Letters to the editor

Think vs. feel

How can two people hear the same thing and come to opposite opinions? One will think about it and decide what he or she thinks is right or wrong. The other side will think about it and decide how he or she feels about it.

How do you want your country run: by someone’s brains or someone’s feelings? You decide and vote that way.

Jack Kurtz


Wrong use of tax money

Our county commission disregards public opinion by reducing meetings to two a month, eliminating night meetings, and limiting public input at meetings to three minutes. Now, the commission is disregarding the law.

The commission approved $25,000 of public funds for a campaign “to inform citizens” on the continuation of the one-cent local sales tax. According to the mailer I received, the county wants your vote to keep the tax in place, clearly advocating for and containing nothing negative about it.

Florida Statute 106.113(2) states: “A local government or a person acting on behalf of local government may not expend or authorize the expenditure of, and a person or group may not accept, public funds for a political advertisement or electioneering communication concerning an issue, referendum or amendment, including any state question, that is subject to a vote of the electors. This subsection does not apply to an electioneering communication from a local government or a person acting on behalf of a local government which is limited to factual information.”

The disclaimer, “Highlands County Government provided this information as a public service to educate the public on the issue. It is not intended to advocate a position” is their loophole to this law.

Do you think it’s ethical for county government to spend tax dollars to advocate for the continuation of a tax?

Prediction: If the tax passes, any complaints about wasted tax dollars will be met with, “We educated you and allowed you to vote on it!”

Mary Bengtson


Lukewarm candidates

During the 1970s my son attended Highlands County schools and I was happy to support schools with my taxes. Today, I am retired at 72 with no children in schools and I am still happy to pay for public schools.

Some of my elderly peers disagree. They believe their responsibility for public education ended when their children were educated. What I find puzzling is that these folks will often agree that universal education is critical to building civil societies and democracies, yet they can’t seem to understand that quality education is critical to everyone.

With this in mind I attended a school board candidates forum on July 24. I hoped to learn more from people clearly interested in our local schools.

Perhaps I would hear ideas about how to achieve excellence in our local schools at a time when we are not replacing aging buses, fixing leaking roofs, providing needed equipment and, most importantly, paying teachers at a level that attracts a larger percentage of teaching superstars.

One candidate, Ronnie Jackson, did not attend. That left seven people. With a group that large and an allocation of only two minutes per question, it was easy to string together some clichés that were not very informative.

After the first hour, I got the impression that these were good people who are not likely to damage our schools with extreme personal agendas.

All of them supported getting more funding for schools except for Realtor and political appointee Jill Compton.

Pep Hutchinson was the only candidate with a big picture view of Florida’s education crisis. I left the forum without much confidence that our school board had the skills to educate the public about the need for investing more in education.

James Upchurch