Bill reverses local overreach | Feb. 7, letter
Stop Legislature's power grab
State Sen. Greg Steube conjures up a fanciful picture of local governments "running wild" as they attempt to rein in the excesses of short-term vacation rentals, although he in fact is the true avatar of overbearing government. This may not be immediately obvious.
The senator is apparently in thrall to an extreme property rights philosophy that makes the maximum extraction of revenue from one's property the single virtue that trumps all others, including the right of neighbors to secure a peaceful existence for themselves. In many beachside communities like my own, there are areas zoned for tourism development (normally fronting the gulf) and areas away from these zoned for single-family dwellings. The expectations of property owners in each district are not the same: In one they accept the hustle and bustle of tourism; in the other they desire the peace and quiet of a family-oriented neighborhood.
Forcing municipalities when dealing with disruptive short-term renter behavior to rely solely on the clumsy expedient of nuisance codes — which place the burden of monitoring on neighbors — is akin to claiming that bullies are of no concern if police don't catch them beating up passersby. In 2014 the Legislature modified its 2011 statute, granting communities the ability to reasonably regulate short-term rentals so that such properties won't adversely affect neighborhoods faced with a new, unexpected type of activity in their midst. This is the measure the more extreme vacation rental proponents want to quash.
Steube is engaging in a political strategy called pre-emption, whereby the home rule powers of local municipalities are stripped away and relegated to the tender mercies of Tallahassee. But the government closest to the people is generally considered to be the one most responsive to their needs. This is why elected officials at the local level traditionally have great flexibility when writing codes that protect the quality of life of their constituents. It is this very flexibility that Steube seeks to snatch away.
R.B. Johnson, mayor, Indian Rocks Beach
President Donald Trump
No respect for Constitution
Since November, I've been told to "get over it," "shut up" and "get a life." What these people do not understand is that Hillary Clinton not being elected president is not the issue for me. What is the issue is the man who was elected.
What concerns me most is his colossal arrogance and ignorance of even our most basic constitutional rights and laws. He seems to believe his bullying tactics — which have served him in the private sector, fueled by his deep pockets and sycophants — will continue to work in our nation's capital. His childish tantrums on social media are an embarrassment and unworthy of his position.
His administration has made a public plea to let up on him and allow him to do his job. I would challenge him to step up to the plate, tell the truth, stop whining and make some attempt to fill the very big shoes left by his predecessor. I have little hope of his being able to do so and face the coming months with great fear and trepidation.
Patricia Lee-Lucardie, Tampa
Women's rights threatened
In their unending quest to deny women the right to choose the best decision for them, their families and their futures, Florida policymakers have enacted obstacle after obstacle to prevent women from exercising their legal reproductive rights. From arbitrarily contrived waiting periods, burdensome requirements on abortion providers, patients and their doctors, to efforts to defund organizations that provide abortion care — enough is enough.
A National Partnership for Women & Families and Progress Florida Education Institute analysis found that 64 percent of abortion restrictions introduced in last year's Florida Legislature were rooted in lies — now known as alternative facts — about abortion safety and the health care professionals who provide this service.
The Legislature in recent years has enacted a gauntlet of superfluous restrictions that needlessly pressure and punish women (as well as their practicing physicians) by constantly blocking access to our reproductive rights. And unfortunately for Florida's women, more is on the way: On Thursday, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee passed HB 19, designed to intimidate legal abortion providers by opening them up to frivolous lawsuits.
Twenty-week abortion ban legislation (HB 203/SB 348) has also been filed. These bans are unpopular, unconstitutional attempts by opponents of safe and legal abortion to impose restrictions on access to abortion. These laws rely on alternative facts about "fetal pain" that are not supported by science or leading medical institutions.
In today's political climate it is more critical than ever that we support abortion rights for all Floridians and oppose misleading efforts to create barriers to affordable, accessible reproductive rights.
Amy Weintraub, St. Petersburg
The writer chairs the Reproductive Health & Justice Committee for the League of Women Voters of Florida.
$18.8M sale to put WUSF off the air | Feb. 9
Station will be missed
I'm sad to hear of the sale of WUSF-TV, which means the further dumbing down of America. I switch between the two public TV stations to watch programs without all the violence and commercials. I'm glad we still have WEDU-TV, but I'll miss having a choice.
Carole T. Schmitt, Port Richey
Honor voters' wishes | Feb. 10, letter
Hardly a landslide
In arguing for less obstruction from Democrats as our "so-called" president fills the swamp with Goldman Sachs billionaires, a letter writer points out his "electoral landslide" as justification.
Donald Trump's Electoral College win ranks in the lower fifth of all presidents; he won by a relatively slim 57 percent. Barack Obama scored 62 and 68 percent of the electoral vote, and I can't recall a single Republican arguing that this gave him a mandate.
William J. Adams, St. Petersburg