Twisted priorities in tracking immigrants Am I the only one who caught this? One story in the Times, Fingers point in rape cases (Aug. 26), brought out the fact that local law enforcement agencies get no assistance from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they arrest illegal immigrants for various violent crimes. Then another article, Immigration raid seizes 350 workers (Aug. 26), informs us how ICE raided two businesses and detained 750 people ICE claims are illegal and who will be soon deported.
Is ICE saying that they are more concerned with illegal immigrants whose only crime is entering the country to willingly work some lousy job Americans don't want? And are they telling us that the have no concern with illegal immigrants who commit crimes like robbing, raping and killing? According to the Hillsborough sheriff, ICE tells them to put their request in writing and they will "see what they can do." Lets see: Illegal immigrants trying to take care of their families are more of a threat to our country than those who prey on us like coyotes? Typical federal logic.
Marty Chambers, Largo
Fingers point in rape cases | Aug. 26
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite uses her bully pulpit very selectively and seemingly only finds issues to bleat about when an election is near. This time she has the audacity to impugn the excellent work of Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and his department after their arrest of three extremely violent rape suspects. Brown-Waite wants a federal investigation of a successful criminal investigation and claims it's not about politics. If not, why didn't she simply call the sheriff for the answers she needed? That would have been professional and appropriate, two adjectives that are are foreign to her behavior.
Bob Dodd, Dade City
Immigration raid at factory sets record Aug. 27
Employers are the problem
Nothing more clearly illustrates our cultural blindness to racism and economic injustice than the recent story about 600 illegal immigrants being arrested at a factory in Mississippi. The photos in the media show lines of workers in handcuffs being hustled off to detention camps.
But you will never see the plant manager or the company CEO doing a perp walk, even though they violated the law as well. You simply cannot have 600-plus illegal aliens on the rolls without everyone knowing it.
Here is how it works. They bait the trip north with promises of regular work with good pay. They accept multiple copies of the same Social Security and related documents as proof of status. They fire anyone who asks questions, wants overtime pay or applies for benefits. Then they call in the authorities so they don't have to pay the people they just had tossed in jail.
They also send political contributions to the local politician who rails against illegal aliens, makes sure they will face no penalties and will help them keep the unions out. Then they start the cycle over again.
We are not going to solve the immigration problem until we jail the employer right along with the worker he hired. If there was no work for them, they would not come. The employers will never want to solve a "problem" that they created and that pays off big time. Who would?
Bob Larson, Sun City Center
Protect legal citizens
While other states pass laws requiring employers to verify that their workers are legal, the Florida Legislature holds hearings on how wonderful illegal aliens are. While other states require police to check the immigration status of everyone they arrest, our state keeps trying to give illegal aliens drivers' licenses, in-state tuition and social services. And as illegal aliens flee the states that no longer tolerate them, they flock to Florida.
Rapes, robbery, murder and violent gangs get the headlines, while the legal citizens pick up the tab for their health care, incarceration, education, welfare and depressed wages.
Enough. We need to tell the governor and the Legislature to start protecting legal citizens and that failure to do so makes them as guilty as the criminals they support through their inaction.
Ted Reinhard, Clearwater
Amendment 1 voters,
you got what you deserved
I read with interest the letters from individuals who were unhappy with their TRIM (truth in millage) notices. It seems they somehow didn't get the "average $240 property tax savings" promised by Gov. Crist and the Legislature if Amendment 1 passed. In fact, due to the convoluted method of figuring out property taxes and home values, many of you saw reduced home values and increased property taxes.
Well, to all those who were foolish and naive enough to believe the Republican lies about how Amendment 1 would save them money on their property taxes and voted in favor of it, you have gotten what you deserve. You chose to believe the empty promises and ignore the truth that educators, firefighters, police, city and county governments were trying to tell you. No matter what meager savings you might realize, you will only end up paying more as governmental agencies will reduce services and continue to raise "fees" (a clever pseudonym for taxes) at will with no voter input, in order to provide the level of services that citizens have come to expect.
It is amazing that people who have lived for any length of time in Florida still have not learned to be skeptical when politicians tell us how they want to help us. With an election cycle upon us, remember how much the current crop of incumbents has helped you and our state, and cast your votes wisely.
Marshall Koppel, Clearwater
GOP promises not kept
In this election cycle it is interesting to note that the most vociferous opponents of property tax reform and resulting budget reductions are incumbent Republicans. Whatever happened to the Republican Party of smaller government and lower taxes? I guess that philosophy makes for good rhetoric to get elected, but once in office, as they say in New York, "fugettaboutit."
The fact is that with the run-up in property value, local governments enjoyed a 100 percent increase in revenue over the last six years. While enjoying this abnormal increase, no one mentioned cutting taxes or rebating money to taxpayers. Instead they voted for higher salaries, increased benefits and more programs. This lack of concern for the taxpaying public is very troubling and inconsistent with what I believe to be the Republican philosophy of lower taxes and smaller government.
I am looking for candidates regardless of party who can promise to reduce spending and cut taxes as a No. 1 priority.
Steve Richards, Tarpon Springs
PETA pal aims to buy SeaWorld, let animals go | Aug. 21
Letting whales go is wrong
I am a 15-year-old student at Hillsborough High School and I fail to see the logic behind the idea to let the animals go and replace them with robots. The SeaWorld animals have been hand-reared and fed by people for too long; if PETA is allowed to release them into the wild, it's very likely that they would die.
