Re: Focus is needed on Democratic committee errors, Dec. 2 letter
Editor: As treasurer of the Pasco Democratic Executive Committee, I have to ask the letter writer if he has any understanding of Florida's election laws. His letter sure sounds as if he doesn't, which might explain why he and the Republican Executive Committee are in serious trouble with the Florida Elections Commission, the Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Florida Republican Party - again.
Our office rent includes all utilities. I personally wrote a check for our April office rent early - in March. This is clearly on the elections reports we filed. If the writer had bothered checking on either of these, it would have saved him at least some embarrassment that is so obvious in his very angry, but grossly inaccurate letter.
As for our DEC reporting cash contributions in excess of $100, that is true. I did do that. All these so-called "contributions" are from the East Pasco Democratic Club, and the total for the three quarter periods reported so far is $875.00, reported in seven different transactions as "cash contributions." The distinctions here are that the East Pasco Democratic Club does not have its own bank account but runs all its member dues and other funds through the DEC account - most of this money is club member dues. All monies from the club are posted as contributions from the club to the DEC. We are not required to include member dues as contributions, but we fully disclose everything so that the public has a true picture of all DEC funds available from every source.
The only error I have committed here is not breaking down the amount in checks vs. the amount in cash.
Our DEC books have always been open to any and all inspections. Not once has the Pasco Democratic Party been accused of or investigated for campaign finance irregularities, but then we have nothing to hide. We report over and above what is actually required by law. Our party does not violate any elections finance or other laws.
Our party did not forget to include in our reports the $7,500 in ethically questionable contributions nor the $7,350 in ethically challenged expenditures for judicial candidates, in a report that was signed by the letter writer and the chair of the Republican Party of Pasco.
I think it's very clear which political party in Pasco has knowingly and repeatedly violated several aspects of both elections and ethics laws in Florida.
I think that C.T. Bowen pretty much hit things squarely on the head in his Nov. 30 column. The only thing I might disagree with is his phrase "Try conspiracy and incompetence." I'd leave out the incompetence part. It looks suspiciously like they knew exactly what they were doing and just got caught.
-- Pat Burke, Treasurer, Pasco DEC, Zephyrhills
Chasco doesn't offend Native American
Re: Racist Chasco Fiesta should end, Dec. 3 letter
-- Editor: I am a Native American. I grew up on and around reservations. I go back any time I have the opportunity. My wife, who is Greek, is a member of the Krewe of Chasco.
I personally find one thing about Chasco Fiesta offensive. It is offensive to me that people with Irish names, like Callaghan, would presume to defend our way of life. Does he think we cannot fight our own battles?
Our battles are not against Chasco. Our battles are fought every day on the reservations and are far more important. Unemployment and poverty on the reservations are so extreme they make Third World nations look like posh resorts.
The white people who presume to speak for me would be wiser to turn their energy to the true atrocity that has been committed. Some of my fellow Indians (yes, we don't mind being called Indians) live on reservations where the poverty rate is 100 percent. My own reservation, in South Dakota, presently has a poverty rate of over 75 percent.
The letter suggests there is a tremendous ground swell of anger over Chasco. I saw photos of a demonstration against Chasco a couple years ago. They depicted a group of about four protesters, their friends and nothing more at Simms Park. In fact, the protesters were outnumbered by the children on the playground equipment behind them. The simple fact is no one cares, except a few white people who should have better things to do with their time.
The cost of the festival is also a point of contention. I don't really know what the cost is, but the financial cost is likely offset by the tax revenues and business receipts the festival generates.
If the writer really cared about my people, he would have wanted the festival to grow larger. I met many of my fellow tribesmen who had brought their music, their wares and their vibrant stories to share with the people of Pasco County. We should feel enriched and thankful they were here. The $13,000 bill, if it is correct, is small potatoes compared to the traditions exposed to the county.
Additionally, my people made money from this event. They were here selling their goods. If Chasco Fiesta were gone, then where would my fellow Indians sell their wares and make their living? Back on the reservation with its 75 percent poverty rate?
