Our government is on the verge of shipping weapons and support to rebels in Syria. This will amount to billions of dollars and cause unfathomable loss of life — for years. But we are in a sequester so the essential needs of the taxpaying citizens are left unmet.
We cut food stamps, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Planned Parenthood funding, and so on, but we somehow have money to support a Middle Eastern country whose issues are personal and have nothing to do with us.
The Republicans are spending their time debating again the rights of a woman to choose what she can do with her body, while no gun legislation has even come before the House. Twenty-nine states have a waiting period on abortions but only 11 have them on gun purchases.
We have had debates and bills on voter suppression, a woman's right to chose, equal pay, health care reform — an endless list of citizen suppression. Nothing has been done to fix the banking/mortgage system as it again gains steam as the speculators buy up the foreclosed homes.
It's time we remembered and acted on the fact that this is supposed to be a government for and by the people.
Amy Eisler, Clearwater
Risk of blowback
Is it really a smart idea to arm Syrian rebels, who are not subject to background checks and who are known to be al-Qaida sympathizers? And is it wise to arm the sworn enemy, who'll use these same arms on our own soldiers, without hesitation?
This gun-running operation is another "Fast and Furious" fiasco on steroids waiting to happen. Where are all those gun control advocates when we need them most?
Raymond Brown, Tampa
Promote Lens, Danner says | June 19
Waste of tax money
Here we go again with the St. Petersburg City Council. They want to waste more of our taxpayer money trying to get the public to accept the Lens. The tax money could be better spent on something useful.
I have never seen such an inept mayor and City Council before. Every one of them needs to be voted out of office. They can't agree on anything and are always bickering.
Richard S. Moran, St. Petersburg
Council member Jeff Danner laments the poor job St. Petersburg has done in educating the citizens on the Lens and is concerned that the $3 million expended thus far may prove to be a poor investment. The solution advanced by Danner is a taxpayer-funded education initiative to attempt to correct the "misinformation out there."
While I applaud his prescience in identifying the ultimate payoff for the Lens investment, I hope that he has access to legal counsel to learn the dangers of government underwriting of initiatives that attempt to influence votes.
G.T. Kaszer, St. Petersburg
America's worst charities | June 9, 10, 16
Put the IRS to work
I commend the Tampa Bay Times for its excellent series on a segment of the charitable industry that clearly needed a spotlight. If your series stops even one person from throwing away money by giving to one of these organizations, your hours of research will be worth it.
How these organizations can be allowed to operate as charities is nothing short of amazing. Perhaps the IRS can retask some of the people they use to investigate proposed charities to look into charities already approved. They could start with your list.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs
Those involved in fake charities are thieves, taking advantage of "the kindness of strangers." They should be prosecuted as any other thieves.
I only give to my church and well-documented charities.
The Tampa Bay Times once again has done a great service to the public.
Catherine G. Russo, New Port Richey
Follow ethics guidelines
Thank you for the enlightening series of articles that chronicled the fraudulent activities of "America's Worst Charities," and for the followup editorial that provides community leaders with suggestions that will safeguard potential donors from unscrupulous fundraisers. Much to everyone's dismay, a list of 50 bad charities could have been extended several-fold.
Charitable giving in the United States is a multibillion-dollar activity, one that requires both a trusting public and virtuous management. The internationally respected Association of Fundraising Professionals, through its local Suncoast Chapter, is dedicated to educating fundraising officers not only in the modes and methods of their trade, but especially in ethics.
Discussions of ethical practices occur regularly at monthly AFP meetings; members are keenly aware of the AFP's "Donor Bill of Rights"; and members are encouraged to sit for the Certified Fund Raising Executive credential, an important part of which is the deep knowledge of ethical practice.
Potential donors should not hesitate to ask whether a charity requesting a gift is staffed by AFP members and/or CFREs. A positive answer could go a long way toward ensuring that the charity is trustworthy.
Bill F. Faucett, president-elect, Association of Fundraising Professionals/Suncoast Chapter, Valrico
A new joy | June 16
Poor moral standard
I am sorry that you thought it necessary to highlight Evan Longoria on Father's Day and take about one and a half pages of the sports section to do it.
Surely someone of higher moral standards could have been found, rather than someone who fathered a child outside of marriage like he did. That would leave a far better impression on young people, rather than highlighting one who evidently believes premarital sex is fine.
Albert R. Siebert, St. Petersburg
What a beautiful picture for Father's Day! Unconditional love is written all over Evan Longoria's face. Elle is a lucky girl, and Evan is a lucky man.
The glory of baseball is a passing thing. The glory of a great father is forever.
Jessie Zebley, Clearwater
Lizzie the retriever brought perfect joy June 18, Daniel Ruth column
The pain of loss
I could have written this column. Our dog was named Friskie, a shepherd-collie mix we got from a pet rescue. For 15 years she loved us and we loved her. The most difficult thing I have done was taking her to the vet on the last day. I did well holding back the tears, until I got home. When I stood in the doorway, I lost it. Friskie was not there to greet me.
Larry Tokar, Clearwater
Keep car lights on
I would like to encourage drivers to drive with lights on at all times. I see autos without lights during rainstorms, in fog, early in the morning just before sunrise, and early in the evening just before sunset. Those cars can be invisible to other drivers.
Even in the middle of the day, some cars blend in with the pavement and cannot be seen by other drivers. Lights do not require extra gas.
Keeping lights on at all times would be a simple and inexpensive way to improve safety on our highways for all drivers.
Ann Crum, Oldsmar
Bennett touts charter schools | June 18
Joys of teaching
Tony Bennett, Florida's education commissioner for six months, is realizing "the magic of teaching." Teachers in Florida, before Gov. Jeb Bush took it away, were well aware of that magic.
I was one of the lucky ones who had that experience. After FCAT, teachers had to plan their curriculum around the test and all of the magic was taken away.
When you read about the curriculum in private and parochial schools, that is what we used to have in public schools. Private schools do not have to waste their time teaching FCAT. We had a wonderful, creative system of teaching, and the students loved it.
Now the students know, from day one, that they must pass the FCAT to go to the next level. Some students do not do well under pressure, so we put pressure on them. We teach to the pre-test, we teach to the test, we teach to the post-test. And we wonder about the love of learning that is lost.
The funny thing about the FCAT test: Someone is making a lot of money writing it, printing it and selling it. All of that money would have been more effective if it had gone to providing the basic curriculum.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater