Is this the end of Crist's political life? | Nov. 4
Redistricting could help Crist
With all due respect, Adam Smith's article about the political future of Charlie Crist errs in speculating how the passage of Amendment 6 will affect who represents the citizens of Pinellas County in the U.S. House.
The Florida Constitution will now mandate that congressional districts be contiguous, compact and, where feasible, must take into account city, county and geographical boundaries without regard to race.
The article contends that Florida's 10th Congressional District is a "swing" district, despite sending C.W. Bill Young back to Washington in 21 straight elections over 40 years. The article also claims redistricting will make the 10th "more Republican."
The reality of the current congressional map shows this to be anything but true. The district is already as Republican as it can be. Capitalizing on the unfortunate remnants of St. Petersburg's segregated past, Republican leaders have drawn the current boundary to slice out the minority and lower-income neighborhoods, forcing them to vote with Tampa's District 11.
This strategy, known as "packing and cracking," has packed the county's black and left-leaning voters across the bay into Tampa and ensured only one of the two districts goes to the Democrats.
The passage of Amendment 6 cannot do anything but shake up the dynamic. If the amendment ends up in practice as intended, the 10th will include the minority and lower-income voters among their true neighbors. The result might mean the political end for the aging Rep. Young — and a second chance for the energetic Gov. Crist.
Michael E. Levine, Gulfport
No more backroom deals
It was no surprise to see that as soon as these two amendments were approved by a wide margin, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. Being well acquainted with Miami's sordid politics, I can well understand his haste. Were it not for the "jigsaw puzzle mutation" of Diaz-Balart's district, the people in this area of Miami would likely have elected someone else.
Drawing districts is difficult and contentious, but most Americans (including me) certainly prefer that any dispute be ultimately settled by the courts. The people's rights must not be impaired or undermined by backroom deals. These amendments are a good start and fall squarely within the spirit and intent of our Constitution, as well as the Voting Rights Act.
Tony Gonzalez, Spring Hill
According to most reports, Republicans won the Nov. 2 elections, but consider this: Polls taken prior to the election indicated that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans. How then could there have been such a Republican sweep?
When voters chose Democrats by such a large margin in two previous elections, Democrats did exactly what they do best. They spent recklessly, tried to be all things to all people with someone else's money, and believed that they had been given a mandate to do just that.
The Republican landslide was definitely a repudiation of Democrat recklessness, rather than an overwhelming desire to support Republicans.
The lesson for Republicans is: Do not become overconfident and abuse the newfound opportunity. Elected Republicans have an opportunity to prove that they can be trusted to govern our country, not just spend recklessly.
Also, they must respect all of us even though they may feel they owe a great debt to the few who financed their campaigns.
In Florida, Republicans have a unique opportunity. With so much control, the opportunity to abuse power will be ample. However, you will be watched much more closely as a result of your power. With all of the past irregularities that were exposed during the just-ended election cycle, you should know that every action and deed will be watched closely.
To all elected Republicans on the local, state, and federal level, this is your opportunity to show genuine respect for your office and to your constituents. Otherwise, you will sign the death warrant for the Republican Party. That will give Democrats another chance to fail us, since there is no alternative political party well enough organized to replace either party.
Robert Hagaman, Homosassa
Who's to blame?
A recent article quotes state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, as saying, "It's remarkable (Florida Democratic chairwoman) Karen Thurman hasn't resigned by now. There needs to be new leadership of the party." Has American politics degenerated to the level of professional sports, where coaches are fired when their teams fail to perform to some lofty level?
The poor showing by the Democrats in Tuesday's election was due to two major factors, neither of which had anything to do with Thurman's leadership. First, the Democratic candidates who chose to run for office possessed credentials that were mediocre at best. Second, the Democrats were running against severe headwinds resulting from two years of incompetent Democratic leadership in Washington. Thurman wasn't responsible for either of these problems.
Firing Thurman because of the losses by the Democratic candidates in Florida would be like giving a professional football coach a roster made up entirely of fifth- and sixth-round draft choices and then firing him because the team didn't win the Super Bowl.
Alfred T. Barnard, Beverly Hills
Voters will be watching
Now that the elections are over and the Republicans have gained some of their lost power back, perhaps they will stop being the party of "no" and actually do something for the country instead of sitting on their hands and stonewalling every piece of legislation and appointment that comes from the White House.
We, the people, don't really care what your political party is. We want the problems in this country fixed, and our congressmen/women are paid to do that. If they don't, we'll try to get someone in the job who can. We're watching you.
Victor Carr, Largo
Waste of money
A high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa is a crazy idea and a waste of taxpayer money. The jobs created in the construction of a rail system are only temporary jobs and not the permanent ones that are needed for long-term growth.
The example of the Tri-Rail system in South Florida should tell us that Florida is not going to accept public transportation as an alternative to their cars. Trains and public transportation are necessary when people are willing to use them as an alternative to cars, but this area is not at that point.
Tampa needs to attract clean, well-paying jobs by attracting light industry.
N.D. Havemann, Valrico