The damage grows as gambling spreads | Nov. 13, editorial
Casinos add diversified options
Gambling addiction is a legitimate concern, but even eating disorders present a more frequent and higher risk to the general public. The Orlando tourist attractions and our beautiful beaches are wonderful entertainment for families and young people. The days of walking miles in a 100-degree heat index through these parks, however, came and went for us as our children grew up. There are many different demographics, and these attractions only appeal to a certain number of people anyway.
If Florida is going to maintain growth in its vital tourism industry, we need to diversify it. Anyone visiting the Las Vegas strip in the past decade will note that it's not just about gambling anymore. Florida currently has no resort to compete with what destination resort casinos offers its mature guests. It's time for us to move on into the 21st century and generate additional tax revenue.
Steven Smith, Lutz
'Taj Mahal' judge quits | Nov. 17
Judicial system's sweet deal
Let me get this right. First District Court of Appeal Judge Paul M. Hawkes spent millions of tax dollars he had no right to spend, destroyed records, lied, bullied people, demanded favors and all he has to do is say, "I will retire," and it all goes away? And he gets to collect his pension and live happier ever after? In the real world this would never happen. What a great back door the judicial system has created for its judges. If all else fails, pull that rip cord on that parachute and just retire. No trial, no disgraceful facts coming out and he collects more than $51,700 a year for life! Where can I sign up?
Rick Conlon, Tampa
Don't accept resignation
First District Court of Appeal Judge Paul M. Hawkes is resigning to avoid a Judicial Qualifications Commission trial. He denies any wrongdoing, just like our prison system is full of innocent people.
What is really disturbing is that it seems whenever an elected or appointed official of our government is found negligent in their duties they are allowed to simply resign and receive pension benefits at the expense of taxpayers. How does this so-called punishment deter future wrongdoings by representatives of our government when they know that all they have to do is resign and laugh on their way to the bank each month?
Hawke's resignation should not be accepted, and he should be placed on suspension until this trial is settled. If found guilty, then he should be fired, same as any government employee. Enough is enough on high-ranking officials getting preferential treatment, especially when taxpayer funds are needed so desperately to help honest folks!
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
Occupy Wall Street
America's own Bastille
At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, could Wall Street, however improbable, become our Bastille? When the excesses of the French nobility became too much for the majority of the populace to bear, they revolted, and we all know what happened to the over-indulgers heads. Wall Street should heed the warning signs and learn from history, otherwise they will be doomed to repeating it.
Henry Lapinski, St. Petersburg
Requiring Americans to all vote Nov. 13, column
Not all, just well-informed
While I firmly believe that all Americans should exercise their freedom to vote in each and every election, the proposal by the Brookings Institution's William A. Galston to require us to vote is far off the mark.
Just recently, during the city elections, I urged a neighbor to vote but she declined because she didn't "know any of the candidates." Would her uninformed vote make a contribution to the betterment of our city? I doubt it. Requiring ill-informed or uninformed citizens to vote would only create havoc in our body politic — more so than we experience today. Instead, we should be making it easier for those who choose to vote and not setting up roadblocks as our Legislature has been doing for the past couple of years.
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg
Four pedestrians struck; pregnant woman killed | Nov. 17
Putting cost before life
What a sad story to hear that a mother and her unborn child died due to the city of Tampa being too cheap to install lights and a sidewalk. Unfortunately it always comes down to a death before anyone notices that a road or intersection is dangerous. Again we put cost before life. I ride a bicycle, and I do have the fear in the back of my mind that I might get hurt, but what can I do? Please, go look at other "advanced" countries like France and Germany, and you will see pedestrian/bicyclist-friendly roads.
Laurent Vallat, Trinity
Supreme Court will hear health care case this term | Nov. 14
Mandate benefits everyone
The fact that it comes down to the U.S. Supreme Court to examine and explain the truly simple concept of the "individual mandate" that has raised so many hackles and created so much noise was not necessary. Buying health insurance is not the same as buying broccoli or an auto, as some misguided opponents of the law have stated.
Prior to the introduction and passage of the Health Care Reform Act, the insurance industry had stated, among other things, that younger, heathier people do not even consider buying heath insurance unless and until a member of the family gets ill. The companies rightly said they could not keep rates low, minimize deductibles, or accept people who are already ill, unless they also had a younger, healthier cross-section of the population.
The individual mandate was introduced for the benefit of the entire population.
Norm Koch, Palm Harbor
Tensions simmer in USF Poly debate | Nov. 18
What is senator's end game?
I would like to know what Sen. J.D. Alexander's end game really is in this power play with the University of South Florida Polytechnic. He is acting like a school-yard bully by showing up at a talk being given to USF Poly faculty members by USF president Judy Genshaft. I question why he found it necessary to be there in the first place. His District 17 map barely includes Lakeland, and he doesn't hold a position on the USF board or, for that matter, on the Board of Governors. I feel the people who elected him to represent District 17 should be asking him what he is doing for them, or if he is that egotistical and self-centered that he needs to have his name on a college.
David Bellinger, Largo