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Decision '94: The race for governor

I have a challenge for Jeb Bush.

If Jeb Bush could show me at least an outline of how he proposes to increase prison space and fight crime in Florida without raising taxes, I will vote for him.

I am a Republican who presently plans on voting

for Lawton Chiles. I make this vow because I do not believe that Jeb Bush has a plan for fulfilling all of his promises to the people of Florida, especially without raising taxes. Knowing nothing about Florida and what is important to the state, all his talk and promises sound like typical political rhetoric.

It is important for the people of Florida to know that you get nothing for nothing. In a recent poll of 1,000 Floridians, a majority stated that they wanted more prison space but did not want to pay for it with increased taxes. Well then, just how does Jeb Bush plan on paying for this massive project? We all know that we will be paying for it one way or another.

"Hey, don't ask me" will be the general response. I guess we'll have to ask Jeb. Now is the time to come clean, Jeb. Do you have the answers we're looking for? And if so, we want to see the plan.

Remember this, Floridians: Lawton Chiles and Buddy MacKay have been implementing a plan for our state that has been pretty successful. I, for one, have been pleased with the results. Allow them to continue the good work they have done for the state, and do not be fooled by someone who is attempting to purchase your support with out-of-state money and defy your sensibilities with smoke and mirrors. I trust you are smarter than that.

Ana Maria Cruz, Tampa

So Gov. Chiles wants to run on his record. I would say he hopes we all have short memories.

Remember when he was elected four years ago? One of the first things he did after appointing his political cronies to positions was to give them a sizeable raise of up to 23 percent. But, thanks to the news media rebuking him about this, he had to rescind the raises. So much for a frugal budget.

Another of his first actions four years ago was to fire the top lottery person in the United States. Why? She was a Republican. The replacement: a little-known college professor with not five minutes of lottery experience. Is Florida better off with narrow-minded leadership?

Lest we forget.

Wilbur Bohon, Tampa

As I follow the Florida gubernatorial campaign, I can't remember anything to compare to the orchestration of Jeb Bush's run.

How can any middle-class retiree or parents, working hard to support the basic needs of his household, relate to this former first family affair? As pleasant as the candidate may be, I can't believe that he could begin to conceive of the problems which we face daily to make ends meet _ the rising costs of medical care and insurance premiums, escalating prices for food and fuel, trying to put a bit aside for emergencies and a little something for a retirement nest-egg.

Can we afford to have our mediocre to medium pensions and incomes taxed by the state of Florida as badly as they were by the Reagan/Bush presidencies?

This pleasant young man is not trying out for a role in a stage production; he is trying to become our governor with the power to change our lives for better or for worse.

Think long and hard about this but, above all, do go out to vote! It's our duty and our privilege.

Arlee M. Aldrich, Hudson

Re: Gubernatorial "debate" at Disney World.

After seeing part of the "debate" on TV, then reading the verbatim exchange in the Times, it is very clear who the next governor should be: Jeb Bush!

It was quite pathetic to see Lawton Chiles acting so desperate and hysterical in the "debate."

B. A. Whalen, Dunedin

A burning campaign issue this year is crime. "Get tough on crime" is the battle cry ringing from the lips of all good politicians.

Jeb Bush is making promises. He promises to make all prisoners serve longer terms. He promises not to raise taxes. These two promises sound great but, in reality, are contradictory. Where will the money come from? Is this election-year rhetoric? Will it come out of education or health programs? Can our children, our elderly, afford that?

Gov. Chiles, working within the present budget, has eliminated early release of violent criminals and built a record number of prison cells, increasing capacity by over one-third. By 1995, prisoners will be forced to serve at least 75 percent of their sentences.

Proven leadership is far better than empty election-year promises.

Enrique Diaz, Tampa

The Times is to be commended for its Oct. 10 article Chiles errs in attack on Bush, by Bill Moss, which correctly exposed the inaccuracies of Lawton Chiles' attacks on Jeb Bush. The article was correct in stating that Chiles is "slinging mud" but "not hitting much," pointing to attacks by the Chiles campaign which have proven false.

On countless occasions, I have heard Jeb Bush state that he does not wish to attack Mr. Chiles personally and that he has great respect for Mr. Chiles as a person who has served this state with distinction. Jeb Bush has consistently remained focused on highlighting the differences between himself and Mr. Chiles, based upon ideology and their differing views on the role of government, rather than stooping to name-calling and negativity.

As a voter, I am impressed with Mr. Bush's integrity, professionalism and his display of respect toward Gov. Chiles, the process and the voters.

As a reader, I was impressed by the Times' article correcting the record.

Jerald S. Paul, St. Petersburg

Half-truths and lies delivered by a vicious, rabid pit bull called Jeb! is how we saw the second Chiles-Bush debate.

A pit bull may bloody an old friend, but wisdom and responsibility are needed here. You wouldn't throw away your friend and take home the pit bull.

Your columnists seemed impressed with the blood, perhaps swept up by the plastic audience, perhaps forgetting the larger audience of real people bearing witness.

David Beard, Holmes Beach

Why did Gov. Chiles fire Rebecca Paul, a remarkably intelligent, efficient lady who started the whole Florida lottery system from scratch and continued it successfully, and hire instead Marcia Mann who, to my way of thinking, had no experience or knowledge of the lottery?

In my humble opinion, this was purely a political move and hardly in the interest of the people.

I wish the governor would explain the reason for his change to all of us before Nov. 8.

