Fine drivers who talk on phone
I believe that using cell phones while driving has reached epidemic proportions in Florida. There is hardly a driver who has not had a narrow escape, at best, or at worst had an accident involving one of these thoughtless drivers.
Plaintiffs' attorneys, in their TV advertisements, state that drivers using cell phones are "more dangerous than drunken drivers." I'm no fan of plaintiffs' attorneys; however, in this case, they are right on the money.
New York has the right idea. There, drivers ticketed for using cell phones while in motion are fined $100 per violation — no excuses. The problem there has been drastically reduced.
Florida is in dire need of the same law.
Bill Bravick, Tampa
I am angry and frustrated with this Legislature and its leadership. Because of its ideological push to enhance benefits for corporations at the expense of most Floridians, it has undermined our democracy, mocked the middle class, and set a course for Florida to become one of the most regressive states in the nation.
The list of duplicity includes enactment of so-called leadership funds, severe cuts to education and health care, fanatical antiunion efforts, anti-women's health care bills, rigging voting laws to impede our democratic rights, efforts to allow developers free rein, allowing fat-cat insurance companies to raise rates at will, and the list goes on.
More than at any time since I've been a resident of Florida, I am embarrassed to tell people where I live. I yearn to regain the lost value of my house so I can sell and move to a more progressive state.
Scott Mears, Tampa
Snipped court plan still wrong May 4, editorial
The state Senate passed the court plan on a 28-11 party-line vote. I did not elect my representative to just go to Tallahassee and rubber-stamp legislation. I did elect my representative to read and study the items on the bills and vote for what is good for the welfare of Florida's citizens.
Walter Gay, Dunedin
Immigration bill battered by conflicting interests | May 3
Check of workers needed
State Sen. J.D. Alexander, a citrus grower, said the E-Verify program is expensive and glitchy. What he didn't say was the federal government has reported the system is about 98 percent correct, is free to use, and there is a time period to make corrections if needed.
Alexander said that E-Verify cost his business about $20 per person who doesn't match the database, and he is about 100 people short to pick a blueberry crop.
What he doesn't say is how much it cost the local and national economy and legal taxpayers to have these people living illegally on our public systems and how much employers save by supporting this illegal activity of working with no legal Social Security registration.
Adolph F. Panella Jr., Valrico
In the last month I have had to deal with several state agencies, and it has been a nightmare. Everything is automated, and you cannot talk to a state employee without waiting 15-20 minutes, and that is if they answer the phone to begin with. Using the websites is even more of a disaster. It was so bad I finally resorted to sending e-mails to my representative and senator in order to get the help and access the information I needed.
I used to have empathy for state employees, but no more. They are supposed to be public servants, and I can tell you, they are not serving the public who pays their salaries. If I did my job in the private sector the way they do theirs, I would have been fired a long time ago.
Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg
Food for thought | May 1
Fresh food is affordable
In this article, the mother buying a box of instant potatoes for $1.29 instead of a 10-pound bag of the real thing for $3.99 says it all to me.
A total of $850 a month is enough for a family of six to have dinners of fresh spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery and cheese; a fresh fruit salad of whatever is in season; potatoes, rice or pasta with a cooked fresh vegetable or a canned vegetable; and a meat entree. I know because for the last 10 years I have purchased the food for my family.
Real food is less expensive than food out of the box. Yes, you must peel and slice it. Get used to it.
The government is killing people with kindness. The school board has a summer program that feeds children the same type of food you buy at restaurants — in other words, not much fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nobody wants to see hungry children. But adults need to make better choices.
Mark Twinam, St. Petersburg
Park upkeep stretched thin | May 1
This article offers further proof of what I suspected after taking my visiting family and grandchildren to Fort De Soto Park in mid March.
My son had wanted to go to the best beach around, and I told him that was Fort De Soto. I recalled my last trip there in 2002. The sand was the whitest, softest and smoothest of any in Florida and attracted visitors from all over the world.
Upon arriving this year to an almost empty beach, I saw debris of all kinds, uncleared from who knows when. It was rocky and unmanicured as far as the eye could see. I was pretty embarrassed.
Sad to say, I doubt Fort De Soto will ever again make a top 10 beaches list.
Rene Hogarth, Safety Harbor
Tax the windfall profits
I agree with Elizabeth Warren, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who characterized our free market system as "game rigging." The Wall Street marketeers have been driving up the price of oil, leading to increases in what you pay at the pump. How else can you explain the likes of Exxon making a quarterly profit of almost $11 billion? And yet the federal government is still subsidizing oil companies to the tune of $4 billion a year.
The government would make up the loss in tax revenue with a windfall profits tax on oil and other companies whose profits grossly exceed norms and where no noticeable investment or employment is made. A 10 percent windfall profits tax on Exxon alone would mean an additional $1.1 billion for the federal coffers.
The oil cartel is not what is bringing this economy to its knees; it is the greed of our own companies and politicians who are bought and paid for enabling them.
Ramon Navarro, Riverview