Five justices of the Supreme Court have brazenly violated the Constitution's strict neutrality toward religion. In effect, they have said that it is now legal for a town council to open its meetings with a superstitious, sectarian supplication to some imagined occult entity for which there is not one shred of cogent evidence.
It is difficult to understand why prayers to such a figure would bestow wisdom and guidance upon the town council of Greece, N.Y., or any governing body, in dealing with problems of public transportation, public schools and parks, zoning ordinances and so on. I suspect that such ritual supplications are just public displays of piety meant to edify the townspeople and to help officials get re-elected.
Perhaps those five Supreme Court justices, and the town council of Greece, N.Y., ought to ponder the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 6:1,6: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them. … But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret."
Tommy Moore, Riverview
Support transit innovations | May 2, letter
Competition badly needed
Due to illness I am forced to rely on public transportation; in fact, I prefer public transportation if it is reliable and affordable. I love the new service being offered to Tampa residents by Lyft and Uber and wish that it extended past downtown Tampa.
Many times I am forced to take a taxi to church or to USF, and the taxis that pick me up are filthy and the drivers are rude, acting as if it is an inconvenience for them to place my walker in their trunk — if they even open it — or to take a different form of payment than cash.
Many barely speak English and act as if I am an unwanted passenger, so I look forward to the competition that they are going to receive.
Brenda A. White, Temple Terrace
Rice won't address Rutgers grads | May 4
Rutgers' affront to Rice
We have just seen that dissent by a vocal minority at Rutgers University has denied Condoleezza Rice, an accomplished black woman, a poster person for young blacks both male and female, the opportunity to address the graduating class.
This same university was the scene of outrage when a radio personality denigrated their women's black basketball team members a few years ago. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson expressed outrage at the offensive treatment of those black women at that time. Corporate sponsors threw in the towel; national concern was ignited.
Where were Sharpton and Jackson when Rice, a distinguished black American, was trashed by a misguided, vocal and very small minority of students and faculty members?
Robert B. Ryan, Spring Hill
Education equality? Florida fails test May 4, John Romano column
The Jeb Bush legacy
With regard to the unfairness of charter school legislation recently passed by the Legislature, it is important to remember, now that Jeb Bush is gearing up for a run at the presidency, that he introduced the major diversion of corporate tax money to private charter schools, thereby greatly promoting the formation of private, unregulated charter schools in Florida.
This resulted in what was formerly corporate tax revenue that flowed into the state treasury to fund government activities being taken away and diverted into charter school scholarships, dollar for dollar. This had the effect of reducing government revenues available for all government services, including public education.
Indeed, Bush once referred to public education as a form of "statism," indicating, along with his famous remark that it would be wonderful if the tall government buildings in Tallahassee would someday become empty, his pronounced antipathy toward governmental activity as a way to benefit Florida citizens.
Edward H. Stein, Tampa
Climate study: Bay area in cross-hairs May 7
Heed the evidence
We're all familiar with the adage "where there's smoke, there's fire." It's common sense to assume a billowing cloud of smoke in the distance means something is burning. With climate change we are not faced with an assumption but with strong, empirical evidence from specialists in their field.
Unfortunately, Gov. Rick Scott prefers to throw out empirical evidence. Maybe the next time he goes to a physician, he should refuse to believe what he's told. After all, physicians are specialists in their fields who make decisions based on empirical evidence.
In the meantime, the rest of us need to make arrangements for the "seeable" future.
Effie Trihas, New Port Richey
United effort required
I find the transition from global warming to climate change to be a significant step.
Surely no one can intelligently argue that the climate doesn't change — daily, weekly, etc. But to look back over historical data and select the data that supports your position exclusively seems a little biased.
Now, no matter what you call it, we are part of a global environment that we share with China, India and emerging economies that are not overly concerned with the environment.
We as a nation cannot solve the problem by penalizing ourselves with more regulations/higher costs while the largest polluters simply go about their business.
Where is the united effort from the international community if this is such a calamitous situation?
Ed Germond, Apollo Beach
A good springs bill dies | May 7, commentary
Florida's misused surplus
Kudos to Estus Whitfield for his excellent column on the demise of a Senate bill that would have allocated almost $380 million for improving Florida's failing springs. Again, the lack of interest by the House and Gov. Rick Scott doomed this important bill.
With a state surplus topping $1 billion, it seems our elected officials were more interested in preserving the governor's $500 million in tax and fee cuts that could possibly improve his re-election chances.
Edward J. Murphy, Indian Rocks Beach
Lost chance for cleaner springs May 6, editorial
Thank you to the Tampa Bay Times for the important articles and editorials about the Florida Legislature and lack of money allocated to springs cleanup. The pictures of lawmakers hugging and congratulating themselves after finishing work on the budget was infuriating. There are a lot of issues clamoring for attention, but springs cleanup should have been a priority. How can lawmakers not know or not care that environmental health is essential to human health and the health of the economy?
I grew up in Pinellas County before electronic distractions and we were always outside, enjoying and appreciating the beauty of our salt and freshwater resources. Swimming with the mermaids at Weeki Wachee in the '60s, tubing down the Ichetucknee River in the '70s, and canoeing down the Rainbow River with my children in the '90s was as close to paradise as one could get. I still think Florida is beautiful, but we must repair and actively care for this fragile beauty.
How can our lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, many with children and grandchildren, fail to take immediate action or, worse, make deals with big business at the expense of Florida's environment and our future?
Amy C. Kelly, Palm Harbor
Big issues go unanswered | May 3
For some years I have questioned the endless discussion of global warming while overpopulation, a much more serious problem in my opinion, is mostly ignored. Therefore I was pleased to see the excellent letter to the editor in the May 3 edition of the Tampa Bay Times that pointed out that unless overpopulation is addressed, none of the other significant world problems will be solvable.
In my lifetime, the population of the world has increased from about 4 billion to 7 billion people and continues to increase at a rapid rate. At some point there will be tremendous shortages of food, freshwater and many other resources, and almost no one is even discussing the problem.
I believe that addressing this problem is long overdue and would like to suggest that the Tampa Bay Times assume a leadership role in doing so.
Walter G. Horbert, Largo