Casino idea gets mixed response | Jan. 8
Voters already rejected gambling
The idea that our leaders are considering more gambling in this state is frustrating. Some years ago, gambling was put to a vote, and the majority of voters did not want it here. However, being the sneaks they are, politicians found another way to increase the gambling in this state and have allowed Seminole gambling to expand.
My question is: What part of "no" do the leaders of this state not understand?
Why is it that, when we don't vote the way they want, they find other ways to force things on us? What is the sense of having a democracy if the voice of the people is ignored? To make matters worse, we have our noses rubbed in it by having gambling advertisements appear throughout the media.
I hope Gov. Rick Scott will find other ways to increase revenue and not have to get it from those who can least afford it. Those with a gambling addiction lose so much more than money.
June Gootee, Seffner
Casinos are no panacea
I found it ironic that on the same day the Times reported that Gov. Rick Scott may be opening the door to Las Vegas-style casinos, Nevada lawmakers were hosting the Nevada 2.0 conference.
The conference was held to seek solutions to jump-start Nevada's stagnant economy and make the state less dependent on gambling and tourism.
Perhaps if Scott had done his homework, he would know that Nevada boasts the highest unemployment rate in the nation and a current budget shortfall that tops $2 billion.
If this is an example of the kind of inspired leadership that we can expect to see in the next four years, we Floridians are in for one rough ride.
Janet Skinner, Palm Harbor
Accountability works | Jan. 7, commentary
Readers of Jeb Bush's column should remember a few important details. As governor, he awarded hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private corporations, with no accountability on their part, to administer a secret test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, with a history of problems.
He dismantled local control of schools and created a Big Brother state Education Department that tells us all to trust it when it releases FCAT scores each year. Then, like something out of Soviet Russia, Bush and his successors use those secret scores to tout the success of their "reforms."
As a parent, I witnessed the rise of the FCAT as my oldest child went through public school. By the time my youngest started school, the FCAT had killed the field trip, recess and the science fair, weakened writing skills and relegated social studies to just twice a week in the early grades.
Music, art and other electives, which, interestingly, are used as selling points for many private schools, are less important in Florida public schools now than they've ever been. Pinellas County students now spend 17 days on these tests each year. So it is not surprising, even if we believe Bush's statistics, that Florida students are better at taking multiple-choice tests in reading and math. But consider at what expense.
Sarah Robinson, Safety Harbor
Savings haven't arrived
A recent letter on Medicare Advantage left out important information. When MA was set up, the theory was that it would provide competition and bring down the cost of insuring the elderly. To get it started, MA providers were given a 15 percent "premium" over the standard Medicare costs.
That was supposed to go away as private enterprise worked its magic. It hasn't happened. We still pay approximately $1,100 more per year to these private companies per covered person over what it costs the government to fund standard Medicare. Worse, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, every senior couple on Medicare, even those on regular Medicare, are charged an additional $86 per year for their Medicare Part B coverage to help support those on MA.
We simply cannot afford this giveaway to private insurance companies when we are looking for ways to cut back the benefits for future retirees. Let's put Medicare back on firm financial footing so that everyone will be able to enjoy this blessing.
Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa
Unwise partisan ploy for the Constitution Jan. 8 editorial
Looking to history
Your editorial opposing the "repeal amendment" as an unwise partisan ploy may be right. But historical perspective is useful.
Clearly, the antifederal efforts in the segregation era were designed to block civil rights. In 1831, the nullification crisis was designed to block federal tariff policies, and it too failed. One could make an argument that had it succeeded, nullification would have eventually included defending against antislavery laws. So concern about the repeal amendment leading to unwarranted changes in the Constitution makes some sense.
But you overlook the historical reality of the 1787 Constitutional Convention itself. It occurred because there was widespread agreement that the Articles of Confederation did not work. The relationships of states to the federal level was dysfunctional in many areas. And that was in a time of only 13 states and fewer than 10 million people.
Do you really mean to suggest that our government is working so well now that the Constitution can't be wisely changed again? Probably a lot of Founding Fathers would disagree.
Peter Klingman, Tampa
'Taj Mahal' even 'worse' | Jan. 8
After reading the latest installment on the courthouse boondoggle, I have to ask if anyone in Tallahassee is accountable for anything. I have been selling and framing vintage art for over 15 years and have to believe that paying $357,000 for framing 400 historical photos was done without putting the job out for honest, competitive bids. A per piece average of $890? What was the high bid?
In the adding insult-to-injury file, some at the court argue that photography isn't art and therefore should not be restricted to the $100,000 limit. The volume of museum and gallery exhibits of photographs in this state alone negate that weak defense.
Lamar Sprouse, Weeki Wachee
Help wanted, overseas
In response to the letter writer who said he never got a job from a poor person, well, today you won't get a job from a rich one. They have laid off millions while moving their industries to China and other foreign countries — and received tax cuts to do it.
Betty Buehrle, Tampa