County's $500,000 question | Oct. 8, editorial
White should be held accountable
This editorial incorrectly implies that I, as well as some of my colleagues, believe that Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White should not be held financially responsible for the costs to the taxpayer for his indiscretions. If you watch the Oct. 7 County Commission meeting or review the transcripts, it is very clear that my colleagues and I are in unanimous agreement that Commissioner White should be held accountable for his actions and participate in reimbursing the taxpayers for related costs.
The question that some of my colleagues and I debated is how to get Commissioner White to participate in the process. Should we continue to add to the nearly $500,000 legal tab by rushing to file a lawsuit against Commissioner White or should we first attempt to enter into an amicable, binding agreement of willful contribution?
While immediately filing a lawsuit would certainly generate explosive media coverage and score political points with many constituents, I believe that it is fiscally irresponsible and not in the best interests of the taxpayers to select this route as the first option. I would consider filing a lawsuit if Commissioner White refused to enter into a legally binding agreement, if a mutual agreement could not be reached, or if Commissioner White defaulted on his agreement. This impasse has not yet been reached.
On Sept. 21, the county's legal representative in this case sent a letter to Commissioner White's attorney inquiring how much money Commissioner White will pay. In a response letter dated Sept. 23, Commissioner White's attorney stated:
"We are in the process of determining what insurance, if any, may be available to pay the underlying judgment and the fees for (which) Mr. White is presently obligated. When we are better able to determine the totality of Mr. White's exposure, we will be pleased to respond to your inquiry."
During the BOCC meeting, Commissioner White also expressed a willingness to contribute. It was these factors that led to my substitute motion to table further discussions until it is known how much, if any, the county's liability insurance policy will pay in this matter and provide Commissioner White the opportunity to willfully enter into a legally binding agreement of contribution before engaging in additional costly court litigation.
While the BOCC retains the authority to hold Commissioner White financially responsible, we do not have the authority to remove him from office. That power is rightfully retained by the voters in his district and their decision will be rendered on Election Day.
Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough County commissioner
Atmospherics of Obama's Nobel | Oct. 11, commentary
Prize recognized president's commitment
John Dickerson is blowing smoke when he says "the award has essentially been given for the president's speechmaking ability." It couldn't have been said better by Rush Limbaugh.
Besides making strong statements about American commitment to international cooperation, President Barack Obama has acted on this commitment. He has put together an administration as fully committed as he is. The administration has engaged Iran in ways that no Republican would. He has engaged the Muslim world. He has pressured Israel (still with limited success), he has eliminated the "Star Wars" components from Poland and the Czech Republic, he has immediately condemned the Honduras coup in contrast with the Bush administration's recognition of the anti-Chavez coup that brought us so much venom from Chavez and so many Venezuelans.
Dickerson might think that the Nobel committee is composed of imbeciles, but they look not only at speeches but also at the direction Obama's administration has taken in the past nine months.
Paul Mathieu, Sun City Center
Nobel Peace Prize
An unserious prize
First off, the prize is really a joke. Look at how many other "worthy" people have won it: Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter, to mention just two outstanding recipients.
But giving it to someone because of what he "may" do makes it even more ridiculous. It's like giving the MVP award to a baseball player in the first week of the season because "he looked good in spring training."
Also, in the Q&A on Oct. 10, the answer to a question about the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, "The committee has five members appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. Of the current members, three are on Norway's political left and three are on the right." Duh! Three and three makes six, not five.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
Nobel Peace Prize
Get past negativity
Yes, our president has won the Nobel Peace Prize, rather early in his administration. His opponents are unhappy with that, but his opponents it seems are always unhappy with anything he does.
Let's not forget that he was thrown into a cesspool of corruption and problems. We are fortunate, indeed, that he had the courage to take America on. We should all pray that his decisions will be ones that will ultimately bring success and peace to our nation and the world.
Recently I read some words of wisdom. They go something like this: "Forgive quickly; kiss slowly; love truly; laugh uncontrollably; and never regret anything that made you smile."
Maybe it would be better if we adhered to these words instead of the hate words that are so freely distributed today.
Ruth J. Anderson, Homosassa
Nobel Peace Prize
Aiming the blame
Apparently the Nobel Peace Prize committee has decided that rhetoric speaks louder than actions. What's next on its agenda? An award to some microbiologist who announces the intention (or "hope") of finding a cancer cure?
It seems to me that this choice is just another opportunity to strike out at Europe's arch enemy, George W. Bush. After all, we're told that it's George's fault for all the world's ills, including Chicago's losing bid for the Olympics. The latter had nothing to do, of course, with the Obamas' self-promoting, off-putting speeches before the committee.
Cecil Thompson, Tampa
What's the deal with Republicans nowadays?
Earlier this month when the United States lost in our bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, many Republicans cheered.
Then when our president won the Nobel Peace Prize, many Republicans scoffed.
What ever happened to "country first"?
Richard Feigel, Clearwater
Think pink? Hold on | Oct. 3, commentary
Let's get serious
I, too, am a breast cancer survivor and find it hard to understand the relatively new emphasis on commercializing the fight against this disease. Many thanks to Deni Elliot for bringing to our attention that some corporations as well as charities are using "Think Pink" to advance their own profits.
Well-meaning platitudes do nothing to help our cause, either. Recent news of a large group of men diagnosed with breast cancer, all of whom had at one time been stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., should make us challenge the injunctions that monthly breast self-examinations, healthy diets and exercise can spare us from this disease.
What can defeat breast cancer is our demanding that more research be done to identify what is really causing it. We have to stop playing with Pink, and get serious about saving ourselves.
Gemma O'Donnell, St. Petersburg