A failure of leadership | Jan. 13, editorial
Voters bear responsibility, too
It certainly is not unreasonable for Floridians to demand leadership from their elected representatives and to expect from them a proactive, nonpartisan and gimmick-free effort to deal with the state's $2.4-billion budget shortfall. And while I agree with the Times that the partisan patchwork plan passed last week by the Republican-led Legislature shows a total lack of fiscal responsibility, it is worth remembering that it is not current tough economic conditions alone that are responsible for the mess we find ourselves in.
The responsibility lies rather with state lawmakers who have refused for years to address Florida's critical need for some form of comprehensive, meaningful and sustainable tax reform. They did so knowing that the day would come when we would be unable to adequately fund essential services like public education and aid to our most vulnerable citizens.
They made matters worse when they abdicated altogether their legislative duty and promoted through referendum a change to the state's property tax structure that is now less fair, less equitable and less able to support Florida's fiscal needs, and will be even more difficult to fix in the future.
Yet voters passed Amendment 1 last January and, in November, returned to office every single member of the state Legislature up for re-election. Perhaps the failure is ours.
Bob Hackworth, mayor, city of Dunedin
Minorities too often settle for less | Jan. 11, Bill Maxwell column
Education's focus should be on our best students
Bill Maxwell presented the nucleus of a fine national higher educational policy. Let us make sure our most qualified high school graduates have access to the best universities. If finances are not available to the most needy, we as a nation should provide those funds. Educating our best is the only way to continue our country's strength.
However, if we are truly interested in higher education, we must also eliminate those discriminatory admissions policies that give preference to color and ethnicity over achievement. We cannot have it both ways.
If Bill Maxwell believes the function of our universities is to give seating to the best and brightest, then I assume he will agree with me.
George Post, Clearwater
Minorities too often settle for less | Jan. 11, Bill Maxwell column
Obsessed with 'best'
Bill Maxwell laments that some outstanding black students must languish in "second-best" colleges, where most white students also go, rather than attend Ivy League schools. Maxwell thinks that going to second-best schools could possibly impact their futures, never mind that many graduates of those schools become teachers, doctors, lawyers, business people, etc., and achieve above-average incomes. True, they may not be sufficiently titled for Wall Street, but do not pity them. Students around the globe clamor to come to our schools, even the second-best ones.
This obsession to attend a "good" school creates worship for Ivies and taints the achievements of most college graduates. Even though top schools may offer "the ultimate intellectual challenge," their graduates have led our country to financial disaster. Having to go to a "second-best" college is not to be forsaken to a life of despair.
Bob Womack, Crystal River
System needed to monitor drug use | Jan. 11, editorial
Remember those in pain
I am one of those people in intractable pain from a construction accident. I have to take a strong painkiller just to get from my bed to the bathroom.
I will agree that something must be done to get control of the accidental overdoses and abuse in the system, but please believe me when I tell you that the government can make life just as bad. A doctor who prescribes two prescriptions to the same patient for the same drug is "suspect." You may lower overdoses with a registry but raise the number of suicides when folks who suffer intractable pain can no longer have medicine. Life is not so sweet when all you do is hurt all day.
Please use your influence to ask the lawmakers to protect truly needful patients. Study the Texas Intractable Pain Treatment Act of 1989. It protects both doctors and patients who are aboveboard and trying to do the right thing.
C.H. Eure, St. Petersburg
Justice must still justify the means | Jan. 11, Perspective story
Twisting our thoughts
I wonder if the writer of this article has a moral issue with Hamas members hiding behind innocent families, using them as shields when under mortar fire and then yelling "outrage." When the rockets and missiles were landing on towns in Israel and children and women were being killed, where was the outrage?
Propaganda has twisted our thoughts into believing that Hamas is not the terrorist organization calling for the destruction of Israel that it is. Instead we see Hamas portrayed as a victim.
When Israel finally, after many months of terror against its citizens, strikes back at the Hamas terrorists, we call foul. What a double standard.
As Golda Meir once said, "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
Terry Drago, Hudson
510 campaign promises | Jan. 15, PoltiFact.com
Focus is off target
With all that is going on in the world today, how could you possibly believe that tracking the promises of Barack Obama is the best way to use your reporting space?
First, Obama hasn't even been inaugurated and you are already keeping score. Second, why not start with the eight years of George Bush and provide us all with history? Third, why not provide the progress, if any, for Gov. Charlie Crist, Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson?
Barry Kanter, Lithia
An important assessment
I subscribed to the Times after total frustration with the Tampa Tribune. I read the Times the other morning and was impressed by the quality of the print, the construction of the articles and of the paper itself.
I am a Democrat and your front-page article on 510 campaign promises was very important to me and should be to all Americans.
I think Barack Obama should be just as credible as he had promised, and if not he should be taken to task. Keep the quality in your paper and keep your articles newsworthy.
David Kessler, Zephyrhills
Unfair and illogical
In case you hadn't noticed, many Americans' hopes and dreams have been made impossible to fulfill recently due to a financial crisis compounded by a pre-existing federal deficit. To play games with a "Truth-O-Meter" based on what was said in the last campaign is totally unfair and illogical.
Note that right below the Thursday front-page article is a report on how the state has to break its commitments due to budget problems.
A father sadly telling his son to postpone college for a year or two should not be judged as a liar because he gave that dream to his son. Father and son need to work together to come up with new, creative solutions that involve more sacrifice, delayed gratification and difficult choices.
That's the kind of intelligence and judgement I see in Obama — a leader, not a Santa Claus to give us our unearned presents.
Jude Knecht, Sun City Center
Clay Bennett cartoon | Jan. 15
A welcome return
It was great to see one of Clay Bennett's cartoons back in the St. Petersburg Times, even if he is now working for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
He always did hit the nail on the head when he worked at the Times.
Malcolm Johnson, Seminole