Letters to the Editors
Instead of banning items, citizens should be their own censors
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001
Editor: It is with a great deal of concern that I write this letter. With the events of the past year fresh in my mind, I am greatly concerned about freedom and democracy in America, and specifically in Hernando County.
Just last year, parents argued against the intrusion of police into our schools to interview our children without regard as to whether a parent was present. Then there was the banning of the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Now, here we are again, with a parent asking the School Board to remove a book, Freaky Friday, from the library shelves because it happens to be offensive to someone.
Where does it stop?
Police in schools, books banned, children instructed to call police if parents argue. Doesn't this sound familiar? It should; it happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and '40s and was the forerunner of the holocaust. Are we heading down this same route? Maybe not as extreme, but certainly in the wrong direction.
I believe that no book should be banned; the media has far worse telecasts every night on prime time, with sex, violence and children belittling their parents. The epitome is The Simpsons. I ask, what value is this show? What does it contribute to society? Yet it continues to be watched. Yet there aren't any objections voiced. We simply don't turn to that channel. In short, we are our own censors. We exercise free choice.
What is wrong with doing the same thing with books? Your child doesn't have to read the book because it is there. But do we have the right to say someone else who does not find it offensive has to live by your concept of right and wrong? Absolutely not.
We can interpret anything in a bad light. For example: Should we ban Cinderella because it depicts child abuse? Should we ban Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because a single woman is living with seven men? Do we ban A Christmas Carol because it shows an abusive employer and greed, and mentions ghosts and spirits? At this rate, nothing becomes acceptable. Everything is bad because someone chooses to interpret it badly or form the wrong opinion. I guess the next thing is to burn the books. Maybe we should ban television because there are offensive shows and commercials on it.
It is sad when we start to control freedom of choice, and that is exactly what we are talking about.
The bottom line is, if you object to it, don't look at it or read it, and don't tell anyone else what they should read or watch. This is a choice each of us must make on our own.
Our minds protect us from Big Brother
Editor: It would be a sad state of affairs if one mother got to be the book police for all students. What makes her so right about Freaky Friday? Being a Christian? I think not.
The Bible Joan Anderson professes to go by does not say a word about preaching fascism. It speaks of loving thy neighbors, not running their lives. Sure, we can preach the Gospel, but we shouldn't force everyone to heed our word.
God gave us all a mind of our own so we'd at least have a fighting chance against becoming puppets to serve Big Brother's whims. Or, in this case, Big Sister's.
The mother versus the author (February 4, 2001)
Cable monopoly bilks its customers
Editor: What happened to the County Commission's review of cable television policy? Time Warner has a monopoly on the service in Hernando County. The cable provider has raised rates a half-dozen times in the past two years.
They're at it again, hiking rates another 5 percent in January. I wonder when the next rate increase will hit us. The county should do something to give us some cable competition.
Time Warner is predicting revenues will increase 12-15 percent in 2001. At our expense? Rates are lower in Pinellas County where two cable providers compete.
In water game, county favors builders
Editor: Nice going, Hernando politicians. I keep reading about why we should all conserve water, and once again you have shown that the county has no intention of doing its part.
A short while back, you gave a builder permission to build 2,500 houses and a golf course, a development that is going to use 1- to 1.5-million gallons of water a day. Now you are considering giving permission to another builder to build 3,000 houses and perhaps another golf course, which should use in excess of 2-million gallons of water a day.
I suppose you will expect the average citizen to save another few gallons a day so some builder can make a fortune. Get real! It all comes down to the almighty buck.
EDC catastrophe must never repeat
Editor: What happened to all the staunch supporters of the Economic Development Commission? It reminds me of an anthill that has just been treated with the pesticide diazanon. Throw it on and watch them scatter!
Could it be because of Commissioner Diane Rowden's perseverance in opening the EDC to the public eye? In any case, I am satisfied with the outcome and hope that the next formation of a group to attract business to the area will be more community-oriented. It is strictly my guess, but I think if the public was able to view the soon-defunct EDC's records as it pertains to payroll, expense accounts, retirement funds and medical benefits, we would find that 70 to 80 percent of the available funds were likely depleted and routed to those line items for the few who were employed with the EDC.
I wonder how much severance pay the remaining employees will receive from the funds that are left. I also wonder, if the present employees do, in fact, become part of the new organization, will they receive a severance package from the present one and then go straight to the new EDC? Sounds like it would border on double-dipping with the county to me.
We need to make sure this never happens again. I think the public understands the need for privacy as it pertains to negotiations with a prospective business, but that is where it should end. Once the business has signed on the dotted line (so to speak), any expenses relating to that transaction, along with general operating expenses, should be available for review by the public. I also believe that once this is reorganized (possibly through the county), there should be an opportunity for current county employees and the public to apply for the positions. The most qualified candidates should prevail, not necessarily the present employees.
We have not seen enough progress under the past leadership and employees to warrant a rubber-stamping of the same people into a newly formed EDC.
I took a look at the Web site for the EDC, and it is apparent they did not spend much of their budget there. It was fairly useless, still under construction since 1998 and out-of-date with no information on present employees, directors or projects.
I am very proud of Commissioner Rowden and also thank Commissioner Mary Aiken for her perseverance on something that she felt was wrong. I hope the board will continue to oversee this transition and make sure the county canvasses the current county employees and solicits any interested parties.
County Administrator Paul McIntosh stated that we should keep the current EDC employees because we do not have time to get new ones. Why? Is Hernando County sinking, or is progress going to halt 100 percent as soon as the present EDC ends? I think not!
I also thank Commissioners Chris Kingsley, Nancy Robinson and others who finally came forward and either retracted their past support or threw in the towel and left the organization for seeing the light, or, more accurately, the darkness, at the end of the political tunnel.
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