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Opinion
Palm Coast Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2018 1 month ago

Who makes up for loss of revenue due to Hope Scholarships?

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Also in letters to the editor: illegal fireworks, Palm Coast rec center, campaign sign ordinance

Dear Editor:

How fortunate we are here in Flagler County to have a leader like School Board member Colleen Conklin. Her willingness to raise her voice and call the Hope Scholarship scheme a shameful scam is something we should all emulate and point out this assault on the basic American values expressed by our system of free public education.

At the same time, School Board attorney Kristy Gavin, in calling the program voluntary and Ms. Conklin’s acceptance of that characterization are grievous errors. They are the kind of errors that put smiles on the faces and laughter in the hearts of our representatives in Tallahassee. 

Yes, it is true that Kristy Gavin’s neighbors may, voluntarily, choose to have $105 of their state taxes due on the purchase of a new car go to fund the Hope Scholarship scheme.  But when that $105 does not reach the state treasury, who makes up for that loss of revenue? 

Every single taxpayer, visitor, tourist in Florida has to pay to cover that loss of revenue to the treasury. We pay it in increased taxes or loss of services elsewhere. Our requirement to pay for that loss of revenue is hardly voluntary! Try not paying taxes and see what happens.

This is all eerily similar to the Florida Corporate Tax Scholarship scheme. Businesses decide that they will send their state corporate tax to a scholarship-granting organization and get a full credit on their state taxes! In this scheme, more than half a billion dollars of loss to the state treasury has to be made up by taxpayers. Flagler County Schools’ share of this loss is $3 million per year.

Wouldn’t Conklin, Gavin and the rest of us like to have that $3 million per year for Flagler County School students? I’m joining my voice to Colleen Conklin’s. All of us should!

Merrill Shapiro

Palm Coast

Sign ordinance gives relief to library users

Dear Editor:

I applaud the County Commission's approval of an ordinance restricting parking with vehicles with campaign signs parked at county facilities such as the library or courthouse. 

Mr. Jim Ulsamer, chairman of the Flagler County Public Library's board of trustees, stated it correctly in saying he could not stress the importance of this restriction. While it is true that it is blatantly inconsiderate to make people walk from the far reaches of the parking lot in very hot weather with books and children in tow and pass a gauntlet of campaigners, it also fails to mention an unforgotten but large segment of the population.

As a handicapped individual, I cannot tell you the number of times I have gone to the library and cannot find a handicapped parking space during election or primary dates and have had to park in a non-handicapped space, since the reserved spaces for handicapped individuals are taken by vehicles adorned with campaign signs. 

Then, after hobbling to the entrance with a cane or walker, to have these volunteers or candidates shove their pamphlets or petitions in your face. Mr. Ulsamer is also correct in stating that this practice has become a safety issue, not to mention the nerve of these self-important individuals who care nothing about discomforting others or parking illegally in handicapped spaces, but only care about getting a vote for their candidate.  

Thank you, County Commission, and especially Nate McLaughlin and Greg Hansen, for approving this long overdue ordinance.

Carol Lee Harding

Palm Coast

No need for a city rec center

Editor's Note: The City Council voted 5-0 not to fund the design of a new recreation center.

Dear Editor:

The Palm Coast Community Center opened only a couple months ago? Isn’t a Community Center, by definition, multigenerational? Wasn’t it designed to provide space for activities for all Palm Coasters, young and old? Why should the taxpayer take on another burden by building a recreational center?

Palm Coast is growing, and will in the future require more services, but presently. besides its spacious new Community Center, it offers artists space to work and exhibit at the Art League, a new venue for the arts in Town Center, city-owned tennis courts, multiple golf courses, and the Frieda Zamba pool and recreation area that is open to all ages. Our city was designed with walking and bike riding trails, and events are held in our parks and on our county beaches. 

When we have exhausted and outgrown these resources, it will be time for us to consider another building. At present we don’t need one.

Ami Paulette Lane

Palm Coast

Deputies can outsmart the fireworks users

Dear Editor:

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to my letter to the editor of July 12 regarding the continual disregard of illegal fireworks laws by some Palm Coast residents and the perceived lack of enforcement of these laws. 

The response referred to the Florida Legislature’s moratorium on the passage of any new local fireworks ordinances after 2008. However, the city of Palm Coast has had a presumably enforceable fireworks ordinance since 2006 that states that it is “prohibited and unlawful for a person or entity to use, explode or store fireworks in the City” unless they first obtain a permit. Violation of the ordinance would result in the issuance of a civil citation and a fine, not an arrest, but would certainly have a much needed deterrent effect. Could the civil enforcement of this ordinance be a way around the claimed technical legal difficulties associated with making a misdemeanor arrest?

The Sheriff’s Office also responded with how difficult it is to locate the source of the illegal fireworks activity. That may be true: Law enforcement isn’t easy work, and we certainly understand that the law breakers can be sneaky. However, perhaps just a bit more effort and creativity could catch a few of the offenders out of the dozens of complaints.  

One of the tenets of effective law enforcement is to be able to outsmart the bad guys. The old adage, "where there’s a will, there’s a way," seems germane.

Bob Gordon

Palm Coast

Stop giving permits for sale of fireworks

Dear Editor:

The simple solution to the fireworks problem is for the city and county to stop issuing permits for the sale of illegal products. Duh. It’s not rocket science.

Bill Simpson

Palm Coast

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