Letters to the Editor - Jan. 31


Published: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 4:31 p.m.

We must save AGH

I have lived in Gainesville for 20 years working in several capacities including that as a health care professional. Over this time I've used Alachua General Hospital, (AGH), as my primary source for emergency medical services as well as in-patient care.

I would rate the care I've received at AGH as very good, with excellent saved for an imaginary institution.

One thing I've noticed about AGH is that there is a familial relationship among the staff. I have always enjoyed the working relationships among the staff at AGH.

On my last admission it was the nursing, and for the greatest part, the support staff that buoyed my spirit, providing the empathic care every human in need deserves. AGH provides the type of health care that I remember as a child; humane and personal.

So, the idea of this hospital falling to dust is to me an incredible injustice to the community it serves and the family that works there. Don't be mistaken, the employees of AGH are mourning the change. Not all of them will be taken care of.

As for the community, I have yet to be reassured that timely emergency medical treatment will be available. If you doubt my words walk into the three emergency departments in town on a weekend night and then reflect on AGH being unavailable.

Shands pulled a half-hearted stunt, wasting resources, trying to establish a children's hospital at AGH. All the resources needed were not provided to care of this population. So to atone for that disaster, Shands pulls the plug on AGH.

Our community must stop what is happening, and our elected representatives need to talk to the staff and patients of AGH and develop a realistic view of what is best for our community, and not the mega hospital, Shands.

Peter J. LeShane,

Gainesville

Policing Hawthorne

The Hawthorne City Commission dissolved its police department on Jan. 16 because of a loss of $163,875 for the fiscal year ending 2008.

The only way to offset this deficit would be to set up a speeding trap on our two main highways and catch people on their way to and from work. Hawthorne does not want Waldo's reputation. Also, traffic cops do not prevent crime in our residential areas.

Sheriff Sadie Darnell has always worked cooperatively with the City of Hawthorne, and her highly trained deputies respond rapidly upon request. Also, county deputies routinely patrol all streets of Hawthorne.

I am a former city commissioner and I congratulate city commissioners for eliminating this department.

Jeff McMeekin,

Hawthorne

Drink tax absurd

Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan's proposal to levy a per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages is absurd. She claims the revenue generated would fund law enforcement efforts to combat alcohol-related violations.

What this appears to be is a desperate attempt by the mayor to raise money for dwindling city coffers under the guise of supporting law enforcement.

Yes, our police should be adequately funded, but this is not the way to do it. Why should law-abiding citizens in Gainesville have to pay a penalty for the stupid actions of others?

Instead of targeting those who abide by the law, why not target those who break the law by levying hefty fines upon them? Considering the numbers of people who violate the drinking laws, the city could raise plenty of funds without having to levy a special tax on everyone.

We need to send the message to those who violate the law, both individuals and drinking establishments, that there are serious consequences for their actions. But at the same time we need to send the message to the law-abiding citizens and responsible drinking establishments that they are not going to be held responsible for the mistakes of others.

Jessica Clackum Herman,

Gainesville

Denying equal rights

A group which paradoxically refers to itself as "Citizens for Good Public Policy" has placed a measure on the March City of Gainesville ballot. This mean-spirited and divisive referendum, if passed, would eliminate discrimination protection to many Gainesville citizens.

It would deny our constitutionally protected (14th Amendment) equal protection under the law and would legalize discrimination.

Currently citizens are protected from discrimination on the basis of race and other factors, but the hurdle for proving discrimination is very high. Nonetheless, this ordinance is important to prevent egregious discrimination.

Analysis has concluded that our ordinance, contrary to being a burden on business, is good for business. Most Fortune 500 companies have comprehensive anti-discrimination policies.

The tricky wording of the referendum states that Gainesville can no longer protect any group of people not protected by Florida law. Florida law has not been updated in years and almost every municipality in Florida has anti-discrimination categories not covered by the Florida statutes.

According to city attorneys, the immediate affect of the repeal would be to deny equality to veterans, gays and pregnant women; categories not included in antiquated Florida statutes.

To be sure, this group is targeting gays. Veterans and pregnant women are "collateral damage."

Many of these individuals and businesses do not want any of us to have equality under the law, including on the basis of race. Racism and other bigotry still exist, despite the transformative and refreshing election of our new president.

To learn more about who is funding this effort, with a link to the Supervisor of Elections site and links to groups on both sides of the issue, please visit: http://gainesvilleboycott.blogspot.com/

Barbara Katz,

Gainesville

P.K. Yonge's facelift

How is it that in a time of cuts to educational and community programs around the county, we are hearing that P.K. Yonge is going to get a $60 million remake? And, that it is spending $400,000 for an architecture firm to develop the plans?

The P.K. Yonge Web site touts itself as an "A" school with the most successful athletic program in the state and exemplary visual and performing arts programs. It says the school has won the Golden School Award for volunteer hours six years in a row, and claims it has a faculty with a high percentage of advanced degrees.

Based on this, it does not appear that P.K. Yonge and its students are suffering very much. How is it that this public school gets $400,000 to spend on architectural plans for a $60 million remake? I know of many schools in our area that would benefit greatly from a $25,000 investment in their programs or buildings.

So, maybe the money is coming from the UF side of the Developmental Research School? Isn't UF reducing staff and having cutbacks as well?

Our elected officials need evaluate the rationale of putting $60 million into this already highly successful "public" school and consider the needs of other actual public schools.

Bruce Nodine,

Wacahoota

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