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Tuesday letters: Official failings have made Amendment 4 necessary

A recipe for sprawl | Feb. 6, commentary

Amendment 4 repairs official failings

Regarding Amendment 4 and specifically St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse's claims it will lead to urban sprawl as developers stymied in towns and cities go elsewhere, I think he is missing the point.

The reason this amendment made it to the ballot, a formidable task for anything not paid for by developers, is simple: Our jury-rigged legislative districts do not allow democracy to work as it was intended. If our elected legislators were concerned with anything besides lining their pockets and getting re-elected and did the people's business on a majority-rule basis, we wouldn't have a Legislature dominated by one party — a party for the wealthy by the wealthy.

If our elected officials controlled sprawl, got us sustainable development, and otherwise did their jobs decently, there would be no Amendment 4. Voters feel a need for a vote on whether there will be huge new developments, roads or Walmart Supercenters because the Legislature gutted our growth rules that required developers to pay concurrently for the roads, sewage and other costly infrastructure that inevitably will be required by new development.

Will the new system, if passed, work well or cheaply? Probably not. But the current system of leaving it up to local officials and state government isn't working. Thus why not give ourselves a voice in what's built or isn't? It is simply time to try something else, unless big money stops buying whatever it wants and leaving us with the bills for all the associated costs. The current system is broken.

We really do not need to build much for the foreseeable future with all the vacant housing, retail and commercial space we've got now. Anything that slows down the building-over and degradation of the state is probably good.

John Follman, Tampa

Class size

Classroom limits can make a difference

This subject has appeared and reappeared often since the voters approved the class-size amendment.

First of all, Florida should be ashamed that the subject ever had to be brought to the voters before class size was addressed by the state.

With the percentage of single parents, lack of participation from parents in their children's lives, and the demands from "the powers that be" dictating to teachers and school personnel what and how to teach, the number of students in a class is a determining factor in the outcome of the children's successes.

More and more mandates are delivered to classroom teachers every year without the proper funding from the Legislature to back up these programs and directives. Tallahassee and Washington need to step up, fund the programs that they are pushing down teachers' throats and listen to the professionals on the "front lines" when it comes to what works in a classroom.

The people spoke, realizing that class size matters, and because the politicians have refused to fund the mandate from the people, they now are trying to take away one of the few advantages children have in their school lives. And the number of students in a classroom is the No. 1 item that makes a difference!

Kathy Proctor, Hudson

Make the class size limits make sense Feb. 3, editorial

Discipline and learning

Your editorial regarding class size was "right on." The $3.2 billion cost would be an extraordinary burden on the taxpayers. Common sense should prevail.

I have a picture of my second-grade class in the early 1930s, and it shows 37 students. We learned because there was discipline, and many of us hoped and prayed for grades and personal evaluations that would enhance our chances for college acceptance. Any troublemakers were removed from the class and, if feasible, sent home.

It does not make sense that class-size decisions should be determined by a political amendment. Perhaps school boards and educators would be more knowledgeable to judge class-size limits.

Harry J. Fisler, P.E., Oldsmar

Brown exaggerates what federal employees earn | Feb. 6,

Look at benefits, too

Since you are so keen on comparing apples to apples, why don't we take into consideration total compensation for federal employees rather than just salaries.

Sen. Scott Brown did not specify salaries in his comments. So if we take into account federal employees' Cadillac health care plans and retirement packages (which few in the private sector get anymore), then you cannot reasonably, in the spirit of an apples-to-apples comparison, rate Brown's statement false.

I am sure the ruling then would be more than true and I would appreciate a re-ruling in this matter.

I am just trying to sort out the truth in politics.

Winnie Bayon, Palm Harbor

Unacceptable bias

On Friday, Jan. 22, hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington, D.C., for a prolife "March for Life" to end abortion and euthanasia. It was an enormous, inspiring cross-section of Americans from every state, every religion, with masses of young people. The St. Petersburg Times, along with most of the liberal media, chose not to report it. One picture would have spoken volumes.

Yet on Jan. 23, your paper printed in the Metro section a 6-by-9-inch picture of a local gathering in St. Petersburg of what appeared to be seven prochoice people celebrating the 37th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

This bias is totally unfair and unacceptable. I enjoy your paper, but please be fair and unbiased in your reporting.

Mary Lou Kavallierakis, Largo

Sit-ins that changed America | Feb. 3.

Bandstand not due credit

In this article, Andrew B. Lewis writes that during the 1950s Dick Clark's American Bandstand was a harbinger of racial integration in that it showed black couples "sharing the dance floor with white ones." The evidence does not support this.

Black singing star and native Philadelphian Lee Andrews asserted that there was "always some reason" blacks couldn't get on Clark's show. In 1959, the black newspaper New Age editorialized that blacks were "quietly barred" from Clark's show by an "unspoken rule."

Finally, if you check Clark's own History of American Bandstand, of approximately 75 photos of teens on the show during the 1950s, only one depicts any blacks. Bandstand did not introduce its first "regular" (everyday) black dance couple until 1965. (Disclosure: I am the author of American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock and Roll Empire.)

John A. Jackson, Indian Rocks Beach

Tuesday letters: Official failings have made Amendment 4 necessary 02/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2010 7:36pm]
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