Stronger effort for 2012 needed
As a native of Hillsborough County, I was depressed by the defeat of the transportation referendum, but my optimism for a stronger effort in 2012 has increased.
The need for light rail will not go away just because the referendum failed. Our elected leaders must use the next two years to improve the plan and widen the scope of the population it serves. Plant City and other remote communities like Durant, Sun City and Apollo Beach must be given more than token road improvements aimed at winning votes.
Most important, the process of educating the public on the indirect benefits of multimodal transit (including light rail and bus rapid transit) must be intensified, especially in suburban and rural communities.
The proposed plan was a great start but came during a tough economic time. However, our elected officials cannot be dismayed, lose their passion for this effort or fall victim to politics. They also must not misinterpret the defeat as a mandate to build more roads or expand existing roads. They must strengthen the existing plan, promote more definitive routes and continue the countywide transit educational process.
If this happens, an improved plan in 2012 will succeed.
Olan Hill, Orlando
Taxes drive us around the bend | Nov. 5
Poor spending choices
I'd like to add my "1 cent" to Daniel Ruth's column on the defeat of the transit tax. In principle I supported the idea of a penny increase in our rates for an improved transportation system. However, I voted against the tax because every day I'm jostled back to reality when I cross the 10 traffic calming tools (speed bumps) that surround the entrances and exits to my neighborhood.
I don't know who authorized these substitutes for potholes; one day they just appeared, and at what expense? After surviving a heart attack, I have grown sensitive to paramedics being delayed, ironically by my own tax dollars used to prevent their access to my home.
Why not spend our county transportation money on enhancing traffic flow rather than limiting it? Then I'll vote for the extra penny.
Andy Szwast, Odessa
Not just about taxes
I reject Daniel Ruth's premise that this latest vote was only a knee-jerk reaction to no more taxes. Had the voters known some facts about the project — such as where it was going, what it would cost, and how long it would take — the matter may have passed.
Charles Casper, Tampa
In the aftermath of the GOP's impressive election results, a letter writer sneeringly extended "condolences" to media that, he says, exhibited "fawning adulation" for the Obama administration and a "drumbeat of negative condescension for all things conservative." In fact, accurate coverage of over-the-top beliefs of some conservatives shouldn't be confused with bias, any more than should truthful reporting about the Democrats' unfortunate choice of candidate for the Senate in South Carolina.
It's telling he lists media outlets including not just the Times and MSNBC, but CNN and all three broadcast networks' news departments. My grandmother used to tell of a neighbor who watched a parade and exclaimed, "Everyone's out of step except my son!"
The electorate, the writer says, "repudiated the progressive agenda of the president and the Democrats." Maybe. But what about the 2008 elections? Are voters misguided when they elect Democrats but supernaturally wise when they vote the other way? Truth is, Republicans took the House, but Democrats kept the Senate. This divided Congress must now search for ways to advance the common cause. Otherwise, I worry what the next two years holds for us.
"The whole problem with the world," Bertrand Russell wrote, "is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
All of us, liberals and conservatives alike, should be acknowledging our common needs and knocking chips of certitude off our shoulders. Only then can we find ways to restore America to greatness.
Terry Dunham, St. Petersburg
I noticed nearly all the polls taken before the election turned out to be right. If Kendrick Meek had backed out, Charlie Crist may very well have been be our senator.
A poll reported in the Times said that two out of three likely voters had no idea that, among other things, our economy is growing and that the Obama administration has lowered taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Seeing how the economy was the No. 1 issue for most voters, the idea that two-thirds of them were casting votes based on dubious information should be concerning.
If that poll is even half right, this election was not about Barack Obama and his policies; it was about the voting public and how it gets its information on current events.
James Harvey, Tampa
Stick to convictions
With the GOP recapturing the House, we hear all the right-wing pundits say that Barack Obama and the Democrats need to shift more to the center. But looking at the results from the losses on the Democratic side shows a different story.
The Democrats in the House are separated into three basic groups: the Blue Dogs (basically Republicans with a D behind their name), the New Democrat Coalition (so-called centrist) and Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Of the three groups, the progressives lost the fewest seats. This is a clear sign that you have to stick to your convictions.
Scott McKown, Palm Harbor
Both sides spend
Recent letters show that some readers are prone to repeat the old canard that only Republicans (Rick Scott in Florida, Meg Whitman in California) spend money on elections. Of course, by extension, Democrats don't spend a dime getting their candidates elected and hate money so much that they won't take union or other special interest money.
I suppose it depends on "whose ox is gored" if one is offended by the use of money for any legal purpose in our system. This is not to mention in-kind services like newspaper endorsements, the backing of groups such as trial lawyers and so forth.
If a Democrat is elected, the voters recognized their own interests in putting person in power who will expand government programs; if a Republican is elected they are simply so stupid that they are fooled by slick advertising and hence don't want to pay more in taxes.
Leonard Martino, Tampa
There is no doubt that Charlie Crist is disappointed in the election outcome. That is only half of the disappointment that we received with Crist as our governor. So many of us were shocked soon after he took office at his inconsistencies; we never knew what was going to happen next.
We all felt that he used the governorship as the stepping-stone to becoming a Florida senator. He has turned his back on everyone, and even his own party that worked so hard to help him become governor. Well, the tide has turned. We can start rebuilding our confidence with Marco Rubio.
Eileen Lightfoot, St. Petersburg