Airfest to return in 2014 | Dec. 12
Budget deal hits military retirees
The Times front page trumpeted the great news from the Air Force that Airfest is returning to MacDill Air Force Base next year. According to its director, it is planned to be fiscally responsible and sustainable.
Yet your paper did not carry the news that the Bipartisan Budget Act — the federal budget deal designed to shield the Defense Department from automatic spending cuts under sequestration — will reduce pensions for military retirees like me, who already earned them.
Apparently the crafters of this agreement, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., do not think that "working-age military retirees," those of us under age 62, deserve all the military retirement benefits that we worked so hard to earn, enduring severe hardships and sacrifices common to no other profession.
It is no secret that military air shows are paid for with recruiting funds, but what right does our government have to spend on lavish recruiting pageantry when it can't afford to pay for the earned retirement benefits of those who already served? Last year we were promised by President Barack Obama, his defense secretaries and Congress that current retirees would be protected from any changes to the military retirement system. Another broken promise.
But hey Tampa Bay, we've got Airfest. Enjoy the show.
Air Force Maj. Debra K. Hedding (Ret.), Lutz
The nation's religious principles Dec. 12, letter
Not a Christian nation
Thursday's editorial page printed letters arguing against the separation of church and state.
Those writers appear to be ignorant of Article 11 of the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously ratified by Congress and signed by President John Adams, which states in part: "The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."
News flash to the Bible crowd: It is not a requirement to be religious, let alone Christian, in America.
Jonathan Coleman, St. Petersburg
Florida job growth surges | Dec. 12
Facts tell the story
Last week you wrote a three-part series on Florida's job market since Gov. Rick Scott took office. It was written with facts that were badly tilted in order for your paper to demean the governor's success.
In Thursday's paper, an article by Jeff Harrington clearly sets the record straight and shows just how well Scott is leading Florida out of its unemployment problems.
It shows that with his leadership, Florida is a state that is in full recovery and growing in a way your paper cannot believe. The truth always wins out.
Bob Kinder, St. Petersburg
Faculty, HCC at impasse over pay | Dec. 10
There is more than one way to get around paying a fair base wage for personnel at Hillsborough Community College.
Automotive instructors must be ASE-certified and have full responsibility for in-class and in-lab training and testing, just as the other department trainers do. But while the other trainers are classified as faculty, the automotive instructors are classified as employees.
The training they do is technical and complex, but their salary does not reflect their experience, skills and knowledge. They should be reclassified as faculty and valued appropriately.
Grace Ross, Brandon
State's graduation rate improves | Dec. 12
1 in 4 aren't graduating
The true headline of this article should have been how many students do not graduate from high school. A 75.6 percent graduation rate means that about 1 in 4 students do not graduate from high school.
An educated citizenry represents the future of our country. Is it any surprise that we have become less competitive on the world stage? It shouldn't be if you read this article.
Mark J. Szarejko, Palm Harbor
'You can keep it' | Dec. 13, PolitiFact
Lies and intent
Congratulations on selecting "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" as Lie of the Year. President Barack Obama's modus operandi has been to lie about details while pleading intent.
The first and best example was on his first day as president, when he signed five "ethics commitments" executive orders, and said:
"If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on, or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years."
This had already been broken, as he had nominated William J. Lynn III, who had worked as a defense contractor lobbyist the previous June, to be a deputy defense secretary.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs defended it by saying there was a section of the executive order that says the president can get a waiver for a uniquely qualified candidate.
Lynn left the Obama administration to be chairman/CEO of a defense contractor after only a three-month hiatus.
Paul Huckeby, St. Petersburg
Clarity was missing
I don't call President Barack Obama's statement a lie. When he said that a person could keep his chosen insurance policy, he meant — and should have been more explicit — that his law did not require that person to give up that policy.
Lorraine Madison, St. Petersburg
Lobby career hangs on Jolly | Dec. 11
The negative headline chosen for this article belongs on the editorial page, not the front page. In the body of the article, it's acknowledged that members of both political parties have joined the lucrative field of consulting and lobbying.
David Jolly did not suddenly create a residence in Pinellas County; he has a long history here. His time in Washington would be helpful navigating the political system.
Robyn Dalton, Largo