Tompkins executed for teen's 1983 murder | Feb. 12, story
A flawed system puts a man to death
As someone who has witnessed our faulty justice system, I was greatly saddened to discover that Wayne Tompkins was executed Wednesday and not granted a stay from the governor.
The Innocence Project is an amazing group of attorneys whose goal is to prove the innocence of those who have been falsely imprisoned as a result of errors in our justice system.
Having become friends with Alan Crotzer, who was exonerated after serving 24 years for a crime he did not commit, I am certain that the Innocence Project would not have taken on Wayne Tompkins' case without certainty that he was not guilty of murder.
With that said, here we are as a society, unwilling to use the resources we have (to make sure the DNA testing is conclusive) to prove whether a man is guilty before executing him. This was a very sad day for Tompkins' family, those who worked so faithfully at the Innocence Project and for all of us who some day might be behind bars with no one willing to listen to the truth.
Elizabeth Allstaedt, St. Petersburg
Hillsborough GOP apologizes for racist e-mail | Feb. 11, letter
The real big tent
In response to Hillsborough Republican Party chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush's apology for the GOP's latest racist e-mail, I think it's nice that they have come to the conclusion that the e-mail was "inappropriate" and that she "will not tolerate insensitive comments." This is especially since it is not the first e-mail of that type to make the news coming from a GOP leader in Hillsborough County.
As far as the Republican Party being the "big-tent party," I invite you to look at the official party platforms and at the makeup of the delegations at the last Republican convention vs. the Democratic convention. Anyone will clearly see that the Democratic Party is the true big-tent party. Come to our monthly meetings and you'll see what a big-tent party really is.
We Democrats are not perfect (what is in this world?), but our record of inclusiveness is a whole lot stronger than the GOP!
Sally L. Phillips, state committeewoman, Hillsborough County Democratic Party, Tampa
Ethics and choice
As a prolifer I have my own issues with in vitro fertilization, but I think this whole issue really shows that the "prochoice" side isn't about "choice" but only about aborting babies.
Why aren't they rallying behind this mom, saying how it's her body and her choice? And why is the medical board investigating the doctor who implanted 14 embryos into this woman? Would the same investigation occur if she had 14 abortions instead? No.
But if she had, the public would probably be just as concerned about her reproductive choices and the ethics of them. If it were 14 abortions as opposed to 14 in vitro live births the "prochoice" side would be making a lot of noise saying it's her reproductive right!
Kathy Alexander Piscitelli, Clearwater
Octuplets' mom gets food stamps, other public aid | Feb. 10, story
An insult to society
The mother of octuplets plus six, Nadya Suleman, claims she doesn't want welfare. Call it what you want, but receiving funds from taxpayer-provided government coffers given out via food stamps and SSI is indeed government assistance.
Suleman might be exercising her individual rights as a member of our society, but robbing Peter to pay Paul the way she is doing is a slap in the face of her equally important obligation to that same society.
If she wants to keep those kids, she should be presented with a court order to go to mental health counseling or to get her tubes tied. None of those options could be as costly as bringing up 14 children, and maybe more, for 18 years each.
This woman's actions and those of her fertility clinic seriously compromise an already stretched out of shape economy. They challenge all visions of sanity.
Anne Marie Jorgensen, St. Petersburg
Crackdown is needed
I would like to applaud the St. Petersburg Times for addressing the problem of the "double dipping" that is going on in our local and state governments. I find it very disturbing that we even tolerate this kind of behavior when so many Americans are looking for work and would be just as qualified as the supposedly "retired" candidate.
What gets me is that it appears that most of these are actually thought through before the person is even retired. I believe that if a person retires from a government position, he should be required to stay retired or forfeit his pension and receive his salary just like anyone else would in that position. These people also should be required to return any "compensation benefits" they received as a parting "gift."
I understand that in the real world greed is the key to being a government official nowadays, and it seems no one is going to take a stand against this abominable practice.
William Blain, Seminole
Peanut butter scandal
Irradiate the food
Can anyone say irradiation? Peanuts, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, ground beef, chicken, more ground beef — good lord. We are throwing away tons upon thousands of tons of food, for what? Especially when so many are going hungry. Thousands of people have gotten sick, hundreds more hospitalized, how many have died, and for what?
Of course these food processors need to operate clean plants and the underfunded FDA needs to see that they do, but almost all of this could have been avoided quite easily.
The arguments against irradiation are the same voices that were mortified by microwave ovens, for the same reasons. Let's get serious about bringing "science" back into the national dialogue.
William Ott, Largo
Koala, firefighter meet amid ashes | Feb. 11
Animals in need
The photo of the firefighter in Australia giving the homeless koala water from his water bottle was priceless. The fires raging in Australia are terrible, yet this photo shows that we sometimes forget about the animals that suffer and die as well. This little koala was saved and taken to a shelter.
When we have natural disasters, we show the loss in material things, such as houses and businesses, but all too often we forget that there are countless animals, both domestic and wild, that suffer and die. This photo reminds us to be on the lookout for animals in need.
John Wirth, Largo