Sink rejects NBC's televising debate | Feb. 15
Sink should have accepted debate
Democracy works best when more people participate, not fewer. Alex Sink should have agreed to participate in the nationally televised debate for the District 13 U.S. House race. The whole country is watching how this race turns out, not just Pinellas County.
Like Sink, I too worried that questions from a national moderator may have been more politicized and maybe even less civil than in the local forum. But they don't call politics a blood sport for nothing. If Sink gets elected to Congress, she will see plenty of nasty political talk directed her way in Washington. She might as well start getting used to it.
Steve Scott, Sarasota
'Stand your ground'
If you are walking from the store in a hoodie, you die. If you are texting at the movies, you die. If you are playing loud music, you die. What's next? I don't think "stand your ground" means you're the law. It's time to make changes to the law or replace it.
Richard Gentile, Tampa
Weatherford has vouchers in mind | Feb. 15
I think it is a quote from President Lincoln that ends, "but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." True. But in the American democracy of today, you only need to fool 50 percent. And if you are proposing a law that benefits only 25 percent of the people at the expense of the other 75 percent, you need only fool one-third of the 75 percent.
Of course, there is a surplus of marketing companies whose business is creating gimmicks designed to fool voters. There are hundreds of gimmicks out there, and I suspect "tax credits for scholarships" is the latest example of one: proposing a law that describes a desirable objective, but contains unintended (and unstated) consequences that are, in fact, intended.
From the Times: "House Speaker Will Weatherford is building support for a proposed expansion of the tax credit scholarship program, which provides private-school scholarships." The proposal would enable corporate donors to earn dollar-for-dollar tax credits in exchange for contributions.
Who could be against scholarships for poor students, so they can avoid public schools? Well, I think it is, in fact, a convoluted method of giving money to private schools, money that should have gone to the state — perhaps to improve public schools. And, even worse, since 70 percent of the scholarships are used in religious schools, it may be that the real intention is to fund religious schools with government money, an objective frowned on by the Constitution, whether it was intended or not.
John Dorgan, Spring Hill
Keep private life private | Feb. 14, letter
Stepping out of the shadows
The year was 1975. That's the year my brother was tortured and murdered because he was gay. Justice for the victim was not a top priority at that time. Somehow the mind-set, not only with the police department but also with general population, was that the victim was somewhat responsible for being in a situation to allow that to happen. So his killer was never brought to justice and my brother became another gay man cold case.
Social acceptance is the reason why Michael Sam and every other gay person needs to step out of the shadows and let the world know that it is okay to be gay. One thing that I am absolutely sure of is that a gay person does not choose that lifestyle. They are born into that lifestyle.
Dennis Byrd, Weeki Wachee
Officials cheered as site failed unemployed Feb. 16
Chip on shoulder
I have a friend in his 70s who lives in Paris near Parc Monceau. He is frustrated constantly by the laptop computer I helped him purchase on his last visit to St. Petersburg and calls me when he has problems.
Whenever he is close to pulling the last hair from his head because "the Internet won't let me email" or "I lost all my pages of notes from the last two days of writing," I tell him: "Go to Parc Monceau, find a young person under the age of 16, offer them 20 euros, and ask them to troubleshoot. I guarantee they will have you up and running in 10 minutes or less." He always laughs, but he also knows it is true. Computers and software are a young person's game.
I tell this story because I wonder why the state of Florida would hire 56-year-old Tom McCullion to create a $63 million, very complicated unemployment benefits website from scratch. His age in computer years is closer to 224 based on how computers and software seem to change about four times every year.
The state of Florida got exactly what it wanted in my estimation: a system that worked like things did in 1980 when McCullion was finishing college, one that is inefficient and works only with a landline. What a disaster for the poor people trying to feed themselves and their families.
Martin L. Daugherty, St. Petersburg
Evidence, not religiosity
I've been following the debate on medical marijuana with some interest. One thing that seems clear is that much of this discussion is focused on moralistic beliefs that come from an earlier time. Throughout our lives we are told that sometimes we need to do something or take some medicine that is painful or unpleasant because it is good for us. Cod liver oil as a kid and my difficult experience with radiation and chemotherapy as an adult cancer patient come to mind.
So while not surprising, it is still odd for me to see arguments against medical marijuana focused on the fact that it makes the user feel good. It has become clear that cannabis has many legitimate uses in the treatment of glaucoma, MS and for those undergoing cancer therapies, to name just a few. That this plant supplement will also cause the user to feel mild euphoria, laugh and get the munchies seems considerably less dire than the side effects of many drugs and procedures in widespread use.
We need to leave the moralizers behind and make this decision based on rational evidence and not a Puritanical religiosity.
William Adams, St. Petersburg