Threat of a new 'Harvest of Shame' | Sept. 3, commentary
Growers don't merit protection
Of all people to talk about abuses in the tomato industry, Greg Asbed, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, certainly should know better than to defend Florida's tomato growers in the pages of the Times.
Florida's tomato growers have been begging the U.S. government for protection from competition for going on half a century. In 1996, timed to take advantage of the presidential election that year, Florida growers filed a trade case against Mexican tomatoes, which subsequently led to a Tomato Suspension Agreement.
As Florida growers and Asbed know, there has never been a violation of that agreement, nor have the Florida growers ever made any such allegations in the legal record. Since it is an election year, it is not coincidental that they have chosen once again to try to bring down this agreement to file a new trade case.
As for why Florida's growers want protection, the answer if simple. As has been documented extensively, including in last year's book Tomatoland, Florida growers just don't grow a good tomato. The vast majority of Florida tomatoes are picked green for longer shelf life, then unnaturally gassed to turn them artificially "ripe."
Tomatoland also documents the Florida growers' long-standing abuse of both the environment and its own workers, and in this book Asbed plays a prominent role, helping conduct a sting to expose slavery by a Florida tomato labor boss.
Asbed himself has written recently about alleged sexual harassment of female workers by a Florida tomato company.
It is inexplicable that he is defending Florida growers as they seek trade protection. Not only should he know better, he does know better.
Lance Jungmeyer, president, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.
For Obama, defend gains, detail plans Sept. 2, editorial
Record speaks for itself
In your editorial, you say President Barack Obama needs to explain his plan for reducing the debt. Frankly, given the way he actually has spent money, I don't think he has one — and I wouldn't believe him if he gave us one.
The Democrats frequently talk about returning to the Clinton-era tax rates, when the economy supposedly was good. How about returning to the Clinton-era spending levels at the same time?
Ernest Lane, Trinity
Mitt's promise | Aug. 31
Doing better than in '08
As a retired widow living on Social Security and modest investments, I listened carefully to Mitt Romey's speech. He said, "Ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago," so I did.
I looked at my Dec. 31, 2008, brokerage statements and compared them to a quick online check of the values as of today. My accounts are worth 40 percent more today than they were at the end of 2008 and for the last four years I have withdrawn enough money to supplement my Social Security so as to live a modest life.
Karen Fireman, Seminole
Which Tampa will they remember? | Sept. 2
Can we please stop obsessing about what out-of-towners think of Tampa? We collectively sound so pathetic. Jon Stewart was right to tell the Daily Show crowd that we are insecure.
We should focus on improving Tampa for ourselves, for those who live and work here. If we take care of that, everything else will fall into place. But at the end of the day, I don't care what they think about us or our beautiful city.
Debra Shifferd, Tampa
Play it straight
Years ago, the job of a reporter was to research a story, interview people for validity, and submit the facts to the public. It was not the reporter's job to base the story on his or her feelings or opinions. Objectivity and lack of a bias were an important part of the job and the stories they wrote.
Why do reporters and television announcers today feel they have to voice their opinion with each story they present — especially when it deals with politics? The reporters or announcers should not put their slant on a story unless they state that it is their opinion. Just print what you know to be absolutely true. Period. Let the public make up their own minds.
Peggy Ashbaugh, Tampa
City has $5.2M budget deficit | Aug. 31
Let the fat cats pay
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has decided to let we taxpayers pick up the RNC shortfall for the convention to the gigantic price tag of $600,000. First, we cover our beautiful city with so much chain link fence it resembles a state prison. Then, in addition to the new fire protection fee, we're supposed to chip in to make up this shortfall.
No way. Foster needs to call his fat cat friends over at the RNC and tell them to write us a check now. They are always on TV bragging about their war chest. So, send St. Pete this chump change to cover this deficit. I don't want one dime of my taxes going for this mess.
Pat Horton, St. Petersburg
Don't be fooled by claims of vote fraud Sept. 2, John Romano column
In my opinion, most organizations that recruit people to register and vote are motivated by the desire to have them vote a certain way, i.e., for Democrats.
But apart from that, I keep reading in the Times that there is little or no voting fraud. How do Sue Carlton and John Romano know that? I thought the very essence of fraud was deception. If someone knows about it, it was an unsuccessful attempted fraud.
Robert Vaughn, Oldsmar
Ripple effect on drivers
Because a valid driver's license or Florida-issued ID card is required to register to vote, there is a ripple effect to the new "voter fraud" legislation John Romano discusses. Despite being licensed in New York for 50 years, my move here entails producing a birth certificate, Social Security card and two proofs of address — all in person — to get a Florida license. There may be fewer Democrats registering to vote, but there will surely be more unlicensed drivers on the road.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg