Toe to toe, Obama vs. GOP | Jan. 30, story
Keep valuable exchanges coming
Friday's nationally televised session between President Barack Obama and the House Republicans was the best thing to happen in politics since the 1960 televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
It is what needs to happen on a regular monthly basis similar to the question and answer sessions in Britain's Parliament. It is insightful and gets through all of the negative-attack talking points with direct responses from each side. No commentators or political hacks can put their own spin on it. It is left for the American people to judge.
It is also extremely helpful that you accompanied the article with PolitiFact to keep the record straight.
These sessions will in the long run get the political process moving forward and open up badly needed discussions between the parties for all Americans to hear. U.S. senators should also be included and alternate each month between the House and the Senate. I applaud both sides for taking this first step and hope it continues on a regular basis.
Tony Perga, Tampa
Two questions President Barack Obama should have asked our Republican leaders at their meeting Friday, but chose not to: How much money did you take from lobbyists last year, and how much did it affect your votes?
The answer could be embarrassing, but is one which us peasants have a right to know.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg
New court serves homeless | Jan. 28, story
Mentally ill people need a court, too
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) applauds the initiative to establish a "homeless" court in Pinellas County demonstrated at the Project Homeless Connect event.
Depending on the locale, studies have shown that nationwide 15 percent of homeless people also have serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. In metropolitan areas like St. Petersburg, the percentage rises to as much as 50 percent.
In addition, many homeless people with serious mental illnesses are often drug abusers. So it stands to reason that the drug courts are also dealing with a significant number of people with mental illnesses.
Mental health courts originated in Broward County more than 10 years ago. Why then, if the Pinellas County judiciary sees the value of drug and, now, homeless courts, are they reluctant to express interest in a nationally proven and often funded program of mental health court?
NAMI periodically raises the issue of advocating for mental health courts, and once again requests the criminal justice system and the mental health community take another look, a long, hard one, at joining much of the nation in establishing a mental health court. NAMI family members and consumers would be most appreciative.
Donald Turnbaugh, president, NAMI Pinellas County, Palm Harbor
Crist joins call to ease class size law and Central site is urged for Rays | Jan. 26
The irony of the side-by-side front-page stories must not have escaped the editor's attention: Hurt the kids, help the multimillion-dollar sports professionals.
Kids can't vote against politicians who negatively impact their education. Big-money professional sports backers have plenty of impact on politicians.
What are Florida and America's priorities for the expenditure of tax monies? Education makes America work.
Harriet Robertson, Port Richey
Don't give politicians more to spend | Jan. 26, letter
Don't blame Democrats
I read, with great amusement, a letter admonishing the Times for its editorial on Jan. 22, which encouraged the state government to collect taxes on Internet sales.
The author railed that the editorial was "nothing more than an unpaid advertisement for the free-wheeling, free-spending Democrats in Tallahassee to continue their reckless spending despite the reduced tax revenue from the recession."
The Democrats do not have a majority in either the Florida Senate or the Florida House nor have they had one for many years. The Florida Senate is 64 percent Republican and 36 percent Democratic. The Florida House is 63 percent Republicans and 37 percent Democratic.
The last Democratic governor was Buddy MacKay, who left office in 1999. (All this information is freely available on the Internet.)
Perhaps if the author would check the facts, he would not be so confused about which party controls the state government and the state's fiscal policies.
Vera Chapman, Sun City Center
Without cooperation, we're lost and Hampered by hate | Jan. 29, letters
The real hang-ups
The letter writers seem to have been drinking the liberal Kool-Aid. Simple math is at play here. Until the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, all of the Republican senators could have called in sick every day and the Democrats could still pass bills with their 60 votes. No Republicans were needed, so how were they able to hold things up?
In the House, the Democrats, again, far out number the Republicans, so how are they preventing any legislation from making it through the House?
The president is a Democrat, so he's not preventing any Democratic legislation from being passed.
The other letter writer says hatred is keeping the Republicans from supporting the president. Again, the numbers don't add up. The Democrats didn't need Republican support to push through anything they wanted to. So the "haters" could be left out of the process.
The process was being held up because the Democrats either had to all work together, or they were forced to involve the Republicans.
So the letter writers should ask themselves, "Why wouldn't the members of the Democratic Party work together?" In that answer they may find the real hang-ups to our progress in this administration.
Stephen Fenske, Seffner
Bubbles and crashes | Jan. 24, letter
The letter writer claims Congress and not George W. Bush should be held responsible for the sub-prime mortgage debacle.
Anyone who wants to know the truth can get on the Internet and type in "American Dream Down Payment Act of 2003." George Bush signed into law his bill that provided taxpayer money to pay for the closing cost for low-income citizens making it easier for them to buy a home.
Richard W. Sitnik, Hudson