Supreme Court nominee
Kagan is a level-headed nominee
The Republicans' wails of "judicial activism," "radicalism" and "inexperience" with respect to President Barack Obama's recent pick of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens are tiresome to the point of being laughable. It seems that every time a Democratic president picks a nominee for the highest court in the land, the Republicans and their supportive pundits in the right-wing news media roll out their tired canard of well-worn — and often untrue — talking points.
For one thing, Obama couldn't have picked a more fair-minded, moderate, level-headed and accomplished justice nominee than Kagan. I suppose anyone to the left of Antonin Scalia is not going to please the Senate Republicans who have a hand in voting for her confirmation, so it is amazing and laudable on Obama's part to choose a balanced, centrist justice who will see all sides of a judicial issue and represent the interests of those on both the right and the left. Consensus-building is, after all, what Obama campaigned to do in 2008, and he is fulfilling that promise beautifully.
Nevertheless, like trained pigeons, Republicans didn't waste a second getting on the cable networks and screeching about how "radical" the solicitor general is and how her lack of experience could "dumb down" the court.
With regard to Kagan as well as other matters in government, the Republicans' behavior is, frankly, getting old. It would be wonderful if they were to remember their advice to Democrats while George W. Bush was president and Republicans had a majority in the Senate, allowing two very right-wing Supreme Court justices to be confirmed: Elections have consequences. I suppose, however, that is too much to hope for when the Republicans in office today are already acting like toddlers who aren't getting their way.
Michelle Kenoyer, Riverview
Is this the best way to deal with prostitution? May 15, letter
Street prostitution hurts neighborhoods, businesses
I strongly disagree with the conclusions in this recent letter to the editor. While an argument for prostitution as a victimless crime might hold water for those who ply their trade behind closed doors, street prostitution itself is not a victimless crime. The prostitution sting in Clearwater focused on street prostitutes and the people who use their services. Neighborhoods and commercial areas where they ply their trade are severely impacted in a number of ways, none of them good.
Studies have shown that drug addiction is the primary reason people turn to street prostitution as a means to make money. Addiction rates among street prostitutes are estimated at higher than 90 percent in most communities. With a habit to feed, they use any place available to conduct their business, including alleys, driveways and private property.
To make matters worse, when those "hookers with habits" move into an area, their drug dealers soon follow. Those dealers don't restrict their sales to just the prostitutes, so drug sales and other addiction-related crimes escalate too. The combined effect of the actual prostitution and the ancillary drug dealing on the areas they frequent is devastating to the law-abiding, mortgage-paying people who actually live there.
The communities where the police work these stings are grateful for the enforcement and deserve the protection the arrests provide. Most areas plagued by the blight of street prostitution are far safer when the police presence is strong, arrests are regularly made and drug dealing is curtailed.
Cathy Wilson, St. Petersburg
Crist relishes his new liberty | May 14, story
For all the people
It was refreshing to read about Gov. Charlie Crist and his understanding of his role in politics. My family has been Republican for decades, and there are many honorable conservative Republican values, including that you always pay your bills.
But even more important is that politics is shared responsibility for all the people. Crist seems to understand that. The current Republican "base" does not. They are caught in the battle between those who "win" and those who "lose." Fifty percent is perceived as a universal mandate to control the lives of all in an almost tribal battle mentality. What is happening to Americans?
David Elliott, Dade City
Gov. Charlie Crist
Hurrah! Here's a governor who has cast aside party and is a governor for the people, if only for a few more months.
Oh, to have all elected officials make their decisions for the good of their constituents and not to please party, lobbyist or funder.
Sylvia McKean, Inverness
Which is it, governor?
I was shocked to read the following exchange on your politics blog:
Q: If elected, who will you caucus with?
Crist: "I'll caucus with the people of Florida. And anybody that will help the people of Florida."
No seriously, whom will you caucus with? Voters really have a right to know whether a candidate intends to increase the numbers of one party or another in the Senate. It matters in terms of committee assignments and in terms of which party has a majority and controls the chamber.
So seriously, Gov. Crist, which party will you caucus with?
Wellesley Kent, St. Petersburg
Rail to zoom into Tampa, but link to TIA is up in the air | May 9, story
Meet the travelers' needs
The stupidity of our local government, specifically the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the absence of understanding of what travelers need is underscored in this well written article by Janet Zink.
I would like to know from Ray Chiaramonte how many frequent flyers, business travelers and representatives of the travel industry were on an advisory board to provide real understanding of what the customers want.
I travel to Europe a half-dozen times a year on business, sometimes carrying six checked pieces of luggage containing business materials. I'm supposed to drag my stuff onto a light rail; somehow get it off before the door closes in Tampa; transport it to another platform; and drag it onto some bullet train? What brain surgeon came up with that one? The issue is not the acceleration between TIA and downtown, but the convenience to customers and their luggage.
I would suggest that Chiaramonte get on a plane and fly to FRA (Frankfurt) to see how a customer friendly airport and airport-to-rail system can be designed. Stockholm is another excellent example of plane-to-rail convenience. Paris' CDG is a good example of what not to do — and it looks like we are following the French approach.
Secondly, the high-speed rail to Orlando actually doesn't go to Orlando. It goes to Disney, the Convention Center and the MCO airport. There is no stop in downtown Orlando. Do you think a person doing business in downtown Orlando will take the train, get off at Disney and then take a half-hour taxi ride to downtown? I don't think so.
The argument that it is too late to change anything is ridiculous. Connect the high speed to TIA and put a stop into Orlando. Forget that idiotic light rail idea to TIA.
Peter Sontag, Clearwater