Insurance shock ahead? | Feb. 6
Republicans ruining this state
I have a few thoughts for our crazy Legislature in Tallahassee and more specifically for Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. I am a Republican and used to be proud of it, but in Florida, you all up there are tyrants! Republicans are ruining our state and will be sure to run everyone out, or at least spark another flood of foreclosures for those of us homeowners who have been barely holding on to our "underwater" homes.
Between the electric rates and making people pay for someone else's mistake on the power plant to forcing most, if not all, homeowners to drop their sinkhole coverage (and those who keep it have a deductible so high it's not worth it), you have made it not worth buying a home in this state. Hence, there will be more foreclosures because it's just easier to walk away. Even if we sell our home, we will still owe thousands upon thousands on the loan.
Lisa Fackender, Spring Hill
Bass Pro foes make big waves | Feb. 7
Does anyone remember "concurrency"? It was an idea, made law in the 1980s, that developers seeking profit should at least share the costs of building new infrastructure, such as roads, with taxpayers and longtime residents. Normal folks might get no benefit from the new development, but without "concurrency" they would surely have to pay the whole public costs.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan's brazen attempt to blackmail local taxpayers — if you don't give some of your money to Bass Pro Shops, well, my goodness, they just might put their store in Pasco County! — exemplifies what is wrong and bankrupt in some Republicans' approach to local business and government.
Ordinary taxpayers and small-business owners are fed up with comfortably compensated politicians like Hagan, who give away our money to out-of-state corporations that can afford to pay their own way. And ought to.
Jim Harper, Tampa
Drone hits disturb Congress | Feb. 6
Obama needs to explain
A scant four years ago, candidate Barack Obama mesmerized voters with his message of "hope and change." He professed disgust at the use of waterboarding, promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and offered due process and civilian trials to foreign nationals identified as enemy combatants. How times have changed.
I applaud Congress for recognizing the need to investigate the president's continuing use of drone attacks, which have been expanded to target American citizens. Alongside those Obama supporters previously mesmerized by the campaign rhetoric of 2008, I await the president's justification for casting constitutional due process protections aside to justify the selective assassination of Americans abroad.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
Baker Act isn't gun ban | Feb. 7
Obvious source of danger
Here we go again. Still in the dark shadow of the terrible Newtown shooting, we rant incessantly about keeping guns out of the hands of those who are deemed to have mental issues. Now I understand that guns are returned to or, in some cases, not even taken from those who are taken into custody under the Baker Act by law enforcement and held for less than 72 hours.
The fact that someone is so distraught as to be even temporarily remanded to a hospital or mental health facility should require some sort of serious restriction in gun ownership. With only 1 percent of 140,000 (in 2010) involuntary placements being restricted from owning guns, we're missing the obvious. Each Florida county appears to employ different criteria, often on a case-by-case basis. If we're seriously looking at keeping guns out of the wrong hands, we might look at the consistency of interpretation and changing the law as to how those placed under the Baker Act along with their guns should be managed. Those who are temporarily distraught enough to be placed and held even less than 72 hours won't really care what kind of weapon or magazine capacity they have if they choose to threaten, injure or even kill another person.
Let's seriously look more carefully at an obvious source of danger to others and quit blaming guns and magazines for all the mayhem caused by those who shouldn't own guns in the first place.
Harvey A. Smith, Palm Harbor
On Saturdays, letters may have to wait | Feb. 7
Remove prepayment burden
While many Americans may not be concerned over stoppage of letter mail on Saturdays, the real culprit of this is a Congress that refuses to act in the best interests of its citizens. The last election did not generate enough turnover in Congress even with a dismal approval rating.
U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Dennis Ross, R-Fla., are the main proponents behind the elimination of the U.S. Postal Service as we know it and are stopping any resolves from going forward other than their own on the floor of Congress. If our local congressional representatives (Gus Bilirakis, C.W. Bill Young and Kathy Castor) do not stand up to them and end the $5.5 billion prepayment to the pension plan, you will soon see the most trusted government agency delivering mail at a substantially increased privatized rate. Who will you trust then? Privatization of government jobs has failed miserably for the most part, as history in Florida alone shows us. Withdraw the prepayment and the USPS will turn a profit.
Michael Sullivan, Largo
Girl's beating was bad — then came the video Feb. 7
Mom did the right thing
Thank you for writing and printing this story. My sincere sympathies and admiration to Chase Cristia. I applaud her mother's action to call 911 and press charges. Please print a followup report on the sanctions against the attacker and accomplice by school and legal authorities. If the attacker and accomplice have not already been barred from riding the bus and suspended from school, I question the integrity of the school administrators and their commitment to protect students.
John Diehl, Brandon
Balmy winter's 6-legged bane | Feb. 6
The photograph and caption that accompanied Meredith Rutland's article did a great disservice to the ladybug and its natural pest control services. This particular bug should not be aligned with the other "pesky insects" mentioned in the article. Ladybugs are actually beetles. Most species feed on garden pests like aphids and scale insects. I look forward to seeing them in my garden because I know that they will help control harmful insects. It is unfortunate that the article will leave readers with a negative impression of this natural gardening ally.
Andrea Calvert, San Antonio