Is this charming Charlie's comeback? | Sept. 8, Sue Carlton column
The lowest kind of opportunism
The Times has been having a lot of fun with this latest incarnation of Charlie Crist. Sue Carlton calls Charlie "charming" and compares his ideological flexibility to Gumby's gyrations. If we were talking about the gang at the high school prom instead of the serious business of governing Florida and the country, Charlie's behavior might be "charming." When the stakes are how people get to live their lives and whether anybody can find a job, let's please lay "charming" and Gumby aside.
Those of us who have engaged in the campaign game from the inside understand that there are people with integrity on both sides of the aisle, although few would proclaim that during a campaign cycle. Politics is, after all, a blood sport. On the other hand, most people on both sides will acknowledge that the worst sort, the really toxic ones, are office seekers who do not believe in anything except their own desire to grasp power. These are the "political ebola," if you will.
Crist is a spectacular example of this type of bottom feeder. We may have to go all the way back to Lowell Weicker a few decades ago in Connecticut to find a similar prototype.
A few years ago Charlie Crist was telling us that he was the new voice for conservatism in Florida, another Ronald Reagan. It is not possible for an honest man with what is presumably Crist's level of intellectual sophistication to believe in the principles that Ronald Reagan espoused, and then support Barrack Obama's world view a few short years later. This is not about a few disagreements or an ideological lane change or two. What we are seeing is political calculation at its most deplorable.
William Bradford Krones, New Port Richey
Rapidly shifting standards
Teaching in Hillsborough County for six years now, I've seen the teaching standards change three times. New curriculum resources for math, reading, science, writing and even social studies have been implemented. Numerous methods to track students who learn at different tier levels have been attempted, including this year. And now an ill-spent $100 million for the Empowering Effective Teachers evaluation system. All in six years.
An unbelievable amount of work has been shoved down teachers' throats. We're like robots, and many of us feel we're being pulled along like puppets without any voice. I still can't believe Florida talked our union into an antistrike clause. How are we supposed to become efficient at what we do when Hillsborough County can't go longer than two years without changing something?
Peter Bates, Seffner
School tax renewal urged | Sept. 9
Benefits should flow to all
So we are being asked to tax ourselves again to help Pinellas County teachers and to support art, reading, music and technology. One thing that this story does not tell is that there is a group of school employees who get nothing from this tax: the support staff. No school can run with merely a principal, assistant principal and the teachers. There are teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, secretaries, technology workers, kitchen staff and more who make the schools run smoothly, and they have not received a raise, a bonus or other extra pay in years.
In 2004, the teachers union voted down the idea of sharing the tax proceeds with support staff. The second vote was the same. The article states that 80 percent of this tax goes to the teachers. It is high time that the teachers share this money with the support staff.
Dave Cordes, Clearwater
Paid my dues
I paid into Social Security and Medicare for almost 40 years. I was hurt during a combat deployment in Vietnam. I was able to work for the federal government for 20 years before my disabilities caught up with me. Now that I am getting Social Security payments, veterans compensation and Medicare, I am told that these are entitlements. I am told in the media and by politicians that my income is a drag on the economy. I think I earned the benefits I get the hard way.
John King, Tampa
Ex-Rep. Long rips fire unions | Sept. 11
The statements made by Janet Long are disgusting. I have been a firefighter for nearly 29 years in Pinellas County. I have been spit on, vomited on and bled on. I have stepped through body parts to do my job. I have seen life come back into people and watched life fade from others.
I have done this every third day for decades. Not eight hours every third day, but every third 24 hours. That equals 56 hours per week I am physically at the department. This includes birthdays, holidays, family events, illnesses, weekends and more.
Those million-dollar pensions and double-dipping must be for some other guy somewhere else. I have not had a raise in six years. Our contribution to our pensions tripled in the last three years to almost 10 percent of total salary and the benefits have been reduced. Our health insurance costs have almost doubled.
Long owes an apology to all public servants.
Nick Reale, Seminole
Spin, rinse, repeat
I just watched the recap of today's political stumping by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It's like watching the movie Groundhog Day.
Every day, they answer questions in the morning. Many times, they either say something that isn't true, or they get caught saying something different than they said before while trying to be "all things to all people." By noon, they are "walking back" their morning answers to correct something they said earlier in the day. Then by midafternoon, they are sending out a "staffer" or a press release to say "what the candidate really meant" was something altogether different.
For months, I've also heard the GOP talking point that there is this vast "uncertainty" in the American economy, and it is this "uncertainty" that is "really holding back businesses from hiring."
Exactly how are these gaffe-masters, Romney and Ryan, going to solve that "uncertainty" problem? They are the poster boys for secrecy, uncertainty and mixed messages.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa