Pensacola, Florida
Thursday August 28th 2014

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Rant & Rave 3/3/11

MISUSE OF SCHOOL FUNDS I am a senior at Washington High School and some recent decisions by our School Board have raised my hand. Our art teachers receive $800 annually, which comes out to be less than $1.50 per student, and with the cost of art materials being relatively high, the teachers are finding themselves coming out of pocket for the students’ benefit.

While these statistics came to my attention, the Board decided to mandate drug tests for all Escambia County middle and high school students participating in extracurriculars and those who park on campus. I was shocked that our teachers cannot receive more funds for learning purposes, but we have the money to make teens put their urine in a cup, a process I find to be a violation of privacy. Not only a privacy issue, these are matters that should be taken care of at home, and have no business being an in-school issue.

The lack of funds for my art teachers (and other teachers) is ridiculous and will only get worse with Rick Scott pushing for education cuts. We have a surplus of administration employees that are making top dollar for doing nothing more than pushing paper for seven hours a day and facilities that are failing to be properly maintained.

Malcolm Thomas needs to sit down and think about what our school system here in Florida, more precisely Escambia, has come to. People are turning to alternative, private, and even boarding institutions so that their children do not have to enroll in this mediocre education system. I have also seen a number of families using business addresses to attend school in Santa Rosa County in the past few years.

I thought I would bring this to your attention as I am a student who has been, and is currently in this system—but as a 17-year-old, there are only so many people who will listen. I feel that if a respected person such as yourself were to bring these problems to our city’s attention, our teachers may receive what they deserve and changes will be set in motion. I thank you so much for your time and please feel free to contact me for any reason. Have a great day.

– Washington High School student
KUDOS Great Article (Independent News, “Budget Woes Handicap Fire Service,” Feb. 3).  In the city’s amended budget, the Fire Budget decreased to $9,560,526. These savings came from the pension plan for this year. Dick Barker did not leave this money in the budget. This has always been a problem in the city.

You save money in your budget and the staff takes it; you are not able to use the money for different needs. The decrease in the budget from 10.5 to 10.08 in the beginning-year budget was also a savings from the pension plan. Barker does not want this to be known because the general and police are not saving any money in the pension plans. Barker does not want anyone to find the real reasons for the inflated pension cost to the police and general plans. If you call him and ask, he will blame the cost on the stock market. This is a smoke steam.

The Fire Plan has gained back all the money lost in 2008. The Fire Plan through Dec. 31 for the last two years has averaged a 19-20 percent return net of fees. The big question to ask Barker is, “What is the percentage funded of each plan and the reasons behind each?” The Fire Plan as of Sept. 30, 2010 was 87 percent pre-funded.

–Richard Grover, Pensacola
NEW DIET Now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new dietary guidelines urging people to eat more plant-based foods—and indicating that vegetarians are generally leaner and live longer than meat-eaters—many people are looking for resources to help them make the transition to a vegan diet.

PETA is happy to provide free vegan recipes, product suggestions, cooking and shopping tips, information on vegan-friendly restaurants (stadiums, too), nutritional advice, and more.

If eating barbecued veggie burgers, spicy soy sausage, hummus wraps, pasta primavera, coconut-pineapple curry, wild mushroom risotto, faux chicken sandwiches, fresh berries, juicy melons, ripe tomatoes, citrus, sweet corn, and other delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables doesn’t sound like a chore to you, why not visit PETA.org and take PETA’s 30 Day Veg Pledge?

You’ll not only reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases by eating healthy, appetizing foods; you’ll help save animals and the environment, too.

–Heather Moore, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Va.
170 MILLION AMERICANS NEED YOUR HELP You may be thinking this is just a cycle; every few years, someone in Washington has the idea to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and we write to our representatives in support of public radio and TV. Please know that this time is different.

Bipartisan calls for deficit reduction along with the common dawning that painful budget cuts will be required of all, now place public broadcasting in a very vulnerable position.

There are now four bills in Congress which would eliminate federal funding for the CPB and a fifth that would cut NPR (H.R. 68, H.R. 69, H.R. 235, H.R. 408 and S.178). In addition, as Congress completes FY2011 funding bills and begins considering the FY2012 funding cycle, there will be many more opportunities for cuts to public broadcasting funding.

What can you do if public broadcasting is important to you?

—170 million Americans use public broadcasting each month. That is more than half of the population.

— The aggregate federal contribution to public broadcasting amounts to only $1.35 per American/year.

—The public radio system is composed of approximately 900 stations, broadcasting, streaming and podcasting local, regional, national and international news and information, deploying more than 1,400 reporters, editors and producers in 21 domestic and 17 foreign bureaus.

—WUWF receives vital grants from CPB, which are used for local news coverage and acquisition of NPR programming.

—Individual donors and local businesses contribute nearly half of the funding for WUWF public radio.

Public broadcasting (public radio and TV) is not government-run; your public broadcasting provides local, regional, statewide, and nationally syndicated programming of a great variety. WUWF determines its own schedule and programming, producing roughly 25 percent of local entertainment and news, responding to community needs.

WUWF has fostered long-standing relationships with local cultural institutions, performers, venues and avid music fans, providing and broadcasting thousands of in-studio and local performances to local audiences and covering local music events.

Contact your representatives. If you have the time, a letter in support of public broadcasting, in your own words, is a powerful thing. Say why public radio and TV are important to you—whether it’s news, education or entertainment—and don’t forget emergency information.

You can now send a letter to Congress in support of public broadcasting directly from the “170 Million Americans” Facebook page. Visit facebook.com/170million and click on the “Take Action” tab.

–Lynne Marshall, Director of Promotions & Outreach, WUWF Public Media, Pensacola