In Tallahassee, they love that dirty water | Feb. 11, Daniel Ruth column
Tax money wasted on legal battle
The next time those who believe in small government consider voting for our current governor or attorney general, consider the following:
Several states and the federal government (the EPA) have agreed to a process to clean up Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and Virginia. This agreement is being contested by private interests.
Our small-government governor and his attorney general have decided to spend my and your tax dollars to join this legal fray by filing a brief on behalf of the private companies. Regardless of the merits of either side in this suit, can anyone tell me why my tax dollars are being used to interject Florida into an issue involving other states?
Dudley Clapp, St. Petersburg
'Lobbyist' not a dirty word Feb. 10, commentary
The problem is 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
A one-sided view
This columnist puts a very sugarcoated spin on lobbyists. He has some good points, but he totally ignores the bad side.
I spent a lot of time in Washington over a couple of decades. I've hired lobbyists and have been on both sides of lobbying efforts, some high-powered. I think I know a bit about lobbying and, yes, I have known lobbyists who are good and decent people — and some who are not.
Darryl Paulson is correct that lobbyists can be beneficial to lawmakers at times, as when they are educating and expressing constituents' point of view. He is also correct that all lobbyists represent a "special interest," but all special interests are not equal in influence, nor are all lobbyists equal in power.
Lobbyists also provide a lot more than "useful information." Sometimes the "information" is not factual. They do more than make presentations. They cajole, persuade and arm-twist. They bring influence, money and votes from those they represent. Some of that is legitimate, but too much is not.
Joe Crites, Clearwater
Candidates hone their messages | Feb. 4
Too quick to commit troops
After listening to David Jolly state that he would support armed intervention in Syria, I had to shake my head. As a Purple Heart recipient from Vietnam, I continue to be amazed by how some politicians are so cavalier about committing young men and women to war without batting an eye.
Greg Reed, Tierra Verde
Mentoring makes a difference Feb. 10, commentary
Help for bay area students
The Take Stock in Children school-based mentoring program described by Ann Romano provides motivation, guidance, coaching and scholarships to our youth to help break the poverty cycle. The Hillsborough Education Foundation and Pinellas Education Foundation match adult mentors with low-income, at-risk students to help them develop academic, social and life skills. A mentor's commitment of one hour a week can help a student complete high school, earn a scholarship and graduate from college.
The payback is a productive individual who is an asset to the community. You can make a difference by mentoring a Tampa Bay student who never dreamed of attending college.
Gene Pizzo, Tampa
Fighting for a fix | Feb. 10, letter
I am very pleased Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, is working so feverishly on his constituents' behalf. Perhaps his efforts would have been better applied and his constituents better served if he would have voted against Biggert-Waters in the first place.
Christopher Jenkins, Tampa
CVS won't sell tobacco | Feb. 6
Snuff out smoking
Bravo to CVS for phasing out tobacco altogether. Clearly, it is highly inconsistent for a health care company, complete with health clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, to be selling tobacco products. Recent reports indicate that the drugstore chain Walgreens is re-evaluating its policy.
These corporate changes are important steps toward making people decide not to smoke cigarettes, a deadly poison with no "up side" other than a momentary kick and the trap of warding off withdrawal effects of the same drug.
Michael S. Greenberg, Clearwater
Officers: Teens run wild | Feb. 11
Stop the troublemakers
As a high school teacher in Hillsborough County, I am not surprised by the violence at "fair day." While the vast majority of students are well-behaved, there is a significant minority who seem to invite trouble wherever they go. It seems more than obvious that if a large number of teens are let loose on their own, without parental guidance of any kind, trouble will ensue.
My students, reading Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, pointed out a quotation from this novel when we talked about Friday's violence. One of the young characters says to the adult, "I'm afraid of children my own age. They kill each other. Did it always used to be this way?" The novel was written in 1953, but this statement appears to have been written today.
I know that "fair day" is supposed to be an economic boost for Hillsborough. However, there are only two solutions in my mind: Either require students to show up with adult supervision or, better yet, end "fair day" in Hillsborough.
Ronald Medvin, Tampa