Jolly wins race in national eye | March 12
Victor should represent all sides
Congratulations to our new congressman, David Jolly, the winner of Tuesday's special election. His victory reminded me of another political race in our area, the 2009 St. Petersburg mayoral race between Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford. Each had a specific agenda and it was a spirited race. Foster won with 53 percent, and one of the first things he said after he won was that it was important to remember that 47 percent of the voters didn't choose him.
Jolly won with 48 percent of the vote to Alex Sink's 47 percent. It's important for him to understand that the 1 percentage-point victory makes Foster's words ring true. No one can ever live up to the legacy of Bill Young, and I'm sure Jolly is well aware of that. But keeping in mind the numbers surrounding his victory should be a daily reminder to him when contentious issues arise. Keep all of the citizens on both sides in your mind and the opportunity for success rises substantially. Best wishes, Congressman Jolly.
Scott Stewart, St. Petersburg
Jolly wins race in national eye | March 12
In eight months, a judgement
On March 11 the voters in Pinellas County's U.S. House District 13 narrowly elected former lobbyist David Jolly to succeed the late Bill Young. Jolly will have to go up for re-election in less than eight months. He will have a voting record to defend then. Will his votes in the House represent those of his colleagues as a former lobbyist in Washington, or will they reflect those of the constituents who elected him? That is a question that will deserve an answer this November.
Ken DeRoche, Tampa
Health act benefits are real
I laughed out loud at the opening paragraph of another newspaper's editorial the day after the District 13 congressional special election. It said David Jolly's victory "represents a clear repudiation of Obamacare." A "clear repudiation," really?
First of all, Jolly beat Alex Sink by 3,457 votes — hardly a landslide, and certainly not a clear repudiation of Obamacare.
There are more than 422,000 Floridians who have signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. I personally know at least 10 people who are able to have health insurance for the first time ever, without an exclusion for their pre-existing conditions, and I know at least two people who have already received life-saving treatment under their new coverage that they would never have qualified for before the Affordable Care Act. I don't know anyone who has been able to obtain coverage under the new law who wants it repealed and taken away from them.
If Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz had an ounce of compassion and would accept the Medicaid expansion money that is denying life-saving care to nearly 800,000 uninsured Floridians, we'd have more than 1.2 Million Floridians who would be in favor of keeping Obamacare.
I don't know anyone who wants to go back to "the old system" that punished people with pre-existing conditions, tied affordable health insurance to your job, didn't allow you to take your policy with you if you change jobs, kicked children off of their parents policy before age 26, and didn't make insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of the premiums that you sent to them on your care. Those are all benefits that would disappear if Obamacare was repealed.
I've been a small business owner for more than 30 years. My premiums have gone up every year during that time — often by more than 15 percent per year. Obamacare didn't cause that — it's been happening because the insurance companies have had us by the throats for years.
Last year was the first time that my health insurance company was forced to send me a check to give me back some of my premium payments, because they had not spent 80 percent of my money on my health care. That never would have happened without Obamacare.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
The orange, endangered March 9, Perspective
Citrus will survive
I want to compliment Gary R. Mormino on his well-researched and thoughtful piece on the Florida citrus industry. He did a terrific job chronicling our history and summing up our current situation.
I would like to make an addendum: Don't write our obituary just yet. Despite battling an insidious disease known as greening, Florida citrus remains a powerful economic engine contributing $9 billion annually and 76,000 jobs to the state's economy. We still cover 525,000 acres, dwarfing any other agricultural endeavor in Florida. Citrus forms the backbone of many communities throughout the state's interior. Citrus directly supports processing plants and packing houses. Ancillary businesses such as banks, truck dealerships, plant nutrition companies, restaurants and equipment stores would have a hard time surviving if it were not for citrus.
Mormino rightly cites the resilience of Florida citrus growers. Many citrus families have done it for three, four and five generations while facing crises including drought, freezes, hurricanes and disease. Each time the irrepressible spirit of citrus farmers forged ahead, allowing the industry to survive and ultimately thrive. We will do the same with citrus greening. We have the best and brightest researchers working on the puzzle right now and they are making headway.
Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president/CEO, Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland
Scott's big obstacle: The voters know him John Romano column, March 13
The money factor
Money undoubtedly plays too big a part in Tallahassee. But as long as we the people pay our legislators so little, we can expect the status quo to continue. What if we raised our legislators' pay to a level commensurate with other states of our size, required no-loophole full disclosure of any and all political contributions, and gave ethics enforcement real teeth? What if we stopped electing ethically challenged candidates?
Politicians are quick to point out that political contributions have been given First Amendment protection, but nowhere in the Constitution is there a requirement to accept these legal bribes.
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview