Today's Letters: Failure to compensate Crotzer is shameful

Published May 4, 2007

Two wrongs; one is repaid May 2, story 

There are times when I am ashamed of our beloved state of Florida, where the sun doesn't seem to shine equally on all citizens. The legislators' refusal to compensate Alan Crotzer is a case in point.

Did I read it correctly that the Bay County Sheriff's Office had already settled with the family of Martin Lee Anderson for $2.4-million and lawmakers gave an additional $5-million but couldn't find $1.25-million for Crotzer?

What kind of justice is that? And then they cited "philosophical issues." What kind of philosophy is injustice and unfairness?

I urge the lawmakers to reconsider. Our state perpetrated a huge injustice in imprisoning an innocent man, and the Legislature owes it to all of us to set it at least partly right.

Lucy Fuchs, Brandon


What about sharing funds?

The Senate's decision to award the Martin Lee Anderson family all that the budget would allow ($5-million) and leave Alan Crotzer "zip, " is about as dumb and insensitive as you can imagine.

A very obvious and reasonable solution would have been to award Crotzer half of the funds available.

Maybe the Anderson family could see the justice in this and give this to Crotzer themselves. Now that would be a news story worth reading.

Luke Sifford, Hernando


A matter of justice 

Two wrongs; one is repaid May 2, story

While the family of Martin Lee Anderson is unquestionably deserving of compensation for his death at the hands of boot camp guards, it is unfathomable that Alan Crotzer, who spent more than half his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit, was turned away, empty-handed, by Florida's Legislature.

As things stand today, Crotzer is decidedly more deserving of compensation. In January 2006 he brought his case before the courts and not only prevailed, but it was the state's motion that asked the Hillsborough Circuit Court to toss out his wrongful conviction and set him free. It is not often that the state waives opposition and joins an indigent prisoner's effort to gain freedom. It was a gross oversight by the Legislature to not give great weight to such a compelling fact and embrace a sense of urgency when deliberating Crotzer's claims bill.

Assuredly, there will be a criminal and/or civil finding that favors the family of Martin Lee Anderson. To date that has not happened. Crotzer has a Circuit Court order establishing his innocence. What more does the Legislature need?

Shame on those legislators who knowingly stood in the way of justice!

Jeff Walsh, Tallahassee


Try some empathy

I hope all the lawmakers who denied Alan Crotzer relief for his wrongful incarceration really feel good about themselves. I wish each of them could walk one mile in his shoes for a day.

I am very sad to be an American and most certainly a Floridian on this most grievous occasion. But I am not surprised. One would hope that we have come farther on the road to equality, but it is quite evident that we haven't.

I hope that as fair human beings who know what is right and what is wrong, we will wake up and do what is right. I am not here to argue about an amount of money; that is not important. No amount of money will ever give Crotzer back the years that were stolen from him. What I am here to say is that it is high time we make sure that this man has some sort of comfort and compensation for what happened to him.

If we compel criminals to pay restitution, then certainly if we, as a civilized society, have committed a crime against an individual, we should pay, and do it quickly.

There should be no tradeoffs. What happened in the Martin Anderson case needed equal attention; it should not have been one or the other. Lawmakers should think of what they would do and how they would make it, if they were in Crotzer's place.

I pray that God has Alan Crotzer's heart and he is not a bitter man.

The Rev. William Graveley, St. Petersburg



Legislature's budget cuts to the disabled

Unconscionable cuts

I am very upset about the cuts to the programs designed for our state's most helpless citizens. UPARC and PARC, in Pinellas County, have never wasted money in providing for the retarded.

Our 31/2 year old granddaughter was born with Down's syndrome. This is not something my 27-year-old daughter and her husband chose. We love and adore our little Haley, and her parents have taught her so much.

But when such drastic cuts are made to programs designed to help her, I question the position of our Legislature's moral compass. We all need to be advocates of our retarded citizens, not cut their program funds.

Elaine Gerlach, Dunedin


Testing needed 

Prep steroid testing okayed May 2, story

It's about time high school athletes were tested for illegal drugs. If we don't test for illegal drugs, then the drugs that help athletic performance become the norm and all athletes are pressured to do them.

Why? On the line is not only winning, but also scholarships. How heinous is it for adults to sit by and let high school-age athletes be pressured, even if indirectly, to use illegal, health-damaging drugs to compete? It is up to adults to step in and make the playing field, above all, healthy.

No matter what any closet drug-pushing spin artist says, steroids are unhealthy for many reasons from psychotic behavior and violence to liver damage and heart disease.

Paul J. David, St. Petersburg


Cast a wider net 

Prep steroid testing okayed May 2, story

With such wide support from both Florida legislative houses for the high school steroid testing pilot program, perhaps lawmakers will be as willing to embrace the following proposal: Since our elected politicians should be held to the highest levels of accountability, I propose mandatory monthly drug testing for them.

It is important to ensure that they, the lawmakers, are following the laws established under their governance. Personally, I would like to ensure that the lawmakers who are elected to represent my interests are free from any illegal substances.

If a lawmaker was to test positive he/she should face the appropriate penalties. If politicians are concerned about the welfare of high school athletes, they should be just as concerned about the welfare of their fellow statesman in the Legislature.

Apparently, politicians are very quick to infringe upon the individual rights of minors. However, the citizens of this state should ask just as much of the politicians as they ask of a segment of the citizens of our state.

Richard Skandera, Palm Harbor


Lost integrity 

Politicians back truth, but not without debate April 27, story

So it's come to this: arguing about telling the truth. Some of our "leaders" in Tallahassee are oddly numb to the almost-laughable disgrace of the question. One of the members against the idea of taking an oath before a House or Senate committee "is currently appealing a grand theft conviction." Another has acknowledged having falsely claimed having a degree from Florida A&M University.

And it isn't as if such deception were only in our Legislature. The admissions dean of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology has falsely asserted having earned degrees from three different schools.

Enriching the irony, on another page of that day's paper we see a headline, Bomb hits Iraqi post; U.S. "cites steady progress." Daily we are treated to terrible statistics from an ongoing war based (remember) on lies - and continuing on lies.

What has our society become? Whom can we trust? Politicians? Journalists? Even preachers and teachers?

"Integrity" is still, quaintly, in the dictionary - a dead and useless word, having nothing to do with human beings.

Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon