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Letters to the Editors

Don't alter public records act


© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002

Editor: Re: Keeping the public in the dark is a mistake, Jan. 24 Jan Glidewell column:

I have practiced administrative law for more than a quarter of a century and firmly believe that a meaningful democracy depends on an informed and educated electorate.

The electorate cannot be informed if it has limited access to the public's business. I am rather radical in my belief that documents and information withheld from the public do little to protect privacy concerns but do much to limit a meaningful dialogue and debate over public issues, and as stated, protect public policy from public criticism.

I agree with the viewpoint that public records belong to the people and should be easily accessible to them. The public records act should not be amended to make those records less accessible. As fear of terrorism should not cause us to refrain from travel and shopping, neither should fear of identity theft cause us to erode our democracy and our ability to cast an informed vote by concealment from the public of the business of the public. A locked public drawer does little to deter the thief but much to conceal the actions and decisions of the public official. The public records act should not be amended as proposed. Right on, Mr. Glidewell.
-- Ben Patterson, Tallahassee

Hospital officials should grow up

Editor: Re: For everyone's benefit, hospital truce needed, Jan. 31 editorial:

During World War II, English hospitals, especially those in cities, were bombed without mercy. Frequently, sometimes during air raids, because buildings had been damaged or destroyed, patients were transferred between hospitals for continued acute care. Arriving ambulances often went straight to improvised mortuaries. Throughout all this, hospital chief executive officers freely exchanged information pertinent to the job.

I write from experience.

Sixty years later, the chief executive officer from each of two Hernando hospitals are bombing each other for greater market share. They do so to satisfy owners, whose greed appears to surpass patients' needs.

These officers, instead, should count their blessings, behave like big boys and shake hands. Maybe, their unbounded energy could be instead directed to, at least, containing costs. Otherwise, services at their state-of-the-art facilities could become beyond the financial reach of the many who need them.
-- James A. Willan, Brooksville

Redistricting ploy is an insult

Editor: The redistricting proposal that came out of committee in Tallahassee is a slap in the face to U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman, D-Dunnellon. The Republicans have not been able to defeat her at the polls so they want to destroy her district, and give her an unwieldy, sprawling district where she is an unknown, and undermine her effectiveness in Congress.

Representative Thurman has done an outstanding job in Washington, gaining the respect of her colleges and winning a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee. Most importantly though, she has never forgotten her constituents. She has been a great advocate for veterans and without her efforts we would not have the Veterans Administration Clinic in Inverness. She has worked tirelessly on a host of issues and has been very open and accessible. She is well-liked by both Democrats and Republicans.

If Citrus County is put in the proposed district, we will wind up with counties that have diametrically opposing interests. Water is just one such issue. Our current 5th Congressional District encompasses an area that faces issues more like our own. If the current proposal is passed, the Republicans will find that many of us will vote against any candidate they put up.

We all need to support the proposed amendment to change the way our state is redistricted. This very important job needs to be removed from the hands of the political parties and given to a non-partisan group. I have signed a petition for making this change and agree with the League of Women Voters and others who support it.
-- Judy Groner, Lecanto

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