Decoy "plan" is an insult to voters | July 22, editorial
Ploy shows need for Amendment 4
The city of St. Petersburg's efforts to subvert the rights of voters by creating a "decoy" land use plan makes the case for why Floridians need to pass Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 on the statewide ballot Nov. 2.
Our homes and our communities are too important to leave in the hands of politicians and lobbyists — that much is clear. As your editorial noted, "The public's deep distrust of government helped fuel Amendment 4, the so-called 'Hometown Democracy' initiative on the November ballot. St. Petersburg is only feeding that distrust with a deceitful maneuver designed to circumvent residents' voting rights if Amendment 4 becomes part of the Florida Constitution."
We watch these political shenanigans over and over! The solution is Amendment 4 because it will give citizens new power to veto or approve politicians' votes on land use. We are the ones who pay for the police, fire, roads, schools, sewer and water services for new development. If we have to pay, we should get a vote.
As you said in your editorial, the city's attempt to "subvert the voters' wishes only further convinces the public that they were right to distrust government in the first place."
If you agree, join us in Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 — a nonpartisan citizen's reform movement. Learn more at www.floridahometowndemocracy.com.
George Niemann, Dover
A model plan
The St. Petersburg Times editorial (Decoy "plan" is insult to voters, July 22) and Howard Troxler's column (Another scheme to defy the voters, July 20) gets it wrong in seeing as "sneaky" St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse's responsible effort by to create a workable land use plan.
If Amendment 4 passes, every municipality and county will need to have a master plan like the one Nurse proposes, one that describes what sorts of development is allowed in what districts, and which can only be amended with the voters' approval.
Clearly the "Comprehensive Land Use Plan" needs to be at an appropriate level, and not encompass every last detail. Karl Nurse and other city leaders are working to give voters the master plan they will need should Amendment 4 be approved.
Nurse's effort is vindicated by the response from the Hometown Democracy lawyer Ross Burnaman, who stated about the city effort, "It's so far from legal reality that I'm not even concerned by it." The voters should be very concerned by this, because it indicates that, yes, every last detail (such as sidewalk widths) will be subject to full-blown elections and/or litigation.
The Karl Nurse plan is a model for every Florida city, and it should be saluted and promulgated to every municipality.
Arlin Briley, St. Petersburg
What a contradiction! One day, the St. Petersburg Times runs a time line of the events leading to the firing of Shirley Sherrod, which showed that she was fired before Fox News ever reported on it, then the next day you run a political cartoon by Clay Bennett insinuating that it was because of Fox News that she was fired. Incredible!
I suggest to the Times that instead of taking sides on this issue, you should just come to the realization that it was the White House that fired her, not Fox News. It was the White House jumping to conclusions just as they did with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates by the Cambridge, Mass., Police Department.
I guess you couldn't resist the opportunity to take a poke at a news organization that reports the news instead of slanting it to fit your ideals.
Lance K. Piscitelli, Clearwater
Context, please | July 22
An important lesson
Thank you for printing the text of Shirley Sherrod's speech. I hope everyone who receives the St. Petersburg Times reads it and I hope every newspaper in the country prints it. There is such an important lesson to be learned here: Sound bites and snippets can be extremely misleading.
Sadly, we see in this embarrassing episode how rushing to judgment can lead to serious misunderstandings and injustice. This is such a classic example it could be used effectively in our classrooms.
Carol Seaman, Clearwater
Redemption, after rush to judge | July 22, story
Expect more of this
Nearly 20 years ago when he was going through his confirmation for the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas described what was happening to him as a "high-tech lynching."
Thomas' claim had a lot of hyperbole, but that is exactly what happened to Shirley Sherrod. And with communications technology advancing rapidly, look for more lynchings in the future.
Joseph H. Brown, Tampa
But why don't they stay? | July 18
It's not just a job
I would like to comment on the points brought up in this companion article to the one titled Teach for America at 20.
One of the disturbing aspects of Teach for America is the idea that a "five-week crash summer course" is sufficient to prepare would-be teachers for the classroom. It takes more than knowledge in classroom practices to become a truly effective teacher.
I have a B.S. in elementary education. Part of my degree program at the University of South Florida included three practicums, essentially on-the-job training. Without this classroom experience, I believe one would be ill-prepared for the teaching profession.
It is also my belief that most Teach for America graduates are looking for a "job." Teaching is not a job, it's a passion. If you lack that passion, your days are already numbered, and that is most likely the reason for TFA's turnover rate.
Frank Chatraw Jr., Riverview
To die for | July 18, Floridian story
Thank you for printing this article. I hope that young people read this, and wake up. Nobody is worth it. Now the boy who caused this whole situation is free and two lives are ruined. It is one thing to cheat on someone but to tell two girls that you love them and treat them like your girlfriend is sick.
This went on for too long, and he should be ashamed he caused a death and a girl going to jail. For what?
Wake up, girls, and have more respect for yourselves. Life is too precious to let someone ruin yours. A lot of texting and Facebook went on in this situation also. Please, parents, let the young people read this article and see where things can lead. I feel for the families. This is so sad and very serious. Hopefully people saw the article and were touched.
Marreen Majer, Palm Harbor
Gospel according to Mel Gibson | July 18, David Brooks column
The new epidemic
Not only does the article by David Brooks of the New York Times contribute an insight into the narcissistic personality, but it also explains why attitudes have changed.
I have noticed this change slowly creep into our way of life over the years but have not been able to understand why the change until I read the article.
We truly are now in what authors Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell have titled their book, The Narcissism Epidemic.
Mary Jane Callihan, St. Petersburg