Everyone loves a parade | Feb. 9, editorial
I’ll sit on the sidelines
As a 30-year veteran I was appalled at the president’s plan for a military parade. Having marched in numerous parades in my career I can say without hesitation that members of the services will hate the idea. Having to wear a dress uniform and march miles in formation along a hot street, probably during the summer, is no way to honor their sacrifices.
As an alternative, I suggest that service men and women be given lawn chairs and coolers of beer so they can sit on the sidewalk and watch the president, Congress and their aides walk past, thanking them. That way the people being honored can actually enjoy the event with their families.
Jim Fitton, Coast Guard captain (ret.), St. Petersburg
HART right to question BRT | Feb. 8, editorial
We need mass transit
I was very disappointed to read that the Tampa Bay Times echoed HART’s reluctance to embrace the bus rapid transit system. Our region’s public transportation system is outdated, fragmented and woefully underfunded. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good in a region where public transportation has all but become a concept.
The BRT, while not high-speed rail, is a step forward for a region of over 2.8 million people who have limited travel options besides clogging roads with single-occupant vehicles. Public transportation benefits — reduced fuel consumption and traffic congestion, job creation, economic and community growth — clearly outweigh the cost to taxpayers. Ten years ago was the time for action — let’s not delay any longer.
Kyle Simon, Tampa
Red-light camera challenge hits bump | Feb. 8
Just obey the traffic laws
Back in 1961, zipping around town in my first car — a ’56 Plymouth Fury — I was pulled over for blowing a red light. The traffic court judge thoroughly admonished me. I, at the ripe old age of 18, vowed to never run another red light. And I never have. Cameras mounted on the traffic signals bother me not one bit. If you pay attention to your driving, you shouldn’t have a thing to worry about.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor
Zombie campaigns | Feb. 4
A great investigation
Congratulations on expert reporting on sleazy politicians entrusted with our democracy. The investigative work shows that journalists are crucial to our fragile democracy. Regardless of Federal Elections Commission rules, or lack thereof, continuing payments of campaign money to relatives and select others by those now out of office or now dead, are unethical use of campaign funds.
Marilyn Weaver, Bradenton
Rays’ pick likely today | Feb. 9
Ballpark plan strikes out
The Tampa Bay Rays proposal to build a new stadium on the Ybor City site would be a disaster for the team. If they think they have attendance problems now, wait until they’re in their new ballpark. Fans from Pinellas are not going to come to a place that’s hard to get to, and has minimal parking.
Chuck Bayer, Redington Shores
Triumph and peril for Trump | Feb. 4, column
Here’s why I’m angry
Peggy Noonan claims that rage is a poor fuel in politics. Seems odd, since the tea party has brought Congress to its knees and Trump’s campaign was fueled by Red State rage. As a lifelong Democrat, I can trade that "dignity" she claims is in jeopardy for stopping the right and President Donald Trump from destroying our country. Why am I so angry? Well, the threat to democracy posed by Trump disturbs me. The fact that the popular vote doesn’t elect our president and gives outsize power to smaller, taker states angers me. And don’t get me started on the Republican views on reproductive choice and marriage equality — or that their religion outweighs all and must be the only law in our country. As for this Ayn Rand notion that only wealth is a measure of value, it angers me the most. I expect this anger among non-Trump supporters to pay off in the voting booth in the 2018 elections.
Cathy Haggerty, Largo
Who prevails in America | Feb. 3, The Reading File
Making America good again
This piece struck a chord with me. As a minor league historian, I understand republicanism (little "r") and agree that elected leaders, when acting in the best interests of the country, can be an extremely effective way to run a country. I also am keenly attuned to the idea that there is great potential for a tyranny of the majority, so excessive democracy is to be avoided, as well. Generally, I believe that our founding fathers got it right.
As argued in the full Atlantic article, which was excerpted in the Reading File, our modern elected leaders have become entirely beholden to monied interests and have earned the near total level of mistrust that follows them today. There is something foul afoot when basic government makes both the left and right feel that they are disenfranchised.
The authors appropriately admonish against the purely facile answer of returning power to the people. Too much democracy is not a good thing. Simply put, the majority is not always right. However, it is wrong for power to ignore the will of the people, too. The concept of best interests, for the country, is the tempering agent that can strike a balance in this tricky equation.
As well, it is completely necessary to have expertise and elitism within our bureaucratic agencies that rule so much of America. The authors get that right, as tough as that is to hear for some.
What we can agree on, potentially, is that our current system is broken. Full-scale democracy is not the answer. Power can’t rest solely with the people. Pure democracy is a scary thing. Power, however, can and should be influenced by the people and not the monied interests that are entrenched in three branches of government. How we do that is the question of the century. We’d better find an answer, and quick.
Charles Nelson, Apollo Beach