Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Obama goes it alone on immigrant crisis | July 2, editorial
Doers, doubters and complainers
The president accuses Congress of doing nothing. Congress accuses the president of doing nothing, but then wants to sue or impeach him when he does something.
If Congress would do something instead of nothing, then President Barack Obama might not have to do something to get something done. The Republican talking heads call him weak because he has done nothing, then accuse him of being a dictator when he does something.
Obama has done next to nothing in Iraq instead of something. President George W. Bush did a lot of something when he should have done nothing, and we all know how well that worked out. It appears that Obama's doing next to nothing in Iraq is the correct something that needs to be done.
In the meantime, while our government is doing nothing, the economy is growing. And that is something.
Alan Raun, Largo
New pressure for manatees | July 2
Safeguard our precious resources
According to the articles of incorporation that Save Crystal River Inc. filed with the Florida Department of State, its reason for existing is to "represent the interest of the citizens of Crystal River against excessive government regulation of the river and resources of the surrounding area." Nothing is said about safeguarding these precious resources, of which the endangered manatee is only one portion.
The petitioners are more interested in being able to buy or sell property unencumbered by environmental concerns; speed down the river in their powerboats; and generally protect their individual property rights at the expense of the habitat of creatures that only thrive due the fact that they are protected by law.
How many of the people petitioning to have the manatee's status downgraded to threatened have ever actually been in the water with them? Have they seen the devastating damage that propellers have inflicted on these creatures? More likely they watch manatees from their boats and curse the fact that they are not allowed to create a wake or build that big hotel on the river where the manatee sanctuaries are located.
Yes, these animals are flourishing. But it is only because of their protected status, not in spite of it.
Cheryl Applebaum, Tampa
Redistricting quandary | July 16
More rotten districts
The tragedy of the recent judicial decision over Florida's electoral redistricting is that it didn't go far enough — isolating only two egregious examples, Districts 5 and 10.
Closer to home, successive redistricting of David Jolly's District 13, apparently done to protect the late C.W. Bill Young, makes a joke of the furor over who was the true "Pinellas candidate," as sliver after sliver of downtown St. Petersburg has been electorally floated across the bay to bolster Kathy Castor's District 14 majority, despite the demand of the constitutional amendment that "natural boundaries" — like Tampa Bay — should be respected in redistricting plans.
Even a quick glimpse at Florida's electoral map shows that similar monkeying around may have taken place in Districts 16, 23, 24, and 4, to mention but a few.
What do Florida voters outside Districts 5 and 10 have do to end the theft of their votes?
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg