State makes joblessness even worse | May 13, editorial
Don't overlook abuses of system
As a small business owner, I found your editorial to be incomplete. While it is true that the Department of Economic Opportunity can be ineffective, and you make it clear this is the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott's responsibility, you left out one of the main reasons this is so.
That reason is that huge numbers of people who have no logical reason to apply for benefits hopelessly clog the system looking for aid. Restaurants, unfortunately, are known for high employee turnover rates. Perhaps 75 percent of my former employees who have quit of their own volition, often having worked only a few weeks, file for unemployment benefits. More than a few have managed it from their jail cells. If I don't go through the time and hassle to dispute them, they will get paid.
Certainly, unemployment benefits are a necessary societal safety net for those in genuine need. It's simple and, frankly, lazy to criticize the easy villains, but we also have to look in the mirror and point the finger directly at ourselves.
Gordon Stevenson, Tampa
State makes joblessness even worse May 13, editorial
I consider myself an intelligent person (college graduate), and even I had problems navigating through the "Re-employment Assistance" website. The number of pages, questions, tests and documentation that you have to wade through is cumbersome and beyond frustrating. Only after you do not receive your weekly deposit do you learn that you failed to do something correctly.
I was laid off April 8 and, due to numerous problems with this system, I didn't receive my first payment until four weeks later. I pity the people with less computer skills or who would depend on these payments to survive.
No wonder Florida ranks last in the nation for the percentage of people eligible for unemployment benefits who actually receive them.
Mauri Dietrich, St. Petersburg
Bondi enlists Florida businesses to help fight human trafficking | May 7
Ready to join the effort
It is my pleasure to join a coalition of business leaders, large and small, and Chambers of Commerce from across the state in eradicating human trafficking. We thank Attorney General Pam Bondi for inviting us to be part of the solution. Exploitation of humans, for sex or labor, is intolerable and we look forward working together on an education campaign for leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to identify the types of unscrupulous practices that lead to this problem.
Awareness, vigilance and finding ways to help victims is how we will deliver solutions for Florida's future. We cannot let this stand, and we look forward working on educational programs for businesses with a long-term focus.
Our business communities are the boots on the ground, the decisionmakers, and the community change agents that will make a difference in this process. We applaud the state's leaders for trying to find solutions that avoid regulation. We look forward to working with the partners convened on this issue to deliver quality workplaces and prosperous futures that we know are possible in Florida. As with most things, the answer to what ails Florida will come from the business community.
Tony Carvajal, executive vice president, Florida Chamber Foundation, Tallahassee
IRS mismanagement blamed | May 15
They should expect an audit
What is the big deal about the audit of tea party returns? The IRS routinely does special audits of people filing S corporation returns or those filing returns from mainly cash businesses, so why would it be considered so bad to do a close audit on those affiliated with groups that openly rail against paying income tax?
Tea party-related groups are notoriously antitax. If a request for exemption from tax is being filed by a group or a person that identifies themselves as opposing taxes, that is like waving a red flag in the face of the beast — expect a reaction.
Patricia Houghtalen, New Port Richey
It's a dog's world | May 13, commentary
Where dogs don't belong
I am an indoor dog owner/ lover and have been all my life. But there are places that a dog does not belong unless it is a guide dog.
I recently visited a Golden Corral with my family and was disgusted to see a small terrier under one of the tables with the owner hand-feeding it. The owner and two other guests were a little older than I, and none of the three was blind. When I asked the manager if the health department allows this, his response was, "The customer does not have to be blind." If it is not a guide dog, it has no place in a public building.
Tammy Sloan, Tampa
That's a deal | May 14
Keep their faces in mind
The pictures of 11 lawmakers on the front page would be more correctly identified as mug shots, lacking only numbers beneath each one.
They are no better than common criminals, denying decent health care for the poor while simultaneously enjoying excellent benefits at our expense. The hypocrisy, the greed, the uncaring, aristocratic attitudes, the ultimate "I've got mine" syndrome — they all smile happily while keeping their excellent state-subsidized health care benefits.
Look at those pictures and think protest. Call their offices, write letters, sign petitions, and try to get those creeps out of office. Health care is at stake.
Claire McCarthy Lutzmann, Dunedin
Pope canonizes hundreds of new saints May 13
Victims of the church
The Roman Catholic Church has canonized 813 people who were killed by Muslims in 1480 because they were Christians. Dare I ask what recognition the church has given to vastly more people who were tortured and slaughtered in Inquisitions between 1252 and 1834 at the instigation and approval of the Roman Catholic Church because they were not Christian?
Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater