GOP to oppose retention of 3 judges on state high court | Sept. 22
A blatant threat to the judiciary
As a registered Republican, I am appalled to read that the Republican Party of Florida is using hard-earned donations to mount a campaign to oppose the retention of state Supreme Court Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
This is a nonpartisan retention election for three of the finest, hardworking, ethical and intelligent jurists we have. Surely there are Republican legislative candidates in Florida who could use these funds.
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor travels the country declaring campaigns such as this a threat to our judiciary, the third branch of government, and in fact our entire democracy. The Republican Party's justification — a 10-year-old death penalty case — is even more ludicrous. This is nothing more than a blatant attempt at court-packing, a dream of giving Gov. Rick Scott three appointments to the court.
And this is that party that calls Charlie Crist an "opportunist."
Irene H. Sullivan, Florida circuit judge (retired), Pinellas Park
Mayor vows to save trolley | Sept. 19
This article about Mayor Bob Buckhorn's vow to keep Tampa's tourist streetcars in operation reminds me that our city once had an extensive streetcar system serving citizens and reducing traffic. It is long gone.
I suspect it fell prey to the same greed that resulted in the 1949 conviction of General Motors, Firestone Tire and Standard Oil of California for buying up the Los Angeles street system, swiftly removing the trolleys, almost overnight, ripping up the tracks and replacing the trolleys with fuel-burning (pollution-causing) buses powered by General Motors engines riding on Firestone rubber tires.
They were found guilty but paid a piddling fine, and streetcar systems soon magically disappeared nationwide.
Joseph F. Bohren, Odessa
15 face charges in fraud sting | Sept. 20
Someone should be fired
The theft of $468 million by Tampa residents through fraudulent IRS refunds is appalling. Where was the Treasury Department, which oversees IRS operations? Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other officials should be fired.
This is the fault of the current administration, not George Bush.
Thomas Pease, Clearwater
Alter volunteer fire units? | Sept. 23
Emergency service bargain
I found this article somewhat misleading regarding Hillsborough County being urged to rethink its volunteer fire/rescue plan. It sounded all-encompassing and implied that all-volunteer units are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.
Please be advised that the Sun City Center Emergency Squad is an all-volunteer organization. We are a basic life-support service in southern Hillsborough County. We have 440 members, all volunteers, and receive no funding from any government source — federal, state or county. No one in our organization is paid. We are entirely supported by donations within the community and periodically by community grants.
Last year we went on 6,100 emergency runs, all at no cost to the patient. It has been estimated by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue that the Sun City Center Emergency Squad saved Hillsborough County taxpayers in excess of $4 million last year. Each of our emergency medical technicians is highly trained and licensed by the state of Florida.
Jan Huber, assistant chief, Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Sun City Center
Romneys release tax bill | Sept. 22
It's a nonissue
The simple fact is that capital gains income is taxed at a lower rate than wage income, in part to encourage investment. In 2004, it was pointed out that candidate John Kerry's tax rate was very low because he filed jointly with his wife — who had millions in capital gains income. In fact, the Kerry tax rate was actually lower than Mitt Romney's average rate over the past decade — but it wasn't the defining issue of the election.
If Congress wishes to amend the tax code, it certainly can. It's time for President Barack Obama's campaign to stop flogging this issue and move on to the real issues facing the country.
Peter Ford, St. Petersburg
Model of civility
Last week, I attended my first Tiger Bay Club meeting and political debate, featuring candidates for Hillsborough County supervisor of elections. On the Republican side is Rich Glorioso; the Democratic candidate is Craig Latimer.
They were asked to provide an example that illustrates their nonpartisanship and an example of how their opponent is too partisan for the post. For the first part, Glorioso cited examples in his role as a longtime, nonpartisan member of the Plant City Commission and his bipartisan efforts in the Legislature. Latimer referred to instances from his years running the day-to-day operations of the supervisor's office and actually conducting elections. When prompted to answer the second half of the question, both candidates declined.
In this hyperpartisan election season, two candidates for political office refused the opportunity to cast aspirations on the reputation of their rival. This was clearly a "man bites dog" moment, noteworthy for its reflection of the candidates' character.
This will be a race to watch to see who will break first and go negative. It may also serve as an example of how civility and honor could be restored to political contests. I am hoping it is the latter.
Dan Nolan, Valrico
Ryan now talks tough on Cuba | Sept. 23
End the embargo
Rep. Paul Ryan's change of position is typical "candidate speak," where the candidate's views vary with the audience.
Our government should change its position. A sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. The United States has embargoed Cuba for over 50 years without success. If there were ever a failed policy, this is it. Most other governments long ago offered more normal relations.
Why the government has allowed a small but vocal group of immigrants, and now their children, to dictate our foreign policy is incomprehensible.
The United States trades with other communist regimes, China for example. Havana was Tampa's leading trade port for many years and could be a significant customer again.
Jim Hunter, Lutz