1. Archive

To coin a phrase, 'It's incumbency, stupid!'

Re: All those cynical soreheads won't bring America down, Oct. 25.

The Oct. 25 edition proves once again that Garrison Keillor (that great font of wisdom) and the Times editors just don't get it. Being blind to the obvious, they strike out against those not in control and ideas not yet presented.

As apologists for the president and the ultra left-wing, political faction, they would have us believe that the power base that has been in control of Washington for 40 years is to be rewarded and not held responsible for current conditions.

Amazing! They really don't get it and they are beginning to strike out with unwarranted, intemperate attacks that serve to expose their political agenda.

To coin a phrase, "It's incumbency, stupid!"

Dan Calabria, South Pasadena

Re: Life in an angry land, Oct. 25

With columns by Garrison Keillor (All those cynical soreheads won't bring America down) and Russell Baker (The nation has gotten addicted to being irate), these should have been placed as a full- page public service feature and each subscriber to your paper asked to comment on them. As a middle-of-the-road Republican of 50 years, I haven't read or seen too much lately that has left me with much admiration for either my party or the Democrats. I don't know either writer's politics, but I do know common sense when I see it.

Thanks for printing these as you did. Hope it causes some thinking in all of us.

Bob Loeffler, Clearwater

I find it amusing that in 1994, the liberal media and Democrats are whining about the angry mood of the public toward incumbents and particularly toward Democratic incumbents who may be vulnerable.

Reflecting back to the 1992 election, these same people had no problem with the angry mood of the people toward George Bush and Republicans. In fact, they were aiding and abetting this angry mood.

M.A. Elliott, St. Petersburg

Stop the bickering and get back to work

Re: The world according to Newt, editorial, Oct. 25.

Thank you for the editorial on Newt "the Grinch" of Georgia. You said all the things I was thinking but did not know how to verbalize constructively. I find it unconscionable that a legislator would waste his or her time in office, and taxpayers' money, to pursue a personal vendetta.

The people of America would be better served if they worked diligently to improve the lives of the taxpaying voters who sent them to office. It is exactly these sorts of things that have the voters of America so angry. Apparently, some candidates haven't gotten the message.

We want Newt and all his fellow legislators to stop the bickering, vindictiveness and purely partisan politics and get on with the business of the people. Obstructionists and lobbyist lackeys are now refuse, negativism is repugnant, and tedious, personal attacks are passe. The prevailing winds favor rolling up your sleeves and fixing the problems while keeping an eye to the future. Cooperation and bipartisan efforts are fundamental characteristics we will now be demanding in our legislators.

The 21st century is right around the corner. Let us not enter bleating like lost little lambs. Let us roar into the future with the pride, dignity and courage that has made us the greatest country on the face of this Earth for over 200 years.

Diane Cole, Valrico

National Adoption Month

I am writing to remind you and your readers that November is National Adoption Month. In the news recently it was reported that there are 70,000 adoptions a year in this country. The vast, vast majority of these adoptions go smoothly and everyone in the triad is pleased. Adoption works! Unfortunately, this is not the message that a lot of people hear. So please help adoptive families and others touched by adoption and get the word out.

We celebrate adoption every day as an adoptive family and in November we hope that everyone will celebrate with us. It has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. And I am sure there are thousands and thousands of people who agree with me.

Terri Lee, Largo

Where's the risk?

Re: Earlier test for Down's is safe, Oct. 21

Our son was born with Down's Syndrome 24 years ago and I can't tell you how much he has enriched our lives. That is why I get so upset with articles about destroying these children before they are even born. Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe they are sent to us for a reason? To teach us the values of respect, caring for others, trust and unconditional love regardless of race, creed or color?

Our society is filled with greed, violence, abuses, unwanted pregnancies, lack of respect -- the list could go on and on -- but I believe that Down's children could enlighten us.

Our son has held the same job for four years, was chosen Employee of the Month, Student of the Year in his graduating class in 1992, and has won many medals in the Special Olympics. Sargent Shriver has said about the Special Olympics:

"Despite the hard competition, no one has been hurt, no one has cried foul, no one has complained, no one has cheated, no one has tested positively for drugs. The Northern and Southern Irish have played together as a team. The Arabs and Jews have cheered for one another...The communists and capitalists have competed against each other and remained friends. That's the way the whole world should be. That's the way the Special Olympics is."

The mystery is, why do we call Special Olympians retarded? The peaceable kingdom that is their sporting event looks to be the height of enlightenment.

So, tell me -- where is the risk in having a child with Down's?

Beverly K. Damato, Palm Harbor

Establish zone stability

I support the plan to revise the busing plan as it has been implemented in Pinellas County. A factor that should be considered when evaluating the changes proposed by Dr. Howard Hinesley is the stability of the zones established for each school.

I am an elementary guidance counselor with 15 years' experience in both north and south county schools. It is clear to me that most of the problems associated with the current busing plan for elementary students stem not from the bus ride but from the frequent changes in school zones. Elementary-age students need to feel secure in their environment to be successful. Familiarity and a sense of belonging provide that security. We know that Florida in general, and southern Pinellas County in particular, have a very transient population. By requiring frequent zone changes to meet an artificial ratio of minority/majority students, we have seriously added to the stress of these transient students and made it harder for them to reach their potential.

This failure is not because of the lack of commitment by the faculty or because of the quality of the materials, curriculum or teaching in any school. Teachers cannot do their best work when a large part of their energy is spent just getting to know their students and their needs. Paperwork passed from school to school, in the best of circumstances, is a poor substitute for daily contact. Parents cannot help but be resentful when their children are sent to an unfamiliar school without their consent. Naturally, this resentment is passed on to the children and affects the attitude of the family toward the school and the teacher.

I believe the answer is to establish permenent zones for each elementary school and then help each school develop the best program, equipment and curriculum for its population. The faculty would then be able to build the rapport with the families in their zone, the families would develop a loyalty for their school and the students would know where they belonged.

If needed or desired, a program of partnership schools could be established to provide the opportunity for these young students to meet and become familiar with students from other neighborhoods. Since the middle and high school zones are usually more stable and more inclusive, these older students will naturally have the experience of daily contact with other races and cultures. Schools are already providing help for the transitions into sixth and ninth grade. We can plan to do more in this regard to promote racial understanding as well.

Judith D. Ormsby, Seminole

Polluted waterways

An extensive study of herbicides in drinking water, released on Oct. 18 by the Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility, found that 14-million Americans in 13 states and the District of Columbia are drinking water contaminated by five cancer-causing herbicides. The states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Most of these herbicides enter water supplies in agricultural runoff from land used to raise animals for human consumption.

Unfortunately, herbicides and other pesticides are only one category of pollutants carried by agricultural runoff. Others are dissolved solids (primarily sodium chloride which raises water salinity), suspended solids (soil particles that settle to the bottom, smother fish eggs and silt up waterways), organics (crop debris which promotes growth of microorganisms that deplete oxygen and kill the fish) and nutrients (nitrates and phosphates which promote growth of oxygen-depleting algae). In fact, agricultural runoff contributes more pollution to America's waterways than all other human activities combined.

Until current Administrator Carol M. Browner took over, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had largely ignored the agricultural runoff problem for both economic and political reasons. Blocking the flow would be very costly because of the enormous areas involved. Browner's efforts to overhaul the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act were killed in the 103rd Congress by meat industry opposition.

The good news is that concerned citizens can help repel this massive assault on the public and environmental health by demanding effective water pollution control legislation and by reducing their consumption of meat and other animal products. Since 90 percent of agricultural land is used for growing animal feed, even a small reduction in the national consumption of animal products would allow producers to plant the most erosion-prone land with erosion- resistant trees, shrubs and grasses. The only other option is to give up drinking water and practice water recreation regulation.

Jack Norris, St. Petersburg

Bad drivers

Re: Dysfunction junction.

There is no such place, but there are plenty of dysfunctional drivers. They know who they are. They come up from the south in the fast lane on I-275 and then, oops, they want to go east on I-4. Whammo! Across four lanes of traffic, slowing three of them, some over the wall.

Clem Johnson, Spring Hill