Letters to the editor

Auxillary poppies Memorial Day is coming up soon. It is the day when we can remember and honor our veterans. The American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as the national flower in 1921 and, in 1924, instituted the national poppy program to protect the memorial poppy from becoming commercialized and ensuring that every Auxiliary poppy is made by a disabled veteran. Each year, American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute more than 25 million red crepe paper poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. One hundred percent of the donations received by Auxiliary volunteers for poppies and contributions to the poppy fund are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. In addition, poppy making provides disabled veterans with a rehabilitative activity and a small personal income. The physical and mental activity of poppy making provides theapeutic benefits for these veterans and all poppy making materials are provided to them free of charge.
The American Legion Auxiliary in Sebring will be distributing poppies May 25. Watch for us. We would appreciate a smile, a veteran's story and/or a donation. Thank you from all the ladies. Sylvia Turbeville Unit 74 Sebring TDC tax One of the issues that the Tourist Development Council will ask for at the May 28 Highlands County Commission meeting is a 50 percent raise in the Tourist Development Tax, from 2 percent to 3 percent. My questions on this issue are: is there any method in the proposed new plan to assure the public that there will be accountability in that new plan? Are they telling us the truth this time? The only way I can gauge if more or less tourists are coming to Highlands County is by the amount of tax dollars collected. Above the 50 percent raise in the tax from 2 to 3 percent, which will raise the tax collected by 50 percent, how much extra tourist dollars can we expect to see out of this extra money that will be spent? That brings up the question: Do they really need 50 percent more money, or is this just greed? I have asked this question many times and the only answer I get is, "most everyone else charges more than we do and I think we deserve more money." The TDC nine-year Reconciliation Progress Report that was sent to the state lists a total dollar amount remaining in the TDC tax fund at the end of year February '03 was $77,981, March '04 was $205,664, April '05 was $443,676, May '06 was $428,844, June '07 was $401,116, July '08 was $432,655, August '09 was $501,346, September '10 was $531,326 and October '11 was $564,722. The TDC report states that, as of Jan. 31, there was $603,989. At the 2 percent tax rate, which equals $300,000 a year collected, that is a two-year rainy day fund. And do you believe they are asking for a 50 percent raise? If they can show us that, at this time, they don't have enough money to run the operation and show how this raise in the tax will bring in more tourists to the county, then I would think that the raise would deserve some consideration. What do you think? Bill Youngman Citizens for Government Accountability Sebring Basic rights The "fundamental transformation of America" has produced, among other things, this illegal gun smuggling operation called "Fast and Furious"; the attempts to pass "Card Check and "Cap and Trade," two innocuously sounding laws that would have eliminated the secret ballot during union voting in the former case and diminished U.S. sovereignty in the latter; the violation of parental rights by allowing 15-year-old girls to purchase the "morning after pill" without parental approval; the violation of religious rights by forcing Christian hospitals to provide health insurance that includes birth control, etc.; the disgraceful cover-up of the Benghazi murders of four American heroes; the strong-arming of the tea party and other convservative groups by the IRS while extracting information not under its prerogative; and the Department of Justice scandal regarding its tapping of phone calls made to and by AP reporters. Note that most of these events are in clear violation of individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution. One wonders how such flagrant transgressions of the Constitution could have taken place without the knowledge of average American citizens? Well, for one thing, some were done under cover and were ameliorated by misinformation and lies. Afterwards, they were carefully handled to remain "under the radar" of the citizenry and subsequently, disappear. Regardless, their reality is suddently being uncovered for some loyal Americans simply refused to accept the propaganda and steadfastly resolved to determine the underlying truth. Their efforts were successful and there is now a substantial amount of public awareness of the malfeasance and hopefully more than a mere semblance of justice may be forthcoming in the near future. Let us remain vigilant and pray that the will of our Creator will once again be embodied in all future acts, regulations and laws endorsed by our government. Ray Stebbins Avon Park