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People fed up with the power of the lobbies

I think about the many issues before the governing bodies of our nation on which, according to everything you hear and read, most of our citizens' feelings coincide. These would be gun control, comprehensive national health insurance, protection of the environment and development of alternates to diminishing fossil fuels. In spite of this cohesive temperament in the citizenry, these and other subjects before our Congress never come to fruition. The lobbies of the large and multinational corporations, militant organizations and "big-money" professionals' groups gain our legislators' ears through "payola" and special treatment, while our common citizens' cries go unheeded.

I find it hard to believe that the framers of the Constitution intended these practices to develop, and I don't understand why we allow them to continue as if they were the norm. Recently a spokesman of a large pharmaceutical firm was on the news opposing a proposed law to require all physicians to write prescriptions in triplicate so one copy would go to local law enforcement agencies to help crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs. His only concern was that the law would cut down the number of prescriptions that would be written and thus affect the firm's sales. Lumber companies lobby Congress for easier access to virgin national forests only to cut them down and export the lumber to foreign countries. Profit seems to be all that matters and the ones with the big-money clout get their way. The next thing you know, the drug dealers will unite and, using all their ill-gotten money, will lobby Congress to make cocaine sales on the streets legal.

I believe that our government should act upon the will of the people, that organized lobbies should be illegal and be replaced by a national referendum, or at least a referendum of each legislator's constituents to guide his actions in the governing body that they elected him to. Each CEO, board member and stockholder in a large corporation would have his own say as to what the nation's policy should be, as would all the rest of the citizenry. In this way the money, (which they get from their sales of goods to us) power and clout of the corporation lobbies would not overwhelm the will of the people.

Richard A. Martin, Hudson

According to a recent report, the man who slugged Sen. Glenn was found insane. If only he had shouted "I'm mad and I'm not going to take it any more," he might have been found disgusted.

Joe Sherry, Tampa

Tony Ippolito

Re: Cancer beats a fighter/Former Armwood wrestling coach, 33, dies after relapse, Jan. 30.

All of us have heard the expression "Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love."

The sharing of love which was so abundant in recent times during the good health and illness of my brother Tony Ippolito has given us all strength when we need it most.

I wish there could be some way to say to all the friends in this community how much we all appreciate the support. There is no adequate means to say "thank you" but there truly is sincere appreciation from my parents, brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

My brother Tony put up a tremendous fight for life. The best way we can remember him is to take on ourselves his creed which was "to help others, try to be as good as you can, do not give up, and always give 110 percent."

We love him, and we love this community which loves him, too.

Nerina Ippolito Seleznick, on behalf of the

family of Coach Tony Ippolito, St. Petersburg

"Act of deception"

Re: Your editorial; Israel and Egypt vs. terrorism, Feb. 6.

Unlike you, when I look at the Middle East, I see two leaders, Mubarak and Shamir, while mining gold from under a certain hill in Washington (over $5-billion a year), pretend to talk about talking about negotiating. I don't see them fighting terrorism. I see the first presiding over a notorious regime of human rights abuse and torture as shown last week on TV by Amnesty International, and the second a terrorist using state-terror and computerized tyranny over a whole people, the likes of such did not occur to Ceausescu. There is no distinction, in my opinion, between the terrorist shooting tourists and Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children with nothing more than a stone in hand, whose only crime is demanding that certain universal right of "liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness." They are both acts of cowardice, utterly void of justification. Yet one is readily condemned, the other ignored, but financed by the freedom protectors in Washington who beat their chests over the Tiananmen Square massacre and celebrate the tidal wave of freedom sweeping the world from the East, trying to take credit where no credit is due them. As to what you call the "peace process," it is a master act of deception and dishonesty by our government which is manipulated by a wily Shamir leading in circles, a crowd of fools including Egypt, the PLO and an indifferent world only dreaming about peace.

Ed Talji, St. Petersburg Beach

Are we confused?

Speaking out of both sides of one's mouth (Budget ax on public transport _ Bush's proposed cuts could hurt the PSTA, Feb. 11) only results in more confused thinking:

You want us to leave our cars at home or share a ride.

You want us to use more public transportation to avoid congested roads or the cost of new roads.

You want us to help reduce pollution by adjusting to the above and yet you give us reverse taxation by taxing the very system you're trying to encourage.

Confused? You bet we are!

Don S. Rontanini, S. Pasadena

Push for democracy

Re: The world can achieve peace within the decade, Feb. 2.

Your opinion guest columnist Paul Blanshard has utterly failed to see the lesson in the breakup of the Soviet empire. The route to peace and human well-being is not through a World Parliament, World Trading Corporation and World Court. Such would be nothing but an upgrading of the discredited Marxist-Leninism. This would create a super totalitarianism.

