Letters to the Editor - Jan. 28


Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:48 p.m.

Lock up Madoff

Recently The Sun reported that a woman was arrested and jailed, with no bond set, on charges of burglary, larceny, fraud and obstruction of justice after being accused of using stolen credit cards to purchase gift cards at Red Lobster and American Express. And for these crimes we should arrest and jail people.

Yet, I cannot help but compare this with the Madoff Ponzi fraud of $50 billion in losses to charities, the life savings of many older people who trusted him, and the obstruction of justice with Madoff sending checks and jewels worth millions to family members and friends in order to keep and hide his ill-gotten money.

The system has allowed Madoff to be free of jail and remain on bail, enjoying his expensive lifestyle. Where is the justice here? Many have clamored that Madoff needs to be jailed, too. I agree.

Anne O. Johnson,

Gainesville

How to stop underage drinking

OK. We're trying to stop underage drinking. And one of the ways we're going to try to do this is to implement a new law that would punish bars that habitually serve underage drinkers.

The City Commission voted Jan. 15 unanimously in favor of the ordinance, and is scheduled to take a final vote next week. Under the ordinance, bars with repeated underage drinking violations would be prevented from admitting customers under 21 years old after 9 p.m. The threshold would be 10 violations in three months for bars that have occupancies of more than 200 customers, and five violations for smaller bars.

According to our illustrious Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, "It is almost the only thing we can do."

This is almost the only thing we can do? How about not admitting anyone under the age of 21? Ever. Wouldn't that be a good way to help curb underage drinking?

If the goal is no underage drinking, why don't we only make it possible for those 21 years of age and older to get to the bartender? Does anyone really believe that those under the age of 21 are in bars to drink Diet Coke?

Come on people. If you have to be 21 to drink, then you don't need to be in bars until you're 21. Never mind the occupancy.

Of course, we're living in a society where people don't want to take responsibility for their actions.

Bar owners won't want to restrict underage drinkers from their bars because they're selling them alcohol. If they tell you they're not, they're lying.

Marcus Moore,

Gainesville

Don't tax the bars to punish drinkers

It is completely baffling to me that the best solution to underage drinking the city could come up with levying a surtax on bars to pay for underage drinking patrols and police activities.

Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and those in charge are quick to blame the bars for this "problem" instead of those who would break the law in the first place. It wasn't until 1984, when the federal government used highway funding to browbeat the states into passing a 21-year-old drinking age, that that we had this whole "problem" of underage drinking.

It's absurd. The whole thing should be dropped and the money spent on something worthwhile.

Travis Fickett,

Gainesville

Slashing Medicaid and building prisons doesn't make sense

In 2007, the Florida Legislature implemented a law that caused massive cuts in Medicaid funding for people with developmental disabilities threatening the health, safety and welfare of thousands while forcing others to move from community-based programs into institutions.

As a recent Sun article about a proposed new prison on 39th Avenue points out, while the state has mercilessly cut Medicaid funding, the Department of Corrections plans to spend $250 million to construct a new prison.

Perhaps, the state is just forward looking, since cuts to services for the developmentally disabled will mean an increased need for institutions.

Deinstitutionalization critics argue that closing state hospitals results in an increased rate of homelessness and incarceration among individuals with developmental disabilities. Incarceration rates increase not because developmentally disabled individuals are more likely to commit crimes, but because lack of funding leaves them on the street where their disability is considered criminally suspicious and a police presence is strongly felt.

These critics have a point; Four to 10 percent of our nation's prison population is developmentally disabled. Yet, to live in one's community rather than be shut away in an institution is a civil right. Only by keeping community based services a funding priority can the state ensure preservation of this right.

The Medicaid cuts are meant to save $120 million, but projected savings will be offset by expenditures in the expansion of institutional care, which will include "care" in correctional settings.

Rather than allocate money to a new prison, the state should spend it on services that can alleviate an already heavily burdened correctional system.

To join others in an effort to stop the prison construction, e-mail stopgainesvilleprison@gmail.com. If you are an attorney, visit www.floridaprobono.org to learn more and sign up as a volunteer to represent individuals in administrative hearings.

Katherine DeBriere,

Gainesville

Keep the homeless where they belong

A one stop center for the homeless is being considered off Waldo Road adjacent to the new fairgrounds property and recycling center. We the taxpayers will foot the bill, which will include busing folks back and forth to the center.

If the one stop center is built in the unincorporated area of Alachua County, it will fail. What's wrong with redeveloping some of those empty buildings around town; such as on North Main Street. North 13th Street and University Avenue?

The city commissioners give the appearance of helping the homeless, but they just want them out of their city. The 10-year-plan to end homelessness is a joke. Should we close the St. Francis House, the saving grace of the homeless?

There will always be homeless. The more that is given to the homeless the more the word gets out and more will come to town.

Why not build the center closer to downtown, where the homeless like to be? Why are we spending money on more land when we can't take care of what we have?

Linda M. Combs,

Gainesville

God and politics

I object to the repeated references of God in speeches and ceremonies by elected officials. I don't care if the majority of Americans are reportedly religious. Millions are not.

Our Founding Fathers did not require us to swear by God during political proceedings. There is not a single mention of God in the U.S. Constitution.

It is a travesty of the concept of morality and justice to continue using the Bible to swear in the president or anyone else. There are passages in the Bible that sanction slavery.

Jerry Jenkins,

Micanopy

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