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.
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 email@example.com.
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
December 17, 2018
LETTERS: “The situation is critical and we need to try something different.”
New respect for panhandling problem
After hearing the shocking testimonials by local business owners and poliPanhandler encounters dominatece officers about the negative impacts of panhandling (Dec. 13, “Panhandler encounters dominate”), I have more sympathy for those who support a panhandling ordinance. It may not help, but the situation is critical and we need to try something different.
Also, regarding the problem of public urination and defecation, we need to expand the hours of public toilets, ideally 24/7. After hearing the disgusting accounts of business owners and public employees who have spent countless hours cleaning up urine and feces in public spaces, I can’t help but think it would be easier and less costly to just expand access to public toilets by extending their hours, and also possibly by adding toilets in underserved locations. Locked public toilets are a hassle for tourists and law-abiding locals, not just panhandlers and drug abusers.
Jenny Nazak, Daytona Beach
November 17, 2018
COLUMN’S ‘FACTS’ WRONG
Cal Thomas in a Nov. 14 opinion piece (“Florida’s fumbles: A national view”) wrote that “a conservative group called Minnesota Majority ... found 1,099 felons, all of them ineligible, had voted” in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race. That claim is false.
Dan McGrath (executive director of Minnesota Majority) did produce a list of 1,099 names that he claimed were those of felons who voted illegally. Hennepin County, Minnesota, Attorney Mike Freeman said that once his office investigated, they found that many of the names submitted by McGrath were incorrect. The county did charge 38 felons who voted before their rights were restored.
Thomas, by repeating this false allegation as fact, perpetuates distrust in our election system and discredits himself.
Even worse were the attempts by President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott to end the ballot counting in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The failure of county election officials to perform their jobs in a timely and efficient manner should never be used as an excuse to disenfranchise voters.
Dale Harmon, Palm Coast
Editor’s note: The Minnesota Star Tribune found that 1,099 felons were named but only 38 were charged.
November 8, 2018
THE NEXT STEP
The Democrats have won control of the House — now what should they do? Here are some ideas:
• Forget about impeachment. It is a waste of time and there are more important things to do.
• Pass a healthcare bill, which provides a public option for Medicare. Anyone would be able to purchase a Medicare plan or a private health insurance plan. Medicare would charge a fee that would cover its expenses; hence, no addition to the deficit. Although, “Medicare for All” has its appeal, it has no chance of passing in the Senate — and as Voltaire said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
• Prepare legislation that would allow Medicare to bargain with drug companies to reduce drug prices.
• Revive the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration proposal, which was passed by the Senate in 2013, and blocked by the House.
• Pull troops out of the Middle East. We have been there since 2001; things are not meaningfully better; we destroyed the lives of thousands and spent over a trillion dollars.
• Pass an infrastructure bill — use the Middle East withdrawal savings to help pay of it.
Most Republicans will oppose these ideas, but at their peril in the 2020 elections.
Thomas Hilburn, Ormond Beach
October 28, 2018
“WE NEED TO DISCOURAGE SPRAWL DEVELOPMENT.”
Transit fees could discourage sprawl
It’s a relief the area is recognizing the need to increase impact fees, but so far the discussion has been as a means to pay for new roads (and widen existing ones), while a far stronger reason exists — to reduce incentives for sprawl development, which is creating most of the demand for new roads in the first place.
Developers who clearcut forests and wetlands to build sprawl developments, rather than develop within the existing footprint of the city, should pay more for this choice. So should the individuals who choose to build or buy homes in such developments.
Sprawl development causes many problems. Besides clogging the roads, it also, through loss of forests and wetlands, makes us more vulnerable to drought/flood cycles and other weather extremes. It crowds out wildlife and degrades the scenic beauty that draws so many people to Florida. Worst of all, it jeopardizes our water supply. One manifestation of our water crisis is the deadly red tide creeping closer to our shores. Though red tide occurs naturally to some degree, it is greatly exacerbated by runoff of lawn chemicals and other pollutants.
To protect our quality of life, we need to discourage sprawl development. Raising impact fees can help do this. And the extra revenue should be used for public-transit and bicycle infrastructure, and repairing roads within the urban core, rather than paving over more and more of our beloved Florida landscape.
Jenny Nazak, Daytona Beach
October 24, 2018
THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE
Whatever your political persuasion I implore you to consider voting for CANDO 2-sponsored candidates for Ormond Beach City Commission. I admit dismay when I saw an expensive advertisement in an Ormond Beach paper, with photos of each challenger, claiming they had “no experience.” Was that a statement bordering on libel?
And then I realized, golly, it’s true. CANDO 2′s candidates have no experience — in taking contributions from wealthy developers, who, defacto, own them and would virtually carpet Granada Boulevard with their political signs.
Experience? Mayoral candidate Rob Bridger has two masters; degrees and 35 years of experience in public administration. As for the commission candidates: Barry du Moulin is a veteran who is experienced in maritime, the corporate world and law enforcement; Kathy Maloney Johnson taught elementary and high school locally for 25 years; Joe Dugan is a local banker and Sierra Club member; and Sandy Kauffmann has been a deputy clerk for Volusia County, including juvenile, for 18 years.
Can anyone imagine a finer combination of private and public sector experience to guide Ormond Beach’s ship?
I am so tired of pulling into barren strip mall parking lots — no shade. After a short errand, I return to my sauna of a car. Folks, it doesn’t have to be that way. Drive through The Trails, Tymber Creek or Office Depot, where thoughtful developers managed to save trees. Take a ride on Sterthaus Drive and admire the gorgeous oaks before their demise.
That is the Ormond Beach that we all love and want to recapture.
We can do it!
Linda Kalaydjian, Ormond Beach
September 12, 2018
International trade is a significant part of the U.S. economy. Since March, the president and his administration has been engaged in efforts to reduce our trade deficit. The U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports; the U.S. and China dealt each other $50 billion in tariffs; and we have engaged in trading negotiations with Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union. In reaction to new tariffs imposed by the U.S., trading partners have reacted with increased tariffs on U.S. imports. We are in the midst of a “trade war” in which some jobs have been saved (e.g., in steel and metal production), and many others have been threatened (e.g., in the auto industry and agriculture).