Hilda C. Salter, New Port Richey

Gov. Chiles' aggressive approach to halting Florida's illegal immigration problem is working. The border patrol's failure to prevent thousands of illegal aliens from entering Florida has cost the taxpayers millions in health, education and criminal justice. Through Gov. Chiles' leadership, the state is suing the federal government for reimbursement of these costs. His vigorous approach to halting illegal immigration contributed to a shift in federal policy, which resulted in the stoppage of the recent flood of Caribbean residents fleeing to the United States.

Millions of Florida taxpayer dollars have been saved by Gov. Chiles' leadership.

Gareth Rouillard, Brandon

The Times is to be commended for its endorsement of Gov. Lawton Chiles in his bid for re-election.

Chiles is no newcomer to Florida or the political scene. He is a native son who has served Florida well, both from Tallahassee as governor and from Washington as U.S. senator from Florida. (Who can ever forget "Walkin' Lawton" as he stumped the state on foot in his race for the Senate?)

His approach to government is calm and reasoned _ statesmanlike _ which is as it should be. There was no reason to bluster and blow to accomplish what he has. (His health care program alone is a model for the entire nation.)

Yet Chiles is by no means finished. He still has much to give to his home state and if Floridians are smart, they will keep "Walkin' Lawton" up there in Tallahassee.

Alice Lyon McKenzie, Clearwater

I came to Florida 39 years ago and I love it. Not long after I arrived, it seems like all I ever heard was "Walkin' Lawton" and Sam Gibbons. Seems like Lawton stopped walking _ either he's too darn old or he has made enough money in politics so he doesn't have to walk. Guess Sam never walked.

I do know these two old men should retire. Give these young fellows a chance. I am a Democrat and I know Jeb Bush will give Florida his best and bring it back to a state we can be proud of. I also believe every politician should have a term limit just like the president.

Katherine Phinney, St. Petersburg

Education is a basic right, one that is guaranteed to all citizens.

Our public school system is the backbone of democracy. Through it, all children are given equal access to an education. Jeb Bush's proposal to funnel public dollars into private schools would seriously erode this mainstay of America. It might even prove terminal.

Jeb Bush advocates private school tuition vouchers. The money for these would be pulled from the already strained public school budget.

Would subsidizing private schools with public funds give government the right to control their curricula? Would public subsidy of religious schools be a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state? Would affluent parents be better able to financially make up the differences, increasing the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots"?

There are a lot of questions. Does Jeb have any answers?

Carmen Sanchez, Tampa

I am very displeased with the Jeb-bashing the Times has been so good at doing lately.

The state of Florida is in dire need of young and fresh leadership. Your pro-Chiles views spell disaster for every man, woman and child living here.

Mary L. Myers, Seminole

I received a telephone call asking if I were going to vote for Bush or Chiles. I answered, "Neither." I am for casinos, and both candidates are against them.

Why should I vote for candidates who have different thoughts than I? Casinos offer 85 percent positive and 15 percent negative. They are good.

Al Jewitt, Pinellas Park (formerly from Longport,

N.J., Atlantic City area)

Attention all voters!

On Nov. 8, please think very carefully before casting your ballot. Make sure you separate the truth from demagoguery.

I am 83 years old and have not missed voting since I became eligible at age 21.

Please don't let the word "liberal" turn you off or frighten you. Think back _ what bills helped "everyman" the most? Social Security, civil rights, school desegregation, unemployment insurance, housing, etc. These bills were all passed by so-called liberals in government, despite unheard-of opposition by conservative Democrats and Republicans.

Don't be misled by the phony TV promotions of wealthy candidates who cry for less government. We need leadership in Washington and the state houses, and no government can exist without income. We have to eliminate power-hungry politicians who think they can hold office, do absolutely nothing and keep America a world leader.

Ephraim D. Levy, Spring Hill

Jeb Bush is attempting to crucify the voters of Florida on a cross of crime!

That's what William Jennings Bryan would say today if he were running for governor of Florida. Bryan made his famous "cross of gold" speech exactly 98 years ago in 1896 when he ran for president _ a speech he would only have to change slightly to use today.

Bush's TV ads continue to dwell on the crime theme, despite a drop in the crime rate this year in Florida. The truth is, for a state with close to 6-million people, Florida has an extremely low crime rate.

The crime rate is incredibly low when you consider the problems of poverty and discrimination. These factors are usually strong catalysts for law-breaking.

Vitriolic, immaterial, irrelevant, driven by tabloid journalism: These are the best words to describe the Florida gubernatorial race this year.

The real issues are never discussed. When will they be?

Robert Snow, Clearwater

Re: Chiles-Bush campaign.

We are confident that a large percentage of Democrats and Republicans agree on one issue _ that issue being, we all have a fondness for Barbara Bush. We have seen a lot of press coverage regarding her campaigning for her son. Wouldn't any mother do the same?

Please keep in mind when you go to the polls that Barbara Bush is not running for office.

Jeb Bush made the statement that Gov. Chiles should be ashamed for bringing up his past, S&L connections, etc. Jeb Bush is the one who should be ashamed of his past, and the fact that he doesn't think that he's guilty of any wrongdoing boggles the mind.

Gov. Chiles can stand tall and proud under the closest scrutiny. He always has and always will work diligently for the good of all Floridians.

Way to go, Gov. Chiles!

Bob and Carol Asher, Seminole

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