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THE PEOPLE GET SCANT ATTENTION FROM THIS GOVERNOR

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS GOV. CHARLIE CRIST? - FEB. 11

Thank you for pointing out that Gov. Charlie Crist, "the People's Governor," is not spending much time here with the people. Running around the country with Sen. John McCain would be a whole lot more fun than staying here and working with legislators on all the problems facing Florida.

The biggest, newest problem is one that the governor and his special-interests friends brought about themselves. In addition to our old problems of property taxes and property insurance, we now have new problems. There's the shortfall of tax revenues that Amendment 1 will make worse, and local governments and taxing authorities will be raising the millage rates on the already overtaxed backs of first-time buyers, businesses, second home owners and snowbirds, renters and short-term homesteaders.

What about the $1.5-billion shortfall that our school systems face? How much of the Lotto money is really getting to the schools? How do we fund our schools, counties, towns and local municipalities with a property tax base where approximately 40 percent of the tax base is paying on '90s property values? And now they can carry that big discount to bigger homes forever.

The groups of newcomers that Florida has always depended on to pick up the tax shift from the long-term Save Our Homes homesteaders are not coming anymore. Gov. Crist promised to work on all the problems, but instead, he has his eye on a vice presidential job in Washington. How unfair is this to the people of Florida, Gov. Crist? (I did write him, by the way, to ask this and I did receive a nice little form letter from one of his assistants).

I am sorry I voted for him. Burn me once, shame on thee. Burn me twice, shame on me.

S.L. Hutton, Belleair

State gaming on a roll - Feb. 11, story

Gambling hurts too many

To quote the first sentence of your front-page story: "It's a breakout year for Florida's gambling business."

Now it's time for a "reality check." It is the "reality" that countless lives are being destroyed by gambling addictions. Food is taken from the mouths of children, and those who fall victim to gambling addictions rank highest in addictive suicide rates.

Who wins? No one. Let's gamble, folks. Rob Peter to pay Paul so we can add more funds to the state budget. How dysfunctional and unfathonable a choice!

So explain this to me. How can we believe it's okay to contribute to a gambling addict's disease in the name of business? We don't condone drug dealing do we? Gambling is an addiction!

I can't say it's okay. I can't justify it.

Linda Leinbach, Tarpon Springs

FCAT

Inappropriate pressure

My son is a Pinellas County student and loves school. However, while doing a homework assignment in preparation for the upcoming FCAT, he said if he didn't pass the FCAT he would fail fourth grade.

For him to worry about passing the fourth grade, especially when he has a history of enjoying and doing well in school, is criminal. If my son someday wants to take a test to become a CPA, a doctor or a lawyer, then test anxiety at that level is understandable - but he's in fourth grade!

What about struggling students? What kind of stress are they under when it comes to the FCAT? The message our children are receiving about the FCAT flies in the face of child development research and raising healthy, well- adjusted children. Federal law allows educators to act in loco parentis, yet as parents we don't put our children under that kind of pressure. Perhaps another option would be to hold state and school district officials accountable. After all, as adults they can handle the pressure.

Richard Wolfe, Clearwater

Parents waver over wisdom of spankingFeb. 6, story

The wrong lesson

I work in child abuse prevention, and this is how I explain it to parents: Hitting your child teaches your child that people solve problems by hitting and hurting each other.

An adult can physically overpower a child almost 100 percent of the time. Every time children are punished with spanking, they learn that communication is less effective than hitting and hurting. Most spanking comes not from a carefully considered approach to solving a problem, but from a frustrated and angry parent allowing that stress to overcome their sense.

It is easy to confuse discipline with punishment. I teach the parents I work with the true meaning of discipline, which also happens to be the biblical meaning. Discipline means "to teach." To discipline children means to teach them, not hit them. In fact, hitting children teaches one primary thing: to hit others.

Adults are not legally allowed to solve their problems with one another by hitting each other. It's called battery and it is a felony. Yet somehow, our society continues to try to find excuses and reasons for adults to commit this crime against children - with the result being angry, aggressive and abused children. It needs to stop. We need to stop it - now.

Juliana Menke, St. Petersburg

Use car deaths as lesson - Feb. 5, letter

Ads drive danger

The letter writer was right about young people and cars. However, he left out a very important contribution to this crime: TV commercials.

If you see the ads on TV about the Cadillac or Audi (plus many more) that are spinning wheels in town or racing down the highways, you can see the problem. As a retired emergency-room nurse, I have seen too many kids (or what was left of them) who thought, "If it can be shown on TV, then it must be legal."

Along with making parents partly responsible for the young people's actions, we should also include the ad men who put that trash in front of the youth. Also, quit trying to be nice to the kids by lightening their sentences for these crimes.

Kathryn L. Robinson,New Port Richey

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