Promise of Sunshine State dims
As a third-generation Floridian who just turned 65, I no longer feel welcome in the state that my ancestors helped to settle.
Why is this? Between our new carpetbagger governor's harebrained ideas and a Legislature that cares more about being re-elected than the concerns of their constituents, Florida is quickly becoming a state that does not want the middle class, the poor or the handicapped. If you count yourself in the middle class this year, just wait, because within the next few years you may be joining the ranks of the poor.
Numerous programs for the poor and handicapped will soon be history. Regulation of some industries will be gone, putting many of us again in danger of being scammed. Our Legislature is introducing legislation to let the big electric companies in our state monopolize the alternative energy market. And our governor, who cares so much for our privacy, is nixing a drug database on the one hand but wants all state employees to be regularly tested for drugs (he owns, through a trust under his wife's control, substantial interests in a drug-testing company).
And not least, many of us will be reduced from middle class to poor due to the high cost of homeowners insurance. In my case, while I do not live in a lavish home nor a flood zone, my Citizens policy is going up $300 this year to $3,900, and Scott is determined to abolish sinkhole coverage altogether and allow for a 25 percent increase next year, which will bring my premium to $5,000.
Florida is fast becoming a state that only the rich and illegal aliens will be able to live in. The rich will be able to afford the high cost of insurance, energy, etc. The illegals will be welcomed and courted by the rich to clean their homes, tend their gardens, etc., for wages Americans can't afford to work for.
Sharon Lam, Hudson
Arrogance and deceit
In my lifetime, I've never witnessed the level of arrogance and deceit as we see in Florida's elected Republicans. In their ongoing goal to turn Tallahassee into their party headquarters, this governor and Legislature show colossal disdain for Florida citizens while remaining slavishly loyal to their corporate benefactors.
Where else in America would you have a known bandit sitting in the Governor's Mansion and legislative leaders who have all but hung For Sale signs on their office doors? From swift approval of the "leadership funds" to stubbornly refusing high-speed rail money and the thousands of jobs that would have come with it, these ethically bankrupt officials have proved to be anything but representatives of the people.
Scott Mears, Tampa
Public safety at stake
I am writing in response to Gov. Rick Scott's plan to drastically change the pensions of our state employees. It is important to keep in mind these state employees include local heroes who work hard to keep our communities safe. Instead of retiring at an age appropriate for some of these more grueling positions, employees are going to have to keep working in order to take care of their families.
Before we go any further, I should disclose that I am the proud wife of a firefighter who leaves our family every shift to risk his life for whomever may need it. The argument that these individuals should face the same cuts as other public employees is ludicrous. Do other public employees risk their lives to save others every day?
Is it really so much to ask that our local heroes get to maintain the few perks remaining in their selfless jobs?
Beth Enriquez, Tampa
Bills may redraw Florida gambling March 17
Remember the animals
State Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, has drafted a bill to allow any tracks in Florida to discontinue racing so they can just do gambling. This means racing greyhounds and horses will lose their reason for existence. I don't know the statistics on horses, but there are about 10,000 greyhounds affected at tracks and on farms in Florida.
The bill as it exists today has no provision for what to do with these dogs. As there are about 200 greyhound adoption groups in the nation, it would mean every group would have to take in 50 dogs. This would not work because that is a much larger number of dogs than most groups can handle. My adoption group takes about 12 per year, and it is a mammoth effort to place those few in good homes.
In addition to the dogs, there are about 3,000 associated jobs in Florida that could be lost for the breeders, trainers and racetrack staff.
These animals have served us well, and we need to treat them well in return. The racing and gambling industries have to get together and figure a way to accomplish the changeover, not just dump the horses and dogs.
John Willier, Inverness
Japanese nuclear crisis
Better designs needed
The tragedy in Japan is so terrible, it's hard to comprehend. One of the many television experts said in effect that there's no playbook for this sort of accident. We're in uncharted waters.
With our increasing demand for energy, we need to drill for oil and utilize nuclear power plants. We need to come up with power in any way we can to maintain our way of life. To try to ban any of it is naive.
But maybe it's time to learn a lesson from Japan and the Deepwater Horizon disasters and try to improve going forward. Is the cheapest possible strategy or design always the best way to go? It is time to think about the "unthinkable" when these facilities are being designed, and to prosecute and jail individuals for reckless behavior in the name of profit and productivity.
That would send a message to the next generation of managers and designers.
Jeff Cutting, Brandon
Old media comes through
Thursday morning when we got up with a terrific thunderstorm in progress, the lights were out, and the neighborhood was dark. Of course the TV was off and the telephone was dead. No computer. My cell phone got no signal.
My wife, the pessimist, said, "The paper probably won't come either, or if it does, it will be soaking wet." Not so. When I looked out the front window I saw my paper sitting on top of my letter box up off the driveway where it usually lands. I retrieved it and it was wrapped in two bags and dry.
In minutes we were reading by candlelight, sort of like Thomas Jefferson. It is kind of nice to know that even though none of my pricey high-tech gadgets worked, the newspaper still did.
Russell J. Watrous, Land O'Lakes