Letters to the Editor - March 1


Published: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.

A billion here, a billion there

I'm for the stimulus plan and especially for putting people back to work and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. But I've been trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a billion dollars.

To put it in perspective, Alachua County's residential parcels have a total taxable value of almost $9 billion ($8,923,812,095.00), according to information recently gathered from the Property Appraiser's Office.

If you add the industrial parcels (commercial, agricultural, etc.), the total taxable value of Alachua County's parcels is just over $12 billion ($12,037,560,182.00).

So if our federal government gives a bank a $15 billion bailout, that bank could presumably buy every taxable parcel of real estate in Alachua County at its taxable value and still have $3 billion left over.

Most of the first $350 billion in TARP money was sent out to banks. Imagine if our financial institutions had put that money back into the economy by lending it out, instead of using it to purchase assets and shore up their own bottom lines.

Dorothy Benson,

Gainesville

Bernie Machen's real agenda is finally clear

President Machen has finally admitted to what the unions on campus have suspected for several years: He wants to use the budget as an excuse to bypass democratic processes and force restructuring of the university in ways that the workers and students would never go for under normal conditions:

Two years ago, August 25, 2006, the manufactured College of Liberal Arts and Sciences debt was used as pretense for the now infamous "Five Year Plan." At the time, then-Provost Fouke referred to the plan as "coup" in an e-mail to then CLAS dean Neil Sullivan. Last May, when confronted with reports from The Sun as well as other local news agencies as to why layoffs were happening when there were literally tens of millions of dollars that could be spent to prevent them, administrators swore up and down that their actions had nothing to do with restructuring the university.

Now the administration has instructed colleges to plan for a further 10 percent budget reduction and is telling employees that layoffs are certain. At the same time hiring of administrators (the most expensive employees) and faculty continues. In some programs Linguistics and the Center for European Studies in which appointments have been made, other employees have been let go.

It is nice to finally have an honest admission of intent from the president himself. His confession helps to explain why he accepts bonuses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, while refusing graduate assistants, who do the bulk of the undergraduate teaching, a modest cost-of-living bonus worth less than 1 percent of the unrestricted money the university has on hand.

Instead of telling us how much he values graduate education, the president should put the money where his mouth is.

Deeb Kitchen,

Co-president,

Graduate Assistants United,

Gainesville

Greens using fear to sell warming

After his re-election in 2004, George W. Bush led Republicans on a crusade to privatize Social Security, using the rationale that the program was in crisis, even though the dangers to the system were many years in the future.

At the time, most rational commentators noted that these attempts to alter what is basically a sound pension plan were really cynically designed plans to destroy it.

Unfortunately, I see similarities in present hysteria over "global warming." Cynical environmental extremists are using fear of possible catastrophe in the indeterminate future to oppose and attempt to dismantle the modern world's use of energy sources that contribute to our current standard of living.

As a nation and a world, we must stand up to pressure to vastly alter a system that has brought up global living standards by a factor of 100 over the last 300 years, all because of the possibility that the world might get a couple of degrees warmer over the next hundred years. What has happened to common sense?

Keith Shapiro,

Gainesville

A perfect place for a one-stop homeless center

Have all our commissioners lost their capability to responsibly handle the taxpayers' money?

What do they intend to do with the old Mom's Kitchen building? A perfect place for a one-stop center for the homeless, don't you think? Centrally located near the police station, no busing involved.

I am sure some county and city employees love the fact that they lost their jobs in favor of spending money unnecessarily. Doesn't the commission have enough "little" projects eating away at the budget already?

We are sinking from over-expenditures and poor decision making. People are losing money and jobs are being cut, but we have money to burn.

Linda M. Combs,

Gainesville

Amendment 1 is a license to discriminate

The real issue behind Amendment 1 is discrimination against a segment of our society. If passed, Amendment 1 would allow a resident of Gainesville to fire or deny housing to someone struggling with gender identity.

A few years ago, I was a counselor for the Gainesville Community Ministries, a worthwhile organization trying to improve the lives of people who are down and out. A young man came in who was undergoing the process of gender change.

He was from Ocala. He said his father had thrown him out of his house and told him not to come back. Having no place to go, he came to the ministry seeking help.

I gave him information, some food to tide him over for a few days, then shook his hand and wished him well. If anyone needed a friend and acceptance, it was him.

Some would say the state's anti-discrimination law is good enough for Gainesville. Well, the law is fine as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. We are not asking to negate anything the state has said, only to add to it an unwillingness to allow discrimination because of gender identity.

Let's admit that this campaign is not about the source of campaign funds or the character of Gainesville, and certainly not about rest rooms. It's about old-fashioned prejudice. Can't we rise above that?

Dorothy Field,

Gainesville

Yeah, but can grad students play tackle?

The admirable progression of the University of Florida toward becoming an elite post-graduate academic school is cause for concern because of recruitment problems that may arise.

Who among the dominant graduate students can play offensive tackle in football or point guard on the basketball team? Will we be seeking grants from the NBA and NFL? These are grave times that will require weighty decisions by the UF administration.

Robert J. Mounts,

Gainesville

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