With lawsuits being filed by teachers, police and state workers against Florida's attempt to cut 3 percent of their salaries to supplement the state's retirement system, I would like to speak for the faction — taxpayers — that is paying for the bulk of these employees' retirement.
I realize that pay raises have not been forthcoming for some of these individuals and a hit of 3 percent will only make matters worse. However, small businesses and all the other taxpayers are paying for these people's retirement.
In 2007 my company took a huge hit. My wife and I sold off assets and adjusted drastically to stay solvent. It worked.
We pay for ourselves and our own retirement like most hard-working, solid businesses. Now it's time for public workers to make the same sacrifice. Sorry, but the "company" you are working for is broke.
Dave Day, St. Petersburg
Changing rules unethical
Good for the Florida Education Association for filing suit against Gov. Rick Scott. The governor is taxing the teachers and police officers of the state of Florida to fill a budget shortfall for their pensions.
I became a police officer in Florida after four years of college, more than 30 years ago. I realized that I would be required to work weekends, holidays, late nights, and face many dangerous assignments.
Let me be clear: It was never about money. When I started, I could barely make my rent and car payment. But I was told I would have a nice retirement if I made it to the end of that career.
I thank the state of Florida, as it kept its promise. If the governor wants to change the rules for new hires, fine. But for the police officers and teachers already under the old system, that is unethical.
Darrell Patton, Tarpon Springs
Strategy on homeless paying off June 20, editorial
Homeless Emergency Project serves thousands
This editorial concerning the homeless was misinformed. Specifically, you stated that Safe Harbor is "different" because residents will have active case managers offering "intense supervision to help people access a continuum of services and track their progress." You also imply that now there will be a place where people can go to receive these services on a "countywide" basis.
The truth is different. The Homeless Emergency Project in Clearwater has been providing intense case management and countywide access to the full continuum of care for decades. We currently house more people on a daily basis than Safe Harbor and have in place a computerized tracking system measuring our performance in terms of the outcome of every person we serve.
We help hundreds of St. Petersburg homeless each year among the approximately 2,000 people we serve annually. Every person who enters our facility has a case manager assigned and a written case management plan within three days. We offer specialized services for veterans, families and children as well as single men and women. Forty-three full-time employees are on staff to ensure every available opportunity is afforded to the residents to obtain self-sufficiency, regardless of how long that might take.
Safe Harbor helps to provide much-needed beds, but its concept is neither new nor different, and it is limited in scope to the most visible segment of the homeless population but not its most numerous.
Worse yet is your criticism of service providers' "duplicative efforts and overlapping services." The resources available to meet the needs of the homeless are woefully inadequate. Just because more than one agency provides similar services does not mean they are duplicative (which implies wasteful); they are more likely complementary as the community need overwhelms any one agency's ability to meet them.
The service providers themselves formed the Homeless Leadership Network to streamline and coordinate their efforts and have done as good a job as anyone in the country in maximizing the few resources we have to meet the need. Can we do better? Of course, but not by demagoguing the dedicated men and women on the front lines of the problem and certainly not by further politicizing the process by putting elected politicians in charge.
Bruce E. Fyfe, chairman, Homeless Emergency Project, Clearwater
Say no to offshore drilling | June 18, letter
Exploit domestic sources
I'm sure the letter writer and organizer of this demonstration has good intentions in hoping to ban offshore oil drilling. Anti-fossil fuel folks, however, just don't get it. We would all love a world free of pollution, disease and want, but reality bites.
The reality is that we do not yet have affordable and sustainable alternatives to oil, natural gas and coal. The closest we have to a method of supplying the nationwide grid is nuclear, and those same protesters would demonstrate against a new nuclear plant.
We must become more energy independent if we are to crawl from under a mountain of foreign debt. That means exploiting the resources we have and drilling for more oil and natural gas. ExxonMobil just announced a major find in the gulf, and scientists now believe North America and its adjacent waters contain more untapped oil than Saudi Arabia. Lets use it!
When cleaner alternatives come along to power America, and for making our fabrics, tires, fertilizers, insecticides, packaging, medical supplies and thousands of other everyday products, we must embrace them. Until then we have to drill where substantial amounts of energy are located rather than allow foreign countries to extract it and then sell it back to us.
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Why I voted against camera enforcement June 20, letter
Penalize the drivers
I suspect that St. Pete Beach City Commissioner Marvin Shavlan has not been the victim of a red-light runner. Otherwise, he would not characterize the red-light cameras as a tool for tax collection "which causes rear-end collisions and gives just 20 percent of the take to the city." Cameras don't cause anything. Careless drivers, both front and rear, cause rear-end collisions.
