Cuts will end up costing | Dec. 24, letter
Vulnerable will get state support
A recent letter writer commented on Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget for fiscal 2012-13 concerning the services provided to those with developmental disabilities. As director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, I am happy to report that these vulnerable Floridians have the support of the governor.
In fact, Gov. Scott's proposed budget increases funding by $26 million to meet the needs of the 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities currently receiving services under the Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver.
The writer also mentioned reductions to services that would take effect in January. APD has two new cost-containment initiatives. One will collect fees from customers who receive residential services only if they also receive federal cash benefits; and the other will standardize rates paid for intensive behavior services. Neither of these will reduce the services provided to our customers.
I can assure you of Gov. Scott's commitment to better serve Floridians with developmental disabilities. He supports APD's continuing efforts to keep spending in line with appropriations while providing the most appropriate services for those served by the agency.
Michael P. Hansen, director, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Tallahassee
Put a stop to the D.C. gravy train | Dec. 26, editorial
Book exposed the problem
I was glad to see the Times join the chorus deploring insider trading by members of Congress. Some of the deals from which they profited would have led to prison time for ordinary citizens.
However, I was disappointed that the editorial credited CBS's 60 Minutes when, in fact, that program merely spotlighted the hard work of Peter Schweizer, author of Throw Them All Out, the book that exposed the problem.
Here at the James Madison Institute, we're very familiar with Schweizer, a Tallahassee resident who's our former president and whom JMI is proud to list as a member of our Research Advisory Council.
Schweizer, who's also a fellow at the Hoover Institution, spent many months poring over financial records while researching his book. He deserves recognition for his hard work.
Robert F. Sanchez, Tallahassee
Syrians call for Assad's death | Dec. 28
Syrians want a better life
While my heart is heavy with grief when I read about unrest in Syria and the city of Homs, it is also filled with expectations and hopes. I was blessed to live and work in Homs. It is truly a wonderful city. There are not a lot of historical relics or ruins, but the souls of the people more than make up for it.
It is important that the West does not point fingers or have expectations of a Western mentality. It is telling that the Arab League levied the latest sanctions and accused the government of abuse and inhumane actions.
Normally Homs is a peaceful and quiet city. The people of Homs have strong wills and backbones. They need to be heard, and we should listen to them.
This article was especially poignant to me because it mentions some areas that I know personally. I lived in the Inshaat neighborhood. Inshaat is next door to Bab Amr. These are working-class neighborhoods, filled with families. These families want what other families around the world want; they want to feed their children, see them grow up and receive a decent education. Unfortunately, these things are not happening.
Instead of pointing our fingers and placing blame on a person, place or thing, we should be expressing our support to the people of Syria. The unrest in Syria/Homs is part of the Arab Spring. This unrest needs to be addressed, because in a short moment it can go from a "good cause" to complete mayhem.
Mark L. Grantham, Gulfport
The Dalí should play nice, share Dec. 25, Robyn Blumner column
Disappointed in Dalí
Robyn Blumner truly speaks for the general public in her column about the Dalí Museum not playing fair. My spouse and I don't have a lot of expendable income, but we thought it wise to become members of the museum. We think it is a place that our guests should see and have invited them on several occasions.
Recently, I went online to consider a North American Reciprocal Museum membership and was surprised at the 50-mile embargo that the Dalí had arbitrarily imposed on its supporters. Considering all the reports of outstanding attendance at the new location, I found this strategy puzzling.
I fully empathize with Blumner and applaud her for once again being on the right side of justice and fairness. It is unfortunate that the Dalí does not value keeping its promises, or protecting the long-term economic interests of the museum.
John R. Gallo, Ruskin
Close sales tax loophole | Dec. 28, editorial
Look for money elsewhere
Your proposal would just be another tax on the taxpayer, not the merchant. If you want to be fair and help the local merchant and taxpayer, repeal the sales tax and consider taxing professional services and the marketing industry. Imagine all the revenue that could be obtained from taxing media advertisements.
Your proposal is aimed at the helpless and not those with the money and strong lobbyists.
Richard Dornblaser, Clearwater
Not fiscally responsible
In a recent speech, Mitt Romney called for the termination of funding for PBS, which benefits all of us through its quality programming. Total savings: approximately $420 million a year. That is about the cost of two F-35 strike fighters, and we are buying more than 2,000 of them.
The rhetoric coming from the Republican candidates is neither fiscally responsible nor beneficial to the citizens of our nation. They see this time of financial hardship as a prime opportunity to kill programs that aid the poor and disadvantaged in our country.
The question every voter should ask this next election is: Do you want your tax dollars to go to Big Bird and to educating our next Steve Jobs; or would you prefer it go to the shareholders of Lockheed Martin and Exxon?
Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg