Keep it simple: Cast vote by mail
I tried my hand at being a poll worker in Hernando County — a poll deputy, actually. I was assigned outside to keep order, greet arriving voters and direct them to have their photo ID out of their wallets and to turn their cellphones off.
It was a long, 14-hour day and extremely slow. Very few voters came to the precinct, and I began to wonder why. Not why few came, but why any came at all. And not why they cast a ballot, but why they drove to the polling place.
I voted absentee. I have been voting absentee for the last several voting cycles. What I do not understand is why most voters do not cast their ballots that way.
Voting absentee I am home. I am comfortable. I have a refreshing beverage and a snack if I wish and I am not rushed in any way. I am able to view the ballot at my leisure and take my time deciding. If I have a question about a candidate or an issue, I have access to all kinds of reference material so I can make the most informed decision. My sole travel is walking to my mailbox, which I do every day anyway.
Compare this to driving to the correct polling place, finding a parking place, putting up with the weather, and walking through the obstacle course of campaign signs just to get to the front door. Then there are the further procedures of producing valid photo identification, silencing my cellphone and finding my correct place to obtain the proper ballot.
It is easy to obtain the absentee ballot, and easy to return. The 45 cents for the stamp is about what it would cost me to start my car, so I save money in the bargain.
I am at a loss as to why everyone does not vote absentee.
John Stansbury, Brooksville
Bill gives utilities too much
Coal ash — the toxic-laced waste left over after coal is burned for energy at power plants — is a problem the government can no longer turn a blind eye to. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently co-sponsored the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012. It is being touted as a fix to our coal ash problem, with language to make you believe there will be public health and environmental protections.
However, if you read the fine print, the reality is this is just another attempt to sideline the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to implement a protective and sound coal ash policy. The bill shields utility companies from taking responsibility to operate landfills and ponds with a safety-first principle and does little to get contaminated sites cleaned up. We know coal ash contains arsenic, chromium and other toxins, so why can't we treat this waste with higher standards than we do for household trash?
It is time to stop putting up roadblocks and do the right thing by choosing public heath, water quality and environmental protection over increased profits for the utility industry.
Angelique Giraud, Clean Water Action, Boca Raton
Books that made America | Aug. 12
Importance of the Bible
I realize this article addresses popular literature and its influence on society, but it is worth mentioning that the book that is the foundation of our nation is not on the list.
Without the existence and the influence of the Bible, it is possible that this land would not have been more than a collection of colonies overseen by European nations. Courageous men and women, seeking a place where they could realize the biblical principles of liberty and freedom of conscience looked to the New World as a place that this could become a reality.
When the British began to abuse the rights of the colonists, they declared and fought for independence in pursuit if those ideals, eventually forming a limited federal government that they hoped would protect these rights.
James Beaver, St. Petersburg
Court ends Lafave reprieve | Aug. 16
I'm sure that Judge Wayne Timmerman has better insight into Debra Lafave's case then anyone else. And no, I don't think his decision was swayed by her looks, as claimed by sensational stories that have flooded the media.
As far as the matter being "a question of great public importance," there are thousands of issues in the courts that I'm more concerned with than whether or not Lafave would be violating her parole if she has to rush one of her babies to the hospital at 3 a.m.
Paula Flowers, Sun City Center
Hand out for federal funds
Shortly after the stimulus bill passed, Energy Secretary Steven Chu received a letter from a member of Congress regarding the use of stimulus funds:
"I was pleased that the primary objectives of their project will allow residents and businesses in the partner cities to reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs."
This is not a quote from a friendly Democrat. It was from the current GOP vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan. After railing against the passage of this bill and stating time and again that government does not create jobs, Ryan was one of the first in line with his hand out for the money.
His persistence paid off to the tune of some $20 million-plus in stimulus funds. Yet even today, he rants that no jobs were created by the stimulus. Does this mean he lied about what the funds would be used for, or did he lie about jobs created by those funds?
Carolyn England-Wallace, Tampa
Romney: I paid at least 13 percent | Aug. 17
Middle class pays more
I own a small business. I am an independent, trying to be impartial. I just finished looking over our tax returns, and Mitt Romney's statement that he has "always paid at least 13 percent in income taxes" offends me on several levels.
My wife and I had an effective tax rate of 22 percent on an income that is, well, significantly less than Romney's. This 22 percent effective rate is pretty normal for small business owners.
The fact that Romney releases this information in a tone that suggests he should be commended for paying such a high rate is evidence that he is out of touch.
Main Street is where most jobs are created, not Wall Street. I am a part of Main Street. I am a job creator. I meet a payroll. I do not make $250,000 per year, let alone $1 million. Most business owners are just like me. What are we to Romney, chopped liver?
Keith Burnett, Seminole