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STORY ABOUT RACY BOOK WAS BIASED

Like Mari, I am a student in the International Baccalaureate program at Gulf High School and a practicing Christian. I too was a little shocked about the graphic sexual descriptions within The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I understand the Mercados' point of view and certainly do not object to the decision not to read the book.

However, I feel that the article was extremely biased and wrongly portrayed Gulf High and Mrs. Ledman. As IB students, we are expected to approach such topics maturely, and to realize the views and foreign or unfamiliar aspects of the lives of others.

Although The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has several sexual scenes, the book in no way revolves around them. I consider it a fantastic piece of literature, which is why it is on the IB list of titles available to begin with, and why it was chosen by the school.

It is understandable that any racy book may leave a bitter taste in a parent's mouth, which is why I agree that Mari should not be punished for her refusal to read it. Although not completing the assignments may have an impact on her grade, there is no reason to drop out of the program simply because she will not read the book. The whole situation was blown out of proportion.

Was this the most appropriate choice of novel? Probably not. Was something so minute made more dramatic than necessary? Absolutely.

Natalie Smith, Port Richey

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Sensitivity should have been used

This is something that should have been handled more sensitively by the parents and not sensationalized. My child is the second IB student in our family; our first graduated with the inaugural class. I am worried for Mari, that she will have a hard time when she leaves the shelter of home to attend college.

The Gulf High School IB program stresses personal responsibility; making a media show of a disagreement is not fair to the other students in the program. I would like to see an equally lengthy article on the positive things about Gulf's IB program. The students are very active in their school and community. They raise money for the American Cancer Society and to fight autism They are loyal to their teachers and friends. They are leaders.

The first class to graduate now attend colleges like Columbia, the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. They embody part of the IB mission statement to "encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right."

So in the end Mari will be understood, but will she extend that same understanding to others?

Tara Penick, New Port Richey

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Why spend on consultant fees?

I recently attended the public budget workshop for the city of Dade City. I was a little taken aback that given the current economic conditions facing municipalities, Dade City commissioners still want to move forward utilizing tax dollars on consultant fees - $100,000 toward the design of a new City Hall. It is a building we don't have funds to build and won't for some time.

Also, there is an additional $25,000 for a needs assessment space analysis to determine how much space we need to house the few city employees currently working at City Hall. One would believe that staff could handle this in house without the utilization of consultants.

Let's back up and remind taxpayers that over three budget cycles from Oct. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2008, Dade City spent more than $1 million on consultant fees. It seems a bit excessive for a city our size and given the fact we had an engineer on staff.

Even more disturbing is the fact that we are spending this kind of money on consultants when employees are being told there will be no raises and the city is eliminating two part-time employee positions, which receive no benefits.

My advice to City Manager Billy Poe and this current commission is to lose the consultants, keep the part-timers. Consultants are a dime a dozen. When it comes to City Hall, stick with Plan A: utilization of CRA funds to clean up City Hall with a roof repair and fresh coat of paint for now.

Experts have projected that municipal budgets will be hard-hit again next year. I would encourage city residents to attend the final budget approval meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Jim Shive, Dade City

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