Uneasy lies head that has a veto | April 11, Howard Troxler column
Is conservatism the real wackiness?
This piece was a pretty insightful analysis of Gov. Charlie Crist's current predicament until you get to the part: "Is it that crazy to run against a Legislature, which fiddles this year with ideological wackiness?"
Either Howard Troxler has a problem with yacht owners and builders or he's simply laying down that old soak-the-rich, class warfare template. But is it ideological wackiness to punish people who create jobs with higher taxes in the middle of a recession? The recreational boat manufacturing industry in Florida is on its last legs. Would it be ideological wackiness to provide potential new boat buyers a small tax incentive in order to resuscitate this industry and restore those jobs in a local economy crippled with more than 12 percent unemployment?
Is it ideological wackiness to object to changes in education policies with a 30-year history of failure in order to defend an entrenched union? Is it ideological wackiness for a newspaper to run the same story on an invented Republican credit card scandal over and over again during an election year? Could it be ideological wackiness to consider the monetary value of the free publicity in this repetitive attack accrued to the opposition party in light of current campaign funding statutes?
When the Republican-led Florida Legislature pursues a conservative agenda, it's ideological wackiness. When the president and the Democrat majorities in Congress stuff the most radical progressive agenda in the history of the country down the throats of protesting American taxpayers, it's hailed by the liberal media as a great achievement. Ideological wackiness, like hypocrisy, is in the eyes of the beholder.
T.S. "Mac" McDonnell, St. Petersburg
Serving the well-off
Last year the Florida Legislature decided a one-time charge of $150 for a permit was adequate to let water bottling companies continually pump our precious resource for their profit. They pump millions of gallons of our water for profit and we allow them to do this without compensating the state.
This year the lawmakers want to levy a sales tax on the consumer who buys the water. They also seem to think a huge tax relief was in order for those who can afford luxury yachts. Unbelievable. When will people acknowledge that the folks in Tallahassee are there for the rich and the corporations, not the average person. The government is for sale to the highest bidder on every level.
Cathy Drier, New Port Richey
Leaders lived big on GOP plastic April 11, story
Danger: Politicians at work
Florida House leaders racked up $458,000 in AmEx charges for, among other things, trips to Manhattan and Disney World. Former House Speaker Ray Sansom charged nearly $173,000 to the Republican Party's charge card and awaits criminal trial on charges that he rigged the budget to help a friend who is also a major party donor.
This Legislature is reforming the way Florida pays and evaluates public school teachers? What's wrong with this picture?
Mary Hart, Treasure Island
Leaders lived big on GOP plastic April 11, story
If one aspires to have the "good life," become a Republican member of the state Legislature.
While teachers are being smothered by disastrous legislation, and local governments are being forced to cut back on services while adding taxes and fees, our legislators are romping at the Ritz-Carlton and eating dinners at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. This is being funded by contributions from lobbyists whose sole purpose is to gain tax advantages in our state.
The downside of all of is that in November voters will probably overlook the Republican joyride and continue to elect these freeloaders.
Jack Perlman and Ruth Samuel, Palm Harbor
Indigent care on track to HMOs | April 13
I am disappointed that the Florida Legislature is considering the privatization of the state's entire Medicaid program. Despite the failure and dissatisfaction of a pilot program on the east coast of the state, legislators seem posed to pass this plan to include more counties.
If one reads information provided on the Florida Community Health Action Information Network Web site (www.floridachain.org), the real story and risks are readily available. Those who work with the indigent and disabled know that most, if not all, who already have an HMO contracted by the state as their Medicaid provider have to jump many hurdles to get proper medical care. Health care should not ever be a matter of competition in the business sense. With efficient, enthusiastic oversight, Medicaid should not be as vulnerable to fraud as some claim.
There is evidence that a study done by the University of Florida, which credits the current state Medicaid pilot program with saving the state money, may be flawed. Legislators should read the response to that study by the Florida Community Health Action Information Network before casting their votes. They need to look more closely for ways to save the state money and not immediately try to accomplish that by providing less in quality of care to our most vulnerable citizens.
Linda Hubner, St. Petersburg
To save the pension system, make the workers contribute | April 12, letter
Issue is mismanagement
The letter writer misses the point entirely. He refers to the Florida Retirement System as a "free ride" when the issue is mismanagement of the pension fund by the state. All of us in FRS recognized that our overall compensation included government payments into FRS as part of our salary with the assurance that our retirement would be fully funded. How is that different from paying me directly and then having me pay that into FRS myself?
The Times has documented the mismanagement of FRS by the state very well. The writer should recognize the vulnerability of all pension funds and join the call for reform of our financial institutions.
Michael Brown, Tampa
For-profit colleges teach lesson in cost vs. value | April 11, story
"I wish I could contribute more," he said. "Then I'd be in control." (Arthur Keiser, talking about his $66,000 in contributions to congressional candidates since 2009.)
This just about sums up everything that is wrong with our country and our government in one statement. Certainly teaches us a lesson about our nation, doesn't it? Anyone listening?
Kris Gonynor, Port Richey