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Letters to the Editors

Arline's dismissal should be explained


© St. Petersburg Times
published October 6, 2002

Editor: For the record, I have no connection with the former United Way executive director Dawn Arline except that we meet occasionally at local antiques auctions.

Based upon external observation, press comment, news stories and other media reporting, Ms. Arline has always been portrayed as an accomplished professional. Her enthusiasm, work rate and organizational skills were exceptional for someone whose responsibilities were limited to a county level. I expected her to rise within the hierarchy of United Way.

Not so. Dawn Arline was fired without a hearing, denied due process, escorted from her office like a criminal, offered no severance package and deposited on the employment sidewalk without explanation.

Under Florida's employer-friendly laws, Ms. Arline falls victim to "at will" statutes. This means that she can be fired without the United Way of Citrus County having to demonstrate termination "for cause." In reality, many employers do not exercise their at will rights of total nondisclosure and will voluntarily divulge any issues within a letter of severance.

If Ms. Arline should decide to litigate, she may benefit from an adjudication which will remedy some of her obvious grievances.

This does not free her from the immediate conclusion of some people reading about this incident. They may assume, rightly or wrongly, without any shred of proof, that she is guilty of some form of financial impropriety.

To either substantiate or deny this implied allegation, the board of directors should release, immediately in full, the eight-page internal document that formed the basis of their controversial firing decision. Failure to do so will leave a permanent smear on Arline's credibility and reputation.

The Web site for United Way of Citrus County boasts the following, "We believe . . . that by maintaining the highest level of organizational integrity we set a standard to be followed by others." It is doubtful Ms. Arline has any confidence that she has been treated decently or honestly in accordance with that standard.

Consider the evidence as described in the Citrus Times on Sept. 29. Ms. Arline is a 12-year employee with a record of continuous achievement. The governing board meets and, 19 of 21 members, spontaneously decides that, based upon a document never made public, they have no confidence in her continued tenure.

In a worst-case scenario, her dismissal was possibly based around a health problem. There is an incongruity in this suggestion that is so obvious as to negate the core rationale of the agencies for which United Way raises contributions.

Significant public interest will be served if the Times continues its investigation. Maybe someone on the United Way board will have the courage to provide a copy of the Arline indictment. Maybe the names of the shadowy figures behind this coup will be exposed so that they can be required to explain the logic behind their controversial decision.

Dawn Arline deserves a better form of justice.
-- Chris Lloyd, Lecanto

Judge should be recalled for lack of good judgment

Editor: Is it something in the water?

Citrus County has a long and rich history of local judges making fools of themselves and the residents of Citrus. Now, once again, we have a judge with apparent diminished capacity.

First off, Circuit Judge Ric Howard refused to listen, twice, to the person responsible for deciding what charges should be placed against juveniles. Assistant State Attorney Jeff Smith realized that Ryan Connell had been wrongly charged as the driver of a truck with marijuana aboard. The driver admitted it was his, and the prosecutor twice told the judge these facts and his determination that Connell had done more than enough rehabilitation already in drug court and should be released from same. Judge Howard said no.

Next, we have two different state agencies recommending that a juvenile who stole a six-pack of beer and then escaped from a police cruiser be given either house arrest or placement in a level 8 facility for juveniles to straighten out his life. Instead, the judge sentences the youth to 10 years as an adult, thereby ensuring recidivism. How does this guy sleep?

Now we have a police officer involved in three wrecks, one with injuries to a mother and two children and one with the death of a man. He also ran over a pedestrian and don't forget, crashed his police cruiser when he ran a stop sign!

Hello? Judge Howard, do you think that when officer Chris Thompson was tailgating, passing double yellow lines and speeding, his victim was anticipating this? The phrase "judge and jury" comes to mind reading of the dismissed charges.

I wonder if Judge Howard gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror and sees Gary Graham? Somebody start a petition for recall because we all need to sign it.
-- Kevin McCurdy, Floral City

Citrus newspaper denies its readers balanced coverage

Editor: It is truly interesting that a local Citrus County newspaper chooses not to print any of the many letters sent to them supporting recent events in Crystal River. For several months, letters seem to have been chosen very carefully that only echo the biased opinions of the editorial staff of the Citrus County Chronicle.

The very unfair way they have prevented any positive publicity of Mayor Ron Kitchen under the guise of his being a candidate for re-election loses all credibility as pictures of county Commissioner Jim Fowler appear regularly. Is he not a candidate?

My perhaps archaic understanding of newspapers and their reporters is to cover and report the news in a fair and balanced way. This description definitely does not fit the aforementioned newspaper, which is a shame, as there is a huge opportunity to educate the citizens of Crystal River to the "rest of the story."

Perhaps the truth will appear in a competing newspaper not under the thumb of an elite group.
-- Anita L. Ward, Crystal River

Share your views

The Citrus Times welcomes letters from readers for publication.

Because of space limitations, letters should be of reasonable length.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

All letters must be signed and must contain the writer's address and telephone number. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed.

Send your letter to Citrus Times, 301 W Main St., Inverness, FL 34450. To fax a letter call, 860-7320. Send letters by electronic mail (in text only format) to citrus@sptimes.com.

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