Amendments 5 and 6
Redistricting needs these rules
The irony in the position of opponents to Amendments 5 and 6 is that they are only interested in protecting their own seats —- not in allowing population count and geography to control where lines are drawn.
The reality is that the Fair Districts Amendments will, for the first time, place protections for minority voting rights into the Florida Constitution. Amendments 5 and 6 both say that "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 …"
The amendments have been endorsed by well-respected, diverse groups such as NAACP Florida, League of Women Voters of Florida, AARP Florida, Florida's Legislative Black Caucus, Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, Florida League of Cities, Florida Association of Counties and Democracia Ahora, just to name a few. In addition to providing stronger protections for minority voters, Amendments 5 and 6 will also:
• Prohibit politicians from designing districts to favor themselves or their parties.
• Require them, where possible, to make the districts more compact and community-based.
Incumbent politicians are at the helm of the opposition. They are using fear, distrust and misinformation only because they don't want to have to follow any rules for redistricting. They want to be able to continue to use redistricting as their political protection plan.
Vote Yes on Amendments 5 and 6.
Cal Branche, Hudson
A boost for commerce
In the debate over light rail, it's easy to become confused when someone says this will create more jobs. Exactly how does light rail create more jobs?
Having just returned from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's annual benchmarking trip to Phoenix, Ariz., I saw the answer to this question firsthand.
The first round of jobs comes from actually building the light rail. Hillsborough will need to hire construction workers and contract engineers. These jobs potentially could span the duration of construction of all six light rail lines.
After each line is completed, the real estate around the rail will develop further. Residential and commercial buildings will pop up around the stations. Many of the jobs at this point will be service and retail positions created by shops and restaurants.
The light rail creates a richer commercial climate and a competitive job market.
I will be voting for countywide transportation, and for Hillsborough's future.
John P. Baumann Jr., CPA, Tampa
Long-term vision needed in high-speed transit plans | Sept. 20, Ernest Hooper column
A costly boondoggle
If Ernest Hooper studied the actual route for the high-speed rail he will find it won't be high-speed at all. Leaving the Orlando Airport, its first stop is 9 miles away at the Orange County Convention Center. The next stop is at Disney and then off I-4 to Lakeland. There is no way it can be high-speed and make three stops in about 100 miles.
Crossing the bay to Pinellas will be very, very expensive and can't be high-speed.
How about asking how many people will ride it, what the annual revenue will be and what annual subsidy will be required from the taxpayers?
This is a very expensive boondoggle !
Jim Harpham, Palm Harbor
Make lawbreakers pay
I am at a loss to fathom the irrationality of the arguments of those who object to the enforcement of the seat belt, speeding, and red light laws, positing that this is merely a way for local governments to increase their revenue.
In fact the lax enforcement of these laws is itself immoral. Actually there should be radar/cameras at every mile post on our interstates to make the 80 percent of speeding vehicles pay a premium for putting the rest of us in jeopardy. There should be red light cameras at every intersection.
The fines are due to the public from the scofflaws, and should pay for the program costs. Take it from an emergency physician with 22 years of experience, many accidents are caused by excess speed, and all accidents are ugly.
Woods Rogers, M.D., Tampa
Let the government do it | Sept. 22, letter
On health care, the letter writer says, "There is a precedent for federal health insurance. Consider public education. The majority of Americans owe their literacy to government-provided 'free' education. It is without question a resounding success."
Has he read any book reviews on Amazon lately and seen the dismal state of people's English language skills? Has he noticed spelling errors in books and newspapers? A good example is on the front page of the same newspaper in the article Who paid tab at Disney?" An e-mail written by Jim Greer shows that he can't spell.
Government-provided health care could be just as successful? I can't wait.
Barbara Cabrera, Beverly Hills