My concern is for the T-bone collisions which, I believe, are much more likely to cause fatalities or serious injury. I was lucky that the red-light runner who hit me T-boned the front wheel rather than the driver-side door. He knocked the engine off its block and totaled my car, but my injuries were minor.
I hope that the commissioner never has that experience, but if it is "all about the money" as he states, would he be happier if a larger share of the revenue generated, "the take," was retained by the city? Personally, I don't care where the money goes as long as it hurts the red-light runner to lose it.
Sally F. Martin, Tampa
Inattention at the wheel
The contention that red-light cameras will increase rear-end collisions is nonsense.
It is the inattentive or distracted or indifferent driver of the vehicle who causes the rear-end collision. Not the red-light camera.
There is no point in having red traffic lights if they are not going to be obeyed.
David Derrick, Pinellas Park
Carter's policy is shaping Florida | June 19
Why all the secrecy?
Reading this article on Mary Anne Carter, one of Gov. Rick Scott's key advisers who resigned this week, I was struck again by the governor's penchant for secrecy. One of his top aides eschews e-mails to avoid state open records laws.
Are the citizens members of a terrorist group? Why the need for secrecy? I understand that negotiations with private corporations wishing to maintain proprietary confidentiality require withholding information. Outside of that, aren't they simply trying to avoid facing the will of the people?
This is just another example of why private business folks generally make horrible government officials.
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
How could you have missed the racial slurs in the Get Fuzzy comic by Darby Conley in the June 19 comics section?
"Coon" has long been a racial slur used against African-Americans, and "Who da Satcha. Give me trash!" is obviously a slur based on African-American street language.
Malcolm Johnson, Seminole
Gov. Rick Scott
Drumming up fans
I see that Gov. Rick Scott is begging for letters and e-mails to be written to newspapers in praise of the job he's doing.
Have we ever had a governor's staff ask for letters of support and praise? I can't remember such an effort, and I have been watching Florida governors since Farris Bryant.
This is an indictment of this man's attitude to government. He is clueless about the duty to open his doors to legitimate inquiry from the media. If he continues to throw up layer after layer of interference, he will have to hire a crowd to hear his speeches. Of course he can buy them, just as he bought the job.
Tim Moran, Tampa
In connection with the idea that professional sports generate revenue for the cities that spend hundreds of millions of dollars on stadiums, I found this quote from an MSNBC article on the NFL labor dispute instructive:
"The players union, citing a study it sanctioned, contends each NFL city will forfeit, on average, $20 million in revenue, fan spending and lost jobs for every home game canceled — $160 million if the season is scrapped. The NFL, citing different research, claims the economic impact will be closer to zero."
Don't owners persuade cities to spend enormous sums to build the stadiums because, they say, the economic impact is so great? But now it's in their interest for the owners to say that if there was no team it would have no economic impact.
What do the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg rely on when they tout the economic impact of providing pro sports playgrounds that cost hundreds of millions of dollars? That money could otherwise be spent on schools and infrastructure.
Howard Batt, Clearwater
Rap on Romney's job record accurate but unfair | June 24, PolitiFact
Axelrod's question fair
PolitiFact's "half true" rating of David Axelrod is unfair. Axelrod never said that the poor job creation history in Massachusetts was Mitt Romney's fault.
He did say that if you claim that you have the answers to job creation, "Why is it that your state was 47th in the country in job creation when you were governor?"
This only questions why, if Romney has the answers to creating jobs as he claims, did he not employ these answers in Massachusetts when he was in charge there.
This a seems very fair question, and not "unfair" as PolitiFact judged.
Michael Otto, Oldsmar
Economy's so bad, Fed is stumped | June 23
It's no mystery
I guess the Fed is too busy with its bean counting to realize that it's the policies of the administration and Congress since 2008 that have put and kept the economy in the tank.
Runaway spending, bailouts, ever-increasing regulations on business, lack of an energy policy, no plan to use our great quantities of natural resources, and the continuing uncertainty of what next will come from the administrations are obvious causes for the poor economy. Not to mention the "you won't know what's in it until we pass it" Obamacare health bill which is turning out to be a real fiasco.
Unless the administration changes its polices, which I doubt, only the House will keep us from financial collapse. Then maybe in November 2012 we can replace this failed administration and get our country out of its malaise and back to prosperity.
Dayle R. Stevens, Largo