Obama appointments erode public trust
President Obama was elected in part due to his outstanding character. He rightly called egregious Wall Street bonuses "shameful." However, the flawed character of two of his appointees call into question his judgment of people.
In these times of corruption and lack of confidence in government, men and women of integrity in high positions are necessary to restore our faith in the system.
Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle had serious unpaid taxes until just before their names were submitted, respectively, for secretary of the treasury and secretary of health and human services. Then their past-due taxes were paid, apparently with no serious consequences.
Surely there are candidates of better integrity than these two. They are poor examples for the members of the public who do pay their taxes as required and on time. Our system is based on trust, now diminished. It will not be restored with their appointments.
Paul McCarthy, Largo
New administration sends wrong message
As citizens, what have we learned from our new administration in the past few weeks? That you can earn a high-level government position despite not having paid your taxes and not having declared income properly. Which is to say to all citizens, it is okay not to pay your taxes. And it is okay not to declare your income properly. Later on, if circumstances deem it necessary, you can always pay them and say you are sorry.
If this had happened during a Republican administration, the media would have been apoplectic. Where are the media now? Meanwhile, if Tom Daschle and Timothy Geithner had not been up for Cabinet positions, would they have made up for these mistakes? Not.
This is the new message of personal responsibility and accountability that Obama and all politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, are sending to citizens they pretend to lead.
We need a new political party.
Edward Newill, St. Petersburg
This is change?
Looks like at least two people who will be members of the president's Cabinet know how to reduce taxes — they just evade them!
I don't know if that represents "change" or not. I do know that if that sort of thing happened four or eight years ago, the Times would have kept it on Page 1 for quite a while.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
Blagojevich is removed from office in 59-0 vote | Jan. 30, story
Test of character needed
Illinois state Sen. Matt Murphy says of disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich, "He failed the test of character."
It would be a good idea to have such a test. If candidates for government offices had to pass a "character test" to run for election, it would weed out many we read about later who would have failed such a test. Our newspaper has stories about them at every level of government from county to national and indeed even international bodies.
Our current standards for election to office do not require that candidates be of good moral character, something we look for in our social acquaintances and colleagues at work. Shouldn't we want that in the people in charge of government?
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
House values will remain | Feb. 2, commentary
More of the same?
I'm sure state Rep. Larry Cretul is a fine politician and is forthright in letting us know it will be business as usual in the House of Representatives after the Ray Sansom debacle.
But he might want to stop right there. Once he starts explaining what the Republican-led House fights for and will continue under his leadership, he steps into quicksand.
We all know where they have led us so far!
Bill Castleman, Seminole
Judge agrees: Fire bad teacher | Jan. 30, story
The trouble with schools
If anyone wants to know what the problem with our education system is, this article should be a beginning for a discussion of the real problems are.
We continue to hear from people within the system stating that the problem is lack of funds. As a former supervisor (now retired) who has worked in an similar environment having to deal with unions, I can relate to School Board attorney Laurie Dart's comments regarding frustrated principals.
Many principals "say documenting the shortcomings of bad teachers takes too much time and, because of protections built into state law, isn't likely to result in a teacher's removal anyway." This is very time-consuming and discouraging.
I would love to speak with Pinellas School Board chairwoman Peggy O'Shea, prior to her bringing this issue up with her fellow board members at their retreat this month.
Most people have no idea how hard it is to get rid of the "dead wood" in an organization with obstructing unions involved!
Robert E. Guthrie, Seminole
Judge agrees: Fire bad teacher | Jan. 30, story
Spotlight good teachers
Why can't the news present the good done in our profession? I have been teaching for 31 years. I teach English as a second language and am a member of the English department of Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa.
I can vouch for the teachers in my own department. These professionals work long hours. They share new and creative ideas with one another whenever they have a second to spare. Many of us have advanced degrees, National Board Certification, and fluency in two or more languages.
We use all of these skills to compel our students to become engaged in learning. It is not an easy job. It is challenging, but very rewarding. Why not visit an effective teacher's class? Then you could put us on the front page and infuse the community with a positive attitude toward teachers who love teaching.
Kathleen Malizia, Tampa
Deputy shoots family dog | Jan. 30, story
Quick to shoot
If this deputy had a problem with this dog, he had the option to leave. Step back outside and have his conversation. If I entered my neighbor's living room and shot his dog, I would be in jail. That is where this deputy should be, and unemployed.
My opinion may not be popular, but I have met too many of these guys who act like jackbooted, armed thugs. Nothing professional about them.
The police are supposed to protect us from the bad guys. Who is supposed to protect us from the police?
Thomas J. Travis, Dunedin