Does Obama get it? | Oct. 7, Bob Herbert column
Officials everywhere out of touch
Bob Herbert's piece questioning whether President Barack Obama understands the gravity of the economic and job crisis was certainly on the mark.
However, it seems equally true that governmental leaders at all levels and in both parties don't get the reality that millions of Floridians see every day.
A few examples: Rep Charlie Rangel, the Democratic chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, apparently was more intent on getting his own tax breaks — by hook or by crook — than on fixing our nation's irrational tax system. Our state's governor seems focused only on getting himself to Washington, D.C., as the state's next U.S. senator even while his fellow Republican senator, Mel Martinez, took the unprecedented step of resigning and then taking a cushy influence-peddling job in Florida. Our local politicians seem blind to the inevitable impacts of the meltdown in property values we've seen these past few years. Too many of them seem to believe the answer is to raise the millage rate rather than prune local government.
Bold and decisive action is needed at all levels of government if we are to successfully meet our unprecedented economic challenge. I would simply add to Bob Herbert's question: "Does any elected official get it?"
Tony Branch, Madeira Beach
The nation needs jobs
It's refreshing to see a column in your op-ed section that actually addresses the major issues that our country faces — rapidly rising unemployment and the crumbling economy for middle America — and what the president and his party are doing or not doing about it.
Your regular writers, like Garrison Keillor, Paul Krugman and Daniel Ruth are Johnny One Notes with their tiresome bashings of the party not in control of Washington and their bitter rants about talk show and cable show hosts. If the opinions of these people are so wrong and don't matter anyway, why do these writers spend so much negative print energy on them?
Herbert is right on when he says that Obama doesn't get it. What are the people that are in control doing about the lack of jobs and our deteriorating economy?
Obama is merely a puppet of the elite and the special interest groups. He and his party, which controls both houses of Congress, are out of touch with America.
If voters, regardless of party affiliation, do not wake up and vote these hucksters in Washington to the curb, middle-class and poor Americans are in for even more frightful events.
S.L. Hutton, Largo
Out of boat crash, lessons to be learned Oct. 7, editorial
Boaters must understand the need for training
It is not often that I agree with one of your editorials, but this one about the boat crash in St. Petersburg is right on. As a professional captain who has made hundreds of approaches from Tampa Bay into Bayboro Harbor under all types of conditions, I am in complete agreement with you.
Don't blame the seawall. Most boating accidents are the result of excessive speed, alcohol and/or lack of proper training. I have trained many people of all ages to safely operate vessels from 16 feet to 75 feet, and I am not aware of any of them being involved in a careless accident of their own making.
If the recreational boating community does not find some way to police themselves, you can be sure the government will. The United States is the only civilized country I know of that does not require some kind of mandatory training or licensing. I could go on, but the bottom line is: Be careful and get some training.
Capt. Steve Korn, Seminole
Require a license
Why in the world does Florida permit people to operate boats without licenses? It's absurd. Some of these boats have incredible amounts of power and can reach lethal speeds. So many boaters know so little about boating rules, regulations and courtesies.
You can't operate a boat for hire without a captain's license, but you can take six friends out for a boat ride with no license at all. I'm having a hard time seeing the logic that paying customers deserve a licensed, competent captain, but for everyone else it's just "roll the dice and take your chances."
Jeff Reckson, St. Petersburg
Fatal jetty is hard to see | Oct. 6
A quick solution
The unfortunate accident at St. Petersburg's Bayboro Harbor has finally resulted in someone looking into the possibility that the jetty there might be a problem. The governor has requested that the Coast Guard install a light.
In the meantime, it must be determined who is responsible for the jetty, who owns it, who will pay for the light, etc.
The Coast Guard is going to study the request. If it is ultimately approved sometime in the next year, there will be engineering feasibility studies, right of way for the power lines, contract bidding and award. The FAA will likely have to be involved so that the lighting does not interfere with airport operations.
It will take perhaps three years if they put a rush on it.
In the meantime, could someone just go to the city maintenance yard and grab half a dozen lighted traffic barricades and place them on the jetty? No work order, no budget, no endless debates, just do it today.
Leonard Silva, St. Petersburg
Remember China | Oct. 7, letter
The letter writer should know that George W. Bush going to China for the Olympics and "sitting on his backside" is quite different from the Obamas trying to get the Games for Chicago.
Bush, like other presidents, was there to support our team. And he did not swat a female volleyball player on her behind. It's a "good luck" tradition to do that, but he chose to pat Misty Treanor on the back.
Greg Kowzan, Holiday
Olympic narcissism | Oct. 7, George Will column
It's amazing to see George Will has veered in to the world of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.
To address President Barack Obama's use of the English language as vain, while citing nine, yes, nine other presidents and how they will be remembered, Will leaves a gaping hole. I await his addendum informing us how our most recent ex-president will be remembered. Especially his masterful use of our English language.
Kevin R.T. Laughlin, Belleair
8 U.S. troops die in attack | Oct. 5, story
Say their names
My son is in the Army. He is a good man, a very smart man. If he should be deployed, I'd like for people to read his heroic name or hear his heroic name on television. I am so tired of reading the front page of my Times or watching the news with numbers of American soldiers killed that day.
They have names: Print or say them! People need to know they are our young military personnel being sent to war. Show their families some respect. Stop referring to our service personnel as a number.
Mary Shaw, Tampa