When the public interest mattered | May 1, Howard Troxler column
A lesson in how far we've fallen
Thanks to this column for reminding all of us just how great our state of Florida once was under the leadership of Gov. Reubin Askew (1971-1979), when the public interest mattered.
Right next to the column was an article that showed just how fast our state is deteriorating under the "leadership" of Gov. Rick Scott. House Speaker Dean Cannon spent seven minutes discussing, amending and voting on a bill that was 80 pages long. What was the rush? This bill presents a monstrous threat to the environment, yet the House allowed little, if any, discussion or debate. They did not care about the public interest.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
GOP's radical agenda
The 2011 Florida Legislature will go down in history as the most radical ever. Members are ramming through all items on the GOP wish list without any serious debate.
We are told that these things are needed to improve the economy. How does limiting the right to register voters or allowing people less time to vote early help the economy? And I'm not sure how 18 bills targeting women and their reproductive rights are beneficial to the economy, either; or bills to deregulate the insurance industry and allow rates to skyrocket.
What are we going to do if all of these changes don't "fix" Florida? Can we put the toothpaste back in the tube and require that these radical bills have a trigger attached that will make them "sunset" in two years if they don't work? Of course not.
Florida has been under GOP control for 15 years. The broken state of our government is the GOP's responsibility. And now they are telling us that these radical changes are needed to fix our state, i.e., clean up the mess they created. Really.
Thankfully, all of the members of the Legislature will have to run for election in 2012 because of redistricting. Send them back to the private sector before it's too late to fix Florida.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
The royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton has shown us what a civilized country is capable of. Of course, the pageantry and excitement generated by a monarchy are things that the British people live for and that the world admires. The sermon from the dean of Westminster Abbey eloquently told us that a country that makes God part of its society and does not try to separate itself from him is what our creator intended.
We suffer a profusion of bad music on radio and TV with increasingly bad taste among a public that revels in performers who take drugs or profane God. Meanwhile, our greatest symphony orchestras file for bankruptcy.
The financial institutions greedily make enormous amounts of money at the expense of taxpayers while Hollywood movies glorify violence and immorality. God has been excluded from government offices as has prayer from the schools, and the list goes on.
We are losing what we once were — a civilized society that believed in God and that was at one time an example to the world.
Miguel Serrano, Tampa
What we're missing
As I watched the parade of Middletons entering Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding, one more beautiful and elegant than the next, I wondered, "What do we have to compare?"
The Kardashians, Real Housewives and Snooki. Good grief!
Bob Lasher, Clearwater
In a stunning act of hypocrisy, the Florida Legislature managed to save the Deferred Retirement Option Program. This program allows state workers, many at the highest end of the salary range, to pretend they have "retired," then get rehired at their highest salary rate while collecting their full pension.
If the charade was stopped and these employees were not rehired, workers at lower salaries would be hired, stimulating employment, and taxpayers would save money by only paying the pensions of honestly retired state employees.
I have many friends who benefit from this arrangement. Despite my happiness for my friends, I recognize that this program works to the disadvantage of the majority of our citizens.
We can bet that many politicians who saved this program have DROP friends, too. But hypocrisy knows no bounds for elected officials. They are not concerned about "entitlements" for their buddies or campaign contributors. "Entitlements" only has a negative connotation when used for children who cannot vote, the blind and the seriously ill.
Judy Alves, Fort Myers
Charter bills put visions at odds May 1
Boost public schools
A Times article discusses a bill before the Florida Legislature makes it easier to set up charter schools, which are supported by taxes (our money) but privately run. The county school board has little control except to revoke the charter after a few years of failure. This leaves charter schools free to do just about what they want — until they get caught.
At the same time there was an account in the Times of a charter school in trouble. Its finances are in turmoil, teachers have not been paid, and venders and the landlord are waiting for their money. The principal, who had been arrested on a charge of exploiting the elderly, was fired. What a terrible waste of taxpayers' money and our children's future.
One of the basic concepts of this country is universal public education available to all and supported by taxes. Where did this aberration of tax-supported, semi-private education come from?
Charter schools are not the answer. Public education is the backbone of our society. Get involved. Volunteer. Run for the school board. Support your public school.
Joanne Hannon, Pinellas Park
Job security is a must
Tenure and collective bargaining are necessary for teachers in the public schools. Job security is the main reason. Nepotism and political influence ran rampant in big cities, and you had to know someone in order to get a job. Relatives, politics, religion and race were factors for getting or keeping your job.
Unions and secure pensions are also necessary to attract qualified teachers. Good public schools are the backbone of democracy. The public gets what it pays for.
Patrick Kovack, Largo
Council refuses to talk about police conduct | April 28
Public right to know
Kenneth City council member Troy Campbell said, "We do not need to commit character assassination in the public eye." Isn't this why there is so much wrongdoing in government agencies? If bad behaviors are kept in the closet, how do you protect citizens from abuses?
With Kenneth City paying $1.2 million for police protection, the city sure isn't getting value for its tax money.
The bigger the organization, the more corruption and abuses will take place and be hidden from view.
Frances Hoelper, Largo