Scott aide miffed that favors not returned | March 6
Scott aide's meddling out of line
After 18 years serving in Tallahassee, I have seen many shocking and disappointing things occur in our state's capital. One of the worst was when the governor's chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, recently called out Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, for not trading favors. MacNamara is quoted as stating: "He (Jones) was not willing to listen and he was not willing to trade … apparently, it's a one-way street." Anyone who knows Jones knows he is a man of integrity whose word is his bond.
MacNamara's role is to run the governor's office, not criticize members of the Legislature. His remarks that the governor expected Jones' vote in favor of prison privatization in return for some appointments Jones supported illustrates what is wrong with this process. MacNamara's statement that "the governor thought, 'Gosh, we've done him a favor, maybe he'll do us a favor,' proves that MacNamara's quid pro quo mentality has no place in Tallahassee. Evidently, MacNamara appears to have not learned that lesson during his very long career in state government.
I would suggest MacNamara allow his elected boss to be the one speaking out. The more government is run by nonelected staff, the closer we get to losing the hard-earned representative form of government we cherish. Impugning the character of well-respected public servants does little to enhance the office of the governor, either.
It is unfortunate that MacNamara's boss, the governor, would tolerate this behavior from a subordinate. That itself speaks volumes.
State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey
On Beer Week, regionalism and the joys of Sporcle | March 5, Ernest Hooper column
Don't erase our identity
Ernest Hooper should understand that the Times' continuing agenda to homogenize St. Petersburg and Tampa into the "Tampa Bay" region will never be fully accepted by at least one side of the bay area. I am tired of this effort, viewed by the Times as the "manifest destiny" of residents of both cities with the idea that it will create some amorphous benefit to us all.
Like most St. Petersburg residents, I like Tampa. I visit regularly and spend money in its restaurants, attractions and sporting events. I also understand that the area needs to cooperate on truly regional issues such as water and transportation. However, I cannot name one lasting benefit that would result from the Times' continuing attempts to blur the distinctions between the two cities and obliterate the remaining vestiges of what makes me proud to live in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
A matter of jobs
Recent articles about possible changes at the Postal Service, including the closing of the St. Petersburg mail processing facility, seem to have missed the most important aspect in all of this. While it may be an issue of community identity that St. Petersburg could lose its postmark, the more important point is the loss of local jobs.
With the closing of mail facilities, postal workers could be moved miles away to other offices or even lose their jobs entirely. The Postal Service is one of the largest employers in the nation. Postal workers give a lot to the local economy, and the loss of their jobs has more of an impact on the citizens of St. Petersburg than a minuscule amount of ink that most people probably don't even read.
David Adams, St. Petersburg
Fight for religious liberty March 2, commentary
It's an individual's choice
Attorney General Pam Bondi argues that the new health care law inhibits religious freedom when, in fact, the opposite is true. Religious freedom is foremost an individual right. The new law leaves it to the individual to decide if she wants to use birth control. And, more importantly, it does not require the religious institution to pay if their employees choose to use it.
Since many Catholic women have used birth control, it would appear that the Catholic Church has not convinced its parishioners that birth control is immoral. If the church wants people to stop using birth control, it needs to improve its moral argument — and not rely on the government to enforce its religious edicts.
Jack Coletti, St. Petersburg
Challenging health care reform was not enough. Now Attorney General Pam Bondi has bought into yet another pet political crusade of the right wing, relying upon a "religious freedom" rationale that is rhetorical nonsense.
The Times is correct: Large institutions that perform overwhelmingly secular tasks are not "religious organizations" in any sense that demands First Amendment deference. The Republican position (not surprisingly) seeks to elevate the "beliefs" of the employer above the freedoms of the numerous and various individuals who work for it; and the contraception coverage mandate applies, in any case, to insurance companies, not people.
Of course, neither of these projects is remotely related to the Bondi's responsibilities as Florida's chief law enforcement officer. While the budgets of vital state agencies are being slashed, she decides to commit considerable resources to a patently partisan effort to discredit President Barack Obama on every conceivable front. All of us, as taxpayers, should be outraged.
Keith Roberts, Tampa
GOP bullying, resentment
I find the comments of Rush Limbaugh concerning Sandra Fluke consistent with the tone and the spirit that has inspired the Republican primary season up to this point.
The two main themes have been resentment (bordering on hatred) and bullying— resentment toward voiceless minorities and bullying toward President Barack Obama.
Is there any Republican who could stand up to these bullies the way Sen. Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of two presidents, stood up to Joe McCarthy?
Lodovico Balducci, Tampa
Look in the mirror
In 2006, Rush Limbaugh was detained at Palm Beach Airport returning from Costa Rica, where he was discovered to be carrying 29 Viagra pills — not, incidentally, prescribed to him. I wonder how many he went down there with? Would this make him … I don't know …?
Angelo Gavrian, Brandon