'Air of deceit' in drug cases | March 10
Sheriff's Office needs outside inquiry
The time has come for an outside agency to investigate misdeeds within the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The fact that there are 15 internal affairs investigations being conducted by the Sheriff's Office is unprecedented. The Sheriff's Office only comes forward when confronted with allegations of wrongdoing, and then its findings are incomplete or inconclusive. Other law enforcement agencies — upon finding that evidence has been destroyed and that public funds have been stolen — would refer possible felony and misdemeanor charges to the state attorney for investigation. The public would expect nothing less, and it is essential to maintaining its trust. George Washington said it best: "The truth will always prevail when great pains are taken to bring it to light."
I write this letter with the support of four other attorneys and a private investigator representing clients affected by the officers' actions: Bjorn Brunvand, Douglas de Vlaming, William Newt Hudson, John Trevena and Mike Peasley. We call upon the state attorney to convene a grand jury to ensure that a proper and thorough investigation of the Sheriff's Office is conducted.
Jerry Theophilopoulos, Tarpon Springs
The trouble with 'stand your ground' March 20 editorial
A pirate said it best
Robert Louis Stevenson had a clear vision of the hazards inherent in Florida's "stand your ground" law. As Long John Silver sagely noted: "Dead men tell no tales!" So we hear George Zimmerman's allegations that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense, but the voice of Trayvon Martin has been silenced, and he cannot tell us his account. Who speaks for him?
How much better off we would be if Florida's legislators had had the foresight to consider Long John Silver's stark observation when they passed this law.
Edward H. Stein, Tampa
'Stand your ground': a killer defense? March 18 John Romano column
Has nothing to do with guns
John Romano briefly mentions the Second Amendment when discussing this controversial issue, but this law has nothing to do with firearms. It does not give concealed-weapons-permit holders any special rights, and does not limit its application to the use of guns in self-defense.
The antigun people will seize any opportunity to blame legitimate gun owners and the NRA for any problems with this law, but changing it won't affect the right to keep and bear arms one bit.
Romano is right when he says that the right of self-defense is an old principle. He may even be right to say that the "stand your ground" law needs fine-tuning. But let's separate the "gun thing" from this discussion.
Leonard Martino, Tampa
Obama critic can't pay medical bills March 15 column
Stealing on two fronts
This piece by Wendell Potter regarding the National Federation of Independent Business' support of a move to repeal portions of Obamacare is a prime example of what is wrong with some in our society. It is obvious that the leadership of this group would rather encourage members to steal from their fellow Americans than pay their fair share. They steal on two fronts: one, the medical community that serves their members when they become ill, have no insurance and no means of paying for their care; and the second is me, the person with insurance. My insurance rates are higher because of this theft.
The health care plan — one that some would call Obamacare — would limit this thievery because most everyone would have to purchase insurance.
Robert Bucklin, Zephyrhills
Injured warrior, family man identified in Afghan killings | March 17
Turn him over to Afghans
So many folks believe this great nation can do no harm, and they validate this belief by ignoring the crimes against humanity that the U.S. commits. When the newspaper reports that the U.S. soldier who slaughtered the Afghan women/children is a family man, a soldier, etc., thereby indirectly negating his evil actions, the paper only leads citizens further from the truth.
Please understand that this man is not a soldier in the Army when he goes rogue and kills innocent people. He should be turned over to the Afghan people, and their law.
Patrick Lawhead, Tampa
Disbelief grips old friends of 'Bobby' March 19
Don't demonize soldier
I have to write in support of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians while in a war zone. I still cannot believe that anyone in this country is surprised by another incident like this by yet another overstressed, burned out, combat-injured American soldier. For some insane reason when our politicians send our young men and women into war, they act like they are sending all these trained fighters off to college or something.
I for one can only hope we as a country do not once again bow to the pressures of the Afghan government, and criminally charge and crucify Sgt. Bales. This soldier needs and deserves the proper medical treatment he desperately needs as a result of this ongoing war! We have killed our No. 1 enemy, Osama bin Laden, and America has won, so let's bring all of our troops home now, and start treating the other soldiers who also will surely snap under the heavy burden of multiple deployments and fighting of this now-senseless war.
Joseph Rowe, Tarpon Springs
Sadness, resentment at prison's closing March 20 Steve Bousquet column
Alexander's odd priorities
It is interesting that Sen. JD Alexander criticizes Rep. Rich Glorioso for wanting to spend money to keep Hillsborough Correctional Institution open, but has no problem putting $35 million in the budget for a "road to nowhere" in the middle of Florida that will run through his property. That is enough to operate HCI for over four years. I guess your perspective depends on whether you want to save lives and rehabilitate women to become productive citizens or to enrich your own pockets.
Janet Smith, Sun City Center
School prayer bill
A veto would be divine
If the "school prayer" bill is signed by Gov. Rick Scott, I can't wait for some Wiccan (or other non-Christian, nonmainstream) student to insist on giving an "inspirational message." I can't wait for Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, and his religious-right friends to harrumph about how that's not what they intended. I can't wait for the "school prayer" bill to be ruled unconstitutional. Perhaps we should all pray (on our own time and in our own way) that Scott vetoes this bill (SB 98).
William Nye, Clearwater