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GOP official only sought a fair and open selection

Re: Logical transfer of duty, May 17.

The stated policy of your paper is to "merely tell the truth." As a subject of the referenced editorial, I want to tell you that you got the story wrong. You say that I aided an individual to have himself appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Supervisor of Elections Dottie Ruggles.

That is untrue. I didn't even know that the person you say I aided was interested in the position until May 15. That is three days after I contacted the governor's office and after I had already spoken with the governor!

As chairman of the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee, I had received many inquiries over the last several months from several qualified individuals interested in running for the office of supervisor of elections, if the incumbent did not seek re-election.

It was reported in your paper that not only was the incumbent not going to run for re-election, but she was going to resign her office. An interim supervisor would be appointed by the governor.

I contacted the governor to communicate that a number of qualified people might be interested in seeking the appointment and would run for the position in November. I urged him to consider all interested parties. My intention in speaking to the governor's office was not in support of or opposition to any particular candidate, but, rather to encourage a fair and open process.

As I was quoted in your paper, "I wanted to make sure the window of opportunity was not closing before everybody was heard, to make sure we have an open and fair process." Indeed it appears the governor's office agreed when a spokeswoman said: "I'm not saying her (Ruggles') recommendation wouldn't be meaningful or have value. But there has to be a formal application process, and the governor has to determine the most appropriate and qualified person for the job."

I have not expressed a preference for any person to be appointed, and any characterization to the contrary is totally inaccurate. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to correct the record. Unfortunately no one from your paper attempted to contact me regarding this issue. For if they had merely asked, I would have gladly given them my position.

Paul J. Bedinghaus, chairman, Pinellas County Republican

Executive Committee, St. Petersburg

EDITOR'S NOTE: The editorial did not intend to leave that impression that Bedinghaus favors a particular individual for the interim appointment, and we don't believe it did. But in case there is confusion on this point, we are happy to set the record straight with this clarification.

Rescuing the Republicans

Re: Environmental heroes.

The May 13 editorial was a well-deserved tribute to the leadership and skill shown by Senate President Toni Jennings, Majority Leader Jack Latvala and Sen. Tom Lee. They did indeed rescue the Republican Party from itself when it was poised to do harm to the environment.

While I share your concern that things will be different next year, I also hold the hope that this courageous display of statesmanship and political savvy will mean that the Legislature generally _ and the Republican Party in particular _ has heard the public.

The public says it supports strong environmental and growth management laws. That's what people told state Department of Community Affairs Secretary Steve Seibert in writing and on his state tour to take the public's pulse on these issues. The public gets it. The people know our economy and environment go hand in hand. Change that, and you risk a lot. Our statewide poll done during the last two weeks of the legislative session said voters do not support politicians who work to weaken these laws.

Al Cardenas, one of the Republican Party's luminaries, even got involved in trying to call off the environmental dogs during the last week. If the incoming leadership chooses to ignore this political reality, we may witness a quick end to a Republican majority that chose to ignore the fine example of these leaders and the environmental ethic long ago established by one of the party's icons, Teddy Roosevelt.

Charles Pattison, 1000 Friends of Florida, Tallahassee

Seeing and swearing

Re: Republicans have come to the aid of environment, letter, May 15.

I took the advice of state Rep. Dennis L. Jones, the only difference being I gave the entire environmental record of Florida's Republicans a "cursory glance."

Jones was right about one thing: The more I glanced, the more I cursed.

Burt Kempner, Odessa

Bad air is bad news for health

Re: Emissions tests weren't helping, letter by Rep. John M. Morroni, May 16.

A careful reading of Rep. Morroni's letter leaves anyone with chronic conditions related to air pollution singularly unconvinced that repeal of emissions testing is in any way beneficial. It fails to address the uncontroverted fact that this bill will add back into the air 573 tons of carbon monoxide and 47 tons of volatile organic compounds per day that the testing reduced in the counties affected.

If NOx (nitrogen oxide) has been unaddressed as the main pollutant, the Legislature should pass laws similar to California's to reduce NOx and solve this major pollution problem. This should be done instead of "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and increasing pollution. The goal should be less pollution not more.

If the added fees are unfair to consumers, the Legislature should design a fair bill. A small fee increase does not appear excessive to those of us who spend thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket unreimbursed medical expenses and who were faced with having to move out of the area prior to the Environmental Protection Agency's settlement with TECO.

Clean air is in the interests of all citizens of the area, since the number of individuals disabled by pollution in the air is increasing exponetially. Lastly, we appeal to the Gov. Jeb Bush to reject this repeal.

Nancy W. Gorman, St. Petersburg

Seek multiple solutions

Re: In need of pollution solutions, May 11.

Thanks to Craig Pittman for his article on the Legislature doing away with emission testing. I agree that auto and truck pollution is a problem we cannot ignore and that emission testing is necessary.

The article noted that to replace the auto emission tests, state officials may target big polluters like utilities. Actually, controls on power plants are twice as cost-effective as auto emission testing (according to the Ozone Transport Assessment Group). When Tampa Electric's Gannon plant is re-powered to burn natural gas, the reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions will be like taking more than 1.4-million cars off Tampa's roads _ but that won't happen until 2004.

Statements by utility officials about costs of installing control equipment are often exaggerated, and Florida Power Corp. spokesman Mac Harris' statement that the utility's Anclote plant emissions comply with federal air regulations is misleading. Federal regulations for grandfathered plants like Anclote are either very lax or non-existent. Bringing Anclote up to modern, clean air standards would result in nitrogen oxide reductions equal to taking more than 300,000 cars off the road.

We need to find pollution solutions for both motor vehicle emissions and dirty old power plants and to do so in the most cost-effective manner.

Gail Kamaras, Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation,

Tallahassee

A matter of constitutional rights

Re: Local governments win fight over cost of signs' demise, May 10.

Op-ed pieces belong on the op-ed pages, not posing as reporting. The piece was very heavy with spin that was obviously espousing an anti-signs philosophy. Whenever the St. Petersburg Times needs a billboard owner's point of view or quote, I'm available.

The legislation, as Bill Jonson said, "almost passed." The reasons it did not pass have nothing to do with the lack of support for the principle it was addressing: When the government takes private property (any property) the Constitution requires that the owner be paid by the government. Amortization is not compensation. Try this practice on land, buildings or businesses and everyone will be against this.

It's true: Some governments do not want to pay. This is not a reason not to do the right thing. Constitutional rights are not based on affordability or perceived popularity.

S. Wayne Mock, president, Florida region,

Eller Media Co., Clearwater

An overreaction to name-calling

Re: Racial scrimmage, May 9.

Oh Lord, here we go again! Now, I wasn't there, so I have to depend on Elijah Gosier's article to present the "facts." A football player, who happens to be black, acts like a bad sport and reacts like an immature, undisciplined brat. I'm sure that some on his team were embarrassed by his childish behavior and certainly his coach was. And his parents should have been also embarrassed by his bad sportsmanship.

Coach Gary Hughes was equally wrong for saying (paraphrasing, according to Gosier), "I'm tired of you acting like some damn regular street n-----." That was spoken in the heat of the moment and it was mean! But to demand the man's job is equally mean, spiteful and totally uncalled for. To call for censure and apology since the coach is in an "authority" position is well within bounds _ even a suspension without pay is proper, but to "demand" the coach's job? No!

The young man should have apologized to the coach for embarrassing himself and the team, and the coach should have immediately apologized to the young man for the negative appellation.

It is past time that names like n-----, sp-- and so-forth faded from our language _ it can begin by no one using those racial/cultural appellations of a negative nature. That should include those within the group "street talking" with one another. While we're at it, it might be nice if young black men quit calling women (of any race) "ho" and "b----" in rap "songs" and on the street. It's nasty, degrading and not limited to black young men either!

Write a piece on this, if you will, Mr. Gosier. You are articulate and thoughtful _ though I find you off center on this one. As you point out, we haven't lost our constitutional right to speak out as of yet, so why demand a man's career for name-calling. . . as mean and uncalled for as it was? As long as this back-and-forth thing goes on and on, the hate will never go away, which will suit troublemakers on both sides just fine.

D.H. Dudley, St. Petersburg

Appalling revelations

I read with great interest the recent article about possible fiscal mismanagement and fraud in local homeless missions (Homeless missions' finances examined, May 4).

I knew the late Rev. Mark Holsinger, founder of the Los Angeles mission, when he ran the old mission out of a storefront in the heart of Skid Row. The Rev. Holsinger was a good and generous man. He would be appalled by what your article exposed.

I was appalled by what your article exposed.

Douglas Hardy, St. Petersburg

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Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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