Old case is heart of GOP attack | Sept. 29
Preserve judicial independence
In recent days, the Republican Party of Florida and conservative advocacy groups have launched an assault on our state's independent judiciary that I find appalling.
Three Florida Supreme Court justices up for merit retention have been unfairly chastised for having ruled against Republican leaders on high-profile actions taken by the Legislature.
An independent judiciary protects everyone. But sadly, it is the courts' refusal to sacrifice constitutional principles that has provoked partisan attacks against Justices Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince and R. Fred Lewis.
And now comes Amendment 5 on this year's ballot, which will, if approved, allow the Legislature to gain greater control over how the courts operate and who serves on the bench.
Justices should be selected by the depth of their constitutional knowledge and ability to come to reasoned conclusions, not their willingness to succumb to popular beliefs or the arm-twisting of the majority political party.
Florida leaders should work to preserve the independence of the judiciary and provide our courts with a stable and dedicated funding source.
Florida Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, District 55
David Grant leaving life on his own terms Sept. 29
Thank you, Irene Maher, for the article on David Grant.
During his last year on WFLA, we had a very bad storm in the area and I was checking with local TV stations to keep abreast of the situation. It was late in the afternoon when I heard Grant say, "Take a deep breath, we are going to be safe."
Our prayers are with David Grant, meteorologist extraordinaire, and his family.
Frank Diamond, Dunedin
The Villages bills itself as "America's Friendliest Hometown." Well, we Democrats who live here have been finding out that that appears to be true for Republicans only. The developers and their "newspaper" have fostered an atmosphere of vitriol, viciousness and hatred, which leads the "family values" party members to do things like key cars that have Obama bumper stickers and put dog waste on golf carts with Obama signs. Our car was keyed, and I am furious. But it makes me vow to work even harder to get President Barack Obama re-elected.
Susan Hausner, the Villages
Vote early or by mail
It's more important than ever for citizens to vote early or by absentee ballot. With a full slate of candidates from national to local and 11 proposed constitutional amendments of significant complexity, the time it will take to cast a fully informed vote will be lengthy.
Many workers can neither afford to stand in line for hours nor will their employers take kindly to the fact that it took an employee several hours to exercise his or her franchise. One wonders if there was an element of deviousness in trying to suppress the number of voters just by throwing in a large number of constitutional amendment proposals on top of all the candidates.
Mark Brandt, Dunedin
Florida gets most federal funds | Oct. 2
Facts find their way out
After all the bashing of Gov. Rick Scott over his declining federal dollars for Florida projects, it must have been really difficult for the Times to include the article stating that Florida is "Uncle Sam's favorite." Florida gets the biggest share of federal dollars on a per capita basis including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. My goodness, the truth actually does find its way out.
Patricia Dalton, Clearwater
Local hiring ordinance
The city of St. Petersburg has decided to research the possibility of adopting a local hiring ordinance on public construction projects over $2 million. Contractors and subcontractors would be required to hire local residents to perform at least 50 percent of work hours. The program would cover local residents who reside within Pinellas County. Contractors who fail to comply with the requirements of the local hiring program would face penalties ranging from arbitration to specific damages.
There are so many things wrong with this, but let's start with the biggest mistake. When did it become legal for local government to tell a private company whom it can hire? Is the local government going to pay for job training, drug testing, background checks, or insurance coverage? Is local government going to pay for the bonds they require to secure the quality of work performed by the 50 percent mandated workforce?
Does local government realize the construction workforce in Florida has already been devastated by this economic downturn? The unemployment rate for the construction industry is well over 18 percent statewide.
These harmful practices only happen during times of economic downturn. When you hear the word "local" coming out of a politician's mouth, it is a warm and fuzzy way to say "control."
Steve Cona III, Tampa
At 79, fight is on to keep license | Oct. 2
Disabled can still drive
I believe the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles broke the law when it forced Marjorie Buda to take a driving test simply because she uses a walker.
Using a walker, wheelchair or cane has absolutely nothing to do with a driver's skill behind the wheel. Drivers with disabilities are not bad drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that only 1.46 percent of surveyed drivers with disabilities had ever been in an accident in a modified vehicle.
Florida statutes say the department can only force an early retest if it has evidence from her driving record (which was clean), a doctor's letter (which they didn't have) or "other evidence" indicating that letting her drive is detrimental to public safety. The DMV can only insist on a road test based on "serious doubt as to his or her ability to operate a vehicle safely" if her license is up for renewal, which it wasn't.
The department needs to train its clerks to follow the law and to respect drivers who have a disability.
Ben Ostrowsky, Tampa