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Focus on bigger issues

Letters to the Editor published Friday, July 17, 2009

Re: Trips on Florida state plane

Focus on bigger issues

Sometimes in politics, debates on spending result in intense scrutiny on obscure issues, overlooking the bigger picture. The media and certain legislators have made their point on the use of the state plane. Now the debate should move to Florida's larger issues. The state's challenges present opportunities for gubernatorial candidates to distinguish their positions and generate thoughtful policy solutions.

Florida is more severely impacted by this recession than other states. Our candidates for governor, who already sit on Florida's Cabinet, have a responsibility to lay out plans for a competitive and more affordable insurance market, an equitable property tax structure and balancing economic growth with natural systems.

Progress in the past decade in education and economic development can lead to sustainable prosperity with proper leadership. As the recession eases, businesses will move to places with a higher quality work force. Florida's progress in K-12 education over the past decade moved the state from 48th to 10th in the only national ranking system that compares student progress state to state. Greater attention must be placed on how candidates will continue the improvement and ensure students a global competitive advantage.

Great demand exists for new health care solutions through biotechnology. Clean technology products will ensure energy security and improve our environment. Florida has recruited prestigious research institutions like Scripps, Burnham, Max Plank and SRI. On the clean tech side, Florida established a bold goal to reduce carbon emissions, and businesses around the state are responding with carbon-free products and solutions like biomass. How will the next governor ensure this infrastructure is fruitful in creating jobs and growing state revenues?

Lessons have been relearned regarding use of the state plane. In our wonderful government in the sunshine, all the facts are on the table. Let's move on. The state has challenges, but a framework to build economic prosperity also exists. We need to understand how Florida's future chief executive will tackle challenges and use the investment made over the past 10 years to build a sustainable economy for Florida.

Kathleen Shanahan, Tampa

Shanahan is a member of the Florida Board of Education and former chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush.

Not conservative? Then put background aside - July 15, commentary

The role of culture in making decisions

Thank you, Eric Deggans, for articulating much of what I have been thinking and feeling as I hear the Republican senators pontificate about the role of judges and the Sonia Sotomayor nomination. May I add that she said that a "wise Latina" would "more often than not" reach a better conclusion than a white male - not "always," which is how her opponents have twisted her statement.

It is so painful to see individuals like Sens. Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham given news coverage as they strive to discredit a lifetime of accomplishment.

As an educator, I see every day how important role models are and how too many white males don't understand the concept. After all, they have "swum in a sea" of role models their entire lives. Thank you for giving your readers the challenge of also thinking about the role culture plays in decision making.

Pamela Muller, St. Petersburg

* * *

Quote incomplete

In Thursday's paper immediately under your banner you have the following quote from Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion." The problem is that this is not the complete quote, as your editors had to know. The actual quote ended "reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

To me, the partial quotation shown as the full quote is nothing more than a lie to further your liberal agenda.

Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach

Shifting facts

Your July 16 headline is a stunning example of media bias and unfairness in your handling of the issues of racism and sexism. You essentially misquoted Judge Sonia Sotomayor by leaving off the "than a white male" from her quote. This reminds me of the novel 1984 in which the state changes history to suit its needs.

The press was given special protections in the Bill of Rights, and this is what you do with them? Shame on you.

Marty Millburg, Tampa

Experience, wisdom

It is an axiom that wisdom is gained through experience and particularly in overcoming tough obstacles. The process of overcoming tough obstacles is both revealing of ourselves and a learning experience.

That said, I can see why Sonia Sotomayor would believe that the experience of being a Latina would be full of opportunities to produce wisdom. Also the experience, knowledge and wisdom gained by overcoming the obstacles of gender and race would equip someone to compete against all comers. So her statement serves as a motivational moment meant to inspire Latinas.

Also, since she is "interviewing" for a job with white males, I think we can all see that she needs to ensure that that comment is interpreted correctly.

But now I think it is time to move on to more important questions.

Mark T. Stephens, Land O'Lakes

Keeping kids safe

New Internet technologies are emerging every day. While these technologies provide new learning opportunities and new ways to explore the digital world, they can also pose a dangerous threat to our children.

As an advocate for the safety of Florida's children both on and offline, I applaud the Florida Legislature for the passage of CS/HB 115, which will provide online safety education to adults and children in our community libraries.

It is encouraging to know that our elected officials and communities are invested in ensuring that adults and children understand the dangers of online predators. The Safety Education Program enacted by this law will include a computer-based educational course that has been approved by either a government law enforcement agency or a public safety advocacy group. This program will teach parents and children about tactics used by online predators and the best ways to protect kids against these threats.

This piece of legislation is a great achievement for the state of Florida and directly relates to what organizations such as Stop Child Predators hope to accomplish. Ensuring children's safety is of the utmost importance, and when elected officials, community members and parents work together, we can succeed in keeping our kids safe online.

Stacie Rumenap, executive director, Stop Child Predators, Washington, D.C.

Bad drivers need this humbling experience - July 15, editorial

Stopping bad drivers

I see one major flaw that should temper your euphoria over the new law that requires bad drivers to attend a driver improvement course including behind-the-wheel instruction and a behind-the-wheel test.

You assume that the threat of the state being able to yank the drivers' licences of these habitual offenders if they don't pass the test or don't show up will deter them from driving irresponsibly. It won't.

Surely you've noticed that many drivers arrested for DUI, driving stolen cars or being involved in deadly accidents were driving with a suspended or revoked license.

The only answer is to enact very stiff penalties for driving without a license.

Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

Focus on bigger issues 08/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 3, 2009 2:40pm]
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