I personally think it is an honor to have festivals celebrating our culture. I do not want to be a few pages in a dusty history book. We, many nations of Indians, are alive and well. Images of us in festivals and on football helmets are not an offensive thing.
Instead of these terrible protests, go to the reservations. Teach an Indian to read. Donate money to an Indian charity or to an alcoholism program for my people. Do something, anything. Just do not believe the words of white people who presume to know what is best for Indians. We have been down that road a few times in the past couple hundred years and look where it got us.
-- Leon Flood, New Port Richey
Gun show sales threaten public safety
Editor: Closing the gun show loophole is a public safety issue. It is not the legal possession of weapons with a background check that is at issue. It is the sale of weapons to criminals, substance abusers and terrorists that has jeopardized the safety of all citizens.
Florida law is clear that felons, those under domestic violence injunctions or as specifically noted in Florida Statute 790.25, "persons who have been adjudged mentally incompetent, or who are addicted to the use of narcotics or similar drugs, or who are habitual or chronic alcoholics," are prohibited from using weapons.
Felons buying or selling firearms were involved in more than 46 percent of the ATF investigations involving gun shows. In more than a third of the investigations, the firearms were known to have been involved in subsequent crimes, including assault, robbery, burglary and homicide. Documentation shows that weapons were acquired at gun shows by members of Hezbollah, the IRA and al-Qaida operatives.
Shocking as those facts are, Stetson Law Forum reports more than 4,000 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each year, a majority (over 76 percent) with handguns. Hank Earl Carr was the poster boy for weapons acquisition, often at gun shows. Pasco County shoulders its own shame for the shootings and murder of women in domestic violence incidents.
The lack of action by the County Commission to close the gun show loophole directly contributes to criminal activity as Florida is considered a major exporter of undocumented weapons used in criminal activity in other states. Since the onus of responsibility lies with the sellers of cigarettes or alcohol to verify the requirements to purchase such products, we must expect that weapons purchasers meet the requirements of the law.
One recent writer stated that he lives to vote Republican; then he should follow the directive of Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft speaking for the current administration Feb. 27, 2002, that this administration supports the closing of the gun show loophole. The administration made it clear that keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists is a priority for homeland security.
With all the protestations to allow undocumented sale and purchase of weapons, the gunrunning taking place from Florida and the arming of terrorists through the gun show loophole, questions arise as to the activities or motives and undocumented cash produced in such sales. The County Commission has an obligation to protect not only Pasco County, but to provide protections in accordance with homeland security.
-- Joann Ross, Hudson
Reports prove no gun show loophole
Re: Counties' gun show loophole must be closed, Nov. 26 letter
Editor: Research the facts and one will quickly see the emotionally charged letter regarding gun shows is primarily politically motivated and inconclusive. Multiple government resources, often also cited by the letter writer and his organization, have stated the contrary. For example: the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2001 report "Firearms Use by Offenders," found that less than 1 percent of U.S. crime guns come from gun shows.
A 2000 bureau study, "Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98" found only 1.7 percent of federal prison inmates obtained their gun from a gun show. And a National Institute of Justice 1997 study, "Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities," reported less than 2 percent of criminal guns come from gun shows.
In October, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) task force made up of 14 academic, business and government health experts, reached the following conclusion concerning the effectiveness of eight different types of gun control laws: "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws." In short, a review of 51 published studies found no conclusive proof that these measures reduce violent crimes, accidents or suicide.
Residents of Pasco and Polk counties are not easily swayed by unfounded scare tactics, especially ones in which terrorist attacks against this nation are manipulated by special interests to advance political agendas. Residents in Pasco and Polk counties continue to communicate that they will not tolerate any further restrictions on their rights nor will they be scared into giving up those rights.
In June of this year, the Arizona Legislature passed a resolution that recognized the value of gun shows to local communities and declared, "the so-called gun show loophole is a fallacy generated by groups whose ultimate goal is to eliminate gun shows and all private firearms transactions." Seems like it is about time for Florida to do the same.
-- Ed Mejias, Land O'Lakes
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