Gov. Crist's veto of SB 6
The governor's smart move
You could almost hear a sigh of relief across Florida when Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he was vetoing Senate Bill 6. This was the rushed attempt by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, to end teacher tenure, kill the teachers' union and seize control of school districts across the state under the guise of establishing a teacher accountability system.
Thrasher, also the new head of the state Republican Party, was so sure of himself that he cowed the rest of the Senate into passing the bill virtually without any input from anybody besides himself and former Gov. Jeb Bush and then handing it over to the state House with the warning that those representatives had to pass the bill untouched.
With this veto, Crist is in no better shape in the Republican primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate seat. Rubio urged Crist to sign the bill into law.
But acknowledge the sharper political skill of Crist. Massive numbers of teachers, parents, students, school administrators, staffs and just plain citizens objected long and loud about the bill. That many well-educated or about to be educated people waving signs and organizing to defeat the bill made it clear to the governor that the whole Republican structure in Florida could be brought down if he signed the bill into law.
Crist pointed out that Republicans charged that the health care bill was rushed through without listening to opponents, and said that Republicans in Florida should not turn around and pass a major bill without listening to all the stakeholders. Only the most hypocritical Republican will be able to argue against Crist on this issue.
Now, let us all hope that parties to the issue can sit down and reason together about teacher accountability, merit pay and the future of education in Florida with this caveat: Leave Jeb Bush and John Thrasher out in the cold as they have proven they cannot abide participatory lawmaking. We already know what they want.
Robert P. Curran, Beverly Hills
He vetoes it | April 16, story
Where was Crist earlier in the process?
Consider this: Charlie Crist was once a state senator and then went on to be elected state education commissioner. So one could assume he knows something about education matters. Then along comes Senate Bill 6, which he apparently supported publicly just a few weeks ago only to profess ambivalence about signing it into law when it came to him amid an uproar from "the people."
As governor and chief executive of our state, with a Legislature overwhelmingly controlled by his own party, one might expect Charlie Crist to have worked with the Legislature on drafting this important piece of legislation. But in vetoing the measure, he declared that he had found "several issues of concern."
Well, where was he when this bill was being put together in the Legislature? Where was the leadership you expect from a governor on a measure of such significance? I guess he was too busy with other matters, like running for the Senate.
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg
He's winning votes
Thanks to Gov. Charlie Crist for being " the man" and vetoing SB 6. Once again he has done the right thing for all the right reasons. I am extremely proud of him.
It's time for Crist to run as an independent candidate. He will surely get my vote as an independent and also the votes of thousands who are so proud of his recent vetoes.
I sincerely believe that the best way to go is "by creating an open primary." Thanks again, governor.
Ken Levey, Palm Harbor
How effective can he be?
Gov. Charlie Crist's phrase, "significantly flawed," is an apt descriptor not only of SB 6, but also of the state of politics and politicians in Florida today. Citizens who want to lean on the support of elected officials find that the "cane" provided turns out to be the pointed end of a sword.
While I wholeheartedly endorse the governor's veto, I also believe he saw which way the hurricane was blowing, and reversed his original intention primarily for reasons of expediency. If he runs and is elected as an independent, how much good will he do Florida in the Senate? I am reminded of the phrase, "They came to do good, and did very well."
Nancy E. Moore, Riverview
Jeb Bush's unaccountable clout | April 11, Tim Nickens column
Dump the good ol' boys
I just want to say bravo to Tim Nickens for the wonderful Sunday column.
Jeb Bush has had too a big a hand in Florida politics for far too long. I appreciate the dead-on look at how Bush has managed to keep his finger in every politically important pie in the state.
It's time, actually it is beyond time, for a change from the "good ol' boy" network to a government for and by the people. Our elected officials, far too often, take on the persona of demigods, and forget who elected them and why. Thanks again, Tim.
Judie Giglio, Port Richey
Is he crazy? (Like a fox) | April 11
Dealing with Karzai
Fred Kaplan's report on Afghan President Hamid Karzai was comprehensive and to the point as far as our awkward relationship with him is concerned. But what to do about it?
The report's conclusion to back someone else or leave if Karzai doesn't cooperate is too simple. There is no one else on the horizon of equal strength at this point except the Taliban. What we must do is continue vocal support for Karzai as a national leader but, at the same time, seek and support local leaders who will oppose the Taliban even if Karzai dislikes them.
We're not dealing with a nation of any democratic traditions. Warlords controlled Afghanistan for most of its history. Direct support for Karzai, both vocal and financial, should continue as well as similar support for local leaders who oppose the Taliban. If there is conflict, we should buy off one side or the other until the Taliban is defeated.
A far more important country exists across the border in Pakistan, which is nuclear. We must do our best to control the Taliban in Afghanistan so they won't assist the Taliban in Pakistan.
W.H. Riddell, Tampa
GOP priorities | April 11, letter
The letter writer wanted to know how the Republicans could support spending trillions of dollars on war and not want to spend a single penny on health care.
The answer is based on the fundamental responsibility of the federal government as outlined in the Constitution. Washington has responsibility to govern on matters the states cannot do themselves. Certainly that would include providing an adequate defense against countries and terrorist organizations that want to kill Americans.
Health care is a personal responsibility. It is not the government's role to take money from one citizen to give to another citizen to help them buy a car, pay their mortgage, or buy health care.
By the way, we are ranked 37th in health care because of costs to the consumer. The ranking does not factor in the outrageous taxes paid by people in countries with government-run health care My guess is there are more people from those 36 countries coming here for medical treatment than there are Americans going to any of those 36 countries.
Bob Fransen, New Port Richey