The animals have come to trust humans and depend on the employees to take care of them. Their immunity to disease and germs isn't high enough for them to be in the wild.
And to replace them with robots or a virtual reality game is a bad idea. I remember when I got to touch and feed an orca, I was giddy with excitement. What child could ever go starry-eyed and awestruck for a whale that isn't even real? What's beautiful is that these are real animals, and it's the only place you can see them up close.
I think releasing the animals would be the cruelest thing PETA could do, to both the animals and the people.
Carina Steady, Tampa
Free speech shut down
I am dumbfounded by the denial of First Amendment constitutional free speech and free assembly protection in Denver. In arresting 13 abortion protesters, the city of Denver, unfortunately, follows in the footsteps as Birmingham in the civil rights movement.
As a Catholic prolife Christian (who also teaches applied ethics and religion for St. Petersburg College), I am left to quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws."
For Catholics, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Protestants, Buddhists and all who hold a prolife view, such denial of First Amendment rights must be addressed with further nonviolent direct-action campaigns of civil resistance.
Rob J. King, St. Petersburg
Lowering the drinking age | Aug. 25, commentary
Don't lower drinking age
If the recent suggestion by college presidents to lower the drinking age to 18 is an example of their problem-solving abilities, they should all be required to enroll in Common Sense 101.
Using the tragic story of the young woman who died coming back to campus after a night of drinking in Tampa to support the argument is nonsense. I'm not trying to be disrespectful to that woman, but how would she have been helped if the legal age had been 18 and there had been "a legal and safe environment for responsible drinking on campus" with "adult oversight and care"? Kids go out to party and have a fun in bars off campus with crowds, music, dancing and drinking to get away from adult oversight. Where are you going to find that atmosphere on campus? At the student union? In their dorm room? Out on the quad? Not really. The only difference is that she would have been "legal."
Then there's the argument that, since some kids don't obey the law, the law should be changed. Brilliant! If 51 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds have experienced binge drinking, common sense tells you that lowering the legal age to 18 is only going to encourage some of the other 49 percent to try it.
Education, counseling and setting good examples won't hurt, but lowering the drinking age will only make the problem worse.
Ted Milios, Hudson
The duties of citizenship
To all patriots with "Support Our Troops" stickers on your car, I have a question: In what way should we support our troops who volunteered to protect our way of life and offer that democratic right to Iraqis? Should we go shopping, continue driving SUVs or Hummers, or should we exercise our rights/privileges by participating in the only way we have of controlling our government — going to the polls and voting for who we feel would best protect our rights and freedom?
I and others like me awoke at 4 a.m. Tuesday to be at the polls to set up and be ready for you, the public, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that you could exercise your privilege of voting. We, the poll workers, put in many long hours at taxpayers' expense to give you the opportunity to exercise your hard-fought right to vote. Many local choices for how our government will be run were at stake. No, it wasn't for who will be president; it was for the people who will support our immediate way of life locally.
Thanks to those of you who bothered to send in your absentee ballots or actually came to the polls to exercise your right to vote. It is a shame that only 12 percent of the Florida population are willing to do more than put stickers on their cars or yellow ribbons on their mailboxes to support our troops and our democratic way of life.
This is a country of second chances, and Nov. 4 will be yours. The poll workers will be prepared to handle 90 percent of eligible voters at the polls or by absentee-voter ballots. Will you be prepared to show up and be counted? The very future of our democracy is on the line this fall. So are the lives of our volunteer armed forces.
Gail Wohl, South Pasadena
Nuclear not worth the risks
With virtually no public knowledge or debate, Florida's Public Service Commission has approved ratepayer prefinancing to build two gargantuan nuclear plants at Turkey Point, at the edge of the Florida Everglades. The deal could devastate the South Florida economy.
The PSC has also decided that ratepayers should foot the bill — as they're being built — for two more reactors in Levy County.
The combined bill for these four reactors, which cannot possibly come on line in less than a decade, could be upwards of $50-billion. Electric rates for millions of Floridians will rise as they are being built, with no guarantee any of these plants will generate a single electron of electricity.
Together they could make Florida terminally uncompetitive by allowing electric rates to soar in an economy already vastly stressed by runaway energy costs.
To put this in perspective, these four reactors could cost 25 times as much as the $2-billion deal to purchase 185,000 acres of sugar land to save the Everglades ecosystem. But long before it can go radioactive, merely constructing the Turkey Point reactors could undo much of the good done by that historic purchase.
Construction at Turkey Point could endanger South Florida's precious water supply. Impacts on nearby endangered species and the ecological disruptions rendered by building an industrial facility this large on the border of the Everglades National Park could be dire.
Though the nuclear industry claims this "new generation" of reactors will be safe, it won't build them without federal protection from liability against a major accident, by error or terror. Should that happen, the Florida economy could be wrecked.
The PSC should rescind this giveaway of ratepayers' money and let those billions flow to solar power and increased efficiency, which are safer, cheaper, cleaner and far more reliable. A green-powered Florida would be more prosperous and secure than anything coming from open-ended investments in a failed radioactive technology.
Kyle Taylor, Tampa