Today's Letters: Long summer break a burden

Published May 24, 2007

You may not be aware of it, but students will start school approximately two weeks later this summer. Though some may hail this, as legislators try to align the northern and southern school calendars, many are dismayed to find their students have two weeks longer to be at home, not working academically.

But there is another problem. Thousands of Hernando County School Board employees will have to go an extra two weeks without a paycheck. They did not choose this extra time off, but the effect - financially - is as devastating as being laid off for that length of time.

Without money coming in, how will bills get paid? How will workers purchase clothes and school supplies for their children? Will there be adequate food on the table for school personnel and their families?

Our school workers and educators touch the lives of students and families throughout the community. Many donate to United Way and participate in the Relay for Life. Others volunteer time and donations in the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, the Brooksville Junior Service League, or Interact, just to name a few. By their very profession and nature, they look out for kids and the community. Now Hernando County school workers need your help. Without it, some of our devoted community members will be struggling financially.

I urge you contact Hernando County School Board members or state legislators to suggest that they issue an extra paycheck on Aug. 13, or that they seek counsel from school boards in other counties to find out how school workers are being taken care of throughout the state. These workers are committed to the community; now let's make a commitment to them.

Here are the people you can call: School Board members Pat Fagan, 596-5162; Sandra Nicholson, 799-0170; John Sweeney, 686-1782; Dianne Bonfield, 799-7145; Jim Malcolm, 799-1564.

Laurie Donnelly, Spring Hill

Re: Protester arrested after refusal to move May 22 story

Why was this protest silenced?

According to the Constitution of the United States of America, every square inch of ground in our country is a free speech zone. Our right to dissent, our right to express our grievances, our right to assemble are sacred and hard-won by much spilled blood over 2 1/4 centuries.

It would seem the Hernando County Sheriff's Office doesn't see things the way I do.

Every week there is one group or another holding signs and soliciting support along our roadways. One week the firefighters are out airing their concerns. The next, antiwar protesters. Why did this young man of Middle Eastern descent draw so much attention from the Sheriff's Office? The answer seems intuitive, but I won't take it upon myself to surmise.

Of the things that are certain, there is no way the deputies could have known that the Web sites in question are vehicles for the sale of counterculture videos and music. It would seem then that the man, Shafiq Samirre Mohamed, was taken into custody only to silence him, and the solicitation charges were conjured out of the ether after the fact.

If we allow the sheriff of Hernando County to silence dissent we allow our democracy to be weakened, perhaps to a point beyond repair. There already exists a disconnect between youth and civic participation. Can we allow this questionable action by the Sheriff's Office to perpetuate this disconnect?

Mr. Mohamed should be commended for so loving his country that he is willing to stand up and express his belief that it is ailing.

Barrett Hardy, Spring Hill