Religion on ballot misleads voters | Dec. 16, editorial
Ballot measure violates rights
It should have been obvious from the start that the Legislature's proposed constitutional amendment, entitled "Religious Freedom," would be controversial, if not in violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and Florida's Constitution. Both constitutions prevent the establishment of a religion, or favoring or disfavoring one religion over another. But in Tallahassee, even Florida's Constitution takes a back seat to the views of special interest groups.
Both constitutions mandate a separation of powers between the three main branches of government. Thus, when Florida's attorney general, a member of the executive branch, is allowed to rewrite the Legislature's proposed constitutional amendment, a violation of the separation of powers exists. Of course, you would have to mislead voters to get a 60 percent majority needed for passage. Schoolchildren could have nailed this one.
Today, even the tea party recognizes that Florida is lacking in the science and mathematics spheres that will propel the state forward in our joint economic future. Diverting critical public education funds to religious organizations subverts our economic progress, would result in taxpayers funding sectarian religion views and creates the financial nightmare of trying to fund every religion equally so as not to favor one over another.
Stuart Berney, Tampa
War ends | Dec. 16
I find this headline erroneous and offensive. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not ended. I do agree that it is time to bring our military troops home, because our country cannot afford the human and financial costs any longer.
Proclaiming "war ends" is strictly political. It is President Barack Obama's way of trying to make himself look good so he can garner votes.
Linda Jones, New Port Richey
It's not complicated: Money corrupts D.C. Dec. 16, commentary
Voters can deliver change
Bill McKibbon's article on the money corruption of Washington hit the nail on the head. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., bristled at the suggestion that $365,798 in contributions from the fossil fuel industry could influence his vote, yet he voted 100 percent in their favor. Too many of our congressmen are just like him. The big money boys are so powerful, and such skillful manipulators, that our country is now in thrall to the oligarchs.
How to get free? Don't look to Congress for help — too many of them are indentured slaves to Big Wealth. We have only one weapon against their greedy, for-profit influence, and that is our vote. We must look hard to our elected representatives, study their records, learn who contributed how much to their campaigns, and, if they fail the test, vote them out. We can still prevail against the forces of greed.
Lorraine Madison, St. Petersburg
Groups join to fight new voting laws | Dec. 16
Voting isn't difficult
Anyone who wants to vote should have to provide a state-issued photo ID. Anyone who disagrees with this must be in favor of voter fraud. The voting laws in Florida pose no hardship for legitimate voters who are not foolish or lazy.
I have been voting successfully for years, even before there was early voting or provisional ballots. I don't wait till it's too late to register. I don't try to vote at the wrong precinct. And I don't complain if there is law enforcement at or near the voting site (because I'm not a criminal).
Thomas Sarsfield, Valrico
Lawmakers out of touch
I don't know how any of these politicians have the gall to ask us to re-elect them. My wife and I are both retired. Our income is based on my Postal Service retirement, both of our (very small) Social Security checks, and her small retirement from the schools where she worked in the cafeterias for just over 10 years.
Ten years in the school system gets you about $100 a month when you retire, as opposed to six years in Congress where you get a full paid lifetime retirement.
There was no cost of living adjustment for 2010 or 2011 for Social Security or federal pensioners. So while our income has remained at the 2009 level, our health insurance, taxes and life insurance have risen to the point where we now make over $5,000 less than we did in 2009.
The current administration still believes that the recession ended in June 2009. I do not believe that any of our elected representatives in Washington have any idea what this sour economy is doing to the average homeowner's budget.
Donald Kennedy, Largo
At a loose end
One question for those who support the current proposed dog tethering ordinance:
What, exactly, should be done with a dog that cannot be released in a fenced yard because it will either dig itself out or jump the fence?
Charles Palmer, Lutz
Ancient Egypt: Art and Magic
In the cultural spotlight
One of my daily pleasures is reading the Financial Times, and part of my enjoyment of it comes from learning about plays, art exhibits and musical events that are happening around the world — not because I'm making plans to attend them, but to derive reassurance that such a wide diversity of cultural enrichment still exists outside of my small world.
In last Thursday's edition, under the heading "Happening: Magic of Ancient Egypt," the latest exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts was highlighted in some detail. For once I could proudly say, "Hey, fellow FT readers — welcome to my world!"
Bob Wingerson, St. Petersburg
Save $100 now! | Dec. 19
Land lines come in handy
When Hurricane Charley hit in 2004, cell phone service in the Port Charlotte area was knocked out. Many people had no way to call for help or contact their insurance company. However, the land lines continued to function.
In short, if you did not have land line telephone service, there was no way to contact the outside world.
For emergency situations such at this, it would be wise to keep this service at hand.
P.J. Jaccoi, Tampa