Vote form errors grow | Sept. 29
Worrisome sign as election nears
This is sweet irony indeed. After months of Gov. Rick Scott demanding a voter registration purge for the supposed thousands of illegal voters on voter registration rolls, it turns out that 100-plus Republicans in Palm Beach County alone are registered illegally.
Voter list irregularities are also present in Pasco and Okaloosa counties, with others yet to report, so this number could grow.
It saddens me to think that if this election proves to be a close one, Florida will once again be the highlight of late-night TV talk shows and news stories for its inability to have a fair and legal election process.
Does anyone else dread the return of the 2012 presidential election's version of the "hanging chad"?
D. Rao, Tampa
Voter firm hiring puts GOP in bad light Oct. 2, John Romano column
Arrogance without bounds
If John Romano is correct that no one has accused the Republican Party of trying to tilt election results, then let me be the first. Gov. Rick Scott and his fellow Republicans in Tallahassee have made it all too clear that they think nothing should stand in the way of them doing what they want to do. Not the state Constitution, the laws of Florida, the laws of the United States, nor the judges in place to protect the citizens of our state are immune from their interference. Why should they be trusted to abide by the rules when it has been made clear that their arrogance knows no bounds?
It has been my experience that the quickest way to get Americans to do anything is to tell them they can't do it. I only hope that the efforts to suppress voting will increase voter turnout on Election Day, and people will recognize that the real power lies with us.
Janet Graber, St. Petersburg
Affordable Care Act
A welcome refund
With all the attack ads on Obamacare, I want to share how the Affordable Care Act has actually reduced my health insurance cost.
I have major medical catastrophic insurance, which kicks in to pay what is left on my bill after Medicare and my Medigap insurance have paid their portion. Recently, I received a check from my major medical carrier, with a cover letter stating this check was a partial refund of my 2011 premium.
This check was a result of the ACA, which includes a medical loss ratio to ensure a fair portion of premiums be properly spent on claims. Insurance companies can spend no more than 15 percent of premiums on administration. In my case, the insurer was forced to refund 10.8 percent of 2011 premiums because it had not met the ratio.
Hopefully we all can look beyond the overheated rhetoric and focus on what the ACA actually does.
Joanne Hannon, Pinellas Park
Consider a change in diet
This has not been a banner year for the meat industry.
Extreme drought has doubled the cost of animal feedstuffs. Undercover investigations documented male chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, their female counterparts crammed for life in tiny wire-mesh cages; pigs clobbered with metal pipes; and assorted farm animals skinned and dismembered at the slaughterhouse while still conscious.
A study of more than 120,000 people by the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed once again that meat consumption raises the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
October offers excellent opportunities for dropping animal products from our diet. The month kicked off with World Vegetarian Day and World Farm Animals Day and continues with World Food Day on Oct. 16.
Entering "live vegan" in a search engine brings lots of useful transition tips.
Earl Blanchard, Redington Shores
Sleuths recount 24 years on the job | Sept. 29
Kudos to the Times and its two writers for Sunday's riveting article on Scientology.
The dedicated action of the two undercover sleuths over their 24-year investigation played out like a mini-mystery novel that I literally couldn't put down.
Unfortunately, as I read each and every written word, there was a rather uneventful ending to the story. However, I know and depend on the tenacity of the Tampa Bay Times and its unwillingness to let any story stay unfinished.
As an avid reader, and one whose attention will stay on future Scientology stories, I'll be looking for your follow-up.
Mike Merino, Tampa
We need shade
Channelside, BayWalk, the Pier and Curtis Hixon Park share a visitor-deadening trait: no shade.
Rarely have I seen more discouraging public spaces: huge sun-drenched centers or walks with visitors scurrying about at the edges or moving from one small umbrella to another.
As a recent transplant, I was disappointed to find I needed to hurry along and share what little shade spaces there were with all the other visitors.
Why would I return after such unpleasant experiences?
Timothy Shea, St. Petersburg
Payroll tax cut likely to expire | Oct. 1
With giant federal deficits, I'm not surprised to hear that Congress is likely to let payroll taxes return to their normal level next year. However, with a continuing shaky economy, that is a dangerous move. It is also a move that addresses the debt problem on the backs of the poor and the middle class while letting the wealthy skate.
The payroll tax doesn't apply to earnings above $110,100, so congressmen, professional athletes (and their referees), entertainers, Wall Street brokers, lawyers, Mitt Romney and other wealthy individuals will see their earnings drop much less than the 2 percent cut that most American workers will see.
I have a less risky and more equitable suggestion. Before reducing debt by letting the payroll tax increase for average Americans, eliminate the cap that protects the earnings of the wealthiest Americans. Then consider phasing in the expiration of the tax holiday over more than one year.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview