A formula for gridlock | June 28, editorial
Show some faith in voter wisdom
The Times editorial is a near perfect expression of confusion on the issue presented to voters by Amendment 4. The editorial concedes that Hometown Democracy has identified the problem — too much vested interest influence in government. The editorial even cites a list of bad laws adopted by our elected representatives to cater to the rich and interested as a reason to leave decisionmaking as it is now.
Planning by politics is not adequate in a state with a fragile environment and a 60-year history of exploding development: That is why Florida's comprehensive planning laws were enacted — to base growth on rational plans, not momentary political impulse and insider influence.
The flaw in the law, admitted by the editors, has been that too often at the moment of decision — county or city commission final hearings — the political power of money voids the interest the comprehensive plan laws are supposed to put at the center of decisionmaking. Reason and expert testimony are set aside in favor of moneybags.
The editors' cynicism caused them to miss the crux of the issue. The editors and the developers assume the decisionmaking must inevitably be based on political power and not on rational, professional and community assessment of what's best for communities' future. The purposes of the comprehensive plan laws themselves were optimistic: that rational planning can prevail. Amendment 4 is an expression of that optimism: that our self-government can function to provide a better future.
All Amendment 4 does is give the public an opportunity to take a sober second look at what their elected representatives did at the moment of truth: to undo the all-to-often-made choice of elected representatives to vote for moneybags rather than rational community self-determinism.
It is true that developers will electioneer when the issue is passed on to the public. That doesn't mean Amendment 4 isn't a good thing.
I have faith in American voters. Given the duty to pass important judgment on their community's leaders, they will do so responsibly. By giving themselves that power, they will improve the quality of their representation by elected leaders. I do not think we should take the counsel of cynicism and defeatism about our democracy's capacity to act rationally on community planning.
Doug Bevins, Dade City
A public servant true to the name | June 27, editorial notebook
Many were touched by the work of Phyllis Busansky
As a person who has dedicated my career to public services, I value true public servants.
This past Thursday, I had the privilege of participating in two tributes and moments of silence for Phyllis Busansky. One was at the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and led by Luanne Panacek, CEO of the Children's Board, and the other at the Sulphur Springs Citizens' Action League meeting and led by a resident.
Both had the same message: Phyllis Busansky's dedication to serve the public has positively impacted tens of thousands of individuals in Hillsborough County and throughout Florida.
There is no better example of a true public servant than one whose contributions to the public good are felt by all citizens. Phyllis, you will be missed.
Ann Doyle, Tampa
What health reform must do | June 21, editorial
End TV drug ads
In addition to the things you recommend in your editorial, I would like to see a ban on TV ads by the pharmaceutical industry for prescription drugs. Every night, I am inundated by drug ads. I believe the cost of advertising can be deducted from expenses, so the sky is the limit from this industry. (They also have a strong lobby.)
The commercials use actors in vignettes cleverly designed to manipulate us. They seek to get the public to demand these drugs from their doctors.
I do not object to print ads for prescription drugs, because they usually list the ingredients, and side-effects, etc. Nor do I object to TV commercials for nonprescription drugs.
Prescription drugs are another matter entirely. I would like your paper to inform us of the countries that forbid the TV advertising of prescription drugs.
Virginia Henley, St. Petersburg
Hero deserved the attention
Since last Thursday I have been subjected to 24/7 coverage on television and in the newspapers on Michael Jackson's death. In all this we are deifying a singing, dancing, puppetlike person who was accused of being a child molester.
In opposition to Jackson, the St. Petersburg Times reported Sunday on the death of Marine Corps Col. Kenneth L. Reusser, a Marine aviator who fought in three wars, was shot down five times during 253 combat missions. He received 59 medals, including two Navy Crosses, two Legions of Merit, and four Purple hearts. This is the person who should be acknowledged in the manner the press has decided to write about Jackson.
Here is an American hero, whose death is relegated to 13 lines on an inside page that has Canada news. Who reads that column?
Sal Reale, Seminole
Let them rest
When I think about pop culture icons (especially those from the 1970s to the present), Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett are two I and many others will never forget.
They worked very hard, and now they deserve to rest in peace.
Michael G. Williams, Tampa
Gov. Mark Sanford
The male mind
In Sunday's paper, you published an analysis What on earth was Sanford thinking? In the same edition, columnist Susan Estrich pondered "Sanford makes us wonder: How do people get so far with so little judgment?" ABC took time on a recent broadcast to cover the same topic. Everyone seems so surprised.
It seems humorous that people are paid to do this type of analysis when any woman can give you the answer for free: Men just can't keep it in their pants. Throughout history, popes, priests, kings, presidents, senators, business leaders and even humanitarians just have not been able to resist temptation.
It's said that the average man thinks about sex once every 15 minutes. Sign a bill, think about sex. Conduct a funeral, think about sex. Effect a corporate merger and lay off a thousand people, think about sex. And they call women the weaker sex? Give me a break. I call this kind of behavior pathetic and egotistical.
Gail Maxwell, Bradenton