Letters to the Editor - Jan. 30


Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 2:39 p.m.

No pay raise

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Cagle Cartoons

I recently initiated the following online petition, and I would greatly appreciate any help in getting it off to a good start. It is addressed to our U.S. House of Representatives and may be accessed through www.payfreeze.info:

"Last year, 2 .6 million of your fellow Americans lost their jobs, raising unemployment to its highest level in 15 years. Countless others have had their pay reduced or frozen. To set an example of shared sacrifice under these dire economic conditions, one of President Obama's first acts was to ‘freeze the salaries of senior members of the White House staff.'

"Meanwhile, Congress awarded itself a $4,700 cost-of-living increase, raising average salaries to about $174,000.

"We agree with Congressman Mitchell that, ‘For Congress to give itself a pay raise at a time when so many hardworking Americans are suffering is unconscionable.' That is why we are urging each of you to join him and Congressman Paul in freezing congressional pay by cosponsoring and passing their Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act as expeditiously as possible!"

Tom Foreman,

Gainesville

Wasteful spending

Charles Schneider's Jan. 26 letter about county commissioners mastering the art of spending taxpayers' money was right on. We are all familiar with CHOICES, impact fees, gas taxes and sales tax increases. The follow-up to this is their wasteful spending.

One example is the recently completed 24th Avenue project, between 34th and 43rd Avenues. It is a "touchy, feely," over-designed, and most expensive road project per mile in recent memory, at over $7.5 million.

I urge you to drive down this mile-long road with its expansive landscaping, bike and pedestrian lanes. Take your time, as you will be one of the very few using it.

Future projects are apt to be more wasteful. The $10 million per mile Tower Road project, on this busiest north/south corridor west of I-75, will not only be more expensive per mile but will slow traffic down by reducing the travel lanes from 12 to 11 feet and by installing nine "school zone" 15 mph roundabouts along its 3-mile project length.

Instead of negotiating nine mind-numbing roundabouts, I believe most motorists will eventually choose 91st Street as the north/south corridor of choice.

The latest initiative is a 12- foot wide Archer Braid bicycle path through Haile Plantation and other neighborhoods. Haile already has a bike/pedestrian path along the proposed project path. As a jogger and biker, I have used this existing path almost daily for 13 years and would be surprised if more than 20 bikers use it in any one day.

Compare this 12-foot wide bike path to Tower Road's proposed 11-foot wide travel lanes that see over 20,000 vehicle per day.

As the economy hits home, perhaps the above will make more sense to many of you who continue to re-elect these many multiple-term incumbents.

Ernie Taylor,

Gainesville

Door to opportunity

Your recent article titled "Funding private tuition with slim public dollars" made some excellent points about the value to Florida from state grants (FRAG) to students attending our 28 colleges and universities. However there were some factual errors and a generally misleading statement that implies that recipients are students who do not need this assistance to complete their educations.

FRAG adds value to Florida's higher education by providing access to opportunity for tens of thousands of students who otherwise would not have ready access to this opportunity. Like the broader and much more generous state subsidy that pays from 75 to 100 percent of the costs of a student attending one of our public institutions, FRAG has no means test. Students are eligible for FRAG, just like students are eligible for admittance at one of our state institutions based on being Florida residents. But FRAG recipients must be full-time students to receive this state aid, which this year is $2,837.

The 28 ICUF institutions FRAG students attend generally have larger percentages of lower income, Pell eligible, minority and non-traditional students than our public institutions, which belies your assertion that ICUF institutions are unaffordable. Based on a state analysis, just under 50 percent of the recipients of the grant are the first ones in their families to attend college.

Gov. Crist should embrace this program in the same manner as the legislative leaders quoted. They recognize it is not only students who benefit from this program, but the state economy as well. Florida badly needs college graduates and this program offers a very low cost alternative to the state.

FRAG offers access to Florida taxpaying residents at from one third to one-sixth the costs of that same student attending a public institution, freeing up additional assets that can be used in our public institutions. And it offers this to thousands of students who chose to not ask that their entire higher educations be paid by the taxpayers.

Ed H. Moore,

President,

Independent Colleges

and Universities of Florida

Tallahassee

The drinking tax

It is certain that one thing that Gainesville Democratic leaders will drink to and fight for is a new tax.

As quoted in the Sun; "Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said Monday that she's seeking a change in state law to allow the city to implement a per-drink alcohol tax. The revenue would fund law enforcement efforts to combat alcohol-related violations."

This will certainly lead to another bait-and-switch for taxpayers. How can the mayor say what the money will be used for? Are they going to set this money aside in a fund for the police? Highly unlikely.

What is more probable is for the money to go into the general fund and mix with the rest of the money confiscated from the citizenry. There will be no way to account for the increase and its effect on police policies and procedures.

The mayor says that she is "geared up" for a fight with the "state's powerful alcohol industry lobby." But, while the mayor can usually count on the support of liberal college age voters, she may have more difficulty this time. Gainesville's college residents usually move on before they earn enough money to be affected by taxes they vote for. But, this tax will affect that constituency immediately.

Is this really the time to put another tax burden on local businesses regardless of what that business is? And do the citizens of Gainesville really trust their city government to not simply reshuffle the deck and use money currently in the police budget for "other priorities"?

If you answered yes to these questions you may have already had one drink too many.

Brian Haddle,

Newberry

Keep it downtown

Add my name to the list of people who think the one stop center for the homeless should be downtown.

Let us also pray that the Gainesville City Commission will renew the permit for St. Francis House, which houses our society's most vulnerable, particularly homeless women and children. Closing St. Francis House would be a catastrophe, especially in these hard times.

Pat Fitzpatrick,

Gainesville

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