Florida lacks leaders with vision
The Republican Party dominates Florida state government as they continue to demonstrate that they are not serving the best interests of the overall electorate. They remain an arrogant, pandering, self-serving party representing special interests. The Democratic Party has not shown that they would deliver any different results.
Florida desperately needs a vision that advances the interests of the people and a leader to advance it. Charlie Crist has not shown anything to that end.
The St. Petersburg Times should start identifying and promoting agents of change that we are so desperate for.
During this legislative session no meaningful action was taken to improve ethics in government, improve the effectiveness of services or reduce misuse of funds. Taxes were disproportionately increased for the lowest income taxpayers while upper income taxpayers got no comparative tax increase. Prominent Republican leadership has been indicted and many others are associated with scandal or improprieties. Our governor is disengaged, does not demonstrate a strong work ethic, does not call for a higher level of integrity as he continues to use private jets paid for by special interests and has no vision for Florida's future.
Florida government is neither effective nor efficient. Foster care, education and multitudes of other services are failing those who are most needy and critical to the future of Florida. We are desperate for a leader with a vision for Florida, one who walks the talk. If we re-elect these people we deserve what we have.
William Barrett, Clearwater
SunRail's demise is bad for state's future
On the last day of the 2009 regular legislative session and against a backdrop of numerous SunRail funding and state liability issues, the Florida Senate defeated legislation allowing the purchase of the CSX rail line through Orlando, killing the SunRail project. The death of SunRail guarantees that Florida will remain stuck in gridlock with a "get in your car and drive everywhere" mind-set.
This comes despite the abject failure of a state economy based solely on new arrivals and the money they spend on construction and real estate. As business columnist Robert Trigaux recently wrote, "Retiring to Florida to enjoy sunshine on the cheap is no longer a formula that works." We need to look beyond the "wave suntan lotion at Northerners" model and discover smarter reasons for relocating to and living in Florida. Unfortunately, our legislators failed to lay a foundation for redesigning Florida.
I have never believed that growth and quality of life objectives are mutually exclusive. Improved transportation and commuter rail improve the quality of life. While expensive, the cost of the SunRail project was small compared to the future cost of purchasing a right of way through Central Florida and developing commuter rail. This future cost makes a commuter rail service in Central Florida unlikely.
Bruce Hurwitz, Lutz
We need the money
I cannot believe the Florida Legislature may not vote to expand casino gambling. Gov. Charlie Crist did the right thing in allowing the Seminole Tribe to open up blackjack and Vegas-style slots, but in my opinion did not negotiate a fair deal for the state.
Has anyone bothered to check on how much revenue states like Connecticut receive from casinos such as Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods?
Our Legislature needs to get their head out of the sand and realize how much money can be negotiated with the casinos to support education and other state budget deficits.
Gambling is here to stay and we better get on track and work hand-in-hand with the Seminoles.
Mike Mills, Spring Hill
Foul language still under FCC purview April 29, story
Freedom and civility
Censorship is never pleasant, and our Constitution expressly forbids it. Nothing could be more clear than the words in the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech." I understand the desire to keep our discourse civilized. But I recognize, too, the indisputable fact that the expression "foul language" denotes something deeply subjective. What is foul for you may be harmless to me. What sets my teeth on edge may only amuse you.
Certain words and phrases, it is often claimed, should be kept from young ears. How? Are our children to be enclosed from the real world? When are they considered old enough to enter it?
Do not misunderstand me. I detest ugly, profane language. It makes reading some modern novels actually painful. I deplore the abysmal failure of our educational system which does little to expand the vocabularies of students. It is pitiful to hear grown men and women resort to distasteful (to me) words that seem to come so easily to them.
But we must never forget that we live in a country that offers us freedom. We are not compelled to take the standards of taste proclaimed by the government. We are, in a word, free from censorship. And we must continue to be.
We must be able to say and print what we will. And it is up to us to be courteous to others, to respect them — but never to be ruled by them.
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon
Remember the last time
Very few have pointed out that the United States had a similar "swine flu epidemic" in 1976.
It was predicated that a strain of swine flu (probably not the present strain) was going to cause a pandemic in the United states in mid 1976. It was reported that this strain was not covered by usual flu shots. In a panic, the federal government rapidly developed a special swine flu vaccination, and started giving it to high-risk people. However, it had a major, unanticipated side effect: the vaccine caused Guillain-Barre syndrome, a case of poliolike muscle paralysis often leading to respiratory failure, and occasionally death.
The vaccination program was rapidly stopped; the pandemic never occurred. No one has received swine flu vaccination since that failure in 1976.
We must be very careful not to rush into unproven, emergency treatments, especially vaccines, for fear of producing other unintended consequences.
Marc S. Berger, M.D., Tampa
Not worth the worry
Henny Penny, the sky is falling. About one American in 3 million may have swine flu. Let's all run around like chickens with our heads cut off, closing schools, destroying transportation companies and motels and restaurants. Please! Call me when it's one in a hundred.
I survived scarlet fever, Hong Kong flu, and a dozen other strains. Everyone dies of something. Let's worry about the something really scary, like cancer, stroke, or smoking, not some obscure chance that a monster will come out from under the bed.
Maynard J. Hirshon, St. Pete Beach
The president knows his flu etiquette May 2, PolitiFact
Essential flu facts
Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us know that President Barack Obama was, indeed, telling the truth during his recent press conference when he told us to frequently wash our hands and cover our mouths when coughing to reduce transmission of the flu. In addition to finally learning the real truth about this controversial topic, I was most impressed with your intrepid research to find out if his statement was true.
Keep up the hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, unbiased reporting of the facts, PolitiFact.com.
Judith Inks, Trinity