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Letters to the Editors

Opponents of deputies' union ignore the facts


© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

Editor: Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent needs to realize that unions aren't divisive. Unions are a symptom of an already-formed split within an organization.

On a fundamental level, Nugent and his management are failing to articulate to our deputies the assurances they need in the way of pay structure, benefits, insurance, fair work practices and arbitration representation. Citing only that "Having a union may only serve to delay and hamper our efforts to continue our record of achievement and make positive changes that would be in your best interest," is not the basis for an intelligent argument against his deputies forming or joining a representational body.

The good work of our deputies will be used as part of Nugent's campaign for re-election, but in what way will our deputies be rewarded? More division? More of the same be-happy-with-what-you've-got management mentality?

Nugent's thinly veiled threats are undermined by the fact that many of our deputies have to work second jobs (moonlighting) to help their families survive. As Hernando's population continues to grow, so do the risks of combating crime. Many of our deputies are forced to hire private attorneys to offset frivolous lawsuits despite their being cleared of any wrongdoing. Criminals can only gain leverage by the divisions taking place in the Sheriff's Office.

Nugent is ill advised to be issuing insensitive, boorish memorandums that qualifies any potential member as an adversary.

This latest course of action seems to be in accordance with the growing conservative notion that workers should do as they are told and expect nothing for the fruits of their labors. Local government workers are being forced to work longer and harder hours with diminishing resources so that certain neoconservatives can satisfy their unprogressive base with the no-new-taxes mantra.

The long and short of it is that good police forces cost money, good government costs money, and that money comes from taxes. Compare the taxes that many of our transplanted residents paid up north to what they pay here and any argument that arises will evaporate instantly.

Look at the rolls for delinquent taxpayers. It's extensive. I don't want to pay somebody else's taxes, but I want to be able to get all of the services I need, too. Wasting public money is despicable, and accountability is a must for elected members in the public sector.

However, if 9/11 taught us anything, it illustrated the extent that our law enforcement community will go to protect us. If they need money to do their job, then they should get it. There can be no room for those who are afraid to go to the powers that be to demand extra revenue be freed up for our emergency services for fear of perceived mutiny to a minor levy-free faction of conservatives.

Unions help keep ambivalent corporations and governments honest. Unions are the clap of thunder that get the attention of organizations that don't figure in living wages, benefits, or fair workplace practices to their profit margins. Unions are very often the last bastion of decency for the maltreated worker. From getting medical insurance to cover treatments, to helping fight sexual harassment in the office, unions work.

Sheriff Nugent's reluctance -- and this also applies to those opposed to the unionization of Hernando County's government workers -- is more indicative of an inability to understand his staff's needs than it is to negotiate with a union that appears to have something Nugent doesn't have: The best interests of his deputies at heart.
-- Mark Lamar, Spring Hill

Perhaps schools should focus on education alone

Editor: Re: Let's recycle our old, large vacant stores, March 24 letter to the editor by Art McIntyre:

He points to other creative opportunities related to his reference to "... could be used for schools." Consider that we have evolved over the years from functional educational buildings to expensive sprawling campuses with increasing emphasis on sports and the extracurricular, to the extent that the result is a serious dilution of educational quality and quantity.

Suppose we reversed this evolution by separating sports, child care, etc., and assigning these functions to the municipality, thereby leaving educators to educate and sports and social involvements to other specialists. Then the staff, students, parents and community would have a better focus on their responsibilities and objectives, and Mr. McIntyre's idea of using abandoned building space for schools would have even more merit.

Then we would have the bonus of parity with Asian students and other positive considerations.
-- George Warren, Spring Hill

Don't rewrite eyesore rules, just enforce the ones we have

Editor: Re: Derelict cars in yards may have to go, April 7 Times:

I completely agree that something needs to be done in Hernando County with the abandoned autos that don't run, and yards with rubbish that make some local area junkyards and legal dump sites seem clean.

What I don't understand is that there are already ordinances in this county to curtail this type of unkempt property. By revising an already existing ordinance in order to stop such activity seems unrealistic and unneeded to me. Why aren't the current regulations that are in place being used by code enforcement to prevent such eyesores from spreading throughout this county? By enforcing and citing the owners of yards that are not in compliance with the ordinances already in place, we would not need to make revisions to accomplish what should already be taking place.

This is a question for the commissioners to discuss before writing this revision on April 15. Actions are always better than a few words or revisions. We don't need to fix an ordinance that is already there. Let's work together as residents to put a stop to this growing problem in our communities of Hernando County.
-- L. Monnell, Brooksville

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