Infuriating, depressing session | May 3
Too much work, too little time
Tim Nickens' column and the accompanying editorial are correct as far as they go in identifying the contributing causes for an ineffective legislative process. However, they don't include the most relevant explanation for this failure.
Except for Florida, what do all the other large-populated states, as well as most smaller ones, have in common to ensure an orderly process for legislative action? The answer: a 10- to 12-month calendar for full committee deliberations and legislative debate to solve the immediate issues of concern.
What imbeciles think that the needs of the citizens of the soon-to-be third-largest state in population can be achieved with good laws and public policy with a 60-day legislative session!
No wonder the House speaker and Senate president end up finalizing the budget in absentia. Wasn't this a device created by the Democrats under Pork Chop leadership?
It may have served a purpose then, but no longer does in this century. It wouldn't exist at all with a longer time frame to negotiate the budget's content.
Also, with more time there might be more laws passed with language that can withstand review by the Florida Supreme Court. The legislators really aren't as illiterate as their legislation appears to make them seem!
Dr. Wallace F. Witham, Belleair Bluffs
Legislature leaves a record of failure May 1, editorial
Lawmakers' action was entirely explainable
Most all agree that the media are generally left-leaning, but its most important function is to provide full, accurate reports and opinions to keep the public informed.
While editorially you may offer an opinion on the performance of the Legislature this session, you also have an obligation to present facts accurately and fairly. One sentence in this editorial states:
"Most unexplainable is the rejection by Republicans of $444 million in federal money that would have expanded unemployment benefits."
It most certainly is explainable, and a few days ago a piece in your paper did just that. While you may disagree with the results or conclusions of this Legislative session, you are categorically wrong to say this instance is "unexplainable." The strings attached to the money by the federal government made acceptance unacceptable. You can disagree, but it is explainable. Perhaps you could say their motives were "unexplainable," but I doubt that is accurate either.
I've read your paper daily for many years, front to back, primarily to keep informed. Don't do yourselves, or the reading public, a disservice by omitting facts or slanting news articles or editorials. If you have an editorial position, by all means take it — and support it so we all may benefit. "Unexplainable" omissions of fact are misleading.
John Horsting, St. Petersburg
Tracking prescription drugs
The Florida Legislature is to be commended for at least passing the narcotic drug prescription tracking legislation, which will result in saved lives, both here and throughout the United States.
Unfortunately, the lawmakers failed to appropriate funding to enact the legislation, thus making federal grants and private donations necessary.
How embarrassing that three of our local representatives, Faye Culp, Rachel Burgin and Seth Mc-Keel, failed to vote for the legislation, perhaps feeling it was an "invasion of privacy" to divulge who is buying and selling narcotics, both within Florida and all across the country, resulting in overdoses and needless deaths.
David Lubin, M.D., Tampa
Nature preserve's last stand | May 4, editorial
Once again the Pinellas County commissioners display their true colors and near total disdain for the people they purport to represent in the Brooker Creek Preserve issue.
Commissioner Susan Latvala's statement, "Not at all," in response to a question about how a Planning Council's decision would affect a key commission vote is a slap in the face to every citizen in Pinellas County. That statement renders the efforts of both the Pinellas County Planning Council and the Brooker Creek Preserve management plan (crafted to confine development to specific, already impacted, acreage) meaningless.
Brooker Creek Preserve was sold to Pinellas County citizens as a "preserve," which we later were informed had little if any meaning in law and even less under the terms of its creation.
Subsequently, the preserve's management plan was negotiated in good faith, with a give and take by all parties at the table, who realized their final product was realistic and achievable.
Not any more. It's off the table according to Commissioner Latvala's statement.
Citizens: Sound off to your County Commissioner, and more important, remember all this at the next election cycle!
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Nature preserve's last stand | May 4, editorial
Preserve the preserve
What part of the word preserve do the Pinellas County commissioners not understand? It is a slippery slope once you start changing the zoning. What's next? Let's zone the preserve a golf course?
Thankfully we have Commissioner Neil Brickfield voting to prevent this. We need to remember to vote Commissioner Susan Latvala and the other commissioners who approve this out of office next election.
Dick Snell, St. Petersburg
Light rail is right path | April 26, editorial
Try electric buses
Electric buses have many advantages over light rail. Here are some reasons why:
• No stations need to be built.
• No tracks need to be laid.
• A bus every 15 minutes is more convenient than a train every half hour.
• Maintenance is minimized.
• As business picks up, double buses can be introduced.
• Additional real estate does not have to be purchased.
• Routes can be easily changed as populations and businesses change their locations.
• Existing bus companies can operate the new services, easily.
• Reduction of commuter auto traffic will make room for buses.
• This would be a greener way to go.
Howard G. Morgan, Oldsmar
Who will ride?
After the government money is used to build a new commuter rail system, what will the future of the system be? Will the ridership and fares be enough to sustain the system? I think not. The taxpayers will be responsible for the upkeep and repairs, most certainly.
Before the construction of the commuter train system begins, shouldn't we know the expected ridership? Will the commuter system actually have the desired goal of cutting down the traffic?
Think of all the millions of taxpayers who will be paying for this new commuter system, most of whom will never set foot in a commuter train. Is anyone asking the question: Is this a good idea? Is there another option?
Bill Clark, St. Petersburg
Thank a teacher
May 3-9 is designated "Teacher appreciation week." Even though we should thank teachers daily for their hard work, please tell all educators how much you appreciate them this week.
Teachers work harder and longer than any profession I have seen. They put in well over 40 hours a week at school and then work even more hours at home. There are mounds of paperwork that must be completed for one student or another as well as the requirements for planning, attendance, etc.
Teachers are there to give children an education. However, they also become mentors, caretakers, friends, and take on many other roles for their students. Teachers should be honored this week and every week for all they do in preparing our children for the future.
Stacey Smith, Spring Hill