Scott vetoes tuition hikes | April 28
Florida schools left underfunded
Gov. Rick Scott's tuition bill veto is wrong. He views everything in a business paradigm, with the need for "measurable results," yet the vetoed tuition bill had built-in measurable goals — lifting us all — and no new taxes. UF and USF compete nationally, teach, and do fundamental research yet are saddled by 35 percent budget cuts plus unsustainably low tuition.
Scott brings us a new engineering school, and its extra expense, that starts at the bottom, with no systemwide goals and no reward for national performance.
This spread-the-wealth approach resulted in New York's mediocre SUNY system — except they have Cornell and Columbia. We have struggling, underfunded UF and USF being passed by Miami. I urge the Legislature to override Scott's veto. Their action defines Florida's future.
Mark Kaufman, Gainesville
For a better Tampa | April 28, editorial
Extend the streetcar line
The Times is correct to identify streetcars as a legitimate and viable form of mass transit. New Orleans; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and Charlotte, N.C., are shining examples of successful and aesthetic streetcar lines. As the Times contends, extending the Tampa line into downtown will increase ridership and serve as a connector to other mass transit lines. Without an extension, Tampa's line is "half pregnant." It is essential to extend it and connect it with another viable mass transit service — a municipal water taxi to St. Petersburg.
While planners and officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties wage expensive and futile campaigns to install light rail trains to the suburbs, the basic problem goes unsolved. Getting people back and forth across the bay is our urgent need. Municipal water taxis are common in coastal world cities, and starting one in Tampa Bay is the easiest and least expensive way to get us from Tampa to St. Petersburg.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
State drug test rejected | April 27
Start at the top
If the governor of a state cuts $300 million from 11 existing universities and then pledges $43 million in taxpayer money to start a new university that no one wants that was run by a man with questionable financial acumen — then, yes, by all means, that governor should be drug tested immediately.
Tony Mercer, Palm Harbor
Getting a feel for daddy's job | April 27
It was shocking to see the large picture the Times ran on its front page representing National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The picture shows a 5-year-old girl holding and pointing an M3 multirole antiarmor antitank weapon.
I understand that this weapon is used by the military, but with all the gun violence going on around our state and country, this is a poor choice in photos to represent this special day. The caption mentions that the event included an obstacle course, survival equipment and a static parachute demonstration. Why not use a picture of a child involved in one of those events instead of holding an M3 weapon?
Marilyn Wirth, Largo
Scott won't reappoint two people tied to critic | April 25
I was shocked to hear that Ken Burke was not reaffirmed by Gov. Rick Scott as a trustee for St. Petersburg College. He has been a valued leader of the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees for nearly 13 years with a remarkable track record. Even more distressing was to read about the reasons for his removal.
Burke was not removed from the board for any action he did, but only for his association with a state legislator, Sen. Dennis Jones, who had the integrity to stand up against prison privatization. Jones has become a target of the governor's retribution.
People with integrity are being victimized in the current regime and being replaced by those willing to follow the governor's agenda. The right to disagree, democracy and free speech have all become endangered species in Florida today.
Dewey F. Morgan, St. Petersburg
False premise | April 28, letter
This letter states that "to refer to Israel and apartheid together shows a complete misunderstanding of Israeli law." Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop emeritus, disagrees. "This group of people (Palestinians) is being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa."
Tutu endorses efforts for divestment of stock in companies like Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard. They profit from the sales of huge bulldozers to destroy Palestinian homes, and from high-tech security equipment that protects illegal Israeli settlements. Said Tutu, "If international courts and governments refuse to deal with this matter, we in the churches and in the rest of civil society really have no choice but to act."
The United Methodist Church holds stock in those three companies. This looms large in the consciences of many retired clergy whose pensions are in part based on returns from that stock. This is the third time United Methodist clergy and laypersons have said to their own church that we should not profit from investments that harm others. What is new is that they are now joined by Palestinian Christians and Jewish rabbis.
It has been my privilege as a local former United Methodist pastor and hunger action program director to work side by side with these committed people of faith at the United Methodist General Conference meeting in Tampa. It will be a historic event when the United Methodist Church and other denominations put our prayers for peace with justice for all the peoples in the Holy Land into clear actions, like divestment.
Rev. Dr. Warren Clark, Tampa
Perhaps we should consider renaming Florida's soon-to-be 12th state university. Polytechnic seems so generic. Maybe we could use the opportunity to better commemorate the circumstances of its birth.
In recognition of Marshall Goodman's management style: Poly-Hectic. Or his travel policy: Poly-Peripatetic. Then there is always the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott and his staff: Poly-Cynic. Or JD Alexander's legislative philosophy: Poly-Kleptic. My vote, however, goes to recognizing the rest of us: Poly-Skeptic.
Tom Lange, St. Pete Beach