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Monday letters: Fair districting deserves support

Fair districting deserves support

Since before 1812, when the word first came into use, "gerrymandering" has resulted in legislative district boundaries unfairly drawn to benefit incumbents and their political parties. The word came when "salamander," which resembled the shape of a district in Massachusetts, was combined with "Gerry," the then-governor's last name. Two centuries later we have reptilian- shaped legislative and congressional districts here in Florida, but incumbents now access databases to select which households should be in "their" districts to assure their hold on power.

On Nov. 2, Florida voters can improve this situation by approving the "Fair Districts" constitutional amendments (Nos. 5 and 6). Districts would still be drawn by the Legislature, but they must be compact, contiguous and use existing county and city lines wherever possible. In addition, "Districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice." Voters would fairly choose their representatives rather than legislators choosing their voters.

The League of Women Voters at both the state and local levels worked with several other groups to get these amendments on the ballot. We must do even more to get them passed in November. Want to help? Contact your local league. Go to

Greg Vawter, president, Hillsborough LWV; Martha Folwell, president, North Pinellas LVW; and Amanda Patanow, president, St. Petersburg Area LWV

Auto insurers want more | Feb. 4, story

Let them make do like the rest of us

So State Farm and other companies want another hike in their rates.

If I recall, military retirees and Social Security recipients did not get a raise this year, and probably won't get one next year. If we have to do with less, then the insurance companies, which can easily afford it, can muddle along with the rest of us.

This ought to be a no-brainer for the insurance commission: Not only "No!" — but "Hell no!"

Kenneth R. Gilder, St. Petersburg

Auto insurers want more | Feb. 4, story

Just go away

I have homeowners insurance with State Farm. I guess I'm one of the "fortunate" ones who didn't have my insurance canceled as I received my premium notice on Monday. It went up 47 percent from last year!

Now they want to raise my auto insurance. They took away the discount for having all my insurance with State Farm, raised the rates and they want me to pay them more for my auto insurance? I don't think so. Maybe they should just go away as they planned.

Fran Hutchinson, Spring Hill

A trip to England in tight times | Feb. 4, story

The wrong message

Though the cost of Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen's trip (junket) to England is negligible when compared to the Pinellas County school budget, it sends the wrong message to the teachers whose pay is frozen and who have to deal with the problems caused by the budget cuts.

The Pinellas School Board's attitude seems to be that though the teachers may not like it, so what? They will get over it. It is also an example of poor leadership on the superintendent's part. When times are difficult and sacrifices need to be made, good leaders set the example and share the sacrifices. They don't act as if it's business as usual.

John Johnston, Clearwater

A trip to England in tight times | Feb. 4, story

A bad idea

Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen is going to a conference in England? Seriously? At a time when we've closed elementary schools and consolidated bus routes and cut programs all in the name of the "budget," there is actually some part of the School Board that can say this is a well-thought- out idea?

I'm all for Janssen going to educational conferences. There can be no dispute that valuable exchanges of information and ideas occur that she can bring back and use to help the schools in Pinellas County. However, I find it laughable that she would even consider going to England for one when a quick Google search found educational leadership conferences at Yale and in San Antonio, Texas; Reno, Nev.; and Chicago. There are plenty of learning opportunities for what I'd wager is a much cheaper trip.

And School Board member Peggy O'Shea got one thing partly right: "If they held this in Des Moines, Iowa, no one would care." Oh, I'd care. It would just seem a little less extravagant at a time when I recently watched my elementary-aged child be shuffled away from her friends and her neighborhood school that had been closed because of the budget.

Or at least, that's the way this parent (and committed voter) feels. See you next time at the polls!

Charlotte Russell, Palm Harbor

Term limits for all

I often wonder what a better world it would be if there were strict term limits on all important public positions such as Congress and the Senate just as there are on the presidency.

With the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations carte blanche in spending money to influence elections, I find it appalling that all the highest court in the land could do was to make a bad situation even worse. This decision takes the power out of individuals' hands and places it securely in the grip of giant corporations which already dominate our political landscape.

Enough is enough. Let's fight for term limits for all political positions including the Supreme Court. This is the only way to guarantee that they work for us and not themselves, their parties or their political benefactors.

Bob Lonardo, Seminole

Health care reform

The obvious answer

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address had a high point when he pledged that anyone with a "better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know."

Thank you, Mr. President. The answer is remarkably simple, and the nation has already had 44 years of successful experience with it in financing health care for our elderly and the totally disabled.

It is, of course, Medicare-for-all, single-payer, not-for-profit national health insurance. Its superiority lies in excluding profit-seeking insurance companies and Big Pharma from controlling and undermining our health system. This is your answer, Mr. President.

Stephen D'Angelo, Tampa

Too much flak at TIA chief | Feb. 4, editorial

Put the public first

I don't usually respond to editorials, but I must say this one struck a nerve. I, and many relatives who fly in and out of Tampa International Airport, consider this to be by far the No. 1 user-friendly airport.

Once again our politicians need to be reacquainted with common sense and no gains other than what's best for the public.

Mitchell Straus, Riverview

Monday letters: Fair districting deserves support 02/07/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 7, 2010 10:08pm]
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