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Letters to the Editors

It's not okay for police officers to accept 'bonus'


© St. Petersburg Times
published December 8, 2002

Dear Editor: As a former Inverness police officer and someone who is presently employed as a corrections officer, I would like to say it's not appropriate for police officers to directly take money. The longer I work for the government, the more I find that it is hard to do things with integrity; and it's easy to slip and slide into oblivion.

I disagree with the effort of Winston Perry, president of the Inverness Olde Town Association, who apparently has concluded it is perfectly fine for sworn police officers to accept money under a scenario that "feels good." Let us remember the facts:

1. Mr. Perry finds it easy to wager negative campaigns against City Council members. He just championed an effort to unseat a county commissioner because the commissioner differed from what Mr. Perry wanted.

2. Let's not forget that Mr. Perry has political aspirations, as evidenced by his recent run for Mosquito Control Board and his announcement (printed in a newspaper) about seeking political office at the county level by challenging Commissioner Josh Wooten in less than two years. (Wooten also differed with Mr. Perry on an issue.)

3. Mr. Perry obviously has a need to have his name in the newspaper because of political ambition as he previously did on numerous occasions when he did not get his way with city government over parking enforcement, festival organization and the like. (Just check your past headlines for proof of this element.)

4. Mr. Perry owns the dilapidated Valerie Theater and was turned down by the Inverness City Council when he requested use of city funds in the form of a tax break so that he might restore the building, but he would not say how it would be restored or used.

5. Three Inverness City Council seats are up for election, and the police union distributed distorted information about officers' pay and who was upset about it (three or four police picketed, meaning 10 or 11 did not).

Add these things, and we have the perfect situation for pure political jockeying.

To conclude that some schemes are good enough to directly pay and influence police officers requires that one last component of public sector responsibility be completely ignored, which brings us to the sixth item proponents of this idea would have to ignore: You would have to trash established standards of ethics, integrity, actions unbecoming a police officer, the scope and inherent understanding of Florida Statutes, the fact that fortunately local policy in Inverness has been in place since 1986 to prohibit the acceptance of gratuities by anyone in the city of Inverness, and the fact that general police standards at every level naturally prohibit any mechanism for a person, group or interest group to directly pay police officers.

If you wake up one morning and totally forget where you have been, I guess it is easy to conclude that it is okay for police officers to accept money.

Let's step back for a moment and stop the creation of issues that mean little compared with the real accomplishments we have experienced in the city and county.
-- Michael Pitts, Inverness

Judges' decisions raise an eyebrow

Editor: First we have a judge who lets two juveniles get away with murder while an Inverness judge gives another juvenile (with mental problems) 10 years in prison for stealing a six-pack of beer. That little episode got Florida on the national nightly news.

Then I saw on the 6 p.m. news Thursday on WTSP-Ch. 10 that a judge removed a 2-year old girl from the loving care of her uncle, aunt and family. In his opinion, he ruled that the girl was bonding too strongly with her family and was better off in foster care. What kind of lunatic judges do we have sitting on the bench?
-- Roger L. Owen, Lecanto

Sugarmill Woods should vote on center

Editor: There is only one fair way to settle the issue of a community center for Sugarmill Woods. That is to have homeowners there vote on it, a most un-Sugarmill Woods event. I do not want a community center. I will not use it. But I will have to pay my assesment if it comes to pass. A little democracy here would be most reassuring.
-- A. William Clark, Homosassa

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