaching and encouragement for the director and staff at the Veterans Services Office should be County Administrator Gary Kuhl's remedy for the department's administrative deficiencies, instead of being merged with the county Health and Human Services Department. The latter department is an expensive, self-serving referral agency directed by Jean Rags, who has no experience with veterans affairs.

Merging will lower the Veterans Services Office workers' morale because of the director and staff's being made to feel unworthy of having their administrative skills developed to meet current needs. Also, costs will increase because Rags likely will be given an increase in salary, as well as more assistants as her empire grows. Meanwhile, county government talks glibly about cost-cutting.

Further, Kuhl has said Rags will assume the "administrative end" of the veterans office. There is no such thing as the "administrative end." Administration permeates every aspect of any department or organization so as to derive maximum benefit from staff and other resources. Again, Kuhl has said he "authorized" the merger. His use of term "authorized" suggests he was directed to do so. Seemingly, Kuhl makes decisions then seeks information to support them.

Other county departments have administrative deficiencies. Presumably, they also will be merged with the Health and Human Services Department to "increase efficiency." Maybe Kuhl already is updating his resume for early return to full-time residency at his spiritual home in Citrus County.

Clearly, the Veterans Services Office is being used to strengthen Rags' department, which never needed establishing. Its activities are more appropriate for United Way. Further, the same department occupies prime space at the government center where, supposedly, there is a shortage of space for essential services.

Veterans, to whom so much is owed, deserve better.

James A. Willan, Brooksville

Re: AIDS can reach anyone at any age | Dec. 1 column by Andrew Skerritt

Don't ignore the larger AIDS issue

While 3-million people will die of AIDS this year, the public pays little attention. It was commendable that Skerritt chose to use the day to increase awareness and education about the disease through his article.

There was only one problem; he ignored the larger problem, which goes beyond the scope of the U.S. World AIDS Day's theme for 2006, "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise," and was meant to energize citizens to advocate an agenda that includes AIDS as a priority. It would have been more worthwhile to note that the U.S. House of Representatives opposed a Senate proposal to treat roughly 99,000 more victims each year, and our local congresswoman, Ginny-Brown Waite, is apparently doing nothing.

It's time to publicize our 6-year-old national promise to halt and reverse the spread of AIDS by 2015, our failure to make decent progress and possible plans to meet the goal.

Steven White, Spring Hill

Re: Robinson/Rocco lawsuits

Districts are a campaign ploy

I have kept my mouth shut long enough on this debacle between Commissioner Nancy Robinson and (popular vote) Commissioner-elect Rose Rocco.

If we go back many years (1992), it would seem there were improprieties in the stated residence of our recently defeated Commissioner Robinson.

It has been the norm from Paul Sullivan, Robinson and so on, to make it appear that they actually lived in a district when all they did was rent a place (but not actually live in it) to appear to qualify for that district.

It also has been very evident the past few redistricting fiascoes that the sitting commissioners have conveniently spearheaded the new district lines to exclude prior or possibly strong challenging candidates right out of their district.

This brings me to another problem with our current districts as they stand. Districts are strictly a campaign ploy to help the incumbent stay in office; it serves no other real purpose. The candidate campaigns in all districts, the voters vote for all commissioners and the winning candidate then votes on all district issues. Why, then, don't we abolish the archaic "district" all together and require that the candidate live anywhere in the county, since it is the whole county that votes and who is affected by every vote?

The issue of living in the district on Election Day is blurred as to which day do we call Election Day? The day that some of us choose to vote early (that's their "Election Day'')? The day that most of us vote (that's our "Election Day'')? The deadline for absentee votes or the day the service members' votes are actually counted?

I would venture to say that "Election Day'' is not finalized until the last vote is counted. Why is it not universally recognized as the day the candidate takes office? This would eliminate all the costly gyrations candidates have to do if they live a block out of their district, it would eliminate costly legal fees the residents end up paying, and there would be a black-and-white line drawn for everyone.

It does not matter whether I personally want Robinson or Rocco as our next commissioner. What does matter is that things have been skewed in the past and it is obvious that the majority of the people voted Rocco in and Robinson out. It also appears Rocco tried to do right by signing a contract to purchase a home (prior to winning the election) and also asked for and the advice of our illustrious County Attorney Garth Coller.

I want my tax dollars spent on other things, such as cleaning up the chemical mess our county government had imposed on unsuspecting residents of Brooksville, paving more of our dirt roads, or helping seniors to afford their taxes and insurance hikes, rather than attorneys and lengthy court cases that suck up our hard-earned money.

Lynette Ball, Spring Hill