The rule of history is that democracies do not war against each other. They war against fascist, communist or military totalitarians. World peace will come when: (1) such regimes yield to democracy worldwide; (2) patriarchal religions and racist movements permit effective population controls; and (3) the free and independent peoples of the world are able to enjoy their heritages within worldwide free trade. Free commerce is as inherently adverse to the natural passions as is democracy.

Let us, therefore push for democracy everywhere and extend our international trade, monetary, environmental and cultural agreements to include all the nations. Therein lies a peaceful, happy future where every man is a brother.

Joseph C. Genske, Clearwater

Fires on the beach

Re: Two children are burned by coals left on beach, Feb. 5.

Do you know what it is like to watch your 14-month-old grandson lay in a hospital crib with second and third degree burns on his hands and feet? His mother and father standing by him with tears in their eyes knowing they can't "take the pain away" and all because the Tampa Fire Department and the Tampa Police Department don't enforce the "No Open Fires" on the beach park along the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Lt. Jesse James of the Tampa Police has said "on any night there might be eight to 10 fires there." If they know this then why in the world don't they put a stop to it? Or are they waiting for something "serious" to happen like two little boys being burned so badly that they may need skin-grafting or lose a few fingers?

I stood and watched my grandson twitching and crying in between drug-induced pain-relievers wishing that I too could "take the pain away" from his little burned body and trying to console his parents who are devastated by this unnecessary "accident." This could have been prevented if the law was enforced.

So, parents beware when you have your toddlers on the beach or you will end up in some burn unit in some hospital watching your child or grandchild going through the agony of being burned, just because you wanted to take them to the beach for a nice day's outing. I just wish the people who build these illegal fires could see these two little boys in their hospital cribs hooked up to monitors and tubes with bandages on their little bodies. Then maybe they would think about starting fires on a beach park where you are supposed to have fun!

Ruth Kirkman, Spring Hill

TV previews

Re: In a dark room, bad TV takes shape/The test audience experience: One viewer's opinion, Feb. 6.

I, too, was at the TV preview Bill Moss attended at the Tampa hotel. I came away feeling that the company had taken advantage of us. I think those two shows were just an excuse to get us there to give an opinion on their ads. It seemed to me 95 percent of the questions were about ads, not the shows.

When the woman called me on the phone a few days later and started asking more questions about the ads, I told her I felt I'd been tricked into attending. She just kept on asking questions about the ads, so I hung up on her.

Gail Olson, St. Petersburg

I read Bill Moss' article about TV previews, and agree with him on many points. We received the same invitation to go to Tampa for that presentation, but did not go. Recently, I received a letter from an advertising company asking for my opinion on various programs. I didn't give any opinions and told them the reasons why. Why give opinions when the TV producers pay no attention to the opinions of the viewers, but feed us the junk which has been polluting the screens for many years? In replying to their survey, I mentioned the fact that one of my biggest gripes on TV is the ridiculous laugh track. Over the years I have asked many of my friends about the laugh track and they all agreed it was stupid and aggravating. I refuse to watch a program which has this annoying feature.

Another gripe of mine about TV is the volume on commercials. Many years ago, when I lived in Chicago and Newton Minnow was chairman of the federal agency which was to control TV, he had a public meeting in which he asked the public questions. The biggest gripe at that time was the loud volume on commercials. He promised to do something about it. That was many years ago and today the commercials are as loud as ever or louder. So what good is it to give your opinions on these surveys when no attention is paid to your opinions?

In the meantime, many fairly decent programs are being passed up because of it.

P. Walsh, St. Petersburg

Voter apathy

Re: Pass the "motor voter" bill, editorial, Feb. 4.

I do not have any serious objections to the "motor voter" bill discussed in the editorial.

I do, however, take serious objection to the author's statement that "... a large share of the blame" for voter apathy "belongs to voter registration laws ..." He offers absolutely no basis for such a claim.

Conversely, I can state objectively that the overwhelming cause of voter apathy is disgust with the candidates and the political system in general. For many years I have been interested in why people do not vote. So I have asked many non-voters why. By far the most common reason is that they regard politicians as self-serving and intent only upon making the system work for themselves and their rich friends. (Some of the craftsmen with whom I worked had much more colorful, but unprintable, descriptions of politicians.) The non-voters were unable to find anyone they were willing to support.

The second most common reason for not voting is just plain laziness. It is too much bother to go and vote.

Registration problems has never been given as a reason to not vote.

Is my personal poll scientific? Certainly not! But it is good enough to convince me that the "motor voter" bill is a typically worthless piece of Washington garbage. The writer of the editorial on this subject should have been able to see it as such.

James Pfleger, Palm Harbor

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