Many of the president’s tweets on trade have not been helpful, especially those concerning Canada: calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest & weak”; and saying there is “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal.”
There are disparities in our trade balances with other countries, but the 2017 $18 billion deficit with Canada is one of our lowest (China has a $375 billion deficit; Mexico, a $71 billion deficit; Japan, a $69 billion deficit; Hong Kong a $33 million surplus, Australia a $14 million surplus). Canada is our largest trading partner and closest ally. I hope the president can calm down, negotiate in good faith, and stop bullying and insulting our neighbor to the north.
Thomas B. Hilburn, Ormond Beach
August 8 2018
BEACONS OF SAFETY
I am too much of a rule follower to drive with flashers on during a rain storm, but I am incredible grateful when the driver in front of me has his flashers on. I recently was on Interstate 95 during an extremely heavy storm that had all drivers down to 35 miles per hour. There was not even one driver in the left-most of the three lanes. The car in front of me had his flashers on, so every second or so I could see that he was still there, that he was still a safe distance ahead, and I could relax and follow his lead.
Thank you, rule breaker. I think you made the road a safer place.
Harriet Anderson, Ormond Beach
July 13, 2018
HISTORY AND RELIGION
The July 1 issue of The News-Journal contained an advertisement indicating that our Founding Fathers were conventional religious Christians. Following are examples of why that is not quite true.
*Thomas Jefferson, using a cut-and-paste procedure, constructed his own version of the Bible’s New Testament. He included all of the positive social and moral features of the philosophy of Jesus. Excluded was anything related to supernaturalism or superstition, including virgin birth and resurrection.
*Sometimes the personal correspondence of our leaders better represents their beliefs than some of their public statements. Jefferson is an example here. A letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 states, “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” To his nephew Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
*John Adams made a clear statement regarding separation of church and state in the 1797 treaty with Tripoli: “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
Historical evidence indicates that many of our early leaders were deists, or what today would be called agnostics. They were greatly influenced by the 17th and 18th century Enlightenment thinkers.
Dan Kennedy, Ormond Beach
July 9, 2018
THE LAW IS ALIVE
In Tuesday’s Cal Thomas column, he argued for replacing Supreme Justice Anthony Kennedy with someone who believes in “originalism.” The originalism concept is an approach to interpreting the meaning the U.S. Constitution based on the perceived original intent of the framers of the Constitution. Thomas quotes the late Justice Antonin Scalia: “It means, today, not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
In the Supreme Court case of Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission, the conservative justices’ majority opinion (including Scalia) argued that the First Amendment’s free speech clause not only applies to individuals, but also to campaign contributions by corporations and unions. I doubt this was the “original intent” of the adopters of the First Amendment.
The problem is that the Constitution is not written with clear, precise language. Constitutional terms like “general welfare,” “natural born citizen,” “take care,” “cruel and unusual punishments,” “excessive bail,” and “due process of law” are open to different interpretations. The meaning of such terms depend on how they are viewed in the mind of those who apply and interpret them, and hence, will vary with the times. We expect courts to give due consideration for legal precedence and avoid legislating from the bench; but, it seems to me that an “originalist” view is not practical and that the idea of a “living Constitution” is in the spirit of the “We the people ...” preamble to the Constitution.
Thomas Hilburn, Ormond Beach
June 30, 2018
SEE BIG PICTURE
The continued trauma of separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents, standing alone in court proceedings at borders ,is unimaginably horrific. As a former therapist helping countless adults to heal from childhood trauma, I shudder at the long-term consequences of this mass barbarism. But for the grace of God, my young grandchildren living outside the country have an American parent and can soon move to Texas.
Late at night I wrestle with a few reflections.
All white Americans are descendants of mostly Christian immigrants. What has happened to the Golden Rule?
Ancient Hindu scriptures teach that world events happen in cycles of peace and destruction. Sometimes dramatic turmoil is needed to disrupt the status quo in order to enable gradual positive change. The tremendous unrest of the sixties has brought lasting changes for women and African-Americans in this country.
I pray that protests locally and nationwide remain peaceful, and help facilitate immediate help for these children as well as enduring positive change in the months and years ahead.
Marilyn Sapsford, Ormond Beach
May 22, 2018
I am responding to the pro-torture letter of May 18.
Those who advocate the torture (“enhanced interrogation”) of people to obtain actionable information make fundamental errors in judgment. The first error is to assume that the person being questioned actually has useful information. Torturing an innocent person is immoral, criminal, and a complete waste of time. The second error is to assume that the person, usually described as a “lunatic” or “terrorist,” will tell the truth. Instead, if they talk, they are far more likely to lie. The final error is to assume that the questioner will be able to tell what is the truth from the lies. The result, after torturing a person who may not even know anything of value to the point in which they talk, is to obtain nothing useful.
Torture is good for obtaining confessions. Totalitarian regimes use torture for this reason. Even in the USA, despite the Fifth Amendment, there are many documented cases of “confessions” by innocent people as the result of prolonged harsh questioning.
We as Americans have a clear choice. We can choose to follow the rule of law, our Constitution, and ethical religious standards and refrain from torture. The alternative is to become that which we claim to fight against.
Dale L. Harmon, Palm Coast
YOUTH DIVERSION MAKES SENSE
The reader who wrote the letter titled “The wrong direction,” published on April 29, seems to assume that all “disadvantaged youth” whose misbehavior in a classroom might result in being suspended from school or arrested are potential mass murderers, but that argument is based on faulty logic and false information. He claims that the killing of 17 people at a Parkland high school in February is an example of what happens when criminal behavior by students is ignored, and asserts that school and law enforcement officials in Broward County have “blood on their hands” because they followed policies designed to reduce the number of suspensions and arrests and close the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Nikolas Cruz, the individual who carried out the massacre at the school, was not a student there; he had been expelled. He is not a “disadvantaged youth;” he is 19 years old and white. His behavior was not ignored; he had come to the attention of law enforcement, including the FBI, many times, as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families and the mental health system. All agreed that he was a severely disturbed young man who needed mental health treatment. However, there was no legal mechanism to confine him or to confiscate his guns.
The proposals proposed by F.A.I.T.H. are intended to help children in Volusia County schools, including elementary schools, who are at risk of being suspended or arrested because of minor and nonviolent offenses. The children who are diverted from the school-to-prison pipeline will not be ignored; they will be monitored and will be expected to make restitution. These children will be less likely, not more likely, to be involved in further disruptive behavior or criminal activity. Turning their lives in a positive direction will make our schools and our communities safer.
Ellen Nielsen, Ormond Beach
April 25, 2018
RIGHT OR PRIVILEGE
In a recent letter to your paper, it was stated that voting in our country is a right, not a privilege. If we want to know whether voting is a right or a privilege the letter suggested we “read the Constitution.”
Unfortunately, the youth of today may not be able to read the Constitution because cursive writing is not taught in schools today. Sad.
Fortunately, if reading and Roman numerals are still taught, our students may be able to read the 19th Amendment. Amendment XIX states “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Still, I think it is important that citizens should be able to read the original just in case it is translated into the printed word incorrectly by mistake or on purpose.
Barbara Sandberg, Ormond Beach
April 16, 2018
A DECEPTIVE PROPOSAL
The Constitution Revision Commission is finalizing the constitutional amendments that will appear on November’s ballot. Currently, the CRC is considering a proposal reflecting Tallahassee politicians’ attempt to hide their agenda to undermine and privatize our public schools. This time, they are using the CRC to put forward an amendment that connects three different proposals — mandating school board term limits; mandating civics education; and granting power to an unelected, unaccountable state board to oversee charter schools.
This nebulous state board would replace the locally elected school board and would have free rein to create new charter schools whenever and wherever it wants. In a clear effort to mislead the public, the amendment does not mention charter schools explicitly but “permits the state to operate, control, and supervise public schools not established by the school board.”
Why? So that private for-profit charter companies can drain more tax money from our public schools and put it into their own pockets. It’s a massive power grab by Tallahassee politicians and for-profit charter companies.
If such a radical change stood alone on the ballot, there’s little question voters would reject it. That’s why the politicians are packaging it with a mandate for civics education and term limits for school board members. We don’t need a constitutional amendment to require civics instruction — it is already required. The decision to retain or dismiss school board members should remain in the hands of the local electorate.
Tell CRC commissioners to protect our local schools and stop wasting our time and money with deceptive proposals.
Carla Christianson Ormond Beach Christianson is first vice president and voter service chair of the League of Women Voters of Volusia County.
April 8 2018
PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ VALUE
The use of taxpayer money to fund charter schools and private schools is certainly part of a concerted effort to privatize K-12 public education. The basis for this started in the 1990s with the K-12 school reform movement, whose leaders were talking about cooperation with “the private sector.” There is ample evidence of big money from various sources (e.g., Wall Street hedge-fund people) being used for this purpose.
The claim that U.S. public education is a failure is used to justify the privatization movement, usually using performance on international tests as criteria. High-scoring nations tend to have relatively homogeneous student populations relative to socio-economic stratification, while the U.S. is quite diverse. Also, there’s inverse correlation between the international test scores and GDP of nations, which is certainly not supportive of the idea of widespread school failure in the U.S.
We need a well-educated citizenry to maintain democratic governance. Free K-12 public schools serve this purpose best — developing critical thinking, for example. Private schools tend to have strong social, economic, political and religious agendas, which is just the opposite of what is needed to develop critical thinking. Also, 80-85 percent of private K-12 schools have religious affiliations, raising serious issues about church-state separation.
All taxpayer funding for K-12 education should go to Florida’s public schools. The way to help schools do the best job of which they are capable would be to have much less Tallahassee-centric control and much more local school district autonomy.
Dan Kennedy, Ormond Beach
Kennedy is a retired psychologist and educator.
April 4, 2018
ORMOND RESIDENTS’ VOICES WILL BE HEARD
I tried to accept the words of Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington in his March 25 column, “Opening paths to participation.” But right from the get-go, he claims to recognize that “active civic engagement” is essential to our city’s success. That is a blatant attempt to pacify the public. He didn’t come up with the idea to involve Ormond Beach residents in city planning — until very recently, we have been ignored. But due to the efforts of CANDO2, there’s hope for our future.
The public has not been heard with respect, going back to the New Britain Avenue debacle. I attended that meeting and my three minutes. It is amazing what I learned. The mayor and commissioners appeared listless and inattentive to people who were desperately pleading for the status quo. It was obvious from body language that a final decision had been made.
A similar scenario presented itself almost a decade ago, regarding building height limits. But we had a different (more attentive) commission, and a different result.
Sentiment is growing toward major change in the way development is governed — both how, and who. It’ s not coming from the top, but from responsible, level-headed visionaries within the general public ranks. I implore commissioners to put a self-imposed hiatus on any future development in the city until a bona fide organization is formed that truly represents the population of Ormond Beach.
The purpose of this new entity would be to provide better control of the pre-decision phase of development and planning. We cannot afford any more changes to our environment, like that which created the eyesore at Granada Boulevard and Tomoka Avenue. Any input on that project from the public was ignored resulting in yet another political blivit. Enough is enough!
Ed Kolaska, Ormond Beach
March 28, 2018
The recent gun control debate has been emotional and often partisan — I guess no different from earlier ones. I would like to chime in with a few facts and ideas.
The number of guns and the number of gun deaths varies a great deal by country. The U.S. has 101 guns per 100 people and 10 gun deaths per 100,000 people — the highest among industrial countries. The closest is Switzerland with 24 guns per 100 people and 3 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest is Japan with fewer than 0.06 guns per 100 and 0.6 deaths per 100,000. There is a strong correlation between the number of guns and the number of gun deaths. There is also evidence that states with stricter gun laws have a lower gun death rate.
So it seems if we reduced the number of guns, we could reduce gun deaths. Many would argue that our Second Amendment would not allow for such a reduction. But consider the following: in D.C. vs Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority decision argued the Second Amendment is not unlimited, and it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever.
In 1986, fully automatic weapons were banned. In 1994, Congress enacted a 10-year ban on semi-automatic guns, and many states restrict the size of ammunition magzines — none of these has had a successful court challenge. So, if we had the will we could make changes that would reduce gun deaths — however, not likely.
Tom Hilburn, Ormond Beach
February 27, 2018
In response to the Feb. 17 letters claiming that the theory of evolution is false, I wish to provide information as to the basic concept of evolution. It is well established that life has existed on Earth for billions of years. The biological code, DNA, upon which life is based, is not frozen or fixed, but is subject to random mutations (changes). The vast majority of mutations are harmful, and if expressed are removed because of their adverse effect on reproduction. Otherwise, they accumulate. As a result, DNA contains a lot of mistakes, duplicates, and junk genes. Sexual reproduction allows genes to be combined in various ways. The result, in a species with millions of breeding individuals over tens of thousands of years, is trillions of possible combinations. Any combination, no matter how slim the odds, which is beneficial to reproductive success will multiply and will spread throughout the species. Evolution within any single species is thus mathematically certain.
When a species is divided into separate breeding groups by physical barriers such as mountains or oceans, genetic changes accumulate in each group separately. Eventually they become more and more genetically different until they are each a separate species.
Life today is the end result of these processes occurring in every species of life for over 3 billion years. The real objection to the theory of evolution is not with the science, but rather that it contradicts the special creation story of humans in the Book of Genesis.
Dale Harmon Palm Coast
February 10, 2018
WHO’S HAPPY NOW?
The author of a recent letter to the editor, “Avert socialism,” celebrated the recent GOP tax cut, marveling at how his tax bill will decrease next year by $2,000. He doesn’t mention that cuts for individuals are temporary, expiring in 2025 — conveniently, right after the 2024 congressional and presidential election. Of course, for corporations, the far more generous GOP tax cuts are permanent.
The letter writer castigates Democrats, claiming without evidence that they are “trying to shut down the economy” and “push us toward a socialist country ... I don’t want to end up like that.” Maybe he should look beyond his prejudices and check out “socialist” countries in Scandinavia. According to U.S. News & World Report, the World Happiness Report ranks Norway as first in the world in standard of living, education, healthy life expectancy, and perceived freedom to make life choices.
In contrast, the U.S. scored 14th. The report cited a deteriorating educational system, increasing mortality rates and economic inequality as well as perceived governmental and business corruption.
Other countries in Scandinavia top the happiness charts as well. Finland ranks highest in stability and safety, with the least-corrupt judicial system. Finland and Denmark have the freest and fairest elections, according to The Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University. The World Economic Forum ranks Norway, Sweden and Denmark among the top five strongest democracies while listing the U.S. as a “flawed democracy.” According to the Rule of Law Index 2016, Denmark and Finland are also the best in protecting fundamental human rights.
Carolyn West Ormond Beach
Feburary 7, 2018
PRESERVE LEGITIMACY OF SCIENCE EDUCATION
A big “thanks” is due to Brandon Haught for his excellent Community Voices essay on Jan. 3 defending legitimate science education. Among other issues, he noted that within mainstream science the term “theory” is only used when an idea is strongly supported by substantial evidence, and that biological evolution meets this criteria while creationism does not. The purpose of this essay is to expand on the critical importance of legitimate science education.
Thus far in human history, Western civilization science has provided the greatest understanding and knowledge of how the universe in general and the life on our planet work. That in turn has provided many practical spinoffs, improving human well-being over the centuries. Some would point out that science has also led to such things as an atomic bomb. Are we to blame science because the influence of philosophy and religion on morality, ethics, and human values has not kept pace with advancements in science and technology?
Back to the importance of science education, current concerns within mainstream science regarding our natural environment are of major importance. The overwhelming opinion of the scientific community is that human factors are definitely contributing to a probable coming crisis in regard to climate change, global warming, and human use of natural resources.
For a long time, knowledge has become very specialized and compartmentalized, and likewise for most of those who use it. A number of prominent scholars in recent years have been calling for more knowledge generalists, seeing this as part of a path to a better world — a more stable, safer, equitable, and peaceful world. The generalists are especially seen as needed for leadership in their various career fields (e.g. governance, business, science, religion). The recommended means of achieving this is liberal arts education — a combination of the humanities and science, which would also be important for students in general.
Has there ever been a period in human history when a K-12 science education adhering to mainstream science has been more important?
Dan Kennedy Ormond Beach
Kennedy is a retired psychologist and educator.
December 8, 2017
FEEDING THE RICH
It’s amazing what politicians will reveal in a personal interview. For example, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, recently responded to a Des Moines Register reporter’s questions about estate taxes on substantial inheritances. Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, replied: “Not having the estate tax recognizes that people are investing, as opposed to those that are spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
Certainly, Grassley is not considering the average middle-class taxpayers. According to the Pew Research Center, the median middle-class household income is about $59,039 a year. In Volusia County, the 2016 median annual household income was $41,117. Many Volusia families are “spending every darn penny” paying for food, vehicles, insurance, health care, child care, rent (or mortgage if they’re lucky) and paying taxes. They likely have little money left over for investments or Grassley’s booze, women and movies.
But if some rich relative leaves them cash, real estate, stocks or other investments, only about one heir in a thousand is required to pay taxes on an inherited estate. The federal estate tax applies only to beneficiaries of estates over $5.49 million ($10.98 million for a married couple).
However, Republicans hope to repeal the estate tax entirely by 2027. So, while they push for a budget that would cut federal programs that help low- and moderate-income Americans (such as Medicaid, Head Start, even Meals on Wheels) they’re working to make the rich even richer. Oh well, poor folks can always enjoy booze and women at the movies.
Carolyn West Ormond Beach
November 20, 2017
U.S. ATHLETES CELEBRATED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
On the TV, internet and in the newspapers, we are bombarded ad nauseam with bad news about the NFL. Most recently, we learned about three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China for shoplifting while President Donald Trump was visiting that country.
How about some good news? At the same time our president was negotiating with the Chinese leader to release the accused shoplifters who were facing up to 10 years in prison, two U.S. teams were competing in women’s beach volleyball in the Shenzhen International Festival.
They brought home the gold and silver at this three-day event. One of the four young women was Corinne Quiggle, my granddaughter. In the news release, she was quoted as saying, “This was an unbelievable experience, it’s such a great learning experience for volleyball and for life...the people in Shenzhen were so hospitable.” Corinne has competed in Cuba, and most recently in the Dominican Republic between hurricanes. She left Ponte Vedra High School before her senior year and moved to Ormond Beach. Soon after she left to train for the Olympics in California. She is now attending Pepperdine University.
Thank you for sharing some good news!
