No court foreclosures | Sept. 21
Another affront to families
Now I clearly see who runs our government, and it is not the voters of Florida. It is not our members of Congress. It is not small businesses. See the many vacant or boarded-up homes from Miami to Jacksonville. People begging on the streets with their children in tow. And now our true leaders want to make it easier on themselves to throw more strapped families under the bus.
Take the courts out of foreclosures and remove the very last protection so they can fend for themselves. Did the robo-signings not happen? Did gross mortgage fraud not happen? Does having thousands more homeless make our state a better place?
Thomas J. Cook, St. Petersburg
Act usurps judicial branch
The headline on the potential of foreclosure without the courts should give all Floridians profound concern. Our form of government strikes a delicate balance among the three branches, and usurping the power of the judicial branch in favor of banks' expedience imperils the due process rights of all Floridians.
The Florida Foreclosure Act of 2012, a clear product of the banking lobby, would preclude homeowners from defending their homes, remove the due process oversight of the courts and provide the banks with further incentive to continue the fraudulent practices that have resulted in a nationwide investigation by the state attorneys general. The larger danger is that this act would amount to amnesty and sanction the past acts of lender mortgage fraud.
While no one will dispute the underfunding of our courts and the length of a foreclosure lawsuit due to crowded dockets, nonjudicial foreclosure is simply not the answer. If there is no court to police the lender's fraudulent creation of documents, robo-signing, confirm bank ownership of the loan, confirm a loan default and otherwise meet all the requirements of Florida law, banks will have free rein to further cut corners at the expense of all citizens.
Charles R. Gallagher III, St. Petersburg
Courts protect rights
I'm afraid State Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, is right on this one. If you take away the formal protection of a citizen's property rights by the courts, I fear we may see even more exploitation of the process than we have while foreclosures are handled through the judicial process.
Property owners need to remember that the purpose of the legal system is primarily one of protection of their rights. Once these protections are removed from the formal court process (or at least removed from its regulatory umbrella), they probably will be exploited even more and less easily corrected.
Emily Kaczmarek, St. Petersburg
State's loss, bank's gain | Sept. 23
Deregulation and dishonesty
So my wife and a lot of others are taking a 3 percent cut in pay so that bankers can get richer. This is done under the noses of a smaller government. Less regulation seems to play into the hands of the crooks. People need to wake up! It would be wonderful if everyone was honest and aboveboard, but unfortunately there are those who would have no problem stealing what's not theirs and doing it without being detected. Let's see, deregulating the banks didn't work. Deregulating the insurance companies didn't work. Tax breaks for the wealthy created jobs in China. I think we're on the wrong path.
Dennis Smith, Brooksville
Florida may bleed as federal budget is cut Sept. 21
Keep our security intact
Thank you for shining a spotlight on the harm to Florida's economy that bad budget decisions in Congress could cause. With the Space Coast already reeling from post-shuttle layoffs, the last thing we need is for Washington bureaucrats to throw another log on a jobs crisis that is already burning too bright.
The stakes are particularly high in the aerospace defense business. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned that the trillion dollars in possible defense spending cuts would add a point to our unemployment rate, driving the national figure over 10 percent and costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Those are high-skill positions we cannot afford to lose — a strategic national security asset that makes our aerospace and defense industrial base the strongest in the world. If we gut these capabilities, we will weaken our defenses and lose the high-tech edge like satellites, drones and advanced air support our troops depend on to get the job done and make it home alive.
Congress needs to find a smart way to control spending and get the deficit under control, and not rely on meat ax cuts that put our national and economic security at risk.
Roy Sweatman, Tampa
Pinellas County park fee
Reduce expenditures first
The decision by Pinellas County commissioners to charge $5 for residents to visit some local parks is irresponsible. Using the tired and worn out excuse that we are out of money is nonsense. Our budget is higher than it was four years ago, and we could afford the parks then, so why not now? Insisting that the people who use the parks pay for the parks is similar logic to insisting that bus riders bear the entire cost of running the bus system.
County commissioners needed more income for their bloated budget and instead of acting responsibly and reducing expenditures, they decided to add a hidden tax to the people in the form of an entry fee to the two most popular county parks.
George Fischell, St. Petersburg
City to loan police money for semiautomatic rifles | Sept. 22
Don't charge cops for guns
The idea of charging police officers for these guns is as ridiculous as any idea I have heard. Most citizens would gladly see their tax money pay to arm the officers than for all the other stuff government is wasting our money to buy. It is for the public's protection, and we should be happy to pay for them. I will put my check in the mail if necessary.
Nanci Gaenslen, St. Pete Beach
Florida's uninsured citizens
Health care help needed
Florida now ranks near the bottom in the nation in the number of residents without health insurance. This is largely because so many businesses do not offer health care coverage to their employees, but also at risk are minimum wage workers who cannot afford to buy insurance without assistance.
These people and their families need support for health care, and this must come from the government. Health care reform already has helped over a million young Americans to be covered under their parents' policies, and it promises to help many other Americans.
When our citizens cannot obtain or pay for expensive health insurance costs, we end up paying out the nose for emergency services. The much-maligned federal health care reform will allow those with pre-existing illnesses to have their own insurance coverage. It offers real hope in protecting Americans and reducing the cost of health care.
Fred L. Prince, Tampa