Voters will need to do homework
To those inclined to vote for Amendment 4: You may be under the mistaken impression that if the measure is approved, development that you don't like will be stopped. The truth is that if no comprehensive plan land use amendment is needed for development to take place on that vacant parcel behind your house or across the street, it most likely will be able to be developed or redeveloped.
You may not like it, but that property you don't own will be built on regardless of the outcome of the vote. Even those who support the amendment have had to admit that it would only apply to comprehensive plan amendments, not to development that does not require such an amendment.
Something else to think about is that by voting for Amendment 4 (because you want the public to have final say over the comprehensive plan amendment process), you are pledging to be an informed voter. You will need to educate yourself about the requirements of Chapter 163 Florida Statutes, the contents of your local comprehensive plan and concepts such as consistency, compatibility and level of service that are contained in the plan. How likely are you to study each case, read the staff analysis, inspect the site, make an informed judgment about the efficacy of the requested amendment, and then go to the polls to cast your vote? Not likely? You don't now and in the future are not likely to participate at planning board and council/commission meetings as amendment ordinances are considered? You're not likely to take on the responsibility to be fully informed before you cast your vote? Then you have the responsibility to vote "no" on Amendment 4.
If voters want to assume the duties of elected representatives and review agencies (although we learn in school that we have a representative form of government), then they also have the responsibility to educate and inform themselves about the process over which they want control. Without doing so, those who vote for the amendment in November will quickly lose interest in that process. The unintended consequence will be fewer and fewer general public voters, but increased influence of special interests who will make land use plan decisions. This is precisely what Amendment 4 was supposed to stop.
Larry Pflueger, Largo
Scott has narrow lead | Oct. 23
Wrong track in a GOP state
This article states that 54 percent of voters say Florida is on the wrong track. It goes on to quote one Republican voter, "Truthfully, it's not about liking Scott or disliking Sink. It's about having a Republican in office. The people are ready for something different. They no longer believe the marketing campaign Obama presented."
The Florida Senate has been under Republican control since 1992, the Florida House since 1996, and we've had a Republican governor since 1999. If you think Florida's economy is the result of national laws and policies, please take note that the U.S. House and Senate were controlled by Republicans for 11 of the last 15 years and the presidency was held by a Republican for eight of the last 10 years.
It is not logical to blame President Barack Obama for failing to clean up the economic mess created by Republicans holding national and state office in less than two years.
If you are unhappy with the state of Florida's economy, "something different" would be to replace the Republicans who created this mess with some Democrats who might be able to clean it up.
Leanne Giles, Seminole
Start at the top
We received recently in the mail a Rick Scott campaign flier where he proposes, among many other things, to "sell the state airplane" and to "drug test welfare recipients."
We vote to keep the airplane.
As for drug testing welfare recipients — which is blatant, divisive political pandering — we suggest instead that Scott, if elected, by executive order, conduct mandatory, twice-a-year drug testing of all elected state representatives (himself included, of course).
Denis Hanlon, St. Petersburg
I am a retired professional engineer who contributes to an online help site for students. It is my observation that many Advanced Placement students have been pushed by their schools or parents into AP physics, a course for which they are wholly unprepared.
A second problem I notice, if the students are telling the truth, is that many AP physics teachers are not competent to teach it. Many of the questions I see (and the students swear they are written verbatim) are very poorly constructed, ambiguous or plain wrong.
The first steps to fix the problem are: (1) AP courses used as originally intended, for students that are above average, and (2) AP teachers must be qualified to teach at the college level. No teacher who could not get a job teaching freshman physics at a junior college, college or university should be teaching AP physics.
Charles Palmer, PE, Lutz
Follow the rules
Don't be misled by the media or the lawyers: There are no victims in this latest foreclosure mess except the taxpayers. Banks took shortcuts and broke civil laws in trying to keep up with the flood of foreclosure paperwork. Shame on them for not helping out the economy and creating real jobs to handle the volume. Instead they hired unqualified workers to rubber-stamp the flood of foreclosures. They should be punished to the full extent of the law.
However, keep in mind that the real problem is that people simply stopped paying their mortgage. There are many reasons for this, some very reasonable, however there are a large percentage of people out there who decided that they would simply stop paying and continue to live in the house anyway. The lowest form of this are the landlords who stop paying their mortgages on their rental properties and continue to collect rent.
Couple this with some "anything for a buck" lawyers, who basically are charging folks to help them avoid their contractual mortgage payments, and you have a culture of the little guy "sticking it to the banks" seeing how long they can live in a property for free.
Hopefully by now, the majority of Americans realize whom these folks are really cheating: their neighbors, the good folks in society who live by the rules, pay their bills on time and pay their taxes.
While what the banks did was wrong, it was driven by the volume of people who simply stopped paying their bills.
Dave Hoyt, Palm Harbor
Monsignor John Scully
A committed life
As a fellow Roman Catholic priest friend and mentor of Monsignor John Scully, I know that the day he died was truly the day he lived for! When I was able to spend time with him I always felt uplifted in spirit and would reflect for days afterwards on the conversation we had. He was a man of commitment to his faith, his church and to all who would come to him for spiritual guidance.
A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to visit the church he helped to establish in Nairobi, Kenya, and while I was there I met several people who had fond memories of him. He instilled in them a faith that helped them to endure all sorts of life's trials and tribulations and yet remain positive in their attitude and help others to do the same.
Now that he has completed his life's work here on Earth, I will continue to try live the life of faithful priestly service he taught me by his example!
The Rev. Thomas M. Dieter, Seminole