While driving along Route 19 in Homosassa, I noticed a cluster of 20 political signs, all with different names. If you wanted to read them, you would have to pull over to the side of the road for five minutes. "You can't see the trees for the forest."
We are also getting political fliers in the mail to vote for "so-and-so," but there is no reason why — like what are their plans for the county or state, improvement-wise, or taxes, etc. The same goes for political (recorded) phone calls. Just "vote for 'so-and-so,' " but no reason why.
I have never seen money spent in such a nitwit manner. I am of a good mind to tell each political party to remove us from their mailing list.
Margo Blum, Homosassa
Can't even hang up
Every day we are bombarded by commercials from politicians who go on and on about their stand on issues.
I can mute the TV and not have to deal with that, so it really doesn't bother me that much. The thing that irritates me to no end are the phone calls I get daily from various parties asking me for their vote, going on about their qualifications or their opponent's lack of qualifications.
It is not a live person but a recording. I can hang up on those, too, but when I do it doesn't disconnect that call. I have picked up the receiver a number of times and the recording just drones on and on. Until that diatribe is done there is no way to get a dial tone.
I thought that years ago they had enacted some kind of ruling about phone calls that do not disconnect. I seem to remember a woman's husband died because she couldn't hang up on a solicitor's call to get 911.
Is there anything that can be done about these annoying phone calls? Am I the only one who gets so irritated? November can't come too soon.
Karen White, St. Petersburg
'None of the above,' please
My wife and I have stopped watching any TV program that hasn't been previously recorded by our DVR. We do this so we can fast-forward through the continuous bombardment of political, mud-slinging campaigning. If you listen to the commercials, all of the candidates deserve to be in jail, under indictment or at the very least investigated for ethics violations, rather than running for public office.
When did it become politically correct to badmouth the opposition rather than give the voters truthful arguments and reasonable expectations in exchange for our votes? Has it come down to voting against instead of for someone?
In the rare instance a candidate speaks to the issues, they all promise, but never deliver, the same things — more jobs, lower taxes, more and better services.
New candidates, like incumbents, seem totally disconnected from the reality of everyday life for the average taxpayer. They no longer represent the rich or the poor, just themselves. It seems that politics has become so perverted that a viable candidate, one who is public-service rather than self-service minded, need not apply.
I used to feel that voting was a responsibility and sign of good citizenship. But that was when our choices were more clearly defined by our situations in life and our visions for the future. Now, not so much. I would rather see a ballot choice of "None of the above."
Everett Melnick, St. Petersburg
Crist pushed down ballot
I received my sample ballot in the mail from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. After carefully reviewing this document, I noticed that the Republican candidate is always listed first. Then I noticed that there are a lot of names listed for U.S. Senate race — Republican first, Democrat second and then there are seven names, with Gov. Charlie Crist at the bottom. This doesn't sound right to me. Crist has been campaigning like the other two listed at the top but gets listed with a bunch of names I have never heard of.
I think the ballot should be changed to list Charlie Crist in third place. Let's be fair.
P. Anderson, Tampa
Are schools failing black males? | Oct. 8
Racism exists, but it may not be the main problem
The Times' headline read, "Are schools failing black males?" Couldn't that be reversed and be just as accurate? "Are black males failing schools?" Isn't responsibility a two-way street? Isn't respect something that is earned, not given?
I am not naive. Some of the signs at the tea party rallies and the infamous "witch doctor" e-mail by a St. Petersburg physician prove that racism is still alive in our country. But couldn't we see some more statistics besides simple graduation rates before we single out race as the problem?
I would like to see the graduation rates among all children from two-parent families versus those from single-parent homes. Being a single mother is incredibly difficult and I truly respect those who struggle to provide for their children; but could this also be a contributing factor?
Could we further break out the graduation rates of children born to teenage mothers versus single mothers over the age of 21? Would race still be as pronounced in those results, or do white, unmarried, teen "baby mamas" also have underachieving children?
Education literally starts in the home, not at school. Asking our dedicated teachers to finish what was never started is like asking a builder to complete a home without a foundation. If we misidentify the true cause of the problem, how will we ever come up with a solution?
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
Until there are changes to the widely held belief among a large percentage of young black males that academic achievement is "selling out" or "acting white," taxpayers can throw all the money in the world at the black male dropout problem and very little will change.
Ray Tampa, the president of the St. Petersburg NAACP, asks a great question: "Why don't we have outrage?" Unfortunately, I believe Tampa is referring to outrage against county government, the school board, teachers, etc. The real outrage should be placed on a community that accepts an out-of-wedlock birth rate of over 70 percent, and then expects stellar academic results.
Yes, there are additional factors that contribute to this problem; however, until we see greater parental involvement and respect for the educational system, I believe we will be having this same discussion for years to come.
Bill O'Connell, Oldsmar
Schools are not failing black males. Black males are failing black males. Too many black students are growing up without seeing a father work for a living, paying his bills and maybe playing catch with his son.
So, often as not, the default role model winds up being the local gangbanger and/or drug dealer. No teacher in the world can replace a responsible, caring father.
Pete Wilford, Holiday
It's not about skin color
This article was one of the saddest I've read in your paper.
Everyone knows the answer, but they are so afraid of the civil rights establishment that they refuse to say it aloud. Black males are failing at school and in many other venues because they are being raised by single mothers. For this reason, they are deprived of the benefit that humans have received from the normal family structure.
Is the problem skin color? No. Look at our Asian neighbors — Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Vietnamese — who thrive in school despite having nonwhite skins. What they do have is families.
Illegitimacy is the only thing keeping blacks from taking their rightful place in our society.
W.A. Broderick, Tampa
Florida water quality
Protect Florida's water
While some say Florida is a leader in protecting water quality, the fact is that Florida has some of the nation's poorest water quality.
Even before the Deepwater Horizon well burned and sank, Florida's Gulf Coast was in trouble. Harmful algae blooms and fish kills have cost jobs as tourists canceled their trips and anglers sought better fishing elsewhere. And thanks to the oil spill, many potential visitors are now afraid of the gulf. Tourism is one of our largest job creators and fishing in Florida is a $7 billion industry, and both are at risk from dirty water, to say nothing of the risk to our health and safety.
And it gets worse. Florida has 22 major beaches that are unsafe to swim for at least two weeks out of every year. The state is fourth-worst for drinking water quality and 10th in violations of Clean Water Act permits. Pensacola was ranked as the worst in the nation for drinking water, followed closely by Jacksonville at 10th worst.
As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered in a binding settlement which requires new water quality standards for Florida. These standards are meant to control nutrient pollution, bringing us closer to the national average.
Unfortunately, major polluters have resorted to fearmongering tactics — falsely claiming that consumers would have to pay $75 per month to meet these standards. This amount is grossly exaggerated. In fact, advanced water treatment required for the clean up of Chesapeake Bay cost only $2.50 per household per month.
This is because tighter standards would not just result in cleanup but tighter pollution prevention requirements. As everybody knows, it is much cheaper to prevent pollution before it happens than to try and clean it up after the fact. The billions spent on Everglades restoration are silent testimony to how expensive it can be to clean up the disastrous environmental mistakes of the past. Meanwhile, pollution control measures are shown to be upwards of 50 times cheaper.
Florida Sen. George LeMieux, with an endorsement from Sen. Bill Nelson, attempted to prevent the EPA from implementing these nutrient pollution standards. Fortunately, another senator objected, blocking the move.
All Floridians should hold their elected representatives and senators accountable for our dirty water.
Andrew McElwaine, president, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Naples
Fight the ugliness
As an architect of 35 years' experience, I would urge voters in Florida to vote "yes" on Amendment 4 this November. While there has been a litany of false advertising opposing the measure, if one reads the bill it makes sense.
Florida could be a tropical paradise but instead it is an ugly, chaotic mess. The current land planning process is a free-for-all in which wealthy developers use whatever means to ruin forests, decimate beaches, build subdivisions without adequate roads and destroy fragile ecosystems for a fast buck. Voters need to insist on comprehensive planning and put politicians in a position where they cannot make back-room deals for political supporters. As citizens, we should insist that developers pay their fair share of costs and not burden homeowners with subsidies for the well-to-do.
It has been argued that Amendment 4 will destroy Florida's economy. This is false. I have practiced design in the western and north-central United States where city planning is highly successful and has been embraced. Minneapolis has been master-planned since 1885 and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Midwest. Another good example is Boulder, Colo., which has a mountain park system second to none. Both cities are centers of innovation and have fostered growth of new industries with high-paying jobs. Amendment 4 will reintroduce quality into development, which will create more construction jobs, not less.
Mark N. Soroko, Tallahassee
Fake pot strong, accessible and legal | Oct. 11
Parents must be involved
Parental awareness is key in order to push back against the evolution of synthetic marijuana being marketed under the guise of incense. Still reeling from the prescription drug epidemic, we are now facing the new dangerous trend of faux pot.
Parents are the driving force behind the education of healthy life choices and drug prevention. One of the main reasons children experiment with drugs is due to easy accessibility. As the Times pointed out, this substance may be sold at your neighborhood gas station and, as of now, there are no regulations on it. Do you know what is being sold around the corner from your house? If not, find out and talk to your kids about it.
Calvina Fay, St. Petersburg