Letters to the Editors
Union would protect county employees, improve morale
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003
Editor: Some recent letters to the editor stated various reasons why Hernando County employees should not vote to have the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union represent them.
Accusations are going back and forth as to what was said, what was inferred, amid a whole host of innuendo and speculation.
Does the county human resources director have a right to discuss the negative aspects of what would happen to employees' benefits, pay, etc., on "county time," as recently reported to me by one of the concerned county employees?
Simply stated, an editorial in Hernando Today summed up the reason for this action by the employees in one paragraph: "(The union) won't be addressing wages or other benefits. It is going after the way department heads are treating line employees, the actions of the Personnel Advisory Board and various grievance policies."
This is the sum and substance of why the county employees are seeking representation from AFSCME. I have attended two organizing meetings (never having seen a reporter from either paper in attendance) and both had a lot more than the 15 employees in attendance than one letter writer recently mentioned.
And let me paraphrase what the union told those in attendance: If you, the employee, don't do your job or what is expected of you, if you screw up, the union will not represent you, or spend time, money, attorneys' fees to assist you. You have to do your job as spelled out by the county.
Based on those two meetings and phone calls to me from a few employees, the sum and substance of their trying to unionize is to protect themselves from the whim and caprice of their department heads.
In Hernando County, we have an attitude of noblesse oblige on the part of department heads. It borders on a feudal system, known today as the ol' boy and ol' girl system; go along to get along. Having served on the Personnel Advisory Board, I saw firsthand the sham of the grievance procedure.
Union representation will delete the capricious attitude of department heads when it comes to dealing with employees. Favoritism is passe in this day and age in public employment. The constant sword of Damocles over a county employee's head has to be removed. The union can help and make for a better, greater morale and efficient workforce.
One last point: If anyone thinks that the present-day unions are similar to the ones portrayed in On the Waterfront (Marlon Brando movie), or those under the corrupt leadership of the late Jimmy Hoffa, they should take another look and see, literally, what the unions are doing to enhance the better lifestyle of workers and quietly give ample assistance in programs directed at the youth of our nation.
The employees of Hernando County need union representation so they can feel assured that if they do their jobs effectively and efficiently, they will keep their jobs. They deserve no less.
Official's acceptance of gift was unethical
Editor: Re: Gift to administrator raises some questions, April 11 Times:
There are three ways to look at this scenario:
1. By accepting the gift and later voting for the variance, Hernando County Administrator Richard Radacky has shown he can be bought for very little.
2. By making the gift and then admitting that to do things like this has been "standard operating procedure" for more than 30 years to respond to the wishes of public officials when possible, shows that banker James Kimbrough has few scruples.
The bottom line (and scenario 3) is that both these gentlemen are: old enough to know better, have read the news and knew what happened to other officials for taking actions like these, should know and understand the law, or that they have no concept of what is considered ethical behavior.
For years I have known if there is even a whiff, a scent, or the most minute feeling of impropriety, then the action contemplated should not take place. Why is it our county officials have such a difficult time with that concept? To twist the letter of the law, as President Bill Clinton abused the word "is," shows contempt for the residents of Hernando.
Hernando County needs to have a zero tolerance for this sort of behavior. Mr. Radacky should be fired and the variance taken back, if possible, for reconsideration next year with new administration in place.
When stores compete, shoppers don't always win
Editor: Re: Stores need competition to keep prices in check, April 10 letter to the editor:
In response, that's not necessarily true. I've seen it work the other way.
Two giant stores close to each other work together and both sell for a higher price so they both make out, instead of one trying to undercut the other.
Think about it for a minute. Doesn't that make sense to them.
In Iraq, we've won an empty victory
Editor: Re: Most veterans applaud toppling of Iraqi leader, April 10 Times:
Staff writer Dan DeWitt's article on veterans' opinions about the Iraqi leader's toppling was interesting, especially in comparing the two different veterans' mind-sets and posture on the war.
As for 77-year old U.S. World War II veteran Don Walters, who has marched regularly with our local group opposing America's war with Iraq, he may "have a view from a lonely front -- that of the antiwar activist veteran in Hernando County," as your reporter indicated. However, please keep in mind that Mr. Walters is not in any way alone. Ofthe 66 people listed on our participating demonstrators' list, at least 15 of them, and possibly more, are U.S. military veterans, representing four American wars (World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War), and all four branches of the military (Marines, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard). The makeup of this peace group is quite impressive and notable. Even though we are entering a tremendously risky period of U.S. occupation in the Middle East, we share profound relief that the most intense fighting may soon be over and that humanitarian efforts can soon begin in Iraq.
Hussein's military failure is hardly surprising. Given a contest between the U.S. armed forces -- military might that exceeds anything the world has ever seen -- and a country that relies on material that is decades old, it shouldn't be a shock that America won quickly and easily.
Our local group is not opposing this war because we thought America could not win. We oppose the war because victory is about so much more than military dominance. We believe we could have won without war, and that the price of real victory now may take years or decades to come if it comes at all.
So, what is victory?
If this war was about ensuring that Iraqis are fed, clothed, healthy and secure, hundreds of thousands are still in serious jeopardy. If this war was about bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, we haven't even begun that project. If it was about removing
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, we haven't found any. If it was about reducing the threat of terrorism, we've done nothing, except perhaps to fan the flames of Muslim fundamentalism. If it was about stabilizing the region, right now there is increased instability.
And if it was about bringing the world together to address threats to our security, we've clearly done the opposite. Only if the war was about taking Hussein out of power, and literally nothing else, do last week's events signal some kind of victory?
Clearly, America's victory remains hollow, while most of the Iraqi population and Arab world is still watching and waiting.
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