Cash flows to senator at center of debate | July 26, story
Money drowns out democracy
The amount of campaign contributions (nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and '08) given to Sen. Max Baucus and his political committees by the health industry merely proves just how corrupt our government is. Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and is controlling the bill for an improved health service.
Let's face facts: Every congressman and senator depends upon these campaign contributions to get re-elected, and big business (particularly health and financial services) are the biggest contributors, knowing full well how our (supposed) representatives are bought and paid for. This is why the American people will never have a representative government in this once-great country.
I suggest: We, the people, should pay a little more tax, which would be dedicated to giving every candidate for high office some sum to be decided (I suggest $1 million) to be spent specifically on their campaigns for election/re-election. Any monies received from any other sources would mean an automatic jail term for both giver and receiver.
John Starkey, St. Petersburg
Expanding warning list
President Dwight Eisenhower upon leaving office said to beware of the military-industrial complex. Well, if we do not get a decent health care plan out of this Congress I believe we can add the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to that list.
How sad it was that the head of the Senate Finance Committee would not let the single-payer advocates have a seat at the hearings. Shame on him.
Jack Levine, Palm Harbor
Barefoot penalty draws scrutiny | July 24
School official crossed
the line in toe touching
After reading Tom Marshall's article, I felt compelled to respond to this disturbing report. I am outraged that assistant principal Olayinka Alege was not disciplined for his actions and that the Hillsborough school district "considers the matter closed."
In the story, Alege is quoted as saying, "It was one of those playful things, just playing around with the kids so they felt more comfortable." At the same time, however, one student described the experience as "weird" and another reported feeling "uncomfortable," while yet another "asked Alege to stop."
As a pediatrician and advocate for children, I am sincerely concerned about the message the school district is sending our children by not disciplining Alege. This is not "playful." This is about a person in a position of authority who crossed boundaries with students by touching them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. My pediatric colleagues and I work very hard to help our children understand that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, whether it is coming from a person in a position of authority or from their own peers. Children should be taught that it is not okay for another person to touch any part of their body in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. It is a violation of personal boundaries.
Shame on the school district for sending a mixed message to our children. Shame on them for not disciplining Alege and helping our children understand that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.
Elizabeth Brennan, M.D., Treasure Island
Barefoot penalty draws scrutiny | July 24
Punishment is due
Shame on the Hillsborough County school system. Your story about Olayinka Alege, the assistant principal at King High School playing footsie with students shocked me. How can the school system just dismiss his behavior?
Charges may not have been filed, but such physical acts with students cannot be ignored. Alege should receive more than a reprimand. Had a classroom teacher engaged in such behavior he/she would likely lose their job and be labeled a pedophile.
Even if a student consents to touches, it is still unacceptable behavior on the part of an adult to engage in any type of physical contact. Alege should know better. Further investigation should be conducted by the school system, and additional punitive action should take place.
Lynne Agrow, Tampa
Not good enough, says the NAACP | July 23
Let them contribute
How disappointing of the NAACP. Instead of joining the discussion of African-American students' poor achievement by offering to help, they come with more demands. It is a typical reaction. As such, I have a recommendation for the Pinellas school district. Identify all the students who need assistance and require these students to attend afterschool tutoring for a minimum of six hours weekly.
Also require the NAACP and any other minority group to provide a mentor for each two students. These mentors must be at each and every tutoring session. If they are not, the black organizations have to pay a penalty. They will be required to pay the salary of the teacher/tutor for that week.
It's long past the time when the NAACP should be making demands. They need to come to the table with ideas and suggestions, and be willing to contribute to the effort to increase black achievement.
Dave Cordes, Clearwater
Sexy appeal, blurry video and fallout July 25
What's the point?
I'm not sure what Eric Deggans is trying to say. Is it that TV should not use pretty women so much when broadcasting sports, or that more ugly men should be in the mix? Or is it that these women should not be "put in these little boxes," as Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute states?
Sports on TV equals large numbers of young male viewers. TV thus mixes in a dose of attractive young women. It's called ratings. Duh.
McBride says the industry "condones blatant sexism," which implies a victim. Sideline reporters, like Andrews, get paid tons of money for saying things like, "The injury appears to be to the left ankle, the same one he hurt three weeks ago against Wake Forest. The trainers are retaping it." It's a great job, if you can get it, but you better be an attractive female when you apply.
David Alfonso, Largo
Curb this coverage | July 23, letter
The letter writer's barbs against the excellent story on July 20, He's all pedals and peace, certainly didn't speak for me, my household, or the friends who have made positive comments on it. The letter writer takes a lot for granted when she mentions "what the people want to hear about."
What a wonderful, uplifting article this was in this time of turmoil in our lives. Don't "curb this coverage" or anything similar, please.
Melinda Brett, St. Petersburg