Florida's leadership dithers as state sinks | Aug. 25, editorial
Challenge leaders to fix financing
This editorial was right on target.
For the last and current fiscal years, Florida's budget has been cut by almost $6-billion — the largest reductions in state spending since at least the end of World War II. The impact of these cuts has fallen heavily on Floridians least able to fend for themselves, particularly the very old, the disabled and the very young.
AARP helped found Florida's People, Florida's Promise (www.floridaspeople.org), which brings together groups representing millions of Floridians from all segments of the political, social and age spectrum. We are challenging our state's elected leaders, legislators and legislative candidates to find innovative, effective responses to our darkening revenue picture and longer-term challenges.
Floridians are looking to their elected leaders for fresh solutions. More across-the-board budget cuts are not the answer. We need new approaches to sustaining critical programs for Florida's most vulnerable citizens. Only by pulling together can we restore Florida's promise and secure prosperity for all people who call Florida home.
Legislators and legislative candidates will participate in several town hall meetings across the state so voters can hear their ideas to see the state through this fiscal crisis and help prepare for a bright future. In the Tampa area, there will be a town hall event Sept. 24. Go to the Web site floridaspeople.org for details.
We cannot leave the Sunshine State's most vulnerable residents in the dark. Please add your voice to those asking our elected officials for fresh thinking and new answers to sustain critical programs and prepare Florida for a bright future.
Lori Parham, Tallahassee
McCain's running mate
Palin a poor choice
It is astounding that John McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.
Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska's coasts and put special interests above science.
Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science.
This is Sen. McCain's first significant choice in building his executive team and it's a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain's commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.
John Miller, Tampa
Immigration mess is Congress' fault | Aug. 27, editorial
Shift enforcement focus
Congress' fault? True, Congress and the federal government have not provided enough funding, personnel and equipment to state, local, federal or ICE for immigration law enforcement. But in the current economic climate, it is very unlikely that they can increase funding. That would require either cutting some other program or, God forbid, raising taxes.
Writing new laws is useless if law enforcement has neither the resources, equipment, personnel or funding to enforce them. Nor does the court system have the people or the funding to take on more immigration cases.
We the people do of course want stricter enforcement of immigration laws, but that requires more money and personnel. Since that is very unlikely right now, may I suggest two ideas that may help to at least keep us safe in our own country.
One: Law enforcement at the state, local and federal levels might want to conserve their limited resources and concentrate on finding the illegal immigrants who pose either a criminal threat — drug dealers, human traffickers, etc. — or those who are threats to national security, and make those illegals their first priority. Then leave the honest, hard-working but still illegally here immigrants as their second priority.
Second, ICE and the other law enforcement agencies should take a hard look at the DEA's policy of confiscating property, money, etc., from drug dealers and suppliers that they convict and see if they can apply those policies and laws to those who hire illegal immigrants. The only real way to stop illegal immigration once and for all is to not have jobs waiting for them here in the first place.
If the businesses and companies who hire illegal immigrants got more than a fine or a slap on the wrist, they might actually obey the laws. Following the DEA's practice of confiscation of property would certainly get their attention — and help fund ICE and the other law enforcement agencies.
Kris Gonynor, Port Richey
A pledge to fix Congress
Congress, the people's representative, is so broken that there is no real progress being made in the people's interest. The people are outweighed by special interests.
I have taken a pledge to vote only for only candidates who will take the following four-point pledge and I am asking others to join this movement to change the way government does the people's business.
Change Congress (http://change-congress.org) is a national movement to end corruption in Congress. They are organizing citizens to push candidates to make four simple commitments:
1. No money from lobbyists or PACs;
2. Vote to end earmarks;
3. Support reform to increase congressional transparency;
4. Support publicly financed campaigns.
It's not enough to just push particular candidates to stay out of the system of corruption; we have to reform the system itself. Publicly financed campaigns will stop the cycle of campaign finance reform loopholes and ensure that big money stays out of Congress forever. Public financing has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats, but not enough of them.
Until these principles are adhered to and the people have control of Congress, as it should be, it won't matter one bit who is elected.
Call on your elected officials and candidates to restore the people's trust in government by joining this movement.
Karen Doulin, Brooksville
Ignore the speeches
Politicians attack their opponents for changing their positions in speeches made trying to get elected. But we all change our minds during our lives.
In college I voted for president for the first time. Harry Truman was up for re-election and I thought he was an embarrassment as president. He won in a big upset. The difficult and decisions he made during his second term at the time upset me, but today I think he was one of our best presidents.
The best way to choose a political candidate is to ignore what they espouse trying to win and to study their background and accomplishments.
Owen S. Allbritton, Clearwater