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Don't let new House speaker sour hope in the Legislature

New speaker fails quickly, miserably and Who's who and new | Nov. 23, editorial and story

Don't let speaker sour hope in Legislature

Last Sunday's Perspective section contained an editorial concerning Florida's new House speaker, Ray Sansom, and an article about the 35 newly elected officials who will be taking seats in the state Legislature.

I read both items and had feelings of both optimism and sadness when I was done. Looking at the smiling faces of many of the newcomers gave me a sense of optimism that many people still feel called to give their time and talent for a noble purpose and serve their communities in the Legislature. They go to Tallahassee with new ideas and enthusiasm for running government and making it better.

One can only hope, though, that the newly elected politicians stay clear of their own new House speaker. Sansom is the new poster boy for what is wrong with government. Personal enrichment at taxpayer expense doesn't appear to bother him. His college apparently doesn't offer an Ethics 101 class.

Our new state senators and representatives should take a hard look at this pig-at-the-trough behavior immediately. Their newly elected positions are already being tarnished by association with the new speaker. If Sansom fails to see the light and set things straight, then it is up to the Legislature to help him see the light. If not, then Floridians can expect more of the same from Tallahassee.

My hope is that our new representatives will take care of the ethical mess being created by our existing politicians and will get Tallahassee back on the right track for getting the job done properly for the citizens of Florida.

Michael Savino, Largo

Who's who and new | Nov. 23, Perspective story

How can GOP survive without diversity?

If anyone wonders why the Republican Party is in danger of becoming irrelevant, read the article in the Perspective section last Sunday. While looking at the names and faces of the incoming representatives from the Democratic and Republican columns, I noticed that there is not one person of color or ethnicity in the freshman Republican list. As the country becomes more ethnically diverse, the Republicans remain an all white, mostly male group.

In fact, one of the candidates throwing his hat into the ring to lead the Republican National Committee, South Carolina's Katon Dawson, just resigned from his "whites only" country club. I just can't imagine how this party will survive.

Carol Murphy, Oldsmar

Defining the good teacher | Nov. 23, Perspective story

Results are what matter

For the past four years, reporter Ron Matus has observed 60-70 classrooms at work. "Would I be happy if my kids were in these classrooms?" he asked. "Most of the time the answer is yes."

Thank you, Mr. Matus, for recognizing that most teachers are good ones, even though "they" now say this is a difficult thing to measure. I have been a Pinellas teacher for 32 years, averaging 60 hours a week when my at-school hours are combined with my at-home working hours.

People are individuals. Teachers are individuals. They are different. Some teachers are more animated in their teaching than others. Should we now put an animation-measuring chip in them to measure this? The results are what matter. Teachers have proved that we can meet the standards placed upon us. We do and have, as evidenced by the increased scores on the FCAT.

For the past 20 years, promises have been made to raise teacher salaries to be among the top in the nation. I will be retiring within the next few years and we have still not moved up in the rankings. We have billion-dollar bailouts for the banks, car companies, etc., but there is apparently never be enough money to fund our school system properly.

Leigh Taylor, St. Petersburg

Living outside belief | Nov. 23, Floridian story

Truth beyond reason

I read with great sadness the piece regarding the increase in numbers and in acceptance of those who have abandoned faith in God. I was saddened because the humanist/atheist is abandoning the objective truth known by those with genuine belief and trading it for the empty philosophy propounded by those who would use reason alone to discover truth and reality. Man has not, by reason alone, been able to discover universal, objective truth. It is found only in that which has been revealed to us by the true God, in creation and in the Scriptures.

Whether they realize it or not, the humanist or atheist must see the universe with its obvious design and purpose, and its diversity and complexity of life, as that which is the result not of a creator, but the result of pure chance and randomness. The atheist has no true foundation for the dignity of human life, no universal purpose for life, no universal standards of good and evil, and no real hope that there will be a final justice for all the evil that he sees about him.

For the individual, there is no cure for the evil and the resultant guilt that he sees in his own heart (because nobody is able to meet even his own standards of good). For society, there are no real objective standards upon which to base the laws of the land.

God has abundantly blessed our land, but, as with a father to children, disobedience will have its consequences. The United States was founded upon principles found in the Bible — including individual freedom and responsibility. We abandon God, Scripture and biblical principle at our peril.

James Beaver, St. Petersburg

Living outside belief | Nov. 23, Floridian story

Not bowing down

The article about "nonbelievers" is a dramatic breakthrough for those of us who are usually not regarded as "real" people.

One delicious (if bitter) scrap of irony is the statement, "Some Christians find the billboards deeply offensive …" ("Beware of dogma"). They never consider that we freethinkers might find offensive the constant references to God from politicians and other public figures. How do they think we enjoy the words "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance? How do they think we react when the president ends his speeches with "God bless America"?

As to the charge that we hate America — no. What we hate is the constant groveling before an illusion and the insistence of our fellow citizens that we, too, bow down to some idea of a deity. Just let us hold our heads high!

Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon

Living outside belief | Nov. 23, Floridian story

Americans all

Thank you very much for sharing Stephanie Simon's piece. It heartens me to read an article about nonbelievers that portrays them so honestly and without judgment. We need to be reminded that Americans come in all shapes, colors, etc., and regardless of those differences, are still Americans.

Deborah Shauan, New Port Richey

Past suggests insurer may be bit of a risk Nov. 23

Money to be made

Ivan Penn hit another home run with this story last Sunday.

The next question is why are so many savvy investors putting their money in Florida property insurance company startups? The obvious answer is big money can be made at moderate risk to the investors. As for the policyholders, good luck and don't count on your claims being paid.

William C. Ballard, St. Petersburg

Don't let new House speaker sour hope in the Legislature 11/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 1:22pm]
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