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Although I am not politically oriented, I am cognizant of the critical role the media play in the governmental process. In this regard, I reference the Nov. 19 St. Petersburg Times article in which Ronald Rice stated that he wants an investigation of Sen. Mike Fasano for his role in the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles/National Safety Commission driving manual printing contract.
Apparently, Mr. Rice's call for an investigation is a result of his misinformation or political aspirations. For many years, I have had the opportunity to work with the DHSMV on numerous highway safety projects, and for the most part, I have found the DHSMV to be conscientious and even-handed in its decision- making and contracting process. However, the DHSMV printing contract with the National Safety Commission was ambiguous, biased and possibly illegal.
Thus, in my judgment, Sen. Fasano acted prudently and ethically in bringing this impropriety to the attention of the public and ultimately to the governmental decision-makers in Tallahassee.
Jack Weaver, Ph.D., Tarpon Springs
Be accurate when debating politics Nov. 21, letter
Fasano's secrecy deserves scrutiny
Letter writer Debbie Shooter of Orlando forgives Sen. Mike Fasano's alleged ethical lapses and harshly criticizes me and the St. Petersburg Times. I felt it necessary to respond.
This month, I filed complaints against Sen. Fasano with the Senate Rules Committee and the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding an earmark Fasano secretly inserted into an appropriations bill that voided an existing state contract. The earmark by Sen. Fasano never received a public hearing, and a service that was being provided free to Florida citizens will now cost us $3-million due to Sen. Fasano's action. Again, this decision was made by Sen. Fasano when no one was looking and never received a public hearing.
I later learned that Sen. Fasano had personal and business connections to the lobbyists who sought the earmark. Lobbyist Shawn Foster is a former legislative aide to Fasano and currently serves as treasurer for Sen. Fasano's political action committee. Another lobbyist, Ed Collins, manages a business in which Sen. Fasano has a financial interest, according to state records.
In defending Sen. Fasano, Ms. Shooter attempts to cloud this issue by framing it as a partisan one (Democratic activist vs. Republican senator) and as class warfare (big business vs. small business). She claims that the end justified the means. Gov. Crist, a Republican, thought otherwise and wisely vetoed the Fasano earmark.
The truth is: We live in a democracy where our elected officials are accountable to the people. Sen. Mike Fasano and his special-interest allies are not above the democratic process, even if the end supposedly justified the means.
Ronald R. Rice,New Port Richey
Nonhomesteaders need help, too
I recently read that the Legislature is considering giving homesteaders a reduction in their property taxes. I am really confused. I have been a snowbird for over 18 years and seven years ago I purchased property. At that time, we paid less than $700 for property taxes. This year, our taxes are close to $1,600.
Legislators need to take a hard look at the nonhomesteaders. We also need tax relief. We pay sales tax, property tax, high insurance premiums, and spend money for food, gas and entertainment.
We are here only four to six months and we pay assessments and taxes for 12 months. Can you image if thousands of snowbirds decided they had enough of tax increases, sold their homes and moved to Arizona or elsewhere? It would destroy the Florida economy.
We snowbirds are very happy and enjoy this beautiful state and I am sure businesses appreciate our contributions.
Joe Zaine, New Port Richey
It's time to get your flu shot
The week after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, is National Influenza Vaccination Week. This event is designed to highlight the importance of continuing influenza (flu) vaccination, as well as foster greater use of flu vaccine through the months of November, December and beyond.
In the United States, influenza puts about 200,000 people in the hospital each year. Annually, over 36,000 people in the United States die because of the flu; most are 65 or older. More people die from flu than from any other vaccine-preventable disease.
The Pasco County Health Department and many local physicians have the vaccine available and, in most cases, Medicare will pay all the costs. Those who have no insurance or are not on Medicare will pay a small amount for the much-needed safeguard against a disease that could lead to other respiratory diseases.
So, get your flu shot to keep you and your family healthy and able to enjoy the coming holiday season.
Vee Dayton, RN, MA, New Port Richey
Schools can't handle social ills
The recent article on suspensions failed to recognize that while a frustrating form of discipline, it can have positive educational results for the many that do follow the rules.
There are currently countless programs in area schools trying to address high school dropout rates with limited success. One more will only be one more way that tax dollars could be better spent.
We can no longer keep educational standards high if we constantly erode the quality of public education in the name of social problems that schools are ill-equipped to handle. The public must ask themselves whether they want their schools to provide quality education or be a social Band-aid.
Since Pasco schools are searching for something new to eliminate suspensions, may I suggest giving those with constant discipline problems their state funding and telling them to go to private school? It would be cheaper and send the message that it is a privilege to attend public school.
Don Prichard, New Port Richey
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[Last modified November 26, 2007, 21:05:38]