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Letters to the Editors

Letter blasting police 'bonus' is illogical, misses the point

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002

Editor: In response to It's not okay for police officers to accept 'bonus,' letter to the editor, Sunday Citrus Times: To borrow one of Bobby Bowden's favorite words, I was downright "bumfuzzled" by the aforementioned letter from Michael Pitts.

It purports to explain why the Perrys' idea for a Christmas "thank you" to underpaid police officers is a bad idea. Instead, it begins by enumerating four reasons why the Perrys are really bad people, to wit:

1) Mr. Perry finds it easy to wager (sic) negative campaigns . . . He just championed an effort to unseat a county commissioner because the commissioner differed from what Mr. Perry wanted. Wow. Not agreeing with the behavior of an elected official is pretty un-American stuff.

Does Mr. Pitts realize that 60 percent of commissioner Jim Fowler's own party tried to unseat him for the same reasons Mr. Perry did? Or that the courts likewise came down on the commissioner for the same bad decisionmaking that much of the county did?

2) Let's not forget that Mr. Perry has political aspirations, as evidenced by his recent run for Mosquito Control Board. Does Mr. Pitts think it is un-American to seek office? Does this indicate a character flaw?

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.

Mr. Perry has a need to have his name in the papers? The man is a founding member of the Homosassa River Alliance and has membership in a half-dozen other county organizations. But as president of the New Inverness Olde Towne Association (with 30-40 businesses channeling needs grievances through his voice) the real question is, how does he keep his name out of the papers?

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. Yes, Mr. Perry purchased the Valerie Theater, which will be restored with or without city tax incentive help. But logic dictates that no work proceed until the Downtown Project is completed. Apparently, Mr. Pitts thinks that the decades of neglect and abuse suffered by this historic edifice indicates some kind of bad character in the people trying to save it.

Perhaps Mr. Pitts assumes that by discrediting the authors of the police Christmas bonus idea, he discredits the idea. After which, he proceeds to discredit the idea itself, calling it "a scheme to directly pay and influence police officers," which is sheer nonsense. Donations from anonymous sources to a common account (from which officers will receive equal checks from the bank itself) does not constitute bribery. It is nothing more than the time-honored, holiday tradition of an employer (Inverness citizens) saying "thank you" to their employees.

At an average salary of $21,000 per year, Inverness Police are brutally underpaid. With no health benefits, their plight is borderline tragic. It is not an uncommon idea to reward public service in its hour of need. Witness the financial tribute to the firefighters and police affected by 9/11, when the generosity of the human spirit had its finest hour.

So it was that Mr. Pitts' letter brought me full circle to reflect on seasonal issues of human generosity, spirit and character. Only it wasn't the Perrys' character I found myself questioning.
-- Jim Nicoll, Homosassa

Survey needed on idea for center

Editor: I am writing in reference to letters concerning a community center in Sugarmill Woods published in the Citrus Times on Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 8.

The idea of a center was espoused by the Women of Sugarmill Woods. At present, the Pro-Community Center Committee of Sugarmill Woods is handling the project. Publicity comes in front-page articles in the Greenbelt Gazette.

The November issue of the paper stated that "over 40 people packed the room." Forty individuals out of 2,391 full-time residents in Cypress Village alone is not an endorsement.

Another recent article in the Gazette noted a lack of money to carry on the preliminary work required. It seems reasonable to suppose that if the residents were wholeheartedly behind the effort, the funds would pour in.

Perhaps the PCCCSMW could better use its scarce resources to conduct a homeowner's survey with just one straightforward question: "Are you willing to pay an additional fee of possibly up to $50 or more to build and maintain a community center? Yes or No."

Maybe the issue would be decided and the committee could get on with planning for private funding.
-- Helen A. Slowe, Homosassa

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