For a better, stronger reform bill
As a member of the Florida Commission on Ethics, I am grateful and encouraged that we are on the cusp of dramatic and necessary ethics reform. The Senate, under the leadership of President Don Gaetz and Sen. Jack Latvala, created a strong base on which the House, with the leadership of House Speaker Will Weatherford and subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Boyd, built further improvements. The result, House Bill 7131, is a good work product that with a few changes could be a great work product.
News reports suggest that the House, Senate and governor have disagreements over changes to the elections laws, and that those disagreements are putting HB 7131 in jeopardy. On behalf of the commission, I urge all parties not to let differences in philosophy in one arena stand in the way of progress on things we all can agree on. I would also ask that the Legislature make the following changes that would make HB 7131 a true and lasting achievement:
• Restore the language that would allow the Ethics Commission to record its final order as a lien in cases where there are unpaid fines for failing to file financial disclosure;
• Delete the language that allows officials the opportunity to redo their financial disclosure after a complaint has been filed, or at least make allowing such a second chance discretionary with the commission;
• Give the commission the ability to investigate complaints on its own initiative, subject to a vote of seven of its nine members.
These three changes will move HB 7131 from good to outstanding. A great deal of hard work by the House and Senate has been poured into ethics reform this year. I encourage the parties to make these three changes, and then make it the law.
Matt Carlucci, Tallahassee
Red snapper season
Don't play favorites
I'm a boat dealer in the bay area and sell to fishermen of all types. Currently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which controls marine waters out to 9 miles, is deciding whether to pass a draft rule for a 44-day red snapper season. If they do, it would not be fair to local private anglers.
At issue is that the National Marine Fisheries Service is congressionally mandated to stop overfishing of red snapper whether caught in state waters or the federal waters beyond 9 miles. This is a good thing, and why, after a virtual 30-year absence, red snapper have returned to this region. Yet red snapper are rarely found in state waters from Steinhatchee south. Off Tampa Bay, we must go 50 miles, well into federal waters, to catch them.
The fisheries service had proposed a 28-day season for everyone, no matter where they fish, but if the FWC gives more days to the few anglers in the Panhandle who have red snapper within 9 miles, the service must reduce federal fishing to 21 days to keep the total catch within limits. The FWC should not play favorites; they should match the federal 28-day season.
Brad Kenyon, Palm Harbor
Growing up with Annette and Margaret April 11, commentary
Time to grow up
The author spends a great deal of time talking about her admiration for Annette Funicello for the spunk she displayed in television and movie roles. It is not surprising that, as a young girl, the author would identify with these typecast fictional characters.
Her grudging admiration for Margaret Thatcher extends to a few good one-liners but not her politics, and her accomplishments are never mentioned. Thatcher fundamentally transformed Britain for the better with policies that unshackled the economy and got millions off the dole. She also laid the intellectual groundwork that kept Britain out of the disastrous single currency.
That the author elevates Hollywood fiction over real-life accomplishment makes one wonder if the professor and feminist scholar ever did in fact grow up.
Eric Burns, Palm Harbor
No time to retreat on pill database | April 9, editorial
Prosecutors do their part
I agree with your premise that we need to attack the prescription drug abuse issue on all fronts. My son died as a result of oxycodone last year, and prior to his death, he told me how easy it was to obtain the prescription medication. The medical community is failing miserably when controlled substances are so easily obtained.
On the positive side, at least here in Tampa, the State Attorney's Office seems very interested in prosecuting cases where drug dealing leads to death, as the person who sold the deadly drugs to my son was convicted of manslaughter. Thanks to a very dedicated team of detectives and state prosecutors, the man who sold my son the prescription medication that killed him will be spending the next five years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.
Realistically, one prosecution won't change anything, however if more dealers are held responsible for their actions, perhaps along with other measures like the pill database mentioned by your editors, the reduction in needless loss of our youth will continue.
Mike Gruendel, Tampa
Saturday mail to continue | April 11
The pensions problem
The problem with the U.S. Postal Service is not whether they continue Saturday delivery or raise the cost of stamps. The problem is the greed of the U.S. Congress. In the Republican rush to destroy unions, which generally contribute to Democrats, Congress has required that the Postal Service fund pensions not just for current employees, but for unborn future workers at the cost of billions of dollars a year. No other pension plan is required to fund benefits 75 years in advance as Congress has required of the Postal Service.
Removal of this ridiculous requirement would allow the Postal Service to move forward with its required tasks. The stupidity of Congress is monumental, and the only way to change that is in the voting booth.
Mary Louise Ambrose, Belleair Bluffs
Consult the source | April 11, letter
It's not a religious issue
Yet another letter to the editor argues against marriage equality as "an affront to many Christians" by citing "the Lord's book" and invoking the letter writer's own interpretation of "sin."
News flash: Marriage is a civil contract open to atheists, agnostics and all other religions, including Islam. The Constitution, not anybody's chosen religious book, governs our civil laws.
Incidentally, other biblical sins, according to Leviticus, include eating shellfish, garments made of mixed fabrics, and plowing the corners of fields. Slavery and polygamy, however, are okay.
Jonathan Coleman, Tampa