Website just one woe for agency | Jan. 26
Florida treats jobless appallingly
I have been following closely the status of Florida's CONNECT website, primarily because I am one of the millions of people affected by the federal government's failure to extend emergency unemployment compensation. Gov. Rick Scott and his team should have named the website "Florida DIS-CONNECT." The governor's lack of interest in Florida's unemployed is appalling.
In a Jan. 23 article, the Times depicted the reality of trying to communicate with this agency. It took numerous calls to my state senator, Tom Lee, to resolve my issues after they made me wait five months for a determination and payment. And Lee is on the committee that oversees this agency. How embarrassing is that?
A Jan. 26 article quotes Jeffrey Atkinson asking if the state is going to wait for us to "fall under." The answer is yes. Headlines report that the Florida jobless rate fell to 6.2 percent, but that is because those of us who have timed out due to Congress' failure to act cannot continue to report our job searches because we are locked out of CONNECT. If you want a true percentage of the jobless rate, allow the jobless to continue to report.
Scott can continue to tout his low-wage job creation while giving millions to companies that have not created jobs. But he refuses to act to assist the unemployed in the state. We want to work. But even the application process is electronic and "looks for key words" electronically to disqualify applicants. There is something truly wrong with this system. Perhaps the next governor will have enough empathy to address this very serious problem.
Diane M. Drake, Temple Terrace
Medical pot on ballot | Jan. 28
Children at risk from pot
Voters should reject "medical marijuana" on the ballot in November. I saw firsthand the damage it can do during my nine years as a juvenile judge in Pinellas County. Adolescents who used marijuana appeared before me paranoid, unfocused, depressed, chronically truant from school, mean and rebellious at home, fighting with parents and siblings. When I would send them to drug court to be educated, they would fall asleep.
Nothing in the "medi pot" ballot language prohibits minors from obtaining a "referral" for marijuana. All they need is a "condition." Ironically, that "condition" could be the very depression and paranoia linked to marijuana usage.
The American Psychiatric Association has taken the position that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development. There is plenty of evidence that the more marijuana is available, the more it will fall into the hands of our youth.
The sad kids in my courtroom most often used marijuana to mask the effects of abuse, neglect and feelings of inadequacy. It wasn't a fun "high." These kids need adult help, counseling, tutoring and mentoring. They need hope, not dope.
For the sake of our kids, vote "no" to marijuana in November.
Irene Sullivan, Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge, retired, Pinellas Park
California is poor role model | Jan. 27, letter
Middle of the pack
The letter writer is correct in saying that Florida's unemployment rate has dropped, but let's put it in perspective before annointing Gov. Rick Scott the state's savior. Unemployment has decreased throughout the country and Florida is currently ranked 25th nationwide. This is not exactly a crowning achievement for a governor who has spent millions of state dollars on corporate "incentives" and brands himself with a "let's get to work" slogan. For all of his bragging you would think Florida was No. 1 instead of middle of the pack.
Sallie Elmore, Largo
Floridians left behind on coverage Jan. 26, editorial
Let the House vote
Your editorial makes a strong and compelling case for the state House Republicans to join the state Senate in accepting $51 billion to give health insurance to 1 million uninsured Floridians.
As you report, Republican Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah has introduced a bill similar to the one passed 30-1 in the last session. However, House Speaker Will Weatherford hasn't indicated he would allow a vote on the bill if passed again by the Senate.
If Weatherford is opposed to the bill for ideological reasons, then he and others who have similar beliefs should vote against the bill. But 1 million uninsured Floridians deserve an up-or-down vote by all House members. Weatherford blocking a vote as he did last session is indefensible.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
Money means jobs
Due to House Speaker Will Weatherford's inability to accept Barack Obama as our president, he continues (apparently single-handedly) to refuse $51 billion in federal Medicaid money for our state. Besides providing access to health care for approximately 1 million uninsured Floridians, these funds would create many thousands of jobs in the health care industry and save businesses an estimated $253 million a year in tax penalties.
It's past time for our citizens to stand up against partisan politicians, such as Weatherford, who selfishly deny others benefits that they themselves take for granted by virtue of their privileged positions.
Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor
Study puts brakes on red-light cameras Jan. 23
The way of the world
Cameras are everywhere for safety.
In Germany you just might wind up with a speeding ticket even if you never see a police officer. Do not bother to explain that someone else was driving. Along with the ticket comes a photo of the driver and vehicle and another of the license plate. The fines are high.
In Medellin, Colombia, cameras have been added throughout the city. Your photo and a ticket will arrive for three different infractions: red-light running, not stopping behind the pedestrian crossings and for pico y placa (peak and plate) violations. The latter is a traffic mitigation system designed to keep traffic lighter during peak driving hours.
The only reason red-light cameras were put in place in St. Petersburg was because citizens did not obey the signals. For you few drivers who like to complain, stop going through red lights and threatening people's lives and the adults will let you drive without having your picture taken.
Martin L. Daugherty, St. Petersburg