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CONDONE DUI? NOT THIS TAXPAYER

Re: Deputy made his own bad decision - July 20 letter to the editor

In all due respect to Dr. Melissa Langone's expertise on the subject of when some people are drunk and when some are not, please allow me my 2 cents in this matter, as a taxpayer. Let me clarify my "true motivation" and qualifications.

I am a retired senior citizen. I spent 25 years in the service of my country. I am an ex-police officer. I am a drinker. I drive a car. I am not without sin, so I won't throw stones. I am, and have been, a taxpayer in Hernando County for more than 20 years.

My problem with all this letter writing (pro and con) regarding the unfortunate death of Hernando County Sheriff's Office Deputy Michael Stegner is this: As a person living on a fixed income amounting to much less than a deputy's annual pay, I am upset that he killed himself while DUI. I'm upset because his act also makes me guilty of a crime. In essence, I allowed a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate my motor vehicle.

Whether you realize it or not, Dr. Langone, that vehicle belonged to the taxpayers. Our taxes also paid the thousands of dollars for the deputy's background checks, his training, his equipment, his salary, his fringe benefits, including accident and hospitalization insurance. Our taxes paid for all the emergency equipment and personnel at the scene that fateful morning. Did your studies also include what Deputy Stegner's "own bad decision" cost the taxpayers that day?

Were the other deputies, out on the town with Michael that night, also driving one of my cars while DUI? My problem is why another highly paid employee of mine, Sheriff Richard Nugent, is turning a crime into an "educational opportunity" for the rest of my employees on his staff, instead of conducting an internal affairs investigation and not a whitewash of a systemic problem within his department.

My problem is that, with my taxes, the cost of my insurance, my food, my medicine is spiraling upward almost on a daily basis, and my annual "cost of living" increase stays at 3 percent. The Sheriff's Office, the fire department and just about every other department of the county wants the funding to increase their budgets by millions of dollars. My problem, Dr. Langone, is, when is my funding going to increase to help me afford to keep running for the next fiscal year without cutting personal services?

My problem, doctor, is that not enough people rise up and demand what is right from their employees. You should too, instead of condoning their thoughtless and illegal actions, either on or off duty. I am positive that your employer would not let you get by with it. Why should we, the tax-paying employers of Hernando County, do so?

Edward J. McDougall Sr., Brooksville

Re: Fire fee increase up for a vote - July 20 story

Don't compare apples to oranges

I read the article to hear Chief Mike Nickerson say that Hernando County Fire Rescue was cheaper than both Spring Hill Fire Rescue and Brooksville Fire Rescue. My family owns two homes, one in Spring Hill Fire Rescue's zone and one in Hernando County Fire Rescue's zones; so, like the good bookkeeper I am, I did the math.

Last year for service with Spring Hill, we were charged one charge for EMS and fire of $287.11, and with Hernando County we were charged two charges (like we always have been) of $156.37 for fire service and $219.40 for EMS service, to total $375.77. Okay, let's all do the math. Spring Hill is cheaper than Hernando County by $88.66. So we have established Chief Nickerson is wrong, and to add insult to injury, Chief J.J. Morrison just announced last week that Spring Hill Fire Rescue will be lowering its fees to alleviate the burden on the taxpayers and the service will be the same great service (guess the reporter forgot to tell us all that since it was announced at the last fire commission meeting July 11.)

So, if you do compare only the fire rate of Hernando County to the entire charge of Spring Hill Fire Rescue (which includes EMS), then, yes, they are cheaper. But you don't have medical included in that quote, so it isn't quite accurate.

I just thought that since the newspaper was reporting incomplete information that I would clear it up for readers.

Amy Brosnan, Spring Hill

Editor's note: The Times reported the decrease in Spring Hill Fire Rescue's millage rate on July 13.

Your voice counts

We welcome letters from readers for publication. To send a letter from your computer, go to www.tampabay.com/letters and fill in the required information. Type your letter in the space provided on the form, specify that you are writing the Hernando section of the newspaper, and then click "submit." You also may cut and paste a letter that you have prepared elsewhere in your computer.

If you prefer, you may fax your letter to (352) 754-6133, or mail it to: Letters to the Editor, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613.

All letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, city of residence, mailing address and telephone number. When possible, letters should include a handwritten signature. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed. The Times does not publish anonymous letters.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste, length and accuracy. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

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