Government in the sunshine
Resist exemptions to openness
As a journalist who led the Sunshine Law fights in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years, I'd like to point out that Florida's Sunshine Laws are nearly the best in the nation and need to be vigorously protected by its citizens. Exemptions should be opposed with few exceptions.
Until recently, Pennsylvania citizens had restricted access to public records and even meetings, and what access they had could easily be blocked by public officials. Even today, with a new and better law, Pennsylvania legislators hoard and then pass out to special causes more than $200 million worth of goodies without public scrutiny.
In Florida, exemptions chip away at the foundations of an excellent and effective law that benefits the public. There may be legitimate concerns about privacy, but proceed with caution. Once closed, the lid is not easily lifted.
Also, public officials may complain that it is difficult to administer public business so openly. They should be reminded that it goes with the territory. The flip side of their complaints is that it is also easier for administrators to operate in the open because it protects them from behind-the-scene manipulations.
Keep up the opposition to the exemptions. Exemptions protect political turf, not the public.
Bill Northrop, North Redington Beach
House leaps to block millions in AIG bonuses March 20
Congress degenerates into acting like a mob
The action in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday concerning punishing a select group of citizens because Congress doesn't like what was in their legitimate contracts was a poor example of legislative conduct. There was no committee action or debate. It appeared to me more like a vigilante mob, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to crucify people.
It looks like the House stepped all over individual rights, the Constitution and contract law. The Obama administration approved the language inserted in the legislation that allowed for the bonuses. But now, because of mob pressure, they have changed direction and are vilifying the innocent people involved.
It is beginning to appear that Obama, his administration and the Congress have come unglued and out of control. If you want to know who created this mess, just look to Washington, D.C.
Dayle Stevens, Largo
Mindless anger, populism miss the real crisis March 20, Charles Krauthammer column
Welfare for the wealthy
Charles Krauthammer would be the first one to cry about $360 a month given to a welfare recipient, yet the AIG bonuses can be defined (directly or indirectly) as an exorbitant welfare check.
The contracts could have been renegotiated and I suspect successfully, given the anticipated furor. It falls in the same category as the expensive company conferences that surfaced after bailout money was accepted.
Marc Yacht, Hudson
Let it burn
In response to the AIG fiasco, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "The town has a choice between letting the place burn down to teach him (the neighbor who sets his house on fire by smoking in bed) a lesson, or dousing the flames to prevent them from consuming the homes of nonsmoking neighbors."
I say let the place burn.
Protect the neighbors' homes by dousing them with water (read "money") that is being wasting on the home of the idiot who set his own house on fire due to his own reckless acts. Teach not only the idiot, but also everyone else, that you can choose to be reckless and get quick rewards but in the end it will come back to bite you, and you alone will be responsible for your own reckless behavior.
Richard Kohls, Pinellas Park
Letters | March 15
Palestinians deserve help
The four pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian letters to the editor in last week's Perspective section sadly illustrate how Americans have been sold the idea of a nice, innocent Israel being constantly put-upon and attacked by those meanie Palestinians. Isn't the almost totally opposite scenario closer to the truth?
I was especially disappointed by the letter writer who is apparently outraged that the United States is proposing to provide some $900 million in aid to help rebuild the newly devastated Gaza Strip. This impoverished and desperate place, in which almost 1.5 million Palestinians are confined, was a miserable enough place before Israel destroyed so much of its housing and infrastructure in its recent attacks.
I believe the United States has a strong moral imperative to help these victims of Israel's excesses, especially in light of the fact that Israel's continued confinement and oppression of the Palestinians would be impossible without billions of dollars of American aid every year. This is not to mention the unending stream of U.S.-furnished planes, bombs and weaponry of every sort that Israel uses to continue to deny the Palestinians their freedom and independence.
Paul Boudreaux, St. Petersburg
President on Jay Leno
Regardless of President Barack Obama's affability as a person, his ideology, the agenda he may have been promoting, or whether his historic appearance on popular late-night television was or was not demagogic, does not the dignity of and respect for the office of the presidency of the United States require that when he is a guest on a television program, that his appearance not be interrupted by crass commercials? Could advertisers not have held off until the break?
And what are American blue-collar workers supposed to think of the symbolism of Volkswagen sponsoring the show on which the president appeared at a time the American auto industry is on life-support?
NBC should feel ashamed.
Adam Orenstein, Clearwater
What's wrong with 4? | March 15, Floridian story
Too many people
What's wrong? Geometrically increasing population density … dwindling resources like the current dire water emergency … and not loving your children enough to think about the future you are leaving them and others. Let's start there.
We know too much now to ignore the facts, despite good parents who may otherwise have wonderful values.
Robyn Dalton, Largo