Veto to kill bill on sea grass | June 11, story
Making laws by underhanded means If anyone needs more evidence that the Florida Legislature is in serious need of reform, look no further than the recent example of the state representative who tried to pull a fast one on his colleagues.
Offering what he assured his fellow legislators were minor amendments, he slipped them into a bill near the end of committee consideration. Committee members, taking his word and not knowing the true impact of the amendments, approved them without objection, passed the bill 30-0 and the measure then cleared the House and Senate unanimously and went to the governor for his signature (which he promised to veto when the facts of the "minor" amendments were revealed).
Why should it be so easy to insert language into a bill that it can pass without legislators (or staff?) knowing what it contains? How common a practice is this? Obviously the process needs some tightening. And since legislators apparently can't be trusted to be honest with one another about even basic facts, should it be a surprise that Florida residents don't have much confidence in what takes place in Tallahassee?
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg Work to stop elder abuse
Today, as we celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, many organizations and advocates within the aging network are joining forces to ensure that no elder is subjected to abuse, exploitation or neglect.
Every year, an estimated 2.1-million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological or other forms of abuse and neglect. Sadly, these statistics may not tell the whole story. For every case of elder abuse and neglect that is reported to authorities, experts estimate there may be as many as five unreported cases. This year alone in Florida, there have been 42,800 reports of elder abuse and neglect, almost 15 percent more than last year.
Although the Department of Elder Affairs has embarked on a yearlong elder abuse awareness campaign, the rate of abuse continues to rise, particularly in the Suncoast region, where the highest rate of confirmed elder abuse occurs. During the past year, more than 9,600 Suncoast residents age 60 and older were victims of elder abuse. Pinellas County has Florida's highest rate of elder abuse with more than 3,000 victims.
Every member of the community must become involved if we are going to put an end to this preventable and senseless crime. Early intervention and education are the keys. If you are a victim or suspect elder abuse, please contact the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). Elder abuse is preventable.
E. Douglas Beach, Ph.D., secretary, Florida Department of Elder Affairs; and Bob Butterworth, secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families, Tallahassee
Eyewitnesses to bypass police | June 13, story
I was a police officer for 26 years and worked mostly in high crime and black neighborhoods. Getting statements from witnesses has always been difficult if not impossible. That's nothing new.
What is new is why the police and prosecutors are allowing the Uhuru leader, Omali Yeshitela, to have any say in who is going to talk to whom and when. In fact, I think he should be arrested for obstructing justice and interfering with the duties of the police. If he has information about this situation, it should be given immediately to the authorities.
Terry E. Hobt, Tarpon Springs
I repaired the damages of botched abortion June 8, Perspective story
Even a staunch opponent of abortion like myself may find merits in Dr. Waldo Fielding's argument: If the government is unable to prevent abortion, at the very least it should make sure that the procedure is safe. I disagree, however, with Fielding's conclusion that allowing medical abortion is tantamount to "conferring on women … the full right of first-class citizens." If it is true that abortions have been performed since ancient times, it was so because men considered women an object of entertainment, to be used and discharged, and most of the time women did not find other means of survival outside the sex market. This can hardly be construed as "the full right of first-class citizens."
Even today, in my 40-year experience as a physician, I cannot remember a single case in which a woman had not been coerced into abortion by her family, her partner, or overwhelming circumstances. One needs to hide his head in the sand to consider abortion in these conditions a "free choice."
I believe women will be considered first-class citizens only when two conditions are fulfilled. The first is that motherhood be honored and enshrined as the most sacred social function, and the laws of the country protect rather than discourage child-bearing. It would be amusing, if it weren't tragic, that the same politicians who wear the prolife badge are those who make it most difficult for a woman to take care of her children, putting the value of profit much higher than the value of human life.
The second is an open debate on abortion, based on scientific data rather than passions. Abortion is the only medical procedure whose risks are minimized, rather than highlighted, during informed consent. While I cannot administer life-saving chemotherapy to a patient without explaining all potential risks, millions of women undergo abortion every year without knowing that abortion is associated with a threefold risk of mortality and an increased risk of depression, substance abuse and suicide.
Lodovico Balducci, M.D., Tampa
Obama's abortion vulnerability | May 25
A radical on abortion
In this column, Philip Gailey concedes that:
1) Barack Obama supports the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion.
2) Obama opposed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which protects babies (that make it through botched abortions) from being shelved to die.
Gailey writes that "most voters know where they stand on abortion, so it's not likely they will be swayed one way or the other." I would bet that there are a lot of Obama supporters who don't understand how radical Obama is on abortion. Both the partial-birth abortion ban and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support. So when Gailey writes that "Republicans will try to convince voters that Obama is outside this mainstream," do Republicans really have to do much convincing? Obama's record will take care of any doubts. The abortion issue is just one of the reasons that Obama has been listed as the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. Voters should ask themselves, How can the most liberal U.S. senator bring the country together in "unity"?
Randy Goggin, New Port Richey
Wal-Mart, critics do some bargaining | June 8, Philip Gailey column
As a management retiree of a nationwide chain retailer that competes with Wal-Mart, I was nevertheless pleased to see Philip Gailey's supportive comments about the retailer "behemoth" that many (including St. Petersburg Times writers) love to hate.
A frequent criticism of Wal-Mart is low wages and employee benefits, but retailing — certainly including discount retailing — is a labor-intensive, low-profit-margin business that cannot sustain the wage and benefits levels of most manufacturers. However, Wal-Mart compares favorably in these areas with its competitors, as Gailey points out. Critics of Wal-Mart (including Times writers) should also research retail industry comparables prior to printing blanket accusations of Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is hugely successful because it excels at what it does. Isn't this the American way?
Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg
A celebrity perk?
Has the dress code changed in the court system? Recently we have seen numerous pictures of Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) in court. Each time he has a scarf on his head.
If he was a gang member, African-American or any other male would this be permitted? It seems to me it is another case of celebrity justice.
Robert Weber, Clearwater
I looked up the word "irony" in the dictionary. There was a picture of a foreign car with a bumper sticker reading "God Bless America."
John C. Byard, Clearwater