Don't be suckered by casino proposal | Oct. 28, editorial
Look to Nevada's cautionary tale
Being a firm believer in learning from the mistakes of others, I would encourage Florida state legislators to look no further than Nevada to find that casino gambling will not serve as a panacea to Florida's economic woes.
If casinos are such a sure-fire way to jump-start an ailing economy, someone needs to explain why unemployment in Nevada has grown to 13.4 percent, well above the national average. Nevada also boasts the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, in addition to record numbers of bankruptcies.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, Nevada ranks 45th among states in per pupil expenditures. The percentage of public school eighth-graders who are unable to read at grade level is a shocking 78 percent. Each year, over 15,000 high school students drop out of school, giving Nevada one of the lowest rates of high school graduates in the country.
The New York Times recently reported that more than 5 percent of Nevada's residents are either pathological or problem gamblers — almost twice the rate of the nation's overall population. Yet treatment programs for gambling addicts in the state are in jeopardy as Nevada lawmakers look for ways to close the state's $1.5 billion budget shortfall. Nevada's governor has proposed cutting financing for gambling addiction centers, which could leave those trying to quit with nowhere to turn.
It would seem obvious to even the most casual observer that casino gambling and tourism, which have been the mainstay of Nevada's economy for decades, have not protected Nevada from the current economic downturn. Why on earth would anyone believe that casino gambling would do anything different in Florida?
Janet Skinner, Palm Harbor
Don't be suckered by casino proposal Oct. 28, editorial
Temptation of easy money
Legalized gambling has been voted down by Florida voters three times in the last 30 years or so. What part of "no" don't the gambling interests understand? And this time, the gambling cartels aren't even American. Do we really believe that foreign gambling interests are investing in Florida to help us?
Times are tough and it's very tempting to go for the easy money and the empty promises, but if we do, we will pay dearly for it down the road. The Coast Guard and local law enforcement are struggling to keep illegal drugs out of Florida. Do we want to make their job harder by providing a gambling magnet for the drug cartels?
And let's not kid ourselves. If legalized gambling gets a foothold in Miami, it won't take long for it to expand to other Florida cities. Where gambling thrives, smut peddlers and drug peddlers follow. Vice attracts vice.
The gambling cartels are trying to promote their enterprise as glamorous. Don't be fooled by that. If you have ever been in a casino, you know that the clientele is pretty pathetic looking.
Occupy Tampa protesters are onto something. But I suggest they "Occupy Tallahassee" and demand that the Florida Legislature promote real economic growth and not a quick-fix gambling solution to our economic woes.
Mary Jo Renner, Palm Harbor
Money for jobs, not war
As with the civil rights, antiwar and now Occupy protests, it is sad that the police and elected officials attempt to harass, bully and silence the least powerful citizens of society rather than stand up to the corporations who appear to have bought society off.
It appears that those with power want to punish the poor for the economic collapse caused by the wealthy on Wall Street. Hopefully Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department will allow the protesters of Occupy Tampa to have a designated park or camping area to spread the message that America needs money for jobs, not war.
Ron Kuhler, Lutz
Blame the government
There is much hatred of Wall Street and Wall Streeters these days, amplified by the Occupy movement. While there is much of substance in these complaints, for the most part they miss the 300-pound gorilla in the room: government involvement.
Remember, the near-collapse of our economy did not start on Wall Street — it started with the government pushing banks to violate their fiscal principles to make loans in the name of "expanded home ownership." People who had no possibility of repayment were granted loans. It was the "toxic paper" of these loans that eventually became the fuel for the derivatives market.
And what was the result of the risky investment on Wall Street? Unfortunately it wasn't the "gamblers" losing — rather it was we, the taxpayers, losing due to government bailouts.
So, anyone feeling rage about our fiscal problems might want to consider where their rage should be directed — toward the "greedy" or toward the "enablers."
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
Subject: Mayor and council members downplay housing audit results | Oct. 28
Lack of leadership
From the mayor to the council members, on down to the department and program heads, where is the leadership in St. Petersburg? Where is the accountability? Where is common sense?
If the housing manager and his supervisor could not spot such conflicts of interest and establish better policies and procedures, it smells like poor management to me. Any potential conflict of interest is a fundamental and basic concern when a public official is initiating a government contract.
Having Mayor Bill Foster and the council members downplay the audit (by a city employee) reminds me of a quote by the late Walter Lippmann: "It takes wisdom to know wisdom. The music is nothing if the audience is deaf."
Willie J. Day, St. Petersburg
Giving special needs special protection Oct. 28
Protect the innocent
This article about the lengths parents had to go to protect their daughter was an eye-opener. Protecting the innocent should be expected — it is not special protection.
What happened to the court system? In essence it said that once a child turns 18 the child is cured from "cognitive impairment." How silly and dangerous. The guidelines must be changed and the courts need a dose of common sense.
Joe Bradley, Clearwater