Crist must step up, meet budget crisis | March 22, editorial
Crist lacks courage to bring change
I am a conservative, and it is certainly a cooler day in Hades when I agree with a Times editorial. Your editorial noting Gov. Charlie Crist's lack of leadership in the budget area, however, was straight on. I voted for the man and am severely disappointed in his total lack of political courage in addressing Florida's very serious problems. He talks the talk, but does not lead.
He has been totally ineffective in addressing the property tax and insurance situations. Rather than providing leadership to overhaul this state's very dysfunctional tax system, his solution is to be bailed out by the feds and to raid state reserves intended for other purposes.
I am no fan of new taxes, but the simple fact of the matter is this state is way too dependent on property taxes that punish small business and the important snowbird economy. A serious discussion needs to be had, in my view, to reduce property taxes while eliminating most sales tax exemptions, including a discussion of taxing services. But this is not going to happen without strong leadership from the top.
And I suspect "Governor Smiley" is not going to find political courage. His record is one of political expediency, not what is best for the citizens of Florida. And now he is no doubt planning his next career move to the U.S. Senate, which would be a good development for liberals as he will surely align himself with the Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins crowd in the Senate. He is not an honest conservative.
Jerry Tidwell, Odessa
Crist must step up, meet budget crisis March 22, editorial
Governor keeps his eye on political considerations
I don't believe our governor will step up and provide the leadership needed because, in my opinion, he's too interested in his career and a possible run for the U.S. Senate. Taking sides, as the Times has suggested, will cost him votes.
I believe he is the embodiment of what's wrong with our Congress. We have elected politicians who tell us what we want to hear rather than doing what's right for the country (or the state of Florida).
AIG is just one example of this. They signed off on the bonuses until a stink was raised, and now they're putting on a show for our consumption.
I'm 100 percent behind the Times in its request for him to lead. But I'd go further. If he doesn't lead now, then there's no way anyone in Florida should vote for him if he runs for the Senate, as he will be just as useless there as he currently is now.
Rick Shale, Homosassa
For sensible taxation
It has bothered me for some time that both the Legislature and state administration have tiptoed around, not daring to mention the three sales tax loopholes that in themselves would promptly solve Florida's revenue shortage. Their advantages:
1. Their recovery has been touted in the neighborhood of $17 billion, i.e., budget balanced.
2. The additional taxation would be gladly approved by the vast majority of the citizenry.
3. The taxation would be fair, lifting the burden from the poor who pay 6 percent at Dollar Tree.
4. The tax is paid by those most able to pay, i.e., the users of these taxed services.
What are these three? Charge sales tax to users of law firms, accountants and advertisers in publications. Most poor and modest-income people (the majority) seldom hire the above services because they don't have enough income to afford or interest the suppliers of these services. Who uses them? The well-to-do who specifically benefit from these services and treat them as "the cost of doing business."
Who is for this? The vast majority of Floridians. Who is against this? Most legislators because they lose corporate contributors. Most lawyers, most accountants, most publications — a minority of the citizenry.
John Christy Clement, Tierra Verde
Class-size battle is brewing yet again March 24, story
Defend the amendment
As we watch the Republicans in Tallahassee try to undermine the wishes of Florida voters by watering down the class-size amendment, it's worth remembering that former Gov. Jeb Bush promised there was a "devious plan" to get rid of it.
Studies show that small classes provide a better learning environment. We cannot afford to shortchange our children because politicians don't have the political courage to adequately fund education.
Call your legislators now and urge them to oppose the joint resolutions that are, no doubt, part of that "devious plan" to eventually get rid of the class-size amendment.
Susan Smith, Odessa
Bill guts wetlands rules | March 21, story
Rules need strengthening
This article should not be a surprise to anyone in Florida. I have lived in Citrus County for just under three years and have seen a myriad of political shenanigans take place both locally and statewide. As a native Rhode Islander and retired waterfowl biologist with 35 years experience, I have seen developers influence the politicians to their way of thinking, which is that they should be able to fill wetlands because "it is good for the area's growth." Is it really?
By allowing the filling of wetlands, the developer may be able to expand the number of house lots he can establish, increase the size of a strip mall, or make a road straighter. But the only thing that filling a wetland is good for is the developer's pocketbook.
The whole scenario reminds me of what has been happening lately on Wall Street regarding the AIG bonus payments for managers who are responsible for their company's failure. It is essentially: destroy a wetland, lose its contributions to our human existence forever, and pay the person responsible.
I would like to believe that our politicians are in tune with the current drought in Florida. Making it easier for development to destroy wetlands will only exacerbate any future drought conditions. If anything, our wetland laws, like the nation's banking regulations, need to be strengthened and enforcement improved to prevent the loss of both our financial and environmental health.
Charles C. Allin, Hernando
Earthrise '66, restored | March 22
What a great story! Kudos to NASA archivist Nancy Evans for her determination, dedication and use of innovative resources to restore those data tapes. And to Dennis Wingo, Keith Cowing and Ken Zin for their invaluable and unwavering help and enthusiasm for the project.
How encouraging to hear of such a passion to preserve those valuable memories and irreplaceable pictures of space. With all the gloom and doom in the news today, it was so refreshing to read this uplifting story. It should have been on the front page!
Carol Goodlin-Couture, New Port Richey