Letters to the editor

Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2002 at 5:32 p.m.

Mosquito spraying isn't safe

Without warning, on the night of Sept. 9, sometime after 11 p.m., mosquito control came into our neighborhood and sprayed malathion in our yards.

We live in the county. This happened in spite of my having alerted them during the first scheduled spraying in August to the fact that I am allergic to organophosphates.

This is just one example of a mistake that could have dire consequences for someone who has been overexposed to these toxins before.

I was amazed at the rude, unconcerned, and in-denial attitude of some of the people I tried contacting at mosquito control, the health department, and the city manager's office. They have insulated themselves well against the public.

The insidious nature of these chemicals (in most cases odorless, tasteless, and invisible), and the concept that a chemical can penetrate the intact skin without producing sensations, or that such a small quantity of chemical can be fatal is simply not known by the general public.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates pesticides and requires labeling on these products to alert consumers to their toxicity. These designations are partially based on the "acute lethal dose 50" (LD 50) of the active ingredients.

The lower the LD 50 on a scale from 0 to 50, the more toxic the pesticide. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDA) on malathion classifies it as "acute," which carries the label of danger-poison.

N.E. Barlas, a graduate project researcher, reports that: "Pesticides can be translocated, biolocated or converted into more dangerous chemicals."

And, according to "environmental research," the assertion that after application, malathion ''breaks down'' in a matter of hours is not the whole story. What is not told is that malathion can actually break down into compounds that are more poisonous than the malathion itself.

I contend that the safest way to protect ourselves against mosquitoes is to avoid being outside as much as possible until the mosquito population has subsided. Before going outside spray with botanicals, wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts, and make sure there is no standing water on your property.

The idea that we can have both a mosquito-free environment and a safe environment for our children, ourselves, and wildlife while using toxic chemicals is simply ridiculous.

Rebecca R. Odom,


Health proposal a blow

I feel a tremendous responsibility for my two children, my employees and their families, and, of course, my customers, and have watched with great concern as the cost of health insurance for my employees has risen dramatically in the last few years.

More and more small businesses like ours are reaching the conclusion that they can no longer afford to provide their employees with even partial health coverage.

Health care costs are skyrocketing due to a number of factors, including frivolous lawsuits. To make matters worse, from what I understand Congress might add more government regulations to the health care system through a mental health parity mandate.

This would force most health plans to offer equal coverage for both mental and physical health conditions. Not only do mandates, in general, force the cost of health care to increase, but they also limit the choices available to employers when deciding which coverage options best suit their employees' needs.

Now some people are pushing this mental health parity because they think it's for a good cause. But they have to look at the big picture.

When our economy is struggling already, is it wise to push a program that will raise the cost of health care coverage and leave many Floridians without access to full or partial health care coverage?

It remains one of my top priorities to keep our employees fully insured. I hope that Rep. Karen Thurman will help me and other business owners by opposing this mandate, which poses a risk to the health of millions of Americans and their families, as well as the health of many small businesses.

Mark Wagoner,


Stop the whining, Democrats

This is in response to Clara Crews and Mark Mayfield (Sept. 22). How much longer do we have to listen to the whining of Democrats over the loss of the White House and the Florida governor's mansion?

I don't recall Republicans whining over miscounted votes or unqualified supervisors of elections or anything else when Bill Clinton was elected. We just accepted that we were going to have to deal with it. And boy, did we have to deal with it.

I read that the budget is in a mess, election equipment is faulty, poll workers are untrained, polls not open on time and yadayadayada. Can Jeb Bush physically be in all those places to hold these elected officials hands, who are adults by the way, just to be sure everything goes right?

How can Bush be personally held accountable for every single problem that occurs in one election office in a state with 67 counties? He has made every effort to provide them with the proper tools, including the money to pay for them and countless checks and double checks.

I helped with elections in Alachua County for about 15 years and I can tell you that Alachua County's elections office is top notch. I saw a few problems in the years I worked, but our elections office is efficient and trained and they "deal with it." Why can't the others?

And we are not even going to address the budget problems that existed before Jeb took office. I will never say I agree with everything Jeb Bush does, but I do support him fully because he has stepped up to the plate and accepted the job of governor and is trying to do the best he can with the tools God gave him.

Debi McElroy,


Don't fault Islam,

fault the governance

Edward Roberts (Talking Back, Sept. 11) wrote a disjointed diatribe concerning the University of North Carolina requiring incoming students to read and expound on the Koran.

Universities have always required certain readings. Medical students are forced to read texts on anatomy. General education can legitimately require the reading of the Koran, Plato, or other works.

Roberts is clearly unhappy with self-righteous liberals, political correctness, multiculturalism, the Federal Court of Appeals in California, diversity, one translation of the Koran and the ACLU.

He blames Islam for, " ... the frightened and abused women behind the burkas, who can't drive cars, attend schools or leave the house without a male escort." He also blames Islam for, " ... the torn and bleeding bodies of Israeli women and children and the rubble of the World Trade Center."

Religion is not the problem. Evil governance is the cause of most of the destructive behavior of humankind. The Soviet Union wasn't evil because it eschewed religion, but because it had an immoral system of governance.

Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, et. al, are not evil because majorities in those populations are Muslim, but they are evil because these government systems are immoral.

Christianity's history of injustice and bloody conflict only began to change for the better when America and other Western countries started to separate government and religion.

A moral system of governance must recognize the inalienable rights of individuals and these must include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Moral governance cannot use religious tenets as its basis nor can it use any other ideology that diminishes the inalienable rights of all citizens.

Roberts blames Islam instead of evil governance because he doesn't understand why the American system is moral. This follows from his erroneous belief that America is moral because of its Christian majority.

It is a moral nation because of its moral system of governance. This country has an abundance of moral Buddhists, ethical atheists, good Muslims, decent Hindus and caring Christians. Religious freedom, made possible by separation of church and state, makes this moral melange possible.

William Lindsay,


Quality of life survey

If you are an Alachua County resident and have not yet yet taken The Sun's 2002 Quality of Life Survey, you may do so online.

Just go to The Sun's Web site (www.gainesvillesun.com) and click on the Quality of Life sig to take the survey.

Please complete the survey once only. Survey results will be accepted until Oct. 4.

Please make sure your opinion counts in the 2002 Quality of Life Survey.

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