The letter writer appears to have forgotten that while the budget sequester was a White House-suggested alternative to end the debt ceiling crisis in August 2011, sequestration would not and could not have occurred without Congress passing it into law.
He then implies that the civilian employees at MacDill Air Force Base should not be subjected to the effects of the budget sequester and at the same time suggests IRS employees are enjoying an undeserved $70 million largesse.
As an IRS employee I can tell you we have suffered more than our share in the name of budget cutting. While MacDill employees are about to enjoy their first "unpaid holiday," IRS employees are now embarking on their third furlough day of the five to seven days we've been handed as our share of budget reduction. Not to mention we have not received a cost-of-living pay raise in three years. It also now appears to be a forgone conclusion that no pay raise will be forthcoming for federal employees for another two years, while at the same time Congress has just introduced legislation to increase military pay by 1.8 percent for 2014.
The $70 million bonus for IRS employees is performance award money yet to be paid to several thousand employees based on their outstanding performance during fiscal year 2012. These awards were contractually promised to employees if they delivered in their performance. To renege on that promise would not only be a breach of trust but a breach of contract as well.
The letter writer appears to suggest that everyone's ox is fair game to be gored as long as it's not his. He ignores, as many other Americans have, that the budget deficit — before sequestration went into effect — has already been reduced by one-half and that sequestration, and the resulting furloughs, is an unnecessary political exercise that imposes a heavy financial burden on all federal employees and their families. The sequester, and the 10-year austerity measures it imposes, need to be ended now.
Michael Vanater, Tampa
Court turns page on election history June 26
As a resident of Florida, I watched very closely the restrictive voter registration laws that were enacted and challenged last year. This decision is a disaster and extremely disturbing.
No matter where you stand politically, to see this as anything other than an activist, political move on the part of this conservative court is naive. I can only hope that the American people see through this power grab and do all they can to ensure the rights of minorities in their communities.
As I see it, the Republican Party understands that it does not have the votes to win national elections for a variety of reasons, including the numbers of African-Americans and Latinos who are not joining the Republican Party. I am sure that this decision is an attempt to level the playing field to ensure that the numbers of people at the polls are more equal in terms of party affiliation and political bent.
Renne Proulx, St. Petersburg
Things have changed
Regarding the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act, I am disappointed that President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others did not take the opportunity to join the chief justice and celebrate the success the civil rights movement has had in the South. Instead they choose to condemn the decision.
The chief justice pointed out that voter registration in 1965 showed whites registered about 70 percent in the South with blacks at about 30 percent. Recent statistics show that voter registration is basically even, with both races registered at about 73 percent plus or minus a percentage point. In 2013, black voter turnout exceeded white voter turnout in three Southern states for the first time in history.
So again, black leaders chose to not celebrate the clear success of the civil rights movement but chose to focus on politics of the decision.
Robert Bruns, Valrico
Voters still protected
A lot of liberal media including this paper are hysterical about the Supreme Court decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Some are even acting like this will bring back the old Jim Crow laws.
The intent of the law was to put areas of the country under deserved oversight when it came to their voting laws due to their history of minority voting right suppression — sort of like a political parole.
Now, almost 50 years later, all the data confirms these areas have such significant improvement in minority voting levels and the court decided they have earned some trust. The "parole" was discharged.
This only means they no longer need to get government permission on any new laws pertaining to voting. The Justice Department can still, however, go after them if these laws show they are reverting back to oppressive behavior. This is really all that happened.
Eric Greenbaum, Tampa
The smell of scandal | June 25, letter
Go to the source
The letter about the smell of scandal is right about the smell, but wrong about the source. As your newspaper has repeatedly reported, Fast and Furious, which was ill-conceived, incompetently managed and a horrible mistake, was a follow-on to a Bush administration program. The NSA scandal results from spying on Americans that started in 2006, under the Bush administration. The commissioner of the IRS from 2008 to late 2012 was a Bush appointee.
So we learn yet again that the stench from the White House began under George W. Bush, whose administration's unconstitutional and incompetent activities still haunt us.
Michael P. Porter, Clearwater
Dogs in restaurants
Control pets in public
I walked into my favorite pub recently and had to jump out of the way of a pit bull going for my throat. I'm old, but as an avid runner, I'm quick. The dog was leashed to the bar's outside table leg, 2 feet from the main entrance.
No apologies were offered by the owner, but he did relocate the dog to an area away from the pub's front door. Last week we visited our favorite craft beer place and witnessed a dog running through the bar, through the courtyard and jumping up on tables throughout both areas. Everyone was enjoying the animal lapping beer from multiple tables.
St. Petersburg passed legislation to allow dogs in restaurants after owners cried they were unable to survive financially unless dog owners were allowed to bring their dogs to dinner and drink. I have no problem with pets in entertainment venues. What I have a problem with is their owners. Keep your pet on the required 6-foot leash, in control and respect those who may not want to experience the aggressiveness of your cuddly pet.
Jay Fazakerley, St. Petersburg
Daily Briefing | June 25
Photo in poor taste
Many of us know that in some Asian lands, dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are taken to the market to be slaughtered and eaten for food. Yet it doesn't seem necessary to show pictures of them in cages ready for sale. For those of us who are animal lovers, these photos are disgusting.
Isn't the world bad enough these days without gruesome photos like these? Surely God never meant for us to eat our domestic animals. Even if people do this in other countries, we do not want to see it.
I am personally offended by your poor taste in these photos and ask that your editor in chief think twice before printing anything like this again.
Yvette Hoffnagle, Largo
Keep it light
When people lamented that there was never any good news in the paper, I would always mention the Daily Briefing, which often had a mix of quirky short stories and quotes that would make you go "hmm." Not so much now.
On Tuesday there was one fun quote, but the picture of the dog waiting in a cage to be sold for meat in China was awful. There is plenty of hard news in your paper. Bring back the irreverence of the previous Daily Briefing.
Michael Haight, Hernando