Let's crack down on unethical leaders
Corruption, fraud, bribery, influence-peddling, incompetence, arrogance, lack of accountability and ethics — sounds like some dangerous foreign dictatorship, right? Not really. It's just business as usual for the current administration, Congress, state and local politicians, Wall Street and corporate executives. This is not how a democracy is supposed to function. Why do we tolerate it?
I think it's time for average Americans to unite in protest and demand a higher standard of ethics from our government and corporate leaders. It's also time for the media and district and state attorneys to do more to expose and prosecute wrongdoing on the part of elected officials and the leaders of corporate America. For example, the St. Petersburg Times has been running numerous stories on state House Speaker Ray Sansom and his questionable behavior. I commend the Times for its fine investigative reporting. However, it didn't go far enough.
What about the many other state legislators, governors and members of the U.S. Congress who make their living at the public trough by using lobbyists, special interests, sweetheart deals, cronyism and pay-for-play politics for personal gain? What about the many Wall Street and corporate executives who run their companies into the ground through mismanagement, incompetence and sheer greed? Taxpayers are then left to pay the tab while they depart with outrageous compensation and benefit packages and no legal consequences.
Americans deserve better. The media are the most effective voices of the people, and I appeal to them and to the state and federal judiciary to get more aggressive and expose and prosecute government and corporate wrongdoing. Hard-working, law-abiding citizens should also join together and protest the current corrupt political and corporate cultures that have unfortunately become the norm.
America is in crisis. Where's the outrage?
Robert Payne, St. Petersburg
How politicians rig the game
One might reasonably question how such a blatantly corrupt politician as Ray Sansom managed to be re-elected often enough to become speaker of the House. The answer is that Florida is perhaps the worst gerrymandered state in the nation.
In 1812, Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, signed a bill enabling the Legislature to draw voting district lines to assure continuation of the party in power. This was done mainly by "packing" opposition party voters in a few districts to form supermajorities while spreading their own voters around to achieve slight majorities in many more districts. One district was so convoluted that is resembled a salamander, which some wag combined with "Gerry" to get "Gerrymander" — corrupt, but it works!
Almost 200 years later, it is alive and well in Florida. Examine the boundaries of our voting districts. They make no sense, except in a corrupt, political way. Why do opposition party legislators not scream to high heaven? They are pretty well guaranteed re-election in their "packed" districts. This is equal-opportunity corruption used by different parties. Gerry's was the Democratic-Republican.
There was an unsuccessful effort by a well-meaning group a couple of years ago to establish a nonpartisan commission to redraw the lines. They got enough signatures for a ballot amendment but failed to properly vet the wording, and the Florida Supreme Court — sadly, but properly — rejected it.
Joseph F. Bohren, Odessa
Sansom backs down | Jan. 6, story
He quit the wrong job
I am very disappointed that House Speaker Ray Sansom resigned from Northwest Florida State College. I would have preferred that he kept his position there and resigned from the House of Representatives. At the college he would not be able to do as much harm to Florida.
Steve Wilson, Safety Harbor
Get rid of Sansom
The time has come for House Speaker Ray Sansom to resign from his legislative office or be impeached. He has proven himself unethical and therefore unfit to serve.
The last thing we need is another politician who plays games with our tax money for his own aggrandizement.
John Stefferud, Brandon
Bowl game to stop clock on Congress? Unlikely | Jan. 7, story
It appears U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, actually asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "move votes scheduled for Thursday evening and Friday so that House members from Florida and Oklahoma can go to the Bowl Championship Series national title game." Stearns referred to it as a "historic game."
Thank goodness no other member of Congress suggested such a ridiculous proposal. Maybe someone needs to remind Rep. Stearns of historical events such as: rising unemployment, record high homeowner foreclosures, record numbers of people needing food stamps. You could go on and on about the horrible economic conditions in America. And Stearns wants to talk about a "historic" game of football. Please. It is no wonder that our country is in the shape it is in!
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
It's last call for free beer | Jan. 6, story
I read about Busch Gardens canceling the opportunity to sample beers in the park in order to "enhance the park's appeal for patrons of all ages."
I have been a longtime pass holder with the park and as such have seen the park change over the years. While this new change might seem like a way to enhance the park's appeal to other age groups, it will certainly not sit well with others who visited the park for years, myself included.
There is a loyal group of patrons who are "older" that spend a lot of time in the park, and this will certainly affect these patrons in a major way. Discontinuing the free samples as well as some of the entertainment venues (the "Festhaus" no longer offers entertainment) will have an impact on these patrons. My age group does not go on rides. We go there to relax with a beer and see the shows.
I for one will have to think long and hard before I renew my pass since the park has little to offer my age group.
Helene Robertson, St. Petersburg
It's last call for free beer | Jan. 6, story
A nice perk lost
I'm not really a beer drinker, but it was nice to not have to pay $6 or more for one on a hot day. I've been a five-year, two-park Gold Pass holder, but after Busch Gardens raised its rates and now is ending the free beer, I have canceled my pass.
The beer was not the reason I went, but it was a nice perk. If I want to purchase a beer now, I will make sure it's a Coors — but not InBev.
Welcome to Euromerica!
Michele Maro, St. Petersburg