Mulhern drops out of election | Feb. 1
Fine record of public service
My wife and I were saddened to read of Mary Mulhern's decision to leave the coming County Commission race, first because of her illness. We are glad that her case is not severe and that she will be able to carry on in other capacities. We wish her the best of health. Second, we will miss her voice on a governmental body intended for public service where she was often the lone voice of reason.
We thank her for her maintaining her well-reasoned stances, especially when she was standing against a high and rising tide of (often misguided) public opinion and moneyed interests. We are also grateful for her reminding us all that we still live in America, where individual freedoms, the common good, and thoughtful debate and resolution are supposed to be foremost.
We appreciate her advocacy of community garden projects, privacy rights and environmental issues. People of Mulhern's caliber cannot be kept down for long, and we are sure that she will quickly attract many opportunities for additional personal and public accomplishment after her City Council term ends.
James Walter, Tampa
Simple matter of liberty
Several educated, white-collar folks have written pieces lately about the dangers of marijuana. They know firsthand because they smoked for a few years in school, then quit. These are people with degrees and accomplishments. So wait, they smoked weed for a while yet somehow did not end up hooked on heroin or crack and living in the street? They in fact went on to have successful careers?
That comes as no surprise to the legions of American marijuana users who for decades have: worked, paid taxes, raised families, had profitable and legal businesses, gone to school, fought for our country, and just generally exhibited American exceptionalism. All the while, they lived in fear of a conviction that would strip them of voting rights, gun rights, eligibility for federal loans and grants, seizure of homes, prison, families torn apart, careers and lives ruined, etc.
The reality is that anyone who wishes to use marijuana already does so. And we are your neighbors, relatives, co-workers and college-age kids who will one day be hack writers. Some of us have serious health conditions that are genuinely eased by cannabis use. Some don't. We all simply want to be left alone to pursue happiness as we are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
John Nason, Brooksville
Look to other states, science
Concerning the November ballot, a thorough exam of the medicalization laws in California and Colorado is appropriate. With the "loose" wording of the Florida amendment, it appears safeguards are not in place to prevent a repeat performance in Florida of what happened in California and Colorado. Colorado has more than 100,000 card-carrying "medical marijuana patients," and California sales indicate a disproportionate number of "needy patients" as well. The increased sales in both states indicate a negative impact on young people.
A historical perspective on how Congress has set up legal mechanisms for research on marijuana is also appropriate. The National Institutes of Health and the FDA have continued to inhibit research. Science should be deciding the issue, but unfortunately our government agencies in charge of public safety have ignored their responsibilities concerning marijuana.
Larry Golbom, Largo
Hardly a climate to teach, or learn, in | Feb. 2, John Romano column
What teachers are facing
I have never wanted to say "amen" more than after reading John Romano's column.
I am a retired teacher from Pasco County, and for many years I said we should only be accountable when we were the ones raising the kids. The baggage children bring to school with them is often insurmountable and makes teaching very difficult.
On many occasions my husband would stop me as I came home and tried to tell him about the bad things that had happened to my students in their homes. People do not realize how life is for most kids today. They are hungry, angry, afraid of losing their home or parents, and we expect them to excel in school.
Legislators should have to substitute in a school for a week, and I bet then they would give teachers a raise and beg them to stay in their positions instead of leaving the field like many are today after a few years in the classroom.
Thanks again for understanding what teachers are up against every day.
Sandra Chappuis, Trinity
Dozier yields 55 bodies | Jan. 29
Barriers to the truth
Still unanswered after the recent revelations of even more unmarked graves than previously expected at the former Florida School for Boys is why Gov. Rick Scott attempted last year to stop the mapping and excavations there, when his appointed Secretary of State Ken Detzner temporarily barred the USF-led team from working at the site.
Thanks to Attorney General Pam Bondi and to her fellow GOP Cabinet members Adam Putnam and Jeff Atwater, all of whom came out strongly in favor of letting the USF team resume their efforts at Dozier, Scott had no choice but to accede to the demands of the "Dozier Boys" and the families of those young men who disappeared there years ago. After that Cabinet meeting (where Bondi and her allies prevailed) last year, Scott fled the scene before he could be quizzed by the press about why his appointee Detzner, who serves at the pleasure of the governor, issued the order to stop the work at Dozier in the first place.
Joe McColloch, Tampa
Can this make a comeback? | Feb. 2
It takes only six minutes
What can be accomplished is six minutes? Proper penmanship pedagogy requires only six minutes of daily instruction. In that brief time the correct size, shape, slant and spacing of cursive letter formation can be imparted, as well as the correct way to hold the pencil or pen.
Having had the pleasure of 38 years instructing America's youth, I cannot remember a third-grader unenthused about learning the mysteries of cursive writing. In fact it seemed a rite of passage between primary and intermediate grades.
Donna Marie Kostreva, St. Petersburg