Post Leader

Former NRA President Marion Hammer is not the biggest fan of disgraced former State Senator Jack Latvala, but she had some very good advice for him in an open letter released today.

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, the letter notes that Latvala has a “massive amount of campaign funds” in his possession from his gubernatorial campaign, now derailed after sexual harassment allegations forced him to resign from the Senate and additional investigations remain pending.

According to the Florida Division of Election’s most recent campaign finance reports, Latvala had raked in nearly a million dollars in contributions and spent about twenty percent of that. Those reports were current through November 30, 2017, meaning that Latvala most likely has several hundred thousand dollars sitting in his account.

Florida law allows a withdrawing candidate several options for disposing of surplus campaign funds, including refunding them on a pro rata basis to contributors, giving up to $25,000 to the candidate’s political party, turning the money over to the state’s general revenue fund (or local political subdivision, if the candidate was running for a local office), and donating to a qualified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Due to the contentious nature of Latvala’s ouster, with a number of fellow Republicans publicly criticizing him, he seems unlikely to want to financially support the party, much less the state government that is investigating him. That leaves pro rata refunds or charitable donations as the only two plausible options, and Hammer’s letter encourages that latter option.

The organization Hammer suggests Latvala support is the Dyslexia Research Institute, Inc. in Tallahassee, specifically the scholarship fund that helps dyslexic children in need attend the Woodland Hall Academy.

“You can make a difference.  You can have a positive impact on the lives of many of these children…You can give a bright future and a whole new world to children who only need for you to open the door,” wrote Hammer.

“The difference you make is not just for today, it will last tomorrow and forever,” she continued, perhaps a motivator for a man who may be concerned about his political legacy.

Here is Hammer’s letter, in its entirety:

An Open letter to Senator Jack Latvala

From Marion P. Hammer
January 3, 2018

Delivered via Email

Dear Senator Latvala,

In view of the massive amount of campaign funds in your possession, which can be disbursed for qualified charitable purposes at your discretion, I ask for your consideration on behalf of children with learning disabilities.

Financial contributions to improve educational opportunities for children with learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia, is critically important to families of these children.

The community of families of children with learning disabilities has a triple load. Raising a child in today’s society is difficult. Raising a child with learning disabilities is even more difficult because of their special needs and the special individualized attention required. Even more challenging is the difficulty in funding the educational needs of these children.

The financial burden of trying to meet the needs of these children can be suffocating. Scholarships are the lifeline for parents in this community of special children.

Through my volunteer work with Dyslexia Research Institute, Inc. and its laboratory school, Woodland Hall Academy, I have found that one of the greatest disabilities children with dyslexia suffer is being stuck in a public school system that cannot serve the needs of these children.

Children with dyslexia need and deserve a chance to achieve success. That’s why I am asking you to donate $1,000,000 to Dyslexia Research Institute’s scholarship fund dedicated to helping pay tuition for children with dyslexia and associated learning disabilities.

I am not asking for money for bicycles, Nintendo Switch or PS4 game consoles. Nor am I asking for iPhones, dolls, clothes or gift cards.

I’m asking for money to buy the gift of reading, the gift of writing, and the gift of math – those lasting and enduring gifts that can only be given through the generosity of those who care.

You can make a profound difference in the lives of many children by making a substantial contribution to Dyslexia Research Institute, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Dyslexia is not a disease or disorder, it is an alternate configuration of the nervous system. In simple terms, the brains of dyslexic children are wired differently. And, although the overwhelming majority of these children are exceptionally bright, they cannot be taught to read, write and learn through traditional methods. They need different methods of instruction. Instruction that helps create paths to knowledge through what effectively amounts to rerouting the wiring of the brain, much like the way the body adapts to compensate for a physical injury.

Dyslexia only minimally discriminates. It appears in both sexes, in all religions, all ethnic groups and nationalities and all professions. In short, dyslexia, occurs in all walks of life. However, the most common thread generally found in children with dyslexia is the high level of intelligence that is locked inside the brains of these children. The struggle for dyslexic children to learn and decode information is frustrating and laborious and takes an extraordinary amount of work and attention.

It has been my experience that in Florida’s public schools, children with dyslexia are treated like square pegs that must be pounded into round holes. They are shuffled in and out of classes and into remedial reading, remedial math and special programs that do nothing effective in teaching these children.

In order for these children to realize their full potential, the only real hope is through private schools that focus on the educational requirements of these children. Unfortunately, most parents cannot afford the costs of these private schools and rely on scholarship assistance.

At Dyslexia Research’s Woodland Hall Academy, scholarships are based on financial need. Parents pay based on their ability to pay and then scholarship funding provides the balance.

Think for a moment of looking into the precious face of a child who is eager to learn and go to a school where everybody (teachers, administrators, other kids and other parents) all understand what he or she is going through. A school where there is no bullying, no taunting, no laughing or teasing because everybody knows how hard it is to learn. A school where other kids don’t call you “stupid” or “dummy” because you have difficulty learning to read. Think of all of this, and know that you can make this happen. All it takes is a selfless act of generosity.

You can make a difference. You can have a positive impact on the lives of many of these children. A gift of $1,000,000 will change lives. You can give a bright future and a whole new world to children who only need for you to open the door.

The difference you make is not just for today, it will last tomorrow and forever.

A check should be payable to “Dyslexia Research Institute, Inc” and mailed to 5246 Centerville Rd., Tallahassee, Florida 32309. You may call them at 850-893-2216 and they will provide you with the tax-exempt documents you may need.

Most sincerely,

Marion P. Hammer

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker

Post Leader