Special session on oil drilling
People deserve to vote on ban
With a few exceptions, the Republican members of the Legislature have completely lost sight of why they are in their positions. They are so immersed in a "tiff" with the governor (who left the Republican Party to get elected to the U.S. Senate), that they have forgotten that they represent the people of Florida, not their own selfish interests.
The "take their ball and go home" childishness of the Republicans is an embarrassment to the people of Florida. The fact is that these legislators were sent to Tallahassee to represent their constituents. Instead, they allow their childishness to keep the people of Florida from deciding the future of the state. These small-minded bullies are uninterested in the serious problems facing the state. They only want to keep Charlie Crist from success.
As a Democrat, I don't want Crist to succeed either, and I am very dubious of his supposed change of heart. However, in this case, his flip-flopping has resulted in a call for an extra session to give the people a chance to save Florida's waters by deciding on a constitutional amendment to ban drilling off our coasts. In this instance, it does not matter that Crist cares only about himself. These bullies have no right to deny this opportunity to the people because they are mad at Crist.
I call on all the people represented by Republicans to call the offices of their representatives and senators, and tell them that the people should be allowed to make this decision.
Mary Lou Ambrose, Belleair Bluffs
Oil drilling amendment drives wedge into GOP | July 16, story
Our country should come before party
Your story begins, "Fearing a major victory for Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida Republican leaders are prepared to take drastic action, even blocking a historic vote on a constitutional amendment banning offshore drilling."
This says it all when looking at what's wrong with our country. It is shameful when a political party puts their policy over what's best for our state and country. I was also amazed that the House leadership doesn't return the governor's phone calls. I don't blame the GOP for being upset with Charlie Crist, but it's unacceptable and childish for Republicans to continue with such policies. If you disagree with Gov. Crist, debate and argue but do it in a factual, honest way.
We must get back to honest debate and away from sound bite governing. We need to again become Americans first, and then we can become Republicans and Democrats. I feel very sad for our politics today and hopefully before too much longer we can start to make our ancestors proud again.
Doug Bohnhoff, Spring Hill
A warning to the GOP
I am appalled at the resistance that the Republican House leaders are using to stop the ban on offshore oil drilling from going to a vote. I'm an independent voter and the environment is the No. 1 issue for me in this election. (The economy comes a close second, but that is too complex an issue for either party to fix.)
The mere presence of oil rigs off our coast would be a severe bane to the tourism industry we so desperately count on, and I don't even need to mention how crippling a disaster like the one off Louisiana would be. If the Republicans in the Legislature don't even let us decide on our own whether we want oil rigs off our coasts, I personally vow not to vote for a single Republican in any race, state or national.
My only hope is that this letter is seen by some of the leaders of the House and this convinces them to let us choose the fate of the oil industry off our coasts. If they choose to keep their hard-line stance, I hope that independent voters across the state join me and make them pay for being in the pockets of the oil industry.
Ryan Rosenkranz, Clearwater
Shifty answers after a sudden right turn July 16, Daniel Ruth column
Daniel Ruth's tirade on Pam Bondi was senseless and long-winded just to make a point about someone changing their voting registration.
My grandfather, my father and most of my family were Democrats, so when I arrived in Pinellas County in 1956, I registered as a Democrat. Some years later, I changed to a Republican so I could vote in the primaries for a Republican congressman from this district who did my wife's family a favor — I wanted to vote for him when he ran for the Senate.
The first president I voted for was Eisenhower, then Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and none of the others, so you can see I did not follow party lines and will not in the future.
I probably will vote for Bondi as I feel she is the most qualified and she could be in any party she wanted and it wouldn't matter. Daniel Ruth needs to find another subject, such as unemployment, states' rights, immigration, stimulus, health care, czars, etc. I'm sure he would do a much better job!
Mr. Robin E. Wilkinson, Clearwater
Fair districts, not self-interest | July 17
Keep the system we have
In this editorial, the Times endorsed a Circuit Court judge's decision to throw Amendment 7 off the November ballot. The Times tells us that Judge James Shelfer was so confused by the wording of the Amendment "it took him three days to understand how it would dovetail with Amendments 5 and 6."
It evidently did not occur to the judge that Amendment 7 was never intended to "dovetail" with anything. It was a deliberate political maneuver to maintain the status quo by appropriately and decisively torpedoing Amendments 5 and 6.
According to the Times, the so-called "Fair Districts" amendments would prevent gerrymandering and, as the Times explained, "bar maps that diminish opportunities for racial or language minorities to participate or elect representatives of their choice."
Nice spin. In other words, gerrymandering is a bad thing unless you're gerrymandering as an affirmative action tool in order to advance someone's racial or ethnic language social justice agenda. The Times used the last half of the editorial to rail against the seeming self-evident unfairness and injustice intrinsic in gerrymandered districts but is willing to allow this one exception. If the Times' concerns with alleged Republican abuse of gerrymandering are legitimate, then gerrymandering should be banned for every special interest and there should be no racial or ethnic language exceptions. The other option is to allow continued gerrymandering across the board which, except for the whining of election losers, seems to work pretty well for everyone.
But of course this would be unacceptable to the Times as long as the Republicans control the Legislature. If Democrats were in charge in Tallahassee, the Times would be singing a different tune.
Timothy S. "Mac" McDonnell, St. Petersburg
Focus on safer roads | July 17, letter
For meaningful change
James Scott Baron of the American Traffic Safety Services Association says we need to make highways safer, but fails to mention two important ways this could be accomplished:
1. Implement meaningful mandatory driver education programs for all drivers. I'm a former professional test driver and racer who has been through quite a bit of training, and it is obvious to me that most American drivers have a very low skill level (of course they all think otherwise). High school driver ed classes are a joke. How many of you have ever been on a skid pad, or even know what that is?
2. Reduce the number of vehicles on the road by vastly improving public transportation. This will also have the added benefits of reducing air pollution and freeing us from our dependence on oil.
Mr. Baron, you could make cars and roads and infrastructure from foam rubber and Americans would still find a way to injure themselves and others. It is way past time for our transportation systems to change in dramatic fashion!
Frederick Kann, Sun City Center