War zone in south St. Petersburg
Feeling of safety takes a holiday
I have lived at my south St. Petersburg address for nearly three years now, and each year during New Year's Eve and July 4, you can sit in my house and listen to the sounds of modern-day warfare. Afraid to go outside, we have become accustomed to staying home on these holidays because of the danger of being struck by a random bullet in our neighborhood.
After two stories featured on your site, I felt the need to call attention to the increasing danger of being struck and killed by a random bullet flying from this area. The variety of weapons being collected and discharged on the streets is painstakingly real. Irresponsible individuals are putting St. Pete citizens' lives at risk each and every time they pull the trigger. The police are aware of the situation. I personally have made phone calls during these events and did not see any response.
E.D. Stewart, St. Petersburg
Report: VIP loans courted Congress | July 6
Prosecutions in order
Here we go again! What shall we call this one? Countrywidegate, or perhaps Angelogate after the former Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo, who "may" have been involved in the reported federal bribery and preferential treatment provided to members of Congress and other elected officials to gain influence.
The news is appalling, rife with allegations about trusted people involved in accepting special discount loans.
This investigation by a House committee, as well as a Senate ethics committee, has been dragging on for three years with no apparent end. It appears that people in high office have no fear of scandal or consequence, and our government is too quick to forgive rather than punish. To date no one has been prosecuted, and my read of the situation is that the investigators would rather find a way to forgive than to do so.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
You still want to throw the bums out? July 3, John Romano column
Support term limits
Career politicians were never intended to be in America's governments. Elected government officeholders were always intended to be "citizen employees." After one to two terms they were expected to leave office, return to civilian life and let the next patriot take over.
Now guys like Charlie Rangel are in office for over 44 years collecting big salaries and special benefits and power.
This is true for local office, too. Ken Welch, going on 12 years; Susan Latvala on 15 years, Karen Seel on 12 years. Support term limits, Tampa Bay Times, and support the people, not the politicians.
Attilio Corbo, Palm Harbor
GOP detests working class
The Republican war on the middle class and the poor is kicking into high gear. While I applaud Congress for freezing the interest rates on student loans, the rest of the bill will prevent people from getting the education they need. They have made it much more costly and harder to pay back.
Dropping the amount that qualifies you for a Pell grant to not more than $23,000 will further erode the ability of poor people to attend college. Between the attacks on unions, cutting of Medicaid rates and making it more difficult to get on Medicaid, and the severe cutbacks in unemployment insurance, there can be no doubt that the Republicans hate working-class people, especially the poor.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Not just Catholics oppose it
Over the last few months, thousands of women, including me, have signed a petition called "Women Speak for Themselves" to make known their deep dissatisfaction with and opposition to the so-called preventive care mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
It is not just a bunch of "men in robes" who are troubled by the notion that the federal government of the United States may force private entities to violate their teachings. Nor is it only Catholics who take issue with this policy. Just last month, a coalition of more than 100 mostly Protestant faith leaders penned an open letter to the HHS secretary objecting to the measure. We believe that requiring religious institutions to contradict their teachings represents a grave and profound infringement on our First Amendment rights.
Nonetheless, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has continued to vote to deny conscience protections for religious organizations that do not wish to pay for contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients. Of all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, surely that of free exercise is among the most essential.
Stephanie Slade, Valrico
Scott will not carry out health law | July 1
Don't vote him in again
What right does Rick Scott have to deny much- needed health care to the citizens of Florida? The feds are going to pay 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion for the first several years and 90 percent thereafter. Allowing for insurance exchanges will allow people to choose where and what type of coverage they get and at a reasonable cost. All Floridians, regardless of political affiliation, should refuse to vote for Scott the next time around.
Sondra Biggart, Largo
Deal unzips whistle-blower's lips | July 3
Bitter corporate pill
Once again we have a massive perversion of justice. GlaxoSmithKline sells $18 billion in illegal drugs and our court accepts a settlement (bribe) of $3 billion for a "criminal misdemeanor" (slap on the wrist). No one goes to jail. The company gets to keep the $15 billion in profit and we all go on our merry way. Good job, DOJ.
Fred Beerman, Tampa
Troops without trust | July 5, commentary
There's already oversight
Garry Trudeau should stick to his liberal comic strip. His suggestion that the only solution to the military's rape problem is to create another "super civilian oversight committee." Doesn't he know that the military is already governed by civilians such as the president, secretary of defense and the secretaries of each branch of the military, let alone Congress?
Trudeau's 19,000 reported cases amount to about 1.3 percent of the total active duty personnel. He also leaves out how many of the reported cases were prosecuted. Let's let the civilians who already control the military do their jobs to correct this problem.
Dayle Stevens, Largo