Take back elections from elites
Most people can't wait for the elections to be over, and the list is growing longer as to why we are disgusted about this most important process in our democracy. The negativity, the lies, the half-truths, the media blitzes, the campaign promises, the millions collected from power sources and spent for months and months is enough to make a mockery of our elections.
Japan has perhaps the most strict election campaign laws to ensure fairness. Individual candidates are not allowed to buy media time, but they are given a certain amount of free time on TV, radio or newspapers, with restrictions. The Japanese have taken great care to avoid giving financially powerful people an unfair advantage.
Since only the voters in America may want these reforms, we need to make it a priority to join in taking back our power to have fair and honest elections.
Darlene Dickson, Tampa
I-4 vote going to Romney, poll says | Oct. 28
After spending my Saturday afternoon calling college students and canvassing in St. Petersburg to remind residents that early voting had started, imagine my dismay when I opened my Sunday paper to find that the election may be "over" for President Barack Obama.
No matter whom a citizen is voting for in this election, the Times has engaged in a form of voter suppression by telling many of the enthusiastic young voters I spoke to that, basically, their vote is worthless — the election is over.
No election should be called for any candidate until the polls close on Election Day. I can only hope that this piece of irresponsible journalism will serve to fire up voters, not discourage them.
Terri McLemore, St. Petersburg
Voting first, then results
According to the article in the Times, the election in Florida has already gone to Mitt Romney. If this is true, why should the rest of us bother to vote?
I find it interesting that this paper endorses Barack Obama for president, yet consistently has headlines spelling out the opposite. The Republican National Convention had a special section every day — and there was much less coverage of the Democratic convention. Is it possible to get to the election without being told how it is going to turn out?
Bill Eaton, Dunnellon
Roar of crowd lifts Romney at Pasco stop Oct. 28
Sad sign of the times
I painted a sign telling Mitt Romney that I wasn't a victim; I was a veteran. I put on my medals I received in Vietnam and held my sign in front of the entrance to Land O'Lakes High School waiting for the Romney bus to show up.
While standing there I was called a loser, baby killer, commie, and n- - - - - lover by the good people going to hear Romney speak. Some of them mocked me, laughed at me, and one even attempted to spit at my sign, but it didn't make it past his chin.
I just smiled and nodded because my sign wasn't for those people; it was to let Romney know that this member of the 47 percent didn't see himself as anything other than what he was — an old boonie rat with something to say.
David Jones, Dade City
When in doubt, vote 'no'
A recent Florida This Week telecast had a pleasant and surprising phenomenon. Both representatives of the major political parties agreed on an important topic.
Very simply, it was this: If one cannot fully understand one of the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, vote against it. Don't duck it; vote against it.
The legislators knew what they were doing by making the language confusing. Send them a message and eschew obfuscation.
James Moyers, Sun City Center
In God's name | Oct. 28
Having worked in the field of child-abuse prevention for over 30 years, I am disgusted and shocked that Florida allows unlicensed and unsupervised "Christian groups" to abuse and degrade children with impunity. These "homes" are prisons where the children have been sent by desperate or deluded parents in the mistaken belief that this cruel treatment will scare their children into whatever they consider to be good behavior.
Months or years of abuse will leave lifelong scars and a deep alienation from parents and perhaps from a society that allowed this to happen. Your reporter Alexandra Zayas and your photographer Kathleen Flynn are to be congratulated for this vital reporting.
Michele Elliott, St. Petersburg
Angered, moved to action
This article made me cry. At the same time, I am so angry. I want to do something to get oversight of these "Christian" group homes. Please tell us where to write or what we can do. I didn't vote for this governor or any of those people sitting up in Tallahassee, so I don't take responsibility for that. But we must do something. This is so Dark Ages. Florida as a state needs to feel shame.
Faye Hunter, Bradenton
Start over on teacher evaluations Oct. 28, editorial
Thank you for this editorial on the new teacher evaluation process. One sentence in particular sums up the need to rethink this new evaluation format: Accountability works only if the measurement tools are valid.
You are correct in calling this plan demoralizing, with scores that are all but meaningless. I have taught elementary school for 14 years and consider myself competent in my profession — that is, until I received my evaluation rank of "developing/needs improvement." It felt like a slap in the face.
The state needs to step back from this embarrassment of an evaluation process and devise a more logical approach.
My suggestion would be to individualize the system; look at the students directly instructed by each teacher. Establish a grade-level baseline at the beginning of the school year for each student. Revisit those students at the end of the school year to determine the learning gains achieved. That would allow every educator to see firsthand whether or not he or she is effective in the classroom. This system would make us feel valued rather than vilified.
Jana H. Bailey, St. Petersburg