Wednesday's letters: Lavish campaign spending leaves bad taste

Published November 18 2014
Updated November 18 2014

Candidates' splurge makes donors seethe | Nov. 14, commentary

Lavish spending leaves bad taste

Thanks to Kathleen Shanahan, former chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush, for calling out candidates and "the piles of cash" they raised and spent in state races this month. It should also make Florida voters seethe. One of the basic points she raises is: "Is it disingenuous to continue spending thousands in a race you're guaranteed to win?"

While she did not identify any candidates by name, I will: Jeff Atwater. As he was running for re-election as chief financial officer for the state against someone whose name I still do not know, it was impossible to miss his TV ads, especially in the final couple weeks of the campaign. I do not recall receiving one piece of campaign literature or hearing or seeing one ad for his opponent. Atwater won with 60 percent of the vote, more than any of the other three candidates for statewide office.

According to the chief financial officer's website, that elected official has the responsibility "to safeguard public assets, settle the state's financial obligations, report financial information, and improve accountability of the state." One hopes Atwater oversees the state's finances in a more conservative manner than he so lavishly spent his campaign funds.

This also points out one of the perils of early voting. If I had realized the obscene amounts of money Atwater would be spending toward the end of the campaign, I would not have cast my early vote for him.

Rick Carson, St. Petersburg

Immigration fight is on | Nov. 14

Disturbing contrast

Front page, above the fold: Up to 5 million undocumented immigrants will no longer worry about deportation. Work permits will be issued.

Page 8A: The Army will cut 80,000 service members. This will affect enlisted soldiers and officers who fought for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers who wanted a career serving our country. It was also mentioned their pensions would be reduced.

What a country.

Patricia Wood, Brooksville

Executive overreach

I'd love to see your front page the day after the next Republican president issues an executive order to the IRS to cease collecting capital gains taxes and drop any legal action to collect same because they depress investment by rich people. Something tells me you and most of progressive America would find such executive prerogative and prosecutorial discretion an extraconstitutional outrage (which it would be), and demands for impeachment would sound throughout the media.

You'd better get used to the idea with regard to this or similar actions that will offend liberal sensibilities, because the next Republican president is going to enjoy the Obama executive legacy.

Dwayne Keith, Valrico

The attendance myth | Nov. 14, letter

Moving people to the games

I agree with the letter writer that a new baseball stadium will not increase attendance. If city and county officials could focus on helping to increase attendance at the games, they wouldn't have to worry about the Rays moving. Is it too late, because of the recent Greenlight setback, to get creative with public transportation to and from the games?

I can envision 25 or more park-and-ride lots around Pinellas County, where fans could bike or drive to a parking lot in their neighborhood and board a bus to the game. Add a few in Manatee, Polk and Hillsborough counties, too. For now, we have many parks and schools that could serve as parking lots. Has anyone considered that making it easier to get to and from games while fans save on gas, parking fees and traffic hassles could increase attendance exponentially? Could this increase attendance to the point where the Rays might suddenly prefer to remain in our air-conditioned Trop?

The Bucs also have a problem with lack of attendance. Imagine those park-and-ride lots being utilized eight Sundays a year for fans to get to Bucs games. My family would leap at the opportunity to take public transportation from St. Petersburg to Tampa for those games, because traffic and parking are huge deterrents.

These teams are enormous assets to our area, and it baffles me why this hasn't become a serious part of our public transportation conversation.

Kimberly Jones Trombley, St. Petersburg

Tampa's advantages

In fact, Tampa has a larger population and much easier access to Orlando and Lakeland than St. Petersburg does. That greater access could amount to several hundred thousand people over a baseball season.

As to a new stadium drawing a larger fan base, a good example is the Philadelphia Phillies. They saw a vast improvement over Veterans Stadium, which was probably a little worse than the Trop, with beautiful Citizens Bank Park and the fan-friendly improvements.

I also think a bullet train from Orlando providing easy access to a new baseball stadium would improve attendance immeasurably. People would be far more likely to hop a 30-minute ride each way than spend four hours of white-knuckle driving at night.

Chris Curley, Sun City Center

Ruling hits documents' secrecy | Nov. 14

Take the next step

Now that the state Supreme Court has ruled that documents relating to redistricting must be released, after having ruled that the redistricting itself violated the state Constitution, perhaps it's time we do the final fix.

What we really need is an amendment to the state and national Constitutions that redistricting must be done by a party-neutral, one-person-one-vote computer program that would respect natural water and topographical boundaries. That would put an end to gerrymandering once and for all. Such programs already exist and have proven accurate.

Mark Schumerth, St. Pete Beach

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