Make lawmakers read the bills
This mess we are in did not happen overnight, and there is plenty of blame for both parties. Some of the problems stem from little-known amendments being slipped into large bills and getting passed, only to find that we have spent for wasteful projects like the "Taj Mahal" in Tallahassee.
The law that ought to be passed is one that guarantees that our legislators have read the bill prior to voting. It should include a provision that says nothing is to be added or amended seven days prior to the vote to ensure that every member has time to read the legislation before voting. It is morally wrong for any of them to claim they did not realize what they were voting for. When you sign for a bank loan or a purchase, you sign that you have read and understood what you are signing. The same criteria should hold for our legislators.
This year is an important election. There are so many e-mails going around — all meant to scare us, many with less than a smidgen of truth — so, be informed. If you want a stake in the process and are a patriotic American, you will do the right thing and vote. And please vote your conscience.
Gail Wohl, South Pasadena
'Politician' isn't dirty word
There have been numerous advertisements recently using the term "career politician." This term is submitted in a way that suggests that anyone who is a career politician should be scorned, drummed out of our society or better yet burned at the stake.
Did anyone stop to realize how many "career politicians" have maintained our American style of living? How many have saved our nation from harm on numerous occasions? Would you consider Franklin D. Roosevelt a career politician? How about Harry Truman? Then there is the classic example of Ronald Reagan, who changed his profession to that of a career politician.
There is nothing wrong with a "career politician" who maintains his office with honesty, integrity and the vision needed to guide our country safely on the right path.
Slapping the name "career politician" on an opponent does not frighten me at all; it's the guy throwing it around who scares me.
John Fier, Clearwater
Don't shortchange children
Floridians have been told by advocates of Amendment 8 that the state of Florida simply cannot afford to implement the class size limits established by the 2002 amendment. The truth is that we can't afford not to.
Those favoring Amendment 8 have warned us that we may end up spending "billions" of dollars on this strategy and that our state economy will suffer if Amendment 8 doesn't pass.
What they fail to tell us is that the 2002 class size amendment hasn't led to any additional funding on top of what the state routinely spends toward education. Funding the class size measure has actually taken place by moving money from one education line item to another. Overall education spending has actually decreased since 2002 when the class size amendment was approved. Over the last four years, Florida's legislature has cut the K-12 education budget by over $1.3 billion. This ranks our state 39th in per pupil funding.
The class size amendment is one of the only mechanisms in place preventing our state from further defunding our classrooms.
The state funded 61 percent of education 10 years ago. Currently, only 51 percent of education costs are supplied by the state. The Legislature is seeking to even further reduce its funding obligation under the guise of Amendment 8.
Floridians cannot afford to let our children be shortchanged again; we must vote "no" on Amendment 8.
Tom Bradwell, Gulfport
China-bashing ill serves Florida | Oct. 17
Communists still rule
What Lou Frey says about China is encouraging. Nonetheless, I'm sure he knows that China is still ruled by a communist party and its currency value is deliberately kept lower than ours or other competing currencies.
The encouraging part is, of course, that China is allowing a tremendous growth of industries and personal wealth, which seems completely contrary to communist ideology. Nevertheless, the party is still in control politically, and one never knows when or how it will impose itself on China's development.
W.H. Riddell, Tampa
Riders need buffers
Talk from the mayor of Tampa and other politicians promising safer bicycle transportation is missing the mark.
Just painting a narrow white stripe on the shoulder of a busy road and putting up a bike sign does not mean cyclists will use the path or they will be safe. Just as we do with sidewalks, buffers made up of pavement, grass, fences and metal poles need to be incorporated into major bike paths to separate bicycles from vehicles. You can also incorporate different types and colors of pavement materials, just as can be done with pedestrian crosswalks.
Ideally, this buffer strip should at least 5 feet. The buffer should become larger as the vehicle traffic speed increases.
Buffer strips are especially important to build up the confidence of children and less experienced cyclists who want to use their bike as a healthy, nonpolluting form of transportation. If bike paths are designed properly, the use of them will increase, and more bikes on the road will also result in safer conditions. Lets add more bike paths, but add them correctly so they are widely used and safe.
James Mihelcic, Temple Terrace
Pushing back helped start a revolt | Oct. 21
His life made a difference
Andrew Meacham's feature obituary about Raymond Castro is just one example of the extraordinary job Meacham does of capturing the essence of someone whose life has made a difference.
In this case, he went the extra mile and provided context and a history lesson for readers to understand the true significance of Castro's deeds.
Although I never had the privilege of meeting Castro, I am confident he would be proud of the way the Times conveyed the importance of his actions one night 41 years ago.
As a result, we are all more aware of how a single action sparked a change that has enriched us all.
Steven Barefield, St. Petersburg
It was with sadness that I read of the Union Leader newspaper not publishing the wedding announcement of a gay couple getting married, legally, in New Hampshire.
Why is it that some people like to talk about the depravity and promiscuity of the gay community, citing gay pride parades and the existence of gay clubs as proof of how destructive the gay community is to the concept of family? Is every gay person to be judged by these types of events? If so, are we to judge every straight person by what happens at a strip or swingers club, or at Mardi Gras?
It seems as though some people don't want to see that there are gay and lesbian people out there who have monogamous relationships and live regular, and yes, sometimes boring lives like their own. This this type of ignorance allows people to have inaccurate and hurtful views of the gay community.
Jeremy Stauffer, Brandon