Florida's next electoral reform
Florida elected a governor and a senator without a majority of the vote, violating something fundamental to a functioning representative democracy. In fact, over 51 percent voted against both of the winners.
This problem has nothing to do with who won and who lost. It has to do with the electoral system itself. Despite passing Amendments 5 and 6, more reforms are needed. The next should be instant runoff voting.
By allowing voters to rank their choices in order of preference, it would guarantee a majority winner, end "wasted" votes, and give people the opportunity to vote for their hopes instead of against their fears.
Ireland and Australia use it for national elections, while San Francisco and Minneapolis apply it to local ones. Voters must demand instant runoff voting.
Yury Konnikov, Boca Raton
'Don't ask, don't tell'
In long career, no problems with gays who served
I served in the U.S. Air Force as an enlisted man from 1950 to 1979. For the majority of my career, I was a telecommunications/cryptographer. I was the first sergeant of three organizations my last six years. A portion of the job description read: "responsible for the morale, health and welfare of all assigned enlisted personnel."
In this capacity, I had continuous contact with the base legal office, consulting with lawyers and legal technicians. Following my retirement, I continuously kept abreast of Air Force life as a member of the Air Force Sergeants Association, serving one term as its international president.
During this decadeslong period, I was not aware of a single individual expressing concerns about any gay or lesbian service member who was not serving their country honorably or having a negative impact on the organization. I had six overseas assignments and worked with other branches of the military and foreign countries. Not one of them reported any of their readiness being adversely effected.
It saddens me to hear of individuals being discharged from the military because of their sexual preference, especially those from critical career fields who only want to serve their country. It is not whether I do, or do not, condone their lifestyle. It is a matter of whether they can do the job effectively for the betterment of our nation.
Victor F. Bartholomew, Tarpon Springs
Cut processing time
The Nov. 4 Wall Street Journal carried an interesting article about so-called Global Entry kiosks that let fliers zip through passport and customs checks. They lower the average processing time from 60 minutes at peak times to an average of 64 seconds. To enroll, U.S. citizens and those with permanent resident cards pay $100, pass a government background check and get fingerprinted.
The U.S. Customs Service says Global Entry enhances security by segregating low-risk travelers from people entering the country who might be considered a risk. However, for bay area residents, Tampa International is not listed among the 20 airports where the system will be installed.
Hans K. Schellenberg, Odessa
Tickets rake in millions in fines | Nov. 10
What if you don't pay?
Would someone please explain what exactly it is that the collection agency in Cincinnati that mails the $158 bills (not "tickets") to the red-light runners caught on camera is going to do to those violators who simply choose not to pay the bill?
After all, a violation of the red-light camera ordinance carries no points, doesn't appear on the violator's Florida driving record, and failure to pay the fine cannot result in driver's license suspension. And the so-called court referred to in the article? That's merely an appearance before a civil hearing officer should the alleged violator choose to contest the violation.
William. R. Mumbauer, Brandon
George W. Bush book
Still recovering from Bush
George W. Bush says he "could have done things better." No doubt that's true. But it is not what he did poorly that has forever scarred the country — it is what he did on purpose.
Let's start with the 2001 massive tax cuts for investors and the economic elite, further shifting the tax burden onto the working class.
In 2003, Bush built a tower of lies to justify starting a war in Iraq, costing thousands of lives, trillions of dollars and American prestige.
Bush presided over the accelerated movement of jobs to China and the ignored the growing number of uninsured Americans. To top it off, he placed two shameless corporatists on the Supreme Court — men who believe that a corporation is a person and cash is free speech. And his grand finale was the crash of the banking system due to intentionally relaxed oversight, an all-time record bailout, and the Great Recession.
Next to these devastating moves by the Bush administration, the disasters that can be chalked up to poor performance — the 9/11 attacks and the Katrina response — pale by comparison.
Do we miss you? Mr. Bush, we have not even begun to recover from you.
Scott Cochran, Tampa
Banks should do more
You recently ran an article that highlighted the plight of the Florida housing market, with more than 46 percent of current homeowners suffering from an underwater mortgage. Short sales and "cheaper" homes are the only things carrying the housing market, with estimates ranging from six to 10 years before the Florida market recovers to 2005 levels (and this is likely very optimistic).
Banks will not consider loan modifications (despite owner qualifications) unless the homeowner is in a financial crisis and is delinquent on the monthly mortgage payments.
Banks also refuse to authorize mortgage loan refinancing to bring down interest rates and reduce mortgage payments in homes where there is an underwater mortgage situation.
If we truly want our housing market to recover and our economy to improve, the banks must be forced to help Florida homeowners. As long as homeowners are forced to carry this burden, consumer spending will continue to suffer, the housing market will remain suppressed, and more homes will be forced into foreclosure.
Keith Etcheverry, Valrico
So, ever wonder how a cat drinks? | Nov. 12
Questionable placement …
While the cat story is interesting and rather "cute," I can't believe you considered it Page 1 news, especially when at least one story on Page 2 was much more important. Further, it's been known for a long time how cats really drink, although not quite so graphically. I often wonder about your choices for Page 1 stories.
Chet Rogowski, Valrico
Setback for Obama at G-20 | Nov. 12
… and headline
"Setback for Obama at G-20"? I believe it was a setback for the United States. Barack Obama isn't trying to do a deal with South Korea; the United States is.
Richard Flatau, Seminole