Help choose Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for September 2013 by visiting the website listed below by Friday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the Web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three September nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Rates up; Rubio silent | Oct. 1, editorial
Working on flood insurance
Contrary to your claims about my efforts regarding the scheduled rate increases for some Floridians under the National Flood Insurance Program, I am committed to working with my colleagues to prevent the massive rate hikes and provide a long-term fix. I have heard from thousands of Floridians, most of them from the Tampa Bay region, and oppose the sharp increases because they will hurt working families by throwing another obstacle in their way.
We must reform the NFIP and bring financial stability to the program, but there must be a more sensible way to do it. We must enact reforms that ensure manageable rate increases and give working families adequate time to plan for unavoidable rate increases, provide phased-in rate increases to avoid devastating our real estate markets, and clarify the premium adjustments that Floridians could face.
To date, no current proposal in Congress does this. That is why I continue working with my colleagues on solutions that work for Florida families, ensure affordability, and preserve a path to solvency. My staff and I have also met with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, local elected officials and other congressional offices from impacted states to develop a serious, long-term solution.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., West Miami
A step to safer Florida roads | Oct. 1, editorial
Taking texting seriously
My wife and I recently took a trip to northern New York state. Route 81, the main north-south route, had many flashing signs that said, "Don't text while driving; $150 fine plus 5 points on your license." I guess they mean business.
Bob Gearsbeck, Zephyrhills
Officer in DUI case fired | Sept. 28
Over the top pension
What stood out most to me about the firing of 47-year-old Tampa police Sgt. Ray Fernandez over the infamous DUI arrest of a prominent Tampa attorney wasn't what he did, or even the loss of his $92,500 salary, but rather the incredible pension of $73,196 for which he qualifies.
How can any municipality afford pensions like that? No wonder our local, state and federal governments can barely make budget. Those of us in the private sector could never dream of that kind of retirement benefit. I thought the case itself was shocking, but this? Wow.
Peter Motzenbecker, St. Petersburg
Tea party's newest hero thrives on confrontation | Sept. 28
More to the story
I'm curious about Sen. Ted Cruz's "compelling backstory." The article states that Cruz's father "fled Cuba in 1957 and landed in Texas with nothing (or $100 sewn in his underwear, as Cruz tells the story) to make a better life."
What was he fleeing from at that time, two years before the Castro revolution? I wouldn't question that phrase if it referred to a departure after Jan. 1, 1959, when many Cubans indeed fled from a new regime that was quickly showing its true colors.
It reminds me of Sen. Marco Rubio's old claim of being the son of Cuban "exiles" — which he was forced to amend after media stories appeared confirming that his parents emigrated in 1956.
Alicia Ellison, Tampa
Government closes | Oct. 1
Make them pay
We, the people, should generate a new Constitutional amendment that would discourage our esteemed members of Congress from shutting down the government. It could run something like this:
If the Congress of the United States should by any action or lack of action cause the government of the United States to be unable to meet its fiscal responsibilities or to pay its monetary obligations, each and every member of the Congress shall have his (her) annual salary permanently decreased by $500 for each day said inability continues. Congress shall then forfeit the ability to vote themselves an increase in salary for a period of 10 years.
I randomly picked the $500. It could just as well be $5,000.
Bill Balmer, Seminole
Reasonable offer refused
Late Monday, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, voted against a continuing resolution presented by the House to the Democratic-controlled Senate that would have fully funded the government. Attached to that CR were two items.
One would have delayed the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act for one year, and the other would have reversed an Office of Management and Budget decision allowing the government to continue subsidizing the medical insurance premiums of congressmen and their staffs at the rate of 75 percent.
Delaying the individual mandate would offer regular people a reprieve — enjoyed by big business and other select entities — from an onerous law. Negating the OMB decision would make Congress suffer just like main street will under rising health care costs.
I am not sure if Nelson was more concerned with his wallet or with how the Barack Obama/Harry Reid (Democrats) tandem wanted him to vote. Whichever one was his motivation, it is obvious that Floridians were not his first or second concern.
It is also obvious that the Republicans are not to blame for the current government shutdown.
Donald L. Welch, Clearwater