A second look at death penalty | Dec. 29, commentary
Penalty sabotaged by the system
Susan Estrich's intellectually dishonest inability to examine why the death penalty has become an ineffective remedy is emblematic of the blindness of the professoriat and the political class toward the logical outcomes of their policies. The reason that death penalty appeals take years to litigate while consuming millions of taxpayer dollars is that leftist hacks appointed to the bench by politicians create litigable "rights" out of thin air that a lawyer representing the particular murderer or rapist in the case at hand must pursue, at taxpayer cost, lest the attorney be found to have provided the murderer or rapist with ineffective legal assistance.
Each and every element of each and every new "right" conferred by leftist judges on the criminal class becomes its own cottage industry of specialty litigation, with the result that more years and more expert witness fees are extracted from the public.
Once the left has sabotaged the system, the issue of whether the death penalty serves as a deterrent is moot. No penalty that can easily be deferred for decades because professors, judges and lawyers have gamed the system can have any hope of serving as a deterrent.
Arguing that "life without parole" is a legitimate substitute for the death penalty is disingenuous. Freed of the need to oppose the emotionally compelling argument regarding the finality of the death penalty, the criminal defense bar and the law school professoriat will find that undermining a "life without parole" system will be child's play.
Jeffrey Meyer, Tampa
State board of bullying | Dec. 24, editorial
Genshaft's ill-advised move
The Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida takes great interest in USF Polytechnic and sees promise in this campus and its approach to research, education and job creation. After careful deliberation, the board established a process for Polytechnic, now a branch campus, to become an independent institution.
The Board of Governors set benchmarks — goals the campus must reach before it can leave the University of South Florida and become Florida's 12th public university. These requirements include executing extensive planning activities, reaching adequate enrollment and meeting the full accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Achieving these benchmarks won't be easy — success will take skill, dedication, hard work and commitment to the transition to university status. That's why the members of the Board of Governors Special Committee on USF Polytechnic were surprised to see USF president Judy Genshaft appoint as Polytechnic's interim leader an individual who had been publicly opposed to this path of growth, development and independence.
We do not question Genshaft's authority regarding personnel matters; however, while she gave notice that she intended to fire the previous campus leader, she left Board of Governors members in the dark about his replacement. Genshaft's selection of an interim leader once viewed as hostile to Polytechnic's independence created tensions between the higher education community and political leaders — unnecessary friction that could have been avoided through collaboration and cooperation.
The Board of Governors has outlined an exciting future for USF Polytechnic. Reaching that future requires full and active collaboration with USF's president and the Polytechnic leadership. The Board of Governors is prepared to work diligently and enthusiastically to develop Polytechnic's potential as a university, and it expects the same from the leadership of USF and USF Polytechnic.
Ava L. Parker, chair, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida, Tallahassee
The homeless among us | Dec. 30
It's not a plague
I was taken aback by the language of this article. Try reading it and substituting for the word "homeless" one of these: mentally ill, women, disabled, or any of a number of nationalities, ethnicities or races. The article will sound exactly like articles of old, before our "enlightenment" of tolerance and inclusion — or our forced adherence to civil rights.
We often gasp as we read articles from the 20th century at the stereotypes, the lack of sensitivity, and the unfairness of seeing the growth of groups as a "problem" to be dealt with. Yet here we are again. "Homelessness" is not a plague; it is real people — people whose needs must be met, who need to be assimilated in some way into our communities. Each of the aforementioned "substitute" groups had individuals who created problems and perhaps wanted to take advantage of the system, but most were decent people who wanted to be treated respectfully and with dignity. Many were willing to work hard, do their part and give back to the community in exchange for being assimilated into that community fairly. The same would be true of the "homeless."
I would hope that, in years to come, we will read this article and be amazed at the lack of sensitivity in grouping these individuals as "problems with the homeless."
Saybra Chapman, Ridge Manor
Lack of focus hurts Occupy movement Jan. 3, John Romano column
Inequality is the problem
We already have an "everyman" columnist in the "that's all I'm sayin' " guy. We really need a more sophisticated political watcher for "Florida's best newspaper."
This column says the message of the Occupy movement is too vague. Then it says the movement is unclear as to who the enemy is. How about you — the newspapers — addressing the causes of discontent instead of puzzling over the results?
Inequality is the common thread throughout the world of street protests. Nowhere in the industrialized world is there greater economic inequity than in the United States. This situation has been worsening for 40 years.
The result? The worst fiscal crisis in living memory, which has halved real estate values and flooded cities with the homeless. Even retirees question their future.
If you don't get it, go back to sports.
Daniel Barshay, Tampa
Fort De Soto fees
Visitors must do their part
Many of the objections to the new fees at Fort De Soto miss the mark. With the fees, maybe the grass can get cut all over, not just at the road's edge. Perhaps tree maintenance can be done.
We pick up trash each trip we make. If others put it in the cans provided, the park wouldn't need workers to do that for them. It is a shame that what funds are available have to be wasted there instead of repairing areas needed. Volunteers cannot be expected to do all the work.
Robert Hughes, Gulfport