Haridopolos' rise aided by close political partner | April 18
Show public what he's getting paid for
Wonders really never do cease. Adam Smith wrote an excellent article regarding the "relationship" between these two professional political activists, but did he think to ask Senate President Mike Haridopolos to produce an invoice submitted to Sam Pak for his "consulting" activities for Market Share Systems, the subsidiary of Appliance Direct?
Surely if you collect a steady $5,000 a month, you must provide some type of service. And for that service, if you were a smart businessman, you would have an invoice to substantiate that service. Right?
I'm sure there are many "experts" who understand the "big picture" in the state of Florida better than Haridopolos, who, after all, didn't even understand the financial statement he was required to file annually with the state of Florida.
Frank Tsamoutales, Haridopolos' adviser, says it is "ridiculous" to think there might be a conflict of interest, since Pak only sells washers and dryers. Yet Pak pays $5,000 a month — for what? Sounds like a Ralph Hughes/Jim Norman deal to me.
The crazy thing is, there are people who will vote for Haridopolos for U.S. Senate.
Diane M. Detre, Tampa
Costs shifted to citizens
Much of the wrangling over Florida's budget seems to revolve around taxes being too high, the need to make "painful sacrifices," and how government employees should "do their part."
What I have not seen is anyone noticing the plain truth that the government is balancing its budget by shifting costs to citizens.
Massive insurance rate hikes — approved. On the way are mandatory drug tests citizens must pay for. University tuitions are rising, and K-12 education is being cut, which means more fundraisers and donation drives. Medicaid reforms will result in greater out-of-pocket expenses.
Through it all, a bizarre little melodrama plays out with state workers. They should "share the pain" and take pay cuts. Never mind that this decreases the amount of money spent in the state, which decreases tax revenues. And never mind that there will not be comparably large raises when state revenues are again flush.
Eric Odgaard, Lutz
Back to the early 1900s
The Grand Old Party seems to be doing its best to destroy worker protections by curbing unions. If the American people would read some history about working conditions, wages and benefits before the advent of unions in this country, perhaps there would be real outrage at what the Republican Party is doing to workers' rights.
The party refuses to discuss letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy lapse, which adds billions to the deficit, but instead focuses their cuts on the middle class or outright poor people.
What a wonderful, fair country the GOP is building. Soon we can all go back to the early 1900s, when there were no protections at all.
Joel Harper, Seminole
Bids to fix reservoir rise | April 19
Make the state pay
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection signed off on the reservoir's design and construction technique. Because of that, it seems like Tallahassee should make up any shortfall in the repair costs, not the customers of Tampa Bay Water.
David Brown, Sun City Center
Richest Americans pay less tax than claimed April 20, PolitiFact
It's amazing the lengths to which PolitiFact will go to discredit a conservative's statement. In the case of Michele Bachmann's comment about taxes, you parse words and use literal interpretation to rate her comment about federal taxes as false.
Certainly you knew her statement about the concentration of taxes to the top 1 percent was referring to federal income taxes. But you jumped on the fact that she left out the word "income" and added all the other types of federal taxes to "prove" her statement was false.
Your own analysis shows that the top 1 percent of income tax payers currently pay 39.5 percent of the total federal income taxes. Even more astounding is the fact that 45 to 47 percent pay absolutely no federal income taxes. I rate the PolitFact analysis "biased."
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde
Look to trained doctors
All of the attention on pain clinics and prescription painkillers raises the question: What is a "legitimate" pain clinic?
The notion that most physicians who specialize in pain management are reckless profiteers is inaccurate. A physician must complete four years of undergraduate, four years of medical school, a yearlong internship, a three-year residency and a yearlong fellowship to become a doctor who is eligible for board certification. Most board-certified pain physicians do not rely upon opioid therapies as their first line of defense in treating pain. Pain physicians have an array of interventional procedures at their disposal to address acute and chronic pain syndromes.
There is no question that the abuse of prescription drugs is a matter of critical public safety. Programs like the Physician Monitoring Database Program must be implemented to provide tools to law-abiding physicians who seek to properly care for their patients. Education for doctors, educators, public safety officers and parents is a vital component to stopping this epidemic.
Brad M. Meinck, Clearwater
Senate Bill 234
This proposed law doesn't go far enough. It shouldn't just permit the open carry of handguns, it should make open carry mandatory. Anyone caught carrying a concealed weapon would be subject to imprisonment. Maybe, after seeing the 780,000 currently licensed people in Florida openly toting their firearms wherever they go, the public might finally realize what handgun madness has wrought.
R.C. Zahn, Tarpon Springs
If Rep. Paul Ryan thinks that privatizing Medicare is a good idea, then apply it to every senior, including those over 55. Why create two classes of seniors, unless it's a naked attempt to pander to the over-55 voters? It's either good for everyone or not good for anyone. It's that simple. We have elected such cowards. Shame on us.
Leigh Antonsen, St. Petersburg