3 steps toward better government
It doesn't matter what political party you prefer, chances are you're not happy with the current system in Washington. I hear it from both sides: "Why can't they get anything done?" Or, "If they were acting this way at my job, they'd be fired." If people want Washington to change, here are the three amendments that would force positive change.
First, make the presidency one six-year term. This would eliminate the first three years being wasted on getting re-elected and, if re-elected, having the last two years being a lame duck.
Second, term-limit senators. I think everyone agrees career politicians are not healthy for the growth of our union. Two six-year terms sound like enough to me. Get elected, serve your country and get out.
Third, increase the age limit on representation eligibility. The problem with many of today's politicians is they have no real-world experience. I want the people writing our laws and moving this country forward to have more experience before being elected. I want business owners who have failed and then succeeded. I want doctors and lawyers who have built reputable practices. I want educators who have worked with the younger generation and understand the challenges we face.
These three changes would change our country for the better and help rid us of the toxic environment in Washington today.
Lucas Levine, Bradenton
Rockets renew Mideast fighting | Aug. 20
U.S. complicity in deaths
I recently sent these questions to my elected representatives in Washington. I am awaiting their responses.
Did you know that 11 United Nations personnel have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the past few weeks? Did you know that there have been six attacks in Gaza on U.N. facilities that are supposed to be shelters?
Did you know that almost 500 children have been killed in the latest attacks in Gaza by Israel? Did you know that over half of the population of Gaza is children?
What I would like to know is: Why is the United States paying for this?
Melva Underbakke, Temple Terrace
Health rules to address religion | Aug. 23
Chipping away at our rights
The Obama administration is once again set to abuse executive powers. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against Obamacare on forcing contraceptive coverage on religious groups and companies that ethically disagree, the administration has a new proposal.
For those who are exempt from providing that coverage, the president wishes to force insurance companies to provide contraceptives "at no cost." But there is no such thing as "no cost." Whether you agree with contraceptive use or not is not the issue. If there's "free" stuff, somebody has to pay, and it's not the insurance company. Those assumed additional claims are paid for by rate increases for everyone, in every state.
Finding a way to subversively overturn the decision of the Supreme Court chips away a little more of our rights as Americans.
Denis Rodimer Jr., Dunedin
Candidate pulls back from book's views Aug. 23
Protect innocent life
Candidate Chris Latvala is not "prolife all the way," as he states in this Times article, if he allows rape as a reason for abortion.
Rape is a most grievous crime against a woman, inflicting psychological and physical injury. I have little sympathy for rapists. But should the unborn child resulting from a rape be punished for the crime of his father? This innocent child is facing the death penalty. The criminal is not.
To be "prolife all the way," one has to acknowledge the unborn is a human being, entitled to all the rights as any other person.
Christopher Martinez, St. Petersburg
Free Clinic's shelter faces claims of racism Aug. 23
One size doesn't fit all
I worked at a women's shelter in Pinellas County a number of years ago. Any shelter is a destination of last resort. It's a necessary but difficult environment to navigate, no one wants to be there, and everyone is irritable and frustrated.
Some residents arrive with pronounced problems such as addiction, domestic violence, childhood abuse, mental health issues and a lifelong struggle with poverty. For these residents and those around them, a communal living environment is problematic on a good day.
It's also the reason why action plans, goals and services look different from one resident to the next. For example, someone struggling with addiction may need treatment-focused services before he or she can apply for a job or attend school. Domestic violence victims may have mandatory court hearings. Those with mental health issues may need to stabilize with medication and therapy before seeking employment. And all have different levels of education. Some may be high school or college graduates, while others may be seeking their GED.
Everyone arrives at a shelter with their own unique life story and immediate needs. I'm glad that the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and the NAACP recognize that for each resident to be successful in reaching sustainability, a customized plan of action is necessary, and a one-size-fits-all plan for every shelter resident is an outdated and ineffective method of service delivery.
M.A. Russell, South Pasadena
PSC to summon utility to justify rate charges Aug. 23
Sweetheart deal for utilities
As a former employee of the Missouri Public Service Commission, I was under the impression that a Public Service Commission "regulated" investor-owned utilities.
That's not the case in Florida. By legislative mandate, investor-owned electric utilities are allowed to recover their management mistakes from ratepayers rather than the utility's management having to answer to its board of directors and also its stockholders.
Even though investor-owned electric utilities are monopolies and have protected service territories, in Florida they are also relieved of the "risk" of having to live with and answer for their mistakes. What a sweetheart deal. No wonder Duke Energy bought Progress Energy.
Ronald Shackelford, Sun City Center