Barbara Sandberg Ormond Beach
October 31, 2017
OPIOIDS NOT ONLY CRISIS
The opioid crisis is serious and it is good to see that it has gotten the attention of the president and Congress. Addiction is a disease, like so many other diseases Americans have to deal with — such as obesity, hypertension, mental illness, etc., and many cannot afford to see a doctor or have the required treatment. They too die.
What is needed is a comprehensive health plan that addresses all health care issues. A healthy economy requires healthy Americans. Call or write your legislators, state and national, to tell them affordable health care is an important issue for you. Make your case for affordable health care on social media and at the polls. Let’s unite to make affordable health available to all Americans.
Harry R. White Ormond Beach
October 24. 2017
Don’t delay on ‘First Step’
“First Step must move forward,” the Sept. 15 editorial in The News-Journal, was right on target. Is it possible that after all the hard work to get the approval to build a homeless shelter that construction is stopped because our elected officials can’t make a decision of what kind of roof they want?
Our leaders should do their research and take a vote. How hard can it be? While the “decision makers” have their crisis of confusion, the homeless are doomed to spend another season sleeping outside.
Leigh Montgomery Ormond Beach
THE REAL GUILT
About your report of Flagler County residents’ being accused of voter fraud, you left out mentioning one culprit who stands out, overwhelmingly huge, behind the story. In most civilized countries, inmates do not lose their voting rights while they are in jail — rightly so, because they do not cease being members of their society. Even in many U.S. states, felons’ civil rights are restored the minute they have done their time. It’s only Florida, under its voter-suppressing “minority” government, that each sentence is ipso facto turned into a life sentence.
People charged with voting after a felony conviction ought to be lauded for attempting to assert rights that this state’s government channels through a single bottleneck called “governor.” The real culprit here is this state’s governor, not freedom-loving folks.
Reinhold Schlieper Palm Coast
October 3 2017
Because it was my birthday, I got to sit at the table with the men at Gold’s Gym. The NFL and the players that take a knee were being discussed. Each person around the table expressed their opinion, from displeasure to outrage. When it came for Jimmy Cattelle to give his opinion, he said nothing. He just took out a 2010 clipping from the New York Post that he had saved. Under the photo, it read: “Together, Forever; An honor guard carries the coffin containing the partial remains of seven GIs ... at Arlington National Cemetery.”
We looked at the clipping. Silence speaks volumes. No one at the table had anything to add. Before he retired, Cattelle, a member of the Honor Guard, would help carry the coffins containing the remains of our troops to their grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery.
Barbara Sandberg Ormond Beach
Sunday October 1, 2017
THE LESSONS OF VIETNAM
I have been watching the outstanding Vietnam War series on PBS; I recommend it to all. It is a combination of history and drama, and provides a case study for how we might avoid future international debacles. One of the lines in President Trump’s recent U.N. speech caught my attention. His statement, “If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” is appealing and hard to dispute. Unless you realize that exactly such an argument was used for entering the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars. In these cases, we pursued an enemy who we underestimated and did not understand. Next time, maybe we should be more diligent in our research, and try harder to understand the issues before we waste tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
Tom Hilburn Ormond Beach
September 29, 2017
LEAGUE EXPLORES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES
Saturday morning, Sept. 23, the Volusia County League of Women Voters presented an outstanding program dealing with important issues in American education. The focus was on local and state matters, but several points related to our nation as a whole. Featured speakers were Volusia County Superintendent of Schools Tom Russell, school attorney Mike Dyer, and State Sen. David Simmons, all of whom were excellent. The league’s Pat Drago and Nicki Junkins, who certainly should be highly commended for their work, officiated at the program.
Program highlights included: the importance of free public education for democracy (as contrasted with taxpayer money for private schools and for profit-making corporate charter schools); the high percentage of students coming from poverty homes; the unnecessary amount of high-stakes testing and the need for balance between local and state level control of schools, as contrasted with current Tallahassee-authoritarian (my term) attempts at control. All of our citizens should be knowledgeable about these and other educational issues.
Public school education played a major role in the early foundation and development of democracy in America and is crucial for maintaining our democracy. The League of Women Voters deserves great thanks for its work on behalf of public school education.
Dan Kennedy Ormond Beach
September 20, 2017
I was saddened and disappointed to read in The News-Journal about the treatment of people without homes during the recent hurricane. It was particularly disturbing to read about Sheriff Mike Chitwood’s remarks about the condition of one of the shelters for the segregated people with no homes,
The News-Journal reports that he complained that one shelter (Manatee Cove school in Orange City) was “trashed with fecal matter ...urination, drug paraphernalia....”
I believe that many other people use these kinds of statements as reasons to separate homeless people.
As a person who grew up where segregation of blacks from whites was legal and enforced, these statements brought back painful memories. That is, many black people who lived in very poor conditions and did hard physical labor did not meet the personal hygiene and housing standards of most relatively privileged whites. This fact was use as an excuse by many for treating blacks differently from whites.
In my opinion, it is disgraceful to segregate people based on whether or not they have houses to live in.
In the U.S., the people who may be legally segregated are criminals and those mentally ill who have been legally determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The essential of any such segregation requires that such a person be individually determined to meet well-defined standards.
We may not segregate based on group membership — not women, gays, Muslims or any religious groups. And we must not segregate people based on their residence or lack thereof.
Roger Patterson Ormond Beach
August 24, 2017
I want to thank The News-Journal for the interesting account of the statue in Palatka. Wondering whether or not it should go, I tried to recover the time in Florida when it was built. The statue in Palatka was placed in 1924 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, according to The News-Journal’s account. That was decades after the demise of the Confederacy, not likely a matter of mournful remembrance. I wondered what else took place around that time.
In 1920, the KKK advertised its stand against communism and integration. It considered itself as the bulwark against “blacks, Catholics, Jews, foreigners, and ‘moral offenders.’” The KKK had new membership applications of about 5,000 a day, and in 1924 there were 3 million active members. In 1920, four black men were lynched in Macclenny, Florida, whereupon the black inhabitants of the town left in fear for their lives. In 1923, Rosewood, Florida, was razed, burned, and its inhabitants scattered or killed by a mob. In 1923, a black man was lynched in Jacksonville for being a “Peeping Tom.” Eugenic sterilization acts, miscegenation laws and penalties for interracial cohabitation ruled the spirit of that time. Virginia’s eugenic sterilization became a model for Nazi Germany. In 1928, a hurricane killed thousands of people in Florida. Black farm workers were cremated in piles, while coffins and burials were provided for Euro-American victims of the storm.
Those were not times when one places statuary mournfully at courthouses; instead, those were times when “Southern values will stay in power” statuary intimidated an already frightened populace. Indeed, such intimidation rates as terrorism, not as mournful remembrance. Thus, the Palatka statue ought to go to the junk pile of history as another example of unmitigated hate, even though the contemporary citizenry of Palatka may not be aware of those ramifications.
Reinhold Schlieper Palm Coast
August 20, 2017
All Americans must think about what happened in Charlottesville, and understand how complex and dangerous the issues of racism and division could be. It will take much patience, wisdom and compromise.
I am very concerned for our future. We’re more divided in this country than before, and we’ve lost trust in our leaders and the media, constantly questioning whether what we hear is true.
The last presidential election was full of division and hate. Usually when the elections are over we continue to live our lives. But not this time. Even after the election, the president appeared to continue his campaign. His rhetoric created more turbulence, and his war with the media was madness.
Yet many journalists continue to trash the president and attack him personally.
I don’t believe the president responded to the Charlottesville incident appropriately; he did not refer to the white supremacists and Nazis as thugs. I was born in Greece during the time the Nazis occupied the country and was lucky to survive — 10 percent of the population died, mostly due to hunger. But as much as we hate extremists, we must remember that our Constitution gives freedom of speech to everybody.
Counter-protesters may have done more harm than good, helping the protesters advance their views. We need strong leadership to bring us out of this darkness. Hopefully the media and the spiritual leaders can work to bring us together. After all, we are all Americans and live in the greatest country in the world.
Panos Stroumpis Daytona Beach Shores
August 19, 2017
WHAT WAS BROKEN?
As I read the Aug. 11 “Trump will fix it” letter, I wondered what country the writer was talking about. He claims that country is “rapidly drifting from the vision of the founders into a leftist, anti-capitalist, progressive nation rushing toward socialism.” Apparently, he is not referring to the United States, whose government is currently dominated by the Republican Party, the majority in both the House and Senate, as well as the presidency. The GOP surely is not “leftist, anti-capitalist” nor are its cronies on Wall Street. The last thing they would want is a rush toward socialism. Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are surely evidence of that.
The writer declines to “go into the significant accomplishments of the (Trump) administration” yet he claims that “the stock market at record highs and unemployment at a 16-year low” are among them. Apparently he knows little about economics. Even I understand that it took years for the U.S. economy to recover from the Great Recession, a recovery which took place during, and was aided by, the Obama administration. One example was the successful bailout of the auto industry, which is humming along just fine today.
But the writer insists, with no evidence whatsoever, that Barack Obama will go down as a president worse than Jimmy Carter. Instead, he is hopeful that “Trump will fix all the ailments caused by recent liberalism.” From the letter, it’s hard to figure out what these “ailments” are, but God save us from such fixes! Carolyn West Ormond Beach
STOP THE DOUBLE-TALK
On Aug. 3, President Donald Trump said, “The Russia story is a total fabrication,” and “It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.” He blamed the Democrats for focusing on the Russia probe: “The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda, and no vision,” Trump taunted. “It just makes them feel better when they have nothing else to talk about.”
But Republicans have the majority in the House and the Senate. The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller was impaneled by Rod J. Rosenstein, Trump’s selection for deputy attorney general. It is time for Trump to stop lying about who is investigating him.
In Trump’s July 1 tweet, he said, “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished Voter Fraud Panel. What are they trying to hide?” What is Trump trying to hide in his income tax returns?
And while it is Trump who is bringing up the Russia thing all the time, his party played a major role in passing the Russia sanctions bill with a veto-proof majority. Harry R. White Ormond Beach
August 1, 2017
A HERO AND A VOTE
The bad news about John McCain’s brain cancer caused me to think about his service to our country, especially the time he spent as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. For five years, McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an early release offer (probably related to his father’s position as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command). The wounds that he sustained during the war have left him with lifelong physical disabilities.
It was wonderful that good wishes for McCain came from both sides of the aisle: George W. Bush, John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Jeff Flake. Mitch McConnell called John McCain “a hero to our conference and a hero to our country,” and President Obama said: “John McCain is an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”
President Trump’s comment was: “We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He’s a crusty voice in Washington. Plus we need his vote.” I guess the president found it difficult to use the term “hero.” Recall his 2015 comment: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” I think it would be good for the president and for the nation if he could apologize for that comment.
Tom Hilburn Ormond Beach
July 7, 2017
LET MARKET DICTATE BEACH VENDING
Regarding the article about the county considering limiting the number of vendors on the beach: In a supposedly free-enterprise country, common sense would suggest that the free market would be allowed to decide the number of vendors.
(READ: Amending vending - Volusia mulls sales rules)
The beach vendors create a safe, pleasant atmosphere, and they serve a demand. They also provide a revenue stream: On top of the exorbitant fees they pay to be “allowed” to work the beach, they also pay their share of taxes.
I’m tired of excess bureaucracy squelching the small, locally owned enterprises that are the true lifeblood of our economy. I believe the government-managed, one-vendor thing has been tried already — wasn’t it called the “Soviet Union”?
By the way: A belated happy American Independence Day, everyone!
Jennifer Nazak Daytona Beach
June 25, 2017
A PHILOSOPHICAL VIEW OF WORLD HISTORY
While not favoring monarchy, I’m beginning to wonder if Plato may have had the correct idea regarding political philosophy and governance.
Will Durant, in his “The Story of Philosophy,” wrote the following about Plato’s ideas: ”...in the perfect state the industrial forces would produce, but they would not rule; the military forces would protect but they would not rule; the forces of knowledge and science and philosophy would be nourished and protected, and they would rule.” And: “Statemanship is a science and an art.”
Plato, in his “The Republic,” wrote: “Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and wisdom and political leadership meet in the same man ... cities will never cease from ill, not will the human race.”
It should be noted that Plato had built into his “ideal society” system mechanisms for upward and downward mobility relative to ability for government leadership.
Dan Kennedy Ormond Beach
June 21, 2017
Trump slammed by his own words
Trump supporters become upset when he is criticized. One of their most popular defenses, as in Cal Thomas’ Tuesday column, is to quote something said by Barack Obama (e.g., “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. ...”).
This is fair censure, but to add some balance to this picture, let’s look at some of Donald Trump’s quotes:
There are many, many more such “bigly” quotes, but I am approaching the 250-word limit.
Thomas Hilburn Ormond Beach
June 19, 2017
SEEK OPPORTUNITIES TO SHOW COMPASSION
Thank you to Jim Abbott for his heartwarming story June 16 story, “Guardian Angel.”
The story describes the many years that Tom Cox has brought joy to Jill Matthew, his disabled former co-worker. It is good to read about local folks who have gone out of their way to show kindness, compassion, concern and to then help brighten the day of another person.
During these unsettling times, when we hear about the senseless violence that is going on in this country and throughout the world, it is easy to feel helpless. How can we change things and make them better? Cox has set an example that can inspire us all. We may not be able to make a difference nationally, but we can do something locally. All we need to do is look around and then act with compassion and kindness.
Joanne Kennedy Ormond Beach
May 22, 2017
May 18, 2017
Recent “drama” at the White House is concerning many Americans.
FBI Director James Comey was fired after requesting more funds to investigate the Russian influence in the 2016 election, whereas he was lavishly praised in October for his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. White House staff have given many conflicting responses, with the president in seclusion due to “seething anger” at his staff for leaking information to the media. The latest “bombshell” is Donald Trump’s reported sharing of classified information with the Russians.
I have one question for those who voted for Trump: Is this how to “Make America Great Again”?
Marilyn Sapsford Ormond Beach
May 17, 2017
GOTTA HAVE ART
My wife and I recently visited the Ormond Beach Memorial Art Museum. The current exhibit is the Ormond Elementary Art Show. It is a celebration of Ormond Elementary’s 100th anniversary. There is a display of art from each of the school’s kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students. The art is creative and fun; it makes everyone feel like a kid again! Thanks to the principal and teachers at Ormond Elementary School for giving these children a well-rounded education. The exhibit is showing through May 22. Don’t miss it.
Thomas Hilburn Ormond Beach
May 12, 2017
“OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
A tennis court is seen at the Oceans Racquet & Recreation Club in Daytona Beach Shores on Tuesday. NEWS-JOURNAL/CASMIRA HARRISON
The slogan of Daytona Beach Shores is “Life Is Better Here.” For many of residents, our lives have been turned upside down.
About a year ago, I sent a letter complimenting the mayor of our city, as well as other board members, for their charming and friendly attributes. But after the fiasco the mayor and his friends have created, it is appropriate to set the record straight.
I am referring to the Oceans Racquet and Recreation Club. (READ: Unhappy residents don “Tennis Lives Matter” shirts)
Years ago, club members were informed the city was going to rebuild the clubhouse. Shortly thereafter, a group of people visited the club for feedback from the players about the new clubhouse. That was very encouraging. Later, however, we found out the plan was to build a senior center.
At first, they told us they may close some of the courts during the construction, taking out two courts for parking. We tennis players tried to organize to express our concerns, hoping they would listen. Then they made a decision to take out two additional courts! This would essentially destroy the tennis club, in existence for more than 40 years.
The reason for scratching the Oceans tennis club was due to the cost of money to operate the facility, which was nothing compared to $7 million for the community center. Question: Where did they find all the money?
The club is like an embassy for Daytona Beach Shores and attracts people from all over the world. People purchased homes in Daytona Beach Shores because of the Oceans tennis club. Property values will decrease because of the absence of the club. An embassy is not closed because it costs money to operate. The city should focus on solving the issues with the multiple vacant buildings along State Road A1A.
The community is more divided than ever before because of this decision.
Panos Stroumpis Daytona Beach Shores
Yes, Let DeVos speak, but not at commencement:
Your May 3 editorial offered a convincing argument to support Dr. Edison Jackson’s invitation to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Higher education must provide, as Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune herself urged, “an opportunity for dialogue, education and understanding for both sides.” You wrote that good could come from this invitation: “By exposing DeVos to the B-CU experience. By educating her to student and alumni concerns. By challenging her on her policies. And by listening to her answers.”
But have you never attended a graduation? DeVos was invited as a commencement speaker, not as a visiting expert or debate contributor. She will fly in for a quick visit. She’ll be introduced with accolades and honors; she’ll make her speech, pocket her unearned degree, offer thanks, praise the university, and then leave.
This is no forum for intellectual interchange. No one will publicly “challenge her on her policies,” so no one will learn anything “by listening to her answers.” So what’s gained? DeVos will be endorsed and gain a few headlines.
But hundreds of B-CU students will consider their special celebration to have been tainted. Some will even skip it. Commencement should be about the students, not the political alliances sought by the university’s administration.
Commencement speakers should be widely appreciated and admired, not controversial in themselves. Students don’t want their graduation to publicly honor someone they strongly oppose, granting that person a public forum and unearned honors — while they who have earned the right to celebrate get only handshake, a tassel, and a quick walk across the stage.
So Dr. Jackson, please do invite Secretary DeVos: Invite her to speak and provide a forum that encourages question and debate. But not as commencement speaker.
Evan Rivers Port Orange
Sunday April 16, 2017
On March 30, I was en route to have my car repaired when all of a sudden the electrical system in my vehicle shut down. That left me stuck in traffic in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Ormond Beach.
After trying to wave cars around my stalled vehicle and trying not to get hit by the cars passing by, I saw a car coming up behind me with flashing lights. I immediately recognized it as an Ormond Beach Police car — coming to my rescue. The two officers could not have been more understanding and concerned about my predicament. They were officers Andrew Bayne and Shannon Champion.
Bayne remained behind the police car and directed traffic, while Champion approached my car. The first thing she was interested in was my health and whether or not I had some sort of medical event causing me to stop in the middle of the road. After she was aware of what had happened, she reassured me to remain caml and not to worry.
She called for a tow truck and then called the dealership and spoke to my service advisor. This was extremely important to me as it was almost closing time.
The two officers stayed until the tow truck, with me and my car aboard, left.
When we speak of the police department, we first think of law and order but we should not overlook the community service they provide.
Thank you again, Officers Champion and Bayne.
Dr. Morris Carter Ormond Beach
April 10, 2017
NOT JUST DAYTONA
The April 3 story, “Daytona homeless shelter: Who will be County Council’s swing vote?” came with joy and disappointment.
Joy came from reading Volusia County Council Chairman Ed Kelley’s statement, “I still think it’s a countywide problem and I think the county should have been the one to take ownership of it from the start,“. It would be wise to take a very open-eyed look at it to try and find a way to make it work. It would be unwise to turn our back on it if it’s something that’s workable because we need it.”
But I felt disappointment at the shelter being called “a Daytona Beach homeless shelter,” when Kelley said — to repeat — “I still think it’s a countywide problem and I think the county should have been the one to take ownership of it from the start.”
Daytona Beach recognized the need for a homeless shelter years ago and hired a consultant to address the issue that produced a report identified as “Volusia Safe Harbor” that came with plans for the development of a shelter to house, provide health care, drug addiction treatment, job training and case management. The County Council offered money for construction and the land for the building with the condition that Daytona Beach and other Volusia County cities pay the operating expenses. Daytona Beach and several other cities offered funding and others refused.
Daytona Beach no doubt has the largest homeless population. Daytona Beach tourism is the economic engine of Volusia County and tourism officials invest heavily promoting “The World’s Most Famous Beach,” the home of NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway. The county should protect this investment by providing shelter for the homeless living and panhandling in Daytona Beach and the rest of Volusia County.
Harry R. White Ormond Beach
March 29, 2017
BAD FOR FLORIDA
The March 10 letter, "Don't block fracking," claims that concerns about environmental damage caused by fracking methods to extract oil are based on a "false narrative." The writer blames environmental activists and worries that "ineffective leadership" in the Florida Legislature will lead to a fracking ban, and claims that a 2015 EPA study determined that "there is no evidence that fracking harms groundwater."
However, a 2016 EPA study does not support this conclusion. The study "found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances." One situation involves "water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources." These circumstances certainly describe most of Florida, where we know that over-consumption of fresh water and periods of drought are bringing about these conditions. The pumping of water used in the fracking process may worsen salt water intrusion from both coastlines.
Unlike many places where fracking has mined shale rock, most of Florida sits on highly porous sedimentary limestone. This base is like a sponge that allows water to flow freely. Unfortunately, companies would drill for fossil fuels very near this sedimentary rock base and thus near the Floridan Aquifer, the source of our fresh drinking water.
Although the oil drilling is supposed to take place below the aquifer, there is still danger from leakage through the permeable limestone or from an accident and resulting pollution. For example, brine chemicals injected underground during the fracking process may leak into the aquifer and thus contaminate and irreversibly destroy our drinking water supplies.
The writer might generalize about fracking in other parts of the U.S., but he is mistaken when he applies similar arguments to Florida's setting. Let's hope our lawmakers in Tallahassee see the hollowness of his case.
Carolyn West, Ormond Beach
March 10, 2017
HIDING TAX RETURN
Thanks to The News-Journal's publishing the voting records of our legislators on March 5, I found out that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, our representative in D.C., apparently does not want to see or know anything about the presidential tax return. I guess that means DeSantis is satisfied that the president is smart enough to exploit any legal loophole to pay no taxes — as Donald Trump told us as a candidate.
So, ethics be hanged; it's the narrow letter of the law that matters for DeSantis. I am sure that this kind of attitude does not make him my representative, nor should he be a representative for any morally astute citizen of these counties.
February 22, 2017
ANGER FROM THE RIGHT
In Cal Thomas' Feb. 14 column, "Major media remain in denial," he attacks mainstream media's questioning of President Donald Trump's honesty, and the media's failure to apply the same standard to the Democrats and the Obama administration. Thomas ascribes this mistreatment of the president to the lack of conservatives in the mainstream media.
It is probably true that the news media such as ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have a liberal bent, but this does not explain the severe criticism of President Trump by mainstream conservatives and Republicans. The critique of the president by George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Ross Douthat, Rich Lowry, and Jonah Goldberg has been withering — much of this appearing in The News-Journal. These and many others on the right have attacked the president on his incredible lies, his astounding ego, and his lack of knowledge of history, foreign affairs and domestic issues.
Thomas Hilburn Ormond Beach
January 15, 2017
A CLOUD OF FALSITY
In a Jan. 7 News-Journal column, Federalist editor David Harsanyi asserts as "a lie" the claim that Russian operatives "hacked" the 2016 presidential election. He admits that we should be concerned about any Russian interference, but he maintains that it didn't affect the outcome. However, a front-page story in the same issue reports that every U.S. intelligence agency now agrees that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered "a comprehensive cyber-campaign to upend the U.S. presidential election." Who actually knows how effective it was? Certainly, not David Harsanyi.
Apparently, the Russian efforts were meant to favor Donald Trump, but there's not enough evidence to show that they actually resulted in his winning the election. Possibly no one will ever know how much the constant churning of misinformation and "fake news" affected the 2016 voter behavior and turnout. Some intelligent people I know actually believed, for example, the false story that Hillary Clinton laughed at a young rape victim after successfully defending the rapist. In another case, a man responded to a fake-news story by storming a Washington, D.C., pizzeria with an assault weapon to rescue children falsely reported as being sex slaves, supposedly part of a child-abuse ring led by Clinton. Such ludicrous stories would be amusing if they were not a sad commentary on this entire election process, and even sadder if they affected its outcome.
Carolyn West Ormond Beach
January 9, 2017
A CLOSER LOOK
The author of the Jan. 5 letter, "Fuss about Russia," uses Julian Assange's statements during a TV appearance to discount Russian hacking. (Assange has endangered American lives by putting a mass of sensitive information into the public domain.) The letter argues that hacking was justified because the material was not fictional, and it was "actual, factual, damming communications."
By this logic, none of us has a right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated ...;" The Bill of Rights was intended to protect us from our own government; but., we would also hope our "persons, houses, papers, and effects" would be protected from non-governmental entities and foreign powers.
This should not be a partisan issue - we all have a stake in maintaining our right to privacy.
Thomas Hilburn Ormond Beach
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.