Voice of the people


Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2007 at 10:24 p.m.

We don't trust them with our tax dollars

Barry Rutenberg's suggestion of a 1-cent sales tax to fund road infrastructure, parks and other county needs is sorely misplaced under present county leadership.

First, is their disregard for the taxpayer. County budgets from 2001 to 2007 increased $201 million to $327 million, or 63 percent. With all the talk about state mandated property tax relief, over half of you are still going to pay higher taxes this year. Then there is the 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, talk about a recreation fee, and the most recent, "take it or leave it" impact fee or sales tax option.

Second, is the absence of fiscal responsibility by supporting exorbitantly and expensive undertakings, like the two-lane SW 24th Avenue project at $13 million per mile (FDOT estimates $7.5 million per mile for a divided "four" lane road) and the totally wasteful $30 million Tower Road project which converts three miles of existing two-lane roadway to a narrower two-lane roadway with nine roundabouts.

Then there is CHOICES, which which will garner $76 million tax dollars through 2011 for 700 applicants.

Third, is the classic political strategy of not funding basic transportation needs (also parks) to create a crisis and to provide dollars to fund commissioner interest projects. As the transportation crisis deepened, it gave the commission an excuse to encumber $79 million in longterm bonded debt, to pass the gas tax, increase impact fees and, finally, to create an environment of "we need more taxes to solve this crisis."

Giving massive tax revenue from a 1 percent sales tax to an organization with the above track record is like giving the keys to the candy store to children. What we need is adult supervision before there is any more talk about taxes.

Ernie Taylor,

Gainesville

We're no suburb, no way

In your cover story of Scene, Page 6, Aug. 22, you described Micanopy as "this quaint little suburb of Gainesville." My dictionary defines suburb as "a district lying immediately outside a city or town."

The highway sign at the southern border of Gainesville says it is 11 miles from Micanopy . . . not very immediate. We Micanopians consider Gainesville a nice place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there.

Rob Pierce,

Micanopy

Vick's apology, too little, too late

So, Michael Vick "apologizes" for his part in dogfighting on his property. He says he takes full responsibility for his actions, claiming he has "a lot of maturing to do."

First of all, most 5-year-old children don't go around and willingly torture and kill animals in the name of "sport." It takes someone who is psychotic to do such things.

It is up to us, the people of the civilized world, to see Vick's "apology" for what it really is, an attempt to escape the maximum punishment. And we must not let this happen.

Vick's status as a role model for our youth must be eliminated, and he must never be allowed to play pro ball again. He must also be sentenced to the maximum penalty allowed by law, which is certainly a much easier "penalty" than he willingly sentenced those dogs to.

To those few to still support Vick: Claiming "humans first," doesn't mean that humans have the "right" to torture animals at will. This is a civilized society, and we can't allow that to happen.

Michael Vick is a disgrace, and it's time the world sees that. There must be no plea bargaining for Vick.

Vivian Kenudson,

Gainesville

Judge not, lest ...

From coast to coast, and around the world, from cowboys to Indian chiefs, there are gay people. And there always have been.

Some people's religion teaches that this is wrong. Some politicians take advantage of these teachings and advance their careers by promising to fight gay-rights amendments.

OK, this is the world we live in. If you look closely at the gay community you will see many hard working, intelligent, responsible people. As far as "decent" goes, we have been warned by higher authority: "Judge not, lest you be judged."

It is the nature of politics to try to get the advantage by any means. For a politician to fight gay rights, gay marriage and thus advance his career among a like-minded constituency is normal. To make sexual advances toward strangers in public toilets is sick.

To judge gays as immoral and to fight against their quest for civil rights and at the same time to commit indecent sexual attacks on strangers is to act as an evil person. To then try to excuse oneself by screaming "I am not gay" is an insult to gay people everywhere.

American people differ on gay rights. That's OK. But let's be clear on one point: Sen. Craig represents no one.

Stephen Gallivan,

Gainesville

A smart buy for taxpayers

In response to Jeffrey Dissell's inaccurate comments regarding Alachua County Forever in his Aug. 26 letter:

Dissell asserts the County Commission can somehow "stop" the land-buying program, putting the money elsewhere. Put on the ballot seven years ago by citizen initiative, it passed overwhelmingly. The commission has no authority to either "do away" with the program or use the bond funds for anything else.

He implies we are losing money by buying these lands as they "become immediately tax exempt." First, 98 percent of the properties purchased so far had 90 percent of their property taxes exempted under agricultural exemptions already. And studies show that private land adjacent to public open space increases in value, on average 30 percent, increasing, not decreasing a county's tax revenues.

Dissell implies the land-buying program is somehow wasteful spending. There is no thriftier program in the county. For every tax dollar raised by this program, the state has matched it with $2. It has purchased $56 million of property using only $20 million so far in county money. What other program in the county has brought in so much money?

Dissell asks for a "moratorium of five years" on the land-buying program. The program is already coming to an end, as the majority of the $29 million has been raised and will soon be committed.

We are lucky in Alachua County to still have green space worthy of preservation. But this will change. For example, Pinellas County recently announced there was no more land in their county that was in private hands and undeveloped. I doubt anyone would have predicted that 20 years ago.

The Alachua County Forever land-buying program is one of the smartest, cost-effective programs the county has. We should renew it, not end it.

Kathy Cantwell,

Land Conservation Board member

Gainesville

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