THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR and COMMUNITY VOICES
The letters on this page are written by UUSDBA members and friends and were published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal Letters to Editor column or in Community Voices. The link to the most recent letter is at the top of the page. Scroll down for other letters printed this year. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the general membership of the UUSDBA or the UUA. Permission to link to these articles has been obtained from the Editor of the News-Journal, Pat Rice. May 16, 2014
THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR and COMMUNITY VOICES FOR 2019:
In the section below, the Letter at the top of the page is the most recent.
SMALL STATES PROTECTED
A April 7 letter (“Electoral College fair”) about the Electoral College defended it as protecting smaller states from the coastal elites (like California and New York). However, both Texas and Florida have greater populations than New York.
The Founding Fathers instituted the Electoral College to both protect the smaller states from the larger ones and to maintain the institution of slavery. Of course, we should remember that all voters were elites then (white male landowners). Also, recall the Constitution originally counted a slave as three-fifths of a free person, for the purpose of determining the number Representatives for a state. Thank heavens we have changed the Constitution and our laws so that all females, all races and the poor can vote.
It could be argued that the small states are well protected without the Electoral College: The combined population of Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi is less than half that of Florida; but they have six times as many Senators. Wow!
However, I do agree with the author about one thing: Amending the Constitution to change the Electoral College is very unlikely – currently a bridge too far.
Tom Hilburn, Ormond Beach
April 5, 2019
Thanks for the March 31 article (“Secret scars”) about the scars of sexual abuse. Matt McGuirk bore such scars. At 10, he bravely testified against his teacher who had been sexually abusing him. His predator was sent to prison, but McGuirk received a life sentence of suffering.
McGuirk seemed proud that he helped put the man in prison so he wouldn’t continue to hurt children. However, McGuirk didn’t want to talk after the trial about his feelings. He kept his demons inside and died of an accidental drug overdose a month after turning 31.
So other victims would receive hope, help and healing even if they couldn’t afford it, McGuirk’s parents, Mike and Victoria, founded Straight Up SolGier.
Matt himself named it, spelling it with a capital “G” for God and creating the logo. The organization provides free professional counseling for local children and adults who have been sexually abused. People, including several senior citizens, are now benefiting from free therapy the McGuirk’s foundation provides.
We’re thankful to Gov. Ron DeSantis who as a congressman realized the importance of such a worthy organization. He was instrumental in this foundation achieving a 501(c)3 non-profit status.
April 7-13 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. One of our licensed mental health counselors, Deborah Ebert, owner of Inner Garden Counseling, has been nominated for Counselor of the Year. Jofre Miller, who has helped with fundraisers paying for counselors, has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year. The winners will be announced at the Victims’ Rights Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on April 12.
Barbara Waite Sandberg, Ormond Beach
Barbara Waite Sandberg is a member of the board of Straight Up SolGier
March 13 2019
Health care is essential for a human existence. The cost and availability of medical care are key issues. According to a 2016 World Bank study, the U.S. spent over $9,000 per person on health care, while most industrialized countries spent less than $6,000 per person.
Republicans have argued that health care will become cheaper if we remove regulations on health insurance companies. Although regulations have been reduced in the federal government and in some states, there has been no significant reduction in cost.
Democratic progressives have proposed Medicare-for-All plans. It is not clear what these plans will cost and how they will be paid for, but probably with increased taxes. It is also not clear what will happen to the over 2.5 million health insurance employees. And, will Medicare-for-All cover employer health plans?
I suggest an alternative that was considered during the deliberations over Obamacare: A public insurance option where the U.S. government sells insurance policies for health coverage similar to Medicare. Individuals and employers would pay for the policies at a rate to cover government costs. Public insurance should be competitive with private insurance, since administrative costs for Medicare are 2 percent, versus 12 to 18 percent for private insurance, and there would no profit paid to shareholders.
Some would argue that public insurance is a form of socialism. However, this is no different from other government entities such as the quasi-governmental postal system, public school systems, NASA’s space program and public libraries, all of which have private alternatives.
Tom Hilburn, Ormond Beach
February 27, 2019
“A celebration of black history should present acknowledgment of the talents and skills that millions in bondage used for themselves.”
NOT ALL SLAVES PICKED COTTON
Most American History textbooks lead students to remember that “Cotton was king” in the economy of the country in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and learn only that blacks as slaves worked in fields. Their skills and talents receive little or no space on textbook pages. Ira Berlin made the statement; “To say that a person was a slave does not tell everything about him or her. The life of slaves was completely supervised by those who towered over them. Slave history was made not only by what was done to them, but also by what they did for themselves.”
A celebration of black history should present acknowledgment of the talents and skills that millions in bondage used for themselves that led to the freedoms enjoyed by their descendants today.
It was the years of the Civil War that changed everything in the ways of life for all Americans, whether rich or poor, slave or free. It was the service of people of color in the Civil War that significantly affected its outcome. With the Union victory, came freedom of the slaves and one truly great desire.
When slave families were separated in sales, where they were taken, and what happened to them — all this information was kept away from their families. Millions left behind desired to learn and know where their folks were. They determined to know and made efforts to find them.
In contrast, many of the descendants of those in bondage — who are now enjoying the freedoms earned for them — are not showing a desire to learn and know about those folks who made the sacrifices for their freedoms enjoyed today.
This is Black History month and this writer would like to know why millions of descendants (students and adults) who are enjoying freedoms do not seem to desire or want to know about the folks who used their skills and talents and also made sacrifices in blood, sweat and tears to earn the freedoms that they are enjoying today. Why?
Mary J. Fears, Daytona Beach
— Fears has entertained and educated audiences as a black history re-enactor for more than 20 years, following a career as a media specialist in Volusia County Schools. She co-produced the film “Filling the Gap: Forgotten Chapter of American History,” a 2011 NAACP Image Awards nominee for Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Anyone interested in participating in re-enactments can contact Fears through this newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LENGTHENING THEIR STAY
A few months ago, Ormond Beach commissioners were funded into office by generous sponsors with a purpose. And now, in an attempt to lengthen their stay, commissioners want to increase the term for the five seats by adding an item to the proposed May ballot (i.e., they are looking for a way to ensure their grip of control on the city).
Why the rush with this proposal? Why group the topics of length of elected term and staggered terms into one proposal? Why not wait until the next general election? Will generous sponsors be erecting signs along the Granada Boulevard corridor to support you proposal? Would the same people be so aggressive with the proposal if the tide was turned and the opposition had won all five seats last November?
If they want to make a change, I propose a maximum number of years any individual may spend in a commission seat. Sixteen (yes, 16) years is way too long.
Kudos to Mark Lane’s column (Feb. 13, “Ormond commissioners may lengthen their stay”), especially paraphrasing George Orwell’s “two years good, four years bad,” which is spot on.
In fact, in some cases, two years is 730 days too long!
Ed Kolaska, Ormond Beach
January, 23 2019
DAN KENNEDY: School grades inflate expectations of students, schools
We have been hearing a lot about K-12 educational issues in Florida and the nation for some time, including a very informative article in the Jan. 6 News-Journal which focused on the grading of schools. It should be acknowledged up front that I am opposed to the letter grading of schools and certainly in agreement with Dr. Chris Colwell’s quoted statements that K-12 education should be broadly based to facilitate development in personal values and social-emotional areas. This is not meant to play down the great importance of academic learning.
People are not born equal in terms of central nervous system wiring (e.g. brain power). Nor are they born equally regarding socio-economic-system levels (e.g. education, income, or parent time for or inclination to encourage academic learning). Decades of psychological and educational research has shown these variables to be very predictive of academic attainment. What these factors add up to is an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental learning that is extremely important for school learning. Research in cognitive psychology, biology, and neuro-science during recent decades increasingly shows the importance of this interaction.
What this also shows is a clearly unrealistic approach to the Florida system of grading K-12 schools and districts. The current system almost completely ignores a concept of academic aptitude. There appears to be an implicit assumption that all students, with the exception of certain special needs students, can learn at an exceptionally high level; an A level. That is a distorted and unrealistic expectation.
A rational, and somewhat simplified, approach to the issue can be conceptualizing both academic aptitude and achievement in terms of below average, average, and above average. Many human characteristics, including academic aptitude and achievement, fall into these categories. Concerning grades: C traditionally represented average, D and F below average, and B and A above average. The cutting points between these categories are somewhat arbitrary, but are realistic for practical purposes.
None of this is to suggest that almost all students cannot likely improve their academic aptitude and achievement, but it does provide a practical and realistic approach to the issue of grading. Traditionally, elementary schools have tended to emphasize individual student improvement over grades as such, which is a sound psychological approach to encouraging love of learning.
Research reported in the Jan. 6 News-Journal article included a comparison of Volusia County with the 22 largest school districts in Florida. The information included: Volusia has the lowest median household income and second-highest student poverty rate; lowest average teacher salary and experience; and highest rate of student absenteeism. These conditions, at best, predict an average level of student achievement.
The article also noted that “71 percent of elementary schools in Volusia were C- or D- rated.” This represents a realistic assessment considering environmental conditions.
K-12 education in the U.S. is often compared, usually negatively, with other nations. In recent years South Korea and Finland have been among the highest scoring in academic achievement. Students in South Korea experience a great deal of pressure to score high in high stakes testing to “get ahead” in life and reportedly have little time for anything else. In Finland there is a much more relaxed approach with very little standardized testing, and education is broadly based, including academics, social-emotional development, and preparation for leisure time use.
Which model should we use?
— Kennedy, of Ormond Beach, is retired from a career that combined psychology and education, spent mostly in university positions.
January 20, 2019
Stop the drugs
I feel the police are focusing on the wrong part of the problem. If drugs weren’t easy to obtain on the street, the women would not be out looking for money to buy them. I support all the tough work that police officers do, but I feel they should spend more time making it tough to sell drugs in our community. Go to a community with little access to drugs, and you won’t find prostitutes walking the street looking for money and drugs.
Jofre Miller, Daytona Beach
January 16, 2019
SALES TAX INCREASE CRIMINAL
Volusia County’s idea of increasing sales tax to pay for roads for the new developments is criminal.
We have already paid enough, not only in terms of money but also in terms of quality of life, for the cookie-cutter sprawl developments being built along Interstate 95. Clogged traffic, loss of our precious forests and wetlands, and now we’re supposed to pay more taxes, too?
I’d be happy to pay more sales tax, but only if it eliminated our property tax. (We can always dream, right?)
Another problem with the proposed tax increase is that it’s about cars and roads, and nothing about bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Why is our area so behind the times when so many other cities and regions are thinking and planning beyond the car-dependent mode of life?
Existing residents of the core city shouldn’t have to shoulder so much of the tax burden for sprawl developments. Sprawl costs us all!
Make the developers pay more, and if that means they take their sprawl development plans elsewhere, so much the better.
Jenny Nazak, Daytona Beach
Jan 14, 2019
AMERICANS AT RISK
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the number of apprehensions at the southwest U.S. border per year has not significantly changed in the last five years. The average is about 500,000 per year. In 2017 and 2018, Republicans had a majority in both the House and the Senate. They did not provide President Trump with funding for his wall. Yet Trump did not shut down the U.S. government while his Republican colleagues controlled Congress. The fiscal year 2018 appropriations included a total of $1.3 billion for new and replacement border fencing and barriers. Not all of this money has been spent. The Democrats in the House and the Senate in a unanimous voice vote taken before Christmas offered Trump another $1.3 billion just for fencing and barriers. Instead,Trump has threatened to veto such funding legislation and Senate Republicans now refuse to even consider legislation passed by the House unless it contains $5.7 billion for Trump’s wall.
During the government shutdown TSA agents, Coast Guard staff, and Border Security workers are not being paid. Every day of the shutdown puts Americans more at risk. Trump’s administration has not even spent all the money which has been appropriated for border barriers. It is clear that our President manufactured this border funding “crisis.” It is Mr. Trump and his Republican colleagues in the Senate who are lying and endangering America.
Dale Harmon, Palm Coast
THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR and COMMUNITY VOICES for prior years are archived.
Dr Morris Carter has been a member of UUSDBA since 1980. He was featured in an article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal Feb 21,2014.
The News-Journal has given permission to post the following link to that article
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND COMMUNITY VOICES FOR PRIOR YEARS, ARE ARCHIVED BELOW.