Lawmakers may pay at the polls
Some of Gov.-elect Rick Scott's proposals to reduce the amount of regulation affecting development have the potential to seriously degrade the quality of life for Florida residents and visitors alike.
While Scott is facing a four-year term as governor, the Republican members of the Legislature may have to consider how far and how fast they are willing to go along with him much sooner. If they want to keep their jobs in 2012, they need to carefully consider the effects of each step of deregulation.
Scott wasn't here to experience the excesses of development that led to our existing set of laws, regulations and agencies, but almost every one of them was the result of problems we as citizens had experienced. If Scott and his proposals have the effect of seriously harming the quality of life in Florida, the Republicans in the Legislature who want to be re-elected in 2012 will surely be among the first to pay the price.
In the longer term, worse living conditions will not only affect our residents but also the future economic health of our state, as fewer tourists will want to visit and as new residents fail to show up to buy new homes. I strongly suggest to our legislators they keep this in mind as they decide how closely to follow Scott's lead.
Kenneth McLaughlin, Zephyrhills
Disquieting time and Allowed to leave, two men escaped | Dec. 19
Development center has a record of success
Articles in the Times about the Human Development Center Inc. contained inaccurate information that was primarily presented by disgruntled, terminated employees of a support coordination agency and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The HDC has been part of myriad ongoing investigations for the past two years by state agencies and we have been cleared of allegations that were repeated in the articles.
The major article deals with one client whose guardian wants him placed closer to her home. As the article indicated, the APD has had difficulty finding placement for this client and the HDC continues to support the APD's efforts to transfer him.
An accurate description of the HDC's policies, treatment approach and the services provided at the HDC was not presented in the articles. Our policy on sexual behavior, which emphasized education, was consistent with the policy of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the ARC. We furnished the Times reporter with this background material, and he chose not to publish it. Our goal has always been to facilitate healthy relationships of each individual's own choosing. Many individuals served by the HDC have appropriate relationships in the community, including one who has been married.
We want to assure you that the HDC continues to provide quality services to individuals who have a history of engaging in challenging behaviors. We have a proven record of success in helping individuals who have had multiple placements and multiple encounters with the legal system to be able to achieve their goals, maintain stable behavior and live happy lives. It is always the HDC's goal to provide safe services in the least restrictive environment possible.
We have a dedicated team of staffers who do not have an easy job and are passionate about helping each person succeed, while balancing individual rights and safety. Keeping our staff, the individuals we serve and the community safe has always been and will continue to be our top priority. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
James L. Bell, executive director, HDC Inc., Tampa
Hold drivers to account
Last week a Times headline read Bicycle fatality number hits 10. The next day a pedestrian was reported killed in Tampa.
Such deaths will continue unless more emphasis, via penalties, is placed on the drivers involved in the fatalities. It's apparent from the reports that drivers are not attentive enough and don't realize they are operating a potential killing machine.
The excuses of "I didn't see him" and "I had the right of way" just don't cut it. A driver is supposed to be in control of his or her vehicle at all times and see far enough in advance to avoid hitting another human being.
There are just too many cases ending with no charges filed.
Blair Libby, Gulfport
Scott team recommends hard line for unemployed | Dec. 23
Jobless entitled to benefits
Gov.-elect Rick Scott has shown his lack of knowledge by advocating that the jobless who receive unemployment insurance benefits do community service.
Scott confuses unemployment insurance benefits with court-ordered community service. Unemployment insurance is called "insurance" for a reason: Both the employer and employee pay into this fund for those who become jobless through no fault of their own.
This insurance benefit is intended to be a temporary financial safety net until the jobless can find new employment. With one job presently available for every five jobless seeking work, and unemployment over 9 percent nationally, benefits have rightly been extended by our federal government.
Scott seeking the jobless to do community service wrongly equates them to those convicted of a crime. Our governor-elect should realize that the only crime that was committed was by Wall Street and the banks that caused the financial meltdown and the current massive unemployment in our country.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
Problem with arms treaty
One of the problems Republican senators had with New START was Article III, Section 7(a), which reads:
"A missile of a type developed and tested solely to intercept and counter objects not located on the surface of the Earth shall not be considered to be a ballistic missile to which the provisions of this treaty apply."
The senators objected to the classification of antiballistic missiles as those "developed and tested," which is ambiguous. "Developed" and "tested" can be construed as referring to events that have already taken place. Read this way, the treaty prohibits the United States from developing and deploying new, more sophisticated weapons.
The ambiguity should not be taken lightly. Note that the words "developed and tested" could have been omitted. Note as well that limiting the U.S. antiballistic missile arsenal has been a Russian goal since the 1986 Ronald Reagan-Mikhail Gorbachev meeting in Iceland.
John McFadden, Inverness