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Canvassers used intimidation

Published November 30, 2003

Re: Port Richey City Council needs to work for residents, Nov. 23 letter

Editor: I find that once again the dictionary needs to be quoted. The verb "to intimidate" is defined as "to make afraid; force to do something by frightening." That is exactly what I feel happened when those who canvassed some neighborhoods carried a petition to oppose the elimination of the dispatch department. The calls I made to some individuals revealed that they thought they were signing a petition not to disband the Police Department. Dispatch was never mentioned, and in fear of being unprotected, they signed. That's "intimidation" in its truest definition.

Now, by law, the petition is to be read and understood before it is signed. In my research I was told that neither were they asked to read the petition, nor was it fully explained. It is true, of course that the signer should have read the petition, but most people rely on the explanation given by the canvasser. Having signed many petitions, I am guilty of that myself.

My random sampling to determine the validity of the petition is called fact-finding; what the canvassers did is called intimidation.

Do I oppose the right of the people to petition? Indeed not! However, the charter states that when a decision is made based on budgetary items, there can be no challenge. Allowing one would mean that council's hands would be tied on any item not easily accepted by the people, thus bringing the city to a standstill. The authors of the charter, like our own forefathers who wrote our Constitution, in their infinite wisdom were able to envision the consequences if Section 9.01 was not given precedence over all the other sections.

The writer suggests that people would be "afraid to sign a petition ever again." There should be no fear in exercising what is perceived as a right; the fear arises by the introduction of innuendo, misrepresentation and intimidation.

-- Phyllis Grae, Port Richey City Council

Stereotyping in column dismissed male experience

Editor: Michelle Miller's column on male menopause was sexist in the most egregious way. She didn't just betray some unconscious prejudice. She reveled in the privilege of stereotyping, ridiculing and dismissing the opposite sex with the presumption that it would be met with glee and knowing nods by women - and that men's experience and feelings were entirely beneath consideration.

For the record, I love women, and respect their experience, and even envy parts of it. I value a sense of humor and am told I have a good one. I also hate prejudice, and I challenge it wherever I see it. If men and women want to live together, or even in proximity, we must try to understand each other and value each other's experience. Reveling in cheap sexist jokes is not the way, nor is accusing the other of trying to co-opt your own experience while you dismiss theirs.

-- Ray Williamson, New Port Richey

City, officers should make amends to rape victim

Re: New Port Richey detectives need sensitivity training, Nov. 23 letter.

Editor: I applaud the letter writer's courage to speak out over a reprehensible crime committed by the New Port Richey detectives in their disregard for a rape victim's pain and suffering. Policies and procedures were totally ignored; a victim was treated as a criminal, virtually called a liar, and the biggest offense of all, a female detective had no compassion or understanding for a very violent act committed upon another woman, only disdain and contempt.

I live down the road from the victim's former place of employment and encountered her the day she was ordered back to work if she did not wish to lose her job. This was two or three days after the crime, and I have never seen a human being beaten so severely in my life, and hope never to again. There was not an inch of that lady's face that was not bruised, along with her teeth being knocked out. This lady has the most beautiful nails, and what shocked me so much is how anyone could see how all 10 nails were ripped off from trying to defend herself, and think for one second she had any blame in the incident, or that she did not fight with all that was in her.

I also do not understand women standing back and not screaming their outrage. I guess if it is not your relative or friend it does not matter much.

The judge may not feel the police officers are responsible for their actions, but there is one they will have to answer to in the end. Hopefully by then they will have learned from the mistake and will have made amends to this lady for the damage they have done to her life. The city of New Port Richey owes this lady more than money can ever buy.

-- Diana Puderbaugh, New Port Richey [Last modified November 30, 2003, 01:16:37]

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