Nominee deserves Senate vote
In April, President Barack Obama nominated William Jung — who has specialized in white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation in two Tampa Bay area law firms since 1993, after serving six years as an assistant U.S. attorney — for a federal court judge vacancy in the Middle District of Florida. The president lauded his fine legal career, declaring that Jung was a distinguished individual who "displayed unwavering commitment to justice."
The district has two openings among 15 active judgeships. Thus, it lacks 13 percent of its active judicial contingent, which complicates prompt, economical and fair case disposition. Because the Speedy Trial Act grants criminal matters precedence, litigants participating in civil cases encounter problems receiving trial dates and finishing their lawsuits. Resolving litigation without one-eighth of the judgeships authorized also places more pressure on the court's jurists. These judges manage caseloads that are 50 percent higher than the national average, so the U.S. courts have designated the vacancies as "judicial emergencies."
Jung is a well-qualified mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican. However, the nominee has languished since April mainly because Republican leaders did not furnish him a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a panel vote or a final debate and ballot.
Because Jung is an experienced consensus nominee and the Middle District of Florida requires all of its vacancies filled, the Senate must expeditiously provide the nominee's hearing and committee vote and his confirmation debate and ballot.
Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.
The writer is a law professor at the University of Richmond.
The ferry is part of transit puzzle Nov. 20, letter
Put a ferry stop at the pier
The Cross Bay Ferry is exceeding expectations and is being hailed as a legitimate form of mass transit by an official at the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority. A wise and experienced local architect, in a letter to the editor on Nov. 19, implores us to redesign the present pier plan and incorporate the excitement and special character that St. Petersburg was known for with the Million Dollar Pier and the inverted pyramid.
The writing is on the wall. We need to incorporate a ferry station into the pier.
Form will follow function. Think Pike Place Market in Seattle. Vendors of all varieties service commuters, residents and visitors to the waterfront. Coffee flows, flower stands abound and a world-famous fish market excites. With a ferry station at the pier, our needs could be met by our own mix of vendors. A building could be designed to accommodate these needs, and we could even restore a rooftop plaza so that the best part of the inverted pyramid will not be lost.
Transit works best when it is placed in the heart of the action and commerce. The present ferry station near Vinoy Park requires a transfer or a long walk in order to get to the downtown waterfront. That adds too much time for a commuter and may very well hinder the success of the much-needed Cross Bay Ferry.
It's time to take a real look at the new "kid in town" and to do what it takes to ensure the long-term success of the Cross Bay Ferry. A ferry station as the centerpiece of the design is the first step. All else will fall into place.
If you remember, the fantastic Million Dollar Pier had both a ferry service and a streetcar station and it was truly a special place.
Ivylyn Harrell, St. Petersburg
What to tell your children? Trust America Nov. 20, commentary
Early signs not hopeful
I miss seeing columns by Leonard Pitts, Connie Schultz and Gail Collins, to name a few. The Times appears reticent to print editorials critical of President-elect Donald Trump. I agree with Peggy Noonan that folks like me, i.e. "the Left," need to reflect, absorb, gather our strength and constructively oppose. I believe we are doing just that.
What I don't see much evidence of, beyond a few token words in his election night victory speech, is any effort on Trump's part to reassure Americans, both adults and children, that he cares about their concerns and intends to work for the good of all Americans. I don't see it in his words and I don't see it in his Cabinet appointments.
My father was a newspaper man. He liked to recall the words of a great Irish journalist, Finley Peter Dunne, who said that the role of newspapers was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Good advice for both the Times and Trump.
Maryellen Mariani, Seminole
Take personal action
Faced with the proposition of Donald Trump and Myron Ebell leading the country in the wrong direction on environmental issues, what hope is left to slow the forces of global warming? Any citizen who believes in the scientific method must stop looking for change to come from the top down and instead make personal lifestyle changes as soon as possible.
Start with low-hanging fruit. Stop drying your clothes in electric dryers. Most of us, even those in our larger cities, have back yards that receive sunshine year-round. Hang a clothesline and dry your clothes for free, without increasing your carbon footprint every time you need clean clothes.
Make a commitment to set your thermostat 3 degrees warmer in the summer and 3 degrees colder in the winter.
Next, get yourself a bicycle and use it. Not for a pleasure ride, but to reach a destination you would normally reach in your car. To do this, you may need a utility bicycle, with a cargo rack and saddlebags, not a beach cruiser. Ease yourself in: Start by replacing one car trip a week. Once you taste the freedom of being in a bicycle lane, and not being stuck in a sea of stop-and-go vehicles, you might think about ditching your car entirely. Does this sound radical? Perhaps. But how radical? As radical as a president who tweeted that climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese?
Luke Wassermann, Temple Terrace