For disaster donations, cash best
As the most hurricane-prone state in the nation, Florida is no stranger to recovering from the effects of a storm. Now we see the same devastation in the Northeast caused by Hurricane Sandy. All across the country, Americans are opening their hearts to help.
After a disaster, cash is critical, versatile and immediate. Cash helps relief organizations purchase the supplies needed most and gets aid to survivors as quickly as possible.
Cash also helps the local economy in recovery. When relief organizations are able to purchase needed goods in impacted areas, they support local businesses. This stimulates the local economy and puts people back to work, which is critical to economic recovery.
Cash is easier to donate than ever. AT&T and Verizon customers can text to donate $10 to the American Red Cross (text REDCROSS to 90999), Salvation Army (text STORM to 80888) or American Humane Society (text HUMANE to 80888). The donations are simply added to a customer's phone bill.
After a storm, it is important that potential volunteers confirm that they are needed before traveling to impacted areas. Volunteers can visit www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly for information on voluntary organizations active in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Hurricane Sandy left many of our neighbors in need. In the aftermath, we see Americans doing what Americans do best: picking themselves up and beginning the process of putting lives back together. Whether you choose to help through donating cash or your time and talent, know that you are helping to keep America strong.
Bryan W. Koon, director, Florida Division of Emergency Management; Chester Spellman, chief executive officer, Volunteer Florida
Bad night for Macks | Nov. 8
Nasty news coverage
As an independent voter, I was dismayed to read this line regarding Reps. Connie Mack and Mary Bono Mack: "The two Republicans are now looking for work."
It is one thing to gloat, but this is downright nasty. Or have you indeed checked with them personally?
Louise Landuyt, Redington Shores
No winner till Saturday | Nov. 9
Hold leaders to account
We should hold Gov. Rick Scott accountable for the shameful way the election was conducted here. It is disgusting that every other state's results were listed before us. The long lines in areas where President Barack Obama's support was strongest were a clear reflection of the effort to tilt the state to Mitt Romney. It didn't work, did it?
I also hold Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn accountable for turning Tampa into a prison camp for its own citizens during the GOP convention. I was stopped on the street downtown and asked to open my raincoat. Unacceptable in a free society.
Robert D'Avanzo, Clearwater
Some voting suggestions
Gov. Rick Scott says he is "open to suggestions" on fixing Florida's problem with long voting lines. Well, governor, may I offer a few?
1. Don't try to purge the voting rolls months before an election with inaccurate lists of voters who "might" be ineligible to vote.
2. Don't reduce the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. Make sure you include the Sunday before Election Day as an early voting day.
3. Don't require that voters produce a photo-signature ID in order to vote.
4. Don't load the ballot with long, unnecessary, mistitled, confusing amendments we don't need to delay the election process.
5. Look up the word "nonpartisan" in the dictionary. The election process is supposed to be nonpartisan. Please educate yourself as to the meaning of that word.
6. Try to make sure there are at least 851 more precincts open for the next presidential election, as there were in 2008.
7. Allow voting in buildings other than election offices, libraries and city halls. Many of these facilities are too small. For example, allow religious and community buildings to be used as before.
8. When you meet in the secretary of state's office to look at things that can be improved in the elections process, please include at least one Democratic leader. I have no confidence that a meeting of Republicans who created this mess will be able to fix it by themselves.
In other words, get rid of all the impediments to voting you and your party helped put in place in your failed attempt to suppress the Democratic vote.
Stephen Feldman, Valrico
Obama's second term minefield | Nov. 8
Second term agenda
Second terms may well be a minefield for presidents. But this time it is also a minefield for all citizens who must face reality. That reality includes the need to put our fiscal house in order. That will involve spending cuts as well as rasing some taxes.
We, directly or indirectly, created the red ink and we must be prepared to make those sacrifices to put the budget back in the black.
Some possible solutions are:
1. Reinstitute the Clinton tax rates, under which economic growth boomed.
2. Reduce all government expenditure, whether welfare, subsidies or military, by small percentages, say 1 or 2 percent.
3. Use savings to reduce the deficit and increase jobs through rebuilding our infrastructure of roads and bridges.
Unfortunately, too many special interest groups use their energies to perpetuate benefits for their groups, and politicians are reluctant to offend them for fear of losing their votes. But we can no longer kick the can down the road.
Frank Braccio, Treasure Island
Country has changed
It's a sad day. Not so much because President Barack Obama won, but for what we have become as a country. It used to be that we were a strong, vibrant country that stood up for the rights of human life, worked hard for the things we achieved, fought for freedom and did the right things.
It is now apparent that a majority of people think they are entitled. It's become all about what can the government do for me.
As a small boy I remember John F. Kennedy at his inauguration saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what can you do for your country." And he was a Democrat.
We have slowly gravitated to becoming another European country like France, Italy or Greece — all socialistic and all doomed financially.
Paul Pijacki, Tampa