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Poverty is expensive

Thanks for the eye-opening story on life at the Palms Trailer Park `"Welcome to paradise," Dec. 14`. I've been blessed never to live in poverty, but the most amazing part of the story is the amount of money these people pay to live with rats. (I'm 45 years old and have had a "second job" almost my entire adult life to make ends meet.)

I own one rental unit. It is a small, one-bedroom apartment in Thornton Park. I worked hard to keep it updated and clean. It needs a new roof, but other than that it is a great apartment, renovated down to bare studs back in 1993. It has a new fridge and even has a dishwasher and a washer/dryer. The long-term tenant pays $700 a month for this (electric and gas are not included). The people living in squalor at the Palms are paying $500 a month for roughly the same size place. This is quite scary. Actually, it is sick. Only $200 a month separates a place I'd be happy living in and a place I'd be scared to drive through during daylight hours.

Don't know what the solution is. If the owner spends $1 million to clean it up, it would cost him roughly $10,000 a month to cover the cost of a loan of that size. Still, something has to be done to protect those of us who can't protect themselves.

Thanks for your coverage on this.

Rich Kennedy, Orlando

The undead

Great story save one thing, the reason `dead sex offenders` are kept on the `state's online` registry after they die `"Ghosts in the machine," Nov. 24, 2005`. Federal funds are paid according to the number of registered offenders. Why do you think the registration system is designed to keep people on it? Why do you think there is a level-one status but no one can qualify for it?

Look at it and the reason will become apparent. If the state really cared about anything other than money, they would keep their sites updated. But they are only interested in adding to the list.

C. Johnson, via the Internet

Scared of W

In reference to the cover story "Things that frighten us" `Nov. 30`: George W. Bush reminds me of Martin Sheen in The Dead Zone. Where is Christopher Walken when you really need him?

Wes Pierce, Orlando

They don't make great pets

After reading the headlines, it's surprising that anyone continues to buy, sell or keep exotic and dangerous animals as "pets." People all over the country have been seriously injured — some fatally — by their pet vipers, pythons and alligators. Just last week, an Ohio man made the news when he was strangled to death by his 14-foot-long boa constrictor.

These animals are often bought on a whim and are disposed of when their needs become burdensome. Snakes, iguanas and other animals that have become "inconvenient" are tossed out like trash; many languish in fear, hunger and thirst before dying or being killed. Others wreak havoc on local ecosystems: Officials say that Burmese pythons, released in Florida's Everglades by owners who no longer wanted them, are putting native animals at risk.

Please, for your sake and theirs, don't succumb to the temptation of purchasing exotic animals. Our nation's animal shelters are filled to the brim with millions of dogs and cats that are dying for a good home.

Jennifer O'Connor, via the Internet

Department of Corrections

In last week's Happytown™ column we erroneously reported that the LOGO network would be available on Bright House cable channel 189. The proper gay channel is 181.

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