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Letters to the Editors

DUI: a crime of the highest magnitude

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 1, 2002

Re: Police seek suspect in fatal hit and run, Aug. 29.

Being a resident of this area with young children, this is a subject that concerns me. It is amazing that repeat offenders of DUI such as Landon Luepkes are actually still out on the street and allowed behind the wheel of a car.

The suspect is not a child, although he acts like it, doing whatever he pleases without any regard to the results of his actions.

Landon Luepkes has more than 30 items on his rap sheet. What is the court system thinking when it releases these types of people out on bail or their own recognizance and they don't show up to court? And then they are accused of repeating the same offense a couple of months later with even more tragic results. This is a disgrace.

I know the law categorizes a crime like this as vehicular manslaughter. It is nothing less than absolute murder. Getting behind the wheel of any type of vehicle while impaired should be considered a crime of the highest magnitude. But, unfortunately it isn't in the eyes of the law. I don't see why not. The victim is just as dead. Their families are heartbroken.

Shame on a grown man who doesn't know how to control himself and then runs and hides like a coward without the decency to stand up and receive the deserved punishment.

The people who help them hide are just as guilty. And more shame on the judicial system that can't seem to keep these offenders off the street once they have them in their custody.
-- Susan Falcone, Hudson

Teachers' settlement stirs pride

Re: Teachers' deal is nothing to celebrate, Aug. 29 letter.

In his letter, former state education union employee Gary Landry shows that he's the master of fuzzy math. Perhaps that's why he works in communications (or perhaps miscommunications) instead of research and analysis!

Any salary schedule is a snapshot of an employee's current salary, not a predictor of future earnings. If his logic were valid, the top salary for Pasco teachers would not have improved by more than $30,000 in the 20 years since I started teaching here in Pasco. The writer knows full well that he is misrepresenting and downplaying one of the best contract settlements in the state. Could this be because he and his current employer, the James Madison Institute, have as one of their main goals the elimination of collective bargaining for public school teachers and school related personnel?

They oppose reducing class sizes and support so-called reform schemes such as private school vouchers, unregulated charter schools, and privatization of school services. They see education unions as their biggest obstacles, and rightly so.

As president of United School Employees of Pasco, I am proud of the settlement we negotiated for Pasco's teachers and school-related personnel. Even the lowest negotiated salary increase more than five times pays our members' dues. I am also proud of the enlightened majority that has chosen to be a part of the union that negotiates wages, looks out for their interests, and keeps friends such as Gary Landry and the Madison Institute at bay. As the saying goes, "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"
-- Lynne J. Webb, president United School Employees of Pasco, Land O'Lakes

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