Letters to the Editor - Jan. 4
Published: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 10:55 p.m.
We all belong to the ‘human family'
I am compelled to write to after viewing the newly released film: "Milk," which is now playing locally.
As we approach the upcoming March 2009 City of Gainesville election that will impact the lives of part of our human family in terms of discrimination, it seems so poignant that this movie is present in our community now.
Those of us in our fifties who are gay Americans remember the struggle for human rights in those turbulent times in the 1970's, both in Florida and in California. We were aware of San Francisco's elected city official Harvey Milk and his tireless advocation for gay and lesbian human rights. Harvey Milk and Mayor Muscone were both murdered while in office.
Additionally, the AIDS epidemic erupted and devastated our community, and many people were convinced it was God's vengeance for gay peoples' life-styles.
During that time, we as a gay community cared for each other as the public at large were fearful of us, "our disease," and death. Subsequently, our fight for human rights slowly extinguished, just like the lives of many in our dying community.
But years later "we" still exist, and are living and still striving for equality in our lives and wanting to have the opportunity to be part of "one human family."
If we could as a community support the GLBTQ (gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgendered-questioning) diversity that exists here, as we have done in the past, Gainesville could remain the city of equality and freedom it once had been.
While in Key West at Thanksgiving last month with my spouse, (we were married in Canada in 2005) I encountered a bumper sticker there. It stated that all people are created equal and are members of "one human family." Then-mayor of Key West, Jimmy Weekly, made that proclamation official on October 17, 2000, and it remains in effect today.
I challenge our community to do the same, and urge all my fellow GLBTQ individuals to "come out" (as I have) to family, friends, neighbors, their church, and to their fellow workers so that our community at large can "see" and know who we are, rather than judging us on whom we love. Such action would dispel the myths and fears that currently exist regarding gender orientation.
We are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers, your teachers, policeman, fire-fighters, nurses, doctors, and preachers. We ask only to have the same basic rights that are automatic to those being born heterosexual. With the affirmation of one human family. we may all proudly contribute to each other, our community, this city, this state, this nation, and to this whole world.
How to save our tax dollars
These simple ideas could be implemented immediately to help Alachua County save a significant amount of money now and in the future.
1. Severely restrict use of county vehicles and gas cards. Paying mileage to those who use their own vehicles while on call would result in substantial savings.
There is no reason why anyone should take a county/city car home or use a county/city gas card to pay for gas to take them to and from work! I would be curious to know how many employees have the use of government vehicles and the costs associated with use (gas, maintenance, insurance, etc.) I would also like to know what the estimated savings would be if this plan was implemented.
2. Do not hire a new "energy czar" to the tune of $100,000. Instead, use that money to implement energy saving strategies/devices that were already suggested in the last study, which would result in further and future continued savings.
3. Do not approve any more building projects until many of the vacant and incomplete projects/properties are full. Especially do not allow the construction of the large village project west of 75 on Newberry Road.
Even with the addition of a bus route, the considerable amount of additional vehicle traffic would add to the existing overwhelming traffic congestion in that area.
4. Increase sales tax instead of property taxes so the burden is equally shared by all of those who reside or do business in Alachua County.
5. Use AGH as the new one-stop homeless center. Great idea, I wish I had thought of it!
6. I believe one of the biggest monetary mistakes ever made in Alachua county was to allow years of development to occur without significant impact fees to fund the additional services necessary to support the increased population.
Significant impact fees have been around for a long time in most other counties, and I believe Alachua County is now having to pay for the services that builders/homeowners should have been charged for as they developed the entire county!
Ann Marie Egan,
City is wasting our tax dollars
The Gainesville City Commission (wearing the hat of the Community Redevelopment Agency) is considering spending $300,000 out of the meager Fifth Avenue /Pleasant Street Redevelopment District budget to buy a piece of property on NW 5th Avenue that has a defunct and vacant building on it that was formerly used as a restaurant.
The entire property is actually only worth about $30,000, the land value. The building itself is obsolete and virtually worthless.
CRA staff has estimated that $280,000 would be necessary to make the 1,400 square foot structure useful again. In addition to that are all of the administrative expenses. That would total well over $400 per square foot on the endeavor out of the bank account of the poorest of the city's four redevelopment districts.
CRA staff has recommended against the purchase.
At a time when many government entities are dutifully learning lessons on fiscal responsibility, the members of the city commission appear to be skipping class.
Rather than catering to the historic preservation agenda (the CRA's rationale for the expenditure), the CRA should be persistently utilizing the limited tax increment funds in as cost-efficient a manner as possible to get the most return from the taxpayer's investment.
Improving the general living conditions and the quality of life in the redevelopment districts should be the highest priority of the CRA, not historic preservation.
The FAPS redevelopment district's tax increment coffer is not an ever-bearing money tree to be used capriciously. Rather than using $500,000 to $600,000 for yet another isolated, financially unsound pet project, these funds would be much better spent on more important, significant, and substantive projects that yield higher benefits and return for the neighborhood, such as much-needed infrastructure improvements, cleanup programs, and projects that would provide a greater stimulus for the broader private financial reinvestment the district so desperately needs.
Those of us who are paying our hard-earned tax dollars into the tax increment coffers every year deserve for our money be spent more wisely, not squandered.
Is it really for ‘our convenience'?
Have you noticed that the new electronic devices which you recently bought or have received as a gift may have no hard-copy instruction manuals included? This is, as we are told "for the convenience of the user."
Instead, there is a computer disk in the package. And if you don't have a computer, what then?
Let me assume you have a computer and know what to do with that disk. You will probably notice that the first 10 or 15 pages are filled with warnings and precautions, for "the convenience of the user."
In reality, the warnings are composed for the convenience of lawyers. Virtually nobody is willing or has the time to read this sometimes ridiculous stuff and therefore misses real important safety instructions.
Additionally, I don't understand why right at the beginning there is a paragraph on "disposal instructions." These warnings probably are intended so that lawyers in case of malfunctions may have a case against you.
What I want to know is, for example, what are the functions of that remote control, or how to interconnect the device with already existing gadgets.
In old times, it used to be convenient to have a hard instruction manual which one could study next to the device and immediately try all moves on the spot. If you print the entire content of that disk it will be definitely not at the expense of the manufacturer (for the convenience of the user).
And if you don't find the answer to your questions on the disk, you have to call long distance and end up somewhere in India or Philippines where the operator has not the slightest idea what you are talking about. To add insult to injury, you sit for about 45 minutes and wait "until your call is answered in the order it was received because of high caller volume." In some cases one learns after the fourth try that the disk you received is an old version and you should load down the new version on your computer.
Manufacturers should create a simple, down to earth, understandable, short, hard copy which contains the essential instructions.
Rolf E. Hummel,
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