Letters to the Editor for Jan. 25

Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 5:43 p.m.

Our presumptuous 'leaders'

When I moved to Gainesville (just over) three years ago, I was looking forward to working in a college town with "progressive thinking." I was delighted to begin working in the K-12 system as a high school counselor. My colleagues work diligently to educate young minds in an effort to prepare them to make informed choices in their adult lives.

I was amazed in 2006 that the superintendent of schools contributed money to (and openly endorsed) three of the incumbent School Board members. As an appointed superintendent, he serves at the pleasure of the majority of the board. Although he had every legal right to contribute to the incumbents' campaigns, did he realize (or care) that many people in the trenches perceived his actions as a conflict of interest?

This month, the majority of our county commissioners voted to spend $21,000 of our taxpayer dollars to influence our vote in the January election. Why would we want our own money spent to influence our votes? Are the commissioners aware that this misguided expenditure could be perceived as financially irresponsible in a recession-pending year?

And finally, UF President Bernie Machen publicly endorsed John McCain. Is there a full moon? Why should the voters of Florida care who the UF President endorses for the U.S. presidency?

Many voters research issues carefully before voting in elections. Personally, I prefer leaders who understand that presumptuous and arrogant behaviors aren't appreciated by informed voters in our community.

Well-informed voters also recognize self-serving behaviors for exactly what they are: self-serving. I am looking for leaders who serve others in 2008 and respect the decisions of voters.

Gail David, Gainesville

Gender ordinance misguided

On Jan. 28, your city commissioners will have an opportunity to vote on a gender identity ordinance. This ordinance is very important to our entire community, but it is especially important to women, legal/law enforcement personnel, business owners and religious leaders.

For example, the ordinance will allow men to enter and use a female restroom with not just the right, but the protection of the law. The city commissioners have exempted the city from complying with the ordinance, but have chosen to subject small business owners and struggling non-profit organizations with the responsibility of having to build and/or renovate their facilities to include an additional restroom and possibly other facilities.

Worse yet, once the restroom is built, the people for whom it was built can refuse to use the newly built restroom and choose to use either the male or female restroom, based solely on how they feel.

We've all heard others talk about the shock women feel when they've mistakenly walked into a restroom or dressing room being cleaned by a male custodial worker. I can't imagine the trauma these same women will feel when they walk out of a restroom or dressing room stall and find a male staring at them, knowing the individual is within his legal rights if this ordinance passes.

The ordinance specifically speaks to the morals of the community, thereby inviting input from individuals such as religious leaders. I encourage you to bring a neighbor, members of your church, or social clubs to the City Commission meeting on Jan. 28, at 5:30 p.m. and let your elected officials know how you feel regarding this ordinance.

Cain Davis, Gainesville

Machen is off base

UF President Bernie Machen's decision to endorse John McCain in the Jan. 29 primary is an unusual move for a university president. The job of the university president is to serve as an impartial representative of UF, not a partisan politico.

This move serves as a distraction from Machen's real job, running UF to the best of his abilities. Supporters of Democrats and other Republican candidates in Tallahassee may be less likely to work with Machen on crucial issues like UF's budget deficit after this endorsement. Democratic donors might think twice before cooperating so readily with the Florida Tomorrow capital drive.

He cites McCain's immigration policy as particularly impressive. If anything should have swayed Machen's choice, it should have been a candidate's commitment to education.

President Machen speaks only for himself with this endorsement, not for UF as a whole. Students should still make an informed, independent decision on the candidate they support and then vote for that person on the 29th.

Mark McShera, Editorial chair College Democrats, Gainesville

County using scare tactics

After seeing the CHOICES advertisements on TV, I became curious what this was costing the taxpayers. The cost, I was told, was $28,575.

Where did this money come from? Did the commissioners throw in a few dollars from their paychecks to pay for these ads? Is it their intent to lure people from outside our area to move to Alachua County to help justify this program?

They are using scare tactics almost every day about having to cut services because of the loss in property tax revenue if the property tax relief bill passes. They are not going to cut law enforcement, school crossing guards or fire services and they know it. They just want to scare people, and both the county and the city have resorted to these tactics.

Concerned citizens of this county need to revolt, and have our elected officials start meeting the needs of the taxpayers here; needs, not pork.

Walter Starr, Gainesville

Local gas prices too high because of our taxes

I recently had the opportunity to drive to Mt. Dora. Imagine my surprise (and pleasure) to find gas prices averaging $3.01. I actually purchased some for $2.95, the lowest around.

And in Gainesville, the prices are averaging $3.17. The lowest I have seen around town is $3.15. Now I expect that prices in Gainesville will be higher than other places, but 15 cents to 20 cents higher?

The leaders of our county and city should be ashamed of themselves. The difference is taxes, and we all know it. The new 5 cent tax put on us is way over the top. I suggest our representatives review their decisions, and make Gainesville more in line with the rest of the state.

Dave White, Gainesville

Move these bureaucrats away from Paynes Prairie

I strongly agree with Janet Powell (Voice, Jan. 20) about the waste of money at Camp Ranch on the north edge of Paynes Prairie. It is just plain wrong for these District 2 Administration people to deny public access to this historic area and to waste so much taxpayer money on gates they don't need.

What they have done at Camp Ranch is unattractive and expensive. It blocks the natural route of the La Chua Trail, and hides part of our history. Please let us have access to a fundamental part of the prairie. These bureaucrats should be moved off the state park.

Kathy Keyser, Gainesville

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