Letter of the Month
February's Letter of the Month is from Robert A. Shaw, who wrote about lobbyists.
The problem is secrecy, money
In his defense of the lobbying profession, Darryl Paulson either overlooked or conveniently avoided the real issue. The problem is not with the those who practice the art, or with the profession itself. Few question their right to exist or their value.
The problem is the undue influence they wield as a result of the vast sums of money at their disposal, money that they pass both over and under the table into the eager hands of those we send to Washington to represent our interests. Worse is the fact that most of their contacts with Congress are cloaked in secrecy. Shut the spigot off, bring the contacts out into the sunshine, and "lobbyist" would no longer be a four-letter word.
Robert A. Shaw, Madeira Beach
Florida's bad sense on bidding March 1, editorial
Take a stronger stand
I was pleased by the vigilance presented in this Times editorial. I would, however, ask that these types of pieces be much more strongly worded in the future. Crony capitalism and the exponential rise of big money in politics are the greatest threats to the economic well-being of the average American. To soft-sell this as an unfortunate consequence of a poorly designed bidding system and to allow your assertion of malfeasance to be left implicit is fine, subtle writing but bad journalism.
Those who would subvert a fair and equitable system in favor of others who line their pockets are criminals and should do time beside carjackers and bank robbers. Light admonishments do not suffice. As the watchdogs of our culture, I ask that you continue to present such research, while being mindful that we are as yet many miles away from the level of public anger and awareness required (from liberals and conservatives both) to reform our system and restore the level playing field on which capitalism thrives.
Justin Anderson, Tampa
Russian troops advance | March 4
Parallels in history
Three-quarters of a century ago there existed in Central Europe an area known as the Sudetenland. Located in western Czechoslovakia, it was inhabited by people of mostly German origin, many of whom longed to be united with Germany. Shortly after Adolf Hitler had merged Germany with Austria (Anschluss), he turned his attention to neighboring Sudetenland, pressuring the Czech government to cede the territory to Germany. On Oct. 10, 1938, only 10 days after the conclusion of the infamous Munich Conference to which Czech officials were not invited, British, French and Italian heads of government effectively ceded the Sudetenland to Hitler, and German forces quickly occupied the territory.
Are we not currently witnessing a similar assertion of ethnicity-based annexation of territory by force in the Crimea? The events now transpiring in Russia and Ukraine would seem eerily similar to those of 1938. Will there be an equally similar sequel?
Recently, in the midst of an appalling humanitarian crisis in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sept. 7, 2013, "This is our Munich moment," urging the West not to remain "silent spectators to slaughter" and to support a U.S.-led strike against the regime of Bashar Assad. That strike never came, the slaughter being carried out by Vladimir Putin's ally continues, and one wonders: Has Putin himself not proffered to us the first foretaste of a bitter cup in the Crimea?
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center
The Tin Man | March 3, editorial
Governor is out of touch
When running for governor last time, Rick Scott claimed to be an outsider. We thought he meant outside the political machine of entrenched cronyism and back-room shenanigans that had plagued us since statehood. We did not realize Scott meant outsider as in, out of touch with the core values of the majority of Floridians. Please reprint this article the week before the fall elections. Voters have short memories.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg
Running like a business
Leave it to the Times to publish such a ridiculously one-sided article. I suppose that is why they call it an editorial, but many people may not realize that it is filled with propaganda. I could not begin to refute all the one-sided statements, like Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to accept billions for high-speed rail. Of course that is true. He did it to save billions of Florida taxpayers' dollars in the future on a train that would never break even.
Here's the bottom line on what the writer doesn't get: Yes, Scott is running the state like a business. It needs to be run efficiently. It is a good thing to run a business like you do not have a heart. If states were run from the heart, and not from a business-oriented brain, we would all be Detroit.
Diana Legore, Treasure Island
Hoping for the year of the child | March 3, Perspective
A degree of difference
Why should child protection workers be mandated to have a degree in social work? We elected a governor with no previous experience holding a political office and look how great that worked out.
M.A. Russell, South Pasadena
Don't forget utility 'tax'
One key legislative issue is the ongoing "taxing" ability of the utilities. The utilities should not have been allowed to make consumers pay for their follies and negligence, and they especially should not have been allowed to earn a profit on these boondoggles.
The Legislature failed to act on this issue last year, though there was a weak attempt to water down the nuclear cost recovery law. However, this is an election year, so please keep asking them the questions and keep us apprised of what our legislators do about the utilities.
When it comes time for us to vote, we need to know whether our legislators are working for us or working for the utilities.
William Nye